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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Good Samaritan - a "bit" Deeper

Just a reminder - Here is what a Bible tidbit is.

A Bible tidbit is a brief lesson from the Scriptures that draw us a little deeper into the Bible. If you are not excited about the Scriptures, hopefully a Bible tidbit will get you excited about them. They are things that have gotten me excited about the Scriptures.

My first Bible tidbit came when I was in a dialogue about the scriptures with a Southern Baptist girl. I was 19 and she was asking me all sorts of hard questions from the Bible and I couldn’t tell the difference between a chapter and verse.

I went to my Godfather for help and he gave me some historical philosophical response to give to her. I said, "Look, I think I need to answer her from the Bible." He said, that her whole foundation was based on scripture alone, but the Bible teaches that the pillar and foundation of truth is the Church.

1 Timothy 3:15 But if I should be delayed, you should know how to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of truth.

I read that verse once, Matt, and it was as if my entire life had been lived in darkness and someone had turned on a light. I could then see two things. One, that the faith of the Church was alive, and that my own faith really began to live.

Here is the actual tidbit for today.

This is a great one that can be shared with Catholic and non-Catholic alike. It is the parable of the good Samaritan.

Luke 10:30-35 , "A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him, and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road; and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was; and when he saw him, he had compassion, and went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; then he set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, `Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.'

In case someone doesn’t know, who are the Samaritans?

Back in 1040 B.C., King Saul had united all 12 tribes of Israel under his kingship. But in 930 B.C., the country split into two parts. The North was called Israel and the South was called Judah.

The capitol of the north was Samaria. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians came and removed most of the population of Israel and put in its place five pagan peoples. These people integrated their religions with the teachings of Moses, defiling true worship.

When it comes down to it they were half pagan, half Jewish. So the Jews didn't like them very much. They were in effect outcast by the Jews.

Why, though, do the priest and the Levite both pass up the man that was beaten?

One reason could be that they figured that he was already dead. If he was already dead, then touching him would have made them ritually unclean. Meaning, they would have to go through some cleaning rituals before they could go worship at the Temple.

Holiness in the Old Testament meant staying both spiritually and physically pure. These men chose to stay physically pure, but not spiritually pure because they denied their duty of loving their neighbor.

The Samaritan, who might not be as bound to the purity laws, does the right thing and helps the man.

So with that in mind, what else is there to notice about the story?

The Allegorical interpretation of this story is beautiful.
The man that gets attacked is Adam, who is leaving Jerusalem (city of God) and going to Jericho (city of the enemies of God). One his journey he is attacked by the devil.

The priesthood before Moses cannot help him. The priesthood instituted by Moses (Levitical priesthood) is also unable to help him.

Only Jesus, who is the Good Samaritan (the outcast), is able to help him.

Jesus pours on the sacraments of healing, oil representing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, and wine representing the Holy Eucharist.

Jesus then takes him to the Inn, which is the Church and tells the Innkeeper, Peter (keys to all the rooms), to take care of him until Christ returns in the second coming.

This tidbit is great because it is easy to see the second interpretation and you get to evangelize a little bit. So I hope folks out there share this with someone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Similarities of the Covenants

The Bible talks about 6 covenants that have been made between God and Man. Each one is unique and yet there are several similarities. Here is what I've found that makes covenants that were made in the Bible alike.

I have found that they each have at least 5 themes in common. They are each present, though some are more explicit than others. There is a creation theme, a temple, an Adam-like figure, a mountain, and finally a fall, or rebellion of some kind.

Start at the Beginning with Adam and go through these 5 similarities.

Well, the creation is the creation theme. That is pretty easy to spot. The temple is not so easy to spot. The temple is the garden of Eden itself. Now it doesn’t SAY that it is a temple, but it doesn’t have to if you know what is in a temple. You all know that priests work in temples. Well, Adam was a priest and the Bible hints at this as much.

In Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it.

These words “till and keep” in Hebrew are just loaded with meaning, especially when they are used elsewhere together. They have another meaning , not of tilling and keeping, but of working, or serving and guarding.

For example, in Numbers 3:8 And they shall keep all the instruments of the tabernacle of the congregation, and the charge of the children of Israel, to do the service of the tabernacle.

There are many examples, but as you can see these words when used together can have an idea of worship. So when we read this back into Genesis 2:15, it is saying that Adam was a farmer, but also a priest. Besides, who taught Cain and Abel to offer sacrifice?

Adam is the Adamic figure.

What about a mountain? Yes, Eden was a mountain. Ezekiel 28:13-14 You were in Eden, the garden of God; you have many treasures. On the day that you were created they were prepared. With an anointed guardian cherub I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

So, Eden was a mountain.

Finally, the fall occurred when our first parents ate of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Let's look at God's covenant with Noah.

The creation theme is clear. The water parts and dry land appears.

The temple is the Ark itself. Both the Ark and the temple have three parts. And because the temple represents our Lord himself and all those who are IN Jesus are saved. It seems fitting that since the whole world is saved because they are in the ark, the ark is a kind of temple.

The Adamic figure is Noah, who also offers sacrifice pointing us to his priesthood. The mountain is Mount Ararat. His fall is when he plants a garden and eats some of its fruit. It is a garden of grapes and Noah gets drunks from the wine. That is his fall.

Abraham is the next person with whom God makes a covenant.

The creation theme on this one is a little harder to find, but I think it is when they leave the land of Ur and separate themselves from those people and go to where God shows Abraham, which is the land of Canaan.

I think the temple is the whole of the land because Abraham knows that the land represents heaven, which the book of Hebrews confirms.

Hebrews 11:8-16 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was to go…For he looked forward to the city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.

Abraham is the Adamic figure who makes a covenant with God on Mount Moriah. His fall is found apparently in the Hebrew language. (I can’t read Hebrew, so I am standing on the wisdom of others here). In the Hebrew, when Sarah is telling Abraham to take Hagar for a wife so he can have children, it is said to be similar to the temptation and fall of Eve by the Devil.

Then we have the covenant with Moses and the Israelites in the desert.

They are a new creation by passing through the Red Sea on dry ground. That is the creation theme. The temple is the tabernacle. The Mountain is Mount Sinai. I think there are two Adamic figures. Both Moses and Aaron, Moses for his leadership role and Aaron for his priestly role. The fall is of course when they worship the golden calf.
The next covenant is with David and his descendants.

In my opinion, I think that the Temple that Solomon builds serves as both the temple and the creation theme because the temple was built in seven years signifying the 7 days of creation.

The mountain is Mount Zion or Jerusalem where the temple is built. I think the Adamic figure is again twofold, David and Solomon. The Covenant is made between God and David, yet his son Solomon built the temple and they are both great types for Christ.

The fall lies mainly on Solomon. While beginning with humility and gaining wisdom, ultimately he became a type of antichrist. Moses specifically said that a King can’t do three things: multiply his gold, multiply his wives and have a standing army. Solomon in two chapters does all three and begins the downfall of Israel.

These covenants are all fulfilled in the final covenant between Jesus and the world.

In some sense, Jesus is the New Creation. In another sense, His baptism begins the New Creation, which of course points to His death on the cross, so it isn’t just one point. His baptism is the fulfillment of the creation, with the Holy Spirit over the waters like creation, but in the form of a dove like at the flood. He is crossing the Jordan river like Israel did with Joshua. So, His baptism fulfills many creations themes of the Old Testament.

Jesus is the New Temple. He said in the Gospel of John, "...destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up...," meaning His body.

The mountain is again Mount Zion, or Jerusalem, where He is sacrificed. He is the New Adam, yet unlike all of the other types, there is no fall. There is only Glory is His obedience and faithfulness to His Father.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Prophecy in Context

There are many mysterious verses and chapters in the Bible and sometimes we just accept it as mysterious because it is in "The Bible."

Sometimes, though, you read the context and that helps, or doesn't help, depending on the book. Other times, you can't just read the context, you need to get some commentaries out and start digging.

Isaiah's prophecy about the Messiah in Chapter 7 is just like that.

Isaiah 7:10-14 The LORD spoke to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test." And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This is traditionally a prophecy concerning the birth of Jesus. So what's the problem?

The problem is when you start thinking about it only as a prophecy of the birth of Christ, it doesn’t make sense. Even if we start asking some basic questions, it doesn’t seem to help.

Who is Ahaz? He is the King of Judah 700 years before Jesus is born.

Why does he need a sign from God? He needs a sign because it looks like his kingdom will be destroyed.

What is the sign? The sign is that in 700 years a virgin is going to have a baby who will be called “God with us.”

That would be sort of like me saying to someone, "I see that there are some real troubles in your life, but don’t you worry one bit. In 700 years, a girl is going to have a baby."

That is a problem interpretation when you stop and think about it. How does this interpretation change when we dig deeper into scripture?

The context and the historical background are the key.

At the time that this event is happening, Assyria, whose capitol is Nineveh, is the world power.

Samaria, which is the capitol city of northern Israel located in the tribe of Ephraim, and another city named Damascus, the capitol of Aram, had been paying tribute to Assyria.

They decided to stop paying tribute to Assyria and get Judah to join them in their rebellion.

Ahaz, the King of Judah, refuses to join in their rebellion. So, the King of Samaria and the King of Damascus go up to fight against Ahaz the King of Judah. Their goal is to defeat him in battle and then put a man named Ta’be-el on the throne of Judah in his place. Once Ta’be-el is King of Judah, Judah can then join in this rebellion against Assyria.

At this point, something must be kept in mind.

God promised to King David that there would always be an heir to the throne of David. God told David:

2 Samuel 7:16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.'"

King Ahaz was sitting on that throne 300 year later, except that there are some people coming who want to take it away, therefore bringing an end to the dynasty of David.

So the throne of David is threatened, so here is what God does:

Isaiah 7:10-14 The LORD spoke to Ahaz, "Ask a sign of the LORD your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven." But Ahaz said, "I will not ask, and I will not put the LORD to the test." And he said, "Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

This is fulfilled in the very next chapter of Isaiah 8 when Ahaz’s wife conceives and gives birth to a baby boy. It is as if God is telling Ahaz, "See, the kingdom will go on through your son. I am with you. I am the God who keeps my promises. The kingdom under your guard will be safe."

How then is this prophecy again fulfilled in Christ?

Well, by the time Jesus was ready to be born the Kingdom of David had been gone for 500 years. David’s descendants were still alive, but to come forward as any king of claimant for the kingship would have meant death. The Romans in Jesus’ day had only one king and that was Caesar.

Matthew 1:18-23 Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit; and her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel" (which means, God with us).

This was the second and greater fulfillment of the prophecy, which should be read in light of the first fulfillment. No matter what, God would have someone on the throne of David even if it seemed impossible.

It is there on that throne that Jesus sits today in the Heavenly places and in holy hearts.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Help my friend Evangelize!

By supporting someone evangelizing - YOU ARE EVANGELIZING!

My friend John Leyendecker has been evangelizing on a college campus in Colorado for 2 years now. He began a Bible study with 5 students and now has them with 150 students.

He needs financial support because this ministry is full time. If you could give a one time donation or be a monthly donor (like me), anything would be appreciated.

Here is his contact information: