“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple for sacrifices.
13 “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. 16 I have chosen and consecrated this temple so that my Name may be there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
17 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully as David your father did, and do all I command, and observe my decrees and laws, 18 I will establish your royal throne, as I covenanted with David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to rule over Israel.’
19 “But if you[a] turn away and forsake the decrees and commands I have given you[b] and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 20 then I will uproot Israel from my land, which I have given them, and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. I will make it a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples.
21 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All[c] who pass by will be appalled and say, ‘Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 22 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why he brought all this disaster on them.’”
Promises and Consequences(NOTES)
25:1-8 New International Version
25 So in the
ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month,
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army.
He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it. 2 The city
was kept under siege until the eleventh year of King Zedekiah.
3 By the
ninth day of the fourth[a] month the famine in the city had become so severe
that there was no food for the people to eat. 4 Then the city wall was broken
through, and the whole army fled at night through the gate between the two
walls near the king’s garden, though the Babylonians[b] were surrounding the
city. They fled toward the Arabah,[c] 5 but the Babylonian[d] army pursued the king
and overtook him in the plains of Jericho. All his soldiers were separated from
him and scattered, 6 and he was captured.
He was taken
to the king of Babylon at Riblah, where sentence was pronounced on him. 7 They
killed the sons of Zedekiah before his eyes. Then they put out his eyes, bound
him with bronze shackles and took him to Babylon.
8 On the
seventh day of the fifth month, in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar king
of Babylon, Nebuzaradan commander of the imperial guard, an official of the
king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem.
2 Chronicles 36:11-14 New International Version
King of Judah
was twenty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem
eleven years. 12 He did evil in the eyes of the Lord his God and did not humble
himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke the word of the Lord. 13 He also
rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him take an oath in God’s
name. He became stiff-necked and hardened his heart and would not turn to the Lord,
the God of Israel. 14 Furthermore, all the leaders of the priests and the
people became more and more unfaithful, following all the detestable practices
of the nations and defiling the temple of the Lord, which he had consecrated in
2 Chronicles 1:3-13 New International Version
Solomon and the whole assembly went to the high place at Gibeon, for God’s tent
of meeting was there, which Moses the Lord’s servant had made in the
wilderness. 4 Now David had brought up the ark of God from Kiriath Jearim to
the place he had prepared for it, because he had pitched a tent for it in
Jerusalem. 5 But the bronze altar that Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, had
made was in Gibeon in front of the tabernacle of the Lord; so Solomon and the
assembly inquired of him there. 6 Solomon went up to the bronze altar before
the Lord in the tent of meeting and offered a thousand burnt offerings on it.
7 That night
God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give
8 Solomon answered
God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in
his place. 9 Now, Lord God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed,
for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the
earth. 10 Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is
able to govern this great people of yours?”
11 God said
to Solomon, “Since this is your heart’s desire and you have not asked for
wealth, possessions or honor, nor for the death of your enemies, and since you
have not asked for a long life but for wisdom and knowledge to govern my people
over whom I have made you king, 12 therefore wisdom and knowledge will be given
you. And I will also give you wealth, possessions and honor, such as no king
who was before you ever had and none after you will have.”
Solomon went to Jerusalem from the high place at Gibeon, from before the tent
of meeting. And he reigned over Israel.
Chronicles 7:1-10 New International Version
Dedication of the Temple
Solomon finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt
offering and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple. 2 The
priests could not enter the temple of the Lord because the glory of the Lord
filled it. 3 When all the Israelites saw the fire coming down and the glory of
the Lord above the temple, they knelt on the pavement with their faces to the
ground, and they worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord, saying,
“He is good;
his love endures forever.”
4 Then the
king and all the people offered sacrifices before the Lord. 5 And King Solomon
offered a sacrifice of twenty-two thousand head of cattle and a hundred and
twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the people dedicated the temple
of God. 6 The priests took their positions, as did the Levites with the Lord’s
musical instruments, which King David had made for praising the Lord and which
were used when he gave thanks, saying, “His love endures forever.” Opposite the
Levites, the priests blew their trumpets, and all the Israelites were standing.
consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the
Lord, and there he offered burnt offerings and the fat of the fellowship
offerings, because the bronze altar he had made could not hold the burnt
offerings, the grain offerings and the fat portions.
8 So Solomon
observed the festival at that time for seven days, and all Israel with him—a
vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. 9 On the eighth
day they held an assembly, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar
for seven days and the festival for seven days more. 10 On the twenty-third day
of the seventh month he sent the people to their homes, joyful and glad in
heart for the good things the Lord had done for David and Solomon and for his
46 And Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. 51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. 52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. 53 He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. 54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful 55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
Open To Being Chosen(NOTES)
Corinthians 4:6 New International Version
brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for
your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not
go beyond what is written.” Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower
of one of us over against the other.
2:1-10 New International Version
Hannah prayed and said:
rejoices in the Lord;
in the Lord my horn[a] is lifted high.
boasts over my enemies,
for I delight in your deliverance.
2 “There is
no one holy like the Lord;
there is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
3 “Do not
keep talking so proudly
or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord
is a God who knows,
and by him deeds are weighed.
4 “The bows
of the warriors are broken,
but those who stumbled are armed with
5 Those who
were full hire themselves out for food,
but those who were hungry are hungry no
She who was
barren has borne seven children,
but she who has had many sons pines away.
6 “The Lord
brings death and makes alive;
he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The Lord
sends poverty and wealth;
he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises
the poor from the dust
and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
them with princes
and has them inherit a throne of honor.
foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
on them he has set the world.
9 He will
guard the feet of his faithful servants,
but the wicked will be silenced in the
place of darkness.
“It is not
by strength that one prevails;
10 those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
High will thunder from heaven;
the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
New International Version
48 for he
has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on
all generations will call me blessed,
New International Version
49 for the Mighty One has done great things
By Radha Menon – Written by David Blaski …such a powerful message
There are many traditions associated with Christmas in our country, among the most beloved began in 1965 which is called, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. Everyone’s “lovable loser”, Charlie Brown was reportedly born in 1946 by his creator, Charles Schultz.
Although more acquainted with losing than winning, the beloved cartoon character is the ultimate everyman’s survivor. However, 3 years before his “birth” there was another Charlie Brown, one full of fear and angst as he struggled in the days before Christmas in 1943.
On December 20th 1943, 20-year-old Lt Charlie Brown still clung to the controls and the last vestiges of hope as the pilot of a heavily battle-damaged B-17 struggling to get back to England following an allied bombing raid over Bremen, Germany.
The lone Allied bomber was a sitting duck. Holed all over by flak and bullets and down to a single good engine, it struggled simply to stay in the air over Germany, let alone make it the 300 miles back to England.
With the tail gunner dead and most of the crew either wounded or in shock, Lt Charlie Brown clung to the controls despite a 200 mph gale of wind through the fuselage, resulting from the plane’s nose section being blown off. The severely crippled B-17 was now flying barely above its stalling speed about 2000 feet above the ground.
It would have been common sense for Lt Brown to order his crew to bail out and risk becoming POW’s for the rest of the war. But that would mean leaving an unconscious man behind to die alone, and Lt. Charlie Brown refused to do that.
In the distance, agonizingly close, Lt. Brown felt a glimmer of hope as he approached the German coastline, and ahead of that the North Sea and open skies back to England. That was until he saw the glimmer behind them of a fast-moving speck, a lone German Me109 closing in, piloted by Lt Franz Stigler, a Luftwaffe ace who needed one more kill to reach the 30 that would qualify him for a Knight’s Cross, the second highest of Germany’s Iron Cross awards for bravery.
As Stigler came up behind the bomber he could not believe its condition. How was it still flying? And why was there no gunfire from the stricken plane to try to ward him off. That was explained as, inching closer, he saw the slumped body of the rear gunner.
Veering alongside, he could see the other guns were out of action too, the radio room had been blown apart and the nose had gone. Even more startlingly, through the lattice work of bullet holes, he glimpsed members of the crew, huddled together, helping their wounded. As he realized how easy the situation would be for him to pull the trigger of his wing guns and return a hero, he saw the Americans ashen faces, their fear and their courage and his finger eased from the trigger.
The experienced fighter pilot realized he just couldn’t do it because of the words of a much admired officer of the old school, who told him on his first day of combat, ‘You shoot at a machine, not a man. You score “victories”, not “kills”. His mentor will also go on to say, “A man may be tempted to fight dirty to survive, but honor is everything.
You follow the rules of war for you, not for your enemy. You fight by rules to keep your humanity. So you never shoot your enemy if he is floating down on a parachute. If I ever see you doing that, I will shoot you down myself.” Although a message which didn’t seem to chime with the ruthless savagery of Nazi mentality under Hitler’s Third Reich, it did chime with Lt. Stigler, who had never bought into Nazi philosophy or joined the party. He prided himself in fighting by this code.
His Knight’s Cross could go hang. ‘I will not have this on my conscience for the rest of my life,’ he muttered to himself. To the stunned and anxious looks of Lt. Charlie Brown and his surviving crew, Stigler positioned his Messerschmidt just above the mortally crippled B-17’s right wing tip, matching its speed as if flying in formation.
At first, Lt. Brown and crew thought the Luftwaffe pilot was playing a cruel game with them. To their amazement, they saw the German waving frantically, mouthing words, making gestures. What was he trying to say? In his cockpit, Stigler was struggling with a dilemma. He was not content just to ease back and let the bomber escape. He was now determined to save it and the men on board.
Stigler tried to get the American pilot to head eastwards to neutral Sweden, a 30-minute flight away, crash-land there and spend the rest of the war as internees but alive. But any words were lost in the roar of the bomber’s faltering engines, while in its front seat; Brown clung doggedly to the control column and pushed on. Lt. Stigler now realized that to help the crew, he would have to risk his own life.
As the two planes approached the German anti-aircraft batteries on the coast, Stigler gambled that if the flak gunners down on the ground spotted his Messerschmidt side by side with the enemy bomber, they would hold fire. He held his course, prepared to risk being shot down himself. The ploy worked. Not a shot was fired from the ground.
But Stigler knew he now faced a different danger. There were witnesses to his actions. If word got back that he had helped an enemy bomber to escape, he would face arrest by the Gestapo, a court martial and a firing squad for treason. To make matters worse, if he escorted the plane to the English coast, he might himself be shot down by the allies.
The decision for Stigler would finally me made by Lt. Charlie Brown, he and his crew were still confused by the strange actions of the Luftwaffe pilot and finally order one of his gunners to target the Messerschmidt. As the barrels turned in his direction, Stigler got the message. He had done all he could. He gave one last look, mouthed ‘Good luck’, saluted the Americans and peeled away.
It was only then, to their collective astonishment that Lt. Brown and his men now understood the act of modern chivalry shown to them by this unknown German pilot. For Lt. Franz Stigler, Incredibly his risk had paid off and there was neither a Gestapo welcoming committee nor report of the incident.
However, Stigler would find himself after the incident becoming increasingly disillusioned by what his country had turned into under Hitler, Stigler had lost any desire for the Knight’s Cross, so, though he was constantly in battle and flew close to 500 combat missions, he simply failed to register his “victories” and claim what he now saw as a worthless piece of metal.
As they made the English coast Lt. Charlie Brown’s wounded B-17 was met and escorted back by their fellow airmen in American P-47 fighters, cheering and urging them on all the way. Charlie Brown and his men made it back that day to a hero’s welcome, on a wing and a prayer. To Lt. Charlie Brown, the real hero of the mission was that unknown Luftwaffe pilot. And that was what he told the intelligence officer who de-briefed him on the mission. He and his men owed their lives to a good German.
However, allied intelligence would order Lt. Charlie Brown and his surviving crew to secrecy and classify the details of the mission for fear it would inspire fellow-allied pilots to do the same and risk their own lives. For more than 40 years, Lt. Brown kept the secret but he never forgot.
Then, in 1985, and retired to Florida, he blurted the story out at a veterans’ reunion. He told his fellow veterans that although he never found out who that German pilot was, he was now determined to finally find out who he was. In 1990, Franz Stigler was living in Vancouver, BC when he opened his regular association newsletter, and could not believe his eyes as he read his story and the unknown American pilot he helped that day.
The two men, once enemies were finally reunited. From then on the two men traveled together to take their unique story to veterans’ clubs and air museums. As author Adam Makos would write about them. “Their message was simple: enemies are better off as friends”. Ironically, both men would both die within months of each other in 2008, perhaps as a final escort and salute in death as to how they met in life that Christmas week in the skies of 1943.
In the classic holiday cartoon, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”, Charlie Brown finds himself depressed and dismayed by the commercialism, complaints, and indifference of others towards the holiday of Christmas. Charlie is then encouraged by Lucy to help put on a Christmas play, In order to set “the proper mood” he goes out and finds a Christmas tree for the school play.
When he gets to the lot, filled with numerous trees fitting Lucy’s description, Charlie Brown ironically and symbolically chooses the only real tree there, a weak, tiny sapling. Charlie Brown is convinced that all it needs is some decoration and it will be just right. However, his friends laugh at him for his choice of the pathetic little tree, Charlie Brown finally cries out to ask if anyone knows what Christmas is all about.
It is his friend Linus, who drops his ever present security blanket and recites from the Bible, Luke chapter 2:8-14 which ends with the verse; “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace and goodwill towards men.” Linus then walks back over to Charlie Brown and gently says, “That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.”
Charlie Brown quietly picks up the tree and walks out of the auditorium toward home. He takes a large ornament from Snoopy’s doghouse and hangs it at the top of his tree, but the branch, seemingly unable to hold the ornament’s weight, promptly droops to the ground. Believing he has killed the tree, Charlie Brown walks off in shame, believing he has ruined everything.
Linus and the others, who realized they were too hard on Charlie Brown, quietly followed him to Snoopy’s doghouse. Linus admits he always liked the tree while gently propping the drooping branch back in its upright position and wraps his blanket around its base, and when the others add the remaining decorations from Snoopy’s doghouse to the tree, Lucy agrees. Charlie Brown returns, surprised at the redecorated tree which now miraculously has new life, and the gang all joyously shout “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown!”
The holiday of Christmas is a commemoration of the gift of God’s redemption for mankind. It’s about His hand reaching down to us when our hearts were far from Him. It’s about finding humanity in the face of inhumanity, about a frightened pilot who won’t abandon one life to death to save others and another who refuses to obtain a “prize” dropped in his lap because the price of his conscience and soul was too great.
It’s about the crippled aircraft that found a wing of protection under the shadow of an enemy’s mercy. It can even be found in the belief of one “lovable loser” that a small, pathetic tree could have beauty and meaning that no one else saw if others just gave some into it. Like the lyrics to the famous song;“Oh why can’t every day be like Christmas?Why can’t that feeling go on endlesslyFor if every day could be just like Christmas
What a wonderful world this would be” To all who read this message may I add, “Merry Christmas to all”. – David Blaski
2 during the high-priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas, the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the wilderness. 3 He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
4 As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet:
“A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5 Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6 And all people will see God’s salvation.’”[a]
Luke 3:15-18 NIV
15 The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with[a] water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with[b] the Holy Spirit and fire.
17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.
John Prepares The Way(NOTES)
1:13-17 New International Version
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
Isaiah 40:3-5 New International Version
3 A voice of
the way for the Lord[a];
straight in the desert
a highway for our God.[b]
valley shall be raised up,
every mountain and hill made low;
ground shall become level,
the rugged places a plain.
5 And the
glory of the Lord will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
Luke 1:17 New International Version
17 And he
will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the
hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of
the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
For my Parsi/Zoroastrian Friends all over the world and Bombay, India Who Were the Wise Men? Sermons Matthew 2:1 Who were the wise men?
Are you ready for that? Matthew chapter 2. All of us have wondered. I remember when I was a little boy I wondered who those guys were. How many were there? Were they really kings? Did they really ride camels? Why did they come to Bethlehem? And, as Paul said, we have most of our ideas about this fascinating group from the people who draw Christmas cards rather than theologians.
