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Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Widow' Mites

                            The Widow’s Mites

    When Jesus told the story of the Widow’s Mites he commended her on her giving.  It also says Jesus observed the rich men casting in their gifts. In Marks version it makes clear that Jesus called unto him his disciples and shared what he saw.  Was it a judgment against the nation for their not helping the widows and the poor? Only someone who was there would know.  The writing implies there may have been a difference in attitude toward the wealthy and the poor.  In this day and age in America it seems like there is almost a contempt for the poor. The Book of Micah says pretty clearly what God thinks on the matter in chapter six.

6Wherewith shall I come before the LORD, and bow myself before the high God? shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves of a year old?  7Will the LORD be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands of rivers of oil? shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  8He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? 
9The LORD’S voice crieth unto the city, and the man of wisdom shall see thy name: hear ye the rod, and who hath appointed it.  10Are there yet the treasures of wickedness in the house of the wicked, and the scant measure that is abominable?   11Shall I count them pure with the wicked balances, and with the bag of deceitful weights?  12For the rich men thereof are full of violence, and the inhabitants thereof have spoken lies, and their tongue is deceitful in their mouth. 13Therefore also will I make thee sick in smiting thee, in making thee desolate because of thy sins. 14Thou shalt eat, but not be satisfied; and thy casting down shall be in the midst of thee; and thou shalt take hold, but shalt not deliver; and that which thou deliverest will I give up to the sword. 15Thou shalt sow, but thou shalt not reap; thou shalt tread the olives, but thou shalt not anoint thee with oil; and sweet wine, but shalt not drink wine.

James makes it even clearer what God says about the duty of man

But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.  26If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. 27Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

      Then as they left the temple Jesus disciples changed the subject by commenting on the beauty of the Temple.  Jesus made clear that wealth and beauty were temporal things. He told them it would all be torn down. He also told them they would hear of wars and rumors of wars.  Kind of like the Middle East is experiencing in this day and age.  He also mentioned there would be earthquakes, famines and troubles, but this was just the beginning of sorrows.  He warned them they would be hated for his name’s sake.  In verse fourteen of thirteenth chapter of Mark, Jesus makes a very subtle change of terms from hearing what was happening to seeing what was happening.  Was it an accident or did it have intentional meaning.  In Jesus time everything was transmitted by what they heard. Today the whole world can see what happens.  This is something that could not have happened until the advent of satellite communication.  It is something that had to happen for the prophecies in the eleventh chapter of Revelation to be fulfilled.

      Jesus mentioned Daniel by name and made clear that Daniel’s writing would be pertinent to the time to come. He made clear that those in Judea should flee into the mountains for their safety.  Both Daniel and Jesus made clear that their words would not be clear or understood till the time of the end.  Daniel 12:4 makes it very clear when Daniel is told to shut up his words and seal the book even to the time of the end.  What we are told by Daniel is at the end many shall run to and fro.  That means there will be a lot of traveling in the end time. The other part of the revelation was that knowledge would be increased.

.      While knowledge is in an explosion mode today many people miss the fact that the real beginning of it all was in the late 1400’s.    At that time Guttenberg’s printing press started the explosion.  Guttenberg’s most famous project was his printing of the Bible.  One has to wonder if the printing press had not been invented would Martin Luther have had his epiphany.  Many of the great minds of the Middle ages were all contemporaries.  Columbus, Cortez, DaVinci, Michaelangelo, and Martin Luther lived at the same time. Overlapping their lives were Newton, Galileo and Magellan.  In less than eighty years the printing press was invented and the world had been circled for the first time.  The prophecy of Jesus that His Word would be spread through the whole world was a real possibility.  Yet nearly five hundred years later that explosion is not slowing down. 

       The Bible often implies or equates knowledge with light.  In the 30th Chapter of Isaiah it says, “the moon shall be as bright as the sun and the sun shall be seven times brighter.”  When I try it understand something I like to look and see how the Bible used the words in the past. The first place I see the Sun and the Moon used together is in Joseph’s dream.  Based on that, when I see the Moon becoming as bright as the Sun, it means equality.  Joseph said his Mother was represented by the Moon in his dream. Then when the Sun becomes seven times brighter, it means seven times smarter.  The Sun represented his Father in the dream.

