“Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; He is utterly cut off.” (Nahum 1:15, NKJV)
Using language similar to an earlier prophet (Isaiah), Nahum announces the joy of Judah upon hearing the news of Nineveh’s overthrow. He pictures a messenger traversing the mountains to bring good news that the wicked enemy had been defeated and would no longer plague them. As the messenger proclaims peace, Judah is called to worship Jehovah free of the enemy’s oppression. Isaiah used these words to declare the coming of the Messiah (Isaiah 40:9; 52:7). In Romans 1:15 the apostle Paul used this figure to describe preaching the gospel. Like Isaiah and Nahum, the gospel contains both the message of salvation in Jesus Christ and the defeat of our enemies. Like the proclamation of Nineveh’s defeat, the gospel of Christ proclaims peace with God because our enemies, sin and death, are defeated (John 12:31-33). It is by preaching this good news that sinners hear, believe and call on the Lord for salvation (Romans 10:13-15; 1 Corinthians 1:21; Acts 2:36-41). With the oppression of sin removed in Christ, we now serve Him with the joy of salvation (Philippians 4:4-9).
13 And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. (Luke 18:13–14, NKJV)
The depth of our sins magnifies the depth of God’s mercy. The Pharisee in this parable depicts “some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others” (Luke 18:9). The Pharisee justified himself in comparison to others. He considered himself to be superior spiritually – “not like other men” (Luke 18:11-12). When we cannot see our own sins we are unable to show compassion to others, much less receive God’s merciful forgiveness for our sins. God is ready, willing and able to show us mercy when we, in anguish over our sins, turn to Him for relief (Psalm 51:17). The tax collector was crushed over his sin. Even so today, a sinner who is “cut to the heart” over his sins receives God’s mercy when he repents and is baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). The contrite heart turns to God for compassionate forgiveness and receives it. It is precisely when we understand our own need for mercy that we are able to show mercy to others. The merciful do not elevate themselves above others, for they know their own need for mercy. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy” (Matthew 5:7). The self-righteous do not give or receive mercy.
33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus wept. (John 11:33–35, NKJV)
The tender affection of Jesus is seen as He shares in the grief of Mary, Martha, and others who attended these sorrowful sisters. Jesus loved this family with warm affection (phileo, John 11:3, 36) and with active goodwill (agapao, John 11:5). By the time Jesus arrived Lazarus had died four days earlier. Jesus predicted his death would be a great occasion for God’s glory to be seen and for the Son of God to be honored (John 11:4, 14). Soon, Jesus would raise Lazarus from the dead in a powerful display that He is the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26, 38-44). So, why did Jesus weep? Because He cares when we hurt. He comforts us in ways only the Son of God can (Hebrews 2:17-18; 4:15-16). By doing so, He shows us how to weep with those who weep (Romans 12:15). Jesus also weeps over our sins and its effects (Genesis 2:16-17; Romans 6:23). Our sin grieves Jesus (Genesis 6:5-6; Mark 3:5). Jesus weeps when people refuse His word and bring upon themselves divine judgment (Luke 19:41-44). Far from taking pleasure in the death of the wicked, the Son of God seeks to save the lost (Ezekiel 18:31-32; Matthew 18:11-14). Instead of bringing tears to the eyes of the Savior, may we repent and do God’s will, bringing joy to heaven (Luke 15:7).
4 Keep me, O Lord, from the hands of the wicked; Preserve me from violent men, who have purposed to make my steps stumble. 5 The proud have hidden a snare for me, and cords; They have spread a net by the wayside; They have set traps for me. Selah (Psalm 140:4–5, NKJV)
David had enemies. They devised wicked plans against him, strengthening themselves together to assault him. They spoke lies against him in their attempts to overthrow him (Psalm 140:1-3). Rather than despair and lose hope when evil people lay traps and snares against us, like David we must set our hope on the Lord to deliver us and preserve us (verse 4). The Lord sees the hidden snares of the proud, so remain humble and set your heart on trusting Him fully (verse 5). Do not try to vindicate yourself (Romans 12:17-20). Your spiritual safety and preservation come from the Lord, not from “fighting fire with fire.” Christ challenges you not to be “overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). That is the course David chose, and the Lord delivered him (Psalm 22:19-21). The Lord still preserves those whose minds are set on Him (Isaiah 26:3; Romans 8:31-39; Hebrews 13:5-6).
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:21–23, NKJV)
Calling Jesus your Lord and Savior is not sufficient to assure your entrance into heaven (v. 21). Saying “Lord, Lord” but not doing what Jesus says does not please Him (Luke 6:46). We must do the Father’s will to enter heaven. This teaches us faith alone is not acceptable to Jesus. Well-intended religious activities are not sufficient to insure entrance into heaven, either (v. 22). Declaring to act in the name of Jesus does not make it so. Verse 23 explains that even well-meaning actions that are not approved in the word of God, are lawless (without law, not sanctioned by God’s law), and therefore, rejected. When religious practices are not revealed in the word of God they are lawless (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 1 John 3:4). Heaven is for those who are doers of the word. So, do the will of God and do not rest your hope of heaven on well-intended practices that are not approved by God’s word.
