Camels and Gates – January 19th
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, good or bad and here we see a character flaw in Abraham – his deep rooted fear that his beautiful wife will catch someone’s eye and they will get rid of him to get to her. Bear in mind she is 100 years old!
I don’t think it is a duplicate of the story in chapter 12 – we have a remarkable capacity to repeat our mistakes!
There’s spiritual anticlimax at play here too – Abraham has just had the amazing answer to prayer of Sodom and come down with a bump and blown it again!
Thankfully God is control – He is sovereign – large and in charge! And intervenes with a prophetic dream for Abimelech before it all goes horribly wrong.
God made marriage for a man and woman to be joined together for life. God loves marriage and sex – he created them both for us to enjoy. So when a question comes about divorce, Jesus reminds them that the Mosaic provisions for divorce are because our hearts are hard.
If you are married, keep your heart soft. Talk, pray, laugh, romance and sex are all important things to keep a marriage alive and good!
Verse9 gives us some “case law” for handling re-marriage after divorce – it’s a thorny area, but it seems clear that if someone commits adultery, the original spouse is free to remarry. Any other remarriage is adultery. It’s a toughