This is the topic of the day…seeking! [Use an exclamation mark at the end of a strong command, an interjection, or an emphatic declaration.] Seeking has come up over and over these last couple of weeks in my own study, in Bible study and in external reading. When that happens I know this is not coincidence or an accident, it’s the Holy Spirit putting an exclamation point on the word of God so I’ll pay attention.
Paul hasn’t used that exact word but it’s surely implied in this passage. Isn’t the usual response to losing something to seek or replace it? He’s had his own exclamation point on the Damascus Road that has changed his focus from what he already knew from the Hebrew code of Jewish law that those who don’t believe in resurrection have no share in the world to come. His spiritual pedigree was beyond question but that has become “rubbish” to him now. What he had lost has become his personal desire to seek — to “gain Christ and be found in him with “righteousness from God that depends on faith.” Paul has reminded me seeking is much more than an other worldly goal, it’s “the power of [Christ’s] resurrection” at work in my everyday life, here and now. [see Galatians 2:20]
How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him. This is set before us as the last word in orthodoxy, and it is taken for granted that no Bible-taught Christian ever believed otherwise. Thus the whole testimony of the worshiping, seeking, singing church on that subject is crisply set aside. The experiential heart-theology of a grand army of fragrant saints is rejected in favor of a smug interpretation of Scripture… [A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God]
Cited from the ESV
— Isaiah 49:8 Thus says the Lord: “In a time of favor I have answered you; in a day of salvation I have helped you; I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, to establish the land, to apportion the desolate heritages
— Isaiah 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near;
— Psalm 32:6 Therefore let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you at a time when you may be found; surely in the rush of great waters, they shall not reach him.
— Psalm 69:13 But as for me, my prayer is to you, O Lord. At an acceptable time, O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness.
Look at 2 Corinthians 6:2 and ask these valid questions. When is the “favorable time?” Is it when God listens…or when you speak to Him? Are you aware that God is saving you right now? Can we expand the comfortable little box for that word “salvation” from one and done for eternity to a continuous stream of activity for life? When we became a follower of Jesus Christ there was a spiritual sigh of relief because God saved us to Himself for all eternity. God has affirmed Himself in these scriptures with words like “I have” and “I will.” They have secured the past and the future but that “a” has become the big idea that God is continuously saving in the “present” There was “a day of salvation” but that was then. This is now.
Isn’t the reality of “seek the Lord while he may be found” necessary now? “Now” is the day we need to be saved from drowning in the unexpected flood of circumstances of daily life. The Lord reminds us of His past faithfulness in our past encounters with Him. I have listened to your prayers, I have answered, I have helped and saved you — remember how you found me then? It was a favorable and acceptable time between us. Don’t miss the reality that those memories of “found” time with me are the time you knew I was near. Those times are past, the present is now. Now I will keep you just as I did before — I remember, do you? Now is the time I set for “everyone who is godly [to] offer prayer. “O God, in the abundance of your steadfast love answer me in your saving faithfulness…Behold, now is the favorable time — behold now is the day of salvation.”
Here’s an interesting commentary explanation about Epaphroditus’s illness that is worth sharing: ( Philippians 2:25-30 )
“There is a word in this passage which later had a famous usage. The King James Version speaks of Epaphroditus not regarding his life; the Revised Standard Version uses risking his life; we have translated it hazarding his life. The word is the verb paraboleuesthai ( G3851); it is a gambler’s word and means to stake everything on a turn of the dice. Paul is saying that for the sake of Jesus Christ Epaphroditus gambled his life. In the days of the Early Church there was an association of men and women called the parabolani, the gamblers. It was their aim to visit the prisoners and the sick, especially those who were ill with dangerous and infectious diseases. In A.D. 252 plague broke out in Carthage; the heathen threw out the bodies of their dead and fled in terror. Cyprian, the Christian bishop, gathered his congregation together and set them to burying the dead and nursing the sick in that plague-stricken city; and by so doing they saved the city, at the risk of their lives, from destruction and desolation.” a
That insight into Epaphroditus is an interesting commentary because of the information about his risk, life and faith. I share it because it’s worth to me is the one Greek verb the Bible mentions associated with gamblers. Faith is a definite gamble. There’s a risk involved with believing a) there is a God, b) Jesus as God walked the earth as a man with a specific purpose — to reveal His truth about dealing with the risks of life and finally c) at the end of His earthly life God/Jesus left an internal helper for those who believe; the Holy Spirit. The main evidence we have to support those risky truths is the Bible, but there is risk there too. What if some, of many, translators got their words wrong? You might gamble and be wrong…but are you willing to the risk your life on betting God couldn’t get it right?
Everything about mitigating that risk depends on learning the truth about a) accepting, b) believing and c) confirming truth for yourself. It’s a calculated risk. No one else’s investigating really matters. It really is all about you! God/Jesus/Holy Spirit does not demand — He reveals Himself to those willing to risk investigating. When that revelation happens you begin to understand the risk/benefits of personal faith. Read on! If you read/hear something from your investigation once, it’s information. If you read/hear the echo of that truth again, it’s confirmation and finally if you read/hear it a third time, it’s affirmation that you’ve just experienced the Holy Spirit, personally! God really is teaching you! May it be so!
a William Barclay
— Amos 9:11-12 “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom (Mount Esau) and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.
— Jeremiah 12:15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land.
— Isaiah 43:7…everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
— Jeremiah 14:9 Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us.”
— Daniel 9:19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name..
Rebuild and restore are common themes in the New Testament. Throughout the Bible that is a common theme. For a couple of days this week I’m at the ocean with my daughter and son-in-law and as God so often does He’s made a connection I can see with my own eyes to these passages. Two hurricanes battered this area last fall and as a result of that, the work of rebuilding and restoring what was lost is obvious. The rebuilding is the cosmetic fix but the restoration of what was lost is the ultimate goal.
Acts quotes Amos saying the Lord has said the “remnant of mankind” will include Gentiles He’s called by His name. What is “after this”? Why does Amos refer to “a remnant of Edom? Why do they want that remnant back? What does that word “back” really mean? Why is Acts referencing Amos to explain Gentiles who are called by the Lord’s name? Now Lord read me your truth from the Old Testament written to confirm it’s connection to the New Testament.
I learned two “new” ancient Greek words studying for today. “Ethne” was a name used to refer to Gentiles or nations and “Laos” referred to the “people of God” the name the Jews called themselves. Amos has chosen to use Laos to refer to Gentiles including them as “people of God.” Gentiles who hadn’t become Jews but had remained Gentiles and been called by God’s name way back then in the Old Testament.√ After this? After the “remnant of mankind,” Jews and Gentiles alike have been shaken and sifted to removed their sin, then “I will rebuild its ruins, and I will restore it. Then they will seek the Lord.√ Edom [Mount Esau] a kingdom thought to be founded by the angry, wronged brother of Jacob. Esau will be restored to complete the restoration of the Kingdon of God.√ And now we come to that word “back.” The word that says it all. God had never had any other plan but for His Kingdom to a) be rebuilt and b) be restored to the perfection He’d created in those first days of Genesis. And finally we have our name the Lord Himself has given us, Christians, followers of Jesus Christ and Daniels plea to make our own — “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name” — who makes these things known from of old” in “this” day.
Posted in Amos, Daniel, Isaiah, Jeremiah, New Testament, Old Testament, Wednesday
Tagged “New”Ancient Words, By the Lord’s Name, People of God, Rebuilt, Restored
Salvation is a reality that “God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” so you will become a “blameless and innocent” child “holding fast to the Word of life.” It’s not always convenient and sometimes it’s downright uncomfortable to learn something of value. OK I’m calling this experience an inconvenient confession. I think you’ll recognize my discomfort at hearing myself say — “I spent four hours looking up the eight cross references from a single passage and then the many cross references of each of those cross references some of which had cross references of their own and then I threw it all away because it didn’t seem to be about the lesson at all any more and I’d wasted my time” — out loud, in a Bible study! I am not a newbie at this and to be honest I felt guilty and frustrated before going in to this study because in those 240 minutes I hadn’t had some moment of revelation. I learned from this experience the something of value it takes to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is the uncomfortable confessing of an inconvenient truth.
Note to self: working out my salvation is NOT like going to the gym where I exert myself with the expectation of achieving some desired goal. Yet when those words came out of my mouth I realized that’s exactly how I’d reacted. I’d said exactly what I “didn’t” want to say — out loud! There I was among a group of women I trust and admire, who all want to effectively learn how to be better image bearers of Christ and I spoke the ugly reality of just what I hadn’t learned.
Confession often seems to include fear and trembling because it’s the hidden truth of the places we hide. I think God was probably rejoicing at my confession. I just wanted to take every word back and protect my seasoned citizen image so I’d look better than I am. The reality of what it means to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” is not about performance or goals or study or guilt or frustration. “It is God who works in [me], both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” “Holding fast to the word of life” IS my salvation.
(AO) = Amos 9:11-12 and Jeremiah 12:15
(AQ) = Isaiah 43:7, Jeremiah 14:9, & Daniel 9:19 ESV
Amos 9:11-12 “In that day I will raise up the booth of David that is fallen and repair its breaches, and raise up its ruins and rebuild it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom (Mount Esau) and all the nations who are called by my name,” declares the Lord who does this.
Jeremiah 12:15 And after I have plucked them up, I will again have compassion on them, and I will bring them again each to his heritage and each to his land.
Isaiah 43:7 …everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.
Why should you be like a man confused, like a mighty warrior who cannot save? Yet you, O Lord, are in the midst of us, and we are called by your name; do not leave us.”
Daniel 9:19 O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive. O Lord, pay attention and act. Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your city and your people are called by your name.
This kind of study and reading is still unfamiliar, time consuming and more confusing than I imagined it would be. Amos added a surprise detail with a footnote of it’s own for Edom [Mount Esau.] Esau is thought to have founded the kingdom of Edom. This is the same Esau who sold his birthright swearing an unbreakable oath to satisfy a temporary need. Esau will be restored! The Lord’s compassion has reached into a sketchy past and restored a lost heritage. It’s the picture of humanity isn’t it? Those citations were sidebar details I would have missed without believing they could become contemporary accents that confirm the purpose God has always had in mind; to be in the midst of; to hear, forgive, pay attention and act on behalf of those who are called by His name and created for His glory.
I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve spent these last few days floundering my way through what seems like countless rabbit trails to get to the point where I could write that one paragraph. I can tell you when I put that period after that phrase “His glory” in that last sentence I felt like I’d just come up for air. It’s the comfort of a recorded and cited Biblical history that includes people like me in His story today.
I think I must have subconsciously remembered that the Feast of Dedication was also known as the Feast of Lights. That got my attention. Don’t miss that timing here because I don’t think Jesus did. The Feast of Lights is observed during the Winter solstice when the day with the least hours of light happens. The Light of the World choosing to be at the Feast of Lights during the darkest time of year to celebrate enduring light. Do you see where this is heading?
The Jews had been through a terrible time in their history when this feast first began. They’d endured nearly 200 years of wars, massacres, their faith being outlawed, the Temple in Jerusalem being desecrated and no new prophets raised to reveal new truths about God to them. They were blinded by that loss until the Temple was recaptured and they were called to rebuild it and refocus themselves on the worship of the One true God, as instructed by Moses. The first Feast began as a commemoration to rededicate the Temple and themselves to God and to relight the menorah that was meant to provide light every day and night in the Temple. The Jews knew they only had oil for one day but they chose to give that one day to God out of obedience. And in that moment of obedience God gave them the miracle of enduring light that lasted eight days that they continued to celebrate each of the following 200 years.
Jesus is the new moment of obedience for them at this feast. The same Lord they’ve honored every year since that first beginning has come into their midst. Jesus, the Light of the World, has chosen to reveal the bold declaration of His identity: “I and the Father are one” and then later in verse 38 “the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” At this point in time they’ve lived through a nearly 400-year period between the Old Testament ending with Malachi’s speaking of a new coming of the Lord and the New Testament’s beginning with John the Baptist’s testimony about Jesus as the Messiah. Now God has proven His silence is over…and they’ve missed the moment.
Reading John’s scripture passage is like reading a familiar pattern of daily life. The recorded wisdom of history and the reality of life are all rolled into the two Testaments of His Word. The Bible doesn’t put a pretty face on every experience of life. Sometimes it includes the reality of how easy it is to miss the moment of obedience. And then it speaks of a new moment of hope in Galatians 2:19 TLB…for it was through reading the Scripture that I came to realize that I could never find God’s favor by trying—and failing—to obey the laws. I came to realize that acceptance with God comes by believing in Christ.
citing Isaiah 56:7
…these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”
and Jeremiah 7:11
Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Behold, I myself have seen it, declares the Lord.
This is my first attempt at using a new study idea based on a book — Old Made New[a]. It’s a how-to book with a different premise; to let the New Testament read the Old Testament to me thru its citations. I’m going to use the Scripture references in the book for my post each Wednesday and pay attention to those citations. What is it about them that mattered to Jesus and may change my mind about what I read? Here we go…Week 1.
The Book of Jeremiah was written between 630 and 580 B.C. and Isaiah was written sometime during the ministry of Isaiah (approximately 740–701 B.C.). I can’t be the only one who’s forgotten the antiquity timeline is a countdown. So…Isaiah wrote first, then Jeremiah. Their words show the progression of their choice to neglect those old words. Luke is reminding his readers that Jesus saw their choice and grieved over the loss of God’s purpose for the purity of His house of prayer.
Jesus had paused to look over the city as he neared Jerusalem and was moved to tears over the “things that make for peace” that are no longer visible there. They no longer had any claim to innocence. The passage of time showed the result of neglect to those old Words. Jeremiah had to pass along God’s harsh observation about His house looking like a den of robbers. I don’t know how to explain why Jesus chose such uncharacteristic behavior in the Temple. Maybe it was anger, frustration, judgment and grief all combined at their willing acceptance of what had been lost. Did they even notice the decline?
I’ve noticed something because of following those citations in this passage. My emphasis changed as I read from wondering about Jesus’s unexplainable behavior to thinking about mine. It’s a choice to pay attention to old Words like Isaiah’s promise of acceptance and Jeremiah’s warning about neglect. It’s become a reality check about not neglecting old Words. Romans 8:12 says we do have an “obligation.” Our obligation to the “house that is called by [God’s] name is not our innocence, Adam took care of that. It’s our choice! Jesus is calling us to choose purity and He’s given us a completely different how-to Book filled with everything that can make that a reality in our life.
[a] Old Made New