John T. Willis

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Heart Fears [Part 2]

[Continued from previous blog]

8. The Hebrew adjective charedh, "trembling," appears once with "heart" in 1 Samuel 4:13. When news came from the battlefield at Aphek, a message came back to Shiloh telling Eli that his two sons had been killed, the Israelites had been defeated, and the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines. "When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, FOR HIS HEART TREMBLED FOR THE ARK OF GOD. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out."

9. The Hebrew verb naphal, "to fall, lie," appears once with "heart" in 1 Samuel 17:32. When Saul and the Israelites were afraid of Goliath the Philistine, "David said to Saul, 'LET NO ONE'S HEART FAIL BECAUSE OF HIM [Goliath]; your servant [David] will go and fight against this Philistine."

10. The Hebrew verb muth, "to die," occurs once with "heart" in 1 Samuel 25:37. When Abigail told her husband Nabal that David was successful, "HIS HEART DIED WITHIN HIM; he became like a stone."

 11. The Hebrew verb masas, "to faint, grow fearful," appears six times with 'heart."
       a. Hushai the Archite warned Absalom that David is a dangerous warrior, saying: "Then even the valiant warrior, WHOSE HEART IS LIKE THE HEART OF A LION, WILL UTTERLY MELT WITH FEAR; for all Israel knows that your father [David] is a warrior, and that those who are with him are valiant warrior."
      b. The poet in Psalm 22:14 says:
           "I am poured out like water
                 and all my bones are out of joint;
             MY HEART IS LIKE WAX;
                 IT IS MELTED WITHIN MY BREAST."
      c. Ezekiel gave this message to his people in Babylon in Ezekiel 21:7:
          "And when they say to you, 'Why do you moan?'
            you shall say, 'Because of the news that has come.
            EVERY HEART WILL MELT and all hands will be feeble,
            every spirit will faint and all knees with turn to water.
            See, it comes and it will be fulfilled,' says the Lord God."
      d. Nahum 2:10 says:
          "Devastation, desolation, and destruction!
                 HEARTS FAINT and knees tremble,
            all loins quake,
                 all faces grow pale."
     e. In the oracle concerning Babylon, Isaiah 13:7 says:
         "Therefore all hands will be feeble,
     f. In an oracle concerning Egypt, Isaiah 19:1 says:
         "See, the Lord is riding on a swift cloud
                 and comes to Egypt;
          the idols of Egypt will tremble at his presence,
[To be continued]

Share YOUR fears and anxieties and problems and frustrations and concerns with others. Let me hear from You.

John Willis 


The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--16

There are several passages in the Gospel of Mark referring to disciples. Many of these appear also in Matthew and Luke. Here, I will only mention these passages and not repeat what we have already discussed.

1. At Levi's [Matthew's] house, Jesus ate with many tax collectors and sinners. The Jewish scribes and Pharisees approached JESUS' DISCIPLES and challenged them to allow Jesus to eat with tax collectors and sinners. Jesus replied that he came to call sinners and not the righteous. Mark 2:13-17. See Matthew 9:9-13; Luke 5:27-32.
2. One sabbath, some of JESUS' DISCIPLES plucked grain in the field on the sabbath day. The Jewish Pharisees rebuked Jesus for allowing his disciples to do this on the sabbath day. Jesus responded: "The sabbath was made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath." Mark 2:23-28. See Matthew 12:1-8; Luke 6:1-5.
3.Jesus departed with HIS DISCIPLES to the Mediterranean Sea and a great multitude from Galilee followed him. Jesus told HIS DISCIPLES to have a boat ready for him because of the crowd, so that they would not crush him. Mark 3:7-9. See Matthew 12:15-21.
4. After presenting several parables, Jesus did not speak to the crowds except in parables, but he explained everything in private to HIS DISCIPLES. Mark 4:30-34. See Matthew 13:31-32; Luke 13:18-19.
5. In the middle of a large crowd, a woman suffering from hemorrhages for 12 years touched Jesus' cloak. Jesus said, "Who touched me?" HIS DISCIPLES told him that many people were pressing in on Jesus and surely many people touched him. The woman with the hemorrhages fell before Jesus, and Jesus healed her. Mark 5:24-34. See Matthew 9:18-26; Luke 8:40-56.

All these stories appear in Matthew and some in Luke. It is unnecessary to repeat all the details.
[To be continued about Mark].

Share YOUR insights and dreams and aspirations and imaginations and events with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, January 08, 2017

Confidence in God to deliver one from enemies--Psalm 55

Like most Psalms. the author and historical setting of Psalm 55 are unknown. The few clues about the situation assumed in Psalm 55 are these: this psalmist was living in Jerusalem because he alludes to "the city" in 55:9 surrounded by walls in 55:10 in which the "house," that is, the temple, was situated according to 55:14. A large number of wicked people (55:3, 11, 18) oppress the psalmist and his friends (55:20). This is a well-organized ban of ruffians, who carefully plan deeds of violence and strife in the city (55:9), who constantly roam the city walls in search for opportunities to cause mischief and trouble (55:10), and who practice oppression and fraud in the marketplace (55:11, 23). Every generation has included people of this character. This psalmist's best friend, his "equal," his "companion," his "familiar friend" (55:13, 20) has betrayed him and his companions, and had broken their covenant of friendship by casting his lot with malicious oppressors (55:20). The psalmist can remember when they had conversed together on the most intimate matter, when they had enjoyed each other's fellowship in God's house [the Jerusalem temple] (55:14). But now he realizes that all this show of friendship and loyalty was nothing but a sham. His friend was using an external show of religion and of communion to promote his own selfish goals and personal gain, and therefore he would not hesitate to betray his friend's confidence in him if this was to his best interest.
           "My companion laid hands on a friend
                     and violated a covenant with me:
             with speech smoother than butter,
                     but with a heart set on war,
             with words that were softer than oil,
                     but in fact were drawn swords" (55:20-21).
A person should be able to open his/her heart fully to his/her Christian brother/sister, but unfortunately there are those even in the church today who do not hesitate to betray a brother's/ sister's confidence to promote their own interests. Psalm 55 falls into two parts.

1. The Psalmist beseeches Yahweh to intervene and deliver him from his enemies who plot his destruction. Psalm 55:1-11.
     a. The psalmist begins by imploring Yahweh to hear his prayer and not hide himself from the psalmist's supplication. He beseeches Yahweh to answer him. 55:1-2a.
     b. This psalmist says he is troubled and distraught by the "noise" and "clamor" of his wicked enemies. They bring trouble on the psalmist and in anger they cherish enmity against him. The psalmist's heart is in anguish, the terrors of death have fallen on him, fear, trembling, and horror overwhelm him. 55:2b-5.
     c. The psalmist wishes he could escape far away from this terrible circumstance. He would like to fly away like a dove, rest, and lodge in the wilderness, a shelter from the raging wind and tempest. 55:6-8.
     d. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to confuse and confound the speech of his enemies. His enemies cause violence and strife in the city; they go around on its walls to cause iniquity and trouble;  in the marketplace, his enemies cause oppression and fraud. 55:9-11.

2. This psalmist declares his confidence that Yahweh will deliver him from the schemes of his best friend who has betrayed him. Psalm 55:12-23.
    a. The psalmist says he could cope with the atrocities of his enemies,  but in this situation his "equal," his "companion," his "familiar friend" with whom he kept pleasant company and who walked together in the house of God [the Jerusalem temple] with the throng of worshippers, has stabbed him in the back, he has betrayed him vehemently. 55:12-14.
    b. Because of this, this psalmist implores Yahweh to let death come upon his vicious enemies and go down alive to Sheol, the grave because EVIL [SIN OF THE HEART] is in their homes and hearts. 55:15.
    c. Thus, this psalmist turns to Yahweh for help and deliverance. He is certain that Yahweh will hear his voice and intervene. God, who is enthroned from of old, will hear his cry and humble his enemies, because his enemies do not change and do not fear [revere, honor] God. 55:16-19.
    d. This psalmist's best friend, his "companion," laid hands on him and violated a covenant with him. The way he did this is pretending to be his best friend, when in reality he planned to destroy his so-called friend. 55:20-21.
    e. Finally, the psalmist turns to his audience and then to God. He beseeches his audience to cast their burdens on the Lord because he will sustain you; he will never allow the righteous to be moved. Then affirms that God will cast down his wicked enemies into the lowest pit because they are bloodthirsty and treacherous. This psalmist will trust in Yahweh. 55:22-23.

Every generation produces churches here and there in which so-called Christians will betray their fellow-worshippers. This is sad, but true. Be prepared to face this reality.

Share YOUR experiences and losses and anguishes and betrayals and reversals with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, January 06, 2017

The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--15

Matthew 27 and 28 contains SEVEN references to disciples.

1. After Jesus died on the cross, a rich man from Arimathea named Joseph was a DISCIPLE OF JESUS, and went to Pontius Pilate to bury the body of Jesus. Matthew 27:57-60.

2. After Jesus was buried, the chief priests and the Pharisees convened before Pontius Pilate and said: "We remember what they imposter [meaning Jesus] said he was still alive, 'After three days I will rise again.' Therefore command the tomb to be made secure until the third day; otherwise HIS DISCIPLES may go and steal him away, and tell the people, 'He has been raised from the dead," and the last deception would be worse than the first." Matthew 27:63-64.

3 and 4. Early Sunday morning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the tomb of Jesus, and God opened the tomb; an angel told them that Jesus was raised from the dead, and told these two women: "Go quickly and TELL HIS DISCIPLES, 'He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee, there you will see him.' This is my message for you." So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to TELL HIS DISCIPLES." Matthew 28:7-8.

5. The priest and elders of the Jews "devised a plan to give a large sum of money to the soldiers, telling them, 'You must say, "HIS DISCIPLES came by night and stole him away while we were asleep." Matthew 28:13. Here the Jewish leaders lied about what the disciples of Jesus did.

6. Commanded by the angel in Matthew 28:7, "THE ELEVEN DISCIPLES went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed him.When they saw him, they worshipped him. But some doubted." Matthew 28:16-17.

7. At the mountain in Galilee, Jesus told the eleven disciples: "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded YOU. And remember, I am with you always to the end of the age." Matthew 28:18-20.

This last text in Matthew 28:19-20 makes very clear that the way people make disciples of all nations is:  
    a. To baptize people of all nations in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.
    b. To teach these baptized people to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
 In order for anyone to be a disciple, that person must be baptized in the name of God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and that person must learn what Jesus has commanded and obey those commandments. This requires a constant study of the Bible and a committed heart and life to God's commandments.

Share YOUR experiences and thoughts and insights and concerns and discernments with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

The Heart Fears [Part 1]

The Hebrew Bible uses the word "heart" in connection with NEGATIVE FEAR: cowardice, anxiety, faintheartedness; and POSITIVE FEAR: standing in awe, respect, revere, honor.

Describing NEGATIVE FEAR, the Hebrew Bible uses 16 Hebrew words derived from 13 different roots.

1. yatsa'--"to go out, depart."
    When Joseph's brothers received Joseph's grain, after they left, one of them saw his money at the top of the sack. Genesis 42:28 says: "He said to his brothers, 'My money has been put back; here it is in my sack!' At this THEY LOST HEART [Literally, their heart failed them] and turned trembling to one another, saying, 'What is this that God has done to us?'"

2. rakhakh--"to be tender, weak, soft."
    a. Deuteronomy 20:3 says that the priest shall speak to the army troop of Israel preparing for battle: "Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near to do battle against your enemies. DO NOT LOSE HEART, or be afraid, or panic, or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you."
        Deuteronomy 20:8 says the officials are to continue to address the army troops: "Is anyone afraid or DISHEARTENED? He should go back to his house, or HE MIGHT CAUSE THE HEART OF HIS COMRADES TO MELT LIKE HIS OWN." A similar term meaning "irresolate" appears in
2 Chronicles 13:7.
    b. When the Syrians [Arameans] under Rezin and the North Israelites under Pekah approached Jerusalem to overthrow Ahaz king of Judah, Yahweh sent Isaiah the prophet with this message to Ahaz: "Take heed, be quiet, do not fear, and DO NOT LET YOUR HEART BE FAINT because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and the son of Remaliah" (Isaiah 7:4).
    c. Encouraging Yahweh's faithful people of Judah, Jeremiah declares:
        "DO NOT BE FAINTHEARTED or fearful
               at the rumors heard in the land--
          one year one rumor comes,
               the next year another,
          rumors of violence in the land
               and of ruler against ruler" (Jeremiah 51:46).

3. The Hebrew noun morekh, "weakness, faintness" appears once with "heart" in Leviticus 26:36: God through Moses tells his people that if they reject and disobey God, "As for those who survive, I WILL SEND FAINTNESS INTO THEIR HEARTS in the lands of their enemies, the sound of a driven leaf shall put them to flight, and they shall flee as one flees from the sword, and they shall fall though no one pursues."

4. The Hebrew adjective raggaz, "trembling," appears once with "heart" in Deuteronomy 28:65: Yahweh through Moses gives this warning against the disobedient: "Among those nations you shall find no ease, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There THE LORD WILL GIVE YOU A TREMBLING HEART, failing eyes, and a languishing spirit."

5. The Hebrew noun pachad, "fear, dread," appears once with "heart" in Deuteronomy 28:67: Yahweh through Moses gives this warning against the disobedient: "In the morning you shall say, 'If only it were evening!' and at evening you shall say, 'If only it were morning!'--BECAUSE OF THE DREAD THAT YOUR HEART SHALL FEEL and the sights of your eyes shall see."

6. The Hebrew verb charadh, "to tremble, be terrified" appears twice with "heart."
     a. 1 Samuel 28:5 says: "When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, AND HIS HEART TREMBLED GREATLY."
     b. Elihu, one of Job's young friends, give a long speech in Job 32-37. In Job 37:1, he says:
         "At this also MY HEART TREMBLES,  
                 and leaps out of its place."

[To be continued]

Share YOUR fears and anxieties and concerns and reversals and prospect with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, December 26, 2016

Prayer for Deliverance from the Ruthless--Psalm 54

Psalm 54 is very brief. The author and historical setting is unknown. The Superscription connects this psalm with the Ziphites telling Saul that David is hiding among the Ziphites (1 Samuel 23:19-20). But this is a later addition in an attempt to connect Psalm 54 with a historical event connected with David. Psalm 54 contains no reference to this event. Psalm 54 falls into three parts.

1. The psalmist beseeches Yahweh to save him. Psalm 54:1-3.
     a. The poet addresses Yahweh as God. He asks Yahweh to SAVE him by God's name. Here God's name means God Himself. He beseeches Yahweh to VINDICATE him by his MIGHT. 54:1.
     b. The psalmist implores Yahweh, "Hear my prayer," "Give ear to the words of my mouth," meaning this prayer which is Psalm 54. 54:2.
     c. The composer beseeches Yahweh to save him BECAUSE the Insolent have risen against him, the RUTHLESS seek his life. They have no interest in God, but only to destroy this psalmist. 54:3.

2. Speaking to his audience, the psalmist extols Yahweh as his helper. Psalm 54:4-5.
    a. The poet proclaims that Yahweh is his HELPER. The hearer or reader immediately thinks of Psalm 121:1-2. The poet explains that Yahweh is the UPHOLDER of his life. 54:4.
    b. The psalmist confidently declares that Yahweh will repay his enemies for their evil. Then suddenly, he addresses Yahweh directly: "In YOUR faithfulness, put an end to them [my enemies]." 54:5.

3. The Psalmist give thanks to God for delivering him. Psalm 54:6-7.
     a. The psalmist continues to address God directly. First, he promises that he will SACRIFICE a freewill offering to Yahweh. He will give thanks to Yahweh for this is good. To "give thanks to God's name" is to "give thanks to God Himself." 54:6.
     b. The psalmist give God thanks because God has delivered him from every trouble, and his eye has looked in triumph on his enemies. 54:7.

God's people are surrounded by enemies. The proper Christian response is not to retaliate, but to pray to Yahweh to intervene, overthrow his enemies, and deliver his faithful people.

Share YOUR experiences and concerns and anxieties and fears and journeys with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--13

Matthew 24 and 26 contain THIRTEEN references to DISCIPLES. There is no reference to DISCIPLES in Matthew 25.

1. Matthew 24 relates several events and teachings about the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus Christ. Here we will not go into great detail. The whole discussion comes from a couple of questions to Jesus from his disciples.
    a. As Jesus came out of the Jerusalem temple, his disciples pointed out to him the buildings of the temple. Jesus told them that every stone of the temple will be torn down. After they came to the Mount of Olives, his disciples asked him privately WHEN will this be and WHAT WILL BE THE SIGN OF JESUS' SECOND COMING AND THE END OF THE AGE. 24:1-3.
    b. Jesus told them that no one knows when this will happen. There will be many people who claim to be the Messiah which are not true. There will be wars and rumors of wars; nations will rise and wall. This is just the beginning of birthpangs. The wicked will persecute and kills Jesus's followers. Some will fall away. Others will endure to the end. The good news of the kingdom of God will be proclaimed throughout the world. 24:4-14.
    c. Just as lightning comes from the east and the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then he will gather his elect from one end of heaven to the other. 24:15-31.
    d. About the day and hour of Jesus' Second coming no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but ONLY THE HEAVENLY FATHER. The point is: Everyone must be prepared, because the Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour. Every true disciples of Jesus must work faithfully until Jesus comes again. 24:32-51.

2. Matthew 26 relates ELEVEN references to Jesus' DISCIPLES. All of these text allude to THE TWELVE, or THE THREE [Peter, James, and John]. In almost every case, Jesus' DISCIPLES misunderstand Jesus or bluntly reject and abandon Jesus.
    a. After teaching his parables in Matthew 25, Jesus told his disciples that in two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be crucified. 26:1-5.
    b. At Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman poured costly ointment on Jesus' head. Jesus' DISCIPLES became angry about this because this is a waste. Jesus rebuked his DISCIPLES, telling them that this woman prepared Jesus for burial by pouring this ointment on his head. Her gracious gesture is the heart of the gospel message. 26:6-13.
    c. On the first day of Unleavened Bread, Jesus told his DISCIPLES to prepare the Passover. Jesus will keep the Passover at the house of an anonymous man, and Jesus' DISCIPLES prepared the Passover as Jesus told them. Jesus told Judas Iscariot that he will betray Jesus. Jesus took a loaf of bread, broke it, and gave it to his DISCIPLES, and for the very first time initiated the Lord's Supper, the Eucharist. 26:14-30.
    d. Jesus told his DISCIPLES that ALL of them will DESERT Jesus. Peter strongly said he would never desert Jesus. All the DISCIPLES chimed in an agreed with Peter. 26:31-35.
    e. Jesus took THE TWELVE to Gethsemane and told them to wait until he returned. Then he took Peter, James, and John further into the Garden of Gethsemane, and left them there as he went farther to pray. After fervent prayer to God the Father, Jesus returned and found that THE THREE were asleep. Jesus sternly rebuked them, returned to pray two more times, and each time, they were sound asleep. Jesus sternly rebuked them for not praying for him in this serious moment. 26:36-46.
    f. Judas Iscariot brought the Jewish elders and chief priests to arrest Jesus to crucify him. Then ALL JESUS' DISCIPLES DESERTED HIM [JESUS] AND FLED. 26:47-56.

These texts are consistent with other texts in the Bible about DISCIPLES. DISCIPLES are followers, servants, slaves of God, but certainly NOT LEADERS!!! Jesus' DISCIPLES often have good intentions, but when the rubber meets the road, all forsake or desert Jesus. All of Jesus' DISCIPLES are weak and frail at best. God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord is able to work in and through and in spite of Jesus' DISCIPLES. The function of DISCIPLES is humility, humility, humility, service, service, service, certainly NOT LEADERSHIP. God the Father and Jesus Christ our Lord is our only dependable LEADER.

Share YOUR fears and failures and anxieties and uncertainties and desertions with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, December 25, 2016

The Heart is Comforted--XX

Two idiomatic phrases connected with the heart meaning comfort appear in the Hebrew Bible.

1. The Hebrew expression dabhar `al, "speak upon, to" is connected with the heart EIGHT times.
     a. After Jacob died, Joseph assured his brothers that he had no intention of harming them in spite of the fact that they had tried to kill him. Joseph said to his brothers in Genesis 50:21:
          "So have no fear; I myself will provide for you and your little ones."
           In this way he assured them, speaking kindly to them [Hebrew: speaking to their heart].
     b. When a certain Levite separated from his wife at Bethlehem, after four months, "Then her husband set out after her, to speak tenderly to her [Hebrew: to speak to her heart] and bring her back" (Judges 19:3).
     c. When Boaz helped Ruth in the fields near Bethlehem, Ruth responded: "May I continue to find favor in your sight, my lord, for you have comforted me and spoken kindly [Hebrew: spoken to my heart] to your servant, even though I am not of your servants." (Ruth 2:13).
     d. According to 2 Samuel 19:7, Joab sternly charged David to "speak kindly to his servants," Hebrew, speak to the hearts of his servants.
     e. 2 Chronicles 30:22 says: "Hezekiah spoke encouragingly [Hebrew: spoke to the heart] to all the Levites who showed good skill in the service of the Lord."
     f. 2 Chronicles 32:6 says: "He [Hezekiah] appointed combat commanders over the people, and gathered them together to him, in the square at the gate of the city, and spoke encouragingly [Hebrew: spoke to the heart] to them."
     g. Isaiah 40:2 says:
         "Speak tenderly [Hebrew: Speak to the heart] to Jerusalem,
                and cry to her
          that she has served her term,
                that her penalty is paid,
          that she has received from the Lord's hand
                double for all her sins."
     h. In Hosea 2:14 [Heb. 2:16], God says to Judah:
          "Therefore, I will now allure her,
                and bring her into the wilderness,
            and speak tenderly [Hebrew: speak to the heart] to her."

2. The Hebrew expression barakh be, "to bless in," occurs once in Deuteronomy 29:19 [Heb. 29:18]:
    "All who hear the words of this oath and bless themselves, thinking in their hearts."

3. The Hebrew verb chayah, "to revive," appears once with "heart" in Isaiah 57:15:
     "For thus says the high and lofty one
            who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy:
       I dwell in the high and holy place,
            and also with those who are contrite and humble in spirit,
       to revive the spirit of the humble,

God encourages and comforts the hearts of God's faithful people in mysterious ways. Be thankful for his presence and his mighty acts.

Share YOUR experiences and motivations and shortcomings and encouragements and reversals with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Biblical Teaching of Disciples--12

Matthew 21-23 contain FIVE references to Disciples.

1. Two events involve Disciples in Matthew 21.
     a. Jesus' Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. Matthew 21:1-11.
         When Jesus and his traveling companions arrived at Bethphage at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent TWO DISCIPLES to go into the village ahead and find and bring a donkey and a colt to Jesus. The two disciples did this, and Jesus rode into Jerusalem as a king would (see 1 Kings 1:33). The crowds spread branches broken from the trees on the road, and proclaimed: "Hosanna to the Son of David."
     b. Jesus Curses a Fig Tree. Matthew 21:18-22.
         The next morning Jesus returned to the city and was hungry. He came to a fig tree which had no fruit. He said to it, "May no fruit every come from you again!" The fig tree withered. When THE DISCIPLES saw this, they were amazed, saying, "How did the fig tree wither at once?" Jesus told them, If you have faith and do not doubt, you can cause a fig tree to wither or a mountain be thrown into the sea. "Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive."
The Bible does not tell the hearer or audience who these disciples are.

2. Matthew 22 relates one event involving the DISCIPLES OF THE PHARISEES. Matthew 22:15-22.
    Trying to trap Jesus, the Pharisees and the Herodians sent their disciples to Jesus, asking him, "Is it lawful to pay taxes to the emperor, or not?" Jesus asked him to give him a denarius. Then he said: "Give to the emperor the things that are the emperor's, and to God the things that are God's."

3. Matthew 23 contains one event involving the DISCIPLES of Jesus.
    Jesus taught the crowds and HIS DISCIPLES about the nature of the scribes and Pharisees. He told them to follow whatever the scribes and Pharisees teach, but not to follow their example, because they do not do what they teach, for they do not practice what they teach. Obviously, Jesus warns his disciples against practicing hypocrisy.

 As in all other texts concerning disciples, here disciples often misunderstand what Jesus teaches and does. Jesus sternly warns his disciples not to be hypocritical, but to be honest and forthright.

Share YOUR experiences and shortcomings and anxieties and losses and concerns with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

The Boastful versus The Humble--Psalm 52 [53]

Psalm 52 is very brief. The superscription alludes to the occasion on which Doeg the Edomite came to Saul and told Saul that David came to the house of Ahimelech (1 Samuel 22:9-10). But this is a later addition, and has no foundation for connecting Psalm 52 with 1 Samuel 22. The author of Psalm 52 is unknown. Psalm 52 falls into two parts.

1. The Psalmist sharply denounces his Boastful Mighty Enemy. Psalm 52:1-7.
     a. The psalmist strongly condemns the "mighty one" whom he addresses. This mighty one has done mischief against the godly. He has plotted destruction against the godly all day long. His tongue is like a sharp razor, a worker of treachery. He loves evil more than good, and lying more than speaking the truth. He loves all words that devour helpless people. He is very deceitful. The hearer or reader would like to know specifically who this person is and the situations which are involved. But in this psalm, all this is very general and vague. 52:1-4.
      b. The psalmist then declares confidently that God will break down this mighty one. God will snatch and tear him down from his tent. He will uproot him from the land of the living. God has ways of overthrowing boastful people. 52:5.
      c. While this is happening, the righteous will see and fear [respect, honor], and laugh at the evildoer, saying: "Look at the person who would not take refuge in God,
                              but trusted in abundant riches, and sought refuge in wealth!"
This same approach to life re-enacts in every generation. Many people trust in wealth rather than trusting in God. 52:6-7.

2. In bold contrast to the Mighty One who Boasts and Trusts in Wealth, the Psalmist trusts in God's Steadfast Love. Psalm 52:8-9.
    a. In contrast to his boastful enemy, the psalmist states that he is like a green olive in the house of God. He trusts in God's steadfast love forever and ever. God empowers a small plant to grow and bear good fruit. Godly people are like a green olive. 52:8.
    b. The psalmist will thank God forever for what God has done. He will proclaim God's name in the presence of the faithful, because it is good. 52:9.

[Note: Psalm 53 is a dittograph of Psalm 14. These two psalms are almost identical, with very few differences. Thus, it is not necessary to deal with Psalm 53, since we have already dealt with Psalm 14].

Share YOUR concerns and feelings and experiences and oppositions and fears with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Friday, December 23, 2016

The Heart Grieves--Part III--XIX

The word "grief" is depicted in two Hebrew words denoting "bitterness."
   1. The Hebrew verb chamets, "to be soured, embittered," appears once with "heart" in Psalm 73:21-22:
            "When my soul was embittered,
                    WHEN I WAS PRICKED IN HEART,
               I was stupid and ignorant;
                    I was like a brute beast toward you [Yahweh]."
    2. The Hebrew noun marrah, "bitterness," occurs once in Proverbs 14:10:
                    and no stranger shares its joy."

There are NINE other words with which "heart" occurs to describe "grief," some of which are very graphic. These include FIVE Hebrew verbs which appear with "heart."
    1. The Hebrew verb laqach, "to take," appears with "heart" in Job 15:12-13 in the second speech of Eliphaz addressed to Job:
                  and why do your eyes flash,
            so that you turn your spirit against God,
                  and let such words go out of your mouth?"
     2. The Hebrew verb yabhesh, "to be dry, dried up, withered," appears with heart in Psalm 102:4:
                 I am too wasted to eat my bread."
     3. The Hebrew verb tamam, "to be complete, finished," appears with heart in Psalm 143:4:
          "Therefore my spirit faints within me;
     4. The Hebrew verb hamah, "to murmur, growl, roar, be boisterous," appears with heart in two biblical texts.
           Jeremiah 4:19 says:
           "My anguish, my anguish! I writhe in pain!
                  Oh, the walls of my heart!
                  I cannot keep silent;
             for I hear the sound of the trumpet,
                  the alarm of war."
           Jeremiah 48:36:
             for the riches they gained have perished."
      5. The Hebrew verb haphakh, "to turn, change, destroy," appears with "heart" in Hosea 11:8:
           "How can I give you up, Ephraim?
                   How can I hand you over, O Israel?
             How can I make you like Admah?
                   How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
                   my compassion grows warm and tender."

The Hebrew verb ka'ah, "to be disheartened, cowed," appears with "heart" in two texts.
     Psalm 109:16 [Heb. 109:17] says of the wicked person:
         "For he did not remember to show kindness,
                 but pursued the poor and needy
                 AND THE BROKENHEARTED to their death."
     Denouncing false prophets among God's people, Ezekiel says in Ezekiel 13:22-23:
         "Because YOU HAVE DISHEARTENED the righteous falsely,
           although I HAVE NOT DISHEARTENED them,
           and you have encouraged the wicked not to turn from their wicked way and save their lives;
           therefore you shall no longer see false vision or practice divination;
           I will save my people from you hand.
           Then you will know that I am the Lord." 

Three Hebrew nouns appear with "heart" connected with grief.
    1. The Hebrew noun mikhshol, "stumbling-block," appears with "heart" in 1 Samuel 25:30-31.
         Abigail makes this plea to David:
          "When Yahweh has  done to my lord [David] according to all the good that he has spoken
                                   concerning you,
             and has appointed you prince over Israel,
             my lord [David] shall have no cause of grief, OR PANGS OF CONSCIENCE [literally
                                   or stumbling-block of heart],
             for having shed blood without cause or having saved himself.
             And when Yahweh has dealt well with my lord [David], then remember your servant
    2. The Hebrew noun `inyan, "occupation, task," appears with "heart" in Ecclesiastes 8:16-17a.
     "WHEN I APPLIED MY MIND [literally when I accepted the task of my heart] to know wisdom,
        and to see the business that is done one earth,
        how one's sees see sleep neither day nor night,
        then I saw all the work of God,
        that no one can find out what is happening under the sun."
    3. The Hebrew noun tsarah, "anguish, trouble, distress, persecution," appears once with "heart" in Psalm 25:17:
                 and bring me out of my distress."

All the words connected with heart having to do with grief describe the undesirable nature of sorrow, and suggest the laborious warfare which the heart must wage against it. Grief is the antithesis of joy.

Share YOUR joys and grievances and remorses and losses and successes with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis