Jan. 14-20 Sin-Down Through the Generations

Jan. 14 – (Gen. 4-5) We are going to speed up our reading in Genesis to get a quick overview of history until we get to Joseph and his coat of many colors. Why am I doing this? We will be studying Joseph’s life for about the next month or so at C.A. and it really helps me to do my own study at home at the same time.  It can’t tell you how many times I hear Truths from the preaching that reinforces what God is specifically showing me at home! So here we go!

                Chapters 4 and 5 are about the forming of the first family. It talks about sibling rivalry and what sin may do from the rivalry.  It talks about God’s discipline ((4:10-16). It talks about sin being handed down the family line (5:23-24). It talks about family characteristics or giftings ((4:20-22). Through this reading, I realized though when they were kicked out of the garden, God did not cease from communicating with them. The Lord spoke directly with Cain after he killed Abel (4:9-16). Doesn’t this conversation sound a lot like God confronting Adam after he ate the fruit?  God asks a question giving Cain a chance to take responsibility and ask forgiveness. Cain deflects the question by saying his brother is not his responsibility. Again, how often do we do the same thing? Oh Lord, forgive us and help recognize our responsibility and admit it.  

Jan. 15 – (Gen. 6-8) In these chapters we see what sin will do to man.  It had gotten so distorted that God destroyed all flesh (except Noah and family of course).  As I was reading, I kept wondering why animals were included. It says all flesh was corrupted. I understand now that even animals were corrupted.  That must have been some corruption!  Sometimes we think we are persecuted for our beliefs, but can you imagine being totally surrounded by it like Noah? I wouldn’t want to go outside my house (or whatever they lived in)! God puts us in a time and family and place that is for our good and to show His glory.  I am asking Him to reveal to me, more of what that looks like and how I can fulfill His purpose for my life today.  

Jan. 16 – (Gen. 9-11) In these chapters we have Noah and his family settling into the land after the flood. We have genealogies of Noah’s descendants and then how sin is playing out in their lives yet again. This time God intervenes in a way that prevents man from being wiped out again.  He causes everyone to speak a different language. Now no one can understand what is being said. They are no longer of one mind. Everyone is dispersed, and the building of the city comes to a halt.  Nowadays, people have learned how to again communicate with each other.  Hey, have you seen the new language tutorials? It is called Babbel! Hmm.  Me? I don’t understand many conversations even if they are speaking English but have an accent! I digress. In all of God’s doings, they are for our good and His glory. Selah 

Jan. 17 – (Gen. 12-14) God is beginning to bring His (soon to be called) chosen people to His chosen land.  Terah is led by God towards Canaan and brings his 3 sons (Abram being one of them) and family with him but stops partway there.  I always think of Abram as taking the whole journey but Terah did bring them part way.  Many times, in our lives God calls us to something that we start but many times we don’t complete the journey. It is not ours to complete…only to start or do our part. Others will pick up the baton and do what is next to be done. Will it be done the same way? No. We have not done things that same way those who have come before us did them either! God gives us things to do in a way that will “minister” to those who need Him in some way. The next generation or people group may need to see the same thing in a different light in order to relate to God’s love. Let’s accept our part. Let’s encourage someone else’s part as well. Selah  

Jan. 18 – (Gen. 15-17) In a vision God reminds Abram of His promise.  Abram’s response is distrust because he has not seen what he thought should happen (children) in order for the promise to be fulfilled.  How many times do we think (or know) what God wants for us but our natural eyes aren’t seeing what we think should happen?  I am learning (through experience) that God’s timing is always right. Twice, in knowing God wanted us to move, I wanted to get it done right away.  Both times it took way longer than I expected (2 years and then 1 year). Had we moved quicker on the first move, the house He had for us would not have been built yet.  Had we not bought that house (and really enjoyed it) and then waited a year after we felt God was moving us again, we would not be living in our new house mortgage free! I know without a doubt that this is preparing us for the next step (and I am seeing some things on the horizon about that) and what He has for us to do.  God always goes before us and brings His goodness to us for His Glory.  Waiting on His timing is so important.  Trusting Him in the wait has tremendously increased my faith in His working in our lives! Selah 

Jan. 19 – (Gen. 18-19) Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed because of sin.  Abraham tries to save the city of Sodom by asking the Lord to save it because of the righteous in the city.  As the count goes down to 10 righteous, Abraham stops pleading his case. God did not save the city, He saved 3 from out of the city.  God hardly ever does things as we think it should be done but He does things perfectly.

                Let’s look at Lot for a moment. We see him as selfish (he chose the better land when Abraham gave him a choice).  Why would he want to throw his daughters out to the evil men? What description would you give that? Can you imagine a daughter hearing that conversation? He doesn’t want to cooperate with the direction they are supposed to flee to for safety. He allows his daughters to get him drunk after that and though he’s not aware, he fathers 2 nations that will war against Abraham’s descendants that will be possessing the Promised Land given to Abraham (Moabites and Ammonites). Yet, we see Lot described as righteous (2 Pet.2:7-10)! That gives me tremendous hope that God rescues us even when we are weak. Works will not rescue me. God looks at the heart! Look at the passage in 2 Peter and be encouraged! 

Jan. 20 – (Gen. 20-21) Abraham is trying to protect his own skin again by having Sarah say they are only brother and sister.  I seem to usually get caught up in how God protected Abraham and Sarah in these situations.  What I never considered was that God was protecting His promise that Sarah and Abraham would have a child. God prevented any rumor that Abimelech could have been the father of Isaac by a dream to a godless king.  What God says He will do, He will do, but only in His time and in His way! 

Jan. 7-13 God's Creation - God's Communication

Jan. 7 – (Gen. 2:4-9) Let’s back up just a little bit. Who wrote Genesis since, at the beginning of the beginning, there was no one but God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit?  Moses is credited to write the first five books (called the Pentateuch).  The Lord inspired Moses to write in each book, all that He wanted us to know. He gave us all the details we need.  Aren’t you thankful for His Word?  As amazing as creation is, the preservation of what happened is just as amazing. He has given us all we need to know by the Holy Spirit just so we can know Him and grow in Him.

                Did you notice in these verses that God has set a pattern?  He sets things in place and then activates them. He created light then later activates and organizes it. He plants seeds for all vegetation and then adds the water, so they will grow.  God is so very creative and orderly and well, just awesome in all He does!  Praise Him. 

Jan. 8 – (Gen. 2:10-17) The Garden of Eden must have been a wonderful place.  Think of the most gorgeous, relaxing park or forest and you probably have only a minuscule view of what it was like.  From part of the description we know where it might be, but the rest of the description makes it impossible to find to this day.  Would you want to go and live there if it were found? It represents peace, joy, and no pull of the world. And yet can we not have that as we lean on Jesus for every thought and action transformed into His image.  It is something we can grow towards as we purpose to “live and love in Him”. Selah 

Jan. 9 – (Gen. 2:18-25) In these verses, we see Adam naming all the animals. Adam must have had a creative mind to do all that!  Then God made a mate for him and Adam got to name her!  How very interesting. I then look at verse 24. “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.”  Adam and Eve did not know an earthly father or mother.  Interesting.  But it wasn’t Adam writing this down. It was most likely Moses through the revelation of the Holy Spirit. Now it makes more sense. It’s so very interesting how background and study can give you new insight into His Word for your life. 

Jan. 10 – (Gen. 3:1-7) Have you ever really looked at all the half-truths, satan told Eve? Let’s look at some of them. 1. “Did God say you can’t eat of any tree?” (There was only one they could not eat from.) From this Eve exaggerates from not eating from the one tree to not touching it as well. This reminds me how very careful I need to be when I interpret His Word!  2. “You will not surely die.” (They did not die immediately, but their sin-free view died. Every response from then on would come from tainted view. They no longer had an intimate relationship with God.)  3. “When you eat it, you will be like God knowing good and evil.” (They already were like God as in Gen. 1:26-27.) (Knowing evil would bring separation from or death of living a sin-free view.)  Can you imagine living life with no memory and experience of sin? That was what God wanted for us.  That is why He gave us a choice and that is why He sent Jesus when we made the wrong choice.  Thank you, Jesus!

