Old Testament: Isaiah 37-38:22
Isaiah 37-38:22 The Book Of Hezekiah*
The events in chapters 36-39 occur in 701 B.C. Rebshakeh got his name from a Sly and the Family Stone song, “I Want To Take You Higher.” No, that can’t be right. I guess that was “Boom-shaka-laka.” Anyway, he was officially the cupbearer to the Assyrian king and was a close official.
Chapters 36-38 parallel 2 Kings 18- 19 and 2 Chron. 32:1- 23. I wrote about it briefly here: Phoebe And Other Friends
Snatch-a-rib, I mean Sennacherib, was the arrogant king of Assyria who was shut down by the “Angel of the Lord” (cf. Isa. 37:36-38).
Chap. 37: In chapter 36, Rebshakeh tried to intimidate the Jews into surrounding. When Hezekiah, king of Judah, heard of this, he went to the Temple and prayed as he should have (cf. 2 Chron. 7:14). God answered Hezekiah through Isaiah that God would deliver the nation. He did (vv. 36-38).
Chap. 38: Hezekiah became deathly ill. He asked God to heal him. God healed him and he lived another 15 years (v. 1-5). As proof, God moved the shadow up the steps on Ahaz’s sundial. It would normally go downward as the day progressed (cf. 38:7-8). Two great miracles. It is supposed that Hezekiah wrote Ps. 116. He wrote a psalm of thanksgiving that closes the chapter.
Was it good for Hezekiah to have years added to his life? Tune in tomorrow.
*By the way, there is no real book of Hezekiah. People just say that sometimes to be funny because it sounds like it’d be a real book.
New Testament: Galatians 6:1-18
Galatians 6:1-18 Bear Up
Some people believe it is OK to stay home from church and either go to Bedside Baptist or Fellowship of the Hugging Tree. The New Testament assumes that people will be in church. All of the epistles were written to churches! It is not possible to fulfill all the commands of Scripture without being linked to other believers. It is not possible to “restore” others or help others with their burdens without having a fellowship. We are to “bear one another’s burdens” in order to fulfill Christ’s commands (v. 2). Humility would imply that we are subservient to others in a social setting (v.3). We all must be committed to helping others as well as doing our part for the body (cf. the gifts in 1 Cor. 12, e.g.).
Verse 6 is very interesting. It indicates that the pastor should be appreciated. And not just on Pastor Appreciation Day. I know as a pastor, people were much freer with their criticism than their praise. Everyone thought I only worked one hour a week. Actually, I was so concerned about the congregation that it was possibly responsible for landing me in the heart hospital. That meant I was acting in the flesh, part of the time. I doubt it was God’s will for me to get so run down.
Of course, none of that touches on what verse six is about. Verse six says that a congregation should pay the pastor a fair wage. McGee calls it “the bluntest verse in the Bible.” The noun form of this Greek word, koinonia, is normally the word we translate “fellowship.” Here it is the verbal form, koinoneo and is translated “share” but literally means, “give or contribute a share.” In other words, pay your pastor. And this is from the guy who made tents for a living so he wouldn’t be burdening his congregations. Clearly, based on this verse, he meant that to be an exception.
Paul goes on to say that God can not be hoodwinked. God expects everyone to contribute and, as a result, the giver would be taken care of (v. 7-9, cf. 2 Cor. 9:6-7). Some churches specialize in being beneficent to everyone. Paul says that’s great but we should prioritize believers (v. 10).
Verse 11 reinforces the idea that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a problem with his eyes (cf. 2 Cor. 12:7). He was personally writing this letter (in other letters he used an amanuensis, your word of the day, look it up!, cf., Rom. 16:22).
Paul concludes with a warning about the legalists again. He says they are only trying to avoid being harassed by the other Judaizers (v. 13). Then they can boast about racking up numbers of converts to their false religion. Paul says he hopes he never boasts about himself but only about what Christ has done for him. Through Christ, he died to sin and the world and world was, in fact, dead to him (v. 14).
Circumcision doesn’t mean anything at all. The other thing that really matters is that we have been born again and become a new creation (v. 15, cf. 2 Cor. 5:17).
Whoever walks as a born again Christian, a new creation, will have peace with God and the mercy of God (v. 16). They would, then, be in the universal fellowship of those who trust God for their salvation, whether Old or New Testament. In that way, they are part of the true descendants of Abraham, that is, the true “Israel of God” (v. 16). Not all of the Israelites were saved in the Old Testament (cf. Rom. 4:12-16; 9:6-7). The true Israelites were the ones who trusted God as Abraham did. Those who trust Christ by faith are the true believers in New Testament times.
Paul bore all the marks of the abuse he suffered for the cause of Christ (Acts 9:17; 2 Cor. 11:23-25; Phil. 1:29). He says he has had enough trouble and that no one should bother him anymore. (Good luck on that!).
Of course, Paul closes on a note of grace, God’s unmerited favor (v. 18).