Friday, February 5, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday February 7, 2016

Over 95,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

THE FIRST PASSOVER
(Remember to celebrate what the LORD has done)
(Exodus 12:1-14)

   Exodus 12 highlights GOD’s instructions to Moses and Aaron for the first Passover observance. They were to give these instructions to the people of the nation of Israel while they were yet still in the city of Goshen, in the land of Egypt. And so, here in this passage we see Israel being referred to as a “nation” for the first time in Scriptures.
    Here in this passage we also see the month of Abib, which means “fresh young ears” being declared by GOD as the first month on the Jewish religious calendar. It was not until after the Jews capture by Babylon many centuries later (586 B.C.), when 4 of the 12 months of the calendar were given Babylonian names, and the month of Abib became known as “Nisan”, which means “start”.
    The city of Goshen in Egypt, where the Israelites resided, was where GOD originally introduced the “concept of the Church” on earth, and how it was to be “set apart” as far as how it was to be related to the world. Even though the people of the Church (Goshen) had to exist and toil in the world (Egypt), it must, at one and the same time, also remain separated from the ways of the world. Israel, in Egypt, became GOD’s concept of what the Church would be like in its relationship to the world. The Church, like Israel, was to be “GOD’s representative” here on earth, and therefore, the laws of GOD would have to become paramount to each.
    Here in this chapter of Scripture, GOD is seeking to instill a sense of unity among HIS people that would help them to maintain the same attitude of being “set apart” in their behavior and lifestyle, from the world, long after she leaves Egypt and enters into the “Promised Land” of Canaan. They were to never forget the lesson that GOD taught them through their hardships in Egypt, so that they would never again desire to choose the ways of the world over the ways of GOD, their SAVIOR. That is why the rituals of the Passover are rift with symbolisms regarding their four hundred years of captivity in Egypt.
    In the Old Testament, the concept of “Zikkaron” (Zik-ka-rone) is a festival, practice, or object that is intended to link future generations, to a past distinctive act of GOD. The name derives from the Hebrew word “zikrown” (zik-rone), which is “a memento, or a memorable day, thing, or writing”. Through the Zikkaron, GOD’s people could sense their personal participation, along with the original generation, in the very act that GOD had performed for that previous generation.   
    And so, the Passover is one of a small number of feasts that comes to us directly from the heart of GOD HIMSELF. These celebrations, or, observances, whisper ever so gently, for us to come closer to GOD, and are intended by HIM, to help us to keep our minds stayed on HIS grace and mercy, from generation to generation.
    The Passover, also most notably depicts for us, a very vivid picture of the coming salvation that would be ushered in by CHRIST JESUS. When JESUS was living here on earth, HE plucked from these proceedings, the very “communion services” that we often observe in the Christian Church today, and HE commanded us to “Do this in remembrance of HIM”.
    The sacrificial lambs’ blood that was smeared over, and on the sides of the doorposts of the Israelites homes in Goshen, allowed for them to be “passed over” by the “angel of death” and to be saved by the merciful hand of GOD. It is a picture of how “the saving blood of CHRIST JESUS” would later come to deliver all mankind, who chooses to follow HIM from the “chains of death and sin in the “world”, and into the glorious presence of GOD in Heaven.

    The following is a rather detailed description of a Passover Commemorative Feast like the one that was handed down by GOD to HIS servants, Moses and his older brother Aaron, for HIS people, Israel in Exodus 12;
  