Jan. 11 – (Gen. 3:8-13) I think it is interesting that God spoke to Adam first. Growing up I always thought it was Eve who was “most” responsible because she initiated the sin. But as years have gone by I have learned that Adam was given the responsibility to have dominion over the garden and was placed as head of the husband and wife relationship. God gave Him the rule about the tree before God even made Eve. He was there when the serpent tempted Eve and did not stop her.  Then when God confronted him, he blamed Eve.  I wonder what would have happened if he had just confessed and asked forgiveness.  There is so much here to ponder. 😊 

Jan. 12 – (Gen. 3:14-19) What was the judgement of the serpent?  He went from being upright and speaking to humans to crawling on his belly and not being able to communicate to us. It wasn’t just a snake, it was satan speaking through the snake. This is why dust is the serpent’s meat and will be, even in the restored kingdom (Isa. 65:25).  To eat dust is to know defeat, and that is God’s prophetic judgment upon the enemy.  He will always reach for his desires and fall just short of them.  There will be continuous aspiration, but never any attainment.  I never looked at these verses this way.  His Word continues to teach us new things as we discipline ourselves to study it.

Jan. 13 – (Gen. 3:20-24) I am going to attempt to bring a different light to verse 20. This may not sit well with some and please respond if you have a better interpretation. This has some very ponderable thinking in it.  Eve was not her name but rather it was a title – mother.  At the time she was named there was no conception or child.  Eve was not the name God gave the woman. He saw her as a part of Adam and called her by her husband’s name (Gen. 5:2).  She is looked upon in her husband.  That is why Miss X when she marries Mr. Y becomes Mrs. Y.  Donald Grey Barnhouse further explains it this way in his book “Genesis”.  “It is difficult to identify a woman apart from her husband.  Who is she? Oh, her husband is such and such. Women are to lose their identity in the identity of the husband, because marriage is a picture of the church and Christ, and we lose our identity in Him.  If this is really true, there are so many ways we have changed that in this day and age.  Let’s ponder that….

Dec. 31-Jan. 6 Beginnings

Dec. 31 – (Gen. 1:1-5) In December, we studied the beginning of our Savior on earth. Now I would like to study the beginning of life on earth. Verse one shows us God created time (“In the beginning”), space (“God created the heavens”), and mass (“and the earth”) before organizing anything to put in it. We all recognize how most wise our God is. This is just another reminder. Genesis 1:1 tells the beginning of the beginning of creation. Jesus shows us the beginning of a new life when we accept Him as Savior. When we ask Jesus into our hearts it is that clean fresh slate of the beginning of the beginning of a new life in Jesus!  Oh, if we could just realize in our thoughts and actions that the slate is wiped clean!  That’s called sanctification and reading His Word helps tremendously in that!  It’s called the washing in the water of the Word!  Read on dear pilgrim and become more and more like Christ! 😊

                Day 1 of creation is the bringing of light to the darkness.  He is setting up time into day and night as well as giving us a glimpse of what His Light will do to our darkness!  Selah 

Jan. 1 – (Gen. 1:6-13) As the light was separated from darkness, so the waters are separated to from an expanse, which God calls Heaven.  It’s hard to find an English word that translates the precise meaning. It does refer to what humans see above them, the region that contains both heavenly lights (vv. 14-17) and birds (v.20). God also organizes two further regions: the dry land forming the Earth and the waters, forming Seas. He then creates vegetation on the Earth. This is Day 3.  

Jan. 2 – (Gen. 1:14-19) On Day 4 God the sun and moon to mark days and nights.  Some believe the author said, “greater light” and “lesser light” so that future people could not link the names “sun” and “moon” to pagan gods.  This reminds me of all the “words” we can no longer use because the world has tainted them with pagan thoughts or sinful actions.  Don’t get me on my soapbox! 

Jan. 3 – (Gen. 1:20-23) On Day 5 God creates sea creatures and air creatures to fill the waters and the air. God is the perfect creator/organizer!  What if He created the sea creatures and birds before the vegetation?  What would they eat? There are so many revelations of God’s creativity beyond what we see recorded.

Jan. 4 – (Gen. 1:24-27) On Day 6 God begins by creating animals of every kind. He then created us!  God made us in His image and after His likeness. Here is something to consider. At this point we don’t have a body just a spirit (see verses 5-9).  This translates that dominion was not given to flesh but to spirit.  That gives us an understanding why doing things in the flesh always gets us into trouble.  

Jan. 5 – (Gen. 1:27-31) And God blessed them! God knew what was to come starting with His first human creation on down through all the ages to us…and yet God blessed them!  What I want to remember when we feel we are failing God, is that He blesses us even when we will sin against Him.  And it’s all because of Jesus that He sees us righteous!  Thank you, Jesus!  

Jan. 6 – (Gen. 2:1-3) On Day 7 God rests from all the work He had done.  This is a health lesson for us but is so much more (Isn’t it always so much more?).   I have always heard the word “rest” for God’s actions on the 7th day. It should read “desisted from all His work”.   For God it was the 7th day. Sabbath means “the day of desistance” not the “7th day”.  Jesus said, “Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy” not the 7th day. So, one day every 7 days, we are to have a sabbath day. It should be a day dedicated to the Lord and not to man (making money). Typically, we choose Sunday, but the Jewish culture picks Saturday. Many now work on Sunday and Saturday but have a weekday off.  Sometimes we have to rethink what we have always believed as it may have some erroneous parts to it.  Isn’t that what renewing the mind is all about?  Anyway I see that God desisted from creating to spent time with us, His creation. He wanted to enjoy all that He had made.  He enjoys us!  

Dec. 24-30 MERRY CHRIST-MAS!!!


Dec. 24 – (Foretold- Isa. 60:3,6; Fulfilled - Matt. 2:1-12) WISE MEN

                Let’s think about the Wise men.  From seeing a gigantic star appear, they believed there was born the King of the Jews.  They spent months (years?) traveling just to worship Him.  They brought extravagant gifts to give Him (that was the practice of the day when visiting a king).  When they got to King Herod, they needed to know the street address and town, so they asked him.  Herod asked the Scribes and Pharisees where The King would be born.  They knew!  They told Herod and of course Herod told the Wise men.  The Wise men then went and worshiped a baby.  Can you believe that? The outward appearance of this “king” was nothing they would have honored or worshiped before and yet they did worship Him! So, here’s what I am pondering: The Wise men had knowledge of the King and did something with that knowledge by spending much time and money to worship Him (relationship).  The scribes and Pharisees had the knowledge as well and did nothing with that knowledge (religiosity).  Am I taking the knowledge I have as I study, and worshiping “The King” by sharing it and living it out each day? Or do I get knowledge from His Word and then just go about my daily living? The scribes and Pharisees missed out on so much and their descendants would eventually be instrumental in having Him crucified. How are my responses to “The King” effecting my descendants?  Selah   


                What do we know about Simeon? He was directed by the Holy Spirit.  He was old. He took Jesus up in his arms and blessed Him.  God had promised Simeon, he would behold Jesus before he died.  Can you imagine an old saint who lived all of his life to this point, with a silent God to his people (400 years silence) and did not know when “Salvation” would be born?  What hope and faith he must have had!  Simeon lived most of his life not seeing his Salvation face to face, in faith and hope.  We have seen and accepted His Salvation by faith but hope for the day we will see Him face to face! I just realized though there was 400 years silence for the Israeli nation, God spoke to some individuals!  What a revelation to me!!!

                What do we know about Anna? She was 84 years old. She was married for 7 years until she became a widow. She was a prayer warrior and prophetess living in the temple.  She was from the tribe of Asher (so she wasn’t from the priestly tribe of Levi).  I always think about logistics.  How was she allowed to stay there 24/7?  Who took care of her needs? Those are not important (I digress). Anna prayed most of her life for “His Salvation” to come. When her prayer was answered she came up and “began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” I see four things we need to emulate. 1. She kept praying for something until she saw it. 2. She recognized it when it came. 3. She immediately gave thanks to God 4. She “witnessed” of this to those who were receptive.  That is a big “SELAH”

                I would like to end this study with a wonderful description of these two saints by Herbert Lockyer: How imperative it is to count the aged Anna among the witnesses of Christ’s birth! Mentioned nowhere else in the New Testament, a distinction Anna shares with saintly Simeon, we can detect divine wisdom in that a woman and man should testify to the fact of the Incarnation, “Simeon and Anna, standing near the infant Jesus, are types of the Old Covenant decaying in the presence of the New, which shall never grow old.” In the mouth of two witnesses it shall be established.  

Dec. 26– (Matt. 2:13-15; Hosea 11:1) FLEE TO EGYPT

                The Egyptian border was about 90 miles south of Bethlehem.  That was not a quick trip!  If you remember the prophesies from the Old Testament fulfilled in the New Testament, this was one of them.  The prophet Hosea recounted how God had faithfully brought Israel, God’s “son”, out of Egypt in the exodus (Hos. 11:1).  Matthew cites this about Jesus, God’s true Son.  When God gave up His only-begotten Son, He emptied heaven of the very best for the worst of earth.  God did not “give up His only -begotten Son at the cross (I always think in those terms).  It started way before that, but Jesus’ birth was definitely a part of that “giving up”. In allowing Himself to become a baby, Jesus has implicitly obeyed the Father’s will (as He does all through His life as man on earth).  I am realizing that just as God delivered Israel from Egyptian rule in Moses’ time, He delivered us from “Egyptian rule” in sending Jesus to us!  By obeying the “Father’s Will” in our choices, we are continuing that process of “getting Egypt out of us”!  Amazing, loving, and wonderful Father!

                Here is another thing I am pondering. Did Mary and Joseph have a hard time going to Egypt? Did they think they would become slaves as their ancestors had? Sure, it was hundreds of years in the past but I’m pretty sure they knew their history.  Have you ever needed to go back to a place or person that you never wanted to revisit again? Did God urge you to go anyway because He had healing He wanted to do, at least in you? I’m thinking now of the Jewish people with the Holocaust, Africans with slavery, children and spouses in abusive situations to name only a few.  These are all most horrible sins of mankind.  Yet God has provided peace for all of us who have encountered any traumatic experiences. It comes as Mary and Joseph did in obeying whatever God tells us to do, especially in forgiving others and even ourselves and knowing without a doubt that God loves us and with never leave us.  SELAH 

Dec. 27– (Foretold -Jer. 31:15; Fulfilled - Matt. 2:16-18) HEROD’S MASSACRE

                I am drawn to stepping outside the beautiful picture we have of Jesus birth to imagine what it was realistically.  Of course, I fail miserably but here is where I went concerning Herod’s massacre of young son’s.  It is guessed that there were 10-30 sons who were killed.  That means there were at least 10-30 mothers and fathers and families that were affected by Herod’s decision and Satan’s attempt to prevent Jesus from defeating him.  Did those families know why their child was killed? If they did and knew someone else’s son was to be King, were they bitter about another child that may have lived? Here’s another thought.  Did any of the scribes and Pharisees who told Herod where the King was to be born, have sons who were killed because of it? This takes me back to my deeper realization from this Christmas study: Knowledge without action is religiosity, pharisee-ism, and may be injuring others (they have not heard because you didn’t tell or show them Christ).  SELAH


Dec. 28 – (Matt. 2:19-23; Luke 2:39-40) RETURN TO NAZARETH

                Let’s look at Mary and Joseph’s travel log.  They started from their home in Nazareth, traveled over 90 miles to Bethlehem (in Mary’s 9th month of pregnancy), then traveled at least 90 miles to Egypt (with a young child). After a time there, they traveled over 180 miles back to Nazareth. As I am looking at a map to see just what that route might have been, I realize either Mary and Joseph had to travel through Judea or go way out of their way on the other side of the Dead Sea to stay out of Archelaus’ jurisdiction. There are so many little details these parents had to decide to keep Jesus safe, but they relied on God to guide them.  Aren’t you thankful that Jesus’ parents listened to what God was telling them?  It wasn’t just through the pregnancy but in escaping all the pitfalls the enemy threw at them after His birth. It causes me to pray for families that that they too, would listen closely to the Holy Spirit to escape the pitfalls the enemy has for their children.

                Matt. 2:23 says Mary and Joseph were returned there to fulfill prophesy that Jesus would be called a Nazarene. Matthew is not quoting any specific OT prophecy but is referring to a general theme in the OT prophets.  They foretold that the Messiah would be despised (Isa. 53:3) and the town of Nazareth was despised in Jesus’ time (Jn.1:46; 7:41,52). The people of Nazareth at the time of Christ’s birth had established a very poor reputation in morals and religion.  Think back now to when Joseph realized Mary was pregnant…in that town. Hmmm.  Think also to a young Jesus who grew up there among friends and maybe even family who were part of the reason for the reputation.  Only God could think it up.  Only God can make it work!  


                Jesus was given several names before His birth. Most times His name was preceded with “He shall be called”. Although we can try to explain the significance of the Names given to Mary’s Holy child in the two birth-narratives, it is impossible for the human mind to unfold the overwhelming mystery of the Incarnation itself.  Let’s end this year by reflecting on the names He was given and how each name has impacted us.

·         Called JESUS (“Salvation of Jehovah”) (Matt. 1:21,25b) 

·         Called CHRIST (“Messiah” “Anointed One”) (Luke 2:11)

·         Called LORD (“Master” “Authority” “Dominion”) (Luke 2:11)

·         Called Emmanuel (“God manifest in flesh”, God with us) (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:22-23)

·         Called King (“Ruler”) (Matt. 2:2; Jn. 12:15)  

Dec. 30 –  Let’s study a few more of Jesus’ names. As we look at them, let’s also ask ourselves the question: What does this name mean in my life? Selah 

·         Called GOVERNOR (“represents one holding a most responsible official, governmental position”) (Matt. 2:6)

·         Called SON (“Second Person of the Blessed Trinity” “Son of God and Son of Man”) (Isa. 9:6; Matt.1:25; 2:15) 

·         Called a NAZARENE (despised by man) (Matt. 2:23)


Dec. 17-23 What Were You Born to Be?

We were born to live, Jesus was born to die. The sole design of the crib is the cross!

Dec. 17 – (Ps. 45:6-7; Dan. 2:44; Luke 1:33; Heb. 1:8-12) Messiah’s throne will be anointed and eternal.

                The quotation in Heb. 1:8-9 is from a psalm about the Davidic king (Ps. 45:6-7).  Only Jesus, the Davidic Messiah (the anointed One), truly fits this description.  Considering the clear statement about Christ’s deity (Heb. 1: 8—9), the author emphasizes Christ’s role in creation and His eternality.

WOW!  I am learning so much… or rather I’m beginning to better connect prophecy in the Old Testament with its fulfillment in the New Testament.  How enlightening!  

Dec. 18 – 400 YEARS’ SILENCE 

                There were the “400 silent years” from the end of Malachi in the OT to the beginning of the NT. (How long have you felt God’s silence? Take heart!) Therefore, I will rely on the history of those years to set the stage for Jesus’ coming. This time in history can be separated into six periods, Grecian, Ptolemaic, Syrian, Maccabean, Hasmonean and Roman.  I will give a very brief description of each but have attached a paper by Dr. James F. Davis, that gives a fuller explanation.  I learned soo much from this paper!  You might enjoy and gain a whole new perspective by reading through it. 

GRECIAN -Alexander the Great defeated the Persians in 331 BC. The Persian king Darius was the last ruler mentioned in the Old Testament. Alexander the Great allowed religious freedom but brought in the ideals of Hellenism (tutored by the Greek, Aristotle).  To be successful one needed to adopt these ideals and even the Greek language.  This period ended in 323 B.C. at Alexander’s death.

PTOLEMAIC PERIOD - After Alexander’s death, there was a struggle and 4 diadochior successors emerged. Ptolemy took control of Palestine, as well as Egypt, Phoenician, and Southern Syria. This would last 300 years. There was still religious freedom, but Greek was now the common language among the Jews. This is when the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek and would have been read in Jesus’ time.

In northern Palestine, there were many conflicts by Syria which eventually lead to defeat for Ptolemy V in 198 B.C. The Ptolemaic empire would continue in Egypt for another125 years.

SYRIAN PERIOD – Antiochus III and his leadership were received well by Jews in Palestine and religious freedom continued, with a continual bent toward Hellenism much like the previous period. In Antiochus III’s quest for more, he challenged Rome and was defeated by them in 190 B.C. Though he lost most everything, he was allowed to keep Palestine but looted the temple just trying to pay Roman taxes.  He was eventually murdered during one of these raids.  Jews lost religious freedom and exercised their religious practices under the threat of death.  Only pagan gods could be worshiped.  Antiochus IV had his supporters in the Jewish community.  The Sadducees supported him in an attempt to maintain control of the temple.  Pharisees, Zealots and Essenes became powerful forces of opposition.  Antiochus IV foolishly underestimated the stubborn commitment of Jews to follow their religion and the stage was set for one of history’s best-known rebellions.

MACCABEAN PERIOD - Mattathias Hasmon, an old Jewish priest killed both an agent of the king who was trying to bribe and demand him to perform pagan rituals and a Jew who had stepped in to do the rituals for the agent. He and his 5 sons ran and hid in the hills.  His life is documented in The Apocrypha, in the second chapter of The First Book of Maccabees. He and his succession of sons fought a guerrilla war in the region against Seleucid forces. In 164 B.C., Judas (his oldest son, called “the Hammer”) had his most impressive win in recapturing the Jerusalem Temple and cleansing it.  In honor of the event, the Festival of Hanukkah began.  200 years later, Jesus would stand in this very temple and celebrate this event!

The last son to head this movement succeeded in completely driving the Syrians out of Jerusalem and the Jewish national autonomy of Palestine was restored in 142 B.C.

HASMONEAN PERIOD - The Hasmonean Period is named for the family name of the original Maccabees who led and governed Jerusalem in the prior period.  Their behavior is so different in this period than their ancestors of the previous time that they are remembered with a different name.  The Maccabees were clearly focused on the freedom of the Jews, religiously, politically and socially.  The Hasmoneans were more about their personal and political agendas and often more focused on secular and Hellenistic values than their forefathers.  While Jews maintained religious freedom and much of their cultural traditions during this period it was a time of general unrest in Palestine.

Simon’s son, John Hyrcanus became the Jewish leader upon his father’s death.  He was a cruel and self-centered leader who became aligned with wealthy Jews who supported the values of Hellenism.  During his reign, we see the continued growth and development of the Pharisees and Sadducees.  The Pharisees were those who had been closely aligned with the Maccabees.  Sadducees were now more dominant as they were more aligned with the values of the Hasmoneans, now in power. Hasmoneans became known for their personal lust for power.

ROMAN PERIOD - While Rome took political and military control of Palestine in 63 B.C. it allowed local Hasmonean leaders to maintain some level of authority over local affairs until 37 B.C.   During that interim, things in Rome were changing.  Pompey, the Roman general who conquered Palestine died in 48 B.C. Shortly after, through military success, Julius Caesar became Rome’s new leader.  His power would only last until 44 B.C. when he was murdered.  Octavian, his nephew quickly seized control and eventually secured his position as leader with the Roman people by leading a defeat of Antony and Cleopatra near Actium, Greece in 31 B.C.  In recognition of his accomplishments in 27 B.C. the Roman Senate named him Rome’s first Emperor and Commander-in-Chief.  He was given the name Caesar Augustus.  This brings us to Luke 2:1, “a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that a census be taken,” which led to Joseph and Mary’s journey to Bethlehem.  Caesar Augustus would remain in control of Rome and subsequently Palestine through the birth of Jesus and part of his childhood, his reign ending in A.D. 14.  At his death, his son Tiberius would become Emperor and be the leader of Rome through the life of Jesus.  When the last Hasmonean died in 37 B.C., Palestine needed a new authority and this one would come from Roman authority.  Antipater who had worked to influence previous Hasmonean leaders used his political influence to persuade the Roman Senate to elect his son Herod as king of Palestine.

            Herod’s rule over Palestine was deeply resented by the Jews.  There were three main reasons he was never able to win their loyalty or respect. First, he was not a Jew.  Jews believed that only a true Jew could sit on the throne of David.  Second, he was strongly committed to Hellenism, as were the Romans.  He built many grand structures in Jerusalem and Palestine. He elaborately rebuilt the temple (it took more than eighty years), but Herod’s intention was not to glorify God but himself with this structure. Lastly the Jews resented Herod for his evilness.  He was responsible for the murder of his own wife and children as well as many others who thought him to be their friend.  He would kill anyone he felt was a threat to his authority.  He put Jesus into that category, ordering the murder of every baby boy in Bethlehem in an attempt to eliminate the threat he perceived.  While the Jews had some religious freedoms under his reign it was a time of violence and general unrest in Jerusalem and all of Palestine.

                I know this is a bit lengthy, but I gained so much insight!  Hopefully the attachment is readable.  If not go to: http://studytoshewthyselfapproved.org/intertestamental-period-400-silent-years/

 Dec. 19 - (John 1:1-18) OVERVIEW OF JESUS’ PURPOSE

                We were born to live – Jesus was born to die!  The sole design of the crib was the cross! 

                Jesus’ birth in the stable that day was only the culmination of a long history that reached its climax in that remarkable event. As Paul writes in the book of Galatians, “But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that he might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal. 4:5; Heb. 1:1–3). What does Paul mean when he says Jesus was born in “the fullness of time”? He means that all the divine preparations for the Savior’s birth had been completed. All the prophecies regarding the coming Messiah had been uttered. All the lessons had been taught to God’s people Israel. All the OT symbolism anticipating and pointing to Christ had been instituted. Now there was only one thing left to do: For God to send His Son. Today let’s reflect on what you might call “Christmas according to John”.  He doesn’t bring us to the earthly actual birth events but seems to be focusing on taking us up with him to heaven, to a time when there was no creation, no humanity, no animals, not even angels.  Time when Jesus, the Word, co-existed with God in perfect love and unity of purpose.  

                In looking at John 1:1-18, Let’s look for answers to 3 questions.

1.       Who is that Word that was made flesh?  He was God (and being that close could show “God” better than anyone). He was creator (those whom he created would reject Him). He was the Light (as Creator and as Messiah). He was the Life (overcame in the cosmic battle between eternal death and life with God).

2.       Why did the Word come into the world?  Why did Jesus come into this world? A lot of people in our culture and around the world don’t understand why Jesus was born. They never get past the trappings of Christmas, the presents, the tree, Santa Claus, stockings, candy canes, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus. Likewise, many people don’t understand why Jesus died on the cross. The reason for this lack of true understanding, I believe, is that it takes eyes of faith, and the Holy Spirit, to understand the spiritual purpose of Jesus’ coming, the true meaning of what we celebrate at Christmas.

3.       What is Christmas according to John, and how can understanding John’s message transform the way we celebrate Christmas?  Verses 14-18 gives us two reasons – “grace and truth”.  John tells us in vv. 14–18, in Jesus we have seen God’s glory, and we have received from his fullness, both grace and truth. He wants to lift us up far above any preoccupation with the external trappings of Christmas, so we can contemplate the wonder of a God who would care enough for the world and the people he has made, to send his Son to die, knowing that the world would reject him, knowing that glory would come to him through rejection and suffering and brokenness. Thank you, Jesus Christ!

                There is still more explanation from a sermon by Andreas Kostenberger, I can’t include it all. It really gave another aspect of understanding Jesus’ birth. You can find it at: http://www.biblicalfoundations.org/christmas-according-to-john/

 Dec. 20 – (Foretelling - Mal. 3:1; Isa. 40:3; Fulfillment - Matt. 3:1-3; John 1:23; Luke 1:5-38) BIRTH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST AND JESUS FORETOLD

                As we have studied the 400 years’ silence, we now look at the actual events of Jesus’ birth.  As we know, Malachi, the last book of the OT, was a message of encouragement for the Jews who had returned from exile in Babylon.  Matthew wrote his Gospel more than 400 years later.  The Jews still lived in their homeland, but under the oppressive rule of Rome.  Matthew tells the good news about how Jesus the Messiah fulfills the promises of God in the OT beginning with the genealogy of Jesus.

                With John (as well as with Jesus) we have foretelling in the OT and NT before the actual births.  This gives greater importance to their births.  John the Baptist came as the Elijah of prophecy.  I need way more understanding in this, but I know His Word is true.  John was to herald the Event of the Ages and succeeded in doing that! 

                We have spent almost 2 weeks on the foretelling and connections with Jesus’ birth.  We have in Luke 1:26-38 another foretelling to Mary who would carry Jesus to birth.  As I have studied this passage, I was thinking about the angels. Their appearance caused fear (Luke 1:12, 29-30). They were not cute little helpless cherubs.   Also keep in mind, for 400 years the Jews believed the Holy Spirit had not been active in Israel.  It may have been a shock to witness this!   


                As you read through these verses, ask the Lord for a fresh look at some of the “support team” that obeyed God and in doing so, ushered in the greatest birth of all times. I was drawn to Elizabeth’s exclamation. How did she know all those things would come from the baby in Mary’s womb?  It was through the Holy Spirit!  Her words had to confirm what the angel had already spoken to Mary.  Do you see how the Holy Spirit encouraged both women as they verbalized His message to each other?    I must ask myself, what would have been diminished if they had not been listening and then obeyed?  Okay then, what am I missing in hearing the Holy Spirit, today, as part of His “support team”.  Selah 

Dec. 22 – (Isa. 7:14; Matt. 1:18-25; Luke 2:1-7) JESUS BIRTH 

                Read these verses pretending to never have read them before (If that’s possible). Let’s think about the fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem because Caesar Augustus demanded that everyone go to their home town to be counted.  At least 400 years earlier, a prophet foretold that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.  Now, a “heathen” ruler has demanded something of this godly couple that certainly was not convenient or easy given Mary’s full-term pregnancy.  And yet they obeyed their secular ruler and endured this hardship, thus fulfilling prophecy and obeying God in the process!  Amazing God!   

                I am drawn to wonder why the OT said Jesus would be named Emmanuel (meaning God with us) while the Angel told both Mary and Joseph, He was to be named Jesus (or Yeshua meaning Salvation of Jehovah).  I have realized through my “Multiply” with my partner, that history gives us some clues. In Genesis we see that God created us to be in an intimate relationship with Him, but Adam and Eve’s sin caused a separation. After hundreds of years, God provided the tabernacle where only one high priest and Moses could be in His presence. When Jesus came it was God with us. When Jesus died for our sin it was God in us by the Holy Spirit. Let me repeat what I wrote last week as a reminder of this. 

                                In the OT, it is – God For Us

                                In the Four Gospels, it is – God With Us

                                In the Acts and Epistles, it is – God In Us

                “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Of course, He is for us, and with us, but, now, by His Spirit, He is always in us. He is our eternal Inhabitant – the Indweller Who will never leave us- the Comforter, abiding with us forever (John 14:16). (Herbert Lockyer) 

Dec. 23 – (Luke 2:8-21; Matt. 2:1-12) ANGELS AND SHEPHERDS

                First, let’s think about the angels involved. Gabriel, the archangel, appeared to Daniel (Dan. 8:16) and to Zacharias and then Mary. In each instance, the response was different. Daniel responds with holy fear, Zacharias responds with unbelief, and Mary was over awed by his announcement and though she had questions of how it would happen, submitted in trust to God’s will. (For an excellent teaching on Mary’s response, Listen to Pastor Jeremy on our podcast for Dec. 9, 2018.) What is our response when the Holy Spirit reveals things to us?  Let me make two more statements about the angelic host at Jesus’ birth:  1. What a striking contrast the birth of Christ affords!  Around Him impoverished circumstances, yet above Him the glorious and angelic host of heaven announce His birth.  2. The first hymn honoring Christ came from a multitude of the heavenly host.  JOY TO THE WORLD!!!!

                Let’s look next at the lowly shepherds.  How fitting it was that the Good Shepherd who was coming to give His life for His sheep, announced His birth first to good shepherds watching over their flocks!  The angels of heaven didn’t bring their “glad tidings” to the Scribes and Pharisees at Jerusalem (we will discuss their response a little later) but to shepherds who immediately obeyed the heavenly commandment and told others of what had come to pass… AND TOLD OTHERS OF WHAT HAD COME TO PASS!  How can we not be doing the same?

Dec. 10-16 God is never before His time- Nor After!

There is only One Man in all of history of whom explicit details of His birth, life, death, and resurrection were given centuries beforehand.  Amazing!

God is never before His time- nor after (“Ye shall not see me, until the time come…” (Luke 13:35) 

Dec. 10 – (Foretelling - Gen. 3:15; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:20; Gal. 4:4) Messiah would be born of a woman.

                We need to go way back to the garden of Eden to get a better understanding of this statement. The key to this is when God told satan what would happen because of sin. To satan was given the initial promise and prophecy of redemption from the sin he brought into “God’s universe (Gen. 3:15). From this point on, the chain of promises and prophecies concerning “the seed of the woman” lengthens until it ends in the birth of Jesus, who was not only “the seed of the woman,” but “the seed of Abraham” etc.

Many times, the enemy tried to destroy the “Seed,” through the years since the garden of Eden.  Haman tried to get rid of the Jewish nation.  Herod massacred innocent babies to get to Jesus. These are only a few examples, but God’s will and purpose will always win out. This gives me a deeper meaning of why genealogies are so important.  They are evidence again, of the enemy’s failure to thwart our salvation, just as God said it would!  Thank you, Father God!!  

Dec. 11 – (Foretelling -Gen. 3:15; Isa. 7:14; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:22-23; Luke 1:26-35) Messiah would be born of a virgin.

                We have just discussed the importance of following “the seed” through the genealogies.  In Gen. 3:15, the phrase “her seed,” is not found elsewhere in the Bible.  Well over one hundred times we read of “the seed” and “seeds” but in all cases, the seed of man is meant.  But the seed of the woman is a unique concept and can be interpreted only as a foreshadowing of the virgin birth of our Lord.  If Jesus was not to be born of a virgin, then Adam would have been referred to: “his seed”, not “her seed.”  When the Prince of Glory came, the prince of this world could find nothing in the One who sprang from “her seed” because it was through the work of the Holy Spirit.   Does this bring deeper meaning?  I hope so.

                Here is another area to consider. The prophecy in Isaiah had significance in his day in that Ahaz and his house stood judged by God for unbelief.  The passage gave hope to faithful believers like Isaiah for a future Messiah. Can you see any encouragement for us today considering our world?  We also have a hope of a returning Messiah!  In Matthew, we are reading the exact words from the mouth of an angel to a man trying to decide what to do with a fiancée who is pregnant, and he was not the father.  Can you imagine how Joseph was feeling?  Then he sees an angel appear in a dream repeating what Isaiah spoke hundreds of years earlier, about the very thing that was weighing so heavily on his mind. WOW! That had to really help in his decision.  I’m sure this was an answer to prayer that Joseph could never have thought up or reasoned out.  It reminds me that as we seek God for guidance in our seemingly insurmountable situations, that God has a good plan for us… for life… and a hope…. Hallelujah!!!!    

Dec. 12 – (Foretelling - Micah 5:2; Fulfillment - Matt. 2:1,6; John 7:42; Luke 2:4-7) Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

                Jesus was born in Bethlehem (we all knew that).  These scriptures confirm the foretelling and fulfillment. Jesus was also a descendant of David (we all knew that). Bethlehem, where David was born (I Sam 17:12), is located in Ephrathah.  The unlikely choice of David as king foreshadows the unlikely choice of Bethlehem as the hometown of the greater David, the Messiah. Matt. 2:6 shows that Jewish scholars of Jesus’ day read this as a prediction of the Messiah’s birthplace (Jn.7:42). The Messiah’s lineage confirms that the ancient covenantal promises made to David still stand (2 Sam. 7:16). 

Dec. 13 – (Foretelling - Hosea 11:1; Fulfillment -  Matt. 2:14-15) Messiah would spend a season in Egypt.

                “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:15 quotes this verse from Hosea, to show that Jesus is the “Son” of God, the heir of David who embodies Israel’s relationship to God (compare 2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 89:26-27).  Hosea portrays the Lord not only as a husband but also as a father.

                We don’t know a lot about their time in Egypt, but we do know God was protecting His Purpose for our good!  Pause and think about that!   

Dec. 14 – (Foretelling -Jer. 31:15; Fulfillment - Matt. 2:16-18) A massacre of children would happen at Messiah’s birthplace.         

Let’s look at another aspect of this foretelling and fulfillment. Why did King Herod send this edict? First, Jesus was the only baby who was born a king…Selah!  We think about all the people who celebrated and worshiped Jesus at His birth, but Christ’s birth had the opposite effect on King Herod. “Jesus in His cradle is mightier than Herod on his throne.” Every king (including Herod) pales in significance to the King Eternal!

                But why did King Herod feel so threatened? The Pharisees had warned him of the end of the Herodian dynasty.  Therefore, if the One the Wise Men had spoken of was truly a king, he must seek to destroy Him, which he tried to do in the slaughter of the innocents. Since the Wise Men “wisely” decided not to tell King Herod which house Jesus was in, Herod had to expand to all of Bethlehem to make sure of the destruction of the One.  Joseph Parker, commented upon this incident, “No man has troubled the human heart so much as Christ.  His whole course is a rebuke to evil.  A Babe ‘troubling’ a king!  The good have ever ‘troubled’ the bad.  The nefarious bookkeeper is troubled by the eye of his honest companion.”   Here is what impacted me.  How has the fact of Christ affected us?  Is ours the attitude of the adoring shepherds or that of Herod (don’t answer too quickly) trembling because of the possible loss of my throne? Dagon must fall to pieces when the Ark is carried into the temple! We are His temple. SELAH  

Dec. 15 – (Isa. 11:1; 53:3; Matt. 2:23) Messiah would be called a Nazarene.

