Step Into the Light

Step into the light. Step into the light, enjoy the power and the might.

Out of the night, I stepped into the light from God’s Holy Fire.

I could see the light, but He was not for me. I thought I was free since there was no light from me.

Jesus dance with me, now that I am free. Twirling with the Son towards all I can become.

The Holy Spirit’s light now guides through this night and His blessings are revealed.

My little light is going to shine because the world needs Jesus. The change they see is His light in me. Let them know it is about Jesus.

The Sermons on Two Mounts-Topics of the Sermons

This edition of the Sermons on Two Mounts series is about the topics of the sermons. Like the first sermon (Matthew 5-7) these sermons contain more than one bullet point. I separated out the locations and the audiences as best I could. The actual topics may be called other things, this is still a study, so if you have a suggestion please leave it in the comment section. I have written on some of the lessons, they will appear in blue and are linked to that WordPress post. Notes to myself are in italics if you are wondering. This is primarily from Matthew, Mark and Luke are slightly different and there is a very small reference in John; some of those will be present. 

The references to Tuesday of Holy Week are:

  • Matthew 21:18 to 23:39-24:1 to 26:5
  • Mark 11:20 to 12:44 -13:1 to 13:37
  • Luke 20:1 to 21:4-21:5 to 21:38
  • John 12: 37-50 This one is iffy, John goes from Monday to Thursday with this in the middle of that narrative. It seems to fit with the teachings on Tuesday. 

Mount of Olives

            To the disciples

Faith and prayer from the fig tree and mountainMark 11:26 sounds like Matthew 6:15 which is in the Sermon on the Mount. Reference Matt. 18:21-35 where Peter is being taught about forgiveness. And the Lord’s prayer. Stop doing fig tree activities, see Genesis 3:7.

Temple Mount

            To leaders in the presence of the crowds

                        Authority (around John and believing him)

                        Two sons (doing what the Father wants)

                        Tenants (ownership of the work). Mark and Luke are more dramatic in their telling of stories, Matthew is very factual and focus. Mark 12:6 is very dramatic about the son. Luke 20:17 is dramatic. All mention of vineyards in Matthew is in three parables-two here and Matt 20. See Isaiah 5:7 The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel.

Stone rejected/Fruit produced

                          Banquet (end time?)

 Questions and answers Matthew 22:15-46 by and to the Pharisees

Civil Law – Roman coin/taxes and what does and does not belong to God. Mark also has Herodians, not Luke. This would have had serious legal implications. They were not liked so this is an alliance for ill-will

                        Jewish Law– Marriage and the resurrection (draws in the thought of the kingdom)

                        Greatest Law-love God and neighbor

                        Law-giver/ruler/enforcer

                                    David and Lord

            To the crowds and the disciples; leaders were still present

                        Seven Woes to holders of Moses’ seat (Genesis 18).

  1. Shutting up the kingdom to the people.
  2. Make their disciples worse than they are.
  3. Gifts, gold, and swearing oaths.
  4. Problems of why they give.
  5. Clean the inside first then the outside.
  6. Appearing righteous.
  7. Guilty of killing prophets.

Mark and Luke have the story of the widow’s offering. These woes are in Luke 11: 37-52 the teachings are very similar. Woe = quai. The seven woes are part of the fig tree dying and the stones being pulled down. https://franknelte.net/article.php?article_id=363

Matthew 24:1 prophecy about Jerusalem and the Temple. Relates to the fig tree dying.

Mount of Olives

        Disciples

                        Watch out

                        Persecuted

                        Abomination in the Temple

                        Distress

                        Son of Man Coming

                                    Fig Tree-additional lesson 

                        The time. Reference Isaiah 61 for year and day.

                        Keep watch

                        Faithful

                                    Ten Virgins

                                    Talents

                                    Sheep and Goats-both were allowed in some offerings/sacrifices 

            Announcement of Crucifixion – Matthew 26:1-5 This is not part of the sermons, but Jesus told the disciples several times He would die. These are other references and the predictions in the Tuesday teaching.  Matthew 21:39, 20:18+19; John 3:14 and 12:34 are predictions.

Politicians, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny

If Politicians, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny seem like funny topics to be looking at on Epiphany, it is because this is not really a study but a commentary. These three evoke a wide range of emotions, both positive and negative. We have carried them into the Church of Jesus and their good and evil effects are one tare that the angels will get to burn when Jesus comes again.  

Easter Bunny

This springtime version of Santa Claus came to America with our German ancestors. The link below does a good job of looking at the topic. 

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/easter-ideas/a31226078/easter-bunny-origins-history/

Unlike Santa Claus, the egg-laying mammal only brings good things for children, no threat of coal. Naughty or nice is not part of the narrative, just treats after the long harsh period of Lent.

Santa Claus

Our jolly giver of presents is a mix of traditions. The club of his accounting system never seems to be used. Presents are always waiting to be opened if there is a tree present in your house. Inappropriate behavior still brings a wonderful gift, unless you do not get what you want and then Saint Nick is a rogue. Next year is the redeeming factor in this narrative of “you were good but not good enough”.  

Politicians

Putting politicians together with our magical elf and rabbit may not be fair to them. Knowledge, like politicians, has a good and evil side. Granted, that depends on your preference towards their political identity and the job they are doing. I hope that they have sought that position in order to help people and not themselves. Time will always reveal their usefulness and their motivation. 

Comparing and Contrasting These Three

  • No matter the present, all three depend on your pocketbook to fulfill the promise.
  • Santa Claus and politicians have a fear factor built into their jobs, while the Easter Bunny just deposits blessings that you have to hunt for and not step on.
  • Santa and the Bunny are mythical beings with magical powers. Politicians just think and act like they possess those qualities.
  • Santa and the Bunny were carried into the Church and used by it to promote some societal connections. It gave them religious imagery to justify their presence in the building, but they are not doctrine. 
  • Jesus and the Father are not types and shadows of Santa and the Bunny. Politicians are not God, no matter how they act.
  • Politicians frequently stay outside of the Church but want to use it and direct it to promote societal connections. 

Lessons from the Bible

Very early in Israel’s history, Moses organized governmental offices to help the people (they needed it and so do we). Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, suggested a sensible structure to relieve a lot of stress in governing the people. Exodus 18 covers that story. Jethro was quick to point out that Moses should seek the Lord’s approval on the plan; the Bible does not mention that Moses did that section of the proposal. So, there was a system of governing that centered on the Law and priest, and one that came with the Tribes and community structure. Jump to the Book of Judges and 1 Samuel and we see these roles blurring with God losing out as their leader.

Samuel is a prophet and a judge that was raised by Eli the priest. I think Samuel knew his boundaries, but the people kept blurring them, until they wanted a king, not a judge. By the leading of God, Samuel anoints two kings-Saul who used Law to promote his agenda, and David, who had a heart for God and the people. 

Fast forward through good kings and awful kings with several conquering nations thrown in and you arrive at the Roman occupation, High Priest, and the Sanhedrin, complete with Pharisees. Have we learned anything from all of that history? 

Jesus in His sermons from the two mounts addresses our relationships to civil and religious (corrupt) authorities-give to Caesar what belongs to him (Matthew 22:21) and they sit in Moses’ position so obey them just don’t to as they do (Matthew 23:2+3). Paul carries these thoughts into 1 Timothy 2:2, where he says to pray for those in authority.     

Concerns 

  • Who do we look to for our supply and justice? Lately, government has taken on its shoulders the burden of supplying our needs. They are bending society to redefine justice and what it looks like.
  • Woke IS NOT a Christian virtue! Bring that into the Church and confusing it with the teaching of Jesus is a HUGE mistake. Woke takes some of the verbiage of Christianity and bends it to suit an agenda that is not the Father’s plan for His children.
  • Paul admonishes Christians to be very careful about what you become involved with.
  • God’s love is built on righteousness. I have listened to politicians criticize Christians about God and His love and how we love our neighbors. They use a distorted view of love to make these judgements and we, as His Church, have not studied His love enough to voice His views correctly.
  • Blaming God and Jesus for bad happenings is not right, they gave. The god of this world is Satan, who causes troubles, sinful man, and crazy nature are not the acts of God. Satan can only steal, kill, and destroy; he is also an accomplished liar.
  • The early church in the Book of Acts is not socialism or communism. Unfortunately, I have heard a very popular pastor make that declaration. It did not sit well. The people brought things to help the poor because they wanted too. The Apostles, as leaders, did not want to manage it. Socialism and or Communism are leader mandates that will involve guns and tanks, either in starting it or maintaining their rule. Those two societal systems have taken something from the Bible and twisted it to exalt knowledge and man by creating a ruling class and a follower herd.  

How Then Should We…

This saying has been attributed to Saint Patrick-If an institution is in the way of spreading the Gospel of Jesus, that institution needs to change. I can imagine that he was talking about organized religion that has lost its way or a government that wants to stop the Good News.

The government will be on HIS shoulders; that is Jesus the Messiah. (Isaiah 9) Politicians, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny are useful. Maybe they are even needed in society, but the Church better wake up to the confusion they can create in children who grow up thinking politicians, Santa Claus, and the Easter Bunny are part of the Kingdom of God.

The Sermons on Two Mounts-This Mountain

It is time in this series of sermons on the mounts to look at the mountains Jesus was teaching on. Jesus in Matthew 21:21 repeated a phrase He used in Matthew 17:20-this mountain. The Greek phrase is houtos oros. In Strong’s, (this) houtos is 3778 and (mountain) oros is 3735. This surprised me because I did not expect “this” to have its own specific word. I expected it to be an added word so we could understand the translation. 

My simple conclusion about the phrase is that Jesus stood on the mountain and was specifically talking about that mountain. (In my early days of being a Christian, I thought it said “a or any” mountain.) John 16:25 has Jesus commenting about how He has spoken figuratively to His disciples. This was on Thursday of Holy Week. So, we can conclude that there is a second level of meanings to the fig tree and the mountain. More on this thought later.

To set the narrative for this, I will use Mark 11:12-14 and 20-26. My belief is Mark not only used his uncle Peter as a reference source, but he was an eyewitness observer to these days from the Jordan to Pentecost. Mark gives the details that Jesus cursed the fig tree on Monday morning going into the city, so He could clear the Temple, and then Tuesday morning, Peter noticed the tree dead. This ushered in the first half of the sermon about the actual mountains of this story-the Mount of Olives and the Temple Mount/Jerusalem. The path from Bethany to Jerusalem would have taken the disciples through Bethphage (the house of unripe or new figs) down into the Kidron Valley and then into the city. In other words, the path Jesus took during His foretold ride on the donkey. To add to the history lesson, I need to include that David also followed this path from the Jordan to Jerusalem. He fled Absalom in 2 Samuel 15:30 to the east bank of the Jordan, but in 2 Samuel 20:2, it is the same path that the returning king took back to the city. David also had a parade that would have looked a lot like what Jesus had during his trip. 

So, it is possible that the first teaching of the day occurs in Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, the place of unripe figs. From my studies on the Tree of Knowledge in Genesis, I still believe that tree was a fig tree and that the Tree of Life was some type of “grape tree/wood”. Okay, back to the mounts.

The end part of this sermon occurs when Jesus is leaving the Temple and announces that Jerusalem, The Temple Mount, will be destroyed. He then teaches more about the end times once He is back on the Mount of Olives.

The Mount of Olives

I gave the fact that David would have fled and returned across this mount; it not named in that story in 2 Samuel. The Mount is clearly identified seven times in our Christian Bible. (The website is a travel company for Israel.)

https://www.seetheholyland.net/mount-of-olives/

1 Kings 11:7-8    Solomon built pagan altars for his wives on the mount.

Ezekiel 11:23      Part of a vision, God’s glory leaves Jerusalem and settles over/on its ridge.

Zechariah 14:3-4 The Messiah returns, stands on the mount and it splits; the valley carries water (dirt/mountain) to two different seas. The Messiah returning here is why many Jews want to be buried on its slopes. So, it is/was covered in whitewashed tombs.

