19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said. (John 1:19–23, NKJV)
We must know who we are. Christians are the children of God, disciples of Jesus, and servants of righteousness (1 Jno. 3:1-3; Acts 11:26; Rom. 6:17-18). John knew who he was. Being repeatedly asked, “Who are you?” John quoted Isaiah 40:3, declaring himself to be the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. John was not the Christ; he announced the Christ to Israel (Jno. 1:29-34; 3:28). John was not Elijah. He came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and called on Israel to repent (“to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just”) “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:16-17). Jesus identified John as Malachi’s prophesied Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-12). John was not “the Prophet” predicted by Moses (Deut. 18:18-19). He would decrease as Jesus increased and spoke the words of God (Jno. 3:30-34). John knew who he was. He fulfilled his God-given work. Do you know who you are? If so, then use today to do the work God has given you (Rom. 12:3-8).
37 ‘For I will cause Elam to be dismayed before their enemies and before those who seek their life. I will bring disaster upon them, My fierce anger,’ says the Lord; ‘And I will send the sword after them until I have consumed them. 38 I will set My throne in Elam, and will destroy from there the king and the princes,’ says the Lord. 39 ‘But it shall come to pass in the latter days: I will bring back the captives of Elam,’ says the Lord. (Jeremiah 49:37–39, NKJV)
Jeremiah pronounced God’s judgment against Elam, one of several denunciations from God’s prophet of the idolatrous, oppressive nations surrounding Israel (Jer. 46-51). God’s judgment was executed against Elam as the Medes and Persians enveloped it. But, God had additional plans for the region of the lower Tigris River. In the “latter days,” God would grant deliverance to “the captives of Elam,” but not from the conquerors who consumed their territory. God would bring them salvation from the tyranny of sin through Christ Jesus. Notably, Elamites were present on Pentecost when the apostles preached the good news of salvation in Jesus, who is “both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:9-11, 34-36). The “latter days” of Jeremiah’s prophecy had begun, and the gospel was freeing souls from sin, including its “captives of Elam” (Acts 2:16-17, 21, 37-41). God established His throne in Elam, not with an earthly rule of Jesus on a throne in Jerusalem, but by the gospel. Christ, the king, reigns in righteousness over His kingdom in people’s hearts (Lk. 17:20-21; Heb. 1:8). The gospel of Christ will free you from sin’s bondage, too (Rom. 1:16-17). Are you ready to be truly free (Jno. 8:31-32, 36)? If so, believe and obey Jesus like the Elamites on Pentecost.
5 “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. 6 In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5–6, NKJV)
Jeremiah wrote spoke prophetically of Jesus Christ the King. He is the “Branch of righteousness” raised up by Yahweh to reign, to execute justice and righteousness, to bring salvation and safety to the people of God. Jeremiah’s predecessors, Isaiah and Micah, spoke of His coming reign of justice and righteousness (Isa. 2:2-4; 11:1-5; Micah 4:1-8). Jeremiah’s contemporary, Ezekiel, anticipated a shepherd prince who would feed God’s sheep and God would make a covenant of peace with them to dwell safely and receive “showers of blessing” from the Lord (Ezek. 34:24-28). Later, Zechariah reassured Jerusalem their king would come with salvation, riding on the foal of a donkey and speaking peace to the nations (Zech. 9:9-10; Matt. 21:1-10). God has delivered what He promised. The righteous Branch of David has come bringing salvation from sin, peace with God, and showers of blessings as the sheep of His flock (Acts 4:12; Rom. 5:1; Eph. 1:3; Jno. 10:15-16, 26-29). Do not be misled into looking for a future return of Jesus to reign as king on the earth. The King is on David’s throne now, reigning at the right hand of God (Acts 2:29-36; Heb. 1:8-13). Jeremiah said, “the days are coming,” and those days have arrived. Christ’s kingdom is His church (Acts 2:44; Mk. 1:14-15; 9:1; Matt. 16:18-19). Praise God for His great redemptive plan and the eternal spiritual blessings available to us all in His Son!
