Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Angels Preach to the Shepherds

Luke tells us in Luke 2: 8-14: 

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

Kings do not come to town unannounced. They send heralds before them to announce their appearance so people will be ready for them. 

It was the same with Jesus Christ. But in his case, his heralds were angels.  It was a dramatic scene. Majestic angels appeared, seemingly out of nowhere and certainly unexpected.The glory of the Lord shown around them. That glory usually made people fall to the ground. The shepherds were terrified. 

The angels came to announce the good news that Jesus was born in the City of David. 

I do not know why, but God chose to herald the coming of Christ to some shepherds. These guys were camped out with their flock of sheep in the fields when the angels appeared. They were very low on the social scale. 

The angels told them Jesus had been born. They used three titles for Jesus. First, he is Savior. A savior is a deliverer. Second, he is Christ. He is the anointed one who rules as king. Finally, he is Lord; he is God. 

There was important news in this announcement. The long awaited Messiah had appeared. From the beginning, when Adam and Eve heard the curse on the serpent, God’s people awaited the one who would defeat Satan. 

They waited the seed of Abraham that would bless all nations. 

They looked for the prophet like Moses. 

They anticipated the one who would be the perfect sacrifice for sins. 

They expected Isaiah’s Suffering Servant that would bear their iniquities and heal their wounds with his stripes. 

Now, the angels announced, this Messiah\Christ, who fulfilled all of these prophecies had appeared. 

The word Messiah is the English translation for the Hebrew word meaning “Annointed”. The word “one” is implied, so “Annointed One” would be a fair translation. In Greek it is Kristos if you use English letters. We transliterate it as Christ. 

Jesus would later say the title, Christ, should be his. Mark 14:60-62 records the following conversation: 

And the high priest stood up in the midst and asked Jesus, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?” But he remained silent and made no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” 

The angels’ second piece of news was that this news would be joy for all peoples. God promised Abraham a descendant who would bless all nations. That descendant arrived in Bethlehem announced by angels. 

Third, those with whom God was pleased, those whom he called into his kingdom, would find peace with God. Sinful men and women are enemies of God. But Christ would reconcile his followers to the Father (Romans 5:10). 

Christ is the only one who can bring about this reconciliation in the life of believers. Jesus said “no one comes to the Father except by me” (John 14:6). 

What a wonderful event and what a blessing to hear the news first. Yet, thanks to the Bible and the faithful witness of Christ’s disciples throughout the centuries, we join the angels in praise to God for his gracious salvation. The shepherds witnessed this first great praise: “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 

That multitude of heavenly beings is now joined by a multitude of believers from all of time and from every country that ever existed glorifying God and preaching the gospel of reconciliation to God: peace to those with whom he is pleased. 

Revel in the knowledge that the Creator of the Universe is pleased with you if you follow his Son. He takes pleasure in your praise and your obedience. 

What more could you ask?

Sunday, December 18, 2022



In chapter 2, Matthew continues to show Jesus’s right to the kinship of Israel, the throne of David. He does this in a couple of ways. First, he structures the story around three ways to show Jesus as king.

First is the testimony of the Magi, who call Jesus the King of the Jews. Second is Herod’s fear that he will be supplanted as king. This was especially true because Herod was not a Jew and not entitled to the throne. Third, Matthew shows 4 prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. 

The Wise Men Arrive


Some time after Jesus was born, men from the east come looking for him. We do not know the exact date of this. However, it was during the days of Herod the king. (1) This was Herod the Great, so we can get an approximate date. Herod died in 4 B.C. So, Jesus had to have been born before that, likely in 5 B.C.

Some time has passed, as Jesus’ family is now in a house instead of the stable. 

The men were “wise men” in the KJV and those which follow in its line (ASV, RSV & ESV). Literally, Matthew calls them sorcerers. The NASB and the NIV call them Magi, sort of a transliteration of the Greek word. It is the same root word as that used in Acts 8:9 that says the Simon practiced sorcery. 

These men are from the east of Jerusalem. No specific location is given. It could have been Babylon or Persia or some place else. Some people call the men astrologers because of their attention to the star. 

Somehow these men knew there would be a baby born who would be the king of the Jews. Maybe these men had access to the Jewish scriptures. Maybe they had read Daniel’s book written from Babylonia. 

When the men saw the star, they believed it was the sign the baby had been born. It must have been a supernatural event to make them think this. In Balaam’s last prophecy, he said “a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel”. (Numbers 24:17) 

So, they came to Jerusalem, which they knew to be the capital of Israel. They asked around the city where the king of the Jews was. They told the story of seeing his star. Notice that it does not say the star led them there. 

