Pastor’s Bible Reading Notes – August 6/17

Introduction: In this week’s notes we see the false leaders of Israel try to trap Jesus in His words yet again. This time they seek to mock Christ’s teaching about eternal life. They do this by casting contempt on the very idea that God can resurrect the dead. But Jesus mightily rebuts their anti-resurrection arguments. May we therefore rejoice that God is not a God of the dead, but of the living (Matthew 22:32), and may we appreciate Jesus’ taking up the great Old Testament name “LORD” and proving our hope in the resurrection by its use in the Bible and in our lives. May we indeed see God’s hand of resurrecting power at work in our day.

Mon/Tues: read Matthew 22:23-33. The important point to grasp about the Sadducees’ liberal rationalism, whereby they deny all belief in the supernatural, and therefore, like so many in our day, believe that this life is all there is, is that their error was rooted in two failures. First, they denied the wording of the Scriptures, and thereby demonstrate their ignorance of them; second, they denied God’s power to call into being things that are not, and eviscerated the Divine prerogative to give life to whom He pleases.

Jesus corrects their error by pointing to God’s identification in the burning bush as the “The I Am,” who is still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob after their deaths. Jesus concludes, given God’s claim to be the God of His people after death, that God is indeed “The God of the Living, and not the dead.”

Meditate and Pray: Let us rejoice at the reality, as Luke puts it in his parallel account of the conflict with the Sadducees, that “all live to God” (Luke 20:38). Please sing with me the words of hymn # 164, which underline our need for God to be the “I AM” in our lives on a daily basis:

O for a thousand tongues to sing
My great Redeemer’s praise,
The glories of my God and King,
The triumphs of His grace!

My gracious Master and my God,
Assist me to proclaim,
To spread through all the earth abroad
The honors of Thy name.

Jesus! the name that charms our fears,
That bids our sorrows cease;
’Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
’Tis life, and health, and peace.

He breaks the power of reigning sin,
He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean,
His blood availed for me.

He speaks, and, listening to His voice,
New life the dead receive,
The mournful, broken hearts rejoice,
The humble poor believe.

Hear Him, ye deaf; His praise, ye dumb,
Your loosened tongues employ;
Ye blind, behold your Savior come,
And leap, ye lame, for joy.

Weds/Thurs: read Matthew 22:29-33 and Exodus 3:16-18. According to Jesus in Matthew 22:32, the very name of God supports belief in the doctrine of the resurrection. In using the Divine Name, ‘I AM’ (LORD), Jesus echoes Exodus 3:16-18, where three times in capital letters, the precious name “LORD” is declared to be God’s personal name of unchanging, life-giving power: “The LORD, the God of your fathers” (v. 16); “The LORD, the God of the Hebrews” (v. 18); (and, in the request of Moses to Pharaoh) “Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.”

What good news this “name of names” brings to God’s people! Sadly, this name is often misunderstood, either out of ignorance, or superstitious fear. For example, when Moses introduces the LORD to Pharaoh, his response is: “Who is the LORD, that I should obey Him…?” (Ex. 5:2). Centuries later, even God’s people, out of a fear of misusing this name, limited its use to once a year on the great Atonement Day, in the Most Holy Place, the temple. The result, as one scholar puts it, is that “…when, in reading the Scriptures, they came to that word, ‘LORD,’ they used a euphemism, putting another word instead of LORD.” Thus the reading of the sacred name in Hebrew was lost, symptomatic of the growing distance between God and His people before the birth of Christ. How desperately, therefore, did men of faith look for the coming of the LORD Jesus Christ to reintroduce the name of God to men!

Meditate and Pray: Thank God for the LORD Jesus Christ, who came down invested with the full authority of God’s personal name. Though all mankind had lost the knowledge of the LORD, we rejoice that the LORD Jesus Christ represented the return of the LORD to His people. No wonder Paul continually introduces His Savior, not merely as “Jesus Christ,” but as the “LORD Jesus Christ”!  Just go to the beginning of all of his letters (Romans; 1 & 2 Corinthians; Galatians; Ephesians; Philippians; Colossians; 1 & 2 Thessalonians; 1 & 2 Timothy; Titus and Philemon), and see His greeting: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the LORD Jesus Christ.”

Friday: read Exodus 3:16-18 and Matthew 3:1-3. All the prophets, from Moses to John the Baptist, declared with one voice that the coming Savior would be none other than the LORD.  See, for example, Matthew’s quotation from Isaiah 40:3, which points to the LORD Jesus Christ: “Prepare the way for the LORD, make straight paths for Him.” How amazing that John applies the most revered, personal name, the LORD, directly to Jesus of Nazareth, the humble carpenter! John grew up, like every Jew, daily affirming that the LORD is one by reciting the Shema of Deuteronomy 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” But now, as Derek Thomas puts it, John is saying, “There is more than One who is the One God!” The Father is LORD! Jesus is LORD! The Spirit is LORD!” – and at the same time, the LORD is one! Surely we must bow, with John, and Moses, before this great mystery of the Trinity.

Meditate and Pray: Let us never fail to treasure the revelation of the Triune Godhead in the Son of God for becoming man. Without the Incarnation, we could never have understood the “three-personed nature” of the One true God!