    According to Jewish ways of counting days, the new day begins at 6:00 o’clock in the evening. The Passover day, itself, is on the 14th Nisan. Preparation for Passover is done on the 13th Nisan, and is completed by 6:00 p.m. In preparing for Passover, there is first, a “ceremonial search for leaven”. Every bit of “leaven” must be totally removed from a household. This is in conformance with the tradition of this very first Passover in Egypt, as it is recorded in Exodus 12, where it was commemorated with the eating of “unleavened bread”.
    Then, on the afternoon of the 13th Nisan, came the “sacrificing of the Passover Lamb”. All the people would come to the temple and the worshipers would each kill their own lamb for sacrifice. Two long lines of priests stood between the worshipers and the Altar, each holding a gold or silver bowl. When the lamb’s throat was slit, the blood was caught in one of these bowls, and was passed up the line to the priest at the end of the line, who would pour the blood onto the Altar.
The lamb is then skinned and gutted, and the fat is extracted. The meat is then handed back to the worshiper, and it is then, carried home to be roasted on an open fire with a spit made of Pomegranate wood. The table that is used is shaped like a square with one end open. It was very low, and the diners were reclined on couches, resting on their left arm, with their right arm free for eating.

This is a list of things that were necessary to obtain for the Passover meal:

(1). There is the “Lamb”: It is to remind them of how their houses had been protected by
       the blood of the lamb when the Angel of Death passed through Egypt, on the eve, of the
       great exodus. 
(2). There is the “Unleavened Bread”: This is to remind them of the bread that they had
       eaten in haste, when they left out, from slavery in Egypt.
(3). There is the “Bowl of Salt Water”: To remind them of the tears that they had shed in
       Egypt, and the water of the Red Sea, through which they had miraculously passed to
       safety.
(4). There is the collection of “Bitter Herbs”: Horse Radish, Chicory, Endive, Lettuce, and
       Horehound to remind them of the bitterness of slavery in Egypt.
(5). There is a paste called “Charosheth” (Khar-o-sheth): A mixture of Apples, Dates,
       Pomegranates, and nuts, to remind them of the clay, of which they had to make bricks
       in Egypt. Also mixed through it, were sticks of cinnamon to remind them of the straw,
       with which the bricks had been made.
(6). There were the “Four Cups of Wine”: The cups contained a little more than half a pint
       of wine, with three parts wine mixed with two parts water. The four cups were drank
       at different stages of the Passover meal, and were to remind them of the four promises
       in Exodus 6:6-7, where GOD says, “I will bring you out from under the burdens of the
       Egyptians”. “I will rid you out of their bondage”. “I will redeem you with a stretched
       out arm, and with great judgments”. “I will take you to ME for a people, and I will be
      to you a GOD”.

Now this is the procedure, or various steps by which the Passover Meal is eaten:

(1). First the “Cup of the Kiddush” (first of the four cups of wine) is prayed over and
       drank. “Kiddush” means “sanctification”, or “separation”. This cup symbolizes the
       separation of this meal from all other common meals. The head of the family prays
       over the cup, and then everyone would drink it.
(2). Then there is the “first hand washing”, which would be done only by the person who
       was to celebrate the feast. They must wash their hands three times in a prescribed way.
(3)  Now, a piece of parsley, or lettuce was taken and dipped in the bowl of salt water and
       eaten as an appetizer to the meal. The parsley, or lettuce symbolized the hyssop, with
       which the blood had been smeared over the doorposts in Egypt.
(4). “The breaking of the Bread”. Two blessings are used in the breaking of the bread.
      “Blessed be THOU, O LORD, our God, King of the universe, who bringest forth from
        the earth”, or “Blessed art THOU, our FATHER in Heaven, who givest us today the
        bread necessary for us”. On the table, there are three circles of unleavened bread. The
        middle one is taken and broken, to remind them that as slaves, they never had a whole
        loaf to eat. As it is broken, the head of the family would say, “This is the bread of
       affliction that our forefathers ate in Egypt. Whosoever is hungry, let him come and eat.
       Whosoever is in need let him come and keep Passover with us”.
 (5). Next came the telling of the “Story of Deliverance”, or, how GOD delivered the Jews
        out, of Egypt.
 (6). Then Psalms 113 & 114 are sung. Psalms 113-118 are known as the “Hallel”, which
        means “the praise of GOD”.
 (7). Then the second cup of wine is drunk. It is called the “Cup of Haggadah”, which
        means “the cup of explaining or proclaiming”.
 (8). Afterwards, all those present, now wash their hands in preparation for the meal.
 (9). A grace is said. “Blessed art THOU, O LORD, our God, who bringest forth fruit from
       the earth. Blessed art THOU, O GOD, who has sanctified us with THY commandment
       and enjoined us to eat unleavened cakes”. Then small pieces of bread are distributed.
(10). Some of the bitter Herbs are placed between the two pieces of bread and are dipped in
         the Charosheth and then eaten. This is called “the Sop”, and is what JESUS is
         referring to in the Gospels, when HE is identifying Judas Iscariot as the person who
         will betray HIM.
(11). Now comes the Meal Proper, or the eating of the Lamb. All the meat must be eaten, or
         the leftovers must be destroyed to assure that they are not used later in a common
         meal.
(12). The hands are again washed.
   