Notice also how the men think of Jesus. First, he is a king of the Jews. He is the long awaited son of David come to rule his people. Second, he is deity. They came to worship him. (2) 

Herod’s Reaction


Herod heard about this and was troubled. He was the king of the Jews by Roman appointment. He did not tolerate rivals. He had killed many to preserve his power. 

He had his wife’s brother, whom he had appointed as the high priest, drowned in the swimming pool in his palace. He killed 46 members of the Sanhedrin. 

He killed his mother-in-law. He had his second wife murdered along with two of their sons whom he considered potential rivals with legitimate claim to the throne because of their Hasmonean lineage. Augustus Caesar is reported to have said, “It is better to be Herod’s dog than one of his children.” 

So, if Herod was troubled, all of Jerusalem was troubled. 

Herod brought all of the chief priests and scripts together and asked them where the Christ was to be born. Herod was, rightfully, conflating the title of king with that of Christ (messiah). The chief priests were the current high priest and any others who had been high priest. Herod had taken over the appointment of the high priest and changed it frequently. The chief priests were Sadducees. 

The scribes were experts in Old Testament scripture. They were mostly Pharisees. 

The chief priests and scribes knew from Scripture that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem. They quoted Micah 5:2 as their source. Matthew adds some words from 2 Samuel 5:2 about the Messiah being the ruler (prince) and shepherd.

Upon learning this, Herod met with the Magi and sent them to Bethlehem to look for the child. (7) He claimed to want to go and worship him also. (8) We know that Herod was lying. 

The Magi in Bethlehem


The Magi left Herod and went to Bethlehem. The star reappeared and led them to the house where Jesus lived with his parents. The Magi rejoiced to see the star. They went into the house and saw Jesus. They fell down and worshipped him and they gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. 

Psalm 72:10-11 speak of the Gentile desert tribes bowing down before the Lord. Isaiah 60:6 speaks of Gentiles coming to bring gifts of gold and frankincense. 

Despite the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem and was of the line of David, neither the chief priests nor the scribes showed any interest in Christ’s appearance. Only the Gentiles came to worship him. 

Friday, December 16, 2022

Evidence for Noah's Flood

 Ancient Origins cites evidence for a world wide flood. Read it here

Each of the Gospel writers began the story of Jesus in a different fashion. Matthew began with the genealogy of Jesus to convince Jews that Jesus was the son of David so that he was qualified to be the Messiah. Mark did not write about the birth of Jesus at all. He started with John the Baptist and jumped right in to Jesus’ ministry. Luke, at the other extreme, gave detailed accounts of the births of John the Baptist and Jesus.

John, however, is unique in his approach. He began with a prologue that is theological and specifically “Christological”.

This is the first part of the prologue:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.

John’s prologue is a commentary on Genesis 1. Genesis 1 first says “in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”. John tells us Jesus was there in the beginning and that the heavens and earth were created through him. Jesus is eternal and Jesus participated in creation.

It is interesting to me that God creates everything by speaking. Each act of creation after the initial act of creation is set forth with the words “and God said”. God created everything through his word. John tells us Jesus is the Word and God created everything through him.

The earth was originally dark. Genesis 1 says “darkness was over the face of the deep.” But God said “let there be light” and there was light. I used to puzzle over this, for the sun and moon were created later. So, how could there be light? Well, there was light because God said for there to be.

And John tells us that the Jesus had life in him and that life was the light of men. That light shines in the darkness. So, Genesis 1 spoke primarily of physical light. But John 1 speaks to spiritual light. Spiritual light is the knowledge of God. Jesus came to bring the knowledge of God to us. He came to bring the light. He said “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life”.

The Bible often uses light to indicate the revelation of God to us and our knowledge of him. Romans 1 describes those who do not honor God as those whose thinking became darkened.

Jesus revealed himself to Paul in a blinding light of glory on the road to Damascus.

Jesus’ very birth was an event of light. Angels appeared to shepherd reflect the blinding light of the glory of God. The shepherds fell to their feet in fear at their appearance.

A bright star appeared in the heavens to lead the Magi to Jesus. In other words, a heavenly light led the Magi to the Light of the World.

John also tells us that this light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. That was a dramatic statement when John wrote it. The Roman Empire ruled the world that John knew. It was a pagan empire, having a collection of Gods that were to be worshipped. Eventually, it required worship of the emperor. The Empire was a force of darkness. The Star Wars movies captured this image, making the two leaders of the Empire clothed in darkness.

In spite of the Empire, the church grew. The light spread across the empire, chasing away darkness. Many times since then it has appeared to us that darkness would prevail, yet John’s statement continued to be true: the darkness has not overcome it.

And that statement is true today. Things often look dark. The enemies of the church are everywhere. Yet, the gospel is preached in new places and the church grows around the world. 

We sing a song about this, but not at Christmas. We sing in on Missions Sunday. But it applies to Christmas, too. It is called “We’ve A Story To Tell to the Nations”. The first verse and refrain goes like this:

We've a story to tell to the nations,

that shall turn their hearts to the right,  

a story of truth and mercy,  

a story of peace and light,  

a story of peace and light. 

For the darkness shall turn to dawning,

And the dawning to noonday bright;

And Christ’s great kingdom shall come on earth,

The kingdom of love and light.

The Christ child in the manger is the light of the world, bringing eternal life to all who believe in him. That fragile baby survived a jealous Jewish king willing to kill all the male babies in town to kill him. But that darkness did not overcome the light. Jesus rose from the grave after being killed by Romans and Jews. The darkness did not overcome the Light of the World.

And today, as we string light on trees and houses, and in church sanctuaries, we proclaim that the darkness of sin and evil have not, and will not, overcome the Light of the World. He will overcome all of the darkness. And we will stand in the light with him for all eternity.

That is a cause for a Merry Christmas.

Sunday, December 11, 2022


Jesus’ Human Lineage

1:1, 16

Matthew presents Jesus as the sovereign, the king. Matthew begins his gospel with the genealogy of Jesus, showing him to be the son (descendant) of King David. He is revealing the king and establishing Jesus’ right to Israel’s kingship.

The Jews expected the Messiah to be David’s descendant based on God’s covenant with David to have a descendant on the throne of Israel forever. (2 Samuel 7:16) 

In verse 18, Matthew shows us that Joseph, Mary’s husband, was a descendant of David, as was Mary. Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Joseph had to register there because he was “of the house and lineage of David”. (Luke 2) This was predicted in Micah 5:2. 

Notice that Matthew does not call Joseph the father of Jesus. Matthew clearly maintains the concept of the virgin birth of Jesus. He does so in this verse as well as verses 20 and 23. 

The child of Mary is Jesus, which means God saves. Matthew also said that Jesus is called the Christ. The word “Christ” is a transliteration of the Greek word “Christos”. Christos translates the word for “annointed”, “mashiakh”, from we transliterate into “messiah”. Jesus is the one anointed to save and rule his people. 

Jesus’ Divine Lineage


Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Betrothal is the stage before formal marriage, but it is more than being engaged in modern society. 

Most marriages were arranged while the couple were young teens. The two sets of parents agreed for their children to be married. They entered into a contract that included a dowry, or bride price. The agreement could only be broken by divorce. 

The couple did not live together during betrothal, but also could not see other people. After an agreed period of time, there would be a wedding feast. The groom would come to the home of the bride and take her to the feast. We see this in the parable of the wise and foolish virgins in Matthew 25:6-7.

The virgins did not know the exact time the bridegroom would appear. They needed to be constantly ready. When he came, they lighted lamps and processed with him to the bride’s house.

We see an example of the feast in the story of the wedding at Cana where Jesus performed his first miracle. It was a festive occasion that obviously included wine drinking. (John 2:1-12)

During the time of betrothal between Joseph and Mary, he found out she was pregnant. This would have been scandalous. It would be considered adultery under normal circumstances. 

Matthew tells us again of the virgin birth, saying she was with child from the Holy Spirit. (18) However, when Joseph first heard Mary was pregnant, he did not know this and assumed she had been with another man since this occurred “before they came together”. (18)  

He determined to divorce her. Being a just man, he knew he should divorce her at a minimum and shame her at the maximum. The Old Testament penalty for adultery was actually death. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24) We see this in the story of the woman caught it adultery. (John 8:1-11)

But Joseph was also compassionate. He decided to divorce her quietly so she would not be shamed. (19) Some versions say “put her away”, which meant to divorce. 

God intervened in Joseph’s thought process, however. He sent an angel to Joseph in a dream. The angel told Joseph not to divorce Mary and to continue with the marriage process. He further told Joseph that her child was not from another man, but from the Holy Spirit. The angel was likely Gabriel, who also appeared to Mary to tell her what would happen.

The angel also gave Joseph instructions about this son. He was to name him Jesus because he would save his people from their sins. (21) The name Jesus means “God will save”. 