                Okay this one was a little harder to connect but it’s there if we explore the original word.  Matthew may have intended a wordplay connecting the word “Nazareth” to the messianic prophecy in Isa. 11:1. “Nazareth” sounds like the Hebrew word for “branch,” which was a term for the Messiah. This is also a general theme in the OT Prophets.  They foretold that the Messiah would be despised (Isa. 53:3), and the town of Nazareth was despised in Jesus’ time (John 1:46; 7:41,52) Also, when Isaiah spoke of Jesus as The Branch, he used the word neh-tzer, meaning “the separated One,” or the Nazarene.” 

Dec. 16 – (Isa 7:14; Matt. 1:22,23) Messiah would be called Immanuel. 

                When Isaiah used the exclamation Behold in connection with this divine name (Immanuel or Emanuel), he wanted to arrest attention to an extraordinary prophecy.  It was a name, men were not to use in an ordinary way because it not only revealed His contact with man but also His character.  Two truths are suggested by this remarkable name: Christ’s Deity and His fellowship with men.  He became “God manifest in flesh.” In His last commission to His followers, He said, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

                Here is a great way to look at Emanuel.

                                In the OT, it is – God For Us

                                In the Four Gospels, it is – God With Us

                                In the Acts and Epistles, it is – God In Us

                “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Of course, He is for us, and with us, but, now, by His Spirit, He is always in us. He is our eternal Inhabitant – the Indweller Who will never leave us- the Comforter, abiding with us forever (John 14:16). (Herbert Lockyer)

Dec. 3-10 Foretelling and Fulfillment Surrounding Jesus' Birth

Dec. 3 – (Isa. 46:9-10; Foretelling - Gen. 9:26-27; Fulfilled - Luke 3:36) As we look forward to celebrating Jesus’ birth, let’s spend some time looking into the foretelling and fulfillment of His birth.  I have learned so much in the past years in doing this study that Christmas brought on a deeper meaning. As I expected, my study this year brought more insight and revelation of God’s love and timing and choices…only for our good!  We can never exhaust comprehension of His Word!  I would like to use Isa. 46:9-10 as a basis of this study. “Remember the former things of old; for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all My purpose (some versions say pleasure).”

                Let me begin this study with several things to keep in mind. First, through genealogies, we can trace from where Jesus descended.  That alone is amazing in the validity of scripture and prophecy.  I could spend days explaining why genealogies are so important for the validity of this study.  Let me just give a few: 1. Genealogies form the generation-to-generation tie-up of all preceding biblical history and are both the skeletal framework of the OT and the cords binding the whole Bible together, giving it its characteristic unity.  2. Public registers of all members of the Israelite families had to be scrupulously preserved. (Ex. Priests who couldn’t trace their ancestry were put out of their office. Neh. 7:64). Any Israelite could trace his genealogy because “all Israel were reckoned by genealogies” (I Chron. 9:1).  These records constituted a man’s title to his farm or home so there was a big interest to keep them up to date.)  3. These national records were carefully kept until the destruction of Jerusalem, the Temple, and the Jewish nation in A. D. 70.  Therefore, during the life of Jesus, no one could dispute that He was of the house and lineage of David as He claimed to be.

                There are two genealogies of Jesus as given in the NT to trace His lineage according to the flesh. One in Matt. 1:1-17 and one in Luke 3:23-38. They are not exactly the same and we won’t take time to study the differences. But where I have landed is that the two authors teeter between royal descent and actual physical descent. An example might be the descent of Joseph – Mathew’s account shows the royal descent and Luke’s account shows the physical descent.

                (Foretelling - Gen. 9:26-27; Fulfilled - Luke 3:36) Messiah would be a descendant of Shem.

As we study these prophesies you will have scripture that foretells and then scripture that shows fulfillment or confirmation. Let’s begin with Shem (chosen son of Noah). In Gen. 9:25-27, Noah is blessing (or cursing) his sons. He says, “Blessed be the Lord, the “God of Shem…and will dwell in the tents of Shem…”  The fulfillment comes in the genealogy in Luke 3:36. There is more information that helps connect Shem with Abraham (our next person we will study).  “The generations of Shem” (Gen. 11:10-26) stretch from Shem to Abraham covering ten generations – 427 years.  Shem lived from 98 years before the Flood until 502 years after the Flood, which means that he lived until 75 years after Abraham entered Canaan.  Isn’t that amazing?  This may be the longest span of foretelling to fulfillment (about 7,000 years, give or take 1000).  Shem means “name” in Hebrew – a designation subsequently given him as one of note or great among Noah’s sons.  The prophecy that Jehovah would be specially the God of Shem was fulfilled in the choice of Abraham and of Israel, his descendants as God’s peculiar people.  Shem is called “the father of all the children of Eber”; the term “Hebrew” is derived from Eber (Gen. 10:21; Num. 24:24). 

Dec. 4 – (Foretelling - Gen. 12:3; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:1; Gal. 3:16; Rom. 9:5) Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham.

                Matthew begins his genealogy by saying, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1:1). This is another confirmation that Jesus came from this nation because no other nations are even mentioned. Did you notice that Gen. 12:3 contains the call of Abraham to leave his country and go where God is leading him?  When Abraham accepted the call to go to a new land, it meant so much more than physically moving there. By such a choice God divided the many nations of the earth into two groups. Most of the peoples became “the Gentile nations,” while a very small family became known as God’s “chosen people”, the Jewish nation.  With this move, God gave him a new physical name (Abraham replaced Abram) and a new heritage name (Hebrew (Eber) replaced Gentile).  To these privileged people God gave a land, and a prophecy that He would make of the people “a great nation” and through them bless the earth (by Jesus coming through their blood line)!  What about the “big decisions” God is asking of you?  God has soo many blessings in store for each one of us and those we will touch if “we follow where He leads”! 

Dec. 5 – (Foretelling - Gen. 17:19, 21:12; 26:2,4; Fulfillment - Luke 3:34; Rom. 9:4,5,7; Heb. 11:17-19) Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac.

                 Isaac’s birth establishes an everlasting covenant with his descendants. In Gen. 21:12, God confirms that Isaac will take priority over Ishmael even though Ishmael is older. The importance of this is explained in Rom. 9:7 and Heb. 11:18. Though many Jews have failed to believe this, God’s promise to them has not failed.  It was never true that all of the physical children of Abraham would be part of the people of God. Gen. 21:12 teaches that the line of promise is traced through Isaac, not Ishmael. Hebrews 11:17-18 again confirms God’s promise of covenant through Isaac. “Only son” (Heb. 11:17) designates Isaac as Abraham’s unique son.  Though Abraham had other children, Isaac was the son who was “one of a kind”, in the sense of being Abraham’s only heir and the only bearer of covenant promises.  In the words, “raise him from the dead” (Heb. 11:19), Abraham expressed confidence that he would return with Isaac.  Hebrews draws an analogy between resurrection and Isaac being spared.  Isn’t this amazing? As we go through life, God gives us foretellings and fulfillments about ourselves and those around us.  I’m guessing most of the time we don’t see the foretelling, but the closer we draw to God, the better our vision gets!  Selah 

Dec. 7 – (Foretelling - Num. 24:17,19; Fulfillment - Matt. 1:2; Rom. 9:9-10) Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob.

                As you read these verses you will see further evidence that God’s covenant would continue through Jacob.  It also reiterates God’s promise (Gen. 18:10,14) was not given to Hagar (Gen.16:11-12), but specifically to Sarah and her offspring.  The birth of Esau and Jacob and following events show again that God chose who would be included in Jesus’ genealogy.  What has God chosen you for?  He has put you in a family and community at this time and place in history.  You have a specific purpose.  God chose you and loves you so very much. If you have never done this, ask God to reveal to you just what that specific purpose is and then thank Him…for what He is doing through you and for you! 

Dec. 8 – (Foretelling - Gen. 49:10; Ps. 78:67,68; Fulfillment - Luke 3:33; Heb. 7:14) Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah.

