Praise God For A Miraculous Deliverance
Psalm 124 calls on the people of God to take notice of their deliverance and to praise God for it. David wrote this psalm to celebrate and give glory to God for deliverance from some very great danger. It may have been a foreign invasion of an insurrection. Whatever the issue he was personally affected as were others. He realized that had it not been for the goodness of God in making a way for them to escape it would have resulted in disaster. He is careful to give all the glory to God.
When we think back over our lives imagine what would have happened if the Lord had left us, and then reflect on what has happened because he has been faithful to us. Just thinking about it should, like it did David, make us sing unto the Lord.
Who Is Jesus is an entire category of posts on this blog. Those posts, to this point, have been my and others thoughts of who Jesus is based on the truth of scriptures. The following is from the first post that I published in the Who Is Jesus blog category.
The Bible attributes many different names and titles to Jesus. All of the 200 or so names and titles give us insight into His character and Who He really is. I’m not going to attempt to list them all here but I do want you give you those that I believe are some of the more important ones related to His work on earth on our behalf.
Author and Perfecter of our Faith
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV)1 Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Bread of Life
John 6:35, 48 (NKJV) And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 48 I am the bread of life.
John 15:15 (HCSB) I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from My Father.
John 10:11, 14-15 (HCSB)11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.14 “I am the good shepherd. I know My own sheep, and they know Me,15 as the Father knows Me, and I know the Father. I lay down My life for the sheep.
Hebrews 2:17 (HCSB) Therefore, He had to be like His brothers in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
1 Timothy 2:5 (HCSB) For there is one God and one mediator between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, Himself human,
Hebrews 8:6 (HCSB) But Jesus has now obtained a superior ministry, and to that degree He is the mediator of a better covenant, which has been legally enacted on better promises.
1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (HCSB)1 Now I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, all passed through the sea,2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea.3 They all ate the same spiritual food,4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ.
John 15:1-5 (HCSB)1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.2 Every branch in Me that does not produce fruit He removes, and He prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in Me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in Me.5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without Me.
The Faithful Witness
Jesus came reveal the character and ways of His Father . The miracles He performed proved that He is the Son of God.
John 14:9 (HCSB) Jesus said to him, “Have I been among you all this time without your knowing Me, Philip? The one who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
First Born From the Dead
Colossians 1:18 (HCSB) He is also the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything.
Ruler of the Kings of the Earth
Jesus raises men to power and He is the one who removes them. This is what Jesus told Pilate who was the representative of Rome the most powerful empire in the world at that time.
John 19:11 (HCSB) “You would have no authority over Me at all,” Jesus answered him, “if it hadn’t been given you from above. This is why the one who handed Me over to you has the greater sin.”
John 1:1 (HCSB) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
All these names and titles describe the person who also claimed that he was the only way to heaven and eternal life.
John 14:6 (HCSB) Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
Did Jesus Claim to be the Only Way to Heaven?
Charles Stanley (Scripture references mine)
One of the best ways to understand someone is to find out what he thinks about himself. Jesus said many, many things about who He was -- He said that He is the Son of god,, that He and the Father are one,, and that the Father is the One who sent Him.
Matthew 16:16-17 (HCSB)Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God! ” And Jesus responded, “Simon son of Jonah, you are blessed because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father in heaven.
John 10:30 (HCSB) The Father and I are one.”
John 5:37 (HCSB) The Father who sent Me has Himself testified about Me. You have not heard His voice at any time, and you haven’t seen His form.
He also announced that He did not come to be served, but to serve and that He came to give His life as a ransom for many.
Matthew 20:28 (HCSB) just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life — a ransom for many.”
He came as a substitute payment in behalf of humanity. He agreed with His accusers when they called Him "King of the Jews." His "I am" statements from the book of John reveal that He claimed to be the Good Shepherd who loves the sheep, the Bread of Life who can prevent hunger, and the True Vine who abides in us as we abide in Him.
(John 10:11 HCSB) “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
John 6:48 (*HCSB)I am the bread of life.
“John 15:1 (HCSB)I am the true vine, and My Father is the vineyard keeper.
Jesus also said He was the Door to Heaven
John 10:9 (HCSB) I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.
In John 14:6, He expanded on that thought: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." That statement has caused many people to back away, thinking, What a bigoted, egotistical statement! How narrow-minded to think that the only way to Heaven is through the person of Jesus Christ. And yet, this man called Jesus is exactly who He says He is. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Bread of Life. He's the way, the truth, and the very life itself. Because, you see, in order for us to have eternal life, we must receive Jesus Christ as our personal Savior.
Now, if you believe all the other things Jesus said, but decide He can't be the only way to Heaven, then you are saying He told partial truths or lies. You can't have it both ways. Either Jesus is who He says He is, or He is not. So you cannot say, "Jesus is a good man, a wonderful teacher, an effective preacher, a great healer, philosopher, and humanitarian, BUT..." Whenever your belief in Christ's validity has caveats, you make Him a liar. When it comes to all that He said about Himself, either He is a counterfeit and a fraud, or He is exactly who He says He is--the eternal Son of the living God, the Savior of the world, and the One who will someday judge each one of us.
Excerpted from "What Difference Does It Make Who Jesus is?" by In Touch Ministries (used by permission).
People love it when you talk about the grace of Jesus. They love to hear that God so loved the world that He gave Jesus so that we can have eternal life through Him.
John 3:16 (NLT) “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
But they get upset when the realize that Jesus asks for everything. It’s true that you don’t have to give up anything in order to receive salvation. All it takes to receive it is to believe that Jesus is God’s Son and that He came to the earth, gave His life for your sin, was buried, rose on the third day, and is now in heaven with God the Father.
Romans 10:9-10 (NLT)9 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.10 For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.
That’s salvation. However once saved Jesus does ask that you give up something and that something is your life...everything. It shouldn’t be a surprise it’s not like Jesus didn’t give you a “heads up”
When people asked Jesus what they had to do to become one of His followers He told them what they needed to do.
