Friday, October 20, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 22, 2017

Over 141,000 readers worldwide

(Submitting our plans to GOD’s plans)
(2 Samuel 7:1-17)

   In the Greek there are two words that are used for “covenant”. One of those words is “suntheke” (soon-tha-kay), and it is used only in the secular Greek. It is defined as “an agreement between two or more equal parties or entities, on equal terms” (e.g. marriage, bond, business agreement etc.).
    However, in the New Testament Greek, the word that is always used for “covenant” is “diatheke” (dee-ath-ay-kay), and it is an agreement that is actually more along the lines of a “devised will”. In other words, only one party, “the devisor”, draws up the terms, and the other party, “the devisee”, can either accept or reject those terms, or “inheritance” that is offered. The devisee cannot change any of the terms in that covenant, he or she only has the right, or option, to walk away and leave it if they do not agree.
    That is the way it is with the Holy Bible, which is “GOD’s Will” for each of us. It is HIS covenant with us (mankind), as HIS greatest creation. We can either accept it totally, or reject it totally, but we can’t change any of the terms within it to suit our own purposes. We cannot add to it, and nor can we take away from it. That is how we know that “all man-made denominations” are ungodly, and that, in truth, they are “out of the will of GOD”. In fact, they can’t even come into existence unless, the people involved do not totally agree with GOD.
    And so, the choice of this word, “diatheke”, by the authors of GOD is understandable, because we as human beings cannot enter into an “equal partnership”, or “be on equal terms” with GOD. We are only able to make a voluntary decision to accept, or reject HIS offer, and cannot alter, or change HIS terms in any way. In the biblical application, the word “covenant” is always used in this sense, “the spirit of “diatheke”, even in the Old Testament sense.
    In 2 Samuel, chapter 7, verses 8-16, we see just such a covenant being offered by GOD, to David, through the prophet Nathan, as a bond between himself and GOD. With the exception of the covenant ushered in by CHRIST, that saved all mankind, through HIS vicarious sacrifice, this is undoubtedly the greatest covenant GOD ever made with a man.
    It is important however, to note that the Abrahamic Covenant, Davidic Covenant, and the Covenant ushered in by our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, are all spiritually connected, as they each, ultimately, manifest the “Prevailing Will of GOD” upon man’s destiny, step by step.
    In 2 Samuel 7:1-2, after David had settled comfortably in his “palace of cedar” in Jerusalem, and there was peace throughout the land of Israel, his thoughts turned to the notion of building a permanent home for the “Ark of the Covenant of the LORD”. He was no doubt feeling very beholding to GOD for all the blessings HE had showered upon him for so many years, and he desired to use those blessings to serve GOD in return for HIS divine goodness.
    Here David summons the Prophet Nathan to consult with him on the matter and Nathan tells him that, “since the LORD is with you, go ahead and do what you have in mind”. However, that same night, the LORD spoke to Nathan, probably in a dream, and told him, in effect, that David was not to build HIM a house. Instead, GOD would build a house for David. It was to be “a royal house”, one that consisted of a dynasty of kings (Davidic Kings) that would culminate in the birth, and life on earth, of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST, the ULTIMATE MESSENGER, ULTIMATE PRIEST, and ULTIMATE KING.
    The LORD also promised that this dynasty would originate with David and would never end. This Kingdom, and its Throne, would be permanent, and the son of David, HIS SON, would ultimately reign forever upon it.
    Actually, this great promise had already been foretold and echoed by the ancient prophets over the years, and would actually begin to be fulfilled with the first advent of JESUS CHRIST. However, the birth of JESUS into humanity was only a prelude to the eventual, “Eternal Kingdom”, that is still yet to come.
    In response to this unprecedented offer from GOD, all David could do, was to fall down to his knees and praise the ALMIGHTY GOD of creation. This Old Testament account of the Davidic Covenant serves to show us that, the GOD WHO has been faithful in our yesterdays is, also, the same GOD WHO will be with us in our tomorrows.
    In verses 18-29, the phrase “SOVEREIGN LORD” is used no less than 7 times in David’s “prayer of praise”, and it means, quite literally, “YAHWEH ELOHIM”, or “YAHWEH GOD”. Seven is GOD’s perfect number, and it represents “completeness”, or “perfection” in the Biblical sense. This prayer mirrors David’s “complete and perfect” reverence for GOD, which he had stored in his heart, from the time he was a child working in the field as a shepherd to his father’s sheep. He had a long history of service to GOD, and GOD always remembers those who serve HIM long, and serve HIM well.
    There is one other thing about this passage that I think is worth noting, because it seems to occur so frequently, throughout David’s life, and, once again it occurs here in verses 25-29. David seems to always ask for what he already knew GOD wanted to give him, and some might view this as an act of unbelief, or lack of faith in GOD’s promises, however, that is not so in this case.
    Remember, asking for what we know GOD already wants to give us cannot always be looked upon as an “act of unbelief”. It has to also be viewed as an “expression of dependence on GOD”, and “confidence in GOD”, to deliver our needs (things that are within HIS Will) in all situations. And I promise you, it’s always OK to ask for things that you know are promised to you by GOD, because GOD, WHO is kardiognostes (kar-di-o-nos-tace), “a heart knower”, really does know the difference between “unbelief”, and “confidence” in HIS promises.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, October 13, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 15, 2017

Over 140,000 readers worldwide

(Putting nothing ahead of the only true GOD)
(Exodus 20)

In Exodus 20, GOD personally instructs the Israelites as follows;

(1)   Do not worship any other gods besides ME.
(2)   Do not make idols (graven hand-made images) of any kind (this includes any and everything), whether in the shape of birds, animals, or fish, for the purpose of worshipping them.
(3)   Do not use the name of the LORD GOD in vain (do not misuse the name JEHOVAH (Greek) or YAWWEH (Hebrew).
(4)   Remember the Sabbath Day (seventh day) and keep it Holy (do not work seven consecutive days in a row.
(5)   Honor your father and mother.
(6)   Do not murder (another person, or yourself (suicide).
(7)   Do not commit adultery.
(8)   Do not steal.
(9)   Do not tell a lie against another person (do not bear false witness)
(10)Do envy another person in any way whatsoever.

These are now famously known as the “Ten Commandments” or, by scholars as, “The Decalogue”
    In verse 18, after the Israelites heard the thunderous voice of GOD along with the loud blast of the horn, and when they saw the lightning and the smoke billowing from the top of Mount Sinai, they stood far away in the distance, trembling with fear. They then asked Moses to tell them what the LORD had said because they feared that if the LORD spoke to them directly, they would die. Moses cautioned them instead to, from that day forward, let their great fear of the LORD keep them from sinning.
    To understand these commandments further, let us go to the Gospels where JESUS HIMSELF explains it best. In Luke 10:25-29, one of the teachers of religious law, probably a Pharisee, stood up and posed this question to JESUS; “What must I do to receive eternal life? Ironically JESUS gave him the same answer that HE had given to the religious teacher who had asked “Which is the most important commandment?” in both, Matthew 22:34-40, and, in Mark 12:28-34).
    In both Matthew and Mark’s Gospel accounts, JESUS began by reciting the opening line, of the first part of the three-part “Shema”, which was recited by devout Jews twice daily. It stresses the unity of GOD, and, the importance of loving HIM and HIS Laws, and it goes like this; “Hear old Israel; the LORD our GOD is one LORD” (Deuteronomy 6:4).
    Then JESUS says that we must “love the LORD THY GOD with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength”. This kind of love calls for “a thorough commitment to GOD” that is both “personal”, and, “whole of heart”. In fact, it speaks to “the whole of humanity”, which is;

·         The heart” - The “center” of human life,
·         The soul” - The “self-conscience life” of all men,
·         The mind” - The “entire thought process” of man,
·         The strength” - The “entire physical power” of man.

    In other words, “we should love GOD with every fiber of our being” and it is no accident that this is also what is covered in the first four commandments (Exodus 20:3-11), where GOD tells us, in effect, that our love for HIM must be;

·         Totally loyal (verse 3),
·         Totally faithful (verse 6),
·         Totally trusting (verse 7),
·         And, we must “show total reverence for HIM” at all times (verse 8).

    Next, JESUS states that we should “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”. It is not a coincidence that this includes the summation of the remaining six commandments (Exodus 20:12-17);

·         If we love each other, we can certainly begin with honoring our own parents.
·         If we love each other, we are not likely to intentionally, or maliciously take another’s life, which by the way, is made in the spiritual image of GOD.
·         If we love each other, we will not commit adultery against our spouse with another person.
·         If we love each other, we won’t steal from each other.
·         If we love each other, we won’t lie on each other, or falsely accuse each other.
·         And finally, if we love each other, we won’t jealously desire anything that belongs to someone else.

    And so, here in this passage JESUS is saying that “everything GOD commands us to do is of the utmost importance to HIM”, and that, the Ten Commandments can really be viewed as being only two. And both of them, or all ten of them, are of equal importance to GOD. And JESUS concludes by saying, “If we do them, we will live” eternally with GOD in Heaven. When we come to love GOD, we then understand more clearly how we can also, “love our neighbor as we love ourselves”.
    In verse 29, the religious teacher sought to justify himself by posing yet another question to JESUS, asking HIM, “Who is my neighbor?” and in verses 30-37, JESUS gives us a clear example of how we can serve GOD by serving our neighbor. There HE relates the, now famous story, of “the good Samaritan”. In that passage of Scripture, JESUS defines “neighbor” in a very rigorous, all-inclusive way as being “anybody who is in need”, regardless of race, creed, color, or national origin.
    JESUS’ answer to this second question by the religious teacher, has to be viewed on two different levels, if, we are to grasp the totality of HIS message. First of all JESUS HIMSELF tells us that when HE returns to judge the peoples’ of the world, HE will base HIS decision on how each individual “reacted to human need” over the span of his or her lifetime (Matthew 25:31-46). Secondly, it must be viewed in the context of HIS OWN rejection by Israel here on earth.
    In this parable, the Jewish religious leaders rejected the man who had fell victim to bandits along the perilous Jericho Road, and he needed their help after being robbed. When JESUS lived here on earth, the Jewish people, particularly the religious leaders, became the worst of HIS rejecters by announcing HIM as being not from GOD.
    In the parable of the good Samaritan, only the despised, mixed-race Samaritan stopped to render aid to the fallen man of Jewish descent, and out of the three who came upon the man’s injured body (two of them being men of the Church), only the outcast Samaritan was willing to stop and help keep the man from perishing by the wayside. In fact, not only did the man render aid to fallen Jewish man by soothing his wounds with medicine and bandages, he also loaded him up on his donkey and took him to a place of shelter in a nearby inn, where he administered further medical assistance to him.
    And furthermore, the next day, the Samaritan gave the innkeeper two pieces of silver and instructed him to take care of the man. He also told the innkeeper, that, if he needed more money, he would square up him the next time he passed through town.
    After JESUS finished relating this parable, HE asked the religious teacher which of the three men, who encountered the wounded victim on the Jericho Road, acted as a good neighbor to him. The religious teacher wisely replied in the only way he could, by answering, “The one who showed him mercy”. Then JESUS replied to the teacher, “Yes, now go and do the same”

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, October 6, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 8, 2017

Over 140,000 readers worldwide

(Meeting GOD on HIS terms, not ours)
(Exodus 19)

