New Appreciation for a Well Known Verse.

 

Dusty Bible
     John 5:39-40  You pore over the Scriptures because you think you have eternal life in them, yet they testify about Me. And you are not willing to come to Me so that you may have life.

I have read and heard read this verse so many times, I thought that I understood it, but I made a drastic error in my interpretation. You see when I hear the word scriptures, I think of the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, but not what the people who first heard Jesus thought. You see when this verse was first spoken by Jesus, he had not yet been crucified, the New Testament had not yet been written. So the term scriptures could not mean the New Testament, he was only referring to the Old. 
Now read my paraphrase of the passage
You pore over the Old Testament because you think you have eternal life in them, yet it testifies of Jesus. And you are not willing to come to Jesus so that you may have life.

He is telling us that we can find Jesus all over the Old  Testament if we know to look for him. It isn’t just about judgment and the angry Father like many people think it is. It is also about salvation and Jesus.

I knew that the Old Testament was more than many think that it is, but only in a way that you know a recipe before you have actually made the dessert on the card. I saw the words, could put them together,  but I had not yet seen, smelled or tasted the dessert that the card described. Once you have put it in your mouth, and tasted it, you know that you will never look at that recipe card the same way again.  Just like my next reading of the Old Testament will be more beautiful, with a newfound understanding and appreciation.  

If you want to know more about Jesus in the Old Testament please consider reading
Finding Jesus in the Old Testament by David Limbaugh

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The Wise Men



Matthew 2:1-2 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem  and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”

     Who are these Magi, and where did they come from, and how did they know that the star would lead to? Some have said that they were astrologers, that is possible, but I think that there is a more likely explaination. 

The Wise Men that came to worship Jesus, were from the East. The nearest land to the East was the Babylon Empire, which at one point Isreal was part of. When we read about  Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego we are reading about events that took place in Babylon. 

When Daniel survived in the Lion’s den, King Darius was so grateful that he said

“Daniel 6:26-27  (KJV)
26 I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end. He delivereth and rescueth, and he worketh signs and wonders in heaven and in Earth, who hath delivered Daniel from the power of the lions.” 

So to at least some extent, Babylon knew about Isreal and the Jewish religion and would have access to the history of the Jewish people, not only because they once occupied them, but because they were close enough to have contact with each other. . This would include many of the Prophecies made about the coming Messiah.

One of those prophecies was made by the reluctant prophet Balaam (The guy with the talking Donkey)
In Numbers 24:17 Balaam says “I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel”
A sceptre is a symbol of Kingship, and a star in the land of Jacob is connected with that king.

One of Daniel’s prophecies particularly sticks out as a foretelling of the coming of Christ 

Daniel 9:24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

This was understood to mean in seventy weeks of years (490 years)  it would be time to anoint the most Holy.  Which gave the Babylonians a time frame for this to happen. 

Since the Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego had such a big impact on Babyalon, it would only be natural for them to record those events, and thus the Wise Men would have had access to those records

While Babylon did participate in astrology, it’s study of the stars, also led them to lay the groundwork for modern day astronomy. If they had studied the work of Daniel, and then heard of a strange star in the sky durring the time of the prophecy, I am sure they would want to check it out, and since wise men were typically under the employment of the government, it would have been an obligation of the royal house to give a gift to any new born king to help secure peace, thus explaining how the Wise men had such expensive gifts on hand. 

   We should also consider the fact that not long after the Wise Men had given their gifts to Jesus,    Joseph was told to take his family to Egypt to live. Trips like that cost a lot of money. If those Wise Men had not come, I doubt a carpenter would have been able to afford that kind of trip, so I believe that God sent the Wise Men to give the money to Joseph that he was soon going to need. 

     
  If you would like to support Smart Christian, and do more research into this subject. Please consider buying these books from Amazon.com via the links below. 
Finding Jesus in the Old Testament , by David Limbaugh

The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary

The Moody Bible Commentary

And a wikipedia link talking about the origins of Astronomy in Babylon









No Private Interpretations!

cropped-bible-e14417322078632 Peter 1:20-21
Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Holy Bible was a gift given to all people at all times. Some of the scriptures were meant for a particular person of a group of people, but as a matter of history, everyone needs to know about them.  After the context is considered (Is it historical, future prophecy, or for all people at all times) It means the same thing as it has always meant.

If you are interpreting it in a way that is just for you, and the meaning changes when someone else reads it, you are going against this passage.

I once heard of a man that was lusting over a woman named Grace. He was already married, and so was she. One day he was praying about it and he read in the Bible something about grace, that led him to believe that he had permission from God to break up two families and marry Grace. Unless God wanted every person who has ever lived to marry a person named Grace, the Bible did not mean that. A careful study of the Bible would have told him that divorce may have been permitted at times, that wasn’t what God wanted for anyone. It can, however, tell a single man that if someone named Grace is a single Christian who isn’t related to him, she might be the one, but the meaning of the passages in question would be the same if the woman in question was named Gina, Cindy, or Sarah.

The Holy Spirit can make different passages stand out to different people at different times. I personally have read passages that I know I have read before, but I suddenly had to stop and re-read the passage several times then realize that there is something that the Lord wants me to pay particular attention too. But if the passage is about feeding the hungry, it has always been about feeding the hungry…while the application of the verse may vary from person to person, it means the same thing that it meant thousands of years ago.

