Bible Study Commentaries
Oct 13, 2014
Joseph is one of the most intriguing men named in the Old Testament. The Bible shows a major shift with the phrase, “These are the generations of Jacob.” Previously, the phrase was used in regard to the heavens (Gen. 2:4), Adam (Gen. 5:10, Noah (Gen. 6:4) and so forth. In Jacob’s case, the account omits Reuben, the first born, and shifts the lineage to Joseph, the Holy Spirit’s way of signaling a major genealogical change. We immediately see Joseph, a youth of 17 years old, sharing with Jacob, his father, an “evil report” concerning his 10 brothers. The Bible does not detail what the brothers were doing that led to the troubling report, but the action probably put at risk the welfare of the sheep. Also, Joseph incurred anger on two other accounts. First, Jacob had clothed him in “a coat of many colors” (v. 34). From the use of the word revealed in Judges 5:38 and 2 Samuel 13:18, we can infer that such garments signified honor and position. The elder brothers probably felt threatened that Jacob was abrogating the policy of passing authority to the eldest son, i.e., Reuben. Joseph made the situation worse by revealing a dream he had in which, while binding sheaves, the sheaves rose up and bowed before his sheaf (vv. 5-8). He added insult to injury from another dream in which the sun, moon and 11 stars “made obeisance” to him (v. 9). Even Jacob objected to the notion that he and Joseph’s mother, now deceased, would bow before Joseph (v. 10). The conditions were right for a family tragedy. The brothers decided to kill Joseph.
Oct 13, 2014
The major theme of Hebrews is the High Priesthood of Jesus. No other biblical book directly mentions this precious doctrinal truth. Apparently, Christian maturity is necessary to understand the implications of the priestly ministry of Christ. In Hebrews 5, the author began his emphasis on the high priesthood of Jesus (Heb. 5:1-10). Yet, the author interrupted his discussion of Christ’s priestly ministry because of the immaturity of the readers (Heb. 5:12). After encouraging believers to allow God to carry them on to Christian maturity, the author resumed his focus on the priestly ministry of Christ (Heb. 6:20).
Oct 7, 2014
In our studies in the Book of Ephesians, we began with a presentation of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in chapter one. As we progressed through the other chapters, we were challenged to honor God in our daily lives. In this concluding study we are challenged to comprehend our role in God’s revelation of His will for us. The issues are momentous.
Oct 7, 2014
Hebrews describes the Christian life as a pilgrimage. Pilgrimages have several key characteristics. First, pilgrims have a leader. For Christians, Jesus is our pilgrim guide. Second, pilgrims travel together, never alone. Third, pilgrimages have a goal. The author of Hebrews describes the goal of the Christian life as maturity (completeness) and the heavenly city (Heb. 11). The readers the author addressed ceased to make progress in the pilgrimage of the Christian life. At a time in their Christian experience when they should have been capable of teaching (feeding) others (Heb. 5:12), the readers required an infant diet of milk (Heb. 5:11). The author attributed the lack of Christian growth to spiritual laziness (Heb. 5:11).
Sep 29, 2014
In the ancient world, protocol was important. Failure to follow the correct procedures of approaching a king was dangerous. Likewise, sinful humans approach God only through the proper protocol established by God. Hebrews 9 describes the design of the tabernacle as an illustration of the seriousness of approaching God. What God the King requires for sinful humans to approach Him, He provided through Christ. The biblical revelation condemns the attitude that God is our “homeboy.”
Sep 29, 2014
In our last study, we considered the kind of impression we Christians have on our communities. I likened the process to a military white-glove inspection in which neighbors have contact with us on a daily basis. Now, we turn our attention to inner aspects of our life within the fellowship. What ways are open to us to make our lives fulfilled and complete? I call the following “Seven principles for a fulfilled life.”
Sep 23, 2014
Rest! Despite living in a culture with a major emphasis upon the leisure industry, our culture knows little about rest. Yet, rest is a major emphasis in the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. In the HCSB, “rest” occurs 392 times. The first reference to rest in the Bible occurs in Gen. 2:2 in reference to God’s rest on the seventh day. The last reference to rest in application to God’s people occurs in Rev. 14:13 as a description of the condition of dead believers. Jesus provided the most significant description of rest: “Come to Me, all of you who are weary an burdened, and I will give you rest.” True rest is found only in Christ. People experience rest as they come to Christ and grow in Christ.
Because of the arrested spiritual development of his readers, the author of Hebrews focused on a warning from Psalm 95. Psalm 95 highlighted themes of worship (vv. 1-7) and obedience (vv. 7b-11). Jews read Psalm 95 in the opening portion of every synagogue service on the Sabbath day of rest. Psalm 95 connects worship and obedience. In Hebrew thought, a disobedient person has not heard.
Sep 23, 2014
One announcement that always invoked dread, if not abject fear, in every sailor was the prospect of a “white-glove inspection.” The method was to uncover areas for cleanliness not visible, such as the top of an open door or lockers. The inspector would run a gloved hand over the suspected section and then look at his gloved fingers to check for signs of dust. Along these lines, imagine if someone, for whatever reason, smeared Vaseline on the top of the door. Who did it would not matter. The ones being inspected would suffer the consequences. More to the point, when I was about to complete my boot camp training in Bainbridge, Md., in December 1951, we had to lay out our clothing for our final sea bag inspection when we learned one sailor’s heavy coat, his peacoat, was missing. We collected enough money from the prospective graduates to buy him a new coat. Team cohesion was important. Now, let’s turn our attention to the local church.
Sep 15, 2014
All too often at the Monday morning pastor’s conference, one man confides to a friend, “Man, if the Lord opens up a new ministry somewhere, I would welcome a recommendation. The church I am serving is not interested in growing. I need a change.” At the back of our minds is the image of an ideal church in which excitement fills the air. Yet, the Bible at no point commands us to grow a bigger church, choir or anything else. The Great Commission motivated the apostles because Jesus said, “And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14). Whatever it took to bring Him back, they would do. They scattered to the ends of the earth. That should be our motivating commitment, but in the meanwhile, what should be our spiritual goal for the church that we serve? The Bible makes that work abundantly clear.
Sep 15, 2014
Medieval theologian Anselm wrote the first theology exploring the reason that Jesus became God incarnate—the God-Man. Anselm wrote that humans owed a debt to God that they were incapable of paying. The debt was so great only God could pay the debt, yet as the debtors, by necessity, humans must pay the debt. The Son of God became a man for two reasons. As God, He possessed the ability to pay the debt. As Man, He could rightfully pay the debt. Approximately 1,000 years before Anselm, the author of Hebrews set forth a biblical answer to the question, “Why did the Son of God become a human being?” Hebrews 2:9-18 details six answers to the question, “Why did the Son of God become a man?