   In Exodus 19, exactly two months after the Israelites left slavery in Egypt, they arrived at the foot of Mount Sinai where GOD had previously instructed Moses to bring them (Exodus 3:12). It is there that GOD would make HIS offer of a “Covenant” known to Moses and all of the people of Israel. This Covenant was filled with many benefits that were based on the “conditional promises” of GOD. They were benefits, or, “blessings”, that could only be realized if they lived in total obedience and loyalty to GOD, and, if they exhibited “fair” and “just” treatment (show love) to their fellowman.
    The Israelites quickly agreed to hear the LORD’s Covenant offer, and preparations were made (v.14), as instructed by the LORD to Moses, for a very special appearance by GOD HIMSELF, to the entire nation of Israel, from the apex of Mount Sinai.
    And so the stage was now set for an electrifying manifestation of GOD’s OWN glorious presence, which would occur in only three days time. At that time, GOD would write down a list of religious and moral laws with HIS OWN finger, that would, over time, shape the spirits of mankind, into a, more closer representation of HIS OWN unreachable superior character. These life-changing instructions, that would be received by Moses that day on Mount Sinai, have now become known, the world over, as “The Ten Commandments” of GOD.
    On the morning of the third day, there came a powerful storm with much thunder and lightning. A very dense cloud then covered the top of Mount Sinai. This spectacular scene was accompanied by a loud and frightening trumpet-like blast from a ram’s horn that could be heard for miles around, and all the people trembled at the coming of the LORD.
    Moses then led all of the people from their camp to the foot of Mount Sinai, and as the LORD had so sternly advised him, he had previously set up barriers, and warned the Israelites not to breach them. For if any of them were to cross the demarcation lines that were set, they would surely die by stoning or, by arrow. Moses also instructed the people that no one who crossed those barriers, could ever be touched again, physically, by another person, unless they too, lose their own life (Vs.12-13).
    Then GOD the FATHER summoned Moses to come, and Moses climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, where HE, for the first time, personally appeared to him in “the form of fire” (v.18). Remember, Moses’ first encounter, the fire of the “Burning Bush” (Exodus 3) was actually a theophany of CHRIST JESUS, WHO is “The ANGEL of the LORD”.
    However, no sooner than Moses had reached the top of the mountain, GOD instructed him to go back down and warn the people again “not to cross the barriers that he had set”. Apparently Moses had not included the priests, who regularly come before GOD, with the same restriction instructions as all the others, “not to cross the set boundaries”. Also, GOD wanted Moses to go back and bring “only Aaron”, the chief priest, back to the top of the mountain, with him.
    Here in Exodus 19, the LORD is preparing the people to receive the “Mosaic Covenant”, and as all biblical covenants do, it makes a statement concerning what GOD intends to do, or is committed to do, for HIS people. However, this Mosaic Covenant, differs in that it tells what GOD will do for each generation going forward, as history unfolds. And while the “Abrahamic Covenant” and the “Davidic Covenant” are “permanent” ones, this Mosaic Covenant is seen by most Christian scholars as a “temporary” covenant that was in force only until the “first advent” of JESUS the CHRIST, the promised REDEEMER of mankind (Galatians 3:15-25).
    Here in the “Church Age”, GOD’s Old Testament Law serves more to reveal HIS “Holy Nature” and “moral standards” to a world that has become, more and more, adverse to HIS plan and pattern for HIS greatest creation, mankind. We are made in GOD’s “spiritual image” and we are the only part of HIS creation that shares HIS “Holy Nature”.
    However, to GOD’s dismay, we continue to sorely disappoint HIM with our disobedient behavior, and so, as an added measure, GOD enables us to be embodied by HIS HOLY SPIRIT to “help” us to abide in “love”, and more perfectly display HIS Holy Character to “an unbelieving world”.
    JESUS CHRIST came to show us how to live as “human beings” perfectly under GOD. However, sadly, most of us have already allowed satan to convince us that it is impossible to obey GOD. As a result, we continue to refuse to meet GOD on HIS terms, and we desire instead, to seek a god that is made in “our own image”, as opposed to conforming to the GOD WHO made us in HIS.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, September 29, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday October 1, 2017

Over 139,000 readers worldwide

(The future has always been in GOD’s hands)
(Genesis 15)

   In Genesis chapter 15, verses 1-6, we see one of the most defining passages on faith that can be found anywhere else in all of scripture. This passage underscores the argument by the Apostle Paul in Romans chapter 4, where he debates that “Justification” and “Salvation” are imputed to us by GOD because of our faith in HIM, and, that those gifts from GOD have never been given as a result of our “good works”. “Our good works” are derived from “our faith in GOD”, and our “faith in GOD” is manifested through “our good works”.
    In the biblical Greek, the word “logizomai” (log-i-zom-ahee) is used to describe what takes place when GOD accredits us with righteousness that we could not otherwise earn on our own, just as HE did with Abram in this passage. Logizomai is an accounting term that means “to reckon”, or, “to make an entry in the account book”. The doctrine of “imputation” is taught throughout the Old and New Testaments. To “impute” means “to accredit someone other than the one who is responsible”.
    Scripture teaches us that, when we believe GOD, HE, WHO keeps all record books, looks into our accounts and clearly sees that we are not righteous. HE then, through HIS grace and mercy, chooses to accept our faith in HIM, in place of that lack of righteousness. In other words, for those who have faith in HIM (CHRIST JESUS), GOD will stamp the word “RIGHTEOUS” over their accounts, and announce that their debt is covered, or, is “paid in full”, through the blood of CHRIST JESUS.
    Here we see Abram (Abraham), on faith, accepting GOD’s divine promise of a son to be born of his own flesh, even though it seemed physically impossible for he and Sarai (Sarah) in their old age, which was, at that time, 100 years old, and 90 years old, respectively. Also in this passage, one should note that, at that time, Abram had not yet been circumcised as a sign of his covenant with GOD, and, that the Law (The Ten Commandments), which was delivered by Moses was still some 700 years away. Therefore, neither circumcision, nor, Abram’s strict obedience to the Law factored in GOD’s decision to declare him “righteous” (Gen. 15:6). It was only through Abram’s “saving faith” in GOD that GOD afforded him the distinction of being “righteous”, and, in addition, granted him the gift of eternal life (salvation).
    In verses 7-8 of this chapter of Genesis, we find that, after Abram believed in GOD to deliver the seemingly impossible feat of presenting he and his wife Sarai with the birth of a child of their own flesh in their old age, he now, strangely wavers when GOD added the promise that he would also give the entire land of Canaan to his offspring. And actually, that’s not so surprising when we consider the fact that we too, after we’ve exercised great faith in GOD on one occasion, have on a later occasion, failed to show the same measure of faith.
    Many of us struggle with maintaining a high level of faith, over a long period of time, and that of course, is something that is synonymous with the “Christian Walk”. However, hopefully, through a closer, more personal, experiential relationship with GOD, we can overcome our pattern of inconsistency in trusting in the LORD for all things, just as Abram managed to do later on in his life.
    In verses 9-10 GOD instructs Abram in a sacrificial ritual that was known as a “Covenant of Blood”. Abram is obedient to GOD’s instructions, as he gathers up, and cuts into halves, three animal sacrifices; a three-year old heifer, a three-year old female goat, and a three-year old ram. He also brought the LORD two bird sacrifices, a turtledove and a young pigeon, the two of which, he did not sever in halves. This “Covenant of Blood” was considered to be the most binding of all covenants in Old Testament times, and it was always formalized by GOD’s “passing through” the divided halves of the sacrificial animals, an act which HE apparently used to consummate the agreement (v. 17).
    In verse 11 we see vultures (birds of prey), which, in this passage represent a “bad omen” for Israel’s near future, and would later turn out to be their enslavement in Egypt. Abram was eventually able to “shoo” these birds away, who were trying to devour GOD’s covenant sacrifices which he had prepared. Satan will always oppose, and try to destroy any of man’s dealings with GOD, however, in the ensuing verses, 12-16, GOD shows Abram in a dream, how Israel would be preyed upon and oppressed by Egypt, but would eventually be rescued, as GOD would “shoo” Egypt away in the end, and they would ultimately come away from Egypt with great wealth (Vs. 13-14).
    In the Hebrew, the word used for “believed”, in verse 6 is “aman” (aw-mawn), and it simply means “to be certain”. It is a word that sets our mind on the same absolute trust that Abram had in GOD. Abram’s story is perhaps, scripture’s greatest example of a man who possessed a “saving faith” that GOD would always deliver on HIS promises, no matter how impossible it may seem to the “human thought process”.
    Abraham’s righteousness was won by strong faith in GOD, and he was fully persuaded, that GOD would do just what HE said HE would do. He came to know, just as we must all come to know, that GOD’s power is not bound by our understanding, and neither is it bound by our lack of understanding.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

Friday, September 22, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 24, 2017

Over 139,000 readers worldwide

(Through GOD, hearts will be changed)
(Ezekiel 36)

   Ezekiel 36 is the exact antithesis to Ezekiel 35. After GOD judges Israel’s enemies, HE will, at a future date, bless HIS chosen nation with complete restoration. Here Ezekiel contrasts GOD’s plan of judgment, and Israel’s present condition, with GOD’s plan of restoration, and Israel’s future blessings.
    In this passage GOD tells Ezekiel to prophesy to Israel’s mountains, which were soon to be cleansed of all of the shrines and altars, along with all of their demonic influences that could currently be found there. Israel had become possessed by the demonic forces of many nations, while worshipping those nation’s many idol gods. As a result of their poor spiritual choices, they now suffered physical defeat, and they were now mocked and slandered by those same nations (Vs.1-3).
    The LORD’s anger was kindled against the pagan nations, especially Edom, because of her utter contempt against HIM. They had happily taken Israel’s land for themselves, as a reward after Judah’s destruction in 586 B.C. GOD’s intent in this chapter, however, is to encourage HIS downtrodden people of Israel, and assure them that HE had not abandoned them. This, all in light of the fact, that, none of the exiles would ever live to see this prophecy fulfilled. GOD wanted them to know that Israel would rise from its shame, and that her mountains would once again produce abundant crops, and its land would again be filled with people, flocks and herds (Vs.5-15).
    When the Israelites were living in their own land they defiled and cursed it with evil deeds, and to GOD, those acts were utterly detestable. They had polluted the land with murder, idolatry, and adultery, and so GOD poured out HIS anger on them, and scattered them abroad to many distant lands, as one of HIS forms of punishment.
    Even after they were scattered abroad, they still brought dishonor to GOD’s holy name. The pagan nations began to mock them by saying, “These are the people of the LORD, and HE couldn’t keep them safe in their own land” (Vs.16-20). Being concerned for HIS OWN name and reputation, GOD sent this message to the exiles through the prophet Ezekiel (Vs.22-27) (NLT):

 “Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: I AM bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I AM doing it to protect MY holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations.  I will show how holy MY great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal MY holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I AM the Lord.  For, I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land.
Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols.  And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow MY decrees and be careful to obey MY regulations.”

    Here in this passage we see one of scripture’s earliest revelations of GOD’s plan for us through CHRIST JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT. GOD will not only give us “a new human spirit”, or, “desire to obey HIM” (strip us of our sin nature), before we enter into the Millennial Kingdom (v.26). Before that, HE will infuse all believers with HIS HOLY SPIRIT after we have been cleansed by the blood of CHRIST, which was shed as a sacrifice for our sins and uncleanness. The HOLY SPIRIT will be paramount in helping us to fight the spiritual battle that is charged to us by CHRIST JESUS, and in helping steer us and guide us into all righteousness and obedience, because of our own personal choice, and “saving faith” in HIM (v.27).
    In GOD’s Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:30-31), a ritually unclean person would not be able to participate in worship services. And so the idea of being “clean” or “unclean” could have a significant impact on one’s personal relationship with GOD. This law also carried over to “moral and immoral acts” as it is emphasized in Psalm 106:36-39. Men of GOD saw in this concept of ritual uncleanness, a powerful image of “the inner defilement” that is caused by sin.
    The whole nation of Israel had defiled itself through their forbidden practices of idolatry, adultery, and murderous sacrifices of children in the fire to Mollech. GOD’s holiness absolutely required that the Israelites vacate from HIS holy land, which would continue to exist long after that generation of people, had expired.
    The land had to cleansed of the “demonic defilement” that comes with worshipping people, places, and things other than GOD HIMSELF. And the people themselves had to be cleansed by allowing their sins to “run its course” for seventy years in Babylon, after which, GOD would be ready to hear their prayers once again, and, be willing to also, grant their special requests (v.37).