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Purchase of the Potter’s Field

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Dragging a wooden cross

Matthew 27: 3-10
Judas was paid the price of a slave to betray Jesus by the priest who wanted him dead.
After it was too late to back out of the deal, and Jesus has already been arrested, Judas started feeling guilty. He then proceeded to go back to the Temple and try to give the money back. They wouldn’t take it, so he threw the money down in the temple and left. Their response was interesting to say the least
Matthew 27:6-8   (KJV)
6 And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood.
7 And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in.
8 Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.

They recognized that it was dirty money, yet they were the ones who took it out of the treasury, with the intent to use it to get Jesus killed in the first place! They made it dirty!
Then they used it to buy land that they considered dirty.

As I was reading this passage this morning I couldn’t help but think about another book that I am reading.
Gosnell: The Untold Story of America’s Most Prolific Serial Killer It is about  Kermit Gosnell and his abortion clinic. It was so nasty that the Health Department would not have let even a clothing store get away with being that nasty, much less any real medical facility.  The man even murdered the babies that were born alive in that facility, that could have survived outside the womb had a real doctor been available.  He even kept trophy body parts that were clearly recognizable as feet, he even had a dead baby in a kitty litter container! The case was so nasty that even the pro-abortion advocate news reporter cried while reading the report on the nightly news.
Yet this blog post isn’t even about that, the police investigating all of these charges needed help understanding the more technical elements of the crime, like reading the ultrasounds. They had to call around to find a doctor that was willing to help them investigate the case.  They had a terrible problem finding one. Most doctors cussed them out for even arresting this monster. One abortion “doctor” who never would allow her facility to be run like Gosnell ran his, however, had a telling response. She said that she liked them and all, but she was a soccer mom, and most of the people in her life had no idea what she did for a living, and she wanted to keep it that way.   She could not help the police convict a man who had been murdering born alive children!
Unless you are something like an undercover detective or working on some top-secret defense project, you should be proud enough of your work to not care who finds out what you do.   Yet she did not want the people in her life to know what she did for a living. She knew that her hands were dirty, but she kept on killing unborn children. She is a lot like those priests who were willing to give someone money so that they could arrest  Jesus at night with the intent on killing him but were unwilling to have any part in it once the deed was done, they were too good to have any further part in the matter.

If there is something in your life that you would be ashamed if other people discovered the truth about it, confess your sin to God, and ask Jesus to help you leave that sin behind you. Don’t live on both sides of the fence like the priest who bought the Potter’s Field.

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Objection to Christianity: Christians are Evil Hypocrites

     wolf
One of the most common objections to Christianity is that Christians are evil hypocrites, and I have to admit that especially if you include all people who say that they are Christians (even if they are not) that even by human standards they are right. One only has to look at the news and see what has been happening to some little boys in some churches that this objection does have some merit.  The Bible itself says that ALL PEOPLE fall short of the glory of God.  Romans 3:23  when they say that Christians are, or at least can be evil they are doing nothing more than confessing that at least part of Christianity is true.
It breaks my heart whenever I hear of Christians that have done things that are evil even by human standards, but no belief system should be judged by the random people who say that they follow it,  there are atheist like Joseph Stalin who was responsible for the deaths of a seemingly countless number of people and atheist who are basically good.  Buddhist that literally would not kill a fly, and Buddist who have committed murder. Pagans that are passivist, and Pagans who have committed human sacrifice.   All belief systems have one thing in common; they all are followed by fallible humans. We should not judge those belief systems by random followers of the belief system, we should judge them by the foundational beliefs of that system, and the people who follow that belief system the best. In the case of Christianity, that person is Jesus Christ. Who is so good, that many belief systems have tried to turn him into a follower of their belief system. He encouraged people to be kind even to their enemies.  Don’t judge Christianity by the so-called Christians who have committed beastly behavior, judge it by the behavior of Christ.

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Be ready, he will come when you do not expect him.

LONDON, GREAT BRITAIN - SEPTEMBER 15, 2017: The Ascension of the Lord on the satined glass of St James's Church, Clerkenwell Alexander Gibbs & Co (1863).

Matthew 24:42-44
42 Therefore be alert, since you don’t know what day your Lord is coming. 43 But know this: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed alert and not let his house be broken into. 44 This is why you also must be ready because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

Every so often someone declares that they KNOW when Christ is coming back, they get a lot of people especially Christians who haven’t carefully studied the Bible, worked up then the day comes, and all their hopes are dashed.  It’s even worse than that, some of the people who believed the preacher with the date have sold off all of their stuff, and recklessly spent the money they had to have a few laughs before leaving Earth. Imagine their shock when they woke up the day after they thought Jesus would come back, now penniless!  I imagine that many of these people left the faith when they really should have studied their Bible, and left their false teacher. When we come up with false dates for the second coming or even pass them on via Facebook or Twitter, we are committing a crime against the Body of Christ! We run the risk of chasing people who were close to coming to Christ away as well.  Don’t do it!

In this crazy world, we live in, it is easy to fall prey to the idea that Christ will come back any minute now, and it is possible, but it is also possible that he won’t come back in our lifetime. People have made false predictions about the end of the world almost since these words were written two-thousand years ago. I believe that we were not told the date so we could avoid having the temptation to put our work off till tomorrow because when tomorrow comes, it will be today so waiting until tomorrow may end up waiting till it is too late. Instead of trying to guess something that Christ purposely avoided telling us, we should instead keep our opinion about the exact day to ourselves, work for him as if he is coming back before bedtime, and plan as if your grandchildren will live to a ripe old age. That way all your bases are covered and you will live the life that Christ intended.