     Joseph’s dream was a partial fulfillment of a prophecy God made to Abraham.  God told Abraham that his descendants would inherit the Promised Land.  God put several conditions on the promise.  The story is in Genesis 15and gives the terms of God’s covenant with Abraham.  First Abraham’s seed would be strangers in a land that was not theirs.  Nowhere does it say they were slaves for four hundred years. Not only would they be strangers, they would serve the people of that land and be afflicted.  God said he would judge the nation they served and they would come out with a great inheritance. God also told Abraham he would die in a good old age.  Then in the fourth Generation his people would enter the Promised Land.

       Things went well for Abraham and he had his son just as God promised him. His great grandson was the one who the promise of going into captivity fell on.  Joseph had a dream in which his Father was the Sun, his Mother was the Moon and his Brothers were the stars.  When he told them the dream and that they would all bow down to him things started going bad.  His brothers sold him into slavery and he worked his way out.  Dreams delivered him from prison and put him in a position to save his family.  All went well for a while and then they were put into slavery. 

        One piece of trivia I heard years ago and love is the story of Jacob’s blessing of his children.  When he got to his grandchildren who were Joseph’s children he crossed his hands and blessed them differently than Joseph wanted them blessed.
The significance of that was that Joseph’s wife was a Gentile and not a Jew.  According to the speaker who was telling the story you are not a Jew unless you are born of a Jewish mother.  I do not know the facts on that but it was interesting and has always stuck with me.  By crossing his hands Jacob implied how they would be saved.  There salvation would be through the cross.

         God being good to what he promised, he raised up a man to deliver his people from their captivity.  Moses followed and obeyed God and in Exodus 12:41 it says they left at the end of 430 years to the very same day. (To me it was 430 years to the day from when God made the Covenant with Abraham. That is just my point of view.)  The point of being so specific caught my attention and always made me wonder why it had to be that specific day.  It made me wonder how long a generation was.  I have heard people use 20, 30, 40, 60 and 70 years.  The problem was four times any of those numbers did not work.  They had to come out in the fourth generation.  Why?  God said so and that was the end of it.  They wandered in the wilderness for forty more years and still were not in the Promised Land.  That bought the total years to 470 years when they were ready to cross the River Jordan.

        In the course of studying I read Genesis 6:3 and it says man’s days shall be one hundred and twenty years.  Bingo I had found the number.  Four times one hundred and twenty was four hundred and eighty. So they made it in the fourth generation with ten years to spare.

        Some time later I was reading in Joshua and made another interesting discovery.  Joshua said that he was forty years old when Moses sent him in to the Promised Land to search it out.  It also says in Joshua that, “having done all that the Lord gave him to do.  He died being one hundred and ten years old.”  Well if you add it all up he spent thirty years taking possession of the Promised Land from the time he entered it.  Which when you add the seventy to the 430 they finished taking possession of the land after a total of five hundred years.  Remember I mentioned that number earlier.

         Well I knew the story from Ezekiel where a judgment was past down on Israel for failing to observe the Sabbath Day.  In Ezekiel 4:5-7 he was told to lay on his side for three hundred and ninety days each day for a year against Israel and then to lay on his other side for forty days each day for a year.  Which added together equals four hundred and thirty years.  Then Israel went into captivity in Babylon for seventy years. There is starting to be a pattern here. This judgment works out to five hundred years also.

           Finally it says from the time they came out of the captivity and started rebuilding the walls in Jerusalem till the coming of the Messiah was to be four hundred and thirty years.  That was followed by the ministry Jesus and the destruction of the temple in 70AD.  It started to become clear to me that failure to follow or obey God could bring on a period of judgment. Again this came out to five hundred years.

        This would not have bothered me if I had not read in Amos how God gave all of Israel’s neighbors a fourth chance.  It was clear there were three five hundred year periods in the Old Testament.  That is when I realized that from the time Martin Luther nailed his paper on the door of the church in 1517 till Israel became a nation again was four hundred and thirty years.  Just a strange coincidence I am sure.  The interesting point is that after each four hundred thirty year period there was a period of judgment or conflict.  Jesus promised there would be great tribulation in the last days.  When you consider World War II led up to the start of the present seventy year period,  Are we in a seventy year period? What kind of turmoil are we looking at?  Jesus said it would be the greatest since man was put on the earth.

        The Bible says in Hebrews 13:8 “The Lord is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  It means he does not change and what he has done in the past he will do again.    In Malachi 4:5 which is at the very end of the Old Testament we are warned,  the Great and Dreadful day of the Lord is coming.  Peter warns us in 2nd Peter 3:8-11 that, that is the message he got also.  Are we ready?

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