Here are the topics for study in this third week of counting the omer. Many of these are the meeting that occurred. If you are joining the study this week check out the other weeks at Week 1 and Week 2.
Paul, as the Apostle to the Gentiles, is responsible for many of the Books of the New Testament. Because of all of the different Churches, his circumstances, and the various needs of the people, he addresses many topics. He likes to list things in his writings, and we love to form our beliefs around those lists. But he does vary those lists according to the Churches/people he is writing too. In this post I want to explore two topics he lists and how they are related. The topics are: 1. “Armor” 2. “Faith, Hope, Love”. I have previously written post on these topics, so if you want to see them they are: Faith, Hope, and Love; Putting On.
I think it would be safe to say that Paul’s habit of listing things has its foundations in the Old Testament. One that he expounds on for this study is Isaiah 59: 17. Isaiah is stating that the Lord was displeased because no one intervened for the sake of justice, so He clothed Himself with righteousness, salvation, vengeance, and zeal. We love to use Ephesians 6: 14 as the Armor of God that we are to put on, but Paul uses the idea of armor and “putting on” in other Letters. I think we focus on this one because it is a more complete list, and who does not want to be dressed up in armor!
1 Corinthians 13: 13 is our favorite verse for faith, hope, and love. This in part is due to the beautiful explanation of love, and maybe because he uses the word “greatest.”
In 1 Thessalonians 5: 8 Paul brings these two themes together; faith and love are the breastplate with hope of salvation as the helmet. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3 faith is paired with works; love prompts labor; and endurance is from hope in Jesus.
He weaves faith, hope, and love together in Colossians 1:4+5 with what is stored for us in heaven. Changing ideas slightly Colossians 3:12 uses the idea of “clothe yourself” with a list that sounds like the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5: 22.
To keep this mix going, in Romans 13:11 – 14 Paul tells us to “put on the armor of light” and “clothe yourself” with Jesus in order to “put off” deeds of darkness, which are listed.
Trying to “split hairs” over these lists is not in the spirit of Paul’s writings, and it would be better to combine all of these various thoughts to get the big picture/message. One “big picture” I saw in doing this post is from 1 Thessalonians 5: 8 faith and love covers your heart, and hope covers your mind.
Isaiah 9:2 NIV
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
Chapter 9 of Isaiah is another great Jesus chapter. Starting in Chapter 8 this section of Isaiah is an encouragement to “fear God” and to not trust in mediums.
The unsung hero in the story of Samuel and Saul is the servant. I am pretty sure I have never heard a sermon about his role in the crowning of Saul as king. He is never named and only referred to as a servant (na ar). He had a “God part” to do and did it well. He is easily compared to Ananias (Acts 9) in the story of Saul the Apostle. He did the job that needed to be done and was never heard of again. Na ar is mentioned nine times before Saul’s signs and only once after them.
In the Strong’s/Vines Concordance the first definition listed is probably not the description of this servant. I think he would have been younger than Saul but not a boy. He was certainly trusted and displayed knowledge of his physical surrounding. He was also spiritually aware because he encouraged Saul to “see the prophet” when he was ready to go home. He had brought his own money, and was willing to use it to resolve the “donkey problem.” He was obedient and loyal to Saul and followed Saul’s leading when the uncle asked about Samuel.
He was honored at the sacrifice because he got to eat with Saul in the main room. But he was not allowed to witness the actual pouring of the oil. He would have seen the results of the anointing because the oil would have been all over Saul’s head. He observed/witnessed the three signs and I cannot believe Saul was not talking about them as they went.
God used an unnamed servant to affect the history of Israel; sometimes we have to do things “just because.” It turned out well for him. Who knows maybe he was Ziba the servant in 2 Samuel 9 who did play a part in the life of Mephibosheth and the story of Lo Debar.
Christmas – The Wise Men
Epiphany, the day the Wise Men show up to worship Jesus. It marks the end of the Twelve Days of Christmas (See Epiphany or Three Kings Day) and in some countries, it is celebrated with as much enthusiasm as December 25th. Matthew 2: 1-18 records the story in the New Testament (See Magi and Herod for OT verses). Matthew, who starts with Joseph’s family line, continues telling the story from “Joseph’s viewpoint.” (The angelic dreams and his reactions.) Even if you combine Matthew and Luke’s narratives there are a lot of unanswered questions. I guess there should be but we can look at what we know.
Mary and Joseph being good Jewish parents fulfill the requirements of the Law with the trip to the Temple. There they receive blessings and prophecies to settle both Joseph’s and Mary’s fears and doubts. For us, facts are added like Luke stating, “they went to Nazareth and Jesus grew” while Matthew tells the story of the Magi and the trip to Egypt all starting from a “house.” But I have a feeling that times and locations are not what is important here.
The Magi or Wise Men were the scholars and learned men of the day. They counseled kings and influenced decisions. They are found in Daniel and other books of the Bible like Ezekiel 21: 21 checking the “liver” for the king so he knows which way to go. What they represent in the Christmas story is huge. These are Gentiles/heathen (us) acknowledging Jesus and his kingship. They are the college professors of the day following their studies and observations looking for a baby that was talked about in Jewish scriptures. It was no little trip for them to show up in Judea looking for a king, several months of travel were required and the supplies and then the gifts. I would guess it was not just three guys on camels it may have well been a caravan(s) with guards and servants. Were they sent as a diplomatic envoy?
Plus them showing up, sets Herod off so that the prophecies in Jeremiah 31:15 and Hosea 11:1 would be fulfilled – Herod killing the babies and Jesus coming out of Egypt.
Pic is from http://clipart.christiansunite.com