BIBLE 2018 | Week 16

April 13th, 2018 | Mark and Scott McAndrew

I Corinthians 15-16 | Sunday: 1 Corinthians 15 is an incredibly essential chapter. Paul has been unable to talk long about any one subject in his letter to the Corinthians without soon relating that topic to the cross of Christ and His resurrection. However, now Paul pulls the car over and parks it in front of the matter “of first importance” – the gospel.

This chapter is a beautiful example of logic for the sake of love.

Some Corinthians were doubting that a physical, bodily resurrection would even be part of our future at all. They were calling the whole concept into question. They did not realize, however, that the implications of this belief are catastrophic to the Christian faith.

What a lesson this is for us today! It is possible for us to adopt beliefs that, like the Trojan horse, may look harmless upon initial inspection, but which contain deadly enemies inside them that could destroy our spiritual lives.

Paul says, “Ok listen. If there is no bodily resurrection of the dead, then that must mean that Jesus has not been resurrected. If that’s true, then the gospel falls apart. If Jesus is dead, Christianity itself has been buried with Him. If the dead are not raised, we have misrepresented God and have no hope beyond the grave. If there is no resurrection, our lives are pathetic and we are wasting out time.”

Then Paul goes on to brilliantly argue for the truth of Jesus’ resurrection, starting with the Old Testament Scriptures, moving through the eyewitness testimony of more than 500 of his contemporaries who saw Jesus after He rose, and on from there.

For a fantastic confessional by Scott on 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, see here.

For Scott’s recent Easter sermon on 1 Corinthians 15, listen here.

Exodus 9-12 | Monday: In these chapters we get the last few plagues along with the Passover event itself. We also get a key verse (Exodus 9:16) that Paul quotes on Romans 9:17 to answer the question, “Why? Lord, why did You raise up Pharaoh, harden his heart, and bring each plague against him leading to the death of the first born? Why did you ordain such a dramatic exit for the people of Israel from the land of Egypt?”

Here is the Lord’s answer (and this is one of the keys to the whole book) from Exodus 9:

13 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. 14 For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.

Perhaps instead of questioning God for acting for the sake of His own glory, we should rather humbly cover our mouths . . . and let Him be God.

For an NAC sermon that overviews Exodus (especially the plagues and passover), see here.

For an NAC sermon that discusses why God does everything for His own glory, listen here.

I Samuel 26-31 | Tuesday: Today we finish 1 Samuel. The book ends with King Saul’s death in battle against the Philistines. 2 Samuel begins with David finally becoming king of Israel.

We see again see David sparing Saul’s life when he has the chance to kill him in his sleep. 1 Samuel 26:7-9 reads,

So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord‘s anointed and be guiltless?

What can we learn from this?

Often times we are very bad at misreading providence. In other words, we often see coincidences or strange things happen in our lives and misinterpret them. David could have easily seen this situation as a sign that he should kill Saul. That’s certainly the way his friend Abishai saw it.

Abishai says, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day!”

Yet what does David say? David interprets circumstances in the light of God’s word; he resists the massive temptations to tweak or reinterpret (misinterpret) God’s word in light of unusual circumstances.

A man may justify a divorce based on what he may call, “God’s clear direction in my life.” Someone may justify cutting corners at work based on a strange situation that occurs. “Surely God is telling me to do X!” they reason. However, we must be guided by the clear principles of God’s word regardless of how our flesh thinks God is guiding us.

This is especially relevant today when it has become increasingly popular to allow our personal experience to dictate what we believe God is telling us to do or how we are to interpret Scripture.

“Ok, maybe the Bible doesn’t teach this, but it worked out well for me!” is how we are tempted to reason.

Let us learn from David’s example here and hold fast to God’s word.

Psalms 45-47 | Wednesday: This note from the Gospel Transformation Bible is helpful to remember as we read through Psalm 45. The note reminds us that this Psalm was: “Initially descriptive of David’s throne,” However: “this psalm was perfectly fulfilled at Christ’s ascension according to Hebrews 1:5-9…” 

D.A. Carson comments on Psalm 46-47: 

A common theme of Psalms 46 and 47 is the sovereign authority of God over all the nations. He is not some mere tribal deity. He is the Most High (46:4). Nations may be in an uproar; kingdoms rise and fall. But God needs only to lift his voice, and the earth itself melts away (46:6). By his authority desolation works its catastrophic judgment; by his authority wars cease (46:8-9). The Lord Most High is “the great King over all the earth” (47:2, 7). “God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne” (47:8). 

This ensures the security of the covenant community. The surrounding pagan nations may threaten, but if God is in charge, the covenant people of God can testify, “The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress” (46:7). “He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet” (47:3). Indeed, as for Jerusalem, the “place where the Most High dwells”: “God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day” (46:4-5). 

The psalmist sees at least two further entailments. First, sooner or later God “will be exalted among the nations” (46:10). “For God is the King of all the earth” (47:7).

These last two references could be understood as a threat rather than a promise of blessing: God will be exalted among these pagan nations in exactly the same way he was exalted by destroying the Egyptian army at the Red Sea.

But in the light of Psalm 47:9 we would probably be unwise to insist on so negative a reading: “The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted.”

In other words, one of the entailments of monotheism is that God is the God of all, whether acknowledged as such or not. And one day he will be acknowledged by all; in many cases such acknowledgment will be accompanied by worship and adoration, as the nobles of the nations assemble before God exactly as do the people of the God of Abraham.

To use Paul’s categories, here is the inclusion of Gentiles as Abraham’s sons (cf. Rom. 4:11; Gal. 3:7-9). “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (46:10). 

The second entailment is praise. “Come and see the works of the LORD” (Ps. 46:8). “Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth!” (47:1-2). “Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises” (47:6). 

Job 31-32 | Thursday: D.A. Carson gives us a brief summary of Job 31. He says: 

Job 31 is the final chapter of Job’s last response to the three comforters. The closing three chapters of this address (chaps. 29—31) are dominated by two themes. First, Job now bemoans not so much his physical suffering as his loss of face and prestige in the community. He has been a man of dignity and honor; now he is treated with scorn, even by young men from contemptible families (e.g., 30:1).

Second, although all along Job has protested that he is suffering innocently, now he discloses the habits of his life that explain why the opening chapter describes him as “blameless and upright,” a man who “feared God and shunned evil” (1:1). 

Indeed, one of the reasons why Job had been so honored in the community was that his righteousness and generosity were well known: he rescued the poor and the fatherless, assisted the dying, and helped widows (29:12). So also in the present chapter: almost in desperation because of the charges brought against him, Job lays out the evidence of his innocence.

He made a covenant with his eyes “not to look lustfully at a girl” (31:1). He constantly remembered God’s allseeing eye (31:4), and therefore spoke the truth and dealt honestly in business (31:5-8).

He avoided adultery; he dealt equitably with any grievance from his menservants and maidservants, knowing that he himself must one day face God’s justice, and that in any case they are as human as he (31:13-15). Out of the fear of God, he was especially generous with the poor (31:16-23). Despite great wealth, he never trusted it (31:24-28), nor allowed himself to gloat over the misfortunes of others (31:29-30). 

So the chapter ends with Job maintaining his reputation for integrity, and finding no comfort. 

Starting in Job 32 we hear from Elihu for the first time. D.A. Carson tells us that Elihu: 

is a young man who has not spoken until now because the etiquette of the day demanded that the older men speak first. Elihu comes across as a rather bumptious individual who up to this point has only just barely restrained himself from speaking. But now he pours forth words like a torrent (as he himself acknowledges, 32:18-21) and vows that he will treat no one with corrosive flattery (32:22).

Jeremiah 17-21 | Friday: So much of Jeremiah is about idolatry and its consequences. Jeremiah is essentially saying one thing, “If you had made Yahweh your God, then you would be faithful to the Mosaic covenant and would experience all the blessings that God promised there. However, if you turn to the false gods of the other nations, then you will reap all the consequences that come from that choice. All of the curses of the Mosaic covenant will come upon you (for a sampling of these blessings and curses, see Deuteronomy 27-28).

The curses are spoken of primarily as Israel being defeated by the very nations who worship false gods and being shipped off to their land – far from the promised land.

However, Jeremiah 31 makes it clear that God will make a New Covenant that was fulfilled in Jesus, who stood in our place, died in exile under the lash of a foreign army (the Romans), and offers us forgiveness.

Mark 11-12 | Saturday: “The exchange between Jesus and his opponents, reported in Mark 11:27-33,” writes Carson, “is one of the strangest in the four Gospels.”

He continues by telling us that in this passage: 

Jesus ducks their crucial question by asking one of his own, one that they cannot answer for political reasons. Why doesn’t Jesus respond in a straightforward manner? Doesn’t this sound a little like brinkmanship, or, worse, a petty jockeying for power and one-upmanship? At one level, the question of the chief priests, the teachers of the law, and the elders was entirely legitimate.

By what authority does Jesus clear the temple courts, accept the accolades of countless thousands as he is ushered into Jerusalem on a donkey, and preach with robust confidence? His is not the authority of the rabbinic schools, nor of those who hold high ecclesiastical and political office. So what kind of authority is it? 

How might Jesus have responded? If he said he was simply doing these things on his own, he would sound presumptuous and arrogant. He could not name an adequate earthly authority. If he insisted that everything he said and did were the words and deeds of God, they could have had him up on a blasphemy charge.

It is not obvious what true answer he might have given them that would have simultaneously satisfied them and preserved his own safety. 

So Jesus tells them, in effect, that he will answer their question if they will answer one of his: “John’s baptism—was it from heaven, or from men? Tell me!” (11:30). His interlocutors weigh their possible answers on the basis of political expediency. If they say, “From heaven,” they reflect, he will condemn them for not becoming disciples of John. Worse, they cannot fail to see that this is also a setup for the answer to their question.

For after all, John the Baptist pointed to Jesus.

If they acknowledge that John’s ministry is anchored in heaven, and John pointed to Jesus, then Jesus has answered their question; his ministry, too, must have heaven’s sanction behind it.

But if they say, “From men,” they will lose face with the people who cherished John. So they say nothing, and forfeit their right to hear an answer from Jesus (11:31). 

A pair of pastoral implications flow from this exchange. The first is that some people cannot penetrate to Jesus’ true identity and ministry, even when they ask questions that seem to be penetrating, because in reality their minds are made up, and all they are really looking for is ammunition to destroy him.

The second is that sometimes a wise answer is an indirect one that avoids traps while exposing the two-faced perversity of the interlocutor. While Christians should normally be forthright, we should never be naive. 

In Mark 12:28 Jesus is asked: “Which commandment is the most important of all?”

Jesus then responds with these words: 

“The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.'” 

Jason DeRouchie comments on this passage and says: 

So we are to love God with our passions, hungers, perceptions, and thoughts. But we are also to love him with how we talk, and what we do with our hands, and how we utilize our talents, and how we react to challenges — our entire being is to display that we love God…

This means that the covenant love we’re called to must be wholehearted, life-encompassing, community-impacting, exclusive commitment to our God. And this God is our God only because he has now revealed himself to us in the person of his Son. This kind of love we should have for him doesn’t exist apart from love for Jesus — for Jesus and the Father are one (John 10:30).

This truth means that every closet of our lives needs to be opened for cleaning, and every relationship in our lives must be influenced. This call to love God this way destroys any option of being one person at church and another person on a date. What you do on the internet needs to be just as pure as what you do in Bible-reading. The way we talk to our parents needs to be as wholesome as the way we talk to our pastors.

There needs to be an authentic love for God that starts with God-oriented affections, desires, and thoughts, that permeates our speaking and behavior, and then influences the way we spend our money and how we dress, and drive, and our forms of entertainment. Whether we’re eating or singing, jogging or blogging, texting or drawing, love for Yahweh — the one true triune God — is to be in action and seen.”

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