1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? 2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. (Isaiah 53:1–2, NKJV)
No doubt, many are drawn to others based on their physical features. Yet, we can fairly say that Jesus Christ was not particularly handsome. He had “no form or comeliness…no beauty that we should desire Him.” Unlike Saul, who was tall and handsome, God’s Anointed did not draw people to Himself because of his outward appearance (1 Sam. 9:1-2; 10:23-24). Christ does not gather a following like Absalom, who “stole the hearts of the men of Israel” with false humility and flattery (2 Sam. 15:5-6). It was David, a man after God’s own heart, who typified God’s suffering servant (1 Sam. 13:14; Psa. 89:3-4). God looks on the heart, not physical appearance (1 Sam. 16:7). So, what draws your attention to Christ and the gospel? Is it a large church building full of wealthy people? Maybe it is cathedrals or temples built by human hands. Maybe it is the social program of the church. Furthermore, what are Christians using to draw people to Christ? It must always be the gospel, not things that appeal to the pride of the flesh. The Father draws sinners to Christ and salvation by hearing and learning His word, and so must we (Jno. 6:44-45).
18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” (Luke 4:18–19, NKJV)
We are bombarded with bad news every day. Threats, corruption, wars, diseases, intrigue, and death; these are the daily headlines. Today’s citation was first given by the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 61:1-2). Jesus read it in a synagogue in Nazareth and said, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Lk. 4:21). Jesus came announcing good news. He was anointed by God to preach the gospel and, by it, to proclaim the healing of hearts and liberty from sin’s captivity. His gospel assures the poor in spirit of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 5:3). To blinded hearts, it gives sight (Jno. 9:35-41). His gospel proclaims freedom from sin’s oppression to all who believe and obey (Rom. 6:17-18). The gospel of Christ declares the presence of God’s favor and grace (“the acceptable year of the Lord”). God’s grace has appeared to everyone in Christ, offering forgiveness of sins and fellowship with the Almighty as it produces faith (Tit. 2:11-12; Rom. 10:17; Eph. 1:13). Do not be overwhelmed by all the bad news around us. Listen to the good news of Christ. It will save your soul and lift your heart heavenward every day.
“How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12, NKJV)
Satan is not given the name “Lucifer” in the Bible. The word is a Latinized translation of Hebrew that means “day star,” “bright one,” or “light-bearer.” The “son of the morning” in Isaiah 14 is undeniably the king of Babylon (Isa. 14:4). Isaiah 14:3-23 is an oracle of judgment against Babylon’s king. Although his oppressive conquests exalted him over many nations, the Lord God of Israel would extinguish his brightness. He who cut down nations would be “cut down to the ground.” God would bring down the king (who had exalted his heart and his throne “above the stars of God”) “to the lowest depths of the Pit” (Isa. 14:13-15). This “man” (the king of Babylon) was a waning luminary, soon to be snuffed out by God’s righteous judgment (Isa. 14:16-17). God used the Medes to do just that (Isa. 13:17; Jer. 51:11-14, 28-29; Dan. 5:30-31). Our lessons include these: 1) God rules over and judges the nations (Dan. 4:25-26, 35; Acts 17:26); 2) No one can exalt himself above God without incurring wrath (Isa. 14:14-15; Rom. 1:18-23); 3) Do not add to the Scriptures things are not there. The king of Babylon is Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12, not Satan. 4) Christ overthrows Satan (Lk. 10:18; Jno. 12:31; 1 Jno. 3:8). Why choose to be ruled by Satan, a defeated foe? “Therefore, submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you” (Jas. 4:7).
3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, let us make here three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (Matthew 17:3–5, NKJV)
The Word (Christ) did not cling to the “form of God” when He became flesh (Phil. 2:5-7). That is, He emptied Himself of the glorious appearance of deity He shared with the Father “before the world was” (Jno. 17:5; Jno. 1:1, 14). Without divesting Himself of His Godhood, He took the “form of a bondservant” and became human (Phil. 2:7). His humility reached its zenith when He obediently died on the cross (Phil. 2:8). On the mountain, when Jesus was transfigured, Peter, James, and John saw a glimpse of His glory and heard the Father’s confirmation of His Sonship (Matt. 17:1-2; Lk. 9:32; 2 Pet. 1:16-17). Jesus is superior to the Law (Moses) and the prophets (Elijah). Therefore, we must hear the Son in everything He teaches (Acts 3:22-23). That means we go to His New Testament to inform and activate our faith, not to the Old Testament law and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2). We listen to the Son by hearing and accepting His apostles’ teachings (Jno. 13:20; Matt. 28:19-20). Are you listening to the Son of God?
22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:22–23, NKJV)
Christ came for the whole world (Jews and Gentiles). The apostles of Jesus testified what Moses and the prophets said would occur concerning the Christ was fulfilled in Jesus. Paul takes note of some primary things Moses and the prophets said about the Christ: 1) He would suffer (read Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53). Peter said of Jesus, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit” (1 Pet. 3:18). 2) He would rise from the dead (read Psalm 16:8-11). The resurrection of Jesus fulfilled this psalm (Acts 2:29-31). Jesus was the first – the beginning of the resurrection of all the dead (1 Cor. 15:20-22). 3) He would proclaim light to Jews and Gentiles (read Isaiah 42:1-7; 49:6). Through His gospel, Jesus lights the way of salvation for every soul on earth (Matt. 28:19; Acts 10:34-35). God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to suffer death for our sins, to be raised to exaltation for our salvation, and to light our way to eternal glory.
18 Therefore they left the house of the Lord God of their fathers, and served wooden images and idols; and wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem because of their trespass. 19 Yet He sent prophets to them, to bring them back to the Lord; and they testified against them, but they would not listen. (2 Chronicles 24:18–19, NKJV)
At first, Joash, the king of Judah, “did what was right in the sight of the Lord” (2 Chron. 24:2). Yet later, he listened to the leaders of Judah and fell away from the Lord (2 Chron. 24:15-17). Listening to the counsel of men rather than the prophets of God, Joash and Judah turned back to idol worship. Led by the king, they even killed the prophet, Zechariah, in the court of the temple, because he rebuked their sins (2 Chron. 24:20-21; Jesus referred to this in Matt. 23:34-36). Indeed, the prophets of God were “an example of suffering and patience” (Jas. 5:10). Now, God speaks to us “by His Son” through His apostles and prophets (Heb. 1:1-2; 2 Pet. 3:1-2). The choice between listening to the will of men or to the word of God remains. Shall we join with those who cried, “Crucify Him!” and reject His word, or shall we stand with “the apostles of the Lord and Savior” who spoke Christ’s truth (2 Pet. 3:2)? Will you listen to the Lord or men? That depends on whether you want to fulfill the will of God or the devil (Jno. 8:43-44).
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16, NKJV)
The word of Christ is not merely the word about Christ, but the word that belongs to Christ. It is the message of the cross, the word of truth, and the gospel of our salvation (1 Cor. 1:18; Eph. 1:13). We are called to let His word be at home in us, not as an infrequent guest, but as a constant resident. With the word of God abiding in us, we can overcome the wicked one (1 Jno. 2:14). But, Christ’s word must dwell in us richly along with “all wisdom.” Doing so equips us to “walk worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:9-10). We must do more than know the word of Christ. We must use His word correctly and wisely. With the word of Christ and wisdom combined in our hearts, we can teach and warn one other with the music of praise Christ approves. Singing songs of praise reveals our thankful hearts while also teaching God’s word to each other. We do not need to add another kind of music (instrumental) to accomplish the teaching and admonition singing achieves. Indeed, the word of Christ does not teach us to add playing music to singing music as a form of worship. Adding instrumental music to our singing worship adds another kind of music to what the word of Christ says. Doing so does not “let the word of Christ dwell in us richly in all wisdom.” When we add to the word of Christ, we act foolishly.