At this point in the story, Matthew interrupts to tell us that these events took place to fulfill the Lord’s word through the prophet and quotes Isaiah 7:14. He included an explanation that Immanuel means God with us. 

Joseph comes across very well in this story. He is just and compassionate. He is also obedient to God, doing all the angel told him to do. He married Mary. (24) He refrained from sexual relations with her until after Jesus was born. (25) And he named the baby boy Jesus. 


1. So, we have both the human and divine nature of Jesus revealed. His genealogy reveals his human ancestors and nature. His birth by the Holy Spirit and his mission to save his people from their sins reveal his divine nature. 

2. We also see a clear presentation of the virgin birth. It is presented in other places in the Bible also. Even in Genesis 3:15, the enemy of Satan is the seed, or offspring, of the woman. Paul spoke of it in Galatians 4:4, saying Jesus was “born of woman”. 

The doctrine of the virgin birth has been carried forward by the Christian creeds. 

The Apostles Creed (3rd Century) states: 

I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,

The Nicene Creed (325 A.D.) states:

he became incarnate by the Holy Spirit and the virgin Mary…

The “Chalcedonian Confession” states:

in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary…

3. We also see the Trinity involved in the incarnation. God the Father told of the coming of the Son way back in the time of Isaiah. And we know from John 3:16, that the Father sent the Son. The Son came and was born of a woman, taking on human form. The Spirit caused Mary to conceive the Son. 

4. We see that God desires to dwell with his people. He communed with Adam and Even in the Garden of Eden. He dwelt in the Tabernacle and the Temple. He sent Jesus to be with his people. He became flesh and dwelt among them. (John 1:14) Finally, his throne will be in the New Creation where his people can see him. 

Finally, in the New Creation, God will dwell with his people. “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

As we remember the first advent, we look forward to the second advent, knowing the wonderful future in store for those who believe in the Lord Jesus. 


Monday, December 05, 2022



Grace is often called unmerited favor. A more updated version would be undeserved favor. The idea is that God does good things for us out of his goodness, not because we did anything to earn them. 

It applies to our salvation. For example, Romans 3:24 says we are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. 

Another passage is Ephesians 2:8-9, which says: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

None of us can work enough to earn our salvation. The Bible tells us that we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and are only justified (made right with God) by his grace, through the redemption that comes by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23-24)

We get right with God by placing our faith in his son, Jesus, who saves us by his grace. And at Christmas we celebrate God’s sending of his son so that we may have eternal life by believing in him. (John 3:16)

Sunday, December 04, 2022


 A Ruler From Bethlehem

Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. He was a prophet at the same time as Isaiah. He is mentioned in Jeremiah 26:18 as prophesying to King Hezekiah. 

Micah is probably best known for the passage we study today. This passage includes a prophesy of destruction, but also of the coming of Christ.

Impending Judgment


Micah spoke of the coming invasion by Babylon. Verse one says the siege is laid against them. Micah says the Babylonians will strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. “Judge” here is a symbol for the king. Slapping the cheek was an insult. The picture is of the defeat of Israel and the humiliation of the current king. 

Some think this passage likely contains prophesy spoken by Micah during the reign of Hezekiah. Jerusalem was under constant threat and, ultimately, attack from Assyria. Assyria had conquered most of Judah, but not Jerusalem. Micah 1:9 says “For her wound is curable and it has come to Judah; it has reached to the gate of my people in Jerusalem”. 

Jerusalem was initially spared because Hezekiah came to the Lord for protection from Assyria. (2 Kings 19) However, as the subsequent kings became more and more evil, God brought Babylon to destroy Jerusalem and take the population into exile.

I, however, think it applies to Babylon because Assyria did not reach the king to strike him, but Babylon did. 

Prophecy Of A New and Eternal King


Micah 5:2 contains a very specific prophesy about Christ. This is a message of hope for future restoration and redemption. 

Micah prophesied that a new ruler, or king, would come to rule Israel. This king would be born in the little town of Bethlehem.  We know it was little at that time because verse 2 says the town is too little to even be in the clans of Judah. 

Why Bethlehem? It was the City of David, the place where David was born and lived in his early life. In 1 Samuel 16:1, God said to Samuel “Fill your horn with oil and go. I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Jesse was David’s father. 

This signifies that God is keeping his covenant promise to David to make his house the line of kings. (2 Samuel 7:16) Although God has punished Israel for its covenant violations, led by the Davidic kings, God was not finished with them yet. 

The Jews understood this prophesy as Messianic. That is why Matthew begins his gospel calling Jesus the Son of David. 

Additionally, after the Magi came seeking “the king of the Jews”, an upset King Herod sent for the chief priests and scribes. He asked them where Christ was to be born (Matthew 2:3-4). 

The priests and scribes cited Micah 5:2 and told him Christ would be born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:5-6). Matthew related the story so as to show Jesus’ birth fulfilled this prophesy.

There were other occasions when people called Jesus “Son of David”, recognizing him as the Messiah. One example is the story of Blind Bartimaeus. As Jesus was walking by him, Bartimaeus called out to Him: “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” (Mark 10:47).

This king may have been born in Bethlehem, but that was not the beginning of his existence. Verse 2 says his coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. This is an expression of eternal existence. The term “from ancient days” is similar to the title “Ancient of Days”, that refers to the eternality of God the Father.

This title appears 3 times in Daniel 7. In 7:3, Daniel wrote:

As I looked, thrones were placed 

and the Ancient of Days took his seat;

his clothing was white as snow

and the hair of his head like pure wool;

his throne was fiery flames;

its wheels were burning fire.

A stream of fire issued 

and came out from before him;

a thousand thousands served him

and ten thousand times then thousand stood before him;

the court sat it in judgment

and the books were opened. 

This is a picture of God sitting in judgment on his throne in heaven. The image is picked up by John in the Book of Revelation. (Revelation 4)

Christ took on human form at his birth in Bethlehem. But he has always existed. John also expressed this idea when he wrote “In the beginning was the Word”. (John 1:1)

Verse 3 refers to the fact that God did not allow a king in Israel from the time of exile until the birth of Christ. Then, those who believe in him shall become part of Israel, the people of God. 

The Messiah would be the shepherd of all who believed in him. Verse 4 says “And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.” Jesus referred to himself as the good shepherd in John 10. Through faith in Jesus, one could enter the flock and be saved (John 10:9). 

Those who do are secure. No one snatches them from the hand of the Good Shepherd. (John 10:28) He is our peace, resolving our estrangement from the Father and with each other. 

Out of Bethlehem came a savior, a king and a shepherd. Phillips Brooks wrote the well known hymn about Bethlehem in 1868. He went there and was inspired by the view of Bethlehem at night from the hills outside the town. I like these words in the second stanza: 

O morning stars together Proclaim the holy birth And praises sing to God, the King, And peace to men on earth. That would be a worthy endeavor for us the Christmas. 

Proclaim Christ.

Thursday, December 01, 2022


 Before the Foundation of the World

Before this world was created, the Father chose the Son to be the savior. He sent him into the world to be born of a woman, live as a man and die as a substitute for our sins. The Bible gives us several glimpses of this truth.

John 1 says that “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Just as Genesis 1:1 says “in the beginning God…” to communicate that God existed before the creation, John tells us that Christ existed before the world was created. He was with the Father. He was and is God.

Jesus himself prayed “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world began.” John 17:5. Before the world was created, Christ was with the Father and had glory with him. He was in the form of God and equal to God, according to Philippians 2:6-7, but took on human form. Can you even imagine that? We do not want to give up our comforts, the approval of friends or our place in society for Christ. But he gave up heaven and glory to take on human flesh and die for us.

So, Christ existed from eternity. He did not begin to exist when he was born into human form. He was only revealed to us at that time. Peter said it this way: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God.” 1 Peter 1:18-19.

Jesus not only existed before his physical birth on earth, his mission was also determined before his birth and even before the world was created. Paul wrote to Timothy: Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel…” 2 Timothy 1:8-10. Peter preached at Pentecost saying “Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God…” Acts 2:23. So Christ’s birth and mission were set before the world was even created.

God also chose believers in Christ before creation. Ephesians 1:3-4 says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.” Revelation 13:8 reinforces this idea. Speaking of the beast, it says ‘and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” Jesus’ birth, mission and the salvation of believers was decided before the creation of the world.

At Christmas we often concentrate on a helpless little baby in a manger as the beginning of Christ’s life and work. But it was not. In eternity before the creation of this world, the Father chose him and he agreed to be the Savior. All through human history, God worked to bring about his purpose to send his son at the right place and the right time to accomplish his purpose. He was not deterred by the disobedience of his people, the designs of Satan, the attacks of sinful men and women or the governments of the world. Even King Nebuchadnezzar had to confess “…he does according to his will among the host of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth and none can stay his hand…” Daniel 4:35.

Beyond the cuteness of the baby in the manger, the exoticism of the wise men and the drama of the poor Jewish couple is the sovereign God who purposed to redeem people from sin and reconcile them to himself through the sacrifice of his eternal son and who brought it about over thousands of years.

That is a God you can worship.

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

The Church

 What do you think of the church? Your answer will probably depend on whether you are thinking about the ideal or the reality. In the ideal, the church is the most marvelous new creation of God. It is the new community of Jesus, enjoying a multi-racial, multi-national and multi-cultural harmony which is unique in history and in contemporary society. The church is even the 'new humanity', the vanguard of a redeemed and renewed human race. It is a people who spend their earthly lives (as they will also spend eternity) in the loving service of God and of others. What a noble and beautiful ideal! In reality, however, the church is us (if you will pardon the bad grammar) -- a disheveled rabble of sinful, fallible, bickering, squabbling, stupid, shallow Christians, who constantly fall short of God's ideal, and often fail even to approximate to it. - John Stott

Sunday, November 27, 2022



Lament Over Israel’s Unfaithfulness 


God speaks here in a medical metaphor. When he wanted to heal Israel, their iniquity was revealed. Iniquity is gross immorality. Their iniquity is described generally as “evil deeds”, and more specifically as false dealing and open lawlessness. 

False dealing means unfaithfulness to the covenant while still performing the outward rituals. Lawlessness means committing crimes against each other. 

The words Israel, Ephraim, and Samaria all refer to the same thing: the northern kingdom. It is a synonymous parallelism, saying the same thing different ways to drive home the point. 

Lament Over Israel’s Politics


Evil makes the king and his officials happy. (3) This evil may be the intrigue that occurred during the reigns of the last several kings of Israel. Several were assassinated by others who wanted to take the throne. 

An example is Pekah. He assassinated King Pekahiah. (2 Kings 15:25)

He had been Pekahiah’s chief officer. Pekah was then assassinated by Hoshea son of Elah.

All of these were adulterers in the spiritual sense; they worshipped other gods. The passion of the kings and princes for intrigue and sin was strong as an oven that is so hot the baker does not have to tend the fire. 

The king and the princes, or officials, we taken over with this passion for intrigue as they assassinated each other. Alcohol helped them supress their consciences & welcome those who mocked God.

God says all of the kings are fallen. This again is consistent with the last days of Israel when many kings were killed by their successors. Only one king, Menahem, was not assassinated after the death of Jeroboam II. And none of these called upon the Lord. They had turned away from him. 

In contrast, the king was to be responsible for keeping God’s law and leading the nation to do the same. The requirements for the king are set out in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. He was to copy and study the law. Instead, these kings abandoned the law and led the nation into sin. 

Lament For Bad Foreign Policy


Since Israel had turned away from God, they did not seek him for protection from their enemies. The kings sought alliances with other countries instead, such as Egypt and Assyria. (11). They did not trust God and were unwilling to return to him. 

They had to pay tribute and accept other conditions that weakened them. Israel was a cake not turned, what we might call going off half baked. (8) They were also without common sense, like a dove. (11) They were weak and getting weaker, but still did not seek the Lord. (10)

Israel’s pride became a testimony against it. (10) God had told them, as part of the covenant curses, that their refusal to repent would result in God disciplining them sevenfold for their sins and he would break the pride of their power. (Leviticus 27:18-19) 

Because of all this, God said he would bring them (12) down and discipline them.  We know he did that very thing. 

Lament for Israel’s Doom


This section begins with a cry of woe. (13) It is a sort of lament at a funeral. It speaks of the destruction of the nation as you would the death of a loved one. Israel would be destroyed because it rebelled against God. It revolted against his authority.

God could have redeemed them, but they lied against him. They had sworn fidelity to God, but actually pledged themselves to other nations and relied on them for protection. They were not loyal to God as their sovereign. 

This lack of loyalty was demonstrated by the lack of genuine belief in God to act. They offered sacrifices, but not not call on God from the heart (14) 

They complained about their lack of grain and wine, but did not turn to God. Their beds refer to the practice of Canaanite worship, where they would make a sacrifice then eat the meal while lying on cushions near the altar. 

Therefore, God would cause their princes to fall by the sword. They would return to subjugation similar to that they had in Egypt. Deuteronomy 28:47 instructed them that their refusal to serve God would mean they would serve their enemies. They would have a yoke of iron on their necks until they are destroyed. 

They would be held in derision by Egypt, which is symbolic of the nations Israel pursued for protection instead of God. 