                Gen. 49:10 is part of Jacob’s blessing on each of his sons, specifically Judah. As with the other blessings, Jacob sees the descendants of Judah in the light of Judah’s own personal qualities.  The nations will bring “tribute” (money or other gifts) and pledge their obedience to one of his descendants.  Jacob thus predicts the great empire of David, and the greater kingdom of Jesus Christ, the second David. Abraham’s blessing will come to the Gentiles as Christ includes them in his kingdom.  To emphasize Judah’s future royal status, he is compared to a lion, and one of his descendants will hold a scepter and a ruler’s staff. The royal line of Judah culminates with Jesus Christ.  I thought Heb. 7:14 was very interesting.  This confirms again that Jesus came from the tribe of Judah rather than the priestly tribe of Levi.  Yet he qualifies as the eternal high priest because he is the Davidic Messiah, called both Lord and a priest after the messianic priestly order of Melchizedek (Ps. 110:1,4).

                DID YOU KNOW?  Shiloh has ever been taken to be a name of the Messiah (who knew? 😊). It means “peace” or “one sent”.  As the messiah, or Sent One, Jesus came before Judah lost its tribal identity.  Since He came, our Shiloh has had the obedience of countless people as the prophetic Word said He would (Gen.  49:10; ESV version says “… until tribute comes…”, while NKJ version says “…until Shiloh comes…”). 

Dec. 9 – (Foretelling – Isa. 11:1,2; Fulfillment – Luke 3:33) Messiah would descend from King David

                We see many foretellings and fulfillments that Jesus would descend from King David.  In fact, David has the most.  I will only site a few.  God chose Jesse (David’s father) from whom Jesus would descend.  It amazes me that of the thousands of families in the tribe of Judah that an unknown family would become royalty.  Do you feel like a nobody?  An unknown? God chose you!

                Isaiah 11:1 says a Rod (ESV says a shoot) will come from the stem of Jesse.  When I read the word “rod” in the Bible, I always think of a correcting stick for sheep. Here it may mean a twig or shoot that comes up from the roots of a cut down tree.  Now that brings a whole new meaning to this foretelling!

                (Foretelling -2 Sam.7:12-13; Ps. 132:11; Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32-33, Rom. 1:3) Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne.

Now it is your turn to dig out what God wants to reveal to you specifically in these verses! God speaks specifics to each of us as we study His Word!  Let’s hear Him and apply! 

Dec. 10 – (Foretelling - Matt. 1:16; Luke 3:23; Num. 36:8; Isa. 9:6; 11:1; Matt. 1:20; Luke 2:4; Luke 1:32) Messiah would descend from Joseph.

                My, have I learned a lot from these verses!  I won’t explain it all but did you know that Mary and Joseph were cousins? Also, that according to the law he would marry her? All through the OT, characters are linked together by the word begat (to imply natural generation) but it is not applied with Jesus.  There is sooo much more but I want to end with this statement:  When Christ came to earth, He had two Josephs to care for Him – one when He was born, the other when He died.  The first Joseph was poor, the second rich.  Who was the first “Joseph” in your life? Were you adopted?  Do you have half or step brothers or sisters? God even included this into all that Jesus experienced.  Pastor Torry did an anointed teaching on adoption after celebrating one first hand with our niece and her husband.  It really is worth listening to. You can access it on Christian Assembly web site from Oct. 7, 2018.    SELAH   

Nov. 26-Dec. 2 Giving Thanks In All Things

Nov. 26 – (Ps. 147, Pro. 27) “Praise the Lord!  For it is good to sing praises to our God; for it is pleasant, and a song of praise is fitting.” “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” (Ps. 147:1, 3) Let’s thank Him today for specific times He healed our broken hearts and bound up our wounds.  Don’t rehearse any pain from those moments…dwell on God’s healing and thank Him! 

 Proverbs 27 holds many truths that kind of appeal to my humorous side.  Verse 14 reminds me of why we wait to contact someone early in the morning.  I am a very early riser.  I can be studying for CA BRC at 5 AM.  That’s when I think of someone I need to contact but immediately I realize that connection would not be appreciated at that time!  Verse 2 reminds me of a saying: He who toots his own horn has a well-tooted horn! Verse 17 reminds me of the Christian community. It should be that we sharpen each other in the ways of the Lord! 

Nov. 27 – (Ps. 145, Pro. 28) “I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever.  Every day I will bless You and praise Your name forever and ever.  Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and His greatness is unsearchable. One generation shall commend Your works to another and shall declare Your mighty acts.” (Ps. 145:1-4) Let’s tell our children/grandchildren today how great the Lord has been in our life.  Be specific!

                Did you ever wonder what it really means to fear the Lord?  Proverbs 28:13-14 can help us with that. To fear the Lord involves confessing one’s sins, rather than concealing them and hardening one’s heart.  A person who confesses their sins, receives mercy and is therefore truly happy.  So simple and yet… 

Nov. 28 – (Ps. 148, Pro. 29) “Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise Him in the heights! Praise Him, all His angels; praise Him, all His hosts!”  (Ps. 148:1-2) Not just man but all the earth praises God! Have you ever heard the trees clap their hands?  Pastor Torry has!  Ask him about it sometime! 

                Proverbs 29:25 has become more real to me in the past years.  If we fear man (what he says or thinks), it means we believe him more than we believe and trust in God. Verse 27 brings a simple truth to this section of Proverbs. Righteousness and evil are offensive to each other. Those who are faithful to God should not be surprised when they are hated by the wicked.   

Nov. 29 – (Ps. 136, Pro. 30) “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever.” For His steadfast love endures forever…for His steadfast love endures forever…for His steadfast love endures forever…for His steadfast love endures forever. Let me say it one more time that His steadfast love endures forever!  Oh, if we only trusted this Truth in every moment of our lives.

                This Proverb seems to be summing up all that has been said.  Verses 5-6 reiterates that every word of God proves true.  The proverb’s emphasis on every “word” underscores the truthfulness, trustworthiness and reliability of the “Bible, not just in its overall message but also in every detail.  

Nov. 30 – (Ps. 150, Pro. 31) “Praise the Lord! Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty heavens! Praise Him for His mighty deeds; Praise Him according to His excellent greatness! Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!  Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 150: 1-2, 6) God is so creative! We can praise Him in soo many ways!           

                Proverbs 31:10-31 is so well known as a plumb line for women to measure how they are doing. But it is so much more. This portrait of excellence sets such a high standard that it can be depressing to godly women today until its purpose is understood.  First, the woman embodies wisdom in all areas of life.  This shows that the teaching of Proverbs is intended for all of God’s people. Second, this profile is an ideal.  It is not expected that any one woman will look exactly like this in every way.  Rather, it is an example of full-scale virtue and wisdom toward which the faithful are willing to be molded. Does that take any pressure off? 

DID YOU KNOW? Verses 10-31 is a wisdom poem in an acrostic.  Each successive verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. 

Dec. 1 – (Ps. 98) Let’s finish this week with Psalms.  Psalm 98 encourages us to make a joyful noise for God!  I didn’t say it needed to be good quality!  God has done marvelous things for Israel all the way down to us.  What can we do but praise Him!  Selah 

Dec. 2 – (Ps. 93) “The Lord reigns; He is robed in majesty; the Lord is robed; He has put on strength as His belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.  Your throne is established from of old; You are from everlasting.”  (Pr. 93:1-2) All of the world is established through God’s creation.  All the world can be saved and restored through God’s plan of salvation.  As we come into the Christmas season, let’s be aware that what we celebrate as our Life, there are many around us who don’t know that saving peace and joy.  We are the shepherds, Wise men, and may I even say angels, who will “spread the Good News”!

Nov. 19-25 Give Thanks With a Grateful Heart!

Here are more Psalms of thankfulness and praise with more Proverbs of wisdom!  

Nov. 19 – (Ps. 47; Pro. 20) “Clap your hands, all peoples! Shout to God with loud songs of joy! For the Lord, the Most High, is to be feared, a great king over all the earth.” (Ps. 47:1-2) “Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises!  For God is the King of all the earth; sing praises with a psalm! (Ps. 47:6-7)

                Proverbs 20:8-12 looks at judgment from various angles.  The purpose of the king, representing human government, is to restrain evil through acts of judgment (v.8).  Awareness of one’s own guilt should make one merciful in judging others (v.9).  Scales (commercial tools that are often used as symbols of judgment) should be fair, balanced, and impartial (v. 10). People’s actions show what they are, and this applies even to children (v.11).  As God made both the eye and the ear, He knows best how to assess a person or situation.  His judgment will be final and decisive (v. 12).   I also am intrigued with verse 29. If the splendor of old men is their gray hair, why do we work so hard at covering that gray? What does that say about us? What does that say about how our culture views “older people”?  Selah 

Nov. 20 – (Ps. 48; Pro. 21) “Great is the Lord and greatly to be praised in the city of our God! His holy mountain, beautiful in elevation, is the joy of all the earth, Mount Zion in the far north, the city of the great King.”  Can you hear a song we used to sing? That was one thing I appreciate about that era (or move of God) when Integrity music (and some others) brought scripture set to music.  God has something to say to us in every era.  I pray we are listening and grasp each new wave of communication He brings to us.

                In Pro. 21:2, it talks about the weighing of the heart. The concept of weighing the heart originated in Egypt.  Egyptians believed that when a person died, the gods placed that person’s heart on a set of golden scales along with the Feather of Truth.  If the heart weighed less than the feather, the person was admitted into the afterlife.  It is possible that the Israelites brought this imagery with them when they left Egypt and replaced the Egyptian gods with Yahweh, who is the true judge of the heart. Now I am a so practical in my thinking. If they actually did that, no heart would be lighter than a feather!  Oh the “things we believe in” that are just not true! Selah 

Nov. 21 – (Ps. 54; Pro. 22) “Behold, God is my helper; the Lord is the upholder of my life.” (Ps. 54:4) “With a freewill offering I will sacrifice to you; I will give thanks to your name, O Lord, for it is good.” (Ps. 54:6) Let’s thank Him today for helping us when we mess up.  He is so loving!

                Of course, all Christian parents rely on Proverbs 22:6 for their children’s future.  The older I get the more I see that this verse is a promise and a threat. There are so many choices as parents and as a child growing up that change our thinking and behavior for life.  It can be for our good or not.  Let’s continue to thank Him for the good and thank Him for forgiving our sins when they show up in us or those watching us.  Selah 

Nov. 22 – (Ps. 66; Pro. 23) “Shout for joy to God, all the earth; sing the glory of His name; give to Him glorious praise! Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!” (Ps. 66:1-3)  Let’s write down some of God’s glorious deeds He has done in your life!

This proverb seems to speak a lot about food yet has many meanings beside actually eating.  What part speaks to you? What is the Lord saying to you through these verses? Being so very practical (most times, I’m too practical) I am reminded that God wants me to eat only to live, not live to eat.  “Oh, help me, Lord!” 

Nov. 23 – (Ps. 89; Pro. 24) “I will sing of the steadfast love of the Lord, forever; with my mouth I will make known Your faithfulness to all generations.”  Today tell other generations of God’s steadfast love in your life. (Ps. 89:1)

 Proverbs 24 contains lessons on how to be wise. Let’s pick out at least 5 things that help us grow wise. As I was reading verse 16, about the righteous falls 7 times and rises again, I was reminded of Jesus saying we should forgive 77 times (Matt. 18:21).  Hmm.  

Nov. 24 – (Ps. 91; Pro. 25) I have chosen Psalm 91 for today, not because it’s words literally praise God but because I felt we needed to be reminded that as we trust in God, we dwell…live moment by moment, in the shelter of the Most High.  We will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. In all circumstances we can say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”  Now isn’t that a great thing we can thank Him for!  SELAH!

Before you read Proverbs 25, let’s get a little history lesson concerning chapters 25-29:27. The present form of the book of Proverbs came into existence at earliest, in the reign of Hezekiah (reigned 715-686 B.C).  Hezekiah is credited with reviving Judah’s religious traditions (2 Kgs. 18:3-7).  A new, expanded edition of Solomonic proverbs was apparently part of that revival. Let’s also get a lesson on the weather in this area.  It will help us understand verse 23. In Palestine, winds from the north usually bring good weather.  When the north wind brings rain, as in 25:23, the rain can be sudden and damaging.  Thus, it is compared here to a “backbiting tongue.”  Hmm 

Nov. 25 – (Ps. 149; Pro. 26) “Praise the Lord! Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise in the assembly of the godly! Let Israel be glad in his Maker; let the children of Zion rejoice in their King!  Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with tambourine and lyre!” Instead of writing something you are thankful for today, why not give a little dance to Him in privacy?  Go on…you won’t die!😊 

 In Proverbs 26, we read a lot about a fool. Verses 4 and 5 seem to contradict each other. But the fact that they are grouped together shows they do not.  Rather, they cover two situations.  The reader must determine when it is best to answer not a fool (ignore him) and when to answer him.  He must be answered if silence would cause harm to the fool or to others. Can you think of an experience you encountered for either? How did you respond?  

Nov. 12-18 Cleaning Out Our Spiritual Stall

Nov. 12 – (Ps. 27; Pro. 13) “The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear”? “The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” (Ps. 27:1) “Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!” (Ps. 27:14)

Verse 19 of Proverbs intrigues me. To turn away from evil is an abomination to fools.  Let’s think about this for a moment. There is just so much going on today that many are appalled that we stand against those things.  I am so sad. Selah 

Nov. 13 – (Ps. 29; Pro. 14) “Ascribe to the Lord, O heavenly beings, ascribe to the Lord the glory due His name; worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness.” (Ps. 29:1-2) What are you going to give glory to the Lord for, today? Remember to give thanks for specific things and add them to your list of thanks!

                Verse 4 has always interested me.  If the strength of the ox is the means for plowing the ground to produce abundant crops then protecting oxen in a stable is a necessary part of the labor, even though it involves the unpleasant work of cleaning the stable.  An empty stable may be clean (thus no unpleasant work is required), but it won’t produce any abundance.  What “unpleasant” work of cleaning do you despise in your walk with the Lord? Selah 

Nov. 14 – (Ps. 30; Pro. 15) “Sing praises to the Lord, O you His saints, and give thanks to His holy name.” (Ps. 30:4) “You have turned my mourning into dancing. You have loosed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness, that my glory may sing your praise and not be silent.  O Lord my God, I will give thanks to you forever!” (Ps. 30: 11-12)

                As I have read these Proverbs, there are many I can relate to, whether having experienced the negative or the positive.  Verse 1 of Proverbs 15 is another such one.  The word “harsh” is literally “word of pain”.  What is your first reaction in a situation where conflict arises, and soft words are then spoken?  How about when the response is “harsh”? 

Nov. 15 – (Ps. 34; Pro. 16) “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul makes its boast in the Lord; let the humble hear and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me and let us exalt His name together.” (Ps. 34:1-3) Let’s bless the Lord today by telling of who He is (as opposed to what He does)!

                I loved the commentary from verse 6 of Proverbs 16. It portrays the sacrificial system, by which iniquity is atoned for, as an expression of God’s steadfast love and faithfulness (see Ex. 34:6; Prov. 3.3; 14:22; 20:28).  The right response is the fear of the Lord, by which one turns away from doing evil (compare Pro. 3:7; 14:16; Job 1:1; Ps. 34:14). The Bible consistently presents the effort to behave morally as the right response to God’s grace.  

Nov. 16 – (Ps.32; Pro. 17) “Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.” (Ps. 32:1) “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.” (Ps. 32: 8) “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Ps. 32:11) When we sin, we ask forgiveness and peace and joy can return!

                Proverbs 17:9-13 begins by stressing the importance of friends forgiving one another. It then notes the wisdom of accepting friendly correction (v.10). It concludes with statements about the dangerous effects of constant rebellion against God (vv. 11-13). Unforgiveness and a proud spirit are rebellion against God.  Selah 

Nov. 17 – (Ps. 33; Pro. 18) “Shout for joy in the Lord, O you righteous! Praise befits the upright.  Give thanks to the Lord…. Sing to him a new song; play skillfully on the strings, with loud shouts.” (Ps. 33:1-3)  Now that is using our lips for the best purpose!

                Verses 4-8 of Proverbs 18, speak to the use of our lips. What is in the heart comes out in our speech. Let’s purpose to make every word we speak today be affirming and beneficial to the ears that hear. 

Nov. 18 – (Ps. 37; Pro. 19) “Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.  Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”  Let’s thank Him today that as we delight in Him, He puts His desires in us…and what He desires He will do!

                Proverbs 19:2 reminds me again that goals are important. “Whoever makes haste with his feet” likely refers to an impulsive person who acts without thinking or planning.  He has a desire to get somewhere but does not have sufficient knowledge to reach his goal. Hmm