16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. 17 If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. 18 But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.” (Daniel 3:16–18, NKJV)
King Nebuchadnezzar had elevated these three young Jews to positions of authority in the province of Babylon (Daniel 2:49). But, the king’s favor did not shield their faith from being tested. When the king built a huge image of gold and commanded all to fall down and worship before it (or face execution in the fiery furnace), they refused to compromise their faith (Daniel 3:1-15). You see, their faith was already settled. Threats to their positions or to their lives deterred their faithfulness to the true God, even after being given a second chance to comply with the king’s command. They trusted God to deliver them, whether by life or by death (which He certainly did, Daniel 3:19-30). What is our take away from their incredible faith and deliverance? We must decide our course of action before our faith is tested. Like them, we must not hesitate. We must not waver. If that cannot be said of your faith during your hour of trial, then decide now to be steadfast and immovable in your faith (1 Corinthians 15:58). By doing so, when your faith is tested you will prevail victorious in Christ (1 John 5:4).
1 My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. 2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world. (1 John 2:1–2, NKJV)
When we say “we have no sin” at least three things happen: We deceive ourselves, the truth is not in us, and we make God a liar (1 John 1:8-10). The fact is we have all chosen to sin (“all have sinned”). We were not born sinners. We do not have a sin nature that forces us to sin. Sin is a choice we make (1 John 3:4; Romans 7:7-11). Although we have sinned, God’s will is that we “may not sin” (1 John 2:1). God wants us to sin less and less. To deny sin’s reality is a lie. When we confess our sins, we are assured of forgiveness and cleansing because we have “an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous” (1 John 1:9; 2:1). As our Advocate He pleads our case before the Father. As the propitiation for our sins, His blood is offered to God as the sacrifice that appeases divine wrath against our sins. Jesus is our Advocate and the propitiation for our sins, not so we can ignore our sins, excuse our sins, deny our sins or continue practicing sin. He is these things so we will confess our sins and practice the truth rather than walk in the darkness of sin (1 John 1:6-9). “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12).
17 Then it happened, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said to him, “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” 18 And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, in that you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and have followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:17–18, NKJV)
With the influence of his evil wife Jezebel, king Ahab advanced Baal worship in Israel (1 Kings 16:29-33). God sent a drought upon the land for over three years to show His great displeasure (1 Kings 17:1; James 5:17). Ahab blamed God’s prophet Elijah for the trouble, but it was Ahab and his house who had forsaken God’s commands and led the nation into deeper sin. Ahab was the real troubler of Israel. Here is a clear lesson concerning culpability when distress, trials, trouble, and division occurs among Christians. God says the troubler of His people are those who forsake His commandments and follow false ways. Yet, like Ahab, those who “hold fast the pattern of sound words” against the religious innovations borne of human desire and design are still (incorrectly) charged with being troublemakers (2 Timothy 1:13). No, we become troublers of Israel when we go beyond the doctrine of Christ and teach false, misleading things (2 John 9; Acts 20:29-30). False gods and false doctrines still plague the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16-17). Let us never be a modern-day Ahab who defends error while condemning truth and those who uphold it.
29 “We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” (John 9:29–33, NKJV)
The blind man healed by Jesus exposed the insincerity and hypocrisy of the Pharisees who refused to accept the incontrovertible evidence that Jesus is from God. The man was proof enough that it was so. He had concluded Jesus was sent from God because of the miracle he received. He drew a necessary inference that God heard Jesus and worked this miracle by Him. Those who reject necessary inferences as a way to establish the binding authority of God from the Scriptures should revisit this text and admit that necessary inferences are indeed a God-approved way of teaching truth. This man used one to teach unbelievers. He was cast out of the synagogue for it, he was received by Jesus (John 9:34-39). If one rejects necessary inferences as binding today, then he must also reject the blind man’s conclusion about Jesus as worthless. Do you stand with him, or with the Pharisees?
So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” (John 8:7, NKJV)
They had brought a woman to Jesus who was caught in the act of adultery (John 8:4). Desiring to accuse Jesus of wrong, His enemies tested Him by asking if He agreed with the Law of Moses that the woman should be stoned (John 8:5-6). If Jesus agreed with Moses, they could accuse Him to the Romans. If Jesus disagreed with Moses, they would accuse Him to the Jewish council. What they failed to remember is that Moses charged the witnesses of a death penalty offense to be the first ones to cast the stones (Deuteronomy 17:6-7). That is why Jesus replied as He did. He was not saying it is wrong to judge sin. He was exposing the hypocrisy of those who brought the woman to him (yet for some reason had not also brought the man with whom she was caught “in the very act” of adultery). Jesus was not a witness to her sin. When those who claimed to be witnesses departed, He had no legal ground to condemn her (John 8:9-11). But, He told her to “go and sin no more” (John 8:11). Jesus knew her sin and commanded her to stop sinning. Are you willing to let Jesus tell you to “go and sin no more?” Or, will you condemn Him for telling you that your conduct is sin?