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Thursday, December 26, 2019

The Star

Matthew 2:1-12  1 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, 2 asking, “Where is the One who has been born King of the Jews? We saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.”
3 When King Herod heard this, he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4 When he had assembled all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired where the Christ was to be born.
5 “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written:
6 ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah,
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of My people Israel.’”
7 Then Herod called the Magi secretly and learned from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8 And sending them to Bethlehem, he said: “Go and search carefully for the Child, and when you find Him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship Him.”
9 After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with great delight. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the Child with His mother Mary, and they fell down and worshiped Him. Then they opened their treasures and presented Him with gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
12 And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they withdrew to their country by another route.

The shepherds were out in the field “keeping watch over their flock by night” (Luke 2:8), something the scholars say was likely only done in the spring when lambs were born. Thus the birth was likely in the spring, probably between 7 and 4 B.C. (not the December 25th we celebrate as Christ's birth).

In Matthew 2 the following 9 qualities of Bethlehem's Star:
It signified birth
It signified kingship
It was related to the Jewish nation
It rose "in the East"
King Herod had not been aware of it
It appeared at an exact time
It endured over time
It was in front of the Magi when they traveled south from Jerusalem to Bethlehem,
It stopped over Bethlehem.

Attorney Frederick Larson examined the biblical account:
Using astronomy software, and an article written by astronomer Craig Chester based on the work of Ernest Martin, Larson thinks all nine characteristics of the Star of Bethlehem are found in events that took place in the skies of 3-2 BC. Highlights include a triple conjunction of Jupiter, called the king planet, with the fixed star Regulus, called the king star, starting in September 3 BC. Larson believes that may be the time of Jesus' conception.
By June of 2 BC, nine months later, the human gestation period, Jupiter had continued moving in its orbit around the sun and appeared in close conjunction with Venus in June of 2 BC. In Hebrew Jupiter is called "Sedeq", meaning "righteousness", a term also used for the Messiah, and suggested that because the planet Venus represents love and fertility, so Chester had suggested astrologers would have viewed the close conjunction of Jupiter and Venus as indicating a coming new king of Israel, and Herod would have taken them seriously. Astronomer Dave Reneke independently found the June 2 BC planetary conjunction, and noted it would have appeared as a "bright beacon of light".
Jupiter next continued to move and then it stopped in its apparent retrograde motion on December 25 of 2 BC over the town of Bethlehem. Since planets in their orbits have a "stationary point", a planet moves eastward through the stars but "After it passes the opposite point in the sky from the sun, it appears to slow, come to a full stop, and move backward (westward) for some weeks. Again it slows, stops, and resumes its eastward course," said Chester. The date of December 25 that Jupiter appeared to stop while in retrograde took place in the season of Hanukkah, and is the date later chosen to celebrate Christmas. - Wikipedia, Star of Bethlehem

The conjunction or close meeting of Jupiter with two other planets, Saturn and Mars occurred in 6 and 5 B.C. In 3–2 BC, there was a series of seven conjunctions, including three between Jupiter and Regulus (a bright star in the constellation Leo) but these occurred after the death of Herod in 4 B.C.

"In the east" could also be interpreted as "at the rising." When a constellation or planet appears in the sky just before sunrise it's called a heliacal rising. Venus is heliacal star but Venus was known to astronomers and thus would not have been special by itself, but it could have been seen as significant if paired with another bright planet such as Jupiter. Craig Chester suggests it was Venus followed by a morning conjunction with Jupiter. This occurred June 17, 2 BC, but Herod likely died in 4 BC, meaning it didn't occur "in the days of Herod."

A bright meteor or “falling star” they last only seconds. It couldn't have "led" the wise men. There are no known novas or supernovas that would fit the bill.

These are only some of many theories on the Star of Bethlehem. Scholars have studied history to find astrological events that fit the 9 qualities of the Bethlehem Star. They try to pin down the historical year of Christ's birth according to the clues given in the nativity stories in the four gospels. Then they search historical records during that time to find astrological/astronomical events mentioned or described. But it probably was a supernatural event, rather than a natural event that supernaturally occurred at the time of Christ's birth.

These magi were “from the East” according to verse 1 and they are generally thought to be from Persia, which is east of Jerusalem. They seem to be the only ones who saw the star and applied significance to it. With it's appearance they knew to head west. They went to Israel’s capital city Jerusalem, to search for the King of the Jews. The magi had to ask King Herod where the King of the Jews was born, which means the star wasn’t guiding them at that time (Matthew 2:2). They rejoiced when they saw the star again as they began their journey to Bethlehem (Matthew 2:10) about 6 miles from Jerusalem. It led them to the very house Joseph and Mary lived in. It sounds like it was more of a miracle star and why wouldn't God use miraculous signs at the birth of His Son?!?

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Proverbs 4:20-22

Proverbs 4:20-22  20 My son, pay attention to my words;
incline your ear to my sayings.
21 Do not lose sight of them;
keep them within your heart.
22 For they are life to those who find them,
and health to the whole body.
Fig bush

are life - חַיִּ֣ים (chay, ḥay·yîm) - Noun - masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 2416: Alive, raw, fresh, strong, life
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon adds: life: as welfare and happiness in king's presence; as consisting of earthly felicity combined (often) with spiritual blessedness

to those who find them - לְמֹצְאֵיהֶ֑ם (matsa, lə·mō·ṣə·’ê·hem) - Preposition-l | Verb - Qal - Participle - masculine plural construct | third person masculine plural
Strong's Hebrew 4672: To come forth to, appear, exist, to attain, find, acquire, to occur, meet, be present

and health - מַרְפֵּֽא׃ (marpe, mar·pê) - Noun - masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 4832: Curative, a medicine, a cure, deliverance, placidity

to the whole - וּֽלְכָל־ (kol, ū·lə·ḵāl-) - Conjunctive waw, Preposition-l | Noun - masculine singular construct
Strong's Hebrew 3605: The whole, all, any, every

body - בְּשָׂר֥וֹ (basar, bə·śā·rōw) - Noun - masculine singular construct | third person masculine singular
Strong's Hebrew 1320: Flesh, body, person, the pudenda (nakedness) of a man

Unto those that find them; i.e. to those who by effort get possession of and procure them; the verb matsa, to find, embodying the idea of activity. Health; mar'pe, derived from the root rapha, "to heal" (like riph'uth of Proverbs 3:8, which see), and hence rather "the means of health" than "health," "healing," or, as margin, "medicine," "that which restores to health;" LXX., ἴασις; Vulgate, sanitas. The moral condition is regarded as enfeebled by sickness, from which it may be restored to health and soundness by the words of wisdom. The effect of these, however, is not only to restore to health, but to maintain in health. Their tendency is to promote "a sound mind in a sound body." To their flesh; literally, to his flesh; the singular, b'saro, being used instead of the plural, which we should have expected, because what is said applies to each one of those who receive the precepts of wisdom. The all implies the completeness of the restoration; it is not confined to one part, but pervades the whole body. - Pulpit Commentary

If we pay attention and listen carefully to godly wisdom, letting it penetrate our heart, it can bring health to all three parts of man: body, mind (soul) and spirit. It is like a spiritual medicine. I refer to my devotions as taking my spiritual vitamins. But notice there is something we have to do... listen, pay attention to God's wisdom and keep them within our heart. We are to put our eyes and ears on the Word and apply it to our lives. We have to pick up the Bible and read it ("do not lose sight of it"), paying attention to it, focusing on it. "Incline your ear", we have to listen to it (either by reading it aloud or hearing someone read it and expounding on it like a teacher or preacher). We have to hide it in the deepest part of our hearts, allowing it to penetrate and do it's work. We have to submit our unruly heart to the Word of God allowing it to go deeply.

Young's Literal Translation of this verse is: Let them not turn aside from thine eyes, Preserve them in the midst of thy heart.

"Preserve them in the midst of thy heart" doesn't mean head knowledge. We can read the Bible, even memorize it. But that's just an intellectual exercise unless we believe it and let it change our lives. It has the power to do so but only if we allow and accept it. God gave us a free will and we can choose whether or not to accept or reject.

Fig leaf

Did you know that there are people who make a show of rejecting the World in order to "devote" themselves to God? You might think of nuns, priests, monks, ministers/pastors. They may seclude themselves away from the world and spend their time following spiritual demands such as praying 3 hours a day, reading the Bible 2 hours, serving others, fasting 30 days, flagellating themselves twice a day, crawl 5 miles, visit spiritual pilgrimage sites, yada, yada, yada. You would think these people must really be holy! They would be the ones who would really hear from God and be God's pets (like a Teacher's Pet).

But none of that is what makes a person holy. In fact, you would find these people are just as evil as any criminal in any town. They can be petty, vindictive, ambitious, mean spirited, jealous, self righteous, judgmental, gossiping, sexually promiscuous, foul mouthed, manipulative, thieving rapists and murderers!

A pillar-saint is a Christian ascetic who lived on pillars while preaching, fasting and praying. Stylites believe that the mortification of their bodies would help ensure the salvation of their souls. Stylites were common in the early days of the Byzantine Empire. But some would argue back and forth from their pillars!

Hermits lived in voluntary solitary confinement for years. An eremitic hermit was one who lived solitarily in the wilderness. An anchorite was one who lived in a monastery but practised solitude supposedly to devote oneself to God. But what is the true motivation? Could it just be fear/phobias such as social phobias, social anxiety disorder, paranoia? Could it be the inability to deal with everyday responsibilities? Could it be giving-up-and-checking-out, avoidance, denial, isolation to protect oneself? Could it be the same mental illness that haunts many homeless today? They can't function in society because of mental illness. Or is it a desire for simplicity, for someone else to make all the decisions in this life so that you don't have to, regimenting your life so that there are no uncertainties? None of these have anything to do with God and all to do with selfishness. I'm not saying solitude, silence, and focus on God is a bad thing! Not by any means! What I'm saying is it doesn't make you holy if they are just mentally ill but someone pastes a God label on your eccentric behavior. It doesn't make you holy if all you are doing is catering to yourself and your fears. It doesn't make you holy if you are just avoiding the world and responsibilities. It doesn't make you holy if you are prideful of how many hours, days, weeks, months, years or decades you've practised solitude. It doesn't make you holy if you think you are closer to God than someone else or have an ambition of others recognizing you due to your religious practice. Don't try to cover your sins with a fig leaf of "religious seclusion" and paste a God label on it.

Some mortified their flesh which was seen as putting to death the flesh, denying yourself. There were many ways of mortification including fasting, crawling, kneeling for long hours, abstinence, practising poverty, flagellation (whipping oneself until bloody), wearing hair shirts to irritate the skin to bloodiness, self inflicted wounds. Do these practises make you holy? Not if you are a masochist who derives sexual pleasure from inflicted pain! Some people experience relief from emotional pain by self harming. They may call it mortification of the flesh in order to be closer to God but it's really about themselves and their own relief which is not very holy. Some people who self-injure do so because they seek to punish themselves. They cannot see God forgiving them without some form of self punishment. They have to make themselves worthy of forgiveness. But we can never be worthy of forgiveness. We can't save ourselves. Our works, even self-punishment, are never going to make us worthy. It's why we needed a Savior! And Jesus Christ came to freely forgive anyone who repents and asks for His forgiveness. If we say He can't forgive us in our current state, then we are saying His work on the cross was not good enough and we have to do something to aid Him. Not a very holy thought is it? We come to Him just as we are and trust Him to forgive and cleanse us. He covers us with HIS righteousness, we have no righteousness to cover ourselves with. And how holy is it to crawl 5 miles until your knees are bloody but your mind is filled with unholy thoughts such as, "I'd better get a blessing for doing all this"; "I don't really believe in all this but I'll do it for good luck"; "Damn it, why did I have to land on that sharp rock?"; "I want something from God so I'll do this 'penance' in order to rub the magic genie lamp and get what I want"; "how can I do this but experience the least amount of pain, that way I look good but I'm not really suffering or sacrificing anything?"; "If I do this I will have paid for my sins and will get into heaven"; "Fasting will help me lose weight anyway"; "I've given up more than the Joneses, so I'm holier than they are"?

Here are some famous people who had a religious mantle but were far from holy:

Pope John XII (955–964), who gave land to a mistress, murdered several people, and was killed by a man who caught him in bed with his wife.

Pope Urban VI (1378–1389), who complained that he did not hear enough screaming when Cardinals who had conspired against him were tortured.

Pope Leo X: A scion of the powerful Medici family of Florence, Leo had his talents and was a patron of the arts but is remembered most for his lavish spendthrift habits in the years he was pope, between 1513 and 1521. His emptying of the Vatican's coffers led to various measures to create more revenue, which included the sale of indulgences — in effect, guarantees of relief from damnation in the afterlife. This practice infuriated a certain German contemporary of Leo, Martin Luther, and planted the seeds of the Protestant Reformation.

Father Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, was found to have sexually abused dozens of seminarians, in addition to fathering at least three children out of wedlock. Maciel’s crimes were revealed by a 1998 expose. Maciel won the allegiance of many inside the Vatican by plying them with expensive gifts — cars and foodstuffs worth thousands, and envelopes of cash.

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Archdiocese of Philadelphia, oversaw priests who were involved in sexual torture of children. Instead of being reported to the DA’s office, pedophile priests were moved — sometimes repeatedly, from parish to parish to parish. Abusive priests kept right on abusing children.

In 2012, a number of former students of the Montreal Institute for the Deaf accused some 30 clergy at the schools of Clercs de Saint-Viateur of abusing and raping children from 1944 to 1982.

In 1987 Jimmy Swaggart publicly accused fellow televangelist Jim Bakker of immoral sexual behaviour. This denunciation, which some saw as a move by Swaggart to take over Bakker’s empire, precipitated a closer look at Swaggart’s own life, leading to the revelation that he had performed voyeuristic acts with a female prostitute. Indeed, another rival televangelist, Marvin Gorman, whom Swaggart had also accused of having one or more extramarital affairs and who was subsequently defrocked, provided photographs of Swaggart at a Baton Rouge motel with a local prostitute. Despite his tearful on-air apology in February 1988, Swaggart was defrocked by the Assemblies of God in April but continued to act as an independent Pentecostal preacher. In October 1991 police in Indio, California, found Swaggart in the company of a prostitute after stopping him for a traffic violation. During that period he lost a $10 million defamation lawsuit for the accusations of sexual misconduct he had lodged against Gorman; the parties later settled out of court for $1.85 million. After those scandals, Swaggart turned control of Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, Inc., over to his son, Donnie.- Brittanica

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker were among the most famous televangelists in America. They were living a life of luxury when their empire all came crashing down amid sex and financial scandals. Tammy Faye had a breakdown due to drug dependency. Jessica Hahn claimed that in December 1980, when she was 21 years old, Jim Bakker allegedly sexually assaulted her. He said it was consensual but the ministry paid more than $200,000 in hush money. He stepped down from PTL and asked Jerry Falwell to run the ministry. Falwell found out how bad the financial situation was at PTL and how the Bakkers had enriched themselves at the expense of their followers. Jim Bakker was indicted in 1988 on eight counts of mail fraud, 15 counts of wire fraud and one count of conspiracy. On Oct. 5, 1989, a jury found Bakker guilty on all 24 counts. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison and ordered to pay a $500,000 fine. He ended up serving almost five years of that sentence before being paroled in 1994. Tammy Faye filed for divorce. She married Roe Messner, the contractor who built Heritage USA. But after the financial fallout of PTL, Messner was sentenced in 1996 to 27 months in federal prison for bankruptcy fraud. She died of lung cancer. Jim Bakker remarried, started another television ministry and raises money by selling doomsday products.

Marvin Gorman, Pastor of First Assembly of God Church, started with 100 members and rose to 6,000 members with an operating budget of $4.5 million and a television ministry in all 50 states. Jimmy Swaggart accused him of adultery with different women. Gorman admitted to having an affair and was removed from his pastorate and ended up in bankruptcy. But he wanted vengeance and so his son and another man set up Swaggart. They surveilled him entering a motel room in a shady motel used by a prostitute and set up cameras. They got a photo of Jimmy Swaggart entering the motel room with the prostitute. They disabled his Lincoln Towncar tires and called Gorman who rushed over to confront Jimmy Swaggart. He tried to blackmail Jimmy Swaggart to get his old job back but Jimmy Swaggart didn't do anything and eventually Gorman gave the photos to the Assemblies of God. Swaggart confessed and cried on TV to having "sinned". Gorman sued Swaggart and won a settlement out of court of $1.85 million. Gorman founded the Temple of Praise small church in New Orleans and wrote a book. He died in 2017.

We see people sin no matter what "sacrifices" they've made for God. They may scourge themselves with whips until they are bloody but still harbor lust, jealousy, ambition in their hearts. They may put on a good face in front of TV cameras and proclaim the gospel but still harbor hate, greed, lust, selfishness and pride in their heart. They may live in a nunnery and spend their lives "serving" only to harbor hate towards those they serve, self righteousness, pride, pettiness and unforgiveness in their hearts. They may be hermits living in caves practising fasting but have self righteousness, pride and selfishness in their hearts. (If you've ever seen a person with anorexia you will see someone who refuses to eat but it has nothing to do with God, rather with their own self-involved, self-idolizing, overweening pride. They are self-idolaters who force everyone around them to dance to their tune. So someone can attach a God-label on anorexia and call it fasting and get much self satisfaction and self righteousness out of their mental illness.)

We must be careful to not only view, read, listen to the Word of God but to let it penetrate the deepest recesses of our hearts and to let it make the necessary changes so that our good behavior is not a show and pretence, but a natural flow from a changed heart. If our exterior is not a result of interior changes then it is nothing more than a facade to facilitate our sins. Our goal should be that our exterior only be a natural flow from a renewed and changed heart. And the only way to get a renewed and changed heart is through constant contact with the Word of God and the working it out in a submitted heart by the life-giving Holy Spirit.

How is this Word to bring life and "health to the whole body"? A person’s body, mind and spirit are all interrelated and interdependent. What affects one affects the others. God gave us His Word as a guide to help us in mind, body and, most especially, spirit (which affects the mind and body). Who, better than our Creator, knows us and what is best and healthiest for us in mind, body and spirit?

If we sin, it affects our spirit, our mind and our body. Sin produces stress, guilt, shame, anger/rage, unforgiveness, bitterness, all types of negative emotions which affect our body and our mind. The sin of gluttony and lack of self control affects our weight and therefore our body. Substance abuse such as alcoholism, drug addiction, tobacco addiction becomes idolatry and dependence on something other than God and destroys our body, mind and spirit. Any idolatry can become an addiction whether it's self idolatry or idolatry of money, pornography, gambling, shopping, hoarding, etc. And, if left unchecked, will destroy you. Unforgiveness, anger and bitterness can eat away at your spirit, your mind and your body. It may not have been your fault but your unforgiveness, anger and bitterness becomes sin and eats away at you. Fear means you can't trust the Lord and is therefore a sin. Fear will incapacitate you and disable you.

Boy, I have stepped on my own toes. I have struggled with all of it and my body shows the ravages of it. My mind shows the ravages of it. Stress, fear, idolatry... all have left their marks. But if I can put God's Word in me and submit to the work of the Word and the Holy Spirit, I may can change some of the damage done in mind, body and spirit. The Word and prayer (dialogue with God) enriches my relationship with Him and gives me spiritual health which can then slowly work out into mind and body health. The more I know Him, the more I can trust Him and the more I can let go and let God which means less stress on me. My prayer is that I may know Him more and more. I was created for Him and my well being is dependent on walking in my relationship with Him. I'm safest, healthiest, more blessed when I'm being who God created me to be, His child. It's this rebellion to be independent and do what we want, that makes us sick in mind, body and spirit. We are struggling like fish going upstream and it puts undue stress and makes our lives much harder than it has to be. If I can know Him more and more and walk in His Ways as I was meant to, then maybe I can enjoy less stress, less exhaustion, less negative emotions and depression.

  • Do you know people who play at Mardi Gras? I.e. Shrove Tuesday (aka Mardi Gras) is a day in February or March in which people gorge and overindulge because the next day is Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent. The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer for Easter through prayer, repentance of sins, penance, and mortifying the flesh through some type of fasting. A Lenten sacrifice is where many Christians commit to fasting, and/or giving up certain luxuries, to replicate the sacrifice of Jesus Christ's journey into the desert for 40 days. (He fasted 40 days and and was tempted by satan.) It ends six weeks later on Holy Saturday. How spiritual is it if you party, get drunk/high, do all kinds of lewd things in a big Mardi Gras party just because the next day is the beginning of Lent? Doesn't that negate the whole purpose of Lent, of fasting, mortifying the flesh? Doesn't it make just a mockery of repentance? How do you think God views it? You don't have to wonder:
Isaiah 1:10-18 (Amplified)  10 Hear the word of the Lord [rulers of Jerusalem],
You rulers of [another] Sodom,
Listen to the law and instruction of our God,
You people of [another] Gomorrah.
11 “What are your multiplied sacrifices to Me [without your repentance]?
Says the Lord.
“I have had enough of [your] burnt offerings of rams
And the fat of well-fed cattle [without your obedience];
And I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls or lambs or goats [offered without repentance].
12 “When you come to appear before Me,
Who requires this of you, this trampling of My [temple] courts [by your sinful feet]?
13 “Do not bring worthless offerings again,
[Your] incense is repulsive to Me;
[Your] New Moon and Sabbath [observances], the calling of assemblies—
I cannot endure wickedness [your sin, your injustice, your wrongdoing] and [the squalor of] the festive assembly.
14 “I hate [the hypocrisy of] your New Moon festivals and your appointed feasts.
They have become a burden to Me;
I am weary of bearing them.
15 “So when you spread out your hands [in prayer, pleading for My help],
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you offer many prayers,
I will not be listening.
Your hands are full of blood!
16 “Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean;
Get your evil deeds out of My sight.
Stop doing evil,
17 Learn to do good.
Seek justice,
Rebuke the ruthless,
Defend the fatherless,
Plead for the [rights of the] widow [in court].
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,”
Says the Lord.
“Though your sins are like scarlet,
They shall be as white as snow;
Though they are red like crimson,
They shall be like wool."

  • Why do you think people are so good at justifying their sins? They can even talk themselves into believing their own justifications, prevarications, excuses and fig leaves. They can't see the hypocrisy in themselves. Why do think that is?
  • Has the Holy Spirit convicted you of any sins that you've justified or excused? God can cleanse you and make you "white as snow"!
  • Are you taking your daily spiritual vitamins (devotions)? Reading the Word, prayer and meditating are in your best interests for health in mind, body and spirit. Why wouldn't you?
  • If you haven't formed devotional habits, how can you start today?
  • Do you see the correlation between a healthy relationship with God and health in your mind, body and spirit?
  • Did you ever think that God created you for a purpose and rebelling against that purpose only brings stress to you in mind, body and spirit? That following His Ways are what is healthiest for you in mind, body and spirit because that's what He made you for?
  • No matter how big a fig leaf, or how many fig leaves, you use to cover your sins, God sees right through to the truth. It's best to get rid of the fig leaves, go in naked before God and let Him cover you with His righteousness.

For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Proverbs 4:18-19

Proverbs 4:18-19  18 The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn,
shining brighter and brighter until midday.
19 But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom;
they do not know what makes them stumble.

"The righteousness of the Bible is a path. And we enter into that path through an encounter with the Son of Righteousness, the Lord Jesus Christ. And when He shines into our lives, that’s like the first gleam of dawn. It’s the beginning of light. And then, as we move on in that path, the words are beautiful: 'The light shines ever brighter till the full light of day.'” - Derek Prince

The just both have light themselves and shed light on all around, because they have within them the light of God's Word and God's Spirit..... a steadily increasing light. They go on from strength to strength and glory to glory. - Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary

I used to enjoy watching the dawn break. I haven't done it in many years but, by the sea, or in the mountains, it is a gorgeous sight to see. You see the advent of the sun just topping the horizon and then watch it grow more brilliant. The climax of the sun is noon day, when it's at it's brightest.

When we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior, it's like the sun breaking. As we walk in the light of His glory and grace and grow in the light of His Word, the light increases in our spiritual life just like the sun grows in brilliance. We also shine forth the light of God in a dark world as a reflection of His Glory!

Philippians 2: 14-15  14 Do everything without complaining or arguing, 15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world

Matthew 5:14 You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.

When our end day comes, we will enter into the climax of the Light! We will see Him as He is. And we will walk into eternity with the wondrous light of His Presence! And we will enjoy the government of Christ as He rules His kingdom forever!

"'until the perfect day' of glory comes, a day without clouds; when there will be nothing to interpose between God and them; when there will be no more clouds of darkness, unbelief, doubts, and fears; when the sun will always be seen, no more withdrawn, eclipsed, or set; even Christ, the sun of righteousness, whose glory will always be beheld by the righteous to all eternity: when there will be no more night of affliction, desertion, and death; when the light of knowledge will be clear and perfect, and saints shall see face to face, and know as they are known; and when not only the light of the righteous shall be so clear, distinct, and perfect, but they themselves shall shine as the sun in the kingdom of God. The words may be rendered, "the prepared day"; appointed in the decrees of God, and firmly established by them: the invisible glories of the heavenly state, which make this everlasting day, are things which God has prepared for his people; the kingdom and glory itself, the inheritance of the saints in light, is prepared for them from the foundation of the world. And, since such is the path of the just, who would walk in the ways of the wicked?" - Gill's Notes On The Bible

2 Samuel 23:3-4  3 The God of Israel spoke; the Rock of Israel said to me, ‘He who rules the people with justice, who rules in the fear of God, 4 is like the light of the morning at sunrise of a cloudless dawn, the glistening after the rain on the sprouting grass of the earth.’

To make it more emphatic, the writer has juxtaposed two opposites. In Verse 19 we see the opposite of the righteous, "But the way of the wicked is like the darkest gloom; they do not know what makes them stumble."

Isaiah 59 (NLT)
1 Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you,
nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call.
2 It’s your sins that have cut you off from God.
Because of your sins, he has turned away
and will not listen anymore.
3 Your hands are the hands of murderers,
and your fingers are filthy with sin.
Your lips are full of lies,
and your mouth spews corruption.
4 No one cares about being fair and honest.
The people’s lawsuits are based on lies.
They conceive evil deeds
and then give birth to sin.
5 They hatch deadly snakes
and weave spiders’ webs.
Whoever eats their eggs will die;
whoever cracks them will hatch a viper.
6 Their webs can’t be made into clothing,
and nothing they do is productive.
All their activity is filled with sin,
and violence is their trademark.
7 Their feet run to do evil,
and they rush to commit murder.
They think only about sinning.
Misery and destruction always follow them.
8 They don’t know where to find peace
or what it means to be just and good.
They have mapped out crooked roads,
and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace.
9 So there is no justice among us,
and we know nothing about right living.
We look for light but find only darkness.
We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.
10 We grope like the blind along a wall,
feeling our way like people without eyes.
Even at brightest noontime,
we stumble as though it were dark.
Among the living,
we are like the dead.
11 We growl like hungry bears;
we moan like mournful doves.
We look for justice, but it never comes.
We look for rescue, but it is far away from us.
12 For our sins are piled up before God
and testify against us.
Yes, we know what sinners we are.
13 We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD.
We have turned our backs on our God.
We know how unfair and oppressive we have been,
carefully planning our deceitful lies.
14 Our courts oppose the righteous,
and justice is nowhere to be found.
Truth stumbles in the streets,
and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone,
and anyone who renounces evil is attacked.
The LORD looked and was displeased
to find there was no justice.
16 He was amazed to see that no one intervened
to help the oppressed.
So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,
and his justice sustained him.
17 He put on righteousness as his body armor
and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.
He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance
and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion.
18 He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds.
His fury will fall on his foes.
He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.
19 In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD;
in the east, they will glorify him.
For he will come like a raging flood tide
driven by the breath of the LORD.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem
to buy back those in Israel
who have turned from their sins,”
says the LORD.
21 “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!

Verse 16 above refers to the Messiah.

Isaiah 59:16 (NIV) He saw that there was no one,
he was appalled that there was no one to intervene;
so his own arm achieved salvation for him,
and his own righteousness sustained him.

There was none to intercede with God to turn away his wrath; none to interpose for the support of justice and truth. Yet He engaged his own strength and righteousness for his people... The Son of God shall come to us to be our Redeemer; the Spirit of God shall come to be our Sanctifier... - Matthew Henry Commentary

When it is said that God "wondered" at no champion appearing, we must understand the expression as an anthropomorphism· Therefore his arm brought salvation unto him...it became necessary that God should arise in his own Person, and show himself. "His arm" and "his righteousness" were enough; no human aid was needed, or could have added anything to the resistless strength of his might. - Pulpit Commentary

But notice in verses 1-15 describe the darkness of evil, sin. It says our "sins that have cut you off from God" produce darkness, so dark we stumble along in blindness and "among the living we are like the dead". You know, the imagined zombies in horror movies, TV series and books are called "living dead" and that is what sinners without a Savior are like! We are living dead, stumbling about in darkness and decay, rotten with sin to the core. That's really scary!!!!

It's not a movie, it's not made up, imagination. It's the real state of our spirits and if we die in this condition, we go to an eternity of unimaginative hell! 

But you don't have to! God has provided a way of salvation and it's open to everyone who will accept Jesus Christ as the Son of God and as the forgiver of your sins. There is only one way to salvation and forgiveness, through Jesus Christ our Savior!

Acts 26:18 (ESV, Jesus speaking to Apostle Paul during his Damascus Road experience) "To open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me".

John 8:12 (ESV) Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 3:19-21 (ESV) And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.

John 12:46 (ESV) I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.

  • In the opposites presented in these two verses, do you feel like you like you are stumbling in the darkness of sin or have you seen the light of Jesus Christ?
  • It matters not where you physically are, it matters where your spirit is. You can be chained in a dark dungeon but the light of Christ is in your spirit. You can be bathed in sunlight on the beach, but your spirit dark with sin. Do you understand the difference between the physical world and the spiritual world?
  • "The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call." No matter what you've done, Jesus Christ's work on the cross can save you, forgive you, cleanse you. If you think you cannot be saved, you are limiting the power of Jesus Christ. There is no limit to His saving grace and His work covered all sin. You may still have to deal with the consequences of your sin but you are saved, loved by God, one of His children if you grab hold of Jesus Christ as your Savior! Have you done that?
  • The path of godly wisdom begins and ends with Jesus Christ. He is God's wisdom. If we follow Christ, our path will lead us in the light. Slowly the wisdom of God will be imparted to us and we will know more and more of His glorious wisdom. Can you journal this in your own words?
  • Write a prayer to God based on these two verses.

For all my studies on Proverbs click HERE.

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