Thursday, April 22, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Monday, April 12, 2010
Friday, April 9, 2010
“seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses …
let us run with patience the race set before us” (Heb 12:1)
In our text above, the author of Hebrews seems to be indicating that we, as Christians, are surrounded by all those who have gone before us, watching us as we persevere through this world towards our “expected end” (Jer 29:11). Is this the true sense of this word as it is used in context?
The Greek word translated here as ‘witnesses’ is μαρτυρων (marturôn). A variation of this word also occurs in Acts 1:8: “…and ye shall be witnesses (μαρτυρες, martures) unto me.”
Both of these words derive from the Strongs Greek Number 3144 – μάρτυς – meaning “of uncertain affinity; a witness (literally [judicially] or figuratively [generally], by analogy a ‘martyr’” (emphasis mine). We can see from this definition that the primary sense of the word, then, is not of a spectator witnessing an event, but rather of one who has seen or encountered something previously and has been called to testify to their circumstances or outcome.
In that sense then, we can more clearly understand what the writer of Hebrews is trying to communicate to his audience. Having just enumerated dozens of individuals from Jewish history who exhibited extraordinary faith in the face of trials set before them because they counted God as able to deliver on His promises; the writer then implores his readers, effectively, “What more do you need? God has proven Himself over and over throughout history to be faithful to reward those who maintain and persevere in their faith toward Him. Who are you – indeed who are we to question that God will do what He has said He would do and reward those who earnestly seek after Him?”
Monday, April 5, 2010
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
“It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel; I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)
Jesus Christ “was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of [us] who, through him, are believers in God” (1 Pet 1:20-21).
It is difficult at times to look back over biblical history and tie together all of the threads that God has woven into a single tapestry. Our finite, temporally-locked minds have difficulty giving credence to these amazingly well laid-out plans that stretch for millennia. Our own existences are limited to less than a single century, yet God had ordained the sacrifice of His son as the atonement for our sins long before He had commenced creating any one of us (Rev 13:8).
By picking out a “people for Himself” (1 Sam 12:22), many throughout history have been led to believe that God’s ultimate favor rests on Israel. However, scripture teaches that God’s ultimate favor rests on Himself. God, through providential history works towards one goal – His own Glory. And God is most glorified through the redeeming work of His Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. In fact, hints of this were given even to Abram: “…and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Gen 12:3). While God would single out Abram’s son Isaac for his eventual people, it would be through this line that God Himself would be glorified and all people everywhere blessed. Isaiah, in our text, speaks of this son of Jacob and Israel who would be a light, not just to the other sons of Israel, but to the Gentiles, as well.
The apostle Paul noted how the Jews had so withdrawn into their Judaism that they missed their Messiah: “…Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for … as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear…their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompence unto them: Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see” (Rom 11:7-10). Why would God give them a spirit of slumber? Eyes that they should not see? Ears that they should not hear? Paul continues: “… through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles” (Rom 11:11). Thus fulfilling the promise given to Abram and reiterated in Isaiah: “A light to the Gentiles… my salvation (ישׁועתי) unto the end of the earth” (Isa 49:6) RST