More about Jethro, Moses’ Father-in-Law

In Exodus 18, Jethro counseled his son-in-law Moses about how he was leading Israel after they fled Egypt. But there is more depth to the story if you consider the rest of Jethro’s story:

 

Found in Translation

In a random survey by The Christian Chronicle, more than 1,100 readers responded to this question:  “What Bible version do you prefer to read?”

New International Version: 41.5%
New American Standard Version: 17.1%
New King James Version: 10.3%
English Standard Version: 9.5%
King James Version: 5.8 %
Revised Standard/New Revised Standard Version: 4.8 %
New Living Translation: 3.6%
Today’s New International Version: 2.3%
‘The Message’: 2.2%
Other: 2.2%
Holman Christian Standard Bible: 0.5%
Contemporary English Version: 0.4%
Common English Bible: 0.1%
New American Bible: 0.1%

 

Reading in the Ekklésia

NOTE:  This post was originally published as a bulletin article and on the merkelchurchofchrist.org blog

“ [Jesus] went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. He stood up to read, and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him.” Luke 4:16-17 (NIV)

The congregational reading of scriptures in synagogues was a foundational part of Jewish life when Jesus was growing up, a custom carried on in the early church of Christ. There were practical reasons for public reading the scriptures; because each copy was hand written (that’s what manuscript means), communities of believers had to share limited manuscripts or in some cases, like letters from Apostles, share with other communities.

The invention of the printing press and subsequent printing of the first Bible in the 1450s led to many positive advances in Christianity like the reformation movement and personal Bible study. However, the printed Bible did not change Paul’s instructions concerning the conduct of Timothy and the early church:

“…devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” 1 Timothy 4:13(NIV)

Beginning this Sunday we will incorporate scripture reading into our morning worship assembly (ekklésia). Like the early church we will hear the Word of God as one body and one heart. I encourage you to bring your Bibles and follow along as we begin reading the Gospel of John. We will be using New International Version which, according to a recent survey, is the translation most used in churches of Christ.

“Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.” Revelation 1:3 (NIV)

Shalom

The Parable of the Good Shepherd (Lost Sheep)

In the Parable of the Good Shepherd (Or Parable of the Lost Sheep) the Pharisees come face to face with the prophesy of Ezekiel, they have failed as the shepherds go intended them to be and through their religion, have neglected the lost sheep.  The main point of the parable is that God loves his sheep and only through the good shepherd (Jesus) will the lost sheep be found and there will be great joy in heaven. Luke 15:1-7, Ezekiel 34, John 10:1-18, Matthew 18:10-14 Link to Sermon Notes

The Parable of the Lost Sheep (Good Shepherd)

Scripture Reading: Luke 15:1-7

1 Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus. 2 But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law muttered, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”

3 Then Jesus told them this parable: 4 “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’7 I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.  Luke 15:1-7 (NIV)

Context:  Jesus is addressing the Pharisees who are critical of his association with sinners.  Both presumably are hearing his response to them in the form of three parables, the parable of the lost sheep, the parable of the lost coin, and the parable of the loving father.

Outline

1.  “Suppose one of you…”

  • The Pharisee would not have considered the profession of a shepherd nor allowed his son to be one
  • Shepherding in the oral tradition of the Jews was a proscribed trade…that is, a trade that according to rabbis would be impossible to have and keep the law.   Lists of such trades can be found in the Mishnah (Kidd 4:14, Ket 7:10) and the Babylonian Talmud  (Kid
  • Even though a Shepherd is a symbol for God throughout the old testament, the experience of the time was that a herdsmen were not law-abiding Jews (therefore sinners) and The law-abiding
  • Aggressive and offensive language

2.  “loses one of them “ (Bad shepherd)

  • The structure of Middle Eastern life and language requires that people do not blame themselves; “I lost my sheep” would be presented as “the sheep went from me.”
  • Sheep are constantly getting lost.
  • Shepherd must be diligent

3.  “And when he finds it “ (Good Shepherd)

  • As Bible experts they would have instantly recalled Psalms 23, Jeremiah 23, and Ezekiel 34
  • Ezekiel 34 Prophecy Against the Shepherds of Israel

1…‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. Ezekiel 34:1-5 (NIV)

11 “‘For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice. Ezekiel 34:11-16 (NIV)

4.  “he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home” (Picture of a good shepherd)

  • Rugged terrain made it difficult to bring the sheep back; a lost sheep is confused, exhausted and unable or willing to stand.   Often 70 lbs a sheep would have to be carried by the shepherd (not joyfully)
  • The sacrificial action of the shepherd alone will save the sheep
  • John 10:1-18 The Good Shepherd and His Sheep

11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep….   14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:11-15 (NIV)

  • The cross was not used as a symbol of salvation in the early church.  Scholars believe this was because crucifixion by the cross
  • The image of a shepherd with a sheep across his shoulders was often used as a symbol of salvation.  Carving in the catacombs and frescos in early house churches depict a shepherd with a sheep that is proportionally larger than the  the shepherd
  • The early church understood the

5.  “‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’”

12 “…If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? 13 And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off.  Matthew 18:12-13 (NIV)

6.  Summary

  • The Pharisees come face to face with the prophesy of Ezekiel, they have failed as the shepherds God intended them to be and through their religion, have neglected the lost sheep
  • God loves his sheep
  • Only through the shepherd will the lost sheep be found.  Through no effort of our own we are saved through Him
  • Joy – common theme of each of the parable.

7.  Call The good shepherd loves you and longs for your return to the fold.  He will seek you out in the darkness.  He will lift you up onto his shoulders and rejoice.  All you have to do is let him…

Bible Class: The Lord’s Prayer-Daily Bread?

Bible class audio for December 12, 2010 “Daily Bread?”

Bible class audio for December 5, 2010 “The Lord’s Prayer”

Outline and Notes:

1. Father.   The first mention of God as our father is by Jesus in this sermon…something he reinforces in his teaching on prayer.  The hearers had only known God as the God of the people at large with Abraham as their father.  We can approach God on a personal level like we would our father

2. Examples of how not to pray. Just to be seen or with lot’s of words like a pagan prayer.  Here is a pagan prayer from the time just before the birth of Jesus that sound a lot like mine, demanding stuff and physical protection, framed in a way that seems to make their god legally obligated to answer demands.

Father Mars, I pray and beseech thee that thou be gracious and merciful to me, my house, and my household; to which intent I have bidden this suovetaurilia to be led around my land, my ground, my farm; that thou keep away, ward off and removed sickness, seen and unseen, barrenness and destruction, ruin and unseasonable influence; and that thou permit my harvests, my grain, my vine-yards and my plantations to flourish and to come to good issue, preserve in health my shepherds and my flocks, and give good health and strength to me, my house and my household To this intent, to the intent of purifying my farm, my land and my ground, and of making an expiation, as I have said, deign to accept the offering of these suckling victims; Father Mars, to the same intent deign to accept the offering of these suckling offering.

The ritual is preserved in Cato the Elder’s De Re Rustica, “On Agriculture”. The first step was to lead the three animals around the boundaries of the land to be blessed, pronouncing the following words Roman pagan prayers were phrased like legal documents that could obligate gods for particular action and protection.

3.  The big concepts in the example prayer

  • Talk to God as we talk to our father
  • Praise him first
  • Glorify the kingdom
  • Submit to His will
  • Ask for Epiousios Bread (Read #4)
  • Forgiveness
  • Spiritual protection

4.  The translators made a choice in most translations to translate “didmi ego semeron ego epiousios artos” as “Give us this day our daily bread” and our minds perk up thinking we can pray and God will give us stuff.

But that may not be what Jesus intended for us to think.

The Gospel writers used the word “Epiousios” (Ep-ee-you-see-ahs) which according to all scholars is only found in the writings of Matthew in his account of the Lord’s prayer and in Lukes account.  In other words (no pun intended) Jesus or the writers made up the word for some reason.  Linguists believe Epiousious can mean one of several things

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, edited by Bauer,Arndt, Gingrich, Danker, University of Chicago Press, 1. deriving from Epi and Ousia: necessary for existence, in agreement with Origen, Chrysostom, Jerome and others; 2. one loaf of bread is the daily requirement; 3. for the following day; 4. deriving from epienai: bread for the future. In Jerome’s translation, made in 405 A.D. we read (Mat 6:11): “Give us this day our supersubstantial bread” (“panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodie”).

epi Most often it means above, over, on, upon, besides, or in addition to. ‘Ousios [ousia] means being, substance, essence or nature.

The word or prefix epi occurs over 300 times in the Gospels. Most often it means above, over, on, upon, besides, or in addition to. In a number of contexts it is translated into Latin as super. For example where epiappears in the Greek NT we read in the Vulgate: (Mt 14:25) ‘ambulans super mare’ ‘walking upon the sea’; and (Mt 18:13) ‘quia gaudet super eam magis quam super nonaginta novem’ ‘he rejoiceth more over that, than over the ninety-nine’; and Lk 1:35 ‘Spiritus Sanctus superveniet te’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon thee’. Wikipedia

Put the parts of the words together and you get supersubstantial or superessential.   I believe Jesus is teaching us to pray for something more than just a daily ration of physical bread but something super essential/substantial indeed…HIM!

The Sabbath Church of God website (Please don’t let the name stop you from reading this well referenced material)

E.W. Bullinger believed that the word epiousios is a reference to Jesus Christ Himself.  In the E.W. Bullinger Companion Bible, we find this explanation for epiousios: “daily  Greek epiousios. A word coined by our Lord, and used only here and Luke 11:3, by Him.  Compounded from epi = upon, and ousios = coming…Therefore, it means coming or descending upon, as did the manna, with which it is contrasted in John 6:32-33.  It is the True Bread from heaven, by which alone man can live – The Word of God, which is prayed for here.”

Jesus himself used manna and bread as a metaphor for salvation through him…Jesus doesn’t really seem to be too concerned if the questioners got any bread, read this:

When they found him on the other side of the lake, they asked him, “Rabbi, when did you get here?”

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, you are looking for me, not because you saw the signs I performed but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval.”

Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.”

So they asked him, “What sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’”

Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

“Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.”

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:24-35 (NIV)

A few verses to consider

Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh Romans 13:14 (NIV)

Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it. Revelation 2:17

So I pray that in fact God does give me the bread of life.

Shalom

Bible Class: The Blessings of Christ Part 2

Before you begin this study read Matthew 18:21-35

Servants who have approached the master with a poor spirit, acknowledging how broken and unrighteous we are without him and mourning over the sins we have committed, will have the master bring them into his kingdom and comfort us.  Only in this state can we with meekness bring our power under his control and crave the righteousness which he has promised to fill us with.   What a joy  for the  servant who is comforted and filled, who possesses a share of the master’s present kingdom  and all things on the earth becomes his.

But the question that has vexed forgiven servants for centuries is this:  What do you do once you are free?  What do you do with this new freedom?  How do you respond to when your master has made you a co-owner in the kingdom?

Jesus not only meets us where we are… he showers us with blessings.    He gives us citizenship in the kingdom and makes us rulers over the earth.  How do we respond to such great mercy? Continue reading

Sermon Audio: The Journey

Sermon Audio “The Journey

When the Israelites stood at the far side of the Red Sea they had escaped certain death and were delivered to life by the hand of God, but their journey wasn’t over.  The Israelites wandered through the wilderness before reaching their promise, and it wasn’t always pretty.  At times God’s anger burned toward them but in the end both He and they looked back their wanderings with fondness.

The Israelite’s story is our story.  When we stand at the banks of our salvation we have to know that our spiritual journey is not over, it’s only beginning.  We will journey through the wilderness of our lives and like the Israelites, Christian wilderness travelers trust God, need each other, look for God’s glory, and never turn back.

Exodus 14, Exodus 33, Jeremiah 2:1-2, Psalms 103, Luke 9:23, Matthew 22:36-40, 1 John 1:7, Philippians 3:12-14

Bible Class: Defining the Kingdom of Heaven (God)

Bible Class Audio May 23, 2010 “Kingdom of God (Part 2)

Bible Class Audio May 16, 2010 “Kingdom of God (Part 1)

“From that time on Jesus began to preach, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 4:17 (TNIV)

1.  A Central Theme of Jesus Teachings

The Kingdom of heaven is a central theme in the teachings of Jesus throughout his ministry.  It’s difficult to gain the deeper faith and understanding from his message without understanding the kingdom message first.

As you discover the depth to which the kingdom of God message is infused into the preaching of Jesus and the Apostles you have to wonder where in our church history was that message lost?  If it was so central to the original message, why did we water it down?

“It may be said that the teaching of Jesus concerning the Kingdom of God represents his whole teaching. It is the main, determinative subject of all his discourse. His ethics were ethics of the Kingdom; his theology was theology of the Kingdom; his teaching regarding himself cannot be understood apart from his interpretation of the Kingdom of God” (Dr. F. C. Grant, from “The Gospel of the Kingdom,” Biblical World, 50, pp. 121-191).

The gospel  (good news) message is still preached proudly, something from which we can never stray.  Jesus is the salvation for the world, He is the final sacrifice for sins, He was crucified and buried in a tomb, He was triumphant over death, He is the mediator of the new covenant.  What has been lost I’m afraid is the rest of the story, that Jesus has redeemed us into the Kingdom of God.  As Jesus said,

“The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached…” (Luke 16:16 TNIV) Continue reading