Vincent, who has written some very helpful word studies, says in regard to this, “Many absurd traditions and guesses respecting these visitors to our Lord’s cradle have found their way into popular belief and into Christian art. They were said to be kings and three in number. They were said to be representatives of three families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth and, therefore, one of them is pictured as an Ethiopian. Their names are given as Caspar, Balthazar, and Melchior.” You’ve probably heard that.
And their three skulls, amazingly enough, are said to have been found. Yes, they were found “in the twelfth century by Bishop Reinald of Cologne.” The bishop dug those up and knew right off they were skulls. It’s very clear. And their eyes were still in the sockets fixed toward Bethlehem. Today, believe it or not, friends, they are on exhibit in a priceless casket in a great cathedral in Europe.
Now frankly, folks, the only thing we know about these wise men is some history and what is said in Matthew. We really are very, very limited in terms of specifics. In addition to what we have here in Matthew which is very limited, it says, “There came wise men from the East.” That’s it, folks, right there. We don’t know their names; we don’t know anything from that.
But as we put the pieces together, historically, and we do have some very fascinating history. Some of it from the Old Testament, books such as Daniel where the Magi or wise men appear in several different texts, other Bible books as well as the writings of Herodotus and other historians. We basically have found, and then here’s the basic thrust of who they were. And then we’ll get into the specifics, and I think you’ll be fascinated by it.
We’re going to spend a lot of time with history tonight. This is going to be teaching not preaching. We believe they were members of an Eastern priestly group, descendant of a tribe of people originally associated with the Medes, M-E-D-E-S. Now, I just want to remind you of something so you’ll get a little bit of a picture.
Basically in the history of the world there have been four major world empires, all right? First one was the Babylonian Empire. And that, basically, was settled in the fertile crescent area east of Israel in the valley of the Tigris and Euphrates River, north of the Arabian gulf, east of what we know is Israel today. That was where the Babylonian Empire was. It was followed by the second great world empire that Daniel talks about, and that was the Empire known as the Medo-Persian Empire.
It was a conglomerate empire made up of the Persians and the Medes. The Medes were a very large and powerful people. The third great world empire was Greece. When the Medo-Persian Empire was conquered by Alexander the Great, the world became Greek, as it were. The fourth great empire was the Roman Empire.Now as we go backwards, even while the Babylonian Empire was in existence there was still Medes and Persians. So they are very ancient people.
In fact, there are many people in history who trace the origin of the Medes all the way back to the time when Abraham was called out of Ur of the Chaldees, way back in the 12th chapter of Genesis. So it may well be that these are very, very ancient people. Certainly they are people who appear in the Babylonian Empire because we see them in the book of Daniel.
They are people from the Medo-Persian Empire and existed on through the time of the Greek Empire and are still in existence in the Roman Empire when Christ is born. So they are a very ancient and long-lived people were these wise men. And by the way, the word wise men…in verse 2, it says, “When Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king behold there came magi.”
The Greek is magos, magoi, magi. It is really an untranslatable word. It is not a translatable word; it is simply the name of a certain tribe of people. It should better be translated, perhaps, magi. The magi were a priestly line, a priestly tribe of people from among the Medes, this very ancient and large people. They were very skilled in astronomy and astrology. This was a very great preoccupation with them. Their interest in astronomy and astrology was only part of their involvement. They were sort of occultists in a way. They had some sort of divination processes.
They were involved in certain kinds of things that we would assume, perhaps, were like a sorcery and that’s why the word magi was corrupted through history into the word magic, magician, which is a synonym for sorcerer. But the magi originally were basically a pagan, priestly tribe of people from the Medes and the Persians and there are many, many historical sources to validate this.
They became interested in astronomy and astrology and the study of the stars. And in those days they didn’t make much of a separation between the superstition and the science. The science is astronomy, the superstition is astrology, and they were pretty well blended at the time. Now, what’s interesting about this is that during the time of the Babylonian Empire these magi were dwelling in the area of Babylon. They were there during the Babylonian time and the Medo-Persian Empire as well.
Now while they were there during the Babylonian Empire, they were very heavily influenced by the Jews. You remember that one of the things that Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon did was take Judah into captivity. Do you remember that? That’s what Jeremiah was saying. “You are going to be taken into captivity.” Jeremiah pronounced this fact and of course even the book of Lamentations laments this reality. And they were carried off into the Babylon captivity.Well, here in Babylon were existing these magi, and they were very high-ranking officials. By that time they had ascended to a high place in the Babylonian Empire because of their amazing intuition, wisdom, knowledge, astrology, occultic ability, whatever you want to call it, they had risen to a place of prominence.
And so, immediately, they came into contact with all these Jewish people that had been brought to captivity. They also came into contact with one very specific Jew by the name of Daniel, who was elevated in the Babylonian Empire. And, consequently, they were very familiar or made familiar in the dispersion of the Jews in Babylon with Jewish prophesy regarding the Messiah.
They were made aware of what was really on the Jewish prophetic plan for this One who was to come. And so that’s basically who they were.Now I want to really dig into that a little bit and set the scene for what happens in this incredible incident in chapter 2 of Matthew. Let’s go back and see their history.
According to the ancient historian, Herodotus, the magi were a tribe of people within a larger people called the Medes. Now listen to this. They were a hereditary priesthood tribe. In other words, they were like the Levites in Israel. In Israel there were twelve tribes, but one of those tribes was set apart as the priestly tribe. And they were the ones who ministered in the rituals and the religious ceremonies of the temple, and they were the Levites.
Well the pagan Medes had a similar thing. Of all of the tribes within the Medes they had selected one of them to function as priests in their pagan rituals. And that tribe which they had selected was the magi. Again, it’s an untranslatable word, really. This is the name of that priestly group of people. It was a hereditary priesthood. Now as I said earlier some historians see them all the way back in Ur of the Chaldees as a part of a nomadic people that were wandering about in that part of the world.
Whichever is true, whether they go all the way back to Ur or whether they just first kind of surface in the Babylonian time we don’t know. The point is this. During the Babylonian World Empire they were significant, during the Medo- Persia Empire they were significant, during the Greek Empire they were significant, and during the Roman Empire they were significant. And in all of those empires they maintained a place of tremendous prominence in the orient, in the east.
You see, even when the Greek Empire was in vogue, there was still certain eastern culture and power. Even when the Roman Empire was in vogue there was certain eastern power. And in both of those periods, the Magi were really the key people in the government of the East, centered in the Fertile Crescent, the area around Babylon and Medo-Persia. Now they always appear with tremendous political power. Now this is very important for you. You’re going to have a little history lesson.
They always appear with tremendous political power. I would say the majority of historians, at least the ones that I read, and the ones that were referred to, see them as an eastern people who rose by virtue of their very unique priestly function. By their unique rather occultic powers of divination, by their astrological, astronomical knowledge, they rose to places of prominence. And they rose up in Babylonian government, Medo-Persian government, even in some cases in the East during the Greek period and for sure during the Roman period, to be the advisors to the royalty of the East.
And that’s where they got the name the Wise Men. They were the ones that were consulted about the various things that the kings and the rulers and the nobles and the princes wanted to know. Now, we even have some history that tells us about their religious activities. Now, I’ll give you a little description of the kind of religion that the Magi were involved in. Their priesthood had certain functions and here are some of the things: The principle element of their worships seems to have been fire. It’s apparent from history that they worshipped or that they sort of reverenced fire. And we don’t know for sure why, but perhaps they saw fire as some kind of incarnation of deity. And, by the way, they were monotheistic, they only believed, really, in one God and so they had that in common with Israel.
But they looked at fire as the principle element of their worship. And in connection with that they had an altar which burned with a perpetual flame. And they believed that that perpetual flame was kindled by God from heaven.So they had this perpetual flame altar. Now, over beside that, in their temples and wherever, they also had another altar and on that altar they offered blood sacrifice. So they actually had a blood sacrificial system. And they lit the fire to burn the sacrifice with the flame off the perpetual altar. And then when they had burned their sacrifice, this is interesting, the victim was then eaten by the worshiper and by the Magian priests.
What’s fascinating about that is that’s almost a direct parallel to Judaism. And you can see how way back then Satan was counterfeiting true religion from the very beginning, you see. He’s always done that. You know, even today, there is real Christianity and there is phony. And in that day there was real sacrificial system with genuine worship toward the one right true God, and there was phony monotheism, phony blood sacrifice, false sacrifice, and offering burned and then eaten by the worshiper and the priest.
Additionally, these people had a hereditary priesthood. Again, a counterfeit of the Levitical priesthood. These people carried about small bundles of divining rods in their garments, and they used these divining rods for their little ceremonies. Not unlike the Urim and the Thummim of the priests, the high priest, by which the knowledge of God was sought. They believed in the distinction of certain kinds of unclean animals. That’s interesting. They believed that certain insects and certain reptiles were unclean. Again, this is an interesting parallel to what God truly revealed to Israel. And another thing that I felt very interesting as I was reading about it was they were very ritualistic about ever touching and disposing of a dead body, another thing common to God’s standard for Israel.
So in the Babylonian Empire this very interesting religious group of people appears. And they rose to tremendous prominence. In Jeremiah 39:3 in verse 13, a man by the name of Nergalsharezer is mentioned, and Nergal-sharezer is the chief of the Magi in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Okay? These oriental kings starting with Nebuchadnezzar had elevated the Magi, and even before that. But as far as the Scripture is concerned, we see them first with Nebuchadnezzar.
They had elevated this priestly group from the Medes to the place of being the official advisors to the king. And so they are tremendously powerful people. And even when Babylon fell and the Medo-Persian Empire came in and you have great rulers like Cyrus and others, you still have the high-ranking officials of the Medo- Persian government being taken from this group called Magi. They were unmatched in political power.Now I want you to turn in your Bible with me for a minute, back to Daniel, and I want to show you how they appear in the book of Daniel, Daniel, chapter 2.
When I get all done with this and you re-read verse 1 of Matthew 2 it’s going to make a lot more sense. Daniel chapter 2 in verse 10 and we won’t take time to set all the context. But here we are in the court of Nebuchadnezzar. Daniel is there, the Jews are in captivity in Babylon, and it says, “The Chaldeans answered before the king and said, ‘There is not a man on the earth that can reveal the king’s matter: therefore, there is no king, lord, nor ruler that asked such things of any Magi or astrologer or Chaldean.’” And it’s very likely that those are all synonyms. And then astrologer and Chaldean may just be other ways of saying the same thing.
So here we find the word Magi, it’s not strictly the word magician, that’s an English corruption it’s the word Magi. It’s talking about this priestly tribe. They had a very prominent place at that time. They were known as those who could interpret dreams. Now you remember Nebuchadnezzar had this bizarre dream and none of them could handle it.
Now you know what’s so fascinating about it is there was one man who could interpret it. You know who that was? It was Daniel. And let’s go on a little bit, Chapter 4 verse 7. We again see the Magi. Chapter 4 verse 7, “Then came in the Magi, the astrologers, the Chaldeans, the soothsayers, and I told the dream to them but they didn’t make known unto me its interpretation.” Verse 9, “O Belteshazzar, master of the magicians.” Now here we meet the master of the Magi. And I’m just trying to point out that they are mentioned repeatedly in the book of Daniel. And rather than call them magicians, they should be Magi.
That’s essentially what he is referring to. Now when Daniel came along and all these Magi who were in the high, high-ranking place of advisors to the king couldn’t give any answers, Daniel could, something amazing happened. Daniel 5:11, “There is a man in thy kingdom, in whom is the spirit of the holy gods, and in the days of thy father light and understanding and wisdom like the wisdom of the gods was found in him” – talking about Daniel now – “Whom the king Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the king I say, thy father made master of the Magi.”
Now how interesting. Daniel was so adept at telling the dreams of the king that the king made Daniel the master of the Magi, so that Daniel was literally in Babylon the chief over this whole priestly group. Okay? It’s fascinating. Now, that puts Daniel in the tremendously unique position of being able to dispense to these Magi all of his information about the Old Testament, which without a shadow of a doubt is precisely what Daniel did.
We know that Daniel was a man of God. We know that Daniel was a man totally devoted to worship and expression of his faith because he wound up in a lion’s den because of it, didn’t he? And there’s no question in my mind but that Daniel and the other godly remnant in the Diaspora, the dispersion, shared their knowledge of the Old Testament and their copies of the Scripture with these people in Babylon. And, additionally, when the final decree of Cyrus came that they could go back to the land the majority of the Jews never went back.
The majority of the Jews stayed in Babylon, intermingled, intermarried, and throughout the remaining history of Babylon and Medo-Persia there were people in the noble families, people in the high-ranking offices, some say even monarchs in that part of the world who had part Jewish blood. And certainly we would have to conclude that Daniel had a profound impact in the dispensing of that information. And, by the way, I want to add another footnote to this, that as I was studying, this was very fascinating to me because I began to think about this.
If Daniel was so good at winning these Magi over and convincing them about this fact of the coming Messiah, why was it that they plotted against him and threw him in the lion’s den, if he was so influential and believable? And so I began to study, and the sixth chapter of Daniel revealed a most interesting thing. You don’t need to…we’re not going to go all through it. But this, in the sixth chapter of Daniel we find a plot against Daniel based on jealousy. But what is really amazing about this plot is that it is not a plot devised by the Magi who dominated the hierarchy of the royal court. It is a plot developed by men known as the satraps, and I don’t mean SET. I mean SAT, satraps.
That was the term used to describe the regional governors who had nothing to do with the palace. So remember, the plot that was hatched in jealousy against Daniel was not a plot hatched at the hands of the Magi. Which, again, leads me to see that very likely Daniel was extremely believable and convincing in his impact.In fact, do you realize that when Daniel was actually being thrown in the lion’s den, the king said, “Daniel, I know that your God will deliver you.” You remember the king actually said that? He was so convinced of the power of God through the testimony of Daniel. And I’m sure he just checked it as often as he possibly could to see that that anticipation was in fact a reality.
So, the Magi kept their place of prominence, influenced, no doubt, by such a great man as Daniel, and there were few who ever lived like him, influenced by Godly Jews in the dispersion, influenced by the intermarriage and the constant Jewish culture that was imposed upon them in many ways. And they became and maintained a position in the Medo-Persian Empire of great power in the court of the king.
Now let me tell you something else interesting. In the sixth century B.C., there was a great king of Persia by the name of Darius, Darius the Great. This is in the Medo-Persian Empire. This is right around the time of Daniel. And Darius came in and Darius said, “I am going to establish a national religion.” And you know which one he picked? Zoroastrianism. Now we don’t have time to go into Zoroastrianism, but Zoroastrianism had with it a lot of astrology. And it may well be that the final little nuances of astrology and the preoccupation of the Magi with that, came in the merging of Zoroastrianism.
So, now what you’ve got, you’ve got these Magi who have their own culture religion. On top of that has been superimposed Judaism, and on top of that has been superimposed Zoroastrianism. Now that’s really a can of worms, to put it mildly. But what’s so interesting is the Magi was so anxious to maintain their political power, and they were so anxious to maintain their religious power that when the decree came from Darius that Zoroastrianism was the religion that was going to exist, they just slid right in and said, “Fine with us,” and they made some adaptations.
But now what you’ve got is very interesting. You’ve got the Magi all gobbled up here. And you’ve got some of them, no doubt, committed to Zoroastrianism as time went on, some of them committed to ancient Magian formulas and some of them maybe believing, honestly in their heart, that the God of Daniel was the real God. And so this is the key. As history moved on from here, the Magi began to depart from a singular commitment to their historic religion, and they began to find their way into different things. Some maybe leaning toward Zoroastrianism, some toward the ancient magianism, and I believe in my heart that some, like these Magi that show up at the birth of Christ, were really true seekers of the true God.
And so that gives you a little bit of the background. Now, I’m going to talk some more about this history. The Magi were so powerful that historians tell us that no Persian was ever able to become king…now watch this one…never able to become king except under two conditions: One, he mastered the scientific and religious discipline of the Magi. Two, he had to be approved of and crowned by the Magi. Now that’s something. That’s power. Do you know what they called the wisdom of the Magi? They had a name for it. The name for it was this. The law of the Medes and the Persians.
That law was the law or the code defined by the Magi. And if you want to see that phrase it’s in Esther 1:19 and Daniel chapter 6 a couple of times. The law of the Medes and the Persians was the code, the scientific religious discipline of the Magi. And their wisdom was that which was required for anyone to be a monarch in Persia. Additionally, historians tell us that they controlled the judicial office as well as the kingly office.In Esther 1:13 we have the indication that the royal bench of judges was all chosen from the Magi. Man, they were powerful.
And you have to remember when you talk about the Persian Empire and the Median Empire and the Babylonian Empire, you are talking about control of the Orient. This is a massive empire. And in the Babylonian time and the MedoPersian time, they literally controlled the known world. These were powerful men. And they were not only responsible for making every monarch that was made in that era, but they were responsible for setting up the judges as well. They had a check system for the despotism that could grow out of a kingship, and so they were the judges that counter-balanced the dictator king.
History tells us they knew astronomy, they were very good in mathematics, they knew natural history, they were good at agriculture and architecture. And do you remember back in…I think it’s Acts 7 that talks about the fact that Moses was raised up in all the wisdom of the Egyptians? Same thing was true of anybody who was raised in a nobility in the East. They were raised in the law of the Medes and the Persians, all nobility raised by them. And they were the kingmakers. They were the kingmakers, and no one ruled at all apart from them.
Now, as I mentioned earlier on of their special skills was interpreting dreams. And when they failed to do that and Daniel moved in on top of it and became the chief, as we saw in Daniel 5:11, the setup was made by God to set the scene for Matthew chapter 2, hundreds of years before Jesus was born, six hundred. God was setting up the situation for a great Hebrew prophet to rule a group called the Magi so that one day when a baby was born in Bethlehem, some of those Magi would find their way to the house where the baby was.
That’s planning history. So the syncretistic hybrid religion of the Magi very much like Judaism, monotheistic and a hereditary priesthood, blood sacrifice, believed also in supernatural revelation, believed in prophecy, these common things sort of made Judaism an easy thing for them to accept. And I believe in my heart, and this is just what I believe because of what I see happen in Matthew 2.
I believe that apparently there were some God-fearing gentile Magi historically existing in that eastern part of the world. Now I want to move to the time of Jesus. Look with me at Matthew 2. Time has gone on, century after century until Jesus is to be born. Somehow and by some marvelous way God has managed to maintain some true seeking Magi. Most may be corrupted. Certainly, many corrupted, and we’ll meet a few of the corrupt ones that are in the New Testament. But there were some real ones. There were some like Cornelius, you know, God-fearing gentiles. There were some like Lydia, a God-fearing gentile. There were some back there in that part of the world, some from the Magi, high-ranking kingmakers in the great Empire of the east.
There were some at that time who were still waiting for Daniel’s great hope to be fulfilled, you see.Now let me set the stage. Politically speaking, Rome was scared of the Eastern Empire. Now if you’ll just focus in your mind a little map of Europe and that was the Roman Empire, this massive chunk of Europe. And technically it swept to the east. But by virtue of distance, across the Mediterranean, across the blazing desert to get to the east, there was a certain isolation in the east which caused Rome a lot of anxiety. And they were always fearful that what then became known as the Parthian Empire, the Eastern Empire made up of the Medes and the Persians and the old Babylonian territory, that Parthian Empire was always kind of an anxiety for Rome.
Rome, you know, had stretched its tentacles out as it were to rule the world but they never really felt very secure about the Parthian Empire. And they had become violent enemies, violent enemies. And they fought. In 55 B.C. they fought. In 40 B.C. they fought. And what’s fascinating is, you know where they always fought? The great empire in the west, the great empire in the east came together and guess where they always fought? Right along the coast of the Mediterranean, Syria, Jordan, Palestine. Israel was a little no man’s land between the powers of the east and the powers of the west. Now Rome was afraid of them.
And if you look at verse 3 of Matthew 2, it says, “When Herod the king had heard these things, he was,” what? “Troubled.” When he heard that Magi, oriental, Parthian kingmakers had arrived in Jerusalem he was rattled. And we’ll see more about that in a few minutes. Now, let me tell you a little more about what happens. By the time we get to the time of Christ the Magi are still in tremendous power in the east. Some of them used their power, their position, their skills, with a great amount of human wisdom. Some of them just really turned into awful people.
Like any scientist, any priest, any preacher any other skilled person of modern days, we can either apply our craft deceitfully or we can apply it honestly. Some of the Magi were honest and they exalted the craft of wisdom and political advice. Some of them were corrupt and they prostituted it. Both kinds were vary common in the Mediterranean era when Christ was born.
Let me introduce you to a couple of corrupt ones. Turn in your Bible to Acts 8. Acts 8, verse 4. “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the Word,” Acts 8:4 says. “Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them, and the people with one accord gave heed to those things which Philip spoke, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.” And it tells all about those. And you come to verse nine.
“But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously in the same city used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one.” Some great one. “To whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest saying, ‘This man is the great power of God.’” Now here is Simon, Simon Magus if you will, Simon the Magi. And here is a man who has prostituted his position into deceit as it were; he has sold himself to Satan. He used sorcery. You notice that? The root of that word is Magi, mageu, in the Greek. He used his Magi art in a prostituted manner.And later on he tried to buy the Holy Spirit and Peter really lays him out.
He says in verse 2O, “Your money perish with you, you have,” – verse 21 – “neither part nor lot in this matter.” Verse 22, “Repent of your wickedness.” Verse 23, “I perceive you are in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity.” Boy, oh Peter didn’t mince any words.
Look at the 13th chapter of Acts, Acts 13:6. “And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos,” and this is, of course, Paul and Barnabas starting on the first missionary journey. And they’re in Cyprus, the little island there in the east coast of the Mediterranean, “the isle of Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew whose name was Bar-Jesus.” And it goes down in verse 8 and it says “Elymas, the sorcerer.” The Greek is Elymas the magos, Elymas the Magi.
Here’s another one who also has prostituted this craft, prostituted this strange pagan religion in order to seek the ends of Satan. And of course, he tried to mess up Paul. And Paul says, “Oh, full of all deceit and mischief, you child of the devil, you enemy of righteousness. Will you not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord and now behold the hand of the Lord is upon you,” – verse 11 – “and you will be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. Immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand.
Paul dealt with this one.And you see both Simon and Elymas were brought into the bondage of Satan himself who is the god of all astrologers and the god of all sorcerers. And, frankly, these were the kind of people that made intelligent folks in the Roman Empire despise such sorcerers. Philo the Roman says, “They are vipers, they are scorpions and they/other venomous creatures.” You see, these were the kind of people, the kind of Magi the Romans despised. But in the east, as I said, they were tremendously powerful men. And some among them, no question in my mind, were genuine men.Now at the time of Christ, at the time of Christ in the Eastern Empire, there was a ruling body called the Megistanes. You don’t need to…that’s not going to be on the quiz so you don’t need to worry about.
But there was a ruling house called the Megistanes, and those…this would be like the United States Senate. Okay. That’s just a name, Megistanes. And this ruling house ruled in the Parthian-Persian Empire at this time. Now listen, it was totally composed of Magi whose duty it was, now watch this, to have absolute choice for the selection of a king. They were kingmakers. And you know what happened? They had some real problems with the king that they had.
They wanted to fight Rome and knock off Rome. But they had a loser for a king, Phraates the Fourth. And Phraates the Fourth had been deposed. And listen, the Magi were looking for a new king, a new king of the east, a new king of the Eastern Empire who could come against Rome. When they arrived in Jerusalem Herod knew what was going on.
They were kingmakers and when they wandered around town saying, “Where is this new king of the Jews?” Herod got panicky. When suddenly these Persian kingmakers appeared in Jerusalem, no doubt traveling in full force with all their oriental pomp. And they use to wear conical hats with points on the top and big deals clear down to the bottom of their chin, and they rode Persian steeds not camels. And when they came in they didn’t come alone. The estimates of history are they came with Persian cavalry. When they came charging into the city of Jerusalem and Herod peeked out his little palace window, he flipped. These are powerful men, and to make it worse his army was out of the country on a mission. And the Bible says Herod was troubled. I guess he was. The word in the Greek is he was agitated like your washing machine, he was shaking. You see, Herod had a title.
You know what Herod’s title was? King of the Jews. He got it from Caesar Augustus. Caesar Augustus crowned him king of the Jews. And he realized the great dream of his life was to get that little buffer state under his power, and here he was in the middle of two huge contending empires. And all of a sudden this massive coterie of Persians arrive in the city and he is panicked. And they say, “We’re coming to find the new king.”
Now at the time Herod was close to death. And Caesar Augustus was really old and hanging by a thread. And since the retirement of Tiberius the Roman army didn’t even have a commander-in-chief. And they knew that this would be the time to bring about an eastern war against the west. It was right. And so Herod was shaking.You say, “Well, what were the Magi thinking?” I don’t know. Maybe, they had looked at it politically. Maybe they thought, “Oh, man, here comes the king.” And I think that that’s probably true but additionally I think they looked at it spiritually.
Because when they got to that little room in Bethlehem, the Bible says they worshipped Him. They saw more than just a king. I believe they saw the Messiah they had heard about from the days of Daniel. I think we have God-fearing, seeking gentiles. And it was two-fold. I’m sure they were thinking, “Maybe this is the Savior, the Savior who is called the Anointed One,” which is a term describing a king. “And maybe He will not only be the Savior, the Messiah, but maybe He will be the one who will gather all this people of the east together and go against the oppression of Rome.” By the way, the Magi knew that the people of Israel were on their side, not Rome’s.
And so that’s why they came into town and started asking the people where this new king was. They thought the people of Israel would be just as excited as they were. But you see the people of Israel were blinded by their unbelief. Isn’t it fascinating to you? It is to me, that the first people in the world to recognize the arrival of the King were gentiles. Gentiles. Does that tell you something about history? “He came unto His own and His own,” what? “Received Him not.” And Matthew follows that all the way through. The rejection of the King. Could this be the invincible monarch? They could crown Him.
They could take Him back and they could make Him king and they could unify the east. And with this great Messiah that Daniel had prophesied they could go against Rome with invincibility. And so into Jerusalem rides the group of Magi, kingmakers of the east on their fine Persian steeds, escorted by mounted cavalry. And so the stage is set. What happens after this? Come back next week. We don’t have time.Let me close by saying this. Isn’t it exciting to you how God controls history? Does that excite you? Now see, you looked at everything I said and you listened to it. And I talked to you for fifty minutes, and you know why it was so fascinating to you? Not because it was just a bunch of historical facts, but because you were seeing God at work.
History is His story. Long ago He picked out a man named Daniel, put him in a place to influence some men who would arrive in perfect timing. You say, “Well, why does Matthew present this? Why?” Listen. Matthew, all the way through his gospel is trying to tell the world that Jesus Christ is what? King. And just to make sure nobody misses it he has the most famous kingmakers in the world come and bow down at His feet. Do you see? It’s all a part of Matthew’s strategy. He’s the king. And if Israel isn’t going to acknowledge it, then God is going to drag a bunch of people from Persia to acknowledge it. He’s king.
God has master planned history. And the sad part of it is that the people who should have known, the people who should have known missed it. And the people from way off, who should have never guessed, showed up and worshipped. That’s history. Jesus came. Paul said, “To the Jew first, also to the Gentiles.” Jesus came and said, “I’m come not but for the lost sheep for the house of Israel.” Israel turned its back on Christ and He called a people from a no people. “He reached out to the Gentiles,” Romans says, “and grafted us in.” And the hint of that was right here in the very beginning.
Remember what it says, if…the Bible says if we don’t praise Him, what? The very rocks will cry out. And when the king arrived, beloved, when the king arrived, if His people wouldn’t praise Him then God will make sure that there’s somebody there to do it and there was. And you know in our world today they celebrate Christmas, pass around the Christmas cards, look at the wise men. They don’t understand the point. They don’t know the meaning. They don’t see who He is. But here and there, hither and yon, some of us do. Right? And there’s some of us who bow to the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.
Next week we’re going to discuss Herod, what kind of a man he was, and why he panicked. And I’m going to tell you what the star was that led them to Bethlehem. Let’s pray.Father, it’s just really…it’s just beyond us to see how You work in history. With our little finite minds, we look at things and we think we understand and then we dig deep and deeper and deeper and, all of a sudden, we discover a world we never knew existed, a world of information a world of insight that expands in our minds Your incredible greatness, Your unequaled power and wisdom.
God, I thank You for the wise men, the Magi, however many there were and whatever their names were, who were seeking the King. And I feel grieved in my heart for the people of the King who didn’t want him. And I would pray, Lord, tonight that in our fellowship there are some who have been like the people of the King and turned their back on Him and said, “I don’t want Him.” “We will not have this man reign over us,” they said. Father, I pray that You convict their hearts. They be like those who came from afar and rejoiced with great joy and fell down and worshipped Him. Thank You also that You planned us to be a part of the church that bows before Him in worship. We’ll give you praise, Lord, for all that You have done that shows us Your mighty hand in Jesus name. Amen.
I recently received an email from a girl asking me to send her Bible verses on the topic of purity. She said she vaguely knew that the Bible promoted purity and holiness, but she wasn’t exactly sure where to find the passages.
Impurity and immorality are very real threats that we need to be equipped to fight against.
After I emailed her back with a list of verses, I wondered if there were more girls out there like her—girls who know that the Bible “promotes purity” but aren’t exactly sure where to find the passages in the Bible.
If you are one of those girls who wants to fight for purity, keep reading. This blog post is written for you!
Ammo for the Fight
At times staying pure in our culture can seem nearly impossible. Doing basic things like getting on Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook can feel like entering the danger zone. Because advertisers all seem to agree that “sex sells.” Even just walking through the grocery store checkout line can feel slightly scarring at times.
Impurity and immorality are very real threats that we need to be equipped to fight against. That’s why I want to share that list of verses I emailed to my friend with you.
I want your spiritual guns to be loaded with ammo that I know will work.
The next time you are tempted to compromise in the area of purity, I want you to pull out these verses. They will be your spiritual ammo in your fight for purity.
Six Verses You Need to Know
“Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me” (Ps. 51:10).
“How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word” (Ps. 119:9).
“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil. 4:8).
“For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you abstain from sexual immorality; that each one of you know how to control his own body in holiness and honor, not in the passion of lust like the Gentiles who do not know God” (1 Thess. 4:3–5).
“But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desire” (Rom. 13:14).
“As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet. 1:14–16).
Here are two action steps to give you practice in firing this spiritual ammo.
Pick one and memorize it. I want to encourage you to pick one of these verses and memorize it. My go-to verse is first one, Psalm 51:10. That verse is ingrained in my mind and ready to fire anytime I’m facing something that is impure.If I’m being tempted with an impure thought, I’ll quickly recite that verse and pray that God will make it true for me. I’m always amazed that quoting Scripture in the midst of a temptation really does help. I dare you to try it the next time you are facing a temptation in the area of purity.
Write one down and tape it to your mirror. I also decided to write down two of those verses and tape them to my bathroom mirror. It’s the first thing I see in the morning when I brush my teeth and the last before I go to bed. Having that visual reminder is extremely helpful for me, and I know it would be for you as well.Will you join me?
Who would like to join me by:
Memorizing one of the verses.
Writing one down and sticking it on your mirror, wall, journal, or somewhere that you will clearly see it.
If you want to join me in this fight for purity, comment below and let me know! I’d love to pray for you and encourage you as you make these truths a reality in your life.
Are there any go-to verses you would add to my list? Please don’t keep the spiritual ammo to yourself. Share it with us below!
57 When it was time for Elizabeth to have her baby, she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown her great mercy, and they shared her joy.
59 On the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to name him after his father Zechariah, 60 but his mother spoke up and said, “No! He is to be called John.”
61 They said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who has that name.”
62 Then they made signs to his father, to find out what he would like to name the child. 63 He asked for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s astonishment he wrote, “His name is John.”
64 Immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue set free, and he began to speak, praising God. 65 All the neighbors were filled with awe, and throughout the hill country of Judea people were talking about all these things.
66 Everyone who heard this wondered about it, asking, “What then is this child going to be?” For the Lord’s hand was with him.
Luke 1:76-79 NIV
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven 79 to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
Zechariah Is Redeemed(NOTES)
1:46-55 New International Version
46 And Mary said:“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he
has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on
all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things
holy is his name.
50 His mercy
extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has
performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in
their inmost thoughts.
52 He has
brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has
filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has
helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
1:67-79 New International Version
father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
because he has come to his people and
69 He has
raised up a horn[a] of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David
70 (as he
said through his holy prophets of long ago),
from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show
mercy to our ancestors
and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue
us from the hand of our enemies,
and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him
all our days.
76 And you,
my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
for you will go on before the Lord to
prepare the way for him,
77 to give
his people the knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
of the tender mercy of our God,
by which the rising sun will come to us
The Holy Spirit is moving in signs, wonders and miracles across Cuba right now and we sat down with Evangelist Blake Lorenz to hear what God is birthing in the country. “It is so powerful it’s like stepping into the book of Acts. Signs and wonders, miracles, people are being saved and baptized in the Holy Spirit and fire,” Lorenz told us.
The people in Cuba are hungry for a genuine move of God and they are praying for the nation to be reignited. The congregations are gathering together in house churches which often grow so quickly they overflow outdoors. Lorenz and his team work with a network of pastors across Cuba to equip, teach and disciple the body of Christ.
While they were ministering to a group of young pastors who were hungry for the gospel, Lorenz says, “the head of the Communist Party walked in, you could have heard a pin drop. He sat there and when I gave the altar call he came forward to receive Christ and he’s living on fire for Jesus still!”
The church is walking out a spirit of boldness and an incredible hunger that has actually shifted the oppression from the government. Last year the Cuban citizens protested in the cities, and the churches have see more freedom since then.
“This is true revival,” Lorenz says as he’s preaching the gospel he barely has to talk for long before the Spirit of the Lord falls on the people and they run to the altar for salvation. The local pastors are going out and knocking on doors and people are falling under the presence of God at their door step and getting saved. Just like the early church, they are adding to their numbers daily, with 20 to 30 people joining the house churches each week.
Tune in to the full interview to hear about the revival they are believing for to break the back of the Communist rule within the country. Let the body of Christ come together to pray and contend for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Cuba.
Lorenz also shares what he believes has unified the country and these practical steps are desperately needed in the Western church to see division healed and the body of Christ come together as one unified bride of Christ.
Moses, in the classic movie The Ten Commandments (1956), goes down to oversee the work of the Hebrew slaves. He does not yet know that he too is Hebrew by birth; Egypt’s golden chalice rests comfortably in hand. He arrives after the taskmasters have seized Joshua (his future assistant and successor), who just rescued an old Hebrew woman nearly crushed under a large stone.
Deaf to pleas to spare the old woman, the taskmasters had refused to halt the workforce to free her. The woman couldn’t escape. So Joshua went down and struck an Egyptian overseer, halting the work immediately, sparing her life and forfeiting his own.
Moses, prince of Egypt, arrives at the behest of a Hebrew woman. Hearing what happened, he asks Joshua, “Do you know it is death to strike an Egyptian?”
“I know it,” he responds.
“Yet you struck him. Why?”
“To save the old woman.”
“What is she to you?”
“An old woman.”
Moses took less time to recover from the slap than I did. Because she is an old woman. I realized how much more Moses I was, than Joshua, in this exchange. Joshua had a clear moral category I lacked: that of saving an old woman simply because she is an endangered old woman. His heroism needed no further explanation or incentive. She did not need to be his mother, his aunt, or his queen. For Joshua to forfeit his own life for hers, all she needed to be was an old woman, desperate for help.
This exchange left a mark because I imagined my own inner calculus in the crisis:
Do what you can — chide the taskmasters for their insensitivity and murder; receive a lashing for it even — but don’t be so foolish as to lay down your own life for hers.
To do otherwise seemed bad math.
She already stood with one foot in the grave. Her best days of productivity, of house and community building, faded in the rearview. The way of women had ceased with her (Genesis 18:11). Weak and frail, she had mere days and months ahead of her; I gripped years and decades by the throat. Her sun was setting; I was rising. How could her remaining life outweigh mine?
And yet, in a flash of glory Joshua strikes the oppressors, venturing to substitute his life for hers.
Death of Honor
Do you know such calculations on a smaller scale? Are we today a people known for honoring our elderly with our time, resources, and attention? Or is it not the case that if a friend should proverbially walk an old lady across the street, we would instinctively ask, “Who is she to you?” The youthful, the innovative, the beautiful, the YouTube sensations, the celebrities and professional athletes receive our admiration. The enfeebled, the mostly spent, the hard of hearing and seeing and walking do not.
Is it not true that the elderly mostly live in the background of our attention, cast as the extra pecking away at an iPhone, trying to send a text? Youth are rarely taught to honor grandma and grandpa, let alone the aged in general.
The scene of this endangered old woman comes closer to God’s timeless expectations than our assumptions today. The real Moses would soon write a law that read, “You shall stand up before the gray head and honor the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 19:32). A special respect and care were due to the elderly of Israel.
Why don’t we stand before the elderly man in our midst? Why so little honor paid to the weathered face of the old woman? Why so little fear of God? Of the many options, I contribute two that have discipled me to give less regard to the elderly than is fitting.
1. Information Age
Throughout time, the elderly have served as sages of the community. They have experienced and lived, lost and learned lessons lacking among the untested thoughts and ideals of youth.
So Job spoke, “Wisdom is with the aged, and understanding in length of days” (Job 12:12). So Elihu explained his deference in saying, “Let days speak, and many years teach wisdom” (Job 32:7). And so Paul exhorts that the older women are to “teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands” (Titus 2:3–5). Generally, the elderly ought not only to be the wisest among us, but also regarded as so.
But what is abuelo and abuela compared with all-wise Google? What can they tell me that a quick search can’t? Expertise on anything under the sun lies at my fingertips. What good is one old chief, viewing life from his narrow, dated lens, compared with a million sages with advanced degrees, anticipating the next trends and offering unsleeping counsel on anything I care to know?
Jesus taught that Christians who lose family for his sake receive back a hundredfold in the church. We seem to believe that those who lose wisdom from the elderly receive back a millionfold on the Internet.
2. Cosmetic Age
Our society does not like to look at death. Our funerals are short; our grieving brief. When the signs of the end begin, we cover it. We dye our hair. We get fake teeth. We iron wrinkles and use liposuction. We diet and make-up and teeth-whiten to preserve the appearance that we will live forever. While living, we embalm.
We all dread the infirmities old age brings. Solomon, in Ecclesiastes 12:1–8, captures the “evil days” of aging in poetic terms. These are days when one says, “I have no pleasure in them” (verse 1). Days when the sun and moon and stars darken, and you live under perpetual cloud (verse 2). Days when hands and arms shake violently, strong men hunch, and your grinders — your teeth — cease because they are few (verse 3). Days lived indoors with light sleeping and little hearing (verse 4). Days afraid of heights, days of graying hair and shriveled appetite (verse 5). Days when the golden bowl begins cracking, the silver chord begins fraying, and the body prepares to return to dust and the spirit to God (verse 6–7). Vanity of vanities, the Preacher concludes (verse 8).
And so what are we to do with these weathered boats with tattered masts sailing among us, these reminders of what the crash of time and sin is doing to us all? Honor them or ignore them? See glory in their worn faces or our own inevitable defeat? In the halls of honor, we do not keep dying flowers.
Testimonies and Silver Crowns
Our God would have us stand up before the gray head and honor the old face.
What can the aged teach us (a question already lacking humility)? Well, while any elderly person can speak of the scars and successes of human experience, the old saints in the church can tell you about a lifetime of God’s faithfulness, his kindness, his steadfast love.
Siri will not answer how good God has been to her. Google cannot testify that even to old age, God has carried him through countless trials (Isaiah 46:4). The wrinkled face of the saint with a wrinkled Bible is a treasure to all who love God and want to know him more. And the elderly saint, “full of sap and green,” has a testimony and wisdom that the young and beautiful and strong need to hear (Psalm 92:12–15). David wanted to age for this very purpose: “Even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come” (Psalms 71:18).
“Gray hair crowns an old and well-lived life, a life that should be celebrated, not ignored.”
And what of the challenges of growing frail? How do we commend that? The Bible also speaks of fullness of days as a splendor. “The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair” (Proverbs 20:29). We see the glory, but not the splendor. And, “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life” (Proverbs 16:31). Gray hair crowns an old and well-lived life, one that should be celebrated, not overlooked.
We miss much of the wisdom and glory of old age when the elderly dwell apart. Ancient times did not have government-run nursing homes, social-security programs, or retirement centers. All three converged in one place: the household. With multigenerational living now mostly a thing of the past in the West, we pick and choose to see our elderly family or not, affording them little influence in our lives. And without multigenerational representation, we can miss it in the church as well.
Of course, some elderly people have not lived wisely or well. Yet, John Piper observes, “There are tokens of respect and demonstrations of honor that belong to older people, simply because they are older. God has granted them to live long, and you shall fear your God by honoring the men and women who have borne his image to old age.”
The fear of God presides over this honor. Piper again says of Psalm 71,
This text commands the younger ones among us not to stride presumptuously and carelessly into the presence of an older person as though we were crossing no gap — as though we and they were simply peers with no special respect and honor to be shown to them. “You shall rise up before the gray head; you shall show honor to face of an old person.” . . .
And the loss of these manners of respect from baby boomers and teenagers is directly related to their small view of God and the contemporary foreignness of the idea of the fear of God. If God has become a buddy, you can hardly expect people to stand when an old man enters the room.
“The old saints in the church can tell you about a lifetime of God’s faithfulness, his kindness, his steadfast love.”
Some elderly among us forfeit degrees of honor because of how they lived. Yet old age is still to be acknowledged. We take the customs of our culture and communicate to our elders, “You are venerable.”
Honor the Old Face
Technological advances, state-run nursing homes, the worship of innovation and progress, and Western individualism may make it seem unnatural to show special honor to the elderly. Society little incentivizes my generation to look to old heads for wisdom or show deference or respect. The old is passing away; the new has come.
But while we smirk at the old man struggling with his iPhone, or shake our head as the old woman drives 30 miles per hour under the speed limit, God calls for honor. While we size up the gray hair and wrinkled faces for what we think they contribute to the progress of society, God might have us stand when they enter the room.
Do you honor the gray head in your family, neighborhood, church? When the world observes how we behave among the elderly — especially the elderly in the church — and they wonder aloud, “What is she to you?”
8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear.
13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth,
15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God.
17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
A Special Promise(NOTES)
1:6 New King James Version
confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will
complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
18:11 New International Version
and Sarah were already very old, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.
25:21 New International Version
prayed to the Lord on behalf of his wife, because she was childless. The Lord
answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah
30:1 New International Version
Rachel saw that she was not bearing Jacob any children, she became jealous of
her sister. So she said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!”
13:2 New International Version
2 A certain
man of Zorah, named Manoah, from the clan of the Danites, had a wife who was
childless, unable to give birth.
1:2 New International Version
2 He had two
wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but
Hannah had none.
55:11 New International Version
11 so is my
word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent
Ephesians 3:20 New International Version
20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within
Marilyn Hickey preached to over 1 million people in Karachi, the largest city in Pakistan, earlier this month. The momentous meeting came during an eight-day missions trip to Pakistan. But that trip and the millions reached for Christ were the fruits of seeds planted years before.
In 1995, Hickey said she felt called by the Lord to minister in Muslim countries, specifically in Pakistan. She held healing meetings in Lahore, the capital city of the Punjab province, and attracted thousands.
“It was absolutely a destiny time,” Hickey said. “So I went. The first night, I remember we had 4,000 people. By the fourth night, we had over 20,000. Lots of people [were] saved. Lots of people [were] Spirit-filled, delivered, healed. So in that timing, a man was saved called Anwar Fazal.”
Fazal became a pastor and launched Isaac TV, a Christian television network that reaches every home in Pakistan. Over 96 percent of Pakistanis are Muslims, and Isaac TV has had an enormous impact in spreading the gospel.
When Hickey planned her seventh trip to Pakistan last year, she reached out to Fazal and shared her vision for the trip. She wanted to gather 1 million people. Without hesitation, Fazal said, “That’s possible.”
Hickey and Fazal’s ministries worked together, and the event was scheduled in Karachi for Nov. 12. The ministries secured a 50-acre space for the Karachi meeting and covered the entire area with rugs. Isaac TV promoted the event, and Marilyn Hickey’s own reputation in the country helped attract a crowd. Believers flew in from across the country. But no one knew if they would fill the entire space.
When the gathering began, Hickey says the 50 acres could barely fit all the people.
“People come and they sit almost like sardines on the ground, all squished together,” Hickey said. “So for 50 acres, we had people. They’re very open. I’m going to guess a third of the crowd maybe was Islamic, and the rest were Christians, because the television is really, really getting hold of people’s hearts in Pakistan.”
She taught on the miracles of Christ and discussed what it means to be healed by the Word. Then she says she used words of knowledge to call out healings in the crowd, and miracles took place accordingly. Finally, she explained the gospel—Jesus’ life, death and resurrection—before leading people to accept Christ.
During the eight-day trip, Hickey brought that same message to other venues, including an interview with the governor and a sermon at Fazal’s church. At a meeting in Lahore, Hickey says she saw many people healed of deafness, cancer and back problems.
And even though she’s 85, Hickey has no intention to stop anytime soon.
“At 81, I had my biggest meeting in Pakistan—at that time,” Hickey said. “And if you’d told me I was going to, I would have thought, ‘You’re crazy.’ But we had 230,000 people. … This is how I take retirement. Retirement is doing what you like. So this is what I like. I like to do this. It doesn’t make you idle. It makes you supernatural.”
Lyrics You are here, moving in our midst I worship You I worship You You are here, working in this place I worship You I worship You You are here, moving in our midst I worship You I worship You You are here, working in this place I worship You I worship You You are Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is who You areYou are Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is who You are You are here, touching every heart I worship You I worship You You are here, healing every heart I worship You, Jesus I worship, you turning lives around You are here, oh, turning lives around I worship You I worship, You mended every heart You are here, mending every heart I worship You I worship You And You are Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is who You are Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is who You are (yeah, sing it again) You are the Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper (Light in the darkness, my God) (That is who You are) oh, it’s who you are, Jesus, yeah Way maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is… sing “That is who you are”, ohThat is who You are And that is who You are And that is who You are (That is who You are) my JesusThat is who You are (That is who You are) oh, and it’s right That is who You are (That is who You are) my Jesus, oh yeahyes it is, yeah, it’s who you areWay maker, miracle worker, promise keeper (Light in the darkness, my God) hey (That is who You are)Let’s sing this together, “Even when I don’t see it”, c’mon, even when… Even when I don’t see it, You’re working Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working You never stop, You never stop working You never stop, You never stop working, c’monEven when I don’t see it, You’re working Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working You never stop, You never stop working You never stop, You never stop (working) ohEven when I don’t see it, You’re working Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working You never stop, You never stop working You never stop (You never stop working) whoa Even when I don’t see it, You’re working (Even when I don’t feel it, You’re working) yeah You never stop, You never stop working (You never stop, You never stop working) you’re the way maker, yeahWay maker, miracle worker, promise keeper Light in the darkness, my God That is who You are, eh, yeahLight in the darkness, my God That is… Sing “That is who you are”, ohhThat is who You are (That is who You are) Oh, and that is who You are (That is who You are) yeahThat is who You are (That is who You are) That is who You are (That is who You are) oh, it’s who you are, my JesusMiracle worker, promise keeper (Light in the darkness, my God) That is who You areYou are Way maker (miracle worker, promise keeper) Light in the darkness, my God (That is who You are)Oh, his name is above, his name is above depression His name is above loneliness Oh, his name is above disease, his name is above cancer His name is above every other name, listen, listen That is who You are (That is who You are) (That is who You are) (That is who You are) Jesus And that is who You are (That is who You are) Oh, I know that is who You are (That is who You are)Source: MusixmatchSongwriters: Osinachi Kalu Okoro