Luke 19:29-44             Jesus enters Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The Gospels allude to the fact that Jesus left Jerusalem every day and went to Bethany for the night (Martha and Mary’s house, possibly).

Matthew 24:27-31 Jesus gave a sermon about His return (part of this series).

Matthew 26: 30-57    After the last meal, they came here to pray.

Acts 1: 1-12                 Jesus ascended from here to return to the Father.

The Temple Mount/Jerusalem

Okay, to separate the Temple Mount and Jerusalem maybe splitting hairs but they were not always one thing. From Melchizedek to David, the city did not include the Temple Mount. David bought the Mount in order to sacrifice on it to stop a plague that he chose as punishment. Abraham took Isaac to Moriah, which we think is the Temple Mount. Joshua defeats a king and takes him to Jerusalem to die, and David defeated the city by using the city’s underground water system.

There are two Jerusalems, the earthly one and the heavenly one. Which one does God love the most? I will go with the heavenly city. The earthly one has been a problem for Him. Please read through the prophets before you condemn me. May I reserve comment on the fact that twice the city and the Temple have been leveled by foreign armies. There are also a couple of times when the place was looted but not destroyed. To be fair, on His ride into the city, Jesus cried for/over the city. His end-time teaching on the Mount of Olives may have come from the same spot He had cried at several days earlier.

Solomon built the Temple Mount up to have a level spot to build David’s dream. (The Wailing Wall is a retaining wall for the Second Temple; Herod’s building that Jesus taught in.) Zerubbabel (an ancestor of Jesus) actually built the Second Temple and Herod added to that building. 

Well, one thing is certain; Jerusalem and the mountains still have a role to play in the future of God’s plan.

A Second Meaning

To keep with the idea of sermons on the mounts, we must start with the fig tree. Normally, I say that figs represent the works of man trying to please God. If we follow that idea through Tuesday and Jesus teaching we see the fig cursed, the Temple cleared, corrupt leaders called out, a prediction that the Temple of Herod (an earthly work) will be destroyed, and a set of parables on what the Kingdom looks like.

Mountains and the sea have grown to more than I expected. To call a mountain just a problem or trial in your life just does not seem to fit. Mountains and their metaphors are so much more than obstacles and something to walk around or climb over. Seas and water are also deep in double meaning. These two topics will just have to be explored this year.

New

Happy New! With a new year upon (epi) us I thought about new things, face it 2021 and the covid makes you want to look ahead. This is a quick look into “new”, mainly because I got this bright idea yesterday (12/30). If you use a Bible search tool, know you will put up with the word news. So, I used an old tool, my “brick and mortar” concordance, it has been awhile. Two “verses” stood out in my quick study-Matthew 9:16+17/Mark 2:21+22 and Hebrews 10:20. 

Matthew 9:16+17/Mark 2:21+22 In this story, which starts off talking about fasting, three words carry the idea of new (In the Strong’s KJV). Those words are (agnaphos) Strong: G46, (neos) Strong: G3501, and (kainos)Strong: G2537. We use these metaphors for being born again and filled with the Holy Spirit. Can’t/won’t argue those points, but do they have more to offer? The reason I ask this is it preserved both wines and skins because of the action taken.  

  • Agnaphos is associated with the unshrunk cloth. It is only used 2x in the NT, here in this story.
  • Neos is the new wine. Neos is used many times in the NT.
  • Kainos is the new wineskin. It is used many times in the NT.

Hebrews 10:20 The “new” word here is (prosphatosStrong: G4372. It is used only in the NT. The context of the passage is the curtain/the Lord’s body is a new and living way into forgiveness of sin. Remember the old way required shedding blood and sprinkling it on the altar.  

Strong’s has one other “new” word-(gleukos) Strong: G1098. It is in Acts 2:13 and refers to the new wine that the crowd was convinced the disciples were drunk on. It amazes me that this new wine can make people drunk when many claim it is unfermented. This is an interesting contrast with neos and the new wine in Matthew, which appears to ferment and might ruin an old skin.

I used the Mounce Bible as a reference in this study.