John T. Willis

Monday, November 26, 2012

God is our Rock

Among the numerous metaphors portraying God is ROCK. There are several ways in which the Bible uses the term "rock" to portray the nature and work of God. 1. God is our protection. Human beings hide behind large rocks for protection against bad weather, enemies, robbers, wild animals. The Bible uses "rock" as a synonym of a fortress or stronghold. David composed a long song when Yahweh delivered him from the hand of his enemies. This is in 2 Samuel 22. He writes in verses 2-3: "The Lord is my ROCK, my FORTRESS, and my deliverer, my God, my ROCK, in whom I take REFUGE." The composer of Psalm 31 says in verses 2-4: "Incline your ear to me; rescue me speedily. Be a ROCK of REFUGE for me, a STRONG FORTRESS to save me. You are indeed my ROCK and my FORTRESS; for your name's sake lead me and guide me, take me out of the net that is hidden for me, for you are my REFUGE." 2. God lifts us to a higher level to become closer to God and receive his shelter. The composer of Psalm 61 says in verses 2-4: "From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the ROCK that is higher than I; for you are my REFUGE; a STRONG TOWER against the enemy. Let me abide in your TENT forver, find REFUGE under the SHELTER of your wings." 3. The metaphor of a rock emphasizes that God is firm, faithful, endurable, dependable. Moses' song in Deuteronomy 32 underlines this idea. Note verses 4,18, 31: "The ROCK, his work is perfect, and all his ways are just. A FAITHFUL God, without deceit, just and upright is he. . . You were unmindful of the ROCK that bore you; you forgot the God who gave you birth. . . Indeed, their rock is not like our ROCK; our enemies are fools." I hope you will look through a concordance about the word "rock" to discover the truths of the Bible about God. Share your belief and insights and reservations and proclamations and withdrawals with others. Let me hear from you. John Willis

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Jesus Focuses on Real Fear--Luke 12:1-12

After proclaimed the six woes in Luke 11:37-54, Luke reports Jesus' teachings about hypocrisy and fear found in Luke 12:1-12. This naturally falls into two parts. I. Jesus' Message about Hypocrisy. Luke 12:1-3. a. In contrast to the scheming leaders of the Jews, the Jewish crowds were attracted to Jesus and came "by the thousands." The crowd was so thick that people trampled on one another. 12:1a. b. Jesus separated his disciples from the great crowds and taught them that they must beware of hypocrisy. He calls this "the yeast of the Pharisees." Yeast is old, sour dough stored away (Luke 13:21)and subjected to fermenting juices until it was used in new dough as a rising agent. Yeast can be good (1 Cor. 5:6-8) or bad (Luke 12:1-3). If the yeast is bad, it affects the whole dough. If wicked people prevail in God's people, this will eventually corrupt the entire people of God. 12:1b. c. People attempt to hide what they are really thinking and doing. People "whisper behind closed doors" to slander good people to get what they desire. God always brings such secrecy to the surface one way or another (see Hebrew 4:12-13). 12:2-3. II. Jesus' Message about Real Fear. Luke 12:4-12. a. Jesus continues speaking to his disciples, addressing them as his "friends." See John 15:13-15. He admonishes them not to fear those who kill the body, but rather fear him who has the authority to cast one into Gehenna, i. e., hell. The Greek word "Gehenna" is a transliteration of the Hebrew expression "gey hinnom," "the valley of Hinnom," which was the Wadi er-Rababi which runs first north-south west of Jerusalem, then east-west south of Jerusalem to empty into the Kidron Valley. In it was a high place called Topheth, where Judeans offered their sons and daughters in burnt sacrifices to the Ammonite deity Molech--see Jeremiah 7:32; 19:4-6; 32:34-35; 2 Kings 163; 21:6; 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; 33:6. Later, the Jews used the Valley of Hinnom for continually burning potters' kilns and rubbish dumps. See Jeremiah 18:1-4; 19:2, 10-13; Nehemiah 2:13.12:4-5. b. Jesus assures his true followers that God our Father always watches over his people like he watches over sparrows and counts the hairs of the head. 12:6-7. c. Jesus declares that what is important is to acknowledge and serve God through Jesus Christ. 12:8-9. d. Jesus says that anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven. Scholars have proposed several interpretations of the statement to blaspheme against the Holy Spirit means: (1) the accusation that Jesus himself has an unclean spirit; (2) the unforgiveable apostasy of Christian disciples; (3) God will give sinners a second opportunity to return to God after the resurrection but if they refuse, God will commit them to eternal damnation; (4) the non-acceptance of the testimony which the Holy Spirit will put into the mouths of the disciples; (5) the persistence on stubborn opposition to the influence of the Holy Spirit. The last interpretation is probably correct. 12:10. e. Jesus finally assumes his true followers not to be concerned about how to defend themselves or what to say when leaders of God's people oppose them, because the Holy Spirit will teach them what to say and do. 12:11-12. Share your insights and concerns and fears and problems with others. Let me hear from you. John Willis