Bible Teaching Spiritual Maturity Icon - Life of Christ Study

Bible Teaching For Spiritual Maturity

Bible Teaching Spiritual Maturity

The pastor climbed the steps of the platform to the pulpit and started his sermon. He was warm, friendly, and eager to preach. He started with a description of a contemporary event and then applied it to the church urging them to follow Jesus and love others. After about 10 minutes, he read the Bible passage that was printed in the bulletin. It helped to prove his introduction. Then he proceeded for the rest of his sermon to use a series of contemporary personal illustrations, stories, humorous jokes and Power Point slides that supported his message. His sermon lasted about twenty-five minutes. He never explained the words or the details of the biblical passage that he read, but he did conclude his sermon with a call to action–to be willing to die for others. He hoped that the people left the church with a commitment to love others more. Maybe they were convicted by one of his contemporary illustrations, Power Point slides or jokes, or were impressed with his personal charisma. This is the typical style of “Bible teaching” in many churches today and the result is immature Christians.

My People Love It

Today, it seems that many Christians are more concerned with the pastor’s speaking style and personal charisma than with the content of his teaching. Many will share that their pastor is a wonderful shepherd and Bible teacher. It is not uncommon to hear someone complain that their pastor is not people focused. But far fewer will claim that their pastor is anything other than a great Bible teacher. They have words of high praise. Yet if you listen to their pastor’s sermons online or attend their church, it is sad to realize that often believers have settled for mediocre to very shallow teaching of the Bible.

It is common to find preaching that does not explain the Bible passage or verses that God so carefully and miraculously had the prophets and apostles write. Topical preaching usually bounces from one passage to another, skipping books, entire chapters and selecting maybe one single “very meaningful” verse. That may be the only verse the pastor reads in his message and then perhaps never revisited. His goal is not to teach the Bible but to present topics he wants to share. He is not interested in helping the church understand the books that God wrote or why God wrote them. His style of preaching reveals that he is driven by personal interests. He has missed the greater calling to teach the entire counsel of God to his people (Acts 20:27).

In Jeremiah 5:30-31, the prophet rebuked both the prophets and priests in Judah. When God rebukes both priests and prophets, it is time to pay attention. The rebuke is important because Jeremiah’s words, which are God’s words, also apply to us today.

An appalling and horrible thing
Has happened in the land:
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule on their own authority;
And My people love it so!
But what will you do at the end of it?
Jeremiah 5:31 (NASB)

Notice the opening statement in these two verses. God said an appalling and horrible thing had happened. What happened? The prophets had created their own message. If we read the preceding verses that God wrote, we discover in Jeremiah 5:12-13 that He announced the prophets had spoken error in order to make their messages positive. That made the people happy. It reminds us of Isaiah 30:10 where Scripture records the people of Judah had asked for pleasant words to be preached. They wanted to be encouraged, uplifted.

One would think that the faithful would have wanted to hear from God and would have been able to identify false teaching, but notice in Jeremiah 5:31 that God said the people liked their synagogue worship experience. They liked the prophets who created their own messages, which God called false prophecy. They loved the positive and uplifting messages. They loved the lies. Notice that God said, “My people love it so.”

Ezekiel’s ministry overlapped Jeremiah’s ministry and he wrote that the people loved the wonderful messages and then they ignored the prophet’s warning.

They come to you as people come, and sit before you as My people and hear your words, but they do not do them, for they do the lustful desires expressed by their mouth, and their heart goes after their gain. Behold, you are to them like a sensual song by one who has a beautiful voice and plays well on an instrument; for they hear your words but they do not practice them. So when it comes to pass — as surely it will — then they will know that a prophet has been in their midst. Ezekiel 33:31-33 (NASB)

The people were thrilled with their synagogue experience. The people loved the priests who created their own religious rules about worship and how to be righteous. The message is a sad one. Many believers are not very discerning. They will believe almost anything when they respect the personality in the pulpit. The result is as Hosea wrote, “like people, like priest” (Hosea 4:9).

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also will reject you from being My priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
Hosea 4:6 (NASB)

The same is true today in some churches. The people may cheer, clap and amen the message but God is not pleased.

Errors In Application Centered Preaching

Some pastors complain that so many in their congregation are spiritually immature, but often that is the pastor’s fault. The people are simply following a pastor whom they have grown to admire and like and they have become just like him (Hosea 4:9). In many churches today the words that God wrote are often ignored because the priority of the pastor is not to explain what God wrote but to use it as a springboard to urge the congregation to some action about which the pastor feels deeply. His favorite hobby-horses are repeatedly preached. His application or call to action is often biblical or at least it sounds biblical. As a result, the pastor creates a series of topical messages which he believes are important for the church and he will work to emotionally urge the congregation to action.

One pastor announced that he had planned three months of topical sermons in one afternoon. He stated that he was so pleased that he accomplished it in a couple of hours. He had already determined the verses and the applications. But how could he know the application without first studying the verses or passages? Even though he had not seriously studied the passages and did not know the application that the passages actually taught, he knew the applications because his applications had already been predetermined. His goal was to communicate his message – not God’s message. Therefore, he selected passages that supported his viewpoint.

It is common that the message of a sermon is not supported by the passage actually selected because the pastor did not take the time to seriously study in order to determine the meaning of the passage. As a result, he is not aware or may not care that the meaning of the original language might have a different shade of meaning than what he read in his Bible. He may not be aware that his call to action is supported by a different Scripture and not the one he selected. In such cases, the pastor is teaching Scripture falsely, even if he did so unintentionally.

Even worse, some pastors intentionally search for a Bible version that has wording that supports their message and then uses it. He rejects the translation from one Bible and selects a different rendering from another Bible because his goal is not to accurately communicate what God wrote but to find support for the message the pastor has preselected.

Consequently, what God wanted to communicate is not what the pastor claimed the passage said. He changed the meaning. Some in the church may think the message was wonderful and insightful and praise him later. But Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 12:32, Proverbs 30:5-6 and Jeremiah 26:2 warn us that God does not want us taking away or adding to His Word. When Scripture is taught in such a manner, His warning has been violated. The one who teaches this way is like the prophets that Jeremiah rebuked and to whom James 3:1 applies.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1 (NASB)

Words The Holy Spirit Used Are Glossed Over or Ignored

Doctrine Is Boring To Many

Other pastors consider doctrine and any serious teaching of Scripture to be boring. Some believe such exposition is just academic and suitable only for the seminary classroom. Therefore, they dump God’s carefully crafted words, sentences and chapters that the Holy Spirit moved the prophets to write (2 Peter 1:21) and substitute their own illustrations, stories, humorous jokes, graphics and videos so that the sermon “has life and spice.” The Bible has become just a source where one finds a list of spiritual or moral duties and principles. They believe their responsibility is to motivate the congregation to action accordingly. The words the Holy Spirit moved men to write are simply glossed over or ignored in favor of the pastor’s own sense of moral duties and he forgets about doctrine and discovering God.

One pastor stated that he did not like to teach theology because 1) it was boring and 2) the church was not educated enough to understand what he would teach. He said the church was too biblically illiterate. Sadly, his comment revealed that he found the Word of God to be boring and indirectly admitted that he was not a faithful pastor who taught the entire counsel of God. He should have spent time digging in the Word of God until the passage came alive and like Moses hungered to know God (Exodus 33:13-23). Then he would have had passion to communicate what the Holy Spirit wanted communicated. Then he would have been ready to preach and the people would have responded. When Scripture is boring to the pastor, what attitude should we expect from the people in the church?

As a result, the pastor will not routinely teach through a book of the Bible because portions of it are boring to him and portions might be controversial or require too much study. Consequently, he will emphasize topical preaching – a passage here and a verse there. He will tend to preach passages that are familiar and light his fire! The systematic teaching of the books of the Bible that God wrote will not occur.

Spiritual Diet Maturity Immaturity - Life of Christ Study

Skim Milk Is For Immature Christians

Another preacher struggled with some in the church who had been Christians for many years but still acted like immature Christians. He felt that his congregation was not being transformed fast enough and believed that head knowledge was not the answer. So his 5-30 minute sermons were heavy on calls for a change in behavior. He criticized information and emphasized transformation. His preaching style was to read a verse of Scripture, ignore the biblical text and concentrate on a series of personal illustrations that he used to support his call to action. This preaching style contained very little scripture and many personal illustrations, stories, humorous jokes and maybe graphics and Power Point charts. The Word of God should be the cream of the message, but this approach to preaching yields simply “skim-milk.”

Today, the Holy Spirit’s message of Hebrews 5:11-14 appears to have been forgotten. The book of Hebrews was written to people who had been Christians for some time but were immature. Hebrews 5:12-14 explains why they were immature.

For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. Hebrews 5:12-14 (NASB)

In this passage the Holy Spirit rebuked those who claimed to be Christians when He said, “You ought to be teachers.” He did not mean that they should have the spiritual gift of teaching. He meant that they should be able to teach the Bible to others. How many Christians know the Bible so that they can teach it to others? Does your congregation? Do you?

Then the Spirit rebuked them again and said, “You have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God.” The serious word is “again.” They had been taught the basics of the Christian faith but they had gone backwards. It is clear from the passage that they had claimed to be Christians for a long time, but sadly they were on a spiritual diet of milk. In verse 13, the Spirit said they were infants. The Greek word for infants is nepios and it refers to a toddler. The Spirit said that they were spiritual toddlers. But that was not always true. They had grown in their knowledge of the Scriptures. He said now someone needed to teach them the basic doctrines again. They had regressed backwards in their spiritual life. They had gone forward in their spiritual life and then gone backward. It is like someone trying to climb up an escalator that is going down. What happens when the person stops climbing up the down escalator? They start going backward. That is what happened to the Hebrews. This gives us the biblical principle that your spiritual diet determines if you are moving to maturity or sliding back to immaturity.

In verse 14, the Spirit adds that they should have been on a diet of meat – the solid food of the Word, but they weren’t. The benefit of a diet of meat is that a Christian will have “senses trained to discern good and evil.” They will understand what is good and evil and how God wants them to live. Psalm 119 says,

Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.
Psalm 119:11 (NASB)

But how many Christians know the Word, not to mention have it memorized? This is why transformation is not occurring! When Christians know the Scriptures, transformation takes place. But many believers cannot teach the Word because they are still baby Christians. So many pulpits share the blame. The diet provided Sunday after Sunday in so many churches is skim-milk. Hosea 4:6-9 captures the problem well – “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” Pastors need to provide milk new believers and steak for the rest of their congregation. Teach all of the Word of God!

The message of Hebrews 5:11-14 is that the meat of the Word of God is the foundation for righteous living. The Holy Spirit will use the Scriptures to convict of sin and as believers respond, they will mature.

Meat For Mature Christians

But what is the meat of the Word of God? The answer is found in Hebrews 5:10-11. The Holy Spirit states in verse 10 that He wanted to teach about Melchizedek, but in verse 11 He said that they were dull of hearing or lazy. Therefore, it would be difficult to teach them. The Spirit wanted to teach an important truth about Melchizedek. It was solid food or meat but they were not ready for it. Many Christians today find any discussion of Melchizedek to be either boring or just a curiosity point about which to argue.

The Spirit was not interested in speculating about Melchizedek. The Spirit had a serious point to make about Jesus Christ, and Melchizedek would help Him teach that important truth. In response, the Holy Spirit rebuked them in Hebrews 5:11-6:19 for their immaturity. In fact, in the opening verses of the next chapter (Hebrews 6:1-4) the Spirit warns that they might not be Christians but unbelievers because of their lack of understanding of Scripture. They were not growing spiritually. Then in Hebrews 6:20, the Spirit starts discussing Melchizedek. He provided them with solid food or meat. He did not wean them off of milk onto meat. He just proceeded to give them meat.

The reason transformation is not occurring in the lives of many Christians is because pastors are feeding believers milk. The church simply hears a call to moral change largely devoid of God’s message! A call to transformation has replaced the systematic teaching of the Word of God verse-by-verse. A regular diet of topical teaching has replaced the systematic book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter, verse-by-verse reaching of Scripture. A diet of milk has replaced a diet of meat.

Teach God's Sermon - Life of Christ Study

Here Is God’s Teaching Style

Scripture is God’s sermon. God communicated His message to the prophets and apostles who then recorded His words for us! One can see how carefully God wrote His sermons. For example, in Galatians 3:16 the apostle Paul drew our attention to the fact that God had said “seed” rather than “seeds” in Genesis 22:17-18. That is, God was concerned the word seed was written in the singular and not in the plural. That shows God was careful in what He had written.

We should ask why did God the Holy Spirit give us thirty-seven chapters in the book of Job before He reached His conclusion in chapters thirty-eight to forty-two? Why did the Spirit make us wait so long to get to the conclusion? It seems to some that most of the chapters could be skipped in order to get to the good part or to the main points. But God did not agree. He included all those chapters.

What have some missed who skip those middle chapters? They missed the discussion between Job and his bad counselors. Anyone who carefully reads the entire book of Job discovers the counselors were not wise and they will discover the powerful conclusion that reveals the incredible character of God. God included all forty-two chapters of Job for a reason. The middle chapters are the buildup to the conclusion which is the application. The pastor who ignores chapters three through thirty-seven does not stop to realize that God included those chapters because He wanted them taught. They are part of God’s sermon in Job. Some pastors have removed what they consider to be the “dry” places in Scripture for application! Maybe all that they taught was one chapter or a short passage. They just edited God’s sermon. They thought they improved God’s message!

Have you ever examined Scripture to see how God teaches and calls us to action? God actually presents a great deal of information before He calls us to action. Consider the book of Romans. Romans 1-11 is all doctrine. These chapters provide us an expanded explanation of the doctrine of salvation. In contrast John 3:16 is a one verse summary. Romans 11:33-41 concludes the doctrine section and then in Romans 12:1 the Holy Spirit calls the reader to a series of biblical actions. Romans 12-16 is the application section of the book of Romans.

But most pulpits rarely teach the books of the Bible as written by the Holy Spirit. The logical flow of the development of theology arguing for the call to action is ignored. Pastors often jump to the application section and pound their application for 25 minutes, but the principles that argue for the call to action are found in the doctrine section. That is why the Spirit developed the doctrine section in Romans 1-11, and then in Romans 12:1 the Spirit moved Paul to write, “Therefore . . .” Then a series of applications follow.

Yet, many teachers and pastors minimize the “information” or doctrine and emphasize positive application. But that is not God’s teaching style. The foundation that God included in Scripture is what gives power to His application. Scripture contains the logical development of God’s sermons, complete with illustrations, Old Testament quotes and calls to action. Why not teach God’s sermons?

Those who ignore the careful argument that the Spirit developed and the words He wrote are like the prophets and priests in Jeremiah. Sadly, their style of preaching is called “teaching the Bible,” but they are not teaching the Bible. Congregations have grown accustomed to believing that they are being taught the Bible, but they are simply hearing sermons filled with calls to moral behavior.

Learn All That God Wrote

Conclusion

If you are a pastor, when was the last time that you spent 20-30 hours pouring over the context of a passage of Scripture, trying to understand why the passage was written and its logical flow? Why did God organize it the way He did and what is the actual application of the passage? If you take the time to pour over it, you will find nuggets of gold. What you discover in your study is what you should teach. A pastor’s responsibility is to teach the sermon God wrote.

If you are a Christian, you should examine the spiritual diet you are being fed. Is your diet spiritual milk or meat? The mark of a mature Christian is that he or she is able to teach the Bible to others and is able to discern good from evil (Hebrews 5:12-14). Does that describe you?

Every Christian who desires to grow spiritually should seek a church that teaches the Bible book-by-book, chapter-by-chapter and verse-by-verse. You should want to be taught the meat of the Word and not just drink milk. That is the only way to grow spiritually.

As you learn more and more you will learn to discern good and evil. You will also learn more about God. In John 2:12-14 we are told that the spiritual young man is one who is having victory over sin, is strong in the faith and knows the Word of God. The spiritual father in the faith is one who knows God. The goal of every Christian should be to learn all that God has written, for by it he or she will grow in the faith and the knowledge of our God. He wrote the entire Bible. It contains what He wants you to know. Who are we as mere mortals to conclude that all of it is not important?

 

Questions or Comments?

Jesus’ Teaching Is From the Father

Have you ever been at a party or major event with lots of people, and you tried to find someone? You unsuccessfully searched for a special person! Maybe you were slightly frustrated that you could not locate the person? Can you remember what that felt like? Our study is about Jesus, some religious leaders and a major Jewish feast with lots of people. We will discover that the religious leaders are searching for Jesus at a feast called the Feast of Booths. We will discover that they were not successful in their search. It was Jesus who found them. Now we need to back up for a minute and note that Jesus has been experiencing significant rejection after another rejection recently. The religious leaders had already rejected Him. In John 6:60-66 many of His disciples had left Him. In John 7:4-5 it becomes clear that His own brothers rejected Him. In our last study, a number of Samaritans rejected Him too! I imagine that it was difficult to have experienced these rejections. We are going to discover that the rejection is even more wide spread than just these few examples.

Map of Israel - Jesus went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tabernacles

Arrival In Jerusalem

Our study begins with Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths. His brothers had already left Capernaum for Jerusalem (John 7:8-10) about 3-4 days later. John 7:14 tells us that Jesus arrived in the midst of the feast. Verse 11 states that the religious leaders, the Pharisees, were seeking Him.

So the Jews were seeking Him at the feast and were saying, “Where is He?” John 7:11 (NASB)

Now we expected that didn’t we? John 5:18 tells us that the religious leaders wanted to murder Jesus because He claimed to be God. John 7:1 tells us that almost nine months later they still wanted to murder Him. These Jewish religious leaders are not seeking Him to gain some wisdom or knowledge or to get healed. They want to murder Him. Jesus arrival in Jerusalem is gutsy and dangerous. Verse 11 reveals that they were asking the people, “Where is He?” The Greek tenses of the words “seeking” and “saying” are in the imperfect. This reveals that they were repeatedly asking the people that question. Most likely they were moving from one group of people to another group and asking, “Where is He?”

Verses 12-13 reveal that as a result the people were talking about Jesus.

There was much grumbling among the crowds concerning Him; some were saying, “He is a good man”; others were saying, “No, on the contrary, He leads the people astray.” Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews. John 7:12-13 (NASB)

No, they were doing more than talking. They were grumbling or murmuring about Him. The Greek word for “grumbling” is an onomatopoetic word. That is, a word that sounds like what they were doing. The Greek word is goggusmos. The murmuring was both positive and negative. Some of the people were just like people today. They listened to the leaders and agreed that they were right. Jesus was leading everyone astray. Others had the correct view and disagreed with the leaders and believed that Jesus was a good man. The Greek word for “good” is agathos and has the idea that they believed Jesus was a morally good man. The verb tenses in these two verses imply that the crowds were abuzz with conversation about Jesus.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

Jesus Appears

Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem must have been a dramatic event since the religious leaders were seeking to murder Jesus, and the crowds knew it (John 7:25-26). John 7 reveals that the crowds were talking among themselves about the religious leaders’ desire to murder Jesus. Then Jesus appeared.

But when it was now the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and began to teach. John 7:14 (NASB)

Wow! When He arrived in Jerusalem He went to the temple and started teaching. When we are told that Jesus “began to teach,” the word “teach” is in the imperfect tense implying that Jesus was doing a lot of teaching, and the next verse reveals that the religious leaders were doing a lot of listening. Because we are told that they were repeatedly “astonished” (in the imperfect tense).

The Jews then were astonished, saying, “How has this man become learned, having never been educated?” John 7:15 (NASB)

This is a very dynamic picture. Jesus is teaching and the religious leaders are watching and listening. Now the religious leaders are not astonished because Jesus’ teaching was necessarily convicting. They were not saying to themselves or one another that He had great application. Instead, they were wondering how was it that Jesus knew the scriptures?

Notice that the religious leaders wondered how did Jesus become “learned”? The Greek phrase that is translated as the one word, “learned” literally means “know the writings” or “know the scriptures.” They could not understand how Jesus knew the scriptures since He had never gone to a rabbinic school. In Acts 4:13 we are told that the religious leaders later also wondered how Peter and John could preach so powerfully since they were “uneducated and untrained.” Some modern critics have stated that this verse reveals the apostles could not have written the New Testament since they could not read or write. But that reveals the critics’ lack of education or their willful desire to persuade others that the Bible could not have been written by the apostles. The correct answer is that the religious leaders could not understand how Jesus and the apostles knew the scriptures and teach as they did since they had not been formally trained in an official rabbinic school.[1] For example, in Acts 22:3 the apostle Paul tells us that He was educated by a very famous rabbi named Gamaliel. But Jesus and the apostles did not have any such “rabbi-approved-seminary” credentials. Actually, they had better credentials, Jesus was God Who had written the very scriptures they were studying. Mark 1:22 captures Jesus’ command of the scriptures with these terrific words,

They were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Mark 1:22 (NASB)

Some of the great recent preachers our time, such as Moody, Spurgeon and Bill Sunday, never had formal theological training at a seminary. All that a man or woman needs is the empowerment of the Holy Spirit and faithfulness in digging into God’s Word to uncover its meaning. The Holy Spirit will give power to the words and apply the message to the hearts of the hearers. That is all that is really required.

Accurately Teaching The Bible

Jesus’ reply is amazing. He does not defend His lack of “rabbi-approved-seminary” training. Instead, He speaks to the real issue with which the religious leaders are struggling. Was He teaching truth?

So Jesus answered them and said, “My teaching is not Mine, but His who sent Me. John 7:16 (NASB)

The religious leaders were struggling with the content of Jesus’ teaching. We can imagine that they were amazed at the conclusions that Jesus reached from the scriptures. In the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5, we discover that Jesus applied the scriptures in unique ways. Here are some examples,

You have heard that it was said, “YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY”; but I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. Matt. 5:27-28 (NASB)

You have heard that it was said, “AN EYE FOR AN EYE, AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.” But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. Matt. 5:38-39 (NASB)

You have heard that it was said, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you . . . Matt. 5:43-45 (NASB)

In John 8:26, 38 and 40 Jesus repeatedly revealed that He taught what He had heard from the Father. He taught the Father’s message and not His own. The religious leaders did not recognize that Jesus spoke truth because they were not filled with the Holy Spirit nor were they faithful, diligent teachers of scriptures.

Some teachers and preachers twist scripture to make it say what they want it to say. Some have a theological system that they cling to and then bend scripture to make it support their theological belief system. This happens in the secular world all the time. Let me give you an example. Some years ago I published an article about the Bible’s view on homosexuality and a woman complained that homosexuality was not a sin and God encourages us to love everyone. She rebuked me, accusing me of twisting the Bible. I responded by asking her to read Romans 1:24-27 and 1 Cor. 16:9-10 and then tell me if those two passages reveal that God views homosexuality as a sin. She never wrote back. Why? Because the passage explicitly says,

. . . men abandoned the natural function of the woman and burned in their desire toward one another, men with men committing indecent acts and receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. Romans. 1:27 (NASB)

I would not be surprised to learn that the woman was taught by some pastor or teacher who claimed that homosexuality is not a sin. If so, they changed the clear meaning of the Word of God. The clear meaning of the passages is that homosexuality is a sin. One who teaches the Word of God should be like a waitress who carries the food from the kitchen of the restaurant to the table of the customer without changing it. The waitress does not add pepper, salt, mustard, oregano or ketchup to the food. The waitress does not remove something from the plate. The waitress should deliver the plate of food to you just as the chef prepared it. God is the “chef,” and the preacher or teacher is responsible to just deliver it just as God prepared it – without changing the meaning. That is what Jesus did. Unlike the religious leaders, Jesus taught what He heard from the Father. This is an important lesson for those who teach the scriptures. Their job is to be a waiter or waitress who delivers the Word of God unadulterated to the listeners.

The religious leaders did not accept Jesus’ teaching because His teachings were different from their teachings. After all their hours of study in the scriptures they did not understand the truth that the Father had tried to communicate. They were poor scholars of the scriptures, handling the Word of God in a sloppy manner. They depended upon the opinions of other rabbis in order to understand the meaning of scripture. They would even debate what other rabbis said in order to determine the truth rather than examine scripture itself.

Hills of Samaria Near Shechem

Knowing The Truth

Then Jesus made a key statement.

If anyone is willing to do His will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself. John 7:17 (NASB)

He says that those who want to obey the Father will be able to sense the true teaching from the Father when they hear it. He is not saying that a non-Christian who has an interest in the things of God will recognize divine truth. Instead, Jesus is saying that a Christian who sincerely wants to obey God will understand the truth when they hear it. For example, later on Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will convict us of righteousness, judgment and sin (John 16:7-11). In 1 Cor. 2:12-13 we are told that the Holy Spirit will guide Christians into truth. That is also the message of 1 John 2:20, 27. But this is only true for those Christians who sincerely desire to obey and are actively obeying God the Father. Otherwise, they will be led astray by every charismatic teacher.

If you are a Christian, have you ever listened to some teacher and while you were listening had a sense that something was wrong with the teaching? Then later you studied the scriptures and discovered that the teacher taught error? That has happened to me on more than one occasion. The teacher was a gifted speaker and due to the power of preaching, he was almost convincing. But I sensed that something was wrong with his teaching. It wasn’t until later after I examined his teaching that the Holy Spirit helped me discover that he was wrong. I have put Deut. 4:29 and 2 Tim. 2:15 into practice,

Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11 (NASB)

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15 (NASB)

I desired to be obedient. I wanted to know what the Father was trying to teach. I wanted to know the truth and so I searched the scriptures. Now this does not mean that we check out some other gifted teacher for their opinion. The examples given to us by scripture is that we study His Word faithfully. This requires much effort and not just a flippant, quick, hurried thought.

Jesus said that those who desire to do the Father’s will know the truth. The fact that they did not understand that Jesus spoke the truth, proved they did not want to do the will of the Father.

Glory Seeking Teachers

Then Jesus added this,

He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who is seeking the glory of the One who sent Him, He is true, and there is no unrighteousness in Him. John 7:18 (NASB)

Unfortunately, some teachers of scripture are more interested in “wowing” the audience or appearing to be anointed by the Holy Spirit. On one occasion a preacher told the audience that the Holy Spirit was giving him new spiritual truth. It was a dramatic moment. He paused as if listening to the Holy Spirit and then declared that God was not a trinity and then said, “There are nine of them. The Father has a body, soul and spirit. Jesus has a body, soul and spirit. The Holy Spirit has a body, soul and spirit. There are nine of them.” Later he admitted that he taught error when others challenged him. The truth is – he sinned and was a false teacher. But his “performance” on the stage was dramatic. He was seeking his own glory from the audience.

That is a dramatic example. But the same situation exists in other church pulpits around the world every Sunday morning as preachers try to impress their congregation but in a less arrogant way. Some pastors are more of a showman than a teacher of truth. Some impose an application upon a passage of scripture that is not taught by the passage. The application might be biblically true but it is not what the passage is all about.

Some times teachers just make up an application that might not even be true because they want to “wow” the audience. Imagine this obviously ridiculous application, where someone is teaching Genesis 1 and then concludes that every Christian can create their own universe, create another planet earth and even another Adam and Eve, if they just had enough faith. Then he explains that Jesus said if we had enough faith we could move mountains. Obviously, such a teaching is not the message of Genesis 1. The purpose of Genesis 1 is to reveal that God created the universe and or planet. He is the Creator. But I am sure that someone in the church would think the teaching was Holy Spirit inspired. They would be impressed with the teaching, especially if the teacher was powerful and dynamic. Some teachers seek their own glory but not God’s glory. Teachers who seek their own glory are not as interested in truth and the correct application as they should be.

Then Jesus added that the one who accurately teaches what the Father wants communicated seeks glory for God the Father and is not committing sin. How many teachers and preachers are concerned about glorifying the Father and not committing the sin of inaccurate teaching? I have consistently tried to be an accurate teacher of scripture, but the thought that I might be committing sin by inadvertently teaching incorrectly is a new thought. James 3:1 alludes to this truth when he writes that every teacher of the Bible will be judged harder.

Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment. James 3:1 (NASB)

Not only will the teacher sin by wrongly teaching and applying the truth that God the Father does want taught, but such a teacher will be disciplined eventually and severely.

Selective Obedience

The religious leaders did not know the truth because they did not really want to obey the Father. Also, they did not teach the truth because they were more interested in being held in honor by the people. Consequently, they are more like an actor seeking to impress the audience. So we should not be surprised that they did not obey scripture either. They were not serious about pleasing God. Their religion was about themselves. That is the message of Jesus’ next statement.

Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” John 7:19 (NASB)

Jesus spins their confrontation around with these words. He reminds them that Moses gave them the Law, which they so highly valued. That is where they got their teachings. Exodus 20:13 states, “You shall not murder” but they did not obey it. They understood the author of that law and they understood the meaning of the words. They did not challenge Moses’ teaching as they did Jesus’ teaching. Yet, they rejected both the teaching of Jesus and that of Moses because they wanted to murder Jesus. The crowd thought Jesus was crazy. The majority of the people did not understand that the religious leaders wanted to murder Him.

The crowd answered, “You have a demon! Who seeks to kill You?” John 7:20 (NASB)

We will discover later that some of the people understood that Jesus spoke the truth.

Then Jesus makes another comparison between Himself and Moses.

Jesus answered them, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision (not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.” John 7:21-24 (NASB)

Jesus reminds them that they practice circumcision. It did not originate with Moses but with the fathers. In fact, it started with Abraham (Gen. 17:11), whom they greatly respected. God had told Abraham that circumcision was a sign, and Moses required that circumcision be performed on the eighth day after a male was born (Lev. 12:3-8). Normally the Jews would not perform any work on a Sabbath day because that was God’s command (Ex. 20:10; 31:14-17; Deut. 5:13-15). The Jews were so careful to obey this command that they went to excess. For example, the Shabbat in the Jewish book called the Mishnah[2] lists hundreds of rules supposedly to protect a Jew from working on the Sabbath. Yet, they ignored God’s commands in order to perform circumcision (a work) on a male child anyway, so that the Law of Moses would not be broken. Circumcision was a sign of being a Jew.

Yet, they objected to Jesus healing a man on the Sabbath. John 5:5-17 describes the healing. The man had been paralyzed in his legs for thirty-eight years. One would think that the religious leaders, who should have been an example of compassion, would have rejoiced for the man. Instead, they objected that one of their man made rules was violated. God had only said do not work on the Sabbath. Was healing a work? According to their long list of rules, it was a work.

The religious leaders were angry. Jesus reveals that their anger was sin. They were self-centered. They did not judge righteously. Their judgment was warped.

Conclusion

Jesus revealed that because the religious leaders were not serious about obeying God they could not understand scripture. Later in John 14:21 Jesus will tell us that He will not reveal Himself to anyone who is not seeking to obey the commandments. Jesus taught this principle many times.

When Jesus taught the Word of God, His teachings sounded strange to them because they were new. Consequently, they were offended that Jesus did not agree with them. Have you ever encountered someone who was offended because you disagreed with them? As Jesus taught He revealed their error. The religious leaders were not trying to be good waiters who delivered God’s food from the kitchen to the tables unadulterated. They played with the food. They added and removed things.

Every godly, God honoring teacher must want to obey God, work hard to teach accurately what God the Father was trying to communicate in each passage of scripture, and then faithfully apply it. Every godly, God honoring Christian must want to obey, want to know the truth, and then they can grow in their knowledge about God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. That is the ultimate joy in life – to know one’s Creator!

 

References:

1. Robertson, A. T. Word Pictures in the New Testament. Broadman Press. John 7:15.

2. Jacob Neusner. Shabbat. The Mishnah. Yale University Press. 1988. pp. 179-208.

God The Father Sent Jesus

Where were you born? Were you born in your mother’s home, a hospital, an automobile, a train, an airplane or in a field? What city or nation is your place of origin? Have you ever stopped to ask, “Why was I born in this nation or country?” Or, “Why was I born to these parents?” It is obvious that you did not choose your parents or your country. The message of the Bible is that God gave you your parents and your nation. They were God’s choices. In Jeremiah 1:5 God said He knew the prophet Jeremiah before he was born, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (NASB) God planned before the beginning of time that Jeremiah would be a prophet. When you meet another person, do you ever wonder in what country he/she was born, who are their parents or if he/she was a nice person? Maybe you wonder if he/she lives in a mansion, are married or has a vocation. Maybe you called the person pastor, doctor, Mr. President or some other name. And what do you think about Jesus?

Mistaken Identity

In this study we are going to discover that when Jesus walked this earth there were Jews who thought they knew all the important things about Jesus. They knew the city in which He lived, His father, mother, brothers and sisters. Some had probably heard rumors about Him that they rejected as not being true. We can be sure that there was gossip about Him. Gossip exists in every town and church. In the gospel of Mark we are told that some people knew the names of Jesus’ parents, brothers and sisters,

Map of Israel

Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him. Mark 6:3 (NASB)

In addition to the names of the family members, they knew that Jesus was a carpenter. Typically, in Jesus’ day sons adopted the vocation of their fathers. Therefore, many conclude that Jesus’ father was a carpenter. While Mark 6:3 does not state the name of Jesus’ father, John 6:42 reveals that they knew his name was Joseph.

Many Roman Catholics have been taught that Jesus did not have brothers or sisters and that these verses refer to those who believe in God. That is, they are spiritual children or followers of God. Such teaching is wrong since it ignores the very obvious. For example, Matt. 1:16; Luke 1:27 and Luke 2:16 clearly identify Mary and Joseph as husband and wife.

Mark 6:3 clearly identifies Jesus’ mother along with four brothers and an unknown number of sisters. A plain sense reading of the verses indicates that this is a family unit. Nowhere in scripture are the words “brothers” and “sisters” used to refer to believers in God. Unfortunately, the Roman Catholic church have rejected the obvious because they teach that Mary did not have any other children? Why? Because they exalt Mary claiming that she was sinless and some how believe sexual relations for her would have been sinful. Where in the Bible can one find the statement that Mary had only one child – Jesus? Further John 7:1-8 reveals that Jesus’ brothers went to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths and Jesus stayed behind. Acts 1:14 is a powerful statement that indicates Jesus had brothers. The verse says, “Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers.” If this statement refers only to those of Jesus’ disciples or those who believe in Jesus, are we to conclude that the apostles weren’t His disciples? Also, Galatians 1:19 states that James was the brother of Jesus (Mark 6:3). The message is simple. Jesus had brothers and sisters and Mary was not a perpetual virgin. The Jews of Jesus’ day knew that Jesus had brothers and sisters.

The Origin of Jesus

In this study the question that we will consider is who was Jesus and from where did He come? In our last study Jesus and the religious leaders were questioning His authority to teach the crowds. They did not believe that He had the authority or the rabbinic training to teach. They considered themselves as the authority. Since Jesus had not been taught in any of their schools, they did not think He was qualified to teach. Jesus defended Himself by showing them their hypocrisy. They claimed to be true to the teachings of Moses, but they distorted his teachings and were not faithful followers of God. Jesus was repeatedly stating that their teachings were in error. In response they challenged Him. Because they were angry that He was not following their own teachings, they wanted to kill Him.

Confusion Among The People

Consequently, the people were in confusion not knowing what to believe about Jesus. Our study begins with John 7:25-26 and these verses reveal the people were confused.

So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?“ John 7:25-26 (NASB)

These two verses tell us that the people who gathered for the Feast of Booths were surprised that the Jewish leaders were allowing Jesus to speak publicly. Earlier in verses 11-13 we were told that the religious leaders were seeking Jesus because they wanted to kill Him (John 5:18; 7:1). As a result, the people were afraid to speak about Jesus. They knew that the leaders had already rejected Jesus. Consequently, they were stunned that the leaders were allowing Jesus to speak “openly.” The Greek word that is translated as “publicly” in verse 26 is parresia. It literally means “boldness or openness.” That is, Jesus was bold and yet the leaders did nothing.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

So, the people wondered why the leaders delayed. The wording of the Greek sentence could imply that the religious leaders had fresh evidence that Jesus could be the Messiah.[1]  If this is true, then the leaders were discussing among themselves what to do next. That would explain why they did not take action immediately.

The Greek word that is translated as “Christ” in verse 26 also means “Messiah.” We can be confident that the religious leaders understood the full meaning of Jesus’ name. This was a strategic time for the religious leaders. Jesus was at the feast and He could have been easily arrested and then killed. But they delayed. We will soon discover also that the religious leaders were concerned that Jesus was gaining a following. They heard the crowds wondering if He was the promised Messiah. The tension and excitement among the people and the religious leaders at the feast over Jesus must have been like electricity. Was Jesus really the Messiah? One can almost hear the religious leaders thinking. Why should we kill Him, if He is the Messiah? If He is not the Messiah, then Jesus is a trouble maker and gaining a following. Should they take the risk?

The Jewish rabbis of Jesus’ day were not careful students of the Old Testament scriptures. As a result, they thought the Messiah would be a human, like them – only a man. They believed correctly that he would be born in Bethlehem and become a Messianic king. The religious leaders taught that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David (Mark 12:35) and sit on the throne of Israel’s kingdom.

The next verse, John 7:27 raises some interesting questions. The question is, “Why did the people think that they would not know from where the Messiah came?”

However, we know where this man is from; but whenever the Christ may come, no one knows where He is from. John 7:27 (NASB)

It is obvious that the people had been incorrectly taught by their religious leaders that no one would know the identity of the Messiah until He suddenly appeared, and no one would know from where He came. While they were correct in many points about the Messiah, it is amazing that they believed that no one would know who He was or His birthplace.

They missed the fact that He would be God. That is the message of Isaiah 9:6-7 and Micah 5:2-5. Maybe the truth was too difficult to accept? Matthew 2:1-6 reveals that the religious leaders understood that Micah 5:2 taught the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. That is what they told the magi, but they did not understand the last past of Micah 5:2 which clearly reveals that the Messiah would be from “forever, ancient, perpetuity or everlasting.” Only God is from everlasting. They missed that truth.

Today the rabbis teach that the Messiah will be a human leader of Israel who ushers in universal peace.[2]

God The Father Sent Jesus

Sent By The Father

Then Jesus cried out,

Then Jesus cried out in the temple, teaching and saying, “You both know Me and know where I am from; and I have not come of Myself, but He who sent Me is true, whom you do not know. I know Him, because I am from Him, and He sent Me.” John 7:28-29 (NASB)

Jesus’ response indicates that He knew what the people were thinking and discussing. He was either omniscient – knew their thoughts – or He had heard them talking. Now it is important to notice what Jesus said in these two verses. First, He acknowledged that they did know Him. At least they thought they knew Him. They knew His parents and His brothers and sisters. They knew He was a carpenter and probably many other things that the gospels do not state.

Second, they knew the town that He came from. It was called Nazareth in the region known as Galilee. Many people are born in one city or nation and then later move to a different city or nation. The people did not even stop to think that maybe Jesus was born in Bethlehem and later moved to Nazareth in Galilee. They did not know that Jesus actually came from heaven to Bethlehem and then His parents moved Him to Nazareth. They did not know where He really came from.

Third, Jesus made an incredible comment that should have captured their attention. He said that it wasn’t His decision to come to earth, but someone else sent Him. Now most of us know that children enter this world as the result of sexual relations. Their parents “decided” to have children. But Jesus did not say that. He said that someone sent Him whom they did not know. He was referring to God the Father. He was clearly claiming to be sent by God. God decided to send Him to the parents to whom He was born.

This statement infuriated the religious leaders. Claiming to be from God sounded like a very proud and arrogant man. Even worse for the religious leaders, the people were believing Him because of His miracles, signs, wonders and incredible teachings. It is obvious in the next two verses that the religious leaders would have wished that He had just disappeared. But He didn’t and wouldn’t, so they wanted to kill Him.

So they were seeking to seize Him; and no man laid his hand on Him, because His hour had not yet come. John 7:30 (NASB)

But the religious leaders could do nothing because God did not want anything to happen to the Christ, yet. The Greek word that is translated as “seize” is pasisdo. It literally means to “arrest.” So they wanted to arrest Him. That was an important step before killing Him.

Even though the religious leaders did not believe in Jesus the crowds did.

But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” John 7:31 (NASB)

The signs, wonders and teachings were too great for the people to ignore. These things screamed loudly that Jesus was the one they longed for, waited for and wished for. He must be the Christ; however, they had doubts.

Now the religious leaders thought they had only two choices. First, arresting such a popular individual with so many people present had great risks. Or second, they could let Him continue teaching things with which they strongly disagreed. If they arrested Him, the people could revolt and cost them their popularity. If they did not arrest Him, that could cost them popularity too since He was speaking against them while claiming to be God. All of His signs, wonders and teachings seemed to support His claims. One would like to know what they had to say in their private meetings. But all we know is the result of their discussions.

Attempt To Arrest Jesus

The next verse states that the religious leaders finally decided to risk rejection from the crowds and arrest Jesus. They concluded that the alternative of doing nothing was too dangerous.

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. John 7:32 (NASB)

In this verse we are told that the Phariees heard the crowds muttering. The verb “muttering” is a participle which means that the crowds were continuously muttering. One can only imagine the emotional impact this must have had upon the Pharisees as they heard the people wondering if Jesus was the Christ. This One who spoke out against them denounced their teachings and publicly rebuked them. He performed signs, wonders and miracles they couldn’t. His teachings were awesome, inspiring and wonderful.

This was not a secret to Jesus. He knew about their plan. That is the message of verses 33-34.

Therefore Jesus said, “For a little while longer I am with you, then I go to Him who sent Me. You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come.” John 7:33-34 (NASB)

The Greek word that Jesus used in the phrase “little while” is mikron. It has the idea of a very short unit. That is, Jesus was declaring that He would not be on planet earth very long. Where was He going? He was going home where He came from originally – back to God the Father who had sent Him! He was going back to heaven.

If the religious leaders had understood Jesus’ next statement in verse 34, they would have been angry, but they didn’t. In that verse Jesus said that they would try to find Him but would be unsuccessful. Why? Because they could not and were not going where He was going. That is, they were not going to heaven. Jesus’ message is simple but powerful. They were going to hell. They were not going to go to heaven as they had assumed. Just imagine, these religious leaders who counseled others on how to go heaven were not going to heaven themselves. Their decision to arrest Jesus revealed their unholy, godless, self-centered heart. These were religious leaders who were just like the devil (John 8:44). They were religious leaders in title only.

Verse 35 reveals that they did not come close to understanding what Jesus was trying to communicate.

The Jews then said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find Him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is He? “What is this statement that He said, You will seek Me, and will not find Me; and where I am, you cannot come’?” John 7:35-36 (NASB)

They simply ignored all of Jesus’ previous claims to be God (John 5:18) and to have come from heaven. Their words also reveal their own arrogance that they could go anywhere they wanted. They missed the message. Jesus was going to heaven and they weren’t going there. They were going to go to hell.

Conclusion

It is amazing how many people have claimed that Jesus never taught He was God and had come down from heaven. In this passage we have discovered that Jesus claimed to have come from heaven (John 6:38; 41-42, 51, 58). He was sent by God the Father (John 7:28-29). He had already claimed to be God (John 5:18, 26-27) and He would repeat this claim again in John 8:24, 58; 10:30-33. Jesus declared to everyone who had ears to hear that He was and is our eternal God.

 

References:

1. D. A. Carson. The Gospel According to John. Inter-Varsity Press. 1991. p. 317.
2. Today the rabbis believe that the Messiah will 1) Build the Third Temple (Ezekiel 37:26-28). 2) Gather all Jews back to the Land of Israel (Isaiah 43:5-6).
3) Usher in an era of world peace (Isaiah 2:4). 4) Spread universal knowledge of the God of Israel (Zechariah 14:9). (http://www.simpletoremember.com/articles/a/jewsandjesus/)

 

 

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Rivers of Living Water

One of the great tragedies among those who attend church is that not everyone who claims to be a Christian is truly a Christian. That is the message of Jesus’ parable about the tares and the wheat (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43). In that parable Jesus taught that tares are sown in the field among the wheat by the devil (Matt. 13:39).  The wheat symbolized real Christians. The tares symbolized non-Christians, but they looked like the real thing – real Christians. That is, some people can appear to be very godly – like the real thing. What is worse is that some folks think they are Christians because they have good morals. That truth is revealed by Jesus in Matt. 7:21-23 where He declares that at the Great White Throne judgment some individuals will claim that they should be allowed to enter heaven because they had done various religious things: prophesied, cast out demons and performed miracles. That is, they thought they were Christians, but they were just tares headed for hell and eventually the Lake of Fire. Unfortunately, some of the wheat also worry that they are tares. Which are you?

Some Wheat Worry

Some wheat or real Christians worry that they are going to hell because they are struggling with sin and their life is empty, shallow and unfulfilling. They cannot understand why that is true.

Map of Israel

This is also true of tares who sit in church and hear about happiness but experience no victory or real joy. Sometimes biblical counselors wonder if the person they are counseling is actually a tare and that is why their life is such a mess. That is, they cannot access God’s power to live the Christian life in order to have victory over sin (Gal. 5:16; 1 John 2:13) and have the peace and joy that Jesus promised (John 14:27; 15:11).

Unfortunately, both tares and any wheat that has committed what they consider to be a great sin or continuing sin will experience disappointment and unhappiness. Some cannot understand why. It is a sad but real truth that churches could spend all of the money that God gives them to hire full-time counselors to help such tares and sinning wheat and there would still be a demand for more counselors. The promise of peace and joy is elusive for too many.

In this study (John 7:37-39) Jesus makes a profound statement. He states that anyone who comes to Him and believes in Him will feel like they have rivers of living water flowing out of their inside. That is, they will never be thirsty again and will feel satisfied. Wow! What a promise. Our study is about Jesus’ promise of living water to anyone who wants it.

Woman At the Well

Earlier in the gospel of John we are told that Jesus had stopped at the water well in the region known as Samaria. While He was there a woman approached (John 4:7-38). What followed was wonderful and memorable. Brilliantly Jesus asked, “Give Me a drink.” He was all alone with the woman since His disciples had left to buy food. The woman was surprised that He had spoken to her since Jews ignored Samaritans. But she did not know that her God was speaking to her. After she expressed her surprise, Jesus replied with this,

“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:10  (NASB)

Wow, living water! What a great phrase to capture her attention and also a great truth. But what did Jesus mean by living water? He gave her some hints with another statement.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14

The Greek word that Jesus used for “well” is page and its primary meaning is a flow, spring or fountain of water. The word “springing up” comes from the Greek word allomai, which means “leap, gush or bubble.” That is, the water He referred to was not the plain, every day water but a spring of water that would bubble up into eternal life. Jesus was talking about eternal life in all of its satisfaction and fullness. The stream of living water would be never ending. Let me share the meaning of “never” in verse 14. At first, would appear that this word is rather simple, but it isn’t. Our English word “never” is translated from five Greek words. A literal English translation is “no not into the ages” and not simply “never.” But “never” is exactly what those five words mean, but only stronger. What Jesus said was that those who drink his water will “never, never” thirst again throughout the age, our age. He was talking about a deep satisfaction that accompanies eternal life. This must have been a surprising statement to her – a deep satisfaction to the end of her life. But scripture does not record if Jesus told her how she could get that living water. For us, this comes later in His ministry.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

In Capernaum

Some months later Jesus was walking along the shore of the Sea of Galilee near the city of Capernaum. He was engaged in conversation with some of the people. Once again He declared that if anyone came to Him, they would never hunger and never thirst.

Then they said to Him, “Lord, always give us this bread.” Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. John 6:34-35  (NASB)

In this statement of Christ, the word “not” is translated from a double negative in the Greek and the word “never” comes from two Greek double negatives plus a word that means “ever.” Literally, Jesus said, “not, not ever.” The double negatives added emphasis. Jesus is once again promising that those who believe in Him will never, ever thirst again. This is a very strong claim. Jesus was not talking about physical water but spiritual water or eternal life. That is, once a person comes to Jesus and obtains eternal life, they will never ever lose eternal life.

Feast of Tabernacles

Then about four months later, Jesus left the city of Capernaum where He and His family lived and went down to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths, Tabernacles or Sukkot. Our study is about the last day of this feast and what Jesus did on that day.

The feast was mandated in Leviticus 23:39-44. The Mosaic Law required that the feast occur on the fifteenth day of the seventh month of the Jewish calendar (September or October). The feast lasted eight days.[1] On the first day the Jews sacrificed thirteen bulls and reduced the number of bulls by one each day until the seventh day. That means only seven bulls were sacrificed on the seventh day. The eighth day of the feast was the “Great Day of the Feast.”[2] It was a day of special observance. On this day the pilgrims held palm branches in their right hands and branches from fruit trees in their left hands. Before the morning sacrifice occurred, the priests played their trumpets and a processional left the temple. The processional was led by a priest who held an empty water pitcher. The processional moved down into the Kidron Valley to the Pool of Siloam. There the lead priest filled his water pitcher from the pool. The pool was supplied by a running water spring. Alfred Edersheim called it a “living spring.”[3]

Then the processional returned to the temple and arrived just before pieces of the burnt offering were laid on the altar. When the processional entered the “Water-Gate” on the south side of the Temple, three blasts of the priests’ trumpets were heard. Then the priest with the water pitcher poured the water from his pitcher into a silver funnel which placed the water at the base of the altar. Simultaneously another priest poured wine into another silver funnel and the water and wine were mixed at the base of the altar. This was the high point of the ceremony. Then the Great Hallel (Psalm 113-118) were chanted. Flutes played, the priest read the psalms and the people repeated the psalms. One of the ancient rabbis wrote: “Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life.”

Most likely Jesus announced that He offered living water to anyone who believed in Him at the very moment that the priests poured the water from the Pool of Siloam into the silver funnel which then cascaded down to the base of the altar where the pieces of burnt offering were to be sacrificed. It would have been a fabulous moment. Here is Jesus’ statement.

Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” John 7:37-38  (NASB)

Living Water Through Jesus

When Jesus made this announcement, He revealed four truths. The first truth is that we can only find satisfaction in Jesus Christ. No one else has this living water. This was Jesus’ message throughout His earthly ministry. In John 3:36 He clearly claimed that He and He alone was the only way to heaven.

He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”  John 3:36  (NASB)

Later in His ministry He said it again after John 3:36,

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.“ John 14:6  (NASB)

This was the message of Acts 4:12 of the apostles in the book of Acts.

And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved. Acts 4:12  (NASB)

Jesus’ first point on the eighth day of the feast was simple. Salvation is exclusively through Jesus Christ and only Jesus Christ. Believing in anyone else does not result in living water flowing from the inside to the outside of any person.

Rivers Of Living Water

Jesus’ second truth statement was that coming to Jesus means that we will believe in Him. One must believe in Him. He had already claimed to be God and He will be the judge of every man and woman at the end of the age (John 5:18, 26-27). In John 6:1-14 He performed a stunning miracle when He created food for 5,000 people out of five barley loaves and two fish (John 6:9). Imagine people watching Him multiply food from the bread and fish. Then He walked on water. These were miracles that only God could have produced. Later in John 8:58 and 10:36 He will state that He is God. Believing in Him also means that we believe Jesus came to die in order to forgive our sins and that He would be resurrected physically with an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:1-6).

Jesus’ third truth was that those who believed in Him would have streams of living water gushing from their insides to the outside. This is a picture of salvation or eternal life in its fullness. The next verse explains this important fact.

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:39  (NASB) 

Jesus’ figure of speech symbolizes the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a Christian resulting in deep spiritual satisfaction – inner peace (John 14:27; Rom. 5:1), joy (John 15:11), and the other fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). Jesus was talking about victory over sin and the joy and blessings that victory brings (Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:18-20). To anyone who is depressed, despondent, discouraged or disheartened, this is an unbelievable offer.

Jesus’ fourth and last point is  that those who believe will never thirst again. This statement means never ever again. It is a promise that is good for the rest of your life. Jesus reveals that a Christian is promised eternal life forever. It is a promise from our God who never lies (Num. 23:19; Titus 1:2; Heb. 6:17-18). Joshua 21:45 and Isaiah 14:24 tell us that God keeps His promises and His plans come true. John 14:6 also reveals that Jesus never lies and keeps His promises. Jesus is the truth. Therefore we can trust that once we come to Jesus and truly believe in Him, we have eternal life forever.

Conclusion

What an incredible offer. He promised salvation in its fullest sense and it will last forever. The promise rests on the truthfulness and integrity of God. Our God is loving, gracious, faithful and a promise keeper. So do you want spiritual satisfaction? Do you want your sins forgiven and have eternal life? Eternal life is not something that starts when you die. It starts when you are given the living water.  God has promised eternal life and it can start right now!

This living water comes in response to faith and the evidence of real faith is submission to God. R. Kent Hughes illustrates this truth with,

How are we to drink this water? Although the offer is free and open to all, yet there are some terms to be met. C. S. Lewis in his children’s novel The Silver Chair puts his finger on this in the clearest of terms. Jill, seeing a lion, is scared out of her wits and runs into the forest. She runs so hard that she wears herself out and is just about to die of thirst, or so she thinks, when she hears the gurgling of a brook in the distance. She approaches it and is almost ready to go to the brook when on the grass before her is the same lion.

“Are you not thirsty?” said the Lion.

“I’m dying of thirst,” said Jill.

“Then drink, “said the Lion.

“May I – could  – would you mind going away while I do?” said Jill.

The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

“Will you promise not to – do anything to me, if I do come?” said Jill.

“I make no promise,” said the Lion.

Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer. “Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.

“I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion – no one who had seen his stern face could do that –  and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted.

Do you see what Lewis is saying? When you come to the water, you are coming to a Lion, you must come on the Lion’s terms, and you have to yield yourself by faith in order to get the water. Some of us need to realize that we are thirsty, that we need that water so badly that we are going to die without it. We need to step out on faith, yielding to the Lion of the tribe of Judah, and receive the water of eternal life.[4]

So, let God know that you are a sinner, you believe He died for your sins and that you desperately want Him to forgive you and take over your life and change you. He will do that if you are really serious. You will receive the living water that Jesus promised.

 

 

References:

1. Josephus. Antiquities of the Jews . 13.245; b. Sukkah 48b; m. Sukkah 5:6; 2 Maccabees 10:16.
2. Alfred Edersheim. The Life and Times of Jesus The Messiah. W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1973. vol2, pp. 156-162.
3. Ibid. p. 158.
4. Hughes, R. K. (1999). John: that you may believe. Preaching the Word (pp. 216–217). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

 

 

Division About Who Jesus Is

William F. Barker tells a story about a student who was walking by a church in a small in town in Tennessee. The church sign read “Left Foot Baptist Church.” The student had been walking by the church day after day and finally asked why the church had this name. Someone explained that a church split had occurred. That is, people had left and formed another church and some remained. They had split over what some consider to be the sacrament of foot washing. But this church split was over which foot to wash – the left foot or the right foot. They named the church accordingly. Divisions are common everywhere. They occur in every nation, culture, government, church and in homes. There are men and women who are offended if someone simply disagrees with them, that is, someone has a different point of view. Consequently, they argue hoping to change the person’s viewpoint. Our study comes from John 7:40-53 and its focus is about conflicting opinions about Jesus Christ. The religious leaders and crowds argued about Christ. Who was He?

Division Within The Crowd

This is the fifth study about the events that occurred at the Feast of Booths while Jesus was there. At the beginning of the feast the religious spread the word that they were seeking Jesus (John 7:11). Consequently  the crowds were speculating about Him (John 7:12, 25-27, 31).

So some of the people of Jerusalem were saying, “Is this not the man whom they are seeking to kill? Look, He is speaking publicly, and they are saying nothing to Him. The rulers do not really know that this is the Christ, do they?” . . .  But many of the crowd believed in Him; and they were saying, “When the Christ comes, He will not perform more signs than those which this man has, will He?” John 7:25-27, 31  (NASB)

Map of Israel

Later we were told that the religious leaders tried to arrest Him (John 7:30, 32).

The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about Him, and the chief priests and the Pharisees sent officers to seize Him. John 7:32  (NASB)

On the last day of the feast Jesus made a dramatic announcement,

. . . If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”   John 37-38  (NASB)

This offer of living water fueled even more speculation among the people about the identify of Jesus as we are going to discover. The first verse of our study, verse 40 reveals that the people were wondering if Jesus was the prophet that Moses predicted would come.

Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” John 7:40  (NASB)

The tense of the Greek word that is translated as “saying” is in the imperfect. This implies that the crowds were repeatedly asking if Jesus was the prophet. The one that Moses referred to is in Deut. 18:15-18.

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him . . . The LORD said to me, “They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”  Deut. 18:15-17

John the Baptist was asked the same question at  the beginning of his ministry. The people wondered if John was the prophet (John 1:20-21). The crowds even asked John if He was the Christ or the Messiah or maybe Elijah (Malachi 4:5-6). The book of Malachi prophesied that Elijah would come before the “great and terrible day of the Lord.” The Jews understood that Elijah would come before the Messiah defeated the nations of the world and established His earthly kingdom. They wondered if John was Elijah or the Messiah. Each time John was asked those questions he said, “No!”

Verse 41 tells us that the crowds were asking one another the same question that they had asked John, that is, was Jesus the Christ or the Messiah?

Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?”  John 7:41  (NASB)

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

One can almost feel the excitement in the crowds. From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the crowds were amazed by His teaching, the miracles and the signs and wonders. He was an incredible teacher who spoke with authority (Mark 1:27-28). Matthew 4:24-25 says that the news about Him spread throughout all Syria, Galilee, the Decapolis and Judea. As a result some believed He was the coming Messiah – the Christ.

Just as some were wishing that Jesus was the Messiah, there were some who disagreed. They objected because they knew that Jesus had lived as a youth in the region called Galilee and they could not find any scriptures that said the Messiah would come from Galilee. They knew that the scriptures taught that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and be a descendant of David. The scriptures repeatedly prophesied that the Messiah would sit on the throne of King David and reign forever.

Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was? John 7:42  (NASB)

Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesied that a child would be born for the nation of Israel. He would be their God and reign on the throne of King David forever. Verses 6 and 7 make perfect sense since no one can reign forever but an eternal God.

. . . Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, On the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore.  Is. 9:6-7  (NASB)

Isaiah 11:1-10 also prophesies that the Messiah will be a descendant of King David and His kingdom will be glorious.

Micah 5:2 predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. The Jewish leaders understood this verse to refer to the Messiah, the king of the Jews (Matt. 2:1-6). Micah 5:2 prophesied that a child would come from Bethlehem who would become their ruler and He would be from “long ago” and “from days of eternity.” Only God exists forever. The prophecy was about Jesus Christ.

The doubters in the crowd were correct that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David and be born in Bethlehem, but they did not stop to think that maybe – just maybe – Jesus was born in Bethlehem. One wonders if they knew that Jesus’ parents were descendants of King David (Matt. 1:6, 16; Luke 3:23, 31) and consequently Jesus was a descendant of King David also. We do not know the answer to our question. The historical records of the gospels simply reveal that a division had occurred.

So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him. John 7:43  (NASB)

What else is new? Christ has always divided the crowds. Jesus said that He would divide people (Matt. 10:34) and He was correct. In fact, the division was so strong that even some in the crowds wanted to seize Him.

Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.  John 7:44  (NASB)

Division Within The Pharisees

Next we are told that the officers that the chief priests and Pharisees had sent to arrest Jesus in verse 32 finally return.

 The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?”  John 7:45  (NASB)

Since we are not told what the officers did after being ordered to arrest Jesus, one wonders what they did. The next verse tells us that they listened to Jesus speak and most likely  along with individuals within the crowds. It must have been an unbelievable experience. Here is their report.

The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.”  John 7:46  (NASB)

The Greek word that the officers used for “never” is a strong, emphatic word. The word is oudepote and it means “never, not ever, at no time.” That is, not even a Pharisee, King Herod, a chief priest or anyone else was as eloquent and powerful as Jesus. They were so amazingly stunned by what they heard they were intimidated and could not arrest Him.

The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you? No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” John 7:47-48  (NASB)

The Pharisees wanted to know why the officers did not bring Jesus. Their accusation was that the officers were “led astray.” What an insult. The Greek for the phrase “led astray” is planao which means “to stray away, go astray; be mistaken; be deceived, misled or wander about.[1]  That is, the officers were accused of being deceived by a silver-tongued and gifted orator. The Pharisees’ proof was that they claimed none of the Pharisees believed in Jesus, but they were wrong. Their words dripped with arrogance and condescension. The Pharisees were thinking that they were above deception and that they were superior to the officers. Maybe they meant to imply that the officers were stupid. The Pharisees did not realize that their own hearts had already deceived them. The prophet Jeremiah captures their problem with these words,

The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?  Jer. 17:9  (NASB)

On the one hand, we can rejoice that they were deceived because that resulted in the death of Jesus Christ. On the other hand, it is sad because they missed the Messiah that they had been teaching about all their life. What a sad situation. Their pride got in the way and they missed a tremendous joy. What stinging words the Pharisees uttered. “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” The message was the officers were really stupid.

Division Over Who Jesus Is

The next stinging indictment was that the crowd was ignorant of the Law or the scriptures. So, the accusation was the at the officers were just like the crowd, easily deceived and uneducated when it came to the scriptures. Then they added they were “accursed.” The Greek word for accursed is eparatos, which means “to call down a curse.” It is a judgmental statement wishing them a curse.

Vincent explains that the rabbis had disdain for the people because they considered themselves more knowledgeable about the scriptures,

As specimens of Rabbinical utterances concerning this class may be cited the expressions vermin, people of the earth, and the saying, “The ignorant is impious; only the learned shall have part in the resurrection.”[2]

That reminds us of the last part of 1 Corinthians 8:1,

. . . we know that we all have knowledge.  Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.  1 Cor. 8:1  (NASB)

The first part of the verse tells us that we all have knowledge. Everybody has knowledge. It is not possible to live life and not have some knowledge. So God is not saying that we should not have knowledge. But some people become proud because of their knowledge. Are you focused on your knowledge and not preoccupied with loving others? The Pharisees were preoccupied with their knowledge. Love was missing. They loved themselves. Maybe they talked about their academic degrees, honors and awards. Somehow they thought that people would give them honor. My experience has been that people are respectful toward the individual, but they are unimpressed with the person. They see the pride. That describes the Pharisees. This truth becomes clearer in the next verse.

But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed. John 7:49  (NASB)

They view the crowd with contempt and they do not realize that it is also an indictment of themselves. If their statement was true, then it revealed their own failure as teachers of the Law. They were not effectively teaching the people. This is a reminder that the education level of a congregation reflects on the quality of the teaching of a church’s pastors and teachers. Hebrews 5:11-14 provides a guideline for effective teaching of the Word of God. The teaching of the Word of God must contain more meat than milk. Newborn Christians do not grow whose diet is filled with milk.

These proud Pharisees were wrong in their statement to the officers. Apparently they did not know that one of their own, Nicodemus, believed that Jesus Christ was the Messiah.

Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them, “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing, does it?” John 7:50-51  (NASB)

This was the same Nicodemus who had visited Jesus earlier in John 3:1. In John 3:10 Jesus tells us that Nicodemus was a teacher of Israel. This means that Nicodemus was an important Pharisee. John 19:39 reveals that Nicodemus must have been a Christian since he helped bury Jesus’ body after his crucifixion. Therefore, it appears that Nicodemus was trying to defend Jesus in John 7:50-51.

Nicodemus reminded them that the Law required justice and not unilateral self-condemnation. He was probably thinking about Deuteronomy 1:16-17 which encouraged the leaders to judge impartially.

Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, “Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.”  Deut. 1:16-17  (NASB)

The passage warned every Jew to treat everyone as equals and not play favorites. They were not to be biased toward the rich and powerful and biased against the poor and powerless. This reveals a great characteristic of God. God desires justice. He requires that we be objective in our evaluation of others. This is an important principle for us to remember the next time we have a negative thought of someone. More than likely if we knew more about them, we would have a different opinion of them. Nicodemus encouraged them to  be like God – be just.

They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search, and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.” John 7:52  (NASB)

Their response to Nicodemus revealed their ignorance, lack of wisdom and injustice. Their ignorance was revealed by the fact that the prophet Jonah came from Galilee.  2 Kings 14:25 tells us that Jonah who was the son of Amittai (Jonah 1:1) was a prophet from the city of Gath-hepher. This city was in the land given to Zebulun which was in Galilee according to Joshua 19:13. That is, Jonah was from Galilee. Later Rabbi Eliezer stated that a prophet had arisen from every tribe of Israel.

There was no tribe in Israel which did not produce a prophet, and the tribes of Judah and Benjamin appointed their kings based on the words of the prophets.[3]

It is possible that the Pharisees lied in an attempt to be convincing.

Their lack of wisdom is revealed by concluding that Jesus had lived His entire life in Galilee. Apparently, they did not consider that maybe He was born in Bethlehem of Judea from which prophets did arise. Their injustice is clearly on display. They wanted to eliminate Jesus Christ.

Kent Hughes writes,

When snow descends upon the Continental Divide, it melts and flows off either to the west or to the east, never to meet again. Christ is the continental divide in our lives. We will either do up with the morning stars or, to use Eliot’s phrase, join the valley of the dying stars. Christ brings division to everyday life. We all have experienced this. Maybe we are at the store, in school, or at work, and we are talking animatedly with someone about any number of things – maybe politics or education or sports or the weather. Then someone says something like, “My life has been really different lately because of Christ.” Suddenly there is a silence and a shuffling of feet. Someone coughs. Someone else looks at his watch and says, “I’ve got an appointment to get to or I’ll be late.” Another says, “Oh, yes I have to go feed the dog. I must be going.” But in reality the man who said he had to feed the dog did not have a dog to feed, and the other person’s appointment was the next day.[4]

Conclusion

The crowds were divided and the religious leaders were divided over Jesus Christ. That was true in Jesus’ day and it is still true today. Recently, a woman visited our church as part of a school assignment. Her professor wanted her to visit various religious groups in order to be exposed to different “faiths.” She called the church and we welcomed her. We were teaching from one of the minor prophets that evening and we touched on the death of Jesus Christ during the service. At the end of the service she wanted to talk about what she had heard. It was obvious that she was upset. When I asked why she was upset, she shared that she was offended by our discussion about Jesus’ death on the cross for our sins. I did my best by the Holy Spirit to help her see that God loved her and died for her sins. But she was offended and did not want to listen.

Jesus is an offense and the gospel of salvation is an offense to Jews and Gentiles. We need to pray for this dark world. It is looking for something  better. They do not realize that who they want is Jesus Christ, our God, Savior and Lord. Jesus said,

Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me. Luke 7:23   (NASB)

 

 

References:

1. Newman, B. M., Jr. (1993). A Concise Greek-English dictionary of the New Testament. (p. 143). Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies.
2. Vincent, M. R. (1887). Word studies in the New Testament. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons. vol. 2, p. 165.
3. Babylonian Talmud. Sukah 27b.
4. R. Kent Hughes. John. Crossway Books. 1999. p. 222.

Woman Caught In Adultery

The Woman Caught in Adultery

 

This study is about a woman caught in adultery. Apparently someone entered a room while she and her lover were engaged in sexual activity. That would have been extremely embarrassing to be caught in a sexual act. It would also have been a very fearful experience since the Mosaic Law required that the woman and her lover be killed (Lev. 20:10; Deut. 22:22). One wonders why the story does not mention anything about the man who was also engaged in the sexual activity. On the surface it appears that the woman was singled out by the religious leaders. Maybe it was a trap designed to see if Jesus would condemn only the woman. We know nothing about her husband or her lover. The story has been appealed to by many as a wonderful act of forgiveness and even tolerance by others. We are not told what Jesus wrote on the ground or why the religious leaders left, starting with the older men and finally the younger men. The message of the story is simple. Jesus never condemned her and only warned her to not do it again. Consequently some teach that we should be more tolerant.

Doubts About The Story

Unfortunately there are serious doubts that the events in this story actually occurred. These doubts exist because the John 7:53 through John 8:11 does not exist in the earliest and most reliable ancient manuscripts. Some very old ancient manuscripts contain white space between John 7:52 and John 8:12 which would indicate that the copyist left out this story.[1] The early Greek church fathers do not refer to it. In some manuscripts the passage appears in other locations in John and even the book of Luke. The passage appears to have been inserted by some copyists. D.A. Carson offers a lengthy discussion about the manuscript evidence for John 7:53-8:11 and as to whether this story belongs in the gospel of John. He writes,

These verses are present in most of the medieval Greek miniscule manuscripts, but they are absent from virtually all early Greek manuscripts that have come down to us, representing great diversity of textual traditions. The most notable exception is the Western unical D, known for its independence in numerous other places. They are also missing from the earliest forms of the Syraic, and Coptic Gospels and from many Old Latin, Old Gregorian and Armenian manuscripts. All the early church fathers omit this narrative: in commenting on John, they pass immediately from 7:52 to 8:12. No Eastern Father cites the passage before the tenth century . . . Moreover, a number of (later) manuscripts that include the narrative mark it off with asterisks or obeli, indicating hesitation as to its authenticity, while those that do include it display a rather high frequency of textual variants. Although most of the manuscripts that include the story place it here (i.e. at 7:53-8:11), some place it after John 7:44, John 7:36 or John 21:25. The diversity of placement confirms the inauthenticity of the verses . . .[2]

John MacArthur writes,

The story was most likely history, a piece of oral tradition that circulated in parts of the Western church. (Most of the limited early support for its authenticity comes from Western manuscripts and versions, and from Western church fathers such as Jerome, Ambrose , and Augustine.) Eventually, it was written down and found its way into later manuscripts.[3]

It is possible that the story is based on oral tradition. If so, then there may be some truth to the account. Consequently, most Bibles include the story in order to avoid the error of deleting it. Notable Bible teachers such as R. C. H. Lenski, G. Campbell Morgan, Kent Hughes, F. F. Bruce and Leon Morris do not include it their commentaries. But Hendricksen, John MacArthur, Albert Barnes, Matthew Henry, John Calvin, H. A. Ironside and Arthur Pink include the event.

Map of Israel

The Early Morning

John 7:53 and John 8:2 tell us that everyone went home after the conversation between Nicodemus and the other Pharisees. That implies the events in the later part of John 7 occurred in the late afternoon or the early evening. John 7:37 says that it was the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and John 7:53 says that they went home. That is what one would expect at the end of the feast and John 8:2 confirms that the day had ended when it says “early in the morning.” Now we know the events of John 8:1-11 occurred in the early morning hours. John 8:1 tells us that after everyone went home, Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. We do not know why He went to the Mount of Olives. Luke 21:37-38 says that apparently Jesus regularly taught during the day and then went to the mountain at night. Maybe He went there to pray. John 8:2 suggests that Jesus remained on the mountain all night because the next thing that we are told is that early in the morning He returned to the temple.

Everyone went to his home. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people were coming to Him; and He sat down and began to teach them. John 7:53-8:2 (NASB)

The Greek word that is translated as “early morning” is opthpos and it means that as the sun was just breaking over the horizon or day-break Jesus came to the temple. One can imagine Him walking by Himself towards the temple and then maybe one or two people seeing Him. We are told that He came to the temple again. The prophet Malachi prophesied that the Messiah would come to the temple.

Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple . . .” says the LORD of hosts. Mal. 3:1 (NASB)

The verse quotes our God who claims that His messenger, who is John the Baptist, would prepare the way. He says, “. . . before Me.” And who is the “Me” who would come to the temple? The answer is God Himself. This is a powerful statement that says the one who would come to the temple would be God Himself. The gospel of Luke tells us that the first time Jesus Christ came to the temple was for His circumcision and dedication (Luke 2:21-38). He returned once again as a child when His family went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover (Luke 2:41-48). Then John 2:14-15 tells us that at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He came to the temple. Throughout His ministry He visited the temple repeatedly (Mark 14:49). John 8:2 gives us one of those occasions. Luke 21:38 indicates that Jesus visited the temple one last time, just before His arrest and crucifixion at the end of His ministry. These were more signs that Jesus was and is the Messiah.

John 8:2 states that after Jesus arrived at the temple a crowd came to Him. This reveals that the people could recognize His face. He was extremely well-known and so popular that they rushed to tell others that He was at the temple. Recently, my wife and I were flying to Washington D.C. for a pastor’s conference. We were at an airport and we saw a man who appears frequently on a news network. I commented to my wife that I had just seen him, but I did not rush to tell anyone else. I did not shout to others that he was right there. As a result there weren’t any crowds. But when Jesus appeared, He was so popular and the people were so excited to see Him that they told other people. The news spread and a crowd grew. Mark 1:27 has already told us that the people were amazed at His teaching and authority. He was the most incredible speaker that anyone had ever heard.

Chronology10 - Ministry in Galilee to Ministry in Judea

Adulterous Woman

Next we are told that Jesus sat down and started teaching. That was the custom among the religious leaders in Jesus day. Luke 4:16-21 illustrates this truth. The passage reveals that Jesus entered a Nazarene synagogue and was offered the opportunity to speak. He was given the scroll of Isaiah. He unrolled the scroll and read Isaiah 62:1-2. It was customary to stand while the Word of God was read. After He finished reading He sat down and started teaching (v. 21). Jesus sat down to teach on other occasions (Luke 5:1-3). Some pastors sit even today in order to teach because they desire to follow Christ’s example, but scripture never teaches that one must sit to teach the scriptures.

Verse 3 reveals that the religious leaders also came. But they came with wrong motives. They did not come to learn. They came with the goal of discrediting our Lord Jesus Christ.

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act.” John 8:3-4 (NASB)

They brought a woman who had been caught in the very act of committing adultery. One wonders how this happened. Did someone just happen to find the couple having sexual relations – in the very act? Did someone or the religious leaders intentionally open the door to discover the couple? It would be difficult to find a couple in the “very act” since most couples have sexual relations in private. Had the religious leaders been suspicious of a woman and then tried to catch her in the “very act”? Did they suspect that this would happen and hoped it would occur so they could trap Jesus? One wonders why the man was not brought to Jesus along with the woman. Why only the woman? Did they think that Jesus might be more inclined to condemn her since the religious leaders of Jesus’ day had a lower view of women?

We are told that they put her in the center of the court of the temple and then described what she had done. Then they added,

Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say? John 8:5 (NASB)

They told the truth. Both Exodus 20:14 and Deut. 5:18 prohibited adultery and Lev. 20:10 and Deut. 22:22-24 described the consequences,

If there is a man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, one who commits adultery with his friend’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Lev. 20:10 (NASB)

If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel. If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you. Deut. 22:22-24 (NASB)

Both passages teach that both the man and woman were to be killed. Then why did the Pharisees only bring the woman? This reveals something about the trap they created for Jesus. The next verse reveals that they tried to trap Jesus in order to accuse Him.

They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him . . . John 8:6a (NASB)

But of what did they want to accuse Him? First, if Jesus said that the woman should be released, the Pharisees would have accused Jesus of violating the Mosaic Law and discredit Him before the people. His claim to be the Messiah would have been in question.

Second, if Jesus had said, “Stone her to death,” they would have accused Him of lacking compassion. So far in Jesus’ ministry the Pharisees had been witnesses to His compassion for the people. Luke 7:34; 15:2; and 19:7 record that the religious leaders were critical of His compassion. It may be that Jesus’ very compassion was the motivation for bringing the woman. They wanted to discredit Jesus; would He violate the Law?

Third, if Jesus had refused to take a position, He would have been criticized. By bringing just the woman they placed an emphasis on compassion – compassion for the woman. Throughout Jesus’ ministry He healed the people, fed the people and taught the people. He had shown great compassion for the people while also claiming to uphold the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:17). The religious leaders had planned this one well. The trap was set. What would Jesus do?

Woman Caught In Adultery

Writing In The Dirt

Then Jesus leaned over and wrote on the ground.

. . . But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. John 8:6b (NASB)

The Greek word that is translated as “wrote” is in the imperfect tense. The imperfect refers to repeated continuous action. This reveals that Jesus apparently wrote a number of times. What did He write? There are many opinions about what Jesus wrote. Some believe Jesus wrote the names and sins of the different religious leaders in the dirt or He wrote a word of warning aimed at the religious leaders.[4] H. A. Ironside believes that what Jesus wrote on the ground was Jeremiah 17:13.[5]

O LORD, the hope of Israel,
All who forsake You will be put to shame.
Those who turn away on earth will be written down,
Because they have forsaken the fountain of living water,
even the LORD.

The verse implies that all who forsake the Lord will be written in the dirt. If that is what Jesus wrote, then verse 7 would imply that He wrote their names in the dirt. They were all guilty – of sexual sin. T. W. Manson suggested that Jesus followed a custom of Roman magistrates who wrote their sentence and then read it.[6] John MacArthur writes,

Others suggest that He wrote the words He would say in verse 7, or part of the Law (such as the prohibition against bring a malicious witness in Ex. 23:10.[7]

But the truth is no one knows what Jesus wrote since the scriptures do not tell us. B. F. Wescott has the best conclusion,

It is quite vain to conjecture what was written, if indeed we are to understand anything more than the mere mechanical actions of writing.[8]

It is obvious that the Holy Spirit did not think it was important for us to know anything more, but only the simple statement that Jesus wrote.

Throw A Stone

Whatever Jesus wrote, it did not stop them.

But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” John 8:7

The Greek word for the verb “persisted” is epimeno. It is in the imperfect tense and is a participle which means that were continuing to ask Him what should be done to the woman. They did not ask just once but continued asking. They wanted an answer now. They did not want to wait for Him to finish writing on the ground. They were asking while He had leaned over to write on the ground. Jesus did not answer them until He stood up. Then He challenged them about their own sin. “He who is without sin among you” were His first words. Jesus and the religious leaders obviously knew that everyone who has been born has sinned (Ps. 51:5). Therefore, was Jesus referring to a specific type of sin? Is it possible that every man standing there was guilty of sexual sin or adultery? Again, we do not know.

Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. John 8:8 (NASB)

Then He leaned over again and wrote on the ground. I would love to know what He wrote, but once again the Holy Spirit did not think it was important enough to tell us.

When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. John 8:9 (NASB)

Verse 9 tells us that the Pharisees heard Jesus’ words in verse 7, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her” and verse 8 tells us that they saw what He wrote. They both heard and saw. A number of Greek manuscripts add “being convicted by their conscience.” Even though the better manuscripts do not contain this phrase, it is obvious that their conscience[9] convicted them because they left one by one and Jesus was left alone with the woman. They were convicted by a combination of written and spoken words. They were so embarrassed that they could not stay.

They did not realize that they were dealing with the God of the universe who knew everything that they had done. This reminds us of the Galilean woman at the well in John 4. After Jesus had revealed that He knew about her five husbands (John 4:17-19), she said, “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” (John 4:29). On other occasions we are told that Jesus had supernatural knowledge (Matthew 12:25; Luke 6:8; John 1:48; 16:30; 21:17). One wonders what He revealed – that He knew perhaps something that they had all done together?

Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” John 8:10 (NASB)

Compassion of Christ

Then Jesus stood up and asked the obvious, “Where are they? Where are those who wanted you to be condemned?”

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now on sin no more.” John 8:11 (NASB)

The woman answered Jesus with, “No one, Lord.” Then He said, “now sin no more.” Why did Jesus not condemn her? Did He just ignore her sin? It is obvious that He did not ignore her sin since He told her to “sin no more.” Most likely the woman was begging God for forgiveness and mercy as she was being taken by the religious leaders to Jesus. I imagine the woman was greatly embarrassed and fearful as she was forced to walk through the streets. By the time she was brought to Jesus, she was in great fear of being stoned to death. Most likely, just like most of us, she was begging God for forgiveness. She did not need to be told to confess her sins. What she needed was to know that she was forgiven. The unexpected rebuke was “Go. Sin no more.” I am sure that she did not commit that sin again.

Oh, that we would flee sin without being rebuked. But that is not our usual nature. We wait until we see the consequences or the threat of a danger and then we stop sinning. This woman waited until she was caught in the sexual act. Maybe her accusers had gazed upon her naked body and then piously rebuked her before hauling her to Jesus. Then they announced her sin for everyone on the temple grounds to hear her guilt. What incredible embarrassment and anguish she must have suffered.

I am sure that she repented fervently and to God. What she needed was compassion and He gave it to her. The Holy Spirit wrote these words for us,

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 (NASB)

 

 

References:

1. H. A. Ironside. John. Kregel Academic & Professional. 1920. p. 193.
2. D.A. Carson. The Gospel According To John. Eermans Publishing Co., 1991., p. 333.
3. John MacArthur. John 1-11. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Moody Publishers. 2006. p. 323-324.
4. William Hendriksen. John. Baker Book House. 1953. p. 37.
5. H. A. Ironside. JOhn. Kregel Academic & Professional. 2006. p. 196.
6. W. T. Manson. (as cited by D.A. Carson. The Gospel According To John. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 1991. p.335.).
7. John MacArthur. John 1-11. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Moody Publishers. 2006. p. 328.
8. B. F. Wescott. The Gospel According To St. John. Eerdmans Pubslishing co. 1975. p. 126.
9. Reuben Swanson. John. New Testament Greek manuscripts. Sheffield Academic Press. 1995. p. 108.

 

 

The Elect Are Secure By The Power of God

I Have Spoken!

They have invaded us! They have conquered us, stolen from our temple, and captured thousands of our people! Those must have been just a few of the thoughts of some of the Israelites who watched Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylonian army march through the streets of Jerusalem after they had defeated Pharaoh Neco and his Egyptian army. Nebuchadnezzar and his army had come to conquer and control the land of Judah. Now he came to humiliate their King Jehoiakim by making him his slave and stealing from the temple. Before Nebuchadnezzar left Judah, he made Jehoiakim a puppet governor to control the land Nebuchadnezzar now claimed for his own. The once proud nation under King David and King Solomon was now in the control of the Babylonian Empire.

God’s Hand

Daniel picks up this historical event in the first two verses.

In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” (NASB) Daniel 1:1-2

Nebuchadnezzar was an emerging power and Jehoiakim was a wicked king. Daniel begins with two kings, one defeated and the other a conqueror because God helped him win. The Holy Spirit tells us that God “gave” Jehoiakim to Nebuchadnezzar. Psalm 127:1 reminds us that Nebuchadnezzar would not have won without God’s help.

Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, The watchman keeps awake in vain. (NASB) Ps. 127:1

Nebuchadnezzar did not know that he had been helped. He did not know that he was to soon discover God through one of his captives.

flow of Biblical prophecy

Overview

Daniel is about kings and godly men who remained faithful to the true God. It is about dreams and prophecies concerning five nations. It is a book about God, Satan, and demons. It is a book that will give us confidence that the Bible is God speaking to us.

We will see the signs of the times and explore the future. When we finish with Daniel, we will continue into Revelation, Lord willing, to understand the events in our future.

The Battle Ground

Daniel has been a battle ground between those who do not believe in God and those who do. Those who do not believe in God cannot accept miracles and biblical prophecies, including Daniel. So they have attacked the date and authorship of Daniel. They say that the book was written after the historical events occurred.
What has occurred is that they have ignored the facts and have refused to answer questions that point to their error. Here are some of the facts.

Dead Sea Scrolls. When was Daniel written? The Dead Sea Scrolls provide the first proof that the book of Daniel existed before 165 BC, since Daniel was found among the manuscripts at Qumran. This early date is the result of radiocarbon dating of the Dead Sea manuscripts of Daniel. They imply that earlier copies of the book with older dates already existed. This is important because Daniel predicted the fall of Babylon (605-539 B.C.), Media-Persia (539-331 B.C.), Greece (331-146 B.C.) and then Rome (331-146 B.C.). Daniel also predicts the time of Jesus’ death (33 A.D.). The Dead Sea Scrolls prove that at least one prophecy, the prophecy about Jesus’ existence on earth to be real.

Date of Daniel

The Septuagint. There is another proof that the book of Daniel existed before Jesus was alive on this earth. This proof involves the Septuagint, which is also known as the LXX. The LXX is a Greek translation of the Old Testament. Jewish tradition says that seventy scribes translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek between 285 BC and 247 BC. Since the Septuagint contains the book of Daniel, we know that the book of Daniel existed even earlier in time.

Book of Josephus. Josephus states that the book of Daniel was shown to Alexander the Great when he approached the city of Jerusalem (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XI, chapter VIII, section 5). History says that Alexander the Great approached Jerusalem around 331 BC. This means that the book of Daniel existed before this event. It predicted that Jerusalem would be conquered by Greece. Some critics will accept Josephus’ other accounts as being accurate, yet dispute this fact.

The Jewish Tradition. Long standing Jewish tradition says that the book of Daniel existed before 450 BC. While this is not solid proof, it is consistent with the next fact.

Ezekiel’s Reference. Most critics widely accept the book of Ezekiel as being written between 586 BC and 538 BC. What is fascinating is that the author, Ezekiel, refers to Daniel in Ezekiel 14:14, 20. This implies that Daniel was alive during his time. Daniel claims to be the author (Daniel 12:4) of the book which bears his name and to have lived during the life of Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1-2) and Darius (Dan. 9:1). This implies that Daniel was a contemporary of Ezekiel and lived to see the fall of Babylon (Dan. 5:30-31).

Internal Evidence. For decades, the critics said the proof that Daniel was written near Christ’s time is found in the Greek names of musical instruments recorded in the book and in the fact that a portion of Daniel was written in Aramaic. After excavations in Babylonia and Assyria, it has become clear that the musical instruments (lyre, sackbut, and trigon) mentioned in Daniel 3 do not have Greek names (which would argue for a later date for Daniel), but Babylonian names from the seventh century (600 B.C.). These instruments originated in Old Persia and were then assimilated by the Greeks.

To the embarrassment of the critics, excavations have also proven that the Aramaic of Daniel was an Imperial Aramaic of the seventh century (600 B.C.) and not the Aramaic found later. The Babylonians did read and write in Aramaic (Dan. 2:4). With the Dead Sea scrolls and recent archaeological findings, the critics of Daniel are having to reconsider their objections. Future discoveries are proving the criticisms to be in error and not objective.

Substantial historical evidence exists to prove that Daniel was written before the prophecies about Greece, Rome and Jesus were fulfilled.

The Kings and Prophets

For a horizontal version of the chart click here.

The Warning

The opening verses of Daniel are a warning to us. The nation of Israel had been a divided nation after King Solomon sinned and went after other gods (1 Kings 11:9-13). Two new kingdoms were created after his death as God had decreed. One was a new, smaller kingdom of Israel in the northern part of Canaan and the second kingdom was Judah in the southern part. This was the result of King Solomon’s sins and not the sins of the people.

The kings of the new Israel and Judah continued ignoring God and worshipping other gods. They “did evil.” The chart below shows which kings did evil before God (1 and 2 Kings, 1 and 2 Chronicles). The kings of Israel were the worst and so God disciplined them first and brought the Assyrian Empire down to remove the vast majority of the people to a foreign land. The kings of Judah were better, but only two kings were considered to be “good.” The last good king was King Josiah – a wonderful king. Listen to this!

And before him there was no king like him who turned to the LORD with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the law of Moses; nor did any like him arise after him. (NASB) 2 Kings 23:25

God never said this about David or Solomon and He did not say this about any other king. Did you notice the first and last part of the passage? There was no king like him before or after him. He loved God with all his heart, soul, and might. That is what Jesus has called us to do.

And He said to him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.” (NASB) Matt. 22:37

Josiah destroyed everything that stood between him, the people of Judah and God. But that did not change God’s plan to bring Nebuchadnezzar down and destroy Jerusalem and Judah.

However, the LORD did not turn from the fierceness of His great wrath with which His anger burned against Judah, because of all the provocations with which Manasseh had provoked Him. (NASB) 2 Kings 23:26

There is a great lesson here for us . God works through leadership. Sinning leaders bring God’s discipline on a nation. The principle is the same with fathers and single parents who are sinning. Sinning church leaders blunt the blessing of the Lord on the church. Oh, the leader can “minister” for the Lord but he/she “ministers” without the Lord’s full blessing.

Eventually, God disciplines the leader and maybe the people, the family, or the church. So God gave the kingdom of Israel to the Assyrians and about one hundred years later He gave Judah and its sinning leaders to Nebuchadnezzar. Was this fair? Here is God’s answer.

Woe to them! For they have brought evil on themselves. (NASB) Isa. 3:9

In the following verse, leaven symbolizes sin.

Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough? Clean out the old leaven, that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. (NASB) 1 Cor. 5:6-7

The leaders are the models. They set the example and the people follow. The kings sinned and here is what happened in the kingdom of Judah.

For My people have forgotten Me, They burn incense to worthless gods And they have stumbled from their ways, From the ancient paths, To walk in by-paths, Not on a highway . . . (NASB) Jer. 18:15

God had been calling them to repent but they did not.

Perhaps they will listen and everyone will turn from his evil way, that I may repent of the calamity which I am planning to do to them because of the evil of their deeds. (NASB) Jer. 26:3

So God used Nebuchadnezzar to discipline Judah. Nebuchadnezzar was not a man who followed God. He worshipped other gods, including his chief god Marduk. God used Nebuchadnezzar to bring the Jewish captives to Babylon. Babylon means the “Gate of god” or the “Gate of the gods.” They would be here for seventy years (Jeremiah 25:12-13). God used this man to defeat Jerusalem and bring the Jewish captives to a godless place. Nebuchadnezzar was God’s servant (Jer. 25:9) – God’s tool. The message for us is that God uses evil nations, terrorists, thieves, murders, to bring us to Himself. God calls us to believe in Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Do you believe in Jesus Christ? If you do not, God says that you at war with Him (Rom. 5:10). But you can make peace with God by believing in Jesus Christ.

Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ . . . (NASB) Rom. 5:1

God says that we must believe that Jesus is God, the only true God. You must believe that you are a sinner and that peace is found only when Jesus forgives your sins. We must also believe that Jesus returned to life. If you do, the war is over. Your sins are forgiven and now Jesus calls you to submit to Him. Praise the Lord.

 

Comments or Questions?

Introduction To The Prophecy of Daniel