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The significance of Luke 4:25-30

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The significance of Luke 425-30

What was the significance of Luke 4:25-30?

Prior to these verses we read about Jesus taking the book of Isaiah and reading a portion of chapter 61 in a synagogue in His home town.  After He finishes reading, He gives the book back to the attendant and tells them that very day that passage was being fulfilled in their ears. What a remarkable statement.

After this the people thought how great was this teaching asking, wasn’t this the son of Joseph? They were mocking Him not believing someone like this could be teaching such great things with such authority and ignored the message completely. Because of this Jesus proceeds to remind them of a time that foreshadowed what was to come.

Following the passage of Isaiah, Jesus goes on to tell them prophecy relating specifically to them. He says that they would tell Him the proverb, “Physician, heal yourself!” And that which they heard Him do in Capernaum do in His home town.

We know that He did not perform miracles at home because they did not believe Him to be the Messiah. He later tells His disciples in Matthew 13 that “a prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and household.” Jesus knew what they were thinking when He was teaching them in the synagogue. But, it’s what He says after predicting what they would do that causes a dramatic turn of events.

Jesus goes on to say in verses 25-29:

I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed—only Naaman the Syrian.

All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff.”

What just happened?

It would seem that we need a little history to know what it was that offended them to the point of wanting to throw Jesus off a cliff, quite a dramatic change of thought in such a short amount of time.

To fully understand the significance of these passages, let’s take a closer look at the widow in the land of Sidon (in current day Lebanon), and Naaman in Syria.

The obvious is that both these places were not in Israel and were in fact considered Israel’s enemy. Additionally, Elijah and Elisha performed miracles for a gentile. Bringing to remembrance these facts could explain the outrage, but the history will give us a much better understanding.

Sidon, the mother city of Tyre was a place where trade was abundant and many dwelt despite its battles. It has been an occupied city throughout its history, first the Assyrians – then the Babylonians, Greeks , Romans, and so on.

During the time of Elijah Ahab was king over Israel. Ahab married Jezebel through an alliance being she was a princess from Sidon – daughter of the King of Tyre. She successfully encouraged Ahab to abandon his worship of Yahweh all together and even persecuted the prophets of Israel. If it weren’t for Obadiah most of the prophets would have been killed.

The worship of Baal and Astarte/Asherah (male and female deities) became popular throughout Sidon during Omri’s reign (Ahab’s father). But, it was during Ahab’s reign it became prevalent. Archaeological evidence found at Ahab’s ivory palace shows that he filled his house with these false gods, inside and out.

Many times king Ahab and Elijah clashed over the false gods that Ahab worshiped. You may remember the incident where Elijah challenges the false gods of King Ahab’s table to consume an offering. He asked that 850 of the false prophets come and see what their gods could do. They of course failed.  Elijah then proceeded to douse the offering with water to show the observers who the true God is. The offering was overwhelmingly burnt up, including the ground that surrounded it.

The king of Israel saw Elijah as a trouble maker and rejected his authority as a prophet, as did many of the people. It was Elijah who warned the king of the drought. After three and a half years Elijah asked for rain and only then did the drought cease.

It was during this time of drought that the prophet performed the miracle of replenishing the oil and flour for the trusting widow who fed him instead of her son. But, when her son dies she blames the prophet. Elijah then asked God to restore the life of the child if it be His will. Once the child was resurrected the widow proclaimed Elijah to truly be a man of the one God and that the word of the Lord from his mouth was truth.

We see through this story that a Gentile woman realized what the king and people of Israel did not. And because of her obedience and faith in the prophet of Israel she saw an incredible miracle that no one in Israel had received up to that point, resurrection of the dead.

Subsequently Ahab was killed in battle by an arrow as prophesied by Elijah. Scripture tells us that dogs (the Septuagint translates it pigs) came and licked his blood. Later Jezebel was eaten by dogs after being thrown out a window.

Syria was also considered an enemy of Israel during the time of Elisha. In it was the city of Damascus in the region of Aram. Syria had conquered Israel with the help of Naaman. Naaman, an Aramean, was a chief commander in the Syrian King’s army and thought of as a great and honorable man. However, he was a leper.

Naaman was told that a prophet from Israel could heal him, therefore he wrote a letter to the king of Israel asking him to cleanse him of his leprosy. Once the king read the letter he tore his clothes asking, “Am I God, to kill and make alive again?” The king thought the letter was written to provoke him into a quarrel since he was clearly not able to heal.

When Elisha got word of what the king had done, he wrote the king asking to send Naaman to him so that he will know there is indeed a prophet in Israel.

After Naaman finally agreed to obey Elisha and wash himself seven times in the Jordan river, he was healed. Naaman then realized and proclaimed that there was only one true God, the God of Israel.

Once Naaman realized who the true God was he had a request of Elisha, forgiveness. Elisha obliges his request and Naaman is forgiven. He tells Elisha that he will never offer sacrifices to any other god from then on.

Again, we see another Gentile who receives blessings because of their faith and obedience. Although they were reluctant at first, both finally obeyed because they had faith in the prophet’s words. In this case Elisha not only healed a Gentile but granted him forgiveness. Indeed a foreshadowing of what was to come.

This shows that it is through faith and obedience that God’s mercy is received, regardless of who it is. Not because it is necessarily deserved, but because He has the power to forgive and bless whom He chooses. As John the Baptist said, “from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham.” This is contrary to what the Jews believed and did. And those listening to Jesus’ words would not want to remember as it would further validate His message.

There is no doubt that the people whom Jesus was speaking to in the synagogue recalled the bitter memory of them rejecting the prophets and where two Gentiles who by faith received miracles from God, the forgiveness of sin and resurrection. To tell those people that God would not turn to them to receive miracles because they refused to listen and believe was too much for them to hear.

The prophetic story of both Elijah and Elisha would later transpire into nearly all of Israel rejecting the Messiah and the words of the prophets who spoke of Him. As a result of their disobedience and lack of faith God would raise up children to Abraham from all nations. For it was too little of a thing for His Son to save Israel, rather He would save the world.

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Culture and Religion

Sometimes it’s the little wrongs that stick

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Sometimes its the little wrongs that stick

I was a pretty cocky kid.

It’s something that I get to hear a lot lately, especially when connecting with old friends from high school and college. I remember thinking that I wouldn’t be that guy, the one who looks back while on the second half of a standard life and calls himself stupid, but that’s exactly what I’ve started doing. I was a cocky, stupid kid.

There are several instances that I can recall that had an effect on the way that I grew and would eventually point me to dedicate my life to Christ. One of those events was very small, so small that the person I “wronged” likely doesn’t even remember the incident.

I was managing a steak house in Oklahoma City. I was the youngest of the managers of what was supposed to be a summer job and ended up supporting my young family for three years. I was cocky (and did I mention I was stupid as well?) and took pride in my ability to diffuse situations. It wasn’t a fancy steak house. In fact, it was a two-story, 550-seat monster that served hundreds of steaks every night.

One particular evening I was helping one of the servers by taking the order. It was a special day for the patriarch of the family and they were celebrating – what exactly I don’t recall or perhaps never knew. The special day man had one important request – no Texas toast. His wife (or daughter, couldn’t tell for sure) said that he was extremely allergic to anything that had bread and I assured her that no bread would touch his plate. I plugged in the order, put the special instructions in all caps (NO BREAD NO BREAD NO BREAD) and went on to see to the hundreds of other guests as well as the staff.

I was walking by the table, just checking in, when the food came. Time went into slow-motion mode as the plate was put down in front of him with a big, buttery piece of Texas toast right smack dab on his 14 oz. ribeye. The look on the wife/daughter’s face has always stuck with me. It was pure disappointment, shock, and even a little bit of fear all flashing before me in technicolor slow motion.

Instantly, I reached down and grabbed the plate, but the man grabbed my arm. His fury was clear. I told him that I would get him a new steak, but refused to let go. He wanted to keep that steak hostage to make certain that we didn’t just take it to the back, pull of the bread, and serve him the same steak. I assured him that we wouldn’t do that but he was firm. He didn’t believe me and that made me mad.

In the same situation today, I wouldn’t have tried to take the steak back. In fact, I would have left one more instruction on the ticket – “Page ME for delivery”. I would have made certain that the bread didn’t go on his plate. Instead, I allowed myself to get angry. I took it out on the staff that couldn’t read instructions. I took it out on the table that had a special occasion ruined. I didn’t even comp the meal because of my petty, stupid, cocky anger.

For all I know, they never thought about it again. For all I know, the man was emotionally unstable and hurt someone that night due to my mistakes. His grip was very strong, the type of grip that one can’t get by working out. It only comes from working through life with your hands.

It’s the fear in the wife/daughter’s eyes that I’ve never been able to shake for two decades. Mad – understandable. Disappointed – who wouldn’t be? Fear – that’s something that was distinct. She wasn’t looking at me. She was looking at him. She was waiting for his response. I don’t recall if I truly saw it out of the corner of my eye or if it has emerged through my imagination over the years, but I think she even looked up at me with a subtle, desperate shake of her head as I tried to pry the plate from his grip as if she was warning me that this many might kill me over the mistake.

We never know the effects of our actions. We don’t know what little thing we might do that causes someone to snap, something bad to happen, or something life-changing that could have been avoided by being a little less stupid, a little less cocky, and a lot more like a believer in Jesus Christ should act.

I never had the chance to apologize properly to the family. Maybe that’s why it stuck with me for all of these years. The slow motion look of mixed, terrible emotions – I pray that my little act of defiance didn’t cause pain to anyone.

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Culture and Religion

Do not presume to know if someone is saved, even if they’re pro-abortion pastors

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Do not presume to know if someone is saved even if theyre pro-abortion pastors

This could very easily turn into a discussion about Arminianism versus Calvinism, but that’s a topic I’m still not ready to tackle on this site. One thing I will tackle is the presumptive nature that guides many people to make calls about who is a Christian and who’s a false-Christian as if they’re baseball umpires calling balls or strikes.

It’s something I’ve faced on literally hundreds if not thousands of occasions over the years. People will read my bio on the various social networks, then use my proclamation of being a Christian to call out my posts. Heck, it happened twice today on a reply I sent to Kamala Harris on Twitter that had absolutely nothing to do with faith. I’ve grown used to it, and I try my hardest to never let it get to me on a personal level. I’ve found that many who call me out for a Tweet or Facebook post are simply disagreeing with the content and trying to shame me by saying it’s not very Christian-like. This is a common tactic, folks, so be mindful of it if you face similar complaints.

But today I’d like to discuss a similar situation. Should Christians call out other’s who profess to be Christians based on actions or perspectives that are clearly non-Biblical? The answer to this question, in my humble opinion, is yes and no. Yes, I believe it behooves us as Bible-believers to call out the actions of others, particularly if they profess to be Christians. No, I do not believe we should be claiming people are not Christians because of their misguided beliefs or actions. That’s a call that’s way above our pay grade.

For example, there was a lot of controversy over a letter by 150 Christian leaders who support a pro-choice stance. As most Christians know, abortion is not a Biblical practice and is spoken against in the Bible itself. We should definitely be calling on those who are supportive of abortion and who also profess their faith, but we shouldn’t be telling them they’re going to burn in hell over their perspective, that they have no Grace, or that they’re not really Christians. I said it before and I can’t really say it enough – such things are above our pay grade.

We know from the Bible what God disapproves of, but we are not capable of known WHO God approves of, as in who He considers to be saved as a Christian. When we tell people who believe they are saved that they’re actually not saved because they believe in abortion, we’re presuming to know God’s Will on such matters. We do not.

If we want to call out the sin, that’s proper. If we’re telling a sinner they’re condemned to hell because of their sin, it’s like taking on the role of passing eternal judgment. That is not our calling. Mind your tongues, folks. God does.

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Culture and Religion

Michael J. Knowles on the reality of ‘white privilege’ and intersectionality

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Michael J Knowles on the reality of white privilege and intersectionality

There’s a strange contradiction that’s been essentially taking over the mentality of many leftists for some time now. The contradiction has to do with bigotry and is framed around the concept of “white privilege.”

If you’re white, you instantly have privilege in their eyes. If you also happen to be a straight male, you really, really have privilege. This characterization by the left does two things. It paints those who are straight male Caucasians as not being capable of experiencing the types of hardships experienced by others and it forces anyone who is not a straight male Caucasian to embrace their victimhood if they’re going to be part of the leftist tribe.

This is, of course, all ludicrous. White privilege is a myth in today’s America. There are enough safeguards to protect those who aren’t straight white males from persecuting the rest of us, and those safeguards have been working. But that’s not enough for the left. They aren’t looking for equality. They want the status they place on people of having “white privilege” to work against them.

Michael J. Knowles and Andrew Klavan from the DailyWire took to Texas A&M to discuss some of the challenges leftists force onto people, particularly at college campuses in America. The event, hosted by YAF, yielded an extremely interesting series of discussions. You can watch the whole event here.

Knowles was asked about “white privilege” and gave a thoughtful response. Here’s one important quote from his answer:

“Ironically what this ideology does is it turns privilege into victimhood and it turns victimhood into privilege, and that’s the upside down world of the left, and it’s why they go after you on immutable characteristics such as the color of your skin and your biology and your chromosomes.”

Will there ever come a time when the left is willing to look past our gender, religion, sexual preference, or the color of our skin and simply see people as who they are? The way things are going, it doesn’t seem like it.

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