The tendency is for us to limit God down to what we ourselves are able to do for Him (individually mainly as our expectation of the collective suffers). It must have been astonishing for Gideon to peek in the enemies camp by night and hear what God was in the process of doing for Israel.
For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart... Theology wrapped up in a nut shell. If we were to approach all things with this frame of mind we would be the better. This is the "why" in "why does He do this" or "why does He allow this" or "why has He been so good". Righteous and just, merciful and long suffering, His ways each and every one are perfect and unchanging. He knows the beginning, He knows our end. He makes His promises, He fulfills each and every one. He brings us through and sets us apart as His own. For thy word's sake, and according to thine own heart...
It is amazing that the God of much despised Judah Yahweh is recognized and honored by a foreign king like this at this time. The accounts of the prophet Daniel would have transpired by now.God has been working behind the scenes to make this happen. It is by God's promise, His mercy, His longsuffering, and for the sake of His name that we see this activity.
Job responds with real and honest feelings even in questioning his friends intents. His thoughts and sensitivities lay barren, desperate, and oddly profound. He suffers from tremendous depression however. Those of us sent to comfort or counsel a friend should be well aware of our intents and devices before proceeding. As good as our advice sounds to us it may be ill-timed, insensitive, or else irrelevant to the actual situation as it is in this case.
The eunuch had all that he needed for a good start in the Lord. He had already gone to worship, he had been reading and seeking. By the preaching of Philip he received then an understanding into what he was reading, the understanding revealed the Lord's suffering, he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and was baptized. If there were more than this that he needed to get started I am sure that the Spirit would have allowed Philip to stay.
Sometimes it feels not only that we are suffering for God but, also being piled upon by our friends and neighbors. Feelings of punishment can come from those who otherwise seek to help us. Grief over lost loved ones is not meant as a time of punishment but a time of cleansing and healing. There is nothing wrong in telling your friends so when such is the case or even separating yourself from them for a short time.
Jesus would have read this as a youth. He would have seen it as instruction for Himself. The lines did fall to Him in pleasant places. He was of and was to receive a godly heritage. He acted only upon the Father's counsel and His reigns instructed Him in the night. The Father was always set before Him and the Father was at His right hand never to be moved. His soul was not left in hell and He did not suffer corruption. Imagine reading this early on, living it out to the fullest, and the joy and gladness He must feel, even today. Now it is our turn by His example.
No one is above judgement. Our only salvation in judgment is in Jesus Christ. In the previous chapter we've read of the ways of the reprobate. It would be natural for us to be judgmental of others given this impressive list. The problem with that is in the many things for which we ourselves will be judged, things perhaps more hidden than for example overt homosexuality. Persons on both sides of the line draw their own conclusions and judgements. A wall builds up between us with sinners on both sides. God's long suffering and forbearance has been shown to us all. It is time for us on both sides to think in terms of the spirit verses the letter of the law. Let us set aside any sin that would so easily beset us.
When the heart is haughty and the eyes lofty the soul takes upon itself a great deal, increasingly large matters it really has no business in. I think of the political campaigns we are suffering these months ahead of elections. Presented are entire shopping lists of big and grandiose ideas/programs that each and everyone of us knows will never once be addressed. So why are we making concern over them, why to the near exclusion of the things that we would be able to address? This same type issue is true in our individual hearts as well. Oh yes, grand dreams and visions, miraculous intentions, marvelous causes, big and frequent squawks and chatter. It hardly ever results in any more than that. For some though, a new found calm and quietness, a weaning from the demanding tantrums of a suckling child, a trust and obedience to a more modest constantly maturing godly nature.
Whether Paul's team was afflicted or comforted, it was for our comfort and salvation. Both abounded with his team, sufferings and comfort because they abound in Christ. They were afflicted even to the point of death. They considered themselves dead and only by the deliverance of God did they continue. Our consolation is effectual in all sufferings but particularly in the same sufferings which they suffered.
Is Paul saying that only the Apostles are called to this stringent a life? That we should just sit back and bask in the glory that has been revealed in their work and sacrifice? Surely we are not Apostles, but, we are disciples, we are followers, we are partakers of the divine nature. If this is what Christ suffered, if this is what the Apostles suffered, then we too should be willing/expecting to suffer the same. It is in this manner after all the life and glory of Christ is revealed.
You would think that a messenger of love and truth would be well accepted as people need a good bit of love and truth. You would think that people would be thankful for a man willing to suffer such things to bring us such truth and not complain that he was too soft or too hard or too.... We would like to think that if we are anything as believers that we are much like this man. Most likely though it is overwhelmingly possible that we are like the many that inflicted such upon him or looked away and that the people that we have put in charge of putting us in rememberence of these truths are not this type of man who has for a long time suffered our whims.
How important to know that His anger is not turned but His hand is still extended. Israel/Judah/Manasseh have long strayed from any resemblance of covenant partnership with God; they have become exactly what covenant had told them not to be. The Lord has been more than long suffering towards them and is now prepared to do what He said would be done. This does not mean that it is all over though, that it all was a big mistake and that He is moving on without them; it means that they will serve His purpose just the same. For the present time it is to our benefit that this be, until the fulfillment of this Gentile age.
The Lord is telling before hand what He is going to do as is right. He has been open and up front for generations telling them how it would be if did not keep their end of the covenant. He has extended the time before hand in patience and long suffering. Now is the time that He will act.
Christ is being preached, by Paul's life and by his death, by others responding to Paul's absence some in contention some in love, by the churches outreach and operation even under extreme persecution. Some would think that they have the upper hand but, who has the upper hand over God? Is this not how He said it would be? Is this not a necessary part of our sanctification to share in His sufferings? Is He not sovereign and in complete control? Has any one or anything snuck up on Him that he had mistakenly underestimated or poorly considered? Of course not, for Christ is preached!
The king was suffering from some disease causing the skin to boil. Indications are that it was making him to be bitter towards God. Hezekiah had been a good godly king, the right man for the times at hand in Judah, but, not even that keeps one from suffering deadly illness, the curse of Adam. We cannot say that bitterness caused this cancer. We cannot say that the illness was intended to bring to light a hidden bitterness that then could be dealt with. We can not say that Hezekiah's illness was intended to stir the faith of the others around him. For then we would have to say the same about anyone of us. Though these things may have resulted, we can say that God dealt with everything that happened with the good of His plan and love for His servant in mind. The same would have been true if Hezekiah would have been called back into the Lord's rest.
Pressing toward the mark, not that we have already attained perfection; having no other confidence but in Christ, the fellowship of His death and sufferings that we may know the power of His resurection. How different this sacrifice/pursuit is from mere religion.
Knowing the heart of man and His servant Israel, the Lord knew how we would bend the truth of this thing, that we would claim we knew it, that our own hands or our own gods brought this thing to pass. The Lord therefore declared it long before it happened, declared a new thing that could not be known any other way and performed it with intricate precision. This is how He has to operate given our blind and corrupted nature. It may seem terrible that Judah must suffer the furnace of affliction in double measure. It seems odd that this would be the only way left to refine them and prove His love/covenant. But, it seems odd that we would refuse to see things in the light of truth, follow His commandments and directions, not pollute His name with our rebellious and self serving whims.
People do notice. There is not a particular individual mentioned here. The congregation is likely acting together as one, they are working and laboring doing things as a body that are being observed and talked about. One thing that stands out is that they are not doing what everybody else is doing, in this case having turned from idols. For this they suffered affliction yet withstood the pressure with patience and hope. Such things stand out and are talked about distances beyond our personal knowing and causing the gospel to be spread. Where can we stand out in our churches today?
The work of Christ here is explained as being two fold: using the tribulation of others to grow and stir us, using the persecution of others as the mark against them in the day of judgment. We should not be discouraged by tribulations which to us is a righteous token of His judgment, a sharing in the same things He Himself suffered.
Timothy appears to be suffering some type of affliction leading toward possible discouragement. There is a constant resistance towards the gospel, the greater the accomplishments the greater the push back. No doubt Timothy's ministry is having an impact judged by the resistance it is receiving. Paul is encouraging Timothy not to hold back or shy away from what his ministry is facing, the Lord has not left him high and dry. What good is it to do all of this good and yet give it up because of some resistance? The Lord Himself suffered such, it is a sign of righteousness.
Christ learned obedience by what He suffered and thus was made a perfect high priest. We similarly learn our obedience by what we suffer for Him. One might say "wait... I am not suppose to suffer... I believe in Christ... He suffered for me". Christ obeyed the Father in suffering for us. He suffered what we could not and even would not for we were not capable of obeying to that extent. Yet we are supposed to obey in our own measure and often the only way to learn to obey is to suffer. In this case we suffer for/because of Him; for the stance we take/defend in Him.
From one fire into another, from time to time as individuals we may feel this so, this though is speaking of an entire nation. How would it not be known that the Lord has set His face against them? Few of us have ever felt this type of judgment upon us. In our own lives we may think it or even make it be so. Often we perceive His instruction/correction falsely as so but, rather that is His love. Some moments we may feel as if persecution suffered in His name is so but, rather that is simply sharing in His sufferings. When the Lord however sets His face against an entire people it no doubt will be known by those people. These are not moments where the possibility will be debated or interpreted.
The choice is not only to do whatever we will do but is whether to pollute the name of our Lord in the midst of the godless or not. Israel never really chose not to pollute, from the start there was always momentum. It was only by the merciful longsuffering of God that they were not given completely over. Notice how easy it was to pass down the rebellion of the fathers from generation to generation and how much near impossible to pass down the righteousness. The lure and pressures and ease were far too enticing.
Many read or else hear about these passages in the Bible and come to the determination that the God of Israel is mean spirited. For these years of judgment they fail to say the ions of longsuffering and mercy. Others would point to the ineffectiveness of God's plan not being able to turn the hearts of even such a small nation as Israel avoiding to consider that His plan is yet hundreds of years from being fulfilled. People under estimate the power the sin nature has over us and just how patient and steady God has had to remain over it to gain our redemption from it. If there is any mean spiritedness to observe, it is in the people who claim that God is over reacting, over sensitive, over bearing.
Again Christ is given as the absolute example. Not only how He acted, but, how He saw Himself in the role of obeying The Father. Having this mindset more naturally produces these particular actions and influences this certain outlook. The picture is complete in the symbolism of water baptism, the good conscience answers to God, dying to the flesh and alive to the Spirit, fully immersed in sanctification. In the same way, whether in marriage, or business, or fellowship, conducting all daily activity being willing to suffer unjustly for His good rather than be condemned for participating in their bad. To the hope of perhaps saving some of their souls along with.
You can see just how much the subject of trials and suffering for Christ play into Peter's theology. He sees it as the necessary cleansing and separating agent in the believers life, thus the will of God. This leads him to conclude that the end judgment begins with the house of God and works outward. Essentially, it is suffering in Christ that shapes us and our reaction to and obedience in that we are judged by. It is the measure of just how faithful we believe Him to be.
So should we go out a stir up some suffering? The gospel is preached that men dead to Christ might be judged as men of the flesh. They are this to begin with, their reaction once presented condemns them all the more. One does not have to go out purposely to stir things up, the Gospel of Christ does this by itself. By presenting the Gospel in it's truest form man's very nature is stirred against Him/Us.
Though addressing church elders initially, the message here applies to each of us. Humbling ourselves, casting our cares, subjecting ourselves to one another, being sober and diligent to resist the Devil, suffering willingly to the ends of perfection. Peter, I feel, is driving the point home that these worthy things are brought about by the constant feeding the flock and taking oversight.
Peter's motivation by now should be clear. It should be our motivation as well. Peter considers himself a witness of Christs suffering and a partaker in the glory to be revealed. Peter is this in the truest sense perhaps like no other having been there with Him. Thanks in great part to His testimony/obedience we are/can be this as well. The sufferings of Christ are so crucial to our proclamation because they point to the hands of those for whom He willingly suffered for. The glory to be revealed is equally crucial because it tells us that this was no ordinary man that suffered these things on our behalf, it was the very son of God, the promised one of Israel, the name above all names, Jesus Christ and Savior the King of all kings. Those that are thus inspired and motivated will be partakers of both the sufferings of and later the Glory of.
Such a vision is troubling for all of us but yet we must keep the matter in heart. It is a terrifying time for the people of this world. The turmoil and suffering of the past world wars are pale in comparison. It is not just the exhibition of the wickedness of man but, the brutal demonic nature of spiritual principalities in full view. For Daniel, having the big picture brought down to human perspective through the use of descriptive symbols and characters is astonishing. Though difficult to know exactly who each character is and what the details mean, we all sense the general motion.
The all important first love. The church of Ephesus is doing a whole lot right. They contend for the faith as Jude would exhort, resist evil and suffer for Christ's name sake as Peter. Their first love no doubt was for Him as a person and for each other as His friends. For as much as they are doing right, they still need to obey the great commandment kjv@Mark:12:30-31.
The church of Thyatira is battling a particular prophetess with much satanic influence. Effectually, they are consenting to her crafts by suffering her a place in their community/congregation. The Lord is dealing with her in His own way. He is asking them to beware and resist her and those that are bedding with her (consenting/allowing to her doctrine) by holding fast to the faith.
Philadelphia on the other hand is a church that will be kept from the hour of temptation that the earth will suffer. They are being opposed by a temple of Satan hiding under the cover of some Jews yet have exhibited strength, kept His word (of patience), and not denied His name. Notice how none of these churches have it easy, but, some hold fast, hold true, gain the Lord's strength and overcome.
As you have done so shall it be done to thee. Edom was deceived in two ways, by its pride thinking that it was above the destruction that Judah was facing, by nations that they thought were confederates. They joined in with these nations against Judah even to where the survivors fleeing out of Judah were being caught up and killed or made captive. The descendent's of Esau were meant to be brotherly. Instead they were fooled into that which they should not have done; an unpardonable brutality. They were to cut off and suffer in the same manner.
An interesting mix of what is and what will be. It is almost a here is what one it will be one day therefore suffer this proposition. Given everything, they certainly deserve what is now, probably deserved it long before this. Given everything that will be, no one - not Israel nor the Gentile nations deserve that, it is only by God's mercy and grace making for truly thankful hearts no doubt.
By this stage now, men are not going to turn away. For them God is to blame and is openly blasphemed. To them it is better to endure the suffering than have a change of heart. The Antichrist is now performing miracles to hold their hopes/souls in his own pocket. Tossed into the equation is the righteousness of God for doing this as it relates to the previous treatment of His saints and martyrs.
Of the many details about creation given in this first chapter, perhaps the most peculiar is the division between verse strkjv@Genesis:1:1 'in the beginning' and verse strkjv@Genesis:1:2 'and the earth was'. To me the key word is 'was' which I suggest more properly should be translated 'became' as used in other text. Notice Heaven and Earth created in the beginning strkjv@Genesis:1:1. Notice Heaven and Earth not being divided till strkjv@Genesis:1:9. What happened that they were in the beginning but not divided until the third day? Many would say that they were created without form and void, the native language can just as easily say they became uninhabitable being a place suffering judgment.
The deception is a subtle twist of words over the meaning/extent of death. If the serpent had said that she'd die spiritually first, be exiled from the garden, live her and her generations in toil and turmoil, suffer famine and war and horrid transgressions from one another, and die a slow degenerating sometimes cancerous death, the deception would not have been as inviting. What is at question here is whether God would stand behind what He said and follow through; if so why? The why gets us into areas far beyond the thoughts of man.
The curse to third and fourth generations is tied specifically to the iniquity of utterly hating God as shown in the worship of other gods. I would think that this would be someone having already known of God and His mercy systematically choosing not retain God in their thoughts rebelliously worshiping the creature rather than the creator. We are not told what the curse will be here but, scripture suggests that the fathers are given over to that which is not convenient kjv@Romans:1 , their generations perhaps suffer after their consequences. Note that the threat of this was not enough to keep many from this; a testament to man's evil heart.
The comment about the leaven of the Pharisees is just as much a observation of what is currently transpiring against Him as it is a doctrinal fidelity teaching. Jesus sees what is developing and the rage mounting against Him so He checks to see how far along the Disciples hearts are in the revelation process. They are currently far enough to know that He is Christ but, not so far as to know what Christ must suffer for them in the very near future. Until they grasp this further more complete revelation they will not grasp their own future pathway - the baring of their own cross for Him in His absence up until His return.
2012 - pBiblx2 Field Wise Bible System Version 2.0.9d - GPL3