God does not lose track of the unbeliever’s sin; there will be judgment. (Hebrews 9:27; Revelation 20:11-15)

When we turn away from God, we turn to all kinds of unhelpful things.

The church cannot make unholy alliances. 

Sunday, November 20, 2022



The Way Back


Chapter 6 begins with a change of voice. Hosea is speaking his own words, not saying it is the Lord speaking through him directly. 

This does not mean it is not scripture or not the Lord’s word. It is just that Hosea is preaching, or exhorting, as a man called by God to do so, in the same way a preacher does today. 

Hosea called upon Israel to return to the Lord. He pointed out that the bad things that have happened to them are the Lord’s discipline. He has done these things in order to give them the opportunity to return to a right relationship with him. He used the metaphors or tearing and healing, striking and binding up, to convey this message. 

This may also be a reference to Deuteronomy 32:39 (the Song of Moses) here. Moses wrote the words of the Lord as a warning to Israel:

See now that i, even I, am he,

and there is no god beside me;

I kill and I make alive;

I wound and I heal;

and there is none that can deliver out of my hand”. 

The words “he has” in verse 1 show that the Lord has brought this disaster upon them. It is not that he has just been passive and allowed it to happen. 

Hosea also spoke of the Lord reviving them and raising them up so they could live for him. (2) Living for him is what they are supposed to do. If they are going to experience the blessing of a relationship with the Lord, they must live in obedience to him. 

The words “after two days” and “on the third day” point to the future. The restoration of Israel will come in the future. This is not a literal two days from the day Hosea spoke. It is a set time in the future when the Lord will act. 

Hosea also called for Israel to know the Lord. (3) Previously, the Lord had said there was no knowledge of God in the land. (4:1) Knowledge in this context includes Israel’s acceptance of God’s lordship over them under the terms of the covenant. When they know him again, he will come to them.

Israel’s Failure


God spoke again in this passage to bemoan the lack of faithfulness of Israel and Judah. Their love for God was superficial. It was like a morning cloud that disappears in the heat of the day, or the dew that goes away. Instead, they did not obey the commandment to “love the LORD your God with all you heart and with all you should and with all your might”. (Deuteronomy 6:5)

Because of Israel’s lack of love for God, he sent the prophets to condemn them. (5) And now he will send judgment upon them. His judgment is a light that exposes the darkness of Israel in sin.

What the Lord wanted was steadfast love. (6) While he had instituted the system of sacrifices, he did not want ritual that was not based in love and true worship. He wanted Israel to know him in the covenant sense. Sacrifice and burnt offerings done superficially did not please him. 

Heartless ritual does not please him today either. Jesus cited Hosea 6:6 twice: In Matthew 9:13, when Pharisees complained that he ate with sinners and in Matthew 12:7, when they condemned the disciples for plucking grain to eat on the Sabbath.

Heartless ritual may include both worship liturgy & made up rules such as the Pharisees had. 

Israel’s Sins


Israel broke the covenant. They were faithless toward the Lord. They also descended into all kinds of evil behavior, including robbery, murder, and idolatry. Even the priests were involved. This is what happens when men and women separate from God and reject his laws. People descend into lawlessness and depravity.

The meaning of the phrase “like Adam” is disputed. There are three possibilities: a place, mankind, and the first man.

Some think it means a place, the place where the waters of the Jordan stacked up so that Joshua could lead Israel across to the promised land. (Joshua 3:16) However, there is no mention of the Israelites going there or transgressing the covenant there.

The word translated Adam is the same as the word for man. But, mankind transgressing the covenant does not make any sense. It would add no meaning to Israel violating the covenant. 

Lastly, and what seems to most likely, is that it refers to the first man. Some do not believe God made a covenant with Adam, but the elements are there. It is a covenant of works. 

God placed Adam in the garden of Eden. He was to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15) Additionally, he was to refrain from eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

God promised Adam eternal life if he obeyed God and refrained from eating the fruit of the forbidden tree. This is the blessing of the covenant. 

God also told Adam he would die if he ate the fruit. This is the curse of the covenant. Adam transgressed the covenant by eating the fruit. Israel, like Adam, transgressed the covenant. But it was the Mosaic covenant. And, like Adam, they will experience the curses of the covenant. 

A Warning For Judah


The chapter ends with a warning to Judah that it will suffer like Israel if it continues in sin. The word “also” would have to mean “in addition to the harvest of Israel”. So, the harvest is a time of judgment. A similar metaphor is used in Revelation 14 for the final judgment.  


