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In my previous post here, it was stated Matthew wrote his book to reinforce and strengthen the faith of the Jewish Christian followers in Israel. They were under attack and going through persecution and were considering leaving Christianity to return to Judaism. Matthew’s book lays out Jesus’ credentials to the throne of David. The third proof which I’ve entitled “His Credentials” looks at the miracles Jesus performed as proof of his claim to be the Son of God. The first group of miracles shows he is Lord of the Outcast and begins in Matthew 8:1.
Jesus starts out by healing the leper. He then heals the centurion’s servant. And finally he heals Peter’s mother in law. I’d like to start out by looking at the centurion’s servant and save the healing of the leper for last. As you follow this series, it will become clear why I’ve done this.
The healing of the centurion’s servant is found in Matthew 8:5-13. The centurion is part of the Roman ruling class over the Jews. Rome had conquered Israel and was under their control. The Jews, especially the Sanhedrin, considered gentiles as outcasts and they were to be avoided. Yet, that is not what Jesus did. Jesus was accessible even to Gentiles.
The centurion asked Jesus to heal his servant, Matthew 8:6 and Jesus replied that he will go to his home and heal him but the centurion does something that amazes Jesus. He tells Jesus he only has to say the word and his servant will be healed, verse 8. The centurion’s authority was that of the Roman Empire. He has an understanding of authority and knows that Jesus only has to say the word and his servant will be healed. Jesus responds in Matt. 8:10 that he has not found such great faith among the Jews yet here is this gentile with faith beyond that of the Jews.
What is amazing is the insight the centurion had of Jesus. He saw that Jesus’ authority was from a Divine source. (The Father of course but we don’t know if he knew that.) He understood Jesus only had to give the command and it would be done. But then Jesus makes a stunning statement:
Matthew 8:11-12 I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
It is at this point in Jesus’ ministry he begins to talk about the destruction of the Jewish theocracy that will occur in A.D. 70 when Rome totally destroys Jerusalem and the Jewish economy. But had the Jews understood scripture they would have known the gentiles would be welcomed into the kingdom. Consider the following Old Testament predictions, Psalms 107:3, Isaiah 43:5-6, Isaiah 49:12. Gentiles would worship God from all over the world, Isaiah 49:19 and Malachi 1:11. Notice Malachi uses the word nations, plural. Gentiles would flow into a figurative Jerusalem from all over the world. Isaiah 2:2-3, Isaiah 60:3-4, Micah 4:1-2 and Zechariah 8:22-23.
Notice the centurion did not ask for prayer but for healing. Because of his great faith Jesus grants his request.
Have you considered Jesus? Do you have the faith of the gentile centurion?
I am thankful for:
My church family
My earthly blessings; house, cars, job, health, etc.
My country where we are not persecuted for our Christian faith (yet)
But most of all I am thankful for Jesus Christ who paid the price I could not pay and has secured my future with Him for eternity!
I Corinthians 15:1-4
The book of Matthew was written to a group of Jewish Christian converts who were considering going back to Judaism. Jesus had come and been crucified, buried and resurrected. He then returned to the Father promising to return one day.
In the early years the church grew exponentially but as time went on Jewish opposition to those Jews who had left Judaism and embraced Christianity also grew. These converts were weary of persecution and were wondering, “did we make the right decision?” (perhaps this thought has crossed your mind as well) Jesus was gone and his return hadn’t happened either. What should they do? Should they now reject Christianity and go back to Judaism?
Along came Matthew at the call of Jesus. He wrote his book to answer these questions of the Jewish converts. He laid out his book with convincing truths that Jesus was who he claimed to be-the Mighty God of Isaiah 9:6-7. His book was written to these struggling Christians whose faith was wavering.
Matthew starts out his book with in chapters 1-4:16 outlining the Messiah’s antecedents. These were things Jesus could not have manipulated but pointed to his fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. As an example, Jesus was born in Bethlehem just as Micah 5:2 had predicted. Hint, if you look for the word “fulfilled” in Matthew’s gospel it will lead you to the Old Testament scriptures Jesus met to prove his right to David’s throne.
Next, in Matthew 4:18-7:27 Matthew points out Jesus’ incredible teaching as opposed to that of the teachers of the Law and Pharisees. Matthew sums up this section quite nicely in Matthew 7:27-28.
Next, Matthew addresses Jesus’ credentials in Matthew 8:1-10:42 (11:1). Matthew writes about a series of miracles Jesus performs that continues to add weight to his position as God. These miracles can be broken down into three sets of three. Each group addresses different attributes of his miracles. They can be summarized as follows:
First Group, 8:1-17, Lord of the Outcast
Second Group, 8:23-9:8, Powerful Lord
Third Group, 9:18-33a, Lord over Death.
In the next article in this series we will explore the first group of miracles. I hope you will follow this series and that it will increase your faith in the one Matthew wrote about; the one and only Jesus Christ, the Messiah and King.
Some good news.
The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has won its court battle with the Obama Administration over the requirements in the Obamacare health reform act to provide contraceptives to employees. (Yes, I know its official name is the Affordable Care Act but tagging it with the name Obamacare places blame directly where it lies.) The Catholic Church will not be required to provide contraceptives to its employees which is against the Catholic faith.
If allowed to stand, I would expect other courts to rule similarly where other religious organizations have sued to remove the requirement that contraceptives be provided to employees. Perhaps this ruling will help Hobby Lobby win their case against the Federal Government and Obamacare.
The Justice Department is expected to appeal but legal experts believe the Supreme Court will uphold the ruling.
Everyday we hear new stories in the U.S. of new discoveries of shale oil and gas. The list is extensive and newly developed method of extraction known as fracking and horizontal drilling have created a revolution in oil drilling and production in the United States. Approximately 10 percent of the world’s recoverable oil reserves are in shale-rich rocks that can only be accessed by hydraulic fracturing (i.e., fracking).1
What is the origin of these oil reserves? What about coal? There is an extensive resource of coal in the United States as well. Where does the oil, natural gas and coal originate? It all starts with the deposition of organic debris. Many oil shales commonly contain upward of five percent total organic carbon (TOC). Most organic compounds found in oils seem to match up with marine algal deposits (Type 1 oils) and marine planktonic deposits (Type 2 oils). Were these deposits, oil, gas and coal, laid down over millions of years or does evidence indicate these resources are young? What is their age?
Consider the following evidence:
- Pressure in oil / gas wells indicate the recent origin of the oil and gas. If they were many millions of years old we would expect the pressures to equilibrate, even in low permeability rocks. “Experts in petroleum prospecting note the impossibility of creating an effective model given long and slow oil generation over millions of years (Petukhov, 2004). In their opinion, if models demand the standard multimillion-years geochronological scale, the best exploration strategy is to drill wells on a random grid.” —Lalomov, A.V., 2007.
- Carbon-14 in coal suggests ages of thousands of years and clearly contradict ages of millions of years.
- Carbon-14 in oil again suggests ages of thousands, not millions, of years.
- Today, nearly all organic debris is consumed by scavengers or micro-organisms before it becomes trapped in sediment. With this in mind, how is it possible that enough organic debris was ever trapped to produce all of the world’s oil?
- The continuing process over millions of years of bacterial scavenging would have depleted oil and natural gas resources long ago.
This evidence would suggest that oil, natural gas and coal deposits are fairly young but what process could have laid down these vast resources in a fairly short time just a few thousand years ago? The answer has to be they were laid down by the global flood described in Genesis.
Since the evidence seems to point to young age for these resources, is there other evidence that the age of the earth is young? I would direct you to the following article on scientific evidence for a young earth entitled, “How Old is the Earth?” And if you didn’t click on the link in the article above, here is second with 101 evidences for a young earth.
1.Dittrick, P. 2013. Focus: Unconventional Oil & Gas: EIA-ARI Issues Update of World Assessment of Shale Oil, Shale Gas. Oil & Gas Journal. 111 (7): 46-48.
The following story and accompanying video show the Duck Dynasty crew praying for a cancer-stricken 13-year-old girl. Skye Loustalot, a teenager who is battling osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer is a huge Duck Dynasty fan. Alan, Phil’s oldest son is leading the prayer in the video.
While the world may consider this unusual, this type of prayer occurs weekly in the church they attend. Alan and Phil are both elders at WFR Church of Christ. The Bible says:
James 5:14 Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.
Phil and Alan are simply following the commands of Christ when they pray for the sick.
A cancer-stricken 13-year-old braved the rain on Friday, arriving at an outdoor event via ambulance and on a stretcher so that she could meet cast members from her favorite television show, A&E’s “Duck Dynasty.” Alan Robertson, the famed …
http://www.theblaze.com/ — Mon, 18 Nov 2013 11:59:27 -0800
This is an interesting question that is legitimately asked. How do we answer people who don’t believe there is a God? Is there an answer we can provide which would lead an “open” mind to understand? (When I say open, I mean a person who is seeking answers, not one whose mind is already made up.) What about those who don’t believe in God?
Ravi Zacharias answers this question for a student from Yale. He gives three points in support of his position but I like the third the best. I’ll give you a hint-Jesus. It is a short video, about six minutes long. Take a listen.
An article Dave Miller, Ph.D from Apologetics Press.
Islamic apologists have attempted to bolster the credibility of their beliefs by claiming that the Bible, itself, makes reference to the coming of the prophet Muhammad. Ironically, this claim comes even in the face of the prevailing Islamic contention that the Bible has been corrupted, and thus cannot be relied upon as an accurate record of God’s Word. Nevertheless, Muslim polemicist Zakir Naik claims that Muhammad is mentioned by name in the Hebrew text of Song of Solomon 5:16. The reader is urged to weigh this claim in light of the exegetical evidence surrounding the passage.
In English, the verse reads: “His mouth is most sweet, yes, he is altogether lovely. This is my beloved, and this is my friend, O daughters of Jerusalem!” (NKJV). A phonetic transliteration of the underlying Hebrew text reads: Kheeco mahm-tah-keem vuh-coollo ma-kha-madeem zeh dodee veh-tseh ray-ee beh-note yerushalayim. Muslims claim that the bolded word, though translated “altogether lovely,” is the name of Muhammad (Naik, n.d.). Consider six linguistic evidences that dispute Naik’s claim:
- The second syllable (kha) utilizes the Hebrew letter heth which has a hard initial sound like the “ch” in the Scottish word “loch.” It is to be distinguished from the Hebrew letter he which is the same as the English letter “h.” If Muhammad was being referred to, the simple “h” would have been more linguistically appropriate.
- Muslims claim that the eem (or im) in ma-kha-madeem in the Hebrew language was “added for respect” (Naik). This claim is untrue and unsubstantiated. The letters constitute the standard form for changing a singular to a plural—like adding “s” or “es” in English (cf. Weingreen, 1959, pp. 35ff.). As the eminent Emil Rödiger (who was professor for oriental languages at the University of Halle and the student of the well-known German Orientalist, H.F.W. Gesenius) noted in his editorial comment in the prestigious Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar: “The use of the plural as a form of respectful address is quite foreign to Hebrew” (Gesenius, 1898, p. 418).
- The meaning of the Hebrew ma-kha-madeem is different from the meaning of the word “Muhammad” in Arabic. According to Sheikh Abd al-Azîz, Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, the word “Muhammad” is derived from the Arabic root word hamd meaning “praise.” It is the emphatic passive participle of that root and can be translated as “the Oft-Praised One” (n.d.). However, the Hebrew term (makh-mahd) in the passage under consideration has a completely different meaning. It refers to “grace, beauty” (Gesenius, 1847, p. 464), “a desirable thing, delightfulness” (Brown, et al., 1906, pp. 326-327), “a pleasant thing” (Payne, 1980, 1:295), or “precious” (Holladay, 1988, p. 190). English translations render the term “altogether lovely” (NKJV, NIV), “wholly desirable” (NASB), and “altogether desirable” (ESV, RSV). No reputable English translation would render the underlying Hebrew as “praised one,” let alone as “Muhammad.” All Muslims have done is happen upon a Hebrew word that phonetically sounds somewhat like “Muhammad” and have erroneously concluded the word must be referring to him. Such handling of linguistic data is irresponsible—if not deceptive.
- Further, the claim that Muhammad is intended in the verse completely disregards the context and message of the book of Song of Solomon. The book consists of a dialogue between Solomon, his Shulamite bride-to-be, and the “daughters of Jerusalem,” with perhaps even God interjecting His comment (5:1b), as well as the Shulamite’s brothers (8:8-9). The term used in 5:16 that Muslims claim refers to Muhammad is also used in 2:3 to refer to the Shulamite’s beloved—“Like an apple tree among the trees of the woods, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down in his shade with great delight.” “Great delight” is the Hebrew word also used in 5:16; in both cases the words of the Shulamite refer to her beloved—not Muhammad.
- Forms of the same Hebrew word are used elsewhere in the Old Testament, yet Muslims do not claim that those passages refer to Muhammad. Rightly so, since those verses cannot be forced to fit the notion that Muhammad is under consideration. For example, Isaiah 64:11 mourns the destruction of Jerusalem: “Our holy and beautiful temple, where our fathers praised You, is burned up with fire; and all our pleasant things are laid waste.” “Pleasant things” is a form of the same word in Song of Solomon 5:16. Would the Muslim contend that Muhammad was “laid waste” in Jerusalem? Additional occurrences of the same word—which dispel the misuse of the term by Muslims—are seen in 1 Kings 20:6; 2 Chronicles 36:19; Lamentations 1:10,11; Ezekiel 24:16,21,25; Hosea 9:9,16; Joel 3:5; et al. (Wigram, 1890, p. 687).
- Even if the Hebrew word “lovely/desirable” in Song of Solomon were the Hebrew equivalent of the Arabic word “praised one” (which it is not), it still would not follow that Muhammad is being referred to in the Bible. Instead, it would simply be an indication that the underlying word stands on its own as a term used for other applications. For example, the Hebrew word for “bitter” is mah-rah. It is used throughout the Old Testament to refer to the concept of bitter. Yet, due to her unpleasant circumstances in life, Naomi (whose name means “pleasant”) requested that her name be changed to “bitter” (mah-rah) to reflect her bitter predicament. It does not follow, however, that when the Hebrew word “bitter” appears in the Old Testament, it refers to Naomi. If parents today were to name their child John, it would not follow that they intended to reflect an association with others in history who have worn the name John—nor would references to John in the Bible constitute prophecies pointing to their son. Muslims have the cart before the horse. Their claim is equivalent to parents naming their child “wonderful” or “special”—and then claiming that an ancient writer had their child in mind when the writer used the word “wonderful” or “special” in referring to another person contemporary to the writer.
The truth of the matter is that the Bible nowhere refers to Muhammad. All other biblical passages purported to do so may likewise be shown to be misinterpreted and misapplied (Miller, 2003). The Bible contains within itself evidence that all non-Christian religions are false and contrary to the will of the God of the Universe (for more, see Miller, 2005).
Al-Azîz, Sheikh Abd (no date), “The Meaning of the Prophet’s names ‘Muhammad’ and ‘Ahmad,’” Islam Today, http://en.islamtoday.net/quesshow-14-738.htm.
Brown, Francis, S.R. Driver, and Charles A. Briggs (1906), The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2000 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Gesenius, William (1898), Hebrew Grammar, ed. E. Kautzsch (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Holladay, William (1988), A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Is Muhammad Mentioned in the Bible?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=8&article=88&topic=46.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Naik, Zakir (no date), “Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in the Bible,” Islam 101, http://www.islam101.com/religions/christianity/mBible.htm.
Payne, J. Barton (1980), hamad in Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, ed. R. Laird Harris, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Weingreen, J. (1959), A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Clarenden Press), second edition.
Wigram, George W. (1890), The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1980 reprint).
Linked is an article from The Christian News Network about a retired police officer who was arrested in Monmouth Mall in Eatontown, New Jersey. The article states the man would approach people and ask them if he could ask them a question. If they said no, he obliged and left them alone. If one did allow him to ask a question, he asked them whether they would go to heaven. He did not make a scene, he did not argue with anyone. He was not a nuisance to anyone. He has shared his faith in this way in this same mall before, even in front of security guards but this time was different. This time security threatened to arrest him if he did not leave the premises. He was eventually arrested for trespassing and faces a court date in December.
There are constitutional issues at stake and it appears he was legally protected to conduct himself in this manner. What really struck me about this article was the follow up written by one commenter. His name is William Levi. He said: