John Cries In The Wilderness!


Matthew 3:1 – 3

This is He who was spoken of by Prophet Isaiah when he said,the voice of the one crying in the wilderness!Prepare the way of the LORD; make His paths straight.v.3.

Following Christ’s move to Galillee, Matthew does not give any further details of Jesus’ childhood. Instead, he picks up the story of His gospel three decades after Jesus returns from Egypt, as we learn elsewhere that He is about thirty when He begins His ministry Luke 3 : 23. The events of Matthew 3 take place around AD. 27, and Joseph has probably passed on, as none of the Other Gospels talks of him during Jesus’ adult life. In all likelihood, Joseph has been gone for a while, with the responsibility to support the family resting on Jesus and His brothers, that is, until His itinerant preaching begins. Today’s passage depicts John the Baptist’s ministry in the Wilderness of Judeav.1, a region covering the Jordan valley just north and west of the Dead Sea. His message is well recieved by the Jews in Palestine, and crowds from all Judea receive his baptism vv. 5 – 6. Importantly, in John’s day the voice of prophecy has been silent for 400 years according to various extra-canonical writings. When John ministers in the wilderness wearing camel, hair, the people associate him with Elijah, who acted similarly 1 Kings 19; 2 Kings 1:7-8, and consider John a prophet Matthew 21:23 – 27. Through John the people realize that God is speaking to them again.

In Matthew 3:3, Matthew again says prophecy is fulfilled at the coming of Jesus and cites Isaiah 40:3. The meaning of this passage for Isaiah’s original audience shows us how John fulfils it. Isaiah 40 is about the restoration promised to the exiled Israelites after they repent. A highway for God will be built, and the people will travel back to their land in glory v. 3. The exiles longed for this day, but the promise of glory did not occur when they returned to Palestine, for the nation as a whole did not repent, In a real sense, life in exile away from the Lord’s blessing continued even though many of the people had returned. John is the ultimate realization of Isaiah 40:3 because he sets the stage for the Lord’s favor to come to the exiles. Jesus is the way through which God’s blessing comes to His people John 14:6 and in heralding His coming, John is the road that leads the nation to blessings and thus to God in Christ.

Coram deo: Living Before The Face of God!

John the Baptist was the primary herald of Christ in his day, but the task of bearing witness to the Saviour was not laid solely upon him. Jesus Himself commissioned first the Apostles, and secondly, the entire Church to testify to the Grace of God manifest in His Life, Death, and Resurrection. Our witness will only be effective if, as with John, the surrounding culture sees that the Church is different. Is your manner of life different than that of an unbelievers?

For Further Study:

Deuteronomy 30:1 – 10.

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Blood on His Hands


Read:

Hebrews 10:1939

Recommended Reading:

Leviticus 16:134; Matthew 6:1921; Romans 8:2839; 1 John 1:14

The sacrifice of atonement involved lots of bloodthat should be a clue for us as to its importance to God. Once a year the high priest entered the most sacred place on Earth to offer up to God the blood of an animal. As a result, according to the law, the people of Israel temporarily stood in right relationship before their Creator Father.

Those of us who grew up attending Sunday school sometimes have a misperception that the temple was a place like the church in which we grew uptypically clean, orderly and with a planned program for worship. Most people, dressed in their Sunday best, sat quietly during the service and then enjoyed refreshments afterward. But thats not what the Israelites experienced. The temple was for them a place of slaughter, bloodletting and sacrifice.

To be sure, the sacrifice was a messy businesshearing the cries of the resistant animal; watching the priest execute the slaughter and spread the sacrificed animals blood on the altar; and then watching the carcasses being sliced, cut and burned in sacrifice to God. Yes, this was a visceral experience quite opposite of what we experience in worship today. Yet this brutal ritual represented Gods provision for Israel to become once again right with him.

We shouldnt be surprised that Gods new, permanent arrangement for people to come to him also required blood on someones hands. Jesus blood stained many hands: those of Judas, the Jewish Pharisees, the Roman governmenteven Pilate, who tried in advance to wash the symbolic stains from his hands. But Jesus blood fell mostly on the hands of his own Father, the God who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all (Romans 8:32).

Our sin separates us from God, makes us wrong before him. In turn, Gods sacrifice of his own son cancels our separation from God. The blood of his Son sets us right before the Father.

Thats the far-reaching extent of our Fathers love for us. He reaches out to us today with those same bloodstained hands. The permanent, atoning sacrifice of the unblemished Lamb, Jesus, permits us to draw near to God (Hebrews 10:22), to hold unswervingly to the hope we profess (verse 23), to spur one another on (verse 24), to not [give] up and to [encourage] one another (verse 25).

To Take Away

  • Take a few minutes to read Leviticus 16. Why do you think God required such elaborate ritual and detail for the sacrifice of atonement?
  • According to Old Testament law, Israel needed to offer sacrifices to become right before God. In the New Testament Jesus becomes the final sacrifice for all. Why did God require a sacrifice at all?
  • How does the thought that the Father gave [Jesus] up for us all (Romans 8:32) make you feel about God? Why? What effect does this have on your life?

Navy Seal Lessons For Operating Successfully As A Team


English: US Navy SEALs training with US Air Fo...
English: US Navy SEALs training with US Air Force CV-22 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the military, there are shared beliefs, consistent values, and deep traditions across all military units. In comparison, it’s often unclear in businesses what values a company operates with. In the military, certain protocols exist such as respect for rank regardless of the military branch, following orders, communicating clearly , and giving only one’s absolute best. But corporate cultures vary–from top-down hierarchies to vague or flat leadership.

ilitary culture is traditional, historically informed and fixed, whereas corporate cultures differ based on the leadership or other variables that oftentimes create challenges for employees at every level. Military personnel have a clearly structured and transparent path to promotion, while in the world of business, there’s often no defined career progression and the necessity for employees to manage their careers.

It’s clear that above all else, the Navy SEAL’s functional and effective teamwork is among one of its top strengths. The following SEAL insights could, and should, be applied to working teams in business.

1. A Navy SEAL does not discriminate.

Regardless of shape, size, beliefs, or culture, the biggest personal trait demanded of a SEAL is demeanor. A Navy SEAL does not display a superior attitude or arrogance, but rather a confidence in his physical and mental abilities for the good of the team.

2. Every person counts.

Settling for mediocrity is the death of an organization. Every SEAL knows with 100% confidence that the person behind him will be able to save his life. Corporate leaders need to be able to say the same about their management teams. Employees’ livelihoods depend on it.

3. SEALS train.

When SEALs are not on combat deployment, they spend the vast majority of their time in training. In contrast, executives spend the majority of their time executing. The importance of training for new employees, or even a veteran team, is vital to the success of the business. Navy SEALs spend thousands of hours honing their skills, and so should employees in a profession.

4. Everyone is expendable.

All SEALs are trained in a nearly identical manner, so no one SEAL is indispensable to the unit or the mission. The understanding during combat is that anyone can be lost at any time and the rest of the unit can carry on the mission successfully. Businesses need to ensure contingency plans are in place for any unforeseen personnel circumstances within their organization so the team can carry on without any delays.

5. You never know the measure of people until they are tested.

People are more resilient and tougher than imagined. During SEAL training, instructors prove that their men are capable of 10 times more than what they ever imagined. Until your team is really tested, you can never be too sure who will step up and who will falter in any given situation.

 

Photos:

English: CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 14, 2008...
English: CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (Aug. 14, 2008) SEAL qualification training (SQT) students from Class 268 perform buddy carries between stations during a 36-round shooting test at Camp Pendleton. SQT is a six-month training course that all SEAL candidates must complete before being assigned to a SEAL team. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Michelle Kapica/Released) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The graduating members of BUD/S Class 236 in f...
The graduating members of BUD/S Class 236 in front of the Naval Special Warfare Center. At the far left of the last row is Medal of Honor recipient Michael P. Murphy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)