God will discipline his people when they drift off into sin. (Hebrews 12:5-6, 11)

God does not value ritual worship that does not come from real love and devotion. 

Mankind has repeatedly shown the inability to obey God. Only Christ did so, and we can only be seen as righteous when we are in Christ. 


Sunday, November 06, 2022




Judgment on the Leaders of Israel

The Lord continued his condemnation of the priests in these verses, but expanded his judgment to include the leaders of government, the descendants of David. They were the royal family of the time, the “house of the king”. (1)  So both the religious and secular leaders are condemned.

Mizpah and Tabor are also symbols of the priests and the royals. Mizpah is where the first king of Israel was proclaimed. (1 Samuel 17) Tabor was part of the land allotted to the Levites (1 Chronicles 6:77). 

These leaders had become a trap for the people of Israel. The Lord used the image of a snare and a net. Both are types of traps set to catch animals. The leaders of Israel led the way into the worship of idols and snared the people into it. That is the specific accusation of verse 4. 

As they revolted against God, they participated in the worst rituals of the pagan gods. They went “deep into the slaughter”, which may mean they practiced child sacrifice. Psalm 106:37-38 says they sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons, the idols of Canaan. 

Because the leaders revolted against God, he will discipline them. (2) This means he will impose the curses of the covenant, but may also mean he has extra punishment in store for the leaders. We saw this in chapter 4, where he said he would bring shame on the priests and forget their descendants. 

God Knows Their Sin


People often believe God does not notice or see their sin. But here God says he knows them and their sin is not hidden. They are so mired in their sin that they cannot return to the Lord.

God Will Withdraw From Them


Israel cannot recognize and repent from its sin because of its pride. They were arrogant in their rebellion against God and his law as they practiced a false religion and conducted an unjust society.

The Lord further expands his judgment to include Judah, saying it will stumble just as Israel will. (5) At this point, this is a warning to Judah. 

Further, when those in Israel realize their plight and seek the Lord, they will not find him for he has withdrawn from them. “Flocks and herds” in verse 6 indicates the people coming to offer sacrifices to seek God’s favor. 

However, those sacrifices, if made somewhere other than Jerusalem, would not be acceptable. God chose Jerusalem as the place for the offering of sacrifices. (2 Chronicles 6:6)  

Additionally, they will be coming to God too late to escape judgment. When Assyria invades, God will not protect Israel as he protected Jerusalem under Hezekiah. (2 Kings 19) 

This judgment is because they have been faithless and have children who are faithless. They will not have abundant harvests to be celebrated with new moon festivals. They have forfeited their right to live in the land. 


What Will Happen

God foretold the results of the idolatry of his people. The picture in verse 8 is the watchman blowing the horn to alert the people to the approach on an enemy army. Here it is sounded to herald the coming of judgment in the form of the Assyrian army.  God will make Israel a desolation. ((9) 

Gibeah, Ramah and Beth-aven are near the border of Israel (Ephraim) and the land allotted to Benjamin. They were in the path of the invading army.   

Again, the Lord includes Judah, saying its princes are subject to the Lord’s wrath. (10) They are cursed like those who remove landmarks, or boundary stones. Deuteronomy 19:14 says “You shall not move your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in the inheritance that you will hold in the land that the LORD your God is giving you to possess.” 

God will pour out his wrath like water. (10) Deuteronomy 27:17 says “Cursed be the one who moves his neighbors landmark.” Since each family’s allotment was set by the Lord as their inheritance, changing the boundaries stole part of the other family’s inheritance. Judah will face God’s wrath just as Israel did and will not get special privileges that exempt it. 

Israel (Ephraim) was crushed by Assyria. (11) The metaphors of verse 12 show that God is the one who brought it about. He has weakened them as a moth eats away at cloth or rot in the wood of a house.

Although both Israel and Judah were sick, they did not seek the Lord, but sought relief from Assyria. It did not help. (13) But Assyria could not stop the hand of the Lord bringing destruction on these nations like a lion to its prey. (14) 

In fact, God used Assyria to fulfill his word. In verse 14, he said he will carry off. He used Assyria to carry off the people into exile. 

2 Kings 17:6 says:

In the ninth year of Hosea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Harbor, the river of Gaza, and in the cities of the Medes. 

There is a small message of hope in verse 15. God could be found by them in the future if they confessed their sin and earnestly sought him. 


God sees and knows are sins. Hebrews 4:13 says “No creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account”. 

God calls us to repent of our sins. (1 John 1:8-10)