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Tuesday, February 4, 2014
"A Hard Saying"
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“This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” (John 6:60). "Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for My name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved" (Matthew 10:21,22).
Many years ago I had a reference book titled "Hard Sayings Of The Bible" which dealt with the passages we find hard to understand. In our first daily text the disciples said to Jesus, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” Sometimes we may come across a Bible passage and think, “This is a hard saying; who can understand it?” Today let us examine one of those passages.
We don't suppose too many of our readers have memorized this portion of the Bible. It's one of those portions that's difficult to read let alone understand. These are words of Jesus that, speaking for myself, I tend to want to respectfully shrug off. But I do so at my own peril. Sound theology is developed as we consider not only the easy to understand, encouraging type passages but the full delivery of God's Word.
"Brother will deliver brother over to death." I have two brothers whom I love equally. One is a committed follower of Christ, the other holds a worldview practically diametrically opposed to mine though we enjoy many things in common aside from that major difference. Regardless, the notion of any of us delivering each other up to death is practically unthinkable. I hope you would feel the same way about your brothers and sisters!
"And the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death." The text gets even harder to grasp! From siblings to the parent/child relationship which most of us would agree, along with marriage, is the most sacred of human relationships. It's practically hard to imagine. I had a loving Mom and Dad, both now deceased and of course we love our daughter deeply. It's hard to imagine any child rising up against their parents having them put to death. We live in a time where we occasionally read or hear of this horrible scenario played out and it leaves us grieved beyond words.
"...And you will be hated by all for my name's sake." This prophetical forewarning is increasingly plausible. Christians are increasingly hated and maligned just for holding to the Biblical position on issues like marriage and the sanctity of life. As the great apostasy of our age continues to spread I believe this hatred will increase. Of course all through the church age, and even now in many regions, our brethren are hated. Elsewhere Jesus said, “Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!" (Luke 6:22). That's not usually the way we describe one who is getting a blessing from God, is it?
In this section (Matthew 10) Jesus is speaking of the future persecution the disciples would face. That is future from the time He made the statement. I know there has been much brutality throughout history since this statement was made, beginning in the apostolic age. But I believe there is still a future aspect to this.
In a passage from the Mount Of Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24) Jesus speaks of conditions in the last days. He states, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved" (9-13).
As difficult as they may be let me take a shot at a noncomprehensive interpretation of these passages based upon the texts along with the balance of Scripture. In the Olivet Discourse Jesus speaks of the deception of false prophets and how lawlessness will increase. I see this accounting for the awful description of brother against brother and children against parents.
2 Thessalonians 2 also references this lawlessness and deception and concerns a future time called the great apostasy (falling away). As I consider the conditions of our time it seems to me there are many signs that we are approaching that age. Especially intriguing is this passage, "The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (9-12).
Will this strong delusion lead to conditions where "Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name's sake."? Of course only God knows but regardless of the specifics let us hear the words of our Lord uttered twice in passages we have examined today and make a firm, unwavering resolve to endure to the end, "But the one who endures to the end will be saved."
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, we confess that there are many teachings of the Bible that are difficult to understand and challenging to implement. Yet we honor Your inspired Holy Word and hold it up as the standard for our pilgrimage here below. As lawlessness and ungodliness continue to plague our world we recognize all the more that You are like a shield for all who seek Your protection. There are instances where we may be called to take a stand for righteousness that requires us to make hard decisions, even that of choosing our relationship with You over our comfortable standing with our family or friends. We love You with all our heart, soul, mind and strength. May our choices reflect that proclamation as we are counted among those who endure to the very end. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
We had about seven inches of snow yesterday ending in the late afternoon. Due to the depth of snow in our driveway we were essentially snowbound even though the road was cleared.
Last night our farmer neighbor Leon, came over with his huge snow blower to clear out our drive after the heavy snow.
The blower is behind the tractor.
We were blessed by Leon's kindness and shared coconut cake with his family! It was one of Brooksyne's best. Bakers may want to check out the recipe posted in yesterday's message.
The powerful blades in the blower direct the snow to a huge fan that blows the snow out.
We were out early this morning on chaplain visitation and have some nice photos we will share tomorrow. This afternoon we plan to take a walk along our favorite trail. But... another storm is in the forecast for this evening!
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
Yesterday Brooksyne came across some interesting music by David Wesley, "a self-producing artist creating multi-track magic in my basement to share the gospel and have a little fun on the side."
"How Deep The Father's Love For Us" Video
"Speak, O Lord" Video
"Whom Shall I Fear" Video
"Hard Sayings Of The Bible" Walter Kaiser
Stephen and Brooksyne Weber
(Click on photo to enlarge)
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