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

                                           LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website

Friday, September 15, 2017

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 17, 2017

Over 138,000 readers worldwide

(The command to observe the Sabbath day)
(Exodus 20:8-11 and 31:12-18)

   The section of the “Mosaic Law”, that is chronicled in the book of Exodus, consists of three parts, “the Decalogue”, or, “Ten Commandments” (Exodus 20:1-21), the covenant of “civil and religious ordinances” (Exodus 20:22-24:11), and the covenant of “ceremonial regulations” (Exodus 24:12-31:18). In this week’s lesson we’ll look at one of the Ten Commandments that is, perhaps, the most ignored and disregarded of the whole Decalogue, and that’s saying something when we consider how often we violate the other nine.
    The fourth command by GOD in HIS Decalogue is that we “honor the Sabbath (seventh day)” with “rest” from all of our labors. On the surface it seems like it would be the simplest of all the commandments to obey. However, because of our “ignorance” about GOD Law, that is powered by “our deep desire to do what we want to do”, and then, couple that with “greed” and “envy”, and the mismanagement of the companies we work for, we can go weeks and months at a time without taking the time to rest and renew our bodies as GOD seriously calls for us to do. In fact, GOD was so serious about this command that HE actually imposed a “death penalty” (total separation from GOD) on anyone in Israel who did not adhere to it.
    Some Christians may argue that all of the Ten Commandments, and indeed, all of GOD’s laws period, are a part of the “law system” which the New Testament (Romans 6:14) says, we who are under “grace”, are no longer bound by, and, that our relationship with GOD doesn’t depend on our adherence to a list of laws, but rather, on how we respond to the promptings of the HOLY SPIRIT in us. However, the HOLY SPIRIT will only prompt us when we are about to move “out” of “the Will of GOD” that is manifested to us in “HIS Law”.
    GOD’s Law actually reveals HIMSELF to us as being a deeply moral and loving personality. And so, all those who say that GOD is their FATHER, should be deeply interested in “being like HIM in our behavior”. And so, the only way that we can fulfill our goal of “living like CHRIST wants us to live, is by obeying the laws of GOD. JESUS says that, “If you love ME, you will obey ME”, and GOD the FATHER says the same. In other words, if we don’t obey GOD, we, at one the same time, show that we don’t love HIM either, and it’s just that simple.
    To understand this rightly, in CHRIST, we can receive a “free gift of salvation” that we can’t earn by obeying the law, however, at one and the same time, also in CHRIST, we are freed to “express that salvation” by living a life that reflects, and is in full harmony with, the high standards that were revealed, first, by the Word of GOD, and then later personified in the person of JESUS CHRIST, our LORD, while HE served here on earth, as a 100% human being. The true goal of a Christian should always be to adhere to the standards of CHRIST JESUS, WHO adheres to the standards of GOD, lest we prove within ourselves, we are not really “True Christian” at all (those who have GOD in their hearts/minds).
   The word “Sabbath” is derived from the Hebrew root meaning of “rest”. It is a term that suggests, not only physical rest, but also suggests a time of concentration, contemplation, and focus on the goodness of GOD. In Exodus 31, verses 12-18, the LORD reminded the people of Israel that obedience to HIS command to observe the Sabbath is a religious duty, and if it were violated, would mean “death” to the perpetrator, or “total separation from HIM”. It would represent a violation of “the covenant” between HIMSELF and Israel, a covenant that made them the world’s first and only “theocracy”.
    GOD wanted Israel to understand that being “set apart” was not just “a privilege”, but more importantly, it was “a responsibility”, a responsibility that called for them to be like HIM, and, to do like HE had done, “rest on the seventh day”. Observance of the Sabbath highlighted, and is associated with, three distinctive acts of GOD, “the Creation account”, “Israel’s deliverance from Egypt”, and finally, it is “a reminder of the bond GOD placed between Israel and HIMSELF, and that, as a theocracy, Israel belongs to GOD, and GOD is Israel’s only GOD”.
    And so the commitment between GOD and anyone else who claims HIM as their GOD, should be outwardly expressed in their desire to keep the Sabbath promise by setting “the seventh day” apart for rest and contemplation on the goodness of GOD. In fact, all of GOD’s commands should be paramount to those who claim that they pledge themselves to CHRIST JESUS, and desire to follow HIM WHO follows the laws of GOD the FATHER.
    And remember, although we are made right with GOD only by “faith”, our faith is measured only by our desire to obey GOD. And so, only when we have faith, do we truly desire to fulfill the laws of GOD (Romans 3:31) (James 2:14-26). In that respect, “faith” and “obedience” become synonymous with each other, and thereby, there is no escaping, “obedience to GOD”.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander