I Am That I Am

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Exodus 3:14-15 (NKJV)

And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.”  And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you’.”
Moreover God said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God or Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever and this is My memorial to all generations.”

I Am. The Self-existent One of the ancient Hebrew texts has revealed Himself to us through the Man, Jesus of Nazareth.

John 18:4-6 (NKJV) Jesus therefore, knowing all things that would come upon Him, went forward and said to them, “Whom are you seeking?”
They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them.

Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground.

Mark 14:61-62 (NKJV) But He kept silent and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked Him, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”
Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”

Revelation 1:12-18 (NKJV)
Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.

His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire;

His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters;
He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.

And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last.
“I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and of Death.

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A Savior Is Born (16)

A musical celebration of the Advent of the Christ.

This one’s more of a sobering caution to not ignore the call to welcome our Savior with joy.

A Savior is Born (10)

 

A musical celebration of the Advent of the Christ.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6 (ESV)

Don’t Kick ’em While They’re Down

This is interesting.

Zechariah 1:14-15 (ESV) So the angel who talked with me said to me, ‘Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.
15 And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was angry but a little, they furthered the disaster.

Me: these verses are a partial answer made by God to the question posed in v 12. “How long will You be angry and withhold mercy from Jerusalem and Judah?” (Paraphrase).

The Israelite people of Zechariah’s day were experiencing the predicted disciplinary response for having turned away from following God (read Leviticus 26:27-46). Specifically, they would be subjugated by the surrounding pagan nations whose ways they chose to adopt in spite of receiving strict instruction to the contrary.

Verse 15 (above) indicates that the civilizations which the Hebrew people were subjected to took full advantage of the national disgrace of the Israelites…that they actively abused the people in a way that far exceeded the authorization God had given them.

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It left me thinking that God is always good to correct us and allow us to experience the well-earned results of our disobedient choices…for our good, to encourage repentance.

And sometimes, the temporal consequences we bring on ourselves are extremely unpleasant, to say the least.

However, it is a very bad idea to recognize that someone is being chastised/humbled and take it upon one’s own self to add a greater load of pain or shame to their burden through mockery, looting of their possessions or physical abuse.

Thoughts about James/Hebrews

We’ve been going through James’ letter at our local assembly. I’m sorry to say that I have not been taking careful notes of what has been said during the meetings, so will not attempt to relay the teacher’s words. Still, I figured I’d share my personal observations regarding some interesting similarities between the two books.

~ The two letters are conveniently arranged with one immediately following the other in the NT

~ Both James (see opening words @ 1:1) and the author of Hebrews are addressing the same group of people Not necessarily the exact same personalities, but those of primarily a Jewish/Israelite heritage. I believe these would be the “natural branches” which Paul spoke of in Romans 11. If I’m correct, these were not scripturally ignorant Gentiles, but were individuals who were religiously, culturally and historically exposed to the sacred writings known as “The Law and Prophets”, which Jesus said He had come to fulfill (Matthew 5:17).

~ Both writings are evangelistic in focus Hebrews makes an extensive case for Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment and reality of OT “shadow” references. James makes reference to the law, yet pleads with his audience to “receive with meekness the implanted word” which is what actually has the power to save us (James 1:21)

~ Both books deliver very stern reprimands James outlines a long list of persistent issues regarding arrogance, partiality, lack of devotion to God, empty religion and goes so far as to call out his readers as an “adulterous people” (4:4) and demand that they humble themselves and submit to God, resist the devil, cleanse their hands (of evil works, I presume) and purify their hearts as they mourned over the seriousness of their sin (4:4-10).
The author of Hebrews warned readers to not “harden their hearts” against the truth (3:15) and admonished them to accept God’s loving chastisement and teaching (12:5-8).

~ Regarding teaching : This is one of the most fascinating comparisons, IMO, because James said that “not many of you should become teachers” because teachers incur stricter judgment (James 3:1). That was one of the points addressed last Sunday.
The writer of Hebrews, however, spoke corporately when (s)he said: “by this time, you ought to be teachers” (as though this is a desirable…even expected… thing,) and then backed away from that by emphasizing their spiritual immaturity (Heb. 5:12). If I am correct about general audience and overall themes of the two letters, this actually makes a lot of sense.

If both groups SHOULD have had many mature individuals who understood that the main purpose and point of the Law is to lead us to Christ, and they had obediently submitted their hearts to the direction of God’s Spirit, they would have been able to help others to understand, as well. But instead, they all needed to be re-introduced to the basics and recognize for themselves that the true foundation of God-pleasing faith is humble acceptance of the Person of Christ Jesus as rightful Savior and Lord.

In other words, the majority of them likely did not know what they were talking about and would have caused a lot of long-term damage within the greater body of Christ (ie, the Church universal).

My thoughts. You will need to test for validity on your own.

Joel 2:17-18

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Biblical passage is referenced at the bottom of the page.

Some things I noticed:

  1.  The call to repentance is continued
  2. It was to be initiated…or supervised…or mediated by the priests.
  3. If I’ve correctly understood the floor-plan image I located, Solomon’s Temple would have had three separate courts:  The outermost being that of the gentiles (perhaps those who had an interest in worshiping God but were not naturalized Israelite citizens).  Then, the court of Israelites.  The third, inner-most court was that of the priests (who had direct access to the altar of burnt offerings).    This LINK shows another picture minus the outer courts. I’m guessing the porch which Joel mentioned was the series of steps which led from the court of the Israelites up to the inner court of the priests.
  4. It appears that the purpose for the weeping and mourning at this particular location is to signify to God a desire to return to His ways…so that HIS inheritance…(I believe this means His people) and His reputation…would not have to suffer shame among His (and their) enemies.
  5. God’s promised, gracious response to repentance is seen in v 18.  And here is another mention of the all-important combination of grain, wine and oil (My pair of personal observations regarding these sacrificial elements are located HERE and HERE)
  6. The “church-age” equivalent of the Levitical priesthood would perhaps be the body of genuine, professing believers (See 1 Peter 2:8-10).  If I am correct, then Christians today bear a great responsibility before God as servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If the warning of Joel’s letter is to be taken seriously, maybe we should be the first line of repentant intercessors who pray for the return to God of our respectively wayward countries and citizens.

17 Let the priests, the Lord’s ministers,

Weep between the porch and the altar,
And let them say, “Spare Thy people, O Lord,
And do not make Thine inheritance a reproach,
A byword among the nations.
Why should they among the people’s say,
Where is their God?”

18 Then the Lord will be zealous for His land,
And will have pity on His people.
And the Lord will answer and say to His people,
“Behold, I am going to send you grain, new wine, and oil,
And you will be satisfied in full with them;
And I will never again make you a reproach among the nations.”

Joel 17-18 (NASB)

With Respect For Joseph…

Image Courtesy Prawny @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image Courtesy Prawny @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily.

 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.

 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.

Matthew 1:19-21  (KJV)

This is the time of year we tend to remember the significance of Mary’s role in the birth of our Savior.  But there was another whose involvement is equally worthy of note.

In Joseph’s positive response to the angel’s message, we can see a measure of faith and obedience to God’s will that many of us today may not truly appreciate.  His belief in God’s promise of redemption does not appear to be any weaker than Mary’s.

However, I suspect that Joseph’s internal conversation might resonate with any man who has fully committed himself to love and provide for not only the attractive woman who first caught his eye, but also any child(ren) she may have from a previous relationship. This promise to enter into a lifelong connection would be an especially delicate undertaking as “step” children might, on some level, be viewed as outsiders…if not by the adoptive father, then perhaps by biological half-siblings or society in general.

Such men deserve our respect and a show of appreciation, whenever possible.