The next two steps are the one’s which JESUS made HIS own, and we commemorate them
during our Communion Services:

(13). The remainder of the unleavened bread is eaten.
(14). There is a prayer of Thanksgiving, containing a petition for the coming of Elijah to
         herald the MESSIAH. Then the third cup is drank, which is called the “Cup of
        Thanksgiving”. Then this blessing is said: “Blessed art THOU, O LORD, our God,
         King of the universe, who hast created the fruit of the vine”.
(15). The second part of the Hallel, Psalms 115-118, is sung.
(16). The fourth cup is drank, and Psalms 136, which is known as the “Great Hallel” is sung.

Two short prayers are prayed to end the Passover Meal:

All THY works shall praise THEE, O LORD, our God. And THY Saints, the righteous, who do THY good pleasure, and all thy people, the house of Israel, with joyous song, let them praise and bless and magnify and glorify and exalt and reverence and sanctify and scribe the Kingdom to THY name, O GOD, our King.
For it is good to praise THEE, and pleasure to sing praises to THY name, from everlasting to everlasting THOU art GOD.
__

“The breath of all that lives shall praise THY name, O LORD, our God. And the        spirit of all flesh shall continually glorify and exalt THY memorial, O GOD, our King. For from everlasting unto everlasting THOU art GOD, and besides THEE we have no King, Redeemer, or Savior”.

    JESUS celebrated HIS last Passover here on earth with HIS disciples on the eve of HIS crucifixion. HE blessed and divided the bread that HE said symbolized HIS very body that would be broken and bleed like that of a sacrificial lamb on the altar of GOD. And HE shared the wine saying that it symbolized the blood that HE would later shed to cover the sins of this world, past, present, and future. It was not until after HIS death, and after the coming of the HOLY SPIRIT that HIS disciples really understand the importance of what JESUS meant by these statements.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, January 29, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 31, 2016

Over 95,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com


THE DEATH OF A FRIEND
(This life is not the final act of the human drama)
(John 11:1-44)

   The sins of Adam and Eve ushered into the world, “physical death”. By contrast, the resurrection of CHRIST JESUS, offers into the world, “spiritual life”. “I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE” is the fifth of JESUS’ seven great “I AM” statements that are found in the Gospel of John.
    The resurrection of CHRIST marked the start of a new age in human history that is still present today, because JESUS is still LORD over all of life, both the physical, and the spiritual. When we accept the cup of salvation that JESUS offers, the end of physical life becomes the beginning of a much more anticipated spiritual life of eternity in Heaven in the glorious presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD.
    In the gospel according to the Apostle John, in chapter 11, taking up at verse 17, we see JESUS arriving at Bethany some four days after HIS friends, Mary and Martha, had summoned HIM by messenger. They had sought JESUS out to tell HIM of the declining health of their brother Lazarus, who was also a close friend of JESUS’. They had wanted JESUS to hurry to Bethany so HE could heal their brother from what turned out to be a fatal illness.
    The day that JESUS got word of Lazarus’ illness, HE informed HIS disciples that the illness would not result in a permanent demise, but rather, would be an event staged by GOD for HIS OWN glorification. And so they lingered on where they were for two more days before making the two-day journey to Bethany, just a few miles outside of Jerusalem.
    When Martha got word that JESUS was near, she ran down the road to meet HIM. When she came to HIM she said to HIM, “LORD, if you had been here my brother would not have died. But even now I know that GOD will give YOU whatever YOU ask”.
    Here we see in this statement by Martha, that, even in the short time since JESUS had begun HIS ministry, it had already become quite noticeable that nobody ever died while HE was around. It is a statement that was later echoed by her sister Mary, as soon as she came upon JESUS at the burial site of her brother Lazarus.
    We, as Christians, are all too well familiar with the ending to this, now famous, biblical account of what was then considered to be, JESUS’ greatest miracle. “I AM the RESURRECTION and the LIFE” is what JESUS said to HIS friend Martha in John 11:25. For JESUS is LORD, over both, the “physical” and, the “spiritual” life. Our belief in HIM infuses in us a spiritual life that will persists, even after death. That is why the greatest miracle of JESUS was not raising Lazarus back to the physical life, because we all know that, Mary and Martha’s brother would again die. The greatest miracle was, and is, in JESUS’ power to grant endless spiritual life to those, who believe in HIM. JESUS goes on to tell Martha that, “those who believe in HIM, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life, just for believing in HIM, and will never die. And HE then asked HIS friend, “Did she believe?”
    In John 11:27 Martha makes what I consider to be, one of the great “confession statements of faith” in all the annals of New Testament biblical history. Here she states, “I have always believed YOU are the MESSIAH, the SON of GOD, the ONE WHO has come into the world from GOD”. Here she confesses three things about JESUS that are paramount to our understanding the theology of Christianity.

·         First, we must understand that JESUS is the MESSIAH, WHO died on the cross at Golgotha for our sins.
·         Secondly, we must know that HE is the SON of the LIVING GOD, and the most precious thing that GOD could give us as a sacrifice, simply because HE so loved the world that HE created.
·         And finally, we must know that JESUS is the only ONE WHO was qualified as a perfect sacrifice, which is GOD’s unwavering requirement for sin.

    Salvation for us was the reason that GOD sent HIS only begotten SON into the world. JESUS had to be born of woman, so that HE could die for all mankind in general, and all Christians, in particular. This story of JESUS’ raising Lazarus from the dead, back into the physical life, presents us with a perfect picture of what JESUS does spiritually for all who choose to believe in HIM. But in our case, we will be raised into a spiritual eternal life, never to die again, as Lazarus would later do. And we will live in the very presence of the ALMIGHTY GOD in Heaven, as no doubt, Lazarus now is. We will be forever removed from the deadness of sin in this life, and placed into an eternity of love and joy, with CHRIST JESUS our LORD, in the life to come.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website




  

Friday, January 22, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 24, 2016

Over 94,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

A WEDDING IN CANA
(GOD reveals HIS glory in unexpected ways)
(John 2:1-12)

   The now famous “wedding at the village of Cana” in Galilee, is regarded as the site of the first of the “seven signs”, or “miracles” of the MESSIAH, that are recorded in the Gospel of John. This miracle was a private miracle, known only to Jesus’ disciples, a few wedding servants and quests, and Mary, the mother of JESUS.
    Of the four Gospel writers, only the Apostle John was present at this wedding, and perhaps that is why this event in JESUS’ ministry is found only in his Gospel account. John, perhaps, uses the word “sign”, instead of “miracle”, in his account so that he might draw away from the spectacle of the event, in order that we may better focus on the significance of the event.
    The “turning of the water into wine” is also the first of the 35 miracles of JESUS that are recorded in all of the four Gospels combined. This miracle occurred three days after JESUS called Philip and Nathanael to be a part of HIS ministry. JESUS’ disciples at that time, HIS mother, and, HIS brothers were all invited. A wedding feast of this nature would typically last for seven days, and it would begin following the groom’s taking of his bride to his home, or, to his father’s home for consummation of the marriage.
    After all of the wine had been consumed (v. 3), JESUS’ mother turned to HIM for help. In verse 4, JESUS’ response, and use of the word “woman” to respond to HIS mother, in those days, was a polite term, even though it may not be for us today. The expression “What have I to do with thee”, also in verse 4, in the Greek, was a common expression that referred to a difference in relations, or realms. It also can be translated, “How does that concern you and me”, which, would seem more likely what JESUS was stating.
    According to Jewish custom, the host at a wedding feast always treated the guests with wine, and the guest’s name was mentioned when the wine was poured. The statement spoken by JESUS, “MY time has not yet come” (still in verse 4) may simply mean nothing more than, “It is not MY turn to treat”. JESUS may have just been stating that HIS position at the wedding was as “quest”, and HE didn’t wish to upstage the host by taking away from his responsibilities.
    JESUS did “treat”, however, and the water was miraculously turned into the best wine of all. Six large stone water pots were there, which was normally used for regular Jewish ceremonial purposes. Each pot could hold twenty to thirty gallons of water. JESUS instructed the servants to fill the pots with water. After the pots were filled to the brim with water, JESUS told them to dip some out and take it to the Master of Ceremony. When the Master of Ceremony tasted the water that had been transformed into wine by JESUS, he called the bridegroom over and said to him, “Usually the host serves the best wine first, then, when everyone is full and doesn’t care, he brings out the less expensive wines. But you have kept the best for last”.   
    Some scholars believe that all of this was a clear signal that Mary must now face the fact that her SON JESUS was now committed totally to the will of HIS FATHER GOD in Heaven, and to the completion of HIS mission here on earth. And although she had given birth to HIM, and raised HIM from a child, she must now submit herself to JESUS as her LORD and SAVIOR, just like all the rest of humanity would have to do, in the process of time. And while she did not completely understand this at the time, she had decided, from that moment on, to trust in HIM completely.
    The, significance of this miracle is explained by John, in verse 11 as the initial manifestation of the glory of CHRIST to men here on earth. JESUS’ first miracle of transforming water into wine at a joyful event such as this wedding, was a sign of the joy that HE would bring to all mankind, through “a transformation of hearts”. HIS ministry would be a “transforming one”, and the transformation that HE would bring, would come by way of the HOLY SPIRIT.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website





Friday, January 15, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 17, 2016

Over 93,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com

AN UNFAITHFUL BRIDE
(Our unfaithfulness interrupts our relationship with GOD)
(Hosea 1-3)

   The book of Hosea is divided into two sections, the first, chapters 1-3, focuses on Hosea’s personal life, while the second section, chapters 4-14, focuses on his divinely acquired messages. Hosea prophesied to the people in the northern kingdom of Israel prior to its fall into the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Two contrasting things clearly stand out during this period in Israel’s history; the love of GOD for Israel, and Israel’s reckless disregard for, and unfaithfulness to, the GOD of their fathers.
    The prophet Hosea’s ministry spanned several decades, as it began in 750 B.C., near the conclusion of the ministry of the prophet Amos. It was also near the end of a prosperous period that had been enjoyed by both northern Israel and Judah, during the reigns of King Jeroboam II of Israel, and King Uzziah of Judah. His lengthy ministry concluded circa 715 B.C., during the early years of King Hezekiah’s reign in Judah (Hosea 1:1).
    Hosea was the son of a man named Beeri, and is one of the most unique prophets in the annals of Old Testament history by way of his being ordered by GOD to marry a prostitute named Gomer, who was the daughter of a man named Diblaim. She bore Hosea a son, and the LORD instructed them to name him “Jezreel”, as a sign that GOD was about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty and avenge the murders committed in the Valley of Jezreel (Vs. 3-5).
    Later she bore him a daughter whom the LORD named “Lo-ruhamah”, which means “not loved”. This signified that the LORD would no longer show love to the people of Israel, nor, would HE forgive them. After Gomer weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again conceived and bore another son, whom the LORD instructed the couple to name “Lo-ammi”, which means, “not MY people”. It signified that Israel was not GOD’s people anymore, and, that HE was no longer their GOD (Vs. 6-9).
    Chapter 1, however, ends on a bright note, with a promise from GOD, that, in time, HE would again allow Israel to prosper and become a great nation. They would return from exile in Assyria on the “Day of Jezreel”. On that day, they would call their brothers “Ammi” (my people), and they would call their sisters “Ruhamah” (the ones I love).
    In chapter 2, verses 2-5, GOD calls Israel into account for alienating itself away from HIM and behaving as a prostitute, worshipping other gods (v.1). In verses 2 & 4, the “mother” is Israel, and the children are each individual Israelites. Both the nation as a whole, and, each contemporary individual, was guilty of “spiritual adultery” by way of their forsaking of the GOD of their ancestors.
    Israel had done a shameful thing by hooking up with the idol gods of the world, instead of clinging to its “covenant relationship” that she had once enjoyed with the Almighty GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now, they were rearing up a “spiritually illegitimate generation of people”, who could only be considered as “worldly” in, both, their behavior, and, their lifestyle. They physically resembled their earthly parents, but they were far from resembling GOD, WHO created them in HIS OWN spiritual image.
    In chapter 3, GOD tells Hosea to go and buy his wife back out of the slavery that she had sold herself into, and to love her despite her continued propensity to do wrong by him. It would serve as a sign of how GOD would purchase Israel back out of the bondage of sin, through the sacrifice of HIS only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST, at a future date.
    Hosea purchased his wayward wife out of bondage for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley, and a measure of wine (v.2). Then, he told her that she must live in his house for many days without having sexual intercourse with anyone, including himself. This was to illustrate that the nation of Israel would be a long time without a king, or a prince, and, without sacrifices, a temple, priests, or idols (Vs. 3-4). The people would then repent and once again fear and reverence GOD, and HE would restore them back into a relationship of friendship and obedience with HIM in the last days (v.5).    
    Not much is known of Hosea, or Gomer, beyond the biblical account of their strange marriage. However, strange as it was, their marriage presented a perfect picture and demonstration of the relationship that man has with GOD. GOD has been constantly faithful to us, just as Hosea was faithful to his wife Gomer. However, just as Gomer was continuously unfaithful to Hosea, so man has been continuously unfaithful to GOD.
    Gomer abandoned her marriage to Hosea, over and over again, taking on several other lovers in the process. Yet, Hosea’s love for his wife was so great that he could not give her up. When her profligate ways led her into slavery, Hosea bought her back and returned with her to his home to give her yet another chance to live a GODly life. By doing this, with his own life, Hosea shared GOD’s own experiences with his people, Israel.  
    Though bound to the LORD in a covenant relationship, Israel abandoned GOD over and over again by pursuing idols, and an adulterous lifestyle that linked them to paganism. This action by Israel also led it into slavery at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C.  Still, GOD would not stop loving Israel, and would later buy her back, and restore her to her homeland, just as Hosea restored Gomer back to her home. 
    Hosea’s experiences make for a deeply moving story, as the reader can easily sense the pain of his “dysfunctional relationship” with his wayward wife. From this story, we, as Christians, should also be able to sense the pain of the ALMIGHTY GOD as we waver back and forward in our relationship with HIM. Hosea’s unhappy family experiences becomes one of the all-time great “object lessons” in Scripture, concerning the sin and dysfunction, which we engage in, whenever we disobey and reject GOD’s will and kindness, over and over again.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



  


Friday, January 8, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 10, 2016

Over 93,000 readers worldwide
larrydalexander.blogspot.com


GOD’S PERSPECTIVE OF MARRIAGE
 (The gift of sexual intercourse with your spouse)
(Song of Solomon 1-8)

   The “Song of Solomon” or, “Song of Songs” is, first of all, a “Love song”. It communicates a message from GOD regarding the spiritual and emotional connection that exists only between two members of the opposite sex. It is a drama in poetry, and indeed, a love story that captures the yearning of a bride (woman) and a bridegroom (man) for each other.
    This book of Scriptures celebrates the mystery and joy of human love, the gift that GOD gave to mankind when HE shaped Adam and Eve for each other, and, for HIS OWN purpose, which is “reproduction”. It is a refreshing affirmation of the biblical view, that, in the union of husband and wife (a man and a woman only) there exists a rewarding and total intimacy that can be cherished for all time through the reproduction of family, something which can only be done through sexual intercourse between a man and a woman, not two men, and not two women.
    Many Jewish scholars also treat this book of Scripture as an allegory of GOD’s love for Israel, and CHRIST’s love for the Christian Church, rather than to accept it for what it really says. This is probably because they may feel uncomfortable with its explicit references of a sexual nature. However, it is best to accept this magnificent poem for what it is, and that is a celebration of GOD’s gift of married love.
    The Song of Solomon is Scripture’s most explicit exploration of human sexual relationships, and with the exception of this book, the Old Testament tends to speak of sex indirectly, and overall, very vaguely. It, for the most part, deals with, and honors marital sexual relationships, as a private and rather personal matter, and certainly, there can be no argument, that it is correct in doing so. However, this does not even begin to suggest that Scripture has a negative view of sex. The creation story itself affirms the sexual nature of human beings, and it also carefully guards the mystery of sex, so that its special nature and power to bond husband and wife as one, will not be lost to sin.
    And so GOD, through HIS eternal Word, condemns all sexual expressions outside of marriage, including adultery, fornication (pre-marital sex), and prostitution, as well as homosexual acts (sexual relations between two or more people of the same sex), and other sexual perversions, such as having sex with animals are also forbidden (Leviticus 18). However, within marriage, GOD affirms our freedom to enjoy the gift of pleasurable sexual activity. The Bible identifies three specific functions of sexual activity in human life;

·         Procreation (Genesis 1:28)
·         To satisfy urges that are implicit in human nature (1 Corinthians 7:3-5, & 9)
·         Sex is “sacramental” in the bonding of a man and woman in one spirit (Genesis 2:24)

    By preserving sexual expressions for marriage, GOD is giving it a unique power to unify man and wife, and as this act is repeated, commitment is constantly re-affirmed, trust grows, and the two actually do become one in spirit (human spirit), which is the most profound level of their personality and being. We must be faithful to our spouse and to the high GODly calling and sanctity of marriage, and, we must never try to distort its definition, function, and meaning, just to satisfy human perversions.
    This literary masterpiece by King Solomon, from GOD, invites us to lift the veil of sexual intimacy so that we can partake in the divine joy and unity between a man and wife that sex can help create in a marriage, and, that GOD originally intended for HIS greatest creation in the first place. Marriage is an institution that brings GOD HIMSELF (HIS concepts) to human sexual relationships.
     And it seems quite obvious that when we take a look at the state of human sexual relationships, marital statistics, and the general state of both, the world and the Church regarding marriage, that, we are still not grasping what GOD is trying to teach us through HIS Holy Word and directives. And after all this time, professed Christians, as well as non-Christians have never been able to concede to the great fundamental truth that, without GOD (even in the matter of love in marriage), man can’t do anything right, for too long.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander  





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website



Friday, January 1, 2016

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday January 3, 2016

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GOD IS STILL IN CONTROL EVEN DURING THE WORST SITUATIONS
(GOD uses divine retribution to bring us back into HIS Will)
(Genesis 29:1-30)

   It was customary in Old Testament times for the groom to present the father of the bride with a gift of money, or something of monetary value for his daughter’s hand in marriage. However, this was not considered as “buying and selling women”, but rather, it served as acknowledgement that the groom was extracting something of value from the father’s household. This in no way, of course, compensated for the life of the daughter, but rather, it served as a symbol that the groom placed a high value on his future bride.
    In Genesis 29, Moses writes of how Jacob came to marry, both Leah, and Rachel, the daughters of his uncle, Laban, at Padan-Aram. This all occurs after Jacob fled his father Isaac’s house, after he and his mother, Rebekah, had joined forces in order that they might cheat his brother, Esau, out of his inheritance as the eldest male sibling.
    When Jacob arrived in Padan-Aram he saw three flocks of sheep in the distance lying in an open field beside a well, waiting to be watered. There was a heavy stone covering the mouth of the well. It was a custom to wait until all the flocks arrived before the stone was removed by the shepherds. After watering all of the sheep, the stone would be placed back over the well to protect the water, perhaps, from wild animals and debris.
    When Jacob saw the shepherds, he went over to them and asked them, where did they live? They told Jacob that they lived in Haran, and so he asked them if they knew his uncle Laban, and they replied that they did. As the men talked, a shepherd girl named Rachel, arrived at the well with her father’s flock. She was the daughter of Laban, whom Jacob was looking for, and because she was his cousin and her father his uncle, he went over to the well and removed the stone, and watered her flock. Afterwards, Jacob kissed Rachel and tears fell from his eyes as he explained to her who he was. Rachel then ran home to tell her father and he rushed out to meet and greet his nephew, and invited him to stay at his home.
    In verses 15-30, after Jacob had been residing and working with Laban for about a month, Laban suggested that it was not right for Jacob to labor for him for free. And so he asked Jacob how much he wanted in return for his labor. Jacob, who by now, was in love with Rachel, Laban’s youngest daughter, offered to work for him for 7 years, if he would give him permission to marry her, after that time. Laban agreed, and so Jacob spent the next 7 years working for him to acquire the right to marry Rachel. The stage was now set by the LORD for Jacob to receive his divine retribution for his trickery against his brother Esau, and his father Isaac (Genesis 27:1-39).
    And so, as justice would have it, at the end of the seven-year period, Laban tricked Jacob, on a dark and festive night, into marrying and sleeping with his older daughter, Leah, instead of Rachel. It was a trick reminiscent of the time when Jacob had tricked his father Isaac into giving him his older brother, Esau’s, inheritance, and now Jacob knew first hand, just how his brother felt when he was cheated by him, and how his father felt when he took advantage of his near-blindness in his old age. In Laban, Jacob had finally met his match.
    History now records that Jacob spent the next twenty years in drudgery, affliction, and deception from his uncle Laban, his mother Rebekah’s brother. The LORD would use these coming experiences to shape and mold his character into what it ought to be, as the chosen father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Here we see a crystal clear example of the biblical principle that states, “As a man reaps, so shall he sew”.
    GOD often orders the affairs of men to set things right, and with Jacob, this deception by Laban seems altogether fitting, because it is the LORD WHO is, here in this passage, administering the vengeance that HE says, belongs to HIM. These tribulations were designed by GOD to bring Jacob’s own craftiness right into the forefront of his own mind, and allow him to spiritually see the error of his own ways.
    Spiritually, Jacob was able to see this for what it was, “divine retribution”. He accepted it, and was able to move on to greater heights. At times, GOD must teach us the hard way, that, we must be sensitive to the needs and rights of others. And while this certainly wasn’t an easy lesson for Jacob, it was indeed, a necessary one.
    GOD wants to show us that, HIS way is always the best way, and HE will often show us HIS control, during our worst situations. It is during hard times and struggles that we are readily willing, and seek to give GOD control of our lives. And certainly, a life submitted to GOD can never be seen as being “out of control”.
    Fortunately, Jacob had already given his life over to GOD that day in Bethel (Genesis 28:16-22), and that was the only thing that allowed him to be able to handle the twenty years of struggle that he would now face in the house of Laban. We should never become so preoccupied with the struggles of our own self-imposed circumstances   , that we forget that the LORD of the Faith we say we hold, is always near us, and in control of all aspects of our lives.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website