Bible Facts Part VI

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Continued from Part V

188.

Now the king and Haman came to drink wine with Esther the queen. And the king said to Esther on the second day also as they drank their wine at the banquet, “What is your petition, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to half of the kingdom it shall be done.” Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request; for we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed and to be annihilated. Now if we had only been sold as slaves, men and women, I would have remained silent, for the trouble would not be commensurate with the annoyance to the king.”Then King Ahasuerus asked Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who would presume to do thus?

Esther 7:1-5

Are there coincidences in life, or is it all providential?

The Book of Esther is set during the Jewish exile, around 470 BC, when the Persian Empire was ruled by King Xerxes I (identified as Ahasuerus in some translations). In this engaging book, which reads almost like a Cinderella story, we learn of the rise of an orphan Jewish girl; Esther. Though born of lowly status, she rose to become Xerxes’ Queen, by virtue of her great beauty; both inner and outer. With the sole exception of Song of Songs, this Biblical text is the only one in which God is not explicitly mentioned, but it is nonetheless clear that a much greater, providential power than Xerxes is at work behind the scenes; in every scene, in fact.

Esther’s uncle and guardian, Mordecai, uncovers an evil plot by Xerxes’ Prime Minister, Haman, to put all Jews to death across the Empire and to confiscate all their property. Remarkably, this started out as a personal grudge Haman held against Mordecai because of his refusal to bow down to him. When he learned that Mordecai was a Jew, Haman wanted to wipe all Jews from the face of the earth.

Thanks to Mordecai’s cool head and Esther’s gracefulness, Haman’s plot was undone and the Jews were spared annihilation, thereby honouring the Abrahamic promise and securing the line to Jesus of Nazareth.

The inspired Book of Esther has implications for all generations under the sun. Every one of life’s circumstances is ordered to the divine purpose. God leaves nothing to chance! There are no coincidences; only providence.

St. Paul, writing over 500 years later, puts it splendidly:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

                                                                Romans 8:28

The Jews celebrate their deliverance from extermination in the Feast of Purim, to this very day.

189.

The Sermon on the Mount by Carl Bloch c. 1877. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.  If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.  I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit – fruit that will last – and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: love each other.

John 15:9-17

Jesus knew that he would suffer a humiliating death in the hands of the authorities.He looked death right in the face. Yet in this passage from St. John’s Gospel, we see Jesus’ incredible mindset just hours before his deliverance; he spoke of having joy and how his disciples must be filled with joy even when calamity was about to fall on them. He spoke of what it means to express true love; for God first and then one’s neighbour. He stressed that true love, grounded in the Spirit, always bears fruit.

190.

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.

John 21:25

                                   The Miracles of Jesus: a Closer Look.

a) Power over Nature.

Marriage at Cana, by Carl Bloch ( 1870).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(1) Jesus turns water into wine:

The next day there was a wedding celebration in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the celebration. The wine supply ran out during the festivities, so Jesus’ mother told him, “They have no more wine.”

“Dear woman, that’s not our problem,” Jesus replied. “My time has not yet come.”

But his mother told the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”

 Standing nearby were six stone water jars, used for Jewish ceremonial washing. Each could hold twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus told the servants, “Fill the jars with water.” When the jars had been filled,  he said, “Now dip some out, and take it to the master of ceremonies.” So the servants followed his instructions. When the master of ceremonies tasted the water that was now wine, not knowing where it had come from (though, of course, the servants knew), he called the bridegroom over. “A host always serves the best wine first,” he said. “Then, when everyone has had a lot to drink, he brings out the less expensive wine. But you have kept the best until now!” This miraculous sign at Cana in Galilee was the first time Jesus revealed his glory. And his disciples believed in him.

John 2:1-11

(2) Jesus calms a storm:

That day when evening came, he said to his disciples, ‘Let us go over to the other side.’  Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’

He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, ‘Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?’ They were terrified and asked each other, ‘Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!’

Mark 4:35-41

(3) Jesus walks on water:

Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.  But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary.

Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea. And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid.”

And Peter answered Him and said, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” So He said, “Come.” And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus. But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, “Lord, save me! “

And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, “Truly You are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:22-33

b) Power to heal and alleviate suffering.

(1) Jesus heals ten lepers.

Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus travelled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance and called out in a loud voice, ‘Jesus, Master, have pity on us!’ When he saw them, he said, ‘Go, show yourselves to the priests.’ And as they went, they were cleansed. One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice.  He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him – and he was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, ‘Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?  Has no one returned to give praise to God except this foreigner?’  Then he said to him, ‘Rise and go; your faith has made you well.’

Luke 17:11-19

(2)  Jesus cures a cripple.

After this there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.  Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had. Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk. And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked.

John 5:1-9

(3) A woman with a chronic illness is healed.

