Week 8 - Essential 100

June 17, 2016

Week 8 - Essential 100

Hey Everyone,

We are on DAY 54 of the Essential 100, which means we are over half-way through.  The first 50 passages were Old Testament (which is a longer section by far), and the last 50 are from the New Testament.  If you haven't been reading with us up to this point, now would be a great time to jump in.

We began with readings from Jeremiah, Daniel, Jonah and Malachi and ended in the New Testament books of John and Luke.  The Jeremiah and Malachi readings I think we can unfortunately all relate to from time to time in our own lives.  These two prophets show a people who are not genuine in their devotion to God, and actually believe they are fooling God with their halfhearted devotion.  But God is no fool, and He calls them out on it all.  Listen to these examples.

"They have turned their backs to me and not their faces; yet when they are in trouble, they say, ‘Come and save us!’  28 Where then are the gods you made for yourselves? Let them come if they can save you when you are in trouble!"

God says they have turned their backs on Him but not their faces.  What does this mean?  It means forsaking God except when trouble comes, then seeking God when something bad happens.  Is this something modern people could be accused of?  I think it is.  This is the unfortunate tendency of all people.  So, in regular life, people's backs are turned on God, but they will on occasion crane their neck around and ask God to bail them out of trouble.  God's response is, "let the stone and wooden God's you have fashioned bail you out"

God says through Jeremiah, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water."  God's people have forsaken Him, the Spring of living water, and have dug other sources apart from God which do not deliver.  God goes on to say that his people call out for Him while at the same time doing all of the evil they can.  "Have you not just called to me:  ‘My Father, my friend from my youth, will you always be angry?  Will your wrath continue forever?’  This is how you talk, but you do all the evil you can.”

God laments that no one seems to notice God is even absent unless trouble comes upon them.  "They did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord,  who brought us up out of Egypt... The priests did not ask, ‘Where is the Lord?’.  Not even the priests noticed God was absent in their ministry.
 
Malachi laments that the priests and people actually try and fool The Lord.  They promise to offer an animal without blemish, but then offer sacrifices to God of blind and diseased animals.  God says in Malachi 1:8  "When you offer blind animals for sacrifice, is that not wrong? When you sacrifice lame or diseased animals, is that not wrong? Try offering them to your governor! Would he be pleased with you? Would he accept you?” says the Lord Almighty."  The people think they can fool God easier than even their human Governors.  They are treating God as if He is a fool who does not know what is going on.   

God laments in Jeremiah the whole of His relationship with His people, "In vain I punished your people; they did not respond to correction."  And this appears to be a true statement based on all we've seen. 

But God, who is Love, has compassion on his people once again and sends a Messenger.  God comes HIMSELF to earth.  Jesus is God, and he comes to set things right, to judge the corrupt religious system and people personally, and to offer Himself as a spotless perfect sacrifice to cover human sin for all who look to Him in sincerity of heart.  After a frustrating history, Jesus Himself has come to begin to set all things right. 

Malachi 4:5 - “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.  This prophet is identified as John the Baptist by Jesus in Matthew 11:14 " 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he [John] is the Elijah who was to come."

John announces Jesus, who is identified as "the messenger" in Malachi 3:1-4  “I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.  But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.

We will end with John 1:9-14;16-18 which draws the Old Testament reading to its appropriate close and shows Jesus Christ's relationship to all we have seen so far.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.  14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known."

Jesus is Himself God.  Jesus (God) came to earth and judged the temple in person, while making a way through Himself for His people who had not responded to His loving discipline up until this point to finally come into a right relationship with God.  The law came through Moses and brings condemnation for sin; grace and truth have come for all who look to Jesus Christ in faith.  God remembered the Covenant He made and ratified generation after generation, then came Himself to fulfill the people's end as well as His own.  This is "THE WAY" God has made for humankind to Himself; JESUS IS THE WAY!