Matthew 19:21 (NLT) Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mark 10:21 (NLT) Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Luke 14:25-26 (NLT)25 A large crowd was following Jesus. He turned around and said to them,26 “If you want to be my disciple, you must hate everyone else by comparison—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple.
Luke 18:22 (NLT) When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
They thought that Jesus had no right to ask for everything from them. To put their whole lives, desires, and passions at His feet.
They all liked Jesus up until then. He heals, he blesses, feeds them, finds money in the mouth or a fish. What a guy. Then all of a sudden He says if you want to follow Me and continue to be a part of this you have to give up everything, and give Me your total allegiance. That’s when folk start leaving. It’s great to get stuff but not so good to give, especially if it's everything.
How dare He. Who does He think He is?
We All Worship Something And That Something Asks For Everything
One of the definitions for worship is to to love or honor (someone or something) very much or too much. Whenever you give a lot of attention to anything you are really worshiping that thing. Those things ask for your life. For your all. For every last drop of your allegiance. Power does. Sexual fulfillment does. Athletics do. Your spouse does. Your significant other does. Your job does.
These and the other things that we worship ask us to give up everything. They use fear, false promises, and force to get us to give up everything. When Jesus asks us to give up everything it’s only after He gave up everything first. He gave His life before asking for yours. When He asks there’s no force, no false promises, just His love.
Romans 5:8 (NLT) But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.
1 John 3:16 (NLT) We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.
He gives love so great that it compels us to lay down our lives in return.
Romans 12:1 (NLT)1 And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.
Some of us would rather settle for less because we don’t think we have to give up anything. Well think again.
Everybody Worships Something
If that someone or something you worship isn’t God then it’s an idol, and the worship is idolatry.
Here’s what the Bible says about idols.
Psalm 115:4-8 (NLT)4 Their idols are merely things of silver and gold, shaped by human hands.5 They have mouths but cannot speak, and eyes but cannot see.6 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell.7 They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound.
8 And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.
In other words they have no power to do anything for you even though the ask for your everything in worship. The only power that an idol has is the power that you the worshiper gives it.
You can’t count on an idol no matter what it is; a person, alcohol, sex, anything — they all make for cruel gods. When the effects of the alcohol or the euphoria of sex wears off, or that person upsets you, your emotions bounce up and down like a basketball. God is constant. Always forgiving. Always loving. Never changing.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
When we make another person an idol, we end up squeezing the life out of them. Only one person has the ability to sustain being God, and that’s Jesus.
When we worship Jesus, we can love that person even more because our center isn’t tied to or defined by them. If they upset us, rather than affecting us negatively every time, we can give back love, grace, and forgiveness because our self-worth comes from God.
Idols need to be defended. When they don’t bless us, or show us love, or prosper us then we have to defend them. We have to rationalize why they did come through for us. But Jesus doesn’t need defending. He never defended Himself but gave Himself as an offering and in the process defeated evil (in a moment when everyone thought evil had won!).
Charles Spurgeon said: “The Gospel is like a caged lion. It does not need to be defended, it just needs to be let out of its cage.” The mystery of Jesus is just like the mystery in Revelation 5. He’s called the Lion of Judah, but when John looks, he sees a lamb slaughtered. Jesus is a powerful, victorious lion who achieved that victory by the act of the lamb who was slain.
The only one who deserves our everything is the one who gave everything. He his the only one worthy of our worship.
Just like the creatures around the throne we should give our everything, worship the Lamb who gave His everything, and sing His praise:
Revelation 5:11-14 (NLT)11 Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.12 And they sang in a mighty chorus: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered— to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.”13 And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.”14 And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.
Some excerpts from It’s Not What You Think by Jefferson Bethke.
Yesterday I published Self Confidence While A Good Thing Is Worthless When It’s In You Alone. Today I want to talk about the times that we actually lose confidence in God.
When someone meets or exceeds our expectations time and time again over a long period of time we have confidence that person will always meet our expectations. Here’s an example. Clayton Kershaw is a starting picture for the Los Angeles Dodgers. He has enjoyed a great deal of success nearly every time that he pitches during the regular season. If you are a teammate of hos or fan of the Dodgers when Clayton pitches you are confident that he will pitch well enough for the Dodgers to have a very good chance of winning the game.
This same Clayton Kershaw, for some reason, has problems pitching well in the postseason. When he pitches in the playoffs his teammates and Dodgers fans are less confident but hope that he pitches well enough for the Dodgers to win the game.
As Clayton gets older and his physical skills diminish he may not be able to pitch as well as he did in the past. As this happens more and more frequently his teammates and Dodgers fans will have less and less confidence in him because he is no longer able to pitch as well as he did in the past.
The opposite is true with God. He never changes. His power, mercy, and love never diminish. We can always have confidence that what God has said, He'll do...He will do God never changes so if we lose confidence in Him it’s because something other then Him has changed. The thing that has changed is our trust. When we lose confidence in Him it’s not because of Him it’s because of us.
Three years ago I published a blog post Stop Blaming The Devil For Everything Take Some Responsibility . In it I said that if you blame everything bad that happens to you on Satan you're saying the he is stronger than God who says that we can do all things because we have the Holy Spirit in us.
1 John 4:4 (HCSB) You are from God, little children, and you have conquered them, because the One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.
1 John 5:3-5 (HCSB)3 For this is what love for God is: to keep His commands. Now His commands are not a burden,4 because whatever has been born of God conquers the world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.5 And who is the one who conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
When we blow it the enemy comes and tries to destroy our confidence in God by saying: “You’ve let God and yourself down. Don’t even bother going back to God. Don’t pray about it. God’s fed up with you. He won’t listen. You’ve blown it for the last time.”
The next thing we know, we start looking for the same crutches we leaned against before we realized that when God promised to never leave or forsake us He meant it.
Deuteronomy 31:6 (HCSB)6 Be strong and courageous; don’t be terrified or afraid of them. For it is the LORD your God who goes with you; He will not leave you or forsake you.”
Since we’ve lost confidence in God’s ability to deliver us we go back to those harmful relationships in our past, to try and find the love that we think we have lost because God doesn’t love us anymore. We go back to our old thoughts that we have to take things into our own hands and regain control over the situation. We’ll go back to that old environment. Back to those old friends, back to the place we used to hang out and to the people we used to run around with. We'll go back to all the harmful stuff we used to do. We’ll go back to those old coping mechanisms. We go back because it's familiar territory even though we always feel worse after being there a while than we did before we got there.
That’s maybe how Peter and the disciples felt after Jesus’ crucifixion. He was no longer there lead and encourage them. They missed the miracles and the crowds of admirers. They were probably afraid to stay in Jerusalem for fear that the Jewish leaders who had convicted Jesus and turned Him over to the Romans would do the same to them. They wanted to go back to a place where they were comfortable and felt safe. So they went back to fishing. That’s where Jesus found them.
Jesus Restores Your Confidence
When Jesus showed up early in the morning by the shores of Galilee, the disciples had been fishing all night but catching nothing. Led by Peter, they’d gone back to what was comfortable. But at the end of a night of returning to their old ways, guess what? All they had was a long night of nothing. Have you ever been there? Our culture constantly tells us what we need to do to feel better: party harder, seek happiness in the wrong places, walk the harmful paths. Many of us have gone down that road only to find out it’s still not fulfilling in the end.
But Jesus called out to them, “Do you have any fish?” That phrase as it’s translated unfortunately misses the impact of what Jesus was saying. The phrase is actually a negative. It’s a hypothetical question. The emphasis is placed on what isn’t there. A modern equivalent might be, “How’s that working for you?” Jesus already knew they hadn’t caught any fish — that returning to their old ways was fruitless.
So he offered a solution. Jesus called out, “Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you’ll find some.”
To an experienced Galilean fisherman, this advice sounded elementary. I mean, fishermen are fishermen the world over, and if a fisherman isn’t catching fish, then he’s going to have some sort of excuse for it. The bait was wrong. The visibility was bad. There was cloud cover over the lake. The moon was out of position. The fish horoscope was bad. There’s always an excuse. You can picture these guys on the boat all night. They haven’t caught anything. They’ve undoubtedly tried the right side, the left side, the front side, the back side. They’ve already put the net everywhere! You can almost hear the sarcasm coming from the boat. “Oh, the right side! We didn’t think of that, did we?”
Who knows their motivation for changing the position of their nets? Maybe they were desperate enough to try what sounded obvious. They listened to the voice, threw their net on the right side, and — boom! Greatest catch ever! They couldn’t haul the net in because of all the fish.
Let’s stay on that point for a moment, because maybe you’ve been fishing for a long time and have a whole night of nothing. Jesus stands before you, and His message is, “I know where the fish are.” Meaning, “I know exactly what you’re looking for, and I know exactly where you can get it.”
Jesus says, if you’re looking for friendship, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for acceptance, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for meaning in life, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for healing, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for significance, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for security, I know where that is.
Jesus says, if you’re looking for satisfaction, I know where that is.
Right now, He’s asking you the same question He asked Peter and the disciples. Jesus is looking at your familiar patterns of living and asking, “How’s that working for you?” He’s not asking for any information from you. He already knows how it’s working out for you. He’s giving you the opportunity to form the words in your heart and mind that affirm the reality of what’s happening.
Once we affirm that reality, then God is able to restore us.
As long as we deny our situation and continue to think that what we’re doing is great and fun and satisfying and that we’re running the show, then we’re still under the power of the deceiver.
The moment we speak the truth and answer to Jesus, “Actually, I don’t have anything,” or “Actually, I feel miserable,” or “Actually, what I’m doing isn’t helping at all,” then Jesus says to us, “Put your net over there.” He says, “I know exactly what you’re looking for, and I know exactly where you can get it. You find what you’re looking for when you follow Me.”
I love what happens next in the story. When the disciples’ net was full of fish, John was the first to recognize that Jesus was on the shore. Peter, always the impulsive one, jumped into the water and swam to shore. The other disciples followed in the boat, towing the net of fish — it was so full they couldn’t heft it into the boat. Why did Peter want to get to shore ahead of all the others? He was still the hard-driving disciple trying to work his way back into the graces of Jesus. Peter was still following his old patterns. It’s like he was announcing to Jesus, “See those guys still in the boat? They’re not swimming to you, but I am! I’m still your guy, Jesus! You can count on me!”
I wonder what Jesus was thinking. Maybe something like, “Man, Peter, do you still not get it? I can’t count on you. You told me you’d die for me, but you denied me. Three times! What I’m trying to help you understand is that I can’t count on you. But here’s the good news: you can count on me!”
Excerpted with permission from The Comeback: It’s Not Too Late and You’re Never Too Far by Louie Giglio, copyright Louie Giglio.
Confidence is the feeling or belief that one can rely on someone or something. The word confidence (or its close derivatives) is used 54 times in the King James Version and 60 times in the New International Version. The majority of uses concern trust in people, circumstances, or God. It’s a lot like faith, in fact you can't have faith unless you have confidence. We have confidence in God because He is always faithful.
Numbers 23:19 (NKJV) 19 "God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?
Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV) 8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
There is example after example in the Bible where God made and kept the promises He made to His people.
Promises of blessings and prosperity for obedience;
Deuteronomy 28:1 (NKJV)1 "Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
Promises of curses for disobedience;
Deuteronomy 28:15 (NKJV)15 "But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
The Bible says there are some things we should not have confidence in and one of those things is in our flesh, or in ourselves alone.
Philippians 3:3 (NKJV)3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,
Proverbs 14:16 (NKJV)16 A wise man fears and departs from evil, But a fool rages and is self-confident.
That doesn’t mean that we should doubt our abilities but that we should not count on them apart from God.
David took no credit in his goodness or his abilities.
Psalm 16:2 (NKJV)2 O my soul, you have said to the LORD, "You are my Lord, My goodness is nothing apart from You."
His confidence was in God.
Psalm 16:1 (NKJV) Preserve me, O God, for in You I put my trust.
He gave God all the credit for his success.
Psalm 16:5-7 (NKJV)5 O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot.6 The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance.7 I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
Like David our trust should be in God not in finances, government, other people or ourselves alone.
Psalm 118:8-9 (NKJV)8 It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in man.9 It is better to trust in the LORD Than to put confidence in princes.
We will never be ashamed when we put our confidence in God.
Romans 10:11 (NKJV)11 For the Scripture says, "Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame."
Isaiah 49:23 (NKJV)23 Kings shall be your foster fathers, And their queens your nursing mothers; They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, And lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD, For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me."
Our confidence comes from our relationship with Christ. He is our High Priest, and through His intercession, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
After Jesus’ resurrection we see the confidence of Peter and John.
Acts 4:13 (NKJV)13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
We can be confident because we are assured of our salvation.
1 John 2:3-5 (NKJV)3 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments.4 He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.5 But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him.
That assurance gives us extreme confidence .
Proverbs 28:1 (NKJV)1 The wicked flee when no one pursues, But the righteous are bold as a lion.
A biblical self-confidence is really a confidence in God's Word and character. We put no confidence in our flesh, but we have every confidence in the God who made us, called us, saved us and keeps us.
Jeremiah 17:7 (HCSB) The man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence indeed is the LORD, is blessed.
Philippians 1:3-6 (NKJV)3 I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,4 always in every prayer of mine making request for you all with joy,5 for your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now,6 being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
There is only one mention of Huldah, the prophetess, in the Bible, but that mention is highly honourable. Huldah lived in Jerusalem during the reign of King Josiah, who was one of only a few good, God-fearing kings of Judah.
2 Chronicles 34:1-3 (NKJV)1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem.2 And he did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the ways of his father David; he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.3 For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, he began to seek the God of his father David; and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the wooden images, the carved images, and the molded images.
There are not many details about Huldah other than where she lived and the fact that she was “the wife of Shallum son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe”
2 Chronicles 34:22 (NKJV)22 So Hilkiah and those the king had appointed went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke to her to that effect.
Huldah’s prophecy and the things that happened afterward are quite amazing. During a routine task being done for Josiah, the king of Judah, Hilkiah, the high priest, found a copy of the Book of the Law, which had been lost, and brought it to the king to be read.
2 Chronicles 34:14-18 (NKJV)14 Now when they brought out the money that was brought into the house of the LORD, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the LORD given by Moses.15 Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the scribe, "I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the LORD." And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.16 So Shaphan carried the book to the king, bringing the king word, saying, "All that was committed to your servants they are doing.17 And they have gathered the money that was found in the house of the LORD, and have delivered it into the hand of the overseers and the workmen."18 Then Shaphan the scribe told the king, saying, "Hilkiah the priest has given me a book." And Shaphan read it before the king.
The details of this story make it clear that the Book of the Law had not been seen in many years, perhaps generations. The Book of the Law, given to the people by God through Moses, was the foundation of Israel’s entire religious and political system and is probably why there was such a falling away from the worship of God during the reigns of the kings before Josiah.
When the scroll was read, King Josiah was so upset because of the nation’s disobedience, that he tore his clothes, which was a demonstration of mourning and grief.
2 Chronicles 34:19 (NKJV)9 Thus it happened, when the king heard the words of the Law, that he tore his clothes.
After hearing about how badly the nation had broken the covenant with God and their disobedience Josiah King Josiah needed guidance on what to do, so he sent his advisors to Huldah the prophetess, asking for a word from the Lord.
2 Chronicles 34:21-22 (NKJV)21 "Go, inquire of the LORD for me, and for those who are left in Israel and Judah, concerning the words of the book that is found; for great is the wrath of the LORD that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the LORD, to do according to all that is written in this book."
22 So Hilkiah and those the king had appointed went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tokhath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe. (She dwelt in Jerusalem in the Second Quarter.) And they spoke to her to that effect.
Huldah’s message from God was for disaster for the nation.
2 Chronicles 34:23-25 (NKJV)23 Then she answered them, "Thus says the LORD God of Israel, 'Tell the man who sent you to Me,24 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will bring calamity on this place and on its inhabitants, all the curses that are written in the book which they have read before the king of Judah,25 because they have forsaken Me and burned incense to other gods, that they might provoke Me to anger with all the works of their hands. Therefore My wrath will be poured out on this place, and not be quenched.' " '
But because Josiah had honored God by getting rid of idol worship in Judah and Jerusalem, the destruction of Judah wouldn’t happen in his lifetime.
2 Chronicles 34:26-28 (NKJV)26 But as for the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, in this manner you shall speak to him, 'Thus says the LORD God of Israel: "Concerning the words which you have heard--27 because your heart was tender, and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words against this place and against its inhabitants, and you humbled yourself before Me, and you tore your clothes and wept before Me, I also have heard you," says the LORD.28 Surely I will gather you to your fathers, and you shall be gathered to your grave in peace; and your eyes shall not see all the calamity which I will bring on this place and its inhabitants." ' " So they brought back word to the king.
Pride Is Dangerous
Proverbs 16:5 (BBE) Everyone who has pride in his heart is disgusting to the Lord: he will certainly not go free from punishment.
Pride is the root of all sin, no matter what the sin is. It got Satan kicked out of Heaven. God hates pride because it declares, “I’m God, and I don’t need God.”
Isaiah 14:12-14 (BBE)12 How great is your fall from heaven, O shining one, son of the morning! How are you cut down to the earth, low among the dead bodies!13 For you said in your heart, I will go up to heaven, I will make my seat higher than the stars of God; I will take my place on the mountain of the meeting-place of the gods, in the inmost parts of the north.14 I will go higher than the clouds; I will be like the Most High.
When we become prideful we are looking at ourselves and not God and you know what happens next.
Proverbs 16:18 (BBE) Pride goes before destruction, and a stiff spirit before a fall.
Pride is a big problem. We see what it does when people start believing the hype about them. God gives some the gift of being able to encourage people or teach people or lead people and the people being encouraged look to that person as examples. We we start believing that we are all that that’s when pride creeps in.
We begin to think that we are the reason for our success and not God. Success is one of the most important tests God gives us before he increases our responsibility, and if we become prideful, then we haven’t passed the test.
Nebuchadnezzar the king of ancient Babylon thought that all his success as a conqueror was the result of his own efforts
Daniel 4:29-33 (BBE)29 At the end of twelve months he was walking on the roof of his great house in Babylon.30 The king made answer and said, Is this not great Babylon, which I have made for the living-place of kings, by the strength of my power and for the glory of my honour?31 While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice came down from heaven, saying, O King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is said: The kingdom has gone from you:32 And they will send you out from among men, to be with the beasts of the field; they will give you grass for your food like the oxen, and seven times will go by you, till you are certain that the Most High is ruler in the kingdom of men, and gives it to any man at his pleasure.33 That very hour the order about Nebuchadnezzar was put into effect: and he was sent out from among men, and had grass for his food like the oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven, till his hair became long as eagles' feathers and his nails like those of birds.
When It's Pride Versus Humility; Humility Wins Every Time
James 4:6 (NKJV)6 But He gives more grace. Therefore He says: "God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble."
Pride causes people to go to war with God by being friends with God’s enemy. When we submit ourselves to God we become humble and able to resist pride which results in insubordination.
James 4:7 (BBE) For this cause be ruled by God; but make war on the Evil One and he will be put to flight before you.
Submitting to God means humbling ourselves before Him and declaring our utter dependence upon Him. It means repenting of all pride. If we submit ourselves to God He will lift us up because we acknowledge that it’s because of Him that we are able to do anything.
Luke 18:9-14 (NKJV)9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men--extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
1 Peter 5:6-11 (NKJV)6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time,7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.8 Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.9 Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world.10 But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.11 To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
God revives us and hears our prayers when we are humble.
Psalm 10:17 (NKJV)17 LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear,
“Don’t let the enemy tell you that submitting to God will cause you to miss out on some great worldly thing. Actually, the opposite is true. Submitting to the enemy will limit all God has for you. Submitting to God brings blessings far beyond what you can imagine into your life. What you gain isso far superior to anything the world has to offer.
The enemy wants us to be separated from God, but he can only separate us if we listen to him instead of God’s truth. But pride can creep into any one of us. We cannot ignore that possibility.
That’s why we must pray frequently that we will resist the enemy by staying humble before God. And that happens with every step of submission to God we take.” Stormie Omartian from Prayer Warrior
Psalm 29:1-11 NIV Ascribe to the Lord , you heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength. Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; worship the Lord in the splendor of his holiness. The voice of the Lord is over the waters; the God of glory thunders, the Lord thunders over the mighty waters. The voice of the Lord is powerful; the voice of the Lord is majestic. The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars; the Lord breaks in pieces the cedars of Lebanon. He makes Lebanon leap like a calf, Sirion like a young wild ox. The voice of the Lord strikes with flashes of lightning. The voice of the Lord shakes the desert; the Lord shakes the Desert of Kadesh. The voice of the Lord twists the oaks and strips the forests bare. And in his temple all cry, “Glory!” The Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.
The Glory Due God’s Name
Psalm 29 calls upon the “heavenly beings” (presumably angels) to acknowledge and attest to the awesomeness of God.
David declared that the Lord is worthy of praise because of his power and majesty. There is no other god is like him. In describing God’s glory the psalmist talks about His attributes and actions. He talks about the voice of God seven times throughout the psalm. He proclaims God’s omnipotence who created the great flood and who is also King of the world . He alone is able to give His people strength and peace.
The New Testament paints a similar picture of Jesus commanding angels and receiving honor and glory and power.
Matthew 24:31 NIV And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of the heavens to the other.
Revelation 5:13 NIV Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, for ever and ever!”
Jesus is the one to whom the final glory is given as he is seated at God’s “right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion”
Ephesians 1:20-21 NIV he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.
God Hardened Pharaoh's Heart
Exodus 7:3-4 NIV But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites.
Exodus 9:12 NIV But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
Exodus 10:1, 20-20, 27 NIV 1’Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go. 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.
Exodus 11:10 NIV Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.
Exodus 14:4, 8 NIV 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them. But I will gain glory for myself through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord .” So the Israelites did this. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, so that he pursued the Israelites, who were marching out boldly.
Romans 9:17 NIV For Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”
Pharaoh Hardened His Own Heart
Exodus 8:15, 32 NIV 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.
Exodus 9:34 NIV When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts.
These verses of scripture have for hundreds perhaps thousands of years perplexed many, and caused debate in the Christian Church. If God hardened Pharaoh's heart did He make it impossible for him to change his mind, and then punish him for it? If He hardened Pharaoh's heart what happened to Pharaoh's freewill? Did God actually cause Pharaoh to sin by not allowing Him to obey?
If the answers are that God caused Pharaoh to sin by disobedience and then didn't allow him to repent does that conflict with God not encouraging evil;
James 1:13 NIV When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;
or allowing mankind to exercise free will;
Genesis 2:16-17 NIV And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”
Deuteronomy 30:19 NIV This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
God is sovereign
Many say that God is sovereign and can do anything He wants. That is certainly true but it is also true that God is good, merciful, forgiving, love, and unchanging. It is against His nature to initiate evil and refuse to forgive.
Numbers 23:19 NIV God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?
Psalm 100:5 NIV For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.
In Bible Study a few weeks ago somebody mentioned that God hardened Pharaoh's heart so that He could exhibit His glory. I said that I wasn't sure that we are to take that scripture literally because it doesn't fit our belief that God gave us free will to make our own decisions. It also doesn't match with God’s nature to not cause man to sin. On of the participants then said that is God is sovereign and He can do whatever He wants to do without question. My response was yes He is sovereign but He can't go against His nature.
Since this discussion had nothing to do with our study at the time I told them that I would do some study and have something for them to consider. Here are the results of my study. You may or may not agree with my conclusions but that doesn't matter because neither my conclusions or your agreement or disagreement has any effect on our salvation.
John 3:3 NIV Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again. ”
John 3:16 NIV For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
Romans 10:9-10 NIV If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.
What I do hope is that the post causes you to consider the condition of your own heart.
Who Really Hardened Pharaoh's Heart?
What we know about Pharaoh is that he was an arrogant and cruel man. He had two reasons for not wanting to release the Israelites: his pride and the fact that he had perhaps as many as two million slaves. Two million people who had no rights. Two million people working for the nation that were not being paid. To release them would have a devastating effect on the economy.
Pharaoh considered himself a god and the gods of Egypt as all powerful so a lowly shepherd (Moses) saying that Jehovah was ordering him to free two million people would have infuriated him. In addition, in the beginning Pharaoh's magicians duplicate the miracles, performed through Moses, giving them some credibility in encouraging the hardening on his heart.
Exodus 7:11-13 NIV Pharaoh then summoned wise men and sorcerers, and the Egyptian magicians also did the same things by their secret arts: Each one threw down his staff and it became a snake. But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs. Yet Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to them, just as the Lord had said.
Exodus 7:22-23 NIV But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.
Exodus 8:6-7 NIV So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
Every time there was relief Pharaoh hardened his heart.
Pharaoh had already hardened his heart against the nation of Israel. When God directed Moses to demand that he release the Israelites it was a challenge to Pharaoh who considered himself a god. God simply pressed the matter and forced Pharaoh to make a decision. When God commanded Pharaoh to do something, he had the free will to obey or disobey. Because God is all knowing He knew how Pharaoh would respond however He did not predetermine Pharaoh's response. He is omniscient,mand His acts and actions are in accordance with His word, the Bible; and His attributes. What God did was make Pharaoh openly declare his refusal to obey God's command.
In the case of Pharaoh, “God hardened Pharaoh’s heart” in the sense that God provided the circumstances and the occasion for Pharaoh to be forced to make a decision. God sent Moses to place His demands before Pharaoh. Moses merely announced God’s instructions. God even accompanied His Word with miracles—to confirm the divine origin of the message (cf. Mark 16:20). Pharaoh made up his own mind to resist God’s demands. Of his own accord, he stubbornly refused to comply. Of course, God provided the occasion for Pharaoh to demonstrate his unyielding attitude. If God had not sent Moses, Pharaoh would not have been faced with the dilemma of whether to release the Israelites. So God was certainly the instigator and initiator. But He was not the author of Pharaoh’s defiance. - Apologetics Press - Who Hardened Pharaoh's Heart
Many commentators propose that when the Bible says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart, what it really means is that God simply facilitated a process that Pharaoh himself initiated. After all, the Bible repeatedly also states that Pharaoh hardened his own heart, i.e. Exodus 8:15 and 32 (see above).
Dr. Norman Geisler, holds that God did not directly harden Pharaoh's heart (or anyone else's heart for that matter) contrary to their own free choice, but only indirectly, through their own choice. In the book When Critics Ask Dr. Geisler says;
“God in His omniscience foreknew exactly how Pharaoh would respond, and He used it to accomplish His purposes. God ordained the means of Pharaoh's free but stubborn action…”
Hard Hearts Today
God hardens the hearts of men today the same way He did then. Some will never listen because of pride.
1 John 2:15-16 NIV Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.
John 12:42-43 NIV Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.
When a person repeatedly hears the truth of the Word of God, and continues to disobey his conscience becomes "seared" and his heart hardened.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 NIV The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
With a hard heart you will never enter God's rest.
Hebrews 3:7-13 NIV So, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors tested and tried me, though for forty years they saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation; I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’ So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ” See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.
The Bible is is the top selling book in history. It brings social upheaval, international arguments, and political controversy. It has been used to justify both love and war. And for generations, it has found its way into the hearts of millions, offering comfort, direction, and life-changing truths.
George Washington said, “It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible.”
John Quincy Adams said, “So great is my veneration of the Bible that the earlier my children begin to read it, the more confident will be my hope that they will prove useful citizens of their country and respectable members of society.”
While it’s exciting to hear what people have to say about the Bible, the best way to understand it is to look at what God’s Word, the Bible, has to say about itself.
Psalm 19:7-10 (NKJV)7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple;8 The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes;9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.10 More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.
The Bible is the best-selling book in history. It is also one of the most controversial. The Bible spans centuries of history, contains a variety of literary styles and culminates in the person of Jesus Christ. No book in the history of the world has been as widely circulated as the Bible. Every year it outsells all of the top best-sellers and it has now been translated into over 1,200 different languages.
Although it is impossible to obtain exact figures, there is little doubt that the Bible is the world's best-selling and most widely distributed book. A survey by the Bible Society concluded that around 2.5 billion copies were printed between 1815 and 1975, but more recent estimates put the number at more than 6 billion.
The Bible makes claims about the creation of the universe, the nature of the God who created the universe, and the fate of mankind. If these claims are true, then the Bible is the most unique and important book in the history of mankind. If the Bible is true, then it holds the answers to life’s biggest questions: “From where did I come?” “Why am I here?” and “What happens to me when I die?” The importance of the Bible’s message demands it receive fair consideration, and the truthfulness of its message is observable, testable, and able to withstand scrutiny.
We can’t just say, to people, believe the Bible just because the Bible says it should be believed. We should be able to test its truthfulness by historical and scientific means and there’s plenty of evidence to do just that. I can’t provide that evidence in this post but I can recommend two books by a man named Josh McDowell. The books are Evidence that Demands a Verdict, and The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. In these books Dr. McDowell presents historical and scientific evidence of the time and events claims of the Bible.
The Bible is Unique In Literature
The unity of the biblical message is further reason for why one should believe the Bible. The Bible was written over a period of approximately 1,550 years, with at least 40 human writers, most of whom did not know each other and were from varying backgrounds (king, fisherman, tax collector, shepherd, etc.). The Bible was written in various environments (desert, prison, royal court, etc.), written on three continents (Asia, Africa, and Europe). It was written in three different languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek.)
Writing any volume of such length and being in complete harmony would indeed be a wonder, much less dealing with a topic so controversial as religion. Despite covering controversial subjects, it carries one harmonious message. The circumstances surrounding the writing of the Bible would seem to guarantee its fallibility, and, yet, the message from Genesis to Revelation is uncannily consistent.
The Bible has survived through time. Before the printing press it had to be copied and re-copied for hundreds of years, but that didn’t diminish its style correctness or existence. The Bible has more manuscript evidence than any 10 pieces of classical literature combined. Here’s an example of how the manuscripts were preserved. The Jews had something called the massora (a collection of critical and explanatory notes on the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, compiled from the 7th? to 10th centuries a.d. and traditionally accepted as an authoritative exegetic guide, chiefly in matters of pronunciation and grammar), where they kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word and paragraph. There were specialists whose sole duty was to preserve and transmit these documents with practically perfect fidelity. What other piece of literature do we know of where the letters and syllables and words were counted to make sure there were no errors.
This is a statement from Josh McDowell in his Evidence that Demands a Verdict book;
“A representative of the “Great Books of the Western World” came to my house recruiting salesmen for their series. He spread out the chart of the “Great Books of the Western World’ series. He spent five minutes talking to us about the “Great Books of the Western World” series, and we spent an hour and a half talking to him about the Greatest Bool. I challenged him to take just 10 of the authors, all from one walk of life, one generation, one place, one time, one mood, one continent, one language, and just one controversial subject (the Bible speaks on hundreds with harmony and agreement).
Then I asked him” Would they (the authors) agree?” He paused and then replied, “No” “What would you have?” I retorted, Immediately he said, “A conglomeration (which means a number of different things, parts or items that are grouped together; collection.) Two days later he committed his life to Christ.”
Here’s another comment “If every Bible in an considerable city were destroyed, the Book could be restored in all its essential parts from the quotations on the shelves of the city public library. There are works, covering almost all the great literary writers, devoted especially to showing how much the Bible has influenced them”
The Bible Is A Story
from This Dangerous Book by Steve Green, Jackie Green, and Bill High
Stories have been used throughout time as vehicles for truth. Even today, every culture passes down its history and values through storytelling. Everyone loves a good movie —for its storyline. Stories can cut through biased assumptions and ignite our imaginations. Stories don’t prescribe doctrine. They engage the heart. For a story to exist, it must be told. And that’s what the Bible does. It tells.
If we’re to read the Bible as a story, then we need to be careful that we don’t pick and choose what we want, cutting out snippets for our own personal needs. Stories demand our entire attention and require us to read them in full, or we may miss an important detail. It is also important that we accurately understand what the stories teach. We are told in the Bible that we are to
rightly [handle] the word of truth. — 2 Timothy 2:15 ESV
This means we do not have the right to say it means whatever we want it to mean, but we must seek to understand the lesson it is trying to teach. In other words, it’s important that we take an honest approach to the lessons and stories found in the book.
The Bible has a beginning, a middle, and an end. It has characters, plot twists, and themes. Each story in the Bible contributes to the grand story, what we like to call the biblical narrative, and should be read with this big story in mind. If we read the stories in isolation and without context, we lose so much of what the story is telling us.
As with all stories, we find so much packed into the pages. We find beauty, mystery, war, suffering, victory, redemption, betrayal, love, hate, death, and life. Each of these elements holds true whether we believe the Bible or not.
The Bible is filled with people. It tells the stories of families, friends, nations, kings, queens, sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers. The Bible is filled with poetry and song. People the world over look to the longest book in the Bible, Psalms, for encouragement, peace, and healing, or to the book of Proverbs for the nuggets of wisdom it contains. When you stop and consider the amazing reality that the most famous book the world has ever seen is a collection of small stories that tell an even bigger story, you must marvel.
The Bible starts with an incredible line. It says,
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1
Right from the start, we are faced with questions. What are we to think? Is there a God? Are we to believe what is written? Can any of this be true? From its first sentence, the Bible sets forth the existence of God as a self-evident fact. At the end of God’s creation work, the Bible says, He pronounced his work “good.”
Shortly thereafter we read the story of man’s disobedience. We encounter the story of Adam and Eve and learn how the serpent deceived them in the garden and how they broke God’s one rule: don’t eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. That was the only restriction man was given. Without that tree, there was no way for man to disobey and therefore no way to choose to obey or to love. This was the original religious freedom!
The Bible says that we are created in God’s image, and one of the unique aspects of humankind is our ability to choose, to love or not to love, because love requires a choice. The tree was God’s way of giving man choice. Man was told a lie, and because he believed the lie, he chose to disobey. That disobedience created a separation between God and man. The result can be seen in the chaos that followed. Death and destruction, culminating in the flood.
Imagine for a moment that it is springtime and you decide to do some spring cleaning. You send the kids out to play, and after a valiant effort, you are able to perfectly clean your house so that there is not a speck of dust; everything has a place, and everything is in its place. A real dream come true! Now you have a problem: you can’t let your children in the house. As soon as they step foot inside the house, it is no longer perfectly clean. That is the claim of the Bible. Because of our disobedience, our sin, we are no longer able to connect with God as we were created to connect. His perfection demands separation. It is this problem that the story goes on to deal with.
Then we learn about the birth and life of the nation of Israel. This section packs a punch; it’s loaded with stories of war and miracles. The story of Abraham disturbs and dazzles us—God tells Abraham to sacrifice his only son, and just as Abraham lifts his knife to kill his son on the altar of sacrifice, an angel stops him and shows him a ram stuck in a nearby thicket to sacrifice instead. Pretty intense drama!
We read about the extraordinary life of Moses. He is orphaned, then raised as a son to Pharaoh, living the life of royalty. After murdering an Egyptian for beating a Jew, Moses flees to the wilderness, where God appears to him in a bush that burns yet is not consumed by the fire. There God calls Moses to lead his people, the Jews, out of Egyptian slavery and into a promised land. This is the stuff movies are made of ! Moses accomplishes this but endures great challenge and peril. He is responsible for the most heralded event in Jewish history—the Exodus from Egypt, which is still commemorated to this day as Passover.
We also read about the young and handsome shepherd boy, David. David is one of the more popular figures in all the Bible. He’s described as “a man after [God’s] own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14).
There are stories of heroines like Ruth and Esther showing great courage, of prophets warning of God’s punishment because of disobedience, and of repentance and rebuilding after years of captivity. Each story teaches lessons itself, and yet each is a piece of a larger picture.
Then we read about a certain carpenter from Nazareth, Jesus, son of Mary. Jesus enters the scene when the nation of Israel waits to hear from God. Jesus arrives and says controversial things. His actions match His words, and He is quickly embraced by hordes of people because He heals them and eats and drinks with those considered to be the lowliest people in town.
How does He heal them? He speaks to them. He tells one young paralyzed man to pick up his mat and walk. And the man does! For a blind man, Jesus spits into dirt and makes mud, then puts the mud on the blind man’s eyes. Sight!
Another man, an invalid for thirty-eight years, has been sitting by a “healing pool” for a long time. But when Jesus sees him, Jesus asks if he wants to be healed. The man replies with a story about how he can never get into the healing pool quickly enough. Jesus replies,
Get up, take up your bed, and walk. — John 5:8 ESV
Jesus shows up late to His friend’s house and discovers that he’s been dead for days. Overcome with grief, Jesus weeps.
Then He asks the locals to open up the tomb. The people fear the foul stench of the dead body but open the tomb. Jesus shouts to His friend,
Lazarus, come out. — John 11:43 ESV
His close friend rises from the dead and walks out of the tomb, grave clothes still wrapped around him.
Jesus’ path is strewn with miracles.
He claims to be the Messiah — just what the Israelites are waiting for! A national leader. But He disappoints many because He does not want to overthrow the oppressive Roman government. Instead He talks about a kingdom that is “not of this world” (John 18:36).
He talks about how He came to bring eternal life to the world by dying and coming back to life in three days. It’s crazy talk for this no-name son of a carpenter. Or is it? He claims to be the fulfillment of all the Law and the Prophets! He claims to be the one to fix the sin problem that has been there from the beginning. Believe it or not — you must read the story!
The name of Jesus stirs people up.
Most people, including historians, admit that a man named Jesus walked the earth and was indeed killed in the fashion depicted in the Bible. But Jesus’ words present a scandal. He claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 26:63-64), the giver of eternal life (John 10:28), the One who forgives sins (Mark 2:10), the Bread of Life (John 6:35), the Light of the World (John 8:12), and the Savior, because He died for man’s wrong choice (John 3:14-16).
Most scandalous of all, Jesus says,
I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. — John 14:6
What do we do with such a claim? How do we fit this claim into our pluralistic society? Jesus, as a character in this Bible’s narrative, demands our attention. His life and resurrection stories are narratives worth exploring. His claims, if true, require more than attention; they require some kind of response: belief or disbelief.
After Jesus’ ascension into Heaven, we read from the likes of Peter and John, two of Jesus’ most beloved friends and disciples. We also read from the pen of Paul, a former persecutor of Christians. Luke, the writer of the book of Acts, records Paul’s dramatic conversion, when Jesus appears to Paul in blinding light. The light blinds Paul for days, as he finds his way to Damascus. A disciple of Jesus heals Paul after Jesus speaks to the disciple through a dream.
Having regained his sight, Paul heads straight for Peter and John and learns the teachings of Jesus. After his dramatic conversion, this former Christian-killer now follows Jesus and ends up writing most of the New Testament.
Here again, historians recognize there was a man named Paul, a follower of Jesus.
The Bible ends with an epic book that describes what life will be like in the end of days. John, who some refer to as “the beloved disciple,” wrote the book of Revelation. In this last book of the Bible, he encounters an angel from God who shows him what will happen in the last days before and after Jesus returns for a second time, to collect his followers and to banish evil once and for all.
Revelation is a book cloaked in controversy and outlandish interpretations. But for those who follow this Jesus, it also possesses advice and encouragement.
Excerpted with permission from This Dangerous Book by Steve and Jackie Green, copyright Steve Green, Jackie Green, and William High.
About This Dangerous Book
In This Dangerous Book, Steve and Jackie Green explore the incredible history and impact of the Bible. As the founders and visionaries of the Museum of the Bible in Washington D.C., the Greens have a unique perspective on the Bible’s journey—from its ancient beginnings, to its effect on the moral fiber of nations, to its transformative influence in individual hearts.
The Greens share the challenges they have faced in acquiring biblical artifacts from around the world and why generations—in every time period and in every geographical location—have risked their lives to preserve this precious book.
Exploring ancient tablets, medieval commentaries, and modern translations, This Dangerous Book offers fascinating insight into the miracles and martyrdoms that have led to the Scriptures we read today. The Greens explore how cutting-edge technology gives new insight into the authenticity of the Bible, including the work of fifty scholars who recently uncovered hidden details about thirteen unpublished Dead Sea Scroll fragments. This Dangerous Book also looks at the link between the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, what we can learn from how the Bible was passed down to us, and why God’s Word is foundational to America’s past and crucial for its future.
The Bible is a world-changer and a heart-changer. Whether you have read the Bible for years or are simply curious about its influence, This Dangerous Book could change your heart as well.
Donald Jacobs is an ordained minister with the spiritual gift of teaching. He is the Associate Pastor of a non-denominational church in Los Angeles, CA.