Now a certain woman had a flow of blood for twelve years, and had suffered many things from many physicians. She had spent all that she had and was no better, but rather grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came behind Him in the crowd and touched His garment. For she said, “If only I may touch His clothes, I shall be made well.”

 Immediately the fountain of her blood was dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of the affliction.  And Jesus, immediately knowing in Himself that power had gone out of Him, turned around in the crowd and said, “Who touched My clothes?”

But His disciples said to Him, “You see the multitude thronging You, and You say, ‘Who touched Me?’ And He looked around to see her who had done this thing.  But the woman, fearing and trembling, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him and told Him the whole truth.  And He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace, and be healed of your affliction.”

Mark 5:25-34

c) Power over demonic forces:

1) Jesus exorcises a Gerasene Demoniac:

They sailed to the region of the Gerasenes, which is across the lake from Galilee. When Jesus stepped ashore, he was met by a demon-possessed man from the town. For a long time this man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs.  When he saw Jesus, he cried out and fell at his feet, shouting at the top of his voice, ‘What do you want with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you, don’t torture me!’ For Jesus had commanded the impure spirit to come out of the man. Many times it had seized him, and though he was chained hand and foot and kept under guard, he had broken his chains and had been driven by the demon into solitary places.

 Jesus asked him, ‘What is your name?’

‘Legion,’ he replied, because many demons had gone into him.  And they begged Jesus repeatedly not to order them to go into the Abyss.

A large herd of pigs was feeding there on the hillside. The demons begged Jesus to let them go into the pigs, and he gave them permission.  When the demons came out of the man, they went into the pigs, and the herd rushed down the steep bank into the lake and was drowned.

 When those tending the pigs saw what had happened, they ran off and reported this in the town and countryside, and the people went out to see what had happened. When they came to Jesus, they found the man from whom the demons had gone out, sitting at Jesus’ feet, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it told the people how the demon-possessed man had been cured. Then all the people of the region of the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave them, because they were overcome with fear. So he got into the boat and left.

The man from whom the demons had gone out begged to go with him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, Return home and tell how much God has done for you.’ So the man went away and told all over the town how much Jesus had done for him.

Luke 8:26-39

2) Jesus heals a demon possessed man in the synagogue

And in the synagogue there was a man, which had a spirit of an unclean devil, and cried out with a loud voice, saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art; the Holy One of God.  And Jesus rebuked him, saying, Hold thy peace, and come out of him. And when the devil had thrown him in the midst, he came out of him, and hurt him not. And they were all amazed, and spake among themselves, saying, What a word is this! for with authority and power he commandeth the unclean spirits, and they come out.  And the fame of him went out into every place of the country round about.

Luke 4:33-37

c) A man pleads with Jesus to restore his son’s mind to him.

When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. ‘Lord, have mercy on my son,’ he said. ‘He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water.  I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.’

‘You unbelieving and perverse generation,’ Jesus replied, ‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.’  Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, ‘Why couldn’t we drive it out?’

 He replied, ‘Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there,” and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.’

Matthew 17:14-21

d) Power to know all people:

  1. Jesus meets a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well:

…..and around noon as he approached the village of Sychar, he came to Jacob’s Well, located on the parcel of ground Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jesus was tired from the long walk in the hot sun and sat wearily beside the well.

Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus asked her for a drink.  He was alone at the time as his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised that a Jew would ask a “despised Samaritan” for anything—usually they wouldn’t even speak to them!—and she remarked about this to Jesus.

 He replied, “If you only knew what a wonderful gift God has for you, and who I am, you would ask me for some living water!”

 “But you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this is a very deep well! Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob? How can you offer better water than this which he and his sons and cattle enjoyed?”

Jesus replied that people soon became thirsty again after drinking this water. “But the water I give them,” he said, “becomes a perpetual spring within them, watering them forever with eternal life.”

“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me some of that water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again and won’t have to make this long trip out here every day.”

 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.

 “But I’m not married,” the woman replied.

“All too true!” Jesus said. “For you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet.  But say, tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”

 Jesus replied, “The time is coming, ma’am, when we will no longer be concerned about whether to worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. For it’s not where we worship that counts, but how we worship—is our worship spiritual and real? Do we have the Holy Spirit’s help? For God is Spirit, and we must have his help to worship as we should. The Father wants this kind of worship from us. But you Samaritans know so little about him, worshiping blindly, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes to the world through the Jews.”

The woman said, “Well, at least I know that the Messiah will come—the one they call Christ—and when he does, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah!”

Just then his disciples arrived. They were surprised to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked him why, or what they had been discussing.

Then the woman left her waterpot beside the well and went back to the village and told everyone, “Come and meet a man who told me everything I ever did! Can this be the Messiah?”  So the people came streaming from the village to see him.

 Meanwhile, the disciples were urging Jesus to eat.  “No,” he said, “I have some food you don’t know about.”

“Who brought it to him?” the disciples asked each other.

Then Jesus explained: “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God who sent me, and from finishing his work. Do you think the work of harvesting will not begin until the summer ends four months from now? Look around you! Vast fields of human souls are ripening all around us, and are ready now for reaping. The reapers will be paid good wages and will be gathering eternal souls into the granaries of heaven! What joys await the sower and the reaper, both together!  For it is true that one sows and someone else reaps. I sent you to reap where you didn’t sow; others did the work, and you received the harvest.”

 Many from the Samaritan village believed he was the Messiah because of the woman’s report: “He told me everything I ever did!”  When they came out to see him at the well, they begged him to stay at their village; and he did, for two days, long enough for many of them to believe in him after hearing him. Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe because we have heard him ourselves, not just because of what you told us. He is indeed the Savior of the world.”

John 4:5-42

2) Jesus perceives the wicked thoughts of the religious scribes:

Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts,  “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven’, or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”

Mark 2:6-12

3) Jesus foresees the death of Lazarus:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.  It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent to him, saying, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.  Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.”  The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?” Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.  But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”  After saying these things, he said to them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I go to awaken him.”  The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus has died,  and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” So Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”

John 11:1-16

e) Power to raise the dead.

  1. Jesus restores the life of a widow’s son:

Now it happened, the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of His disciples went with Him, and a large crowd.  And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her.  When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, “Do not weep.”  Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise.” So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.

Then fear came upon all, and they glorified God, saying, “A great prophet has risen up among us”; and, “God has visited His people.”  And this report about Him went throughout all Judea and all the surrounding region.

Luke 7:11-17

2. Jesus raises a dead girl:

While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. ‘Your daughter is dead,’ they said. ‘Why bother the teacher anymore?’

Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, ‘Don’t be afraid; just believe.’

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, ‘Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.’  But they laughed at him.

After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, ‘Talitha koum!’ (which means ‘Little girl, I say to you, get up!’). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.

Mark 5:35-43

3. Jesus raises Lazarus:

When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days.  Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”

 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”

Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”

 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.” Then she returned to Mary. She called Mary aside from the mourners and told her, “The Teacher is here and wants to see you.”  So Mary immediately went to him.

Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there.  When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

 When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled.  “Where have you put him?” he asked them.

They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept. The people who were standing nearby said, “See how much he loved him!” But some said, “This man healed a blind man. Couldn’t he have kept Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus was still angry as he arrived at the tomb, a cave with a stone rolled across its entrance.  “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.

But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”

Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me.  You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!”  And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in graveclothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”

John 11:17-44

f) Power to foresee future events.

  1. Jesus predicts the destruction of the Temple at Jerusalem:

The carrying away of the Menorah from the Jewish temple after its destruction by Roman forces under the command of General Titus Flavius Vespasianus in 70AD.

Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”

And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”

Mark 13:1-2

2. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection:

Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him:  “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles;  and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”

Mark 10:32-34

3. Jesus predicts his betrayal and abandonment by his disciples.

Truly I tell you, I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.’ When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. You will all fall away,’ Jesus told them, ‘for it is written:

‘“I will strike the shepherd,
    and the sheep will be scattered.”

But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’

Peter declared, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’

 ‘Truly I tell you,’ Jesus answered, ‘today – yes, tonight – before the cock crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.’

Mark 14:25-30

4. Jesus’ bodily resurrection from the dead:

But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared.  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb,  but when they went in, they did not find the body. While they were perplexed about this, suddenly two men in dazzling clothes stood beside them. The women were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen. Remember how he told you, while he was still in Galilee,  that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again. Then they remembered his words, and returning from the tomb, they told all this to the eleven and to all the rest.  Now it was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the other women with them who told this to the apostles.  But these words seemed to them an idle tale, and they did not believe them.  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen cloths by themselves; then he went home, amazed at what had happened.

Luke 24:1-12

191.

I will bless the Lord at all times;
His praise shall continually be in my mouth.
My soul shall make its boast in the Lord;
The humble shall hear of it and be glad.
 Oh, magnify the Lord with me,
And let us exalt His name together.

I sought the Lord, and He heard me,
And delivered me from all my fears.
They looked to Him and were radiant,
And their faces were not ashamed.
This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him,
And saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him,
And delivers them.

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good;
Blessed is the man who trusts in Him!
Oh, fear the Lord, you His saints!
There is no want to those who fear Him.
The young lions lack and suffer hunger;
But those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing.

 Come, you children, listen to me;
I will teach you the fear of the Lord.
Who is the man who desires life,
And loves many days, that he may see good?
 Keep your tongue from evil,
And your lips from speaking deceit.
Depart from evil and do good;
Seek peace and pursue it.

The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous,
And His ears are open to their cry.
The face of the Lord is against those who do evil,
To cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears,
And delivers them out of all their troubles.
The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a contrite spirit.

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.Evil shall slay the wicked,
And those who hate the righteous shall be condemned.

The Lord redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who trust in Him shall be condemned.

Psalm 34

Sometimes the most beautiful prayers are offered up in times of great distress. At this time, David was somewhat of a fugitive, on the run from Saul and his marksmen, feigning madness in the land of the Philistines (see 1 Samuel 21).  And yet, instead of cursing his Creator, David exalts His righteousness and sure judgements over all people who walk the face of the earth, and for all ages. It is a foreshadowing of the good news of the Gospel message delivered some nine centuries later by David’s descendant; the Lord Jesus Christ.

192.

My large print, slimline edition of the NLT Bible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Study this Book of Instruction continually. Meditate on it day and night so you will be sure to obey everything written in it. Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.

Joshua 1:8

We are most fortunate today to have a rich variety of Bible translations. I believe this is no accident. Afterall, if we only had one version it would quickly become an object of worship and that’s not how we ought to treat it. That’s one of the reasons why I endorse many Bible translations; ‘word for word’, ‘thought for thought’, and even paraphrases. But as we get older, our eyes begin to let us down and it becomes harder to read our Bibles with very small font sizes. For this reason, I gravitate towards large print editions which are easy to read, even without glasses. That way, they grow old with you! Large print editions can be cumbersome, of course, especially if you like to read some words of Scripture while not at home. But nowadays you can combine larger fonts in very convenient sizes, such as the new large print, slimline editions now being sold by various booksellers. I think they’re really neat!

There are also some really excellent digital/online Bible resources, See here for one example. And we can get kindle versions too. But for many folk, reading from a screen is not the most convenient or comfortable way to access the Bible. And let’s face it, can we wholeheartedy rely on the accessibility of online systems indefinitely?  I don’t know. For these reasons, I prefer to read in the traditional way. Call me old fashioned, but I think everyone should have a regular, real life Bible in their homes.

193.

John of Patmos watches the descent of New Jerusalem from God in a 14th century tapestry. Image credit: Kevin Berlin.

In the last days, the mountain of the Lord’s house
 will be the highest of all—
 the most important place on earth.
It will be raised above the other hills,
 and people from all over the world will stream there to worship.
People from many nations will come and say,
“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
 to the house of Jacob’s God.
There he will teach us his ways,
 and we will walk in his paths.”
For the Lord’s teaching will go out from Zion;
 his word will go out from Jerusalem.
 The Lord will mediate between peoples
 and will settle disputes between strong nations far away.
They will hammer their swords into plowshares
 and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will no longer fight against nation,
 nor train for war anymore.
Everyone will live in peace and prosperity,
 enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees,
 for there will be nothing to fear.
The Lord of Heaven’s Armies
 has made this promise!
Though the nations around us follow their idols,
 we will follow the Lord our God forever and ever.

Micah 4:1-5

In this passage from the Old Testament, the Prophet Micah provides us with a vision of the future reign of Christ on Earth. Zion is greater than Israel. And even though the Jews were the Lord’s ‘chosen people,’  this passage makes it clear that He is the God of every people, gathering all nations to Himself.

194.

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas by Caravaggio. Image credit: Wiki Commons.

Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.  The other disciples therefore said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”

So he said to them, “Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.”

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.”

And Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!”

Jesus said to him, “Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

John 20:24-29

The incredulity of Thomas, the disciple of Jesus, has resonated throughout history as a kind of icon of the sceptical mind. Despite having witnessed a string of miracles by Jesus throughout his three and a half year ministry, he still would not believe that his Master had risen bodily from the dead. Only after seeing Jesus in the flesh and examining his wounds was he willing to submit his will to Christ.

Today, despite a barrage of baseless attacks from ‘glorified ignoramuses’ the world over, the truth of the reality of Christ is better now than it has ever been!

How much more will the Lord reward us for keeping the faith and continuing to walk in His statutes even though we have never seen Him in the flesh?

Rejoice!

Christ lived among men, died a horrific death in order to redeem your soul, and was raised to life by His Father.

Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Isaiah 45:23).

195.

For thus says the Lord:
“To the eunuchs who keep My Sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
Even to them I will give in My house
And within My walls a place and a name
Better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
That shall not be cut off.

                                                                 Isaiah 56:4-5

Here, the Lord addresses the LGBT community.

“Your rainbow is not My rainbow,” He declares, “but keep My statutes and you will have a place of honour in the Kingdom of Heaven.”

 

Continued in Part VII

 

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