If connected in context to the rest of the remainder of the chapter we'd see that this astounding kingdom growth is a result of a caregivers' nurturing care towards repentance (even by calamity), the bounds of Satan being identified and loosed, legalism and tradition and religious expectation being loosed, certain adversaries being shamed in their confrontation, and praise of the multitude for what He has done. Not a bad summation of the Gospel...eh?
The Temple cannot house God, that is not it's purpose, but, it can be a place for His name to reside and His glory to show forth. Prayers are made to it concerning the return of His people from their sins, the furtherance of justice and judgment, and it's testimony to the rest of the world and the to stranger from afar. God did use it on several occasions for these purposes. The Temple is a symbolic type, Jesus Christ is the true Temple being the person of it's fulfillment and not just the place.
Works? What works? I thought that everything was strictly by grace? The church at Sardis is of great concern. Individuals remain that have not left or deserted and they shall be rewarded, they are exhorted strengthen that which remains, but, what about the rest of them? Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ will be saved by grace however we that hear are exhorted to overcome. Our faith is planted in circumstances that necessitate immediate growth and action, from which our faith only grows stronger. If there are not these works and actions the local church body itself dies away. Avoiding and/or ignoring the work that must be done because of some personal tantrum is spiritually immature.
It concerns me how we might perceive how that the Lord hardens Pharaoh's heart. Is the condition of the heart caused by the Lord or was it known that he would react in this way? Was Pharaoh created or coerced to be so? One almost gets the impression that with each plague that the heart relaxes and then hardens again. How much harder successively can the heart get? Other than the bricks and straw Pharaoh has not really lashed out, he simply has resolved not to let them go. I do believe that the choice of heart has been Pharaohs all along. The Lord knows his heart well enough to know how he will react and knows just how far He will be able to go in showing the rest of the world mighty works without immediately tipping Pharaoh's hardness over. It is a testament to just how hard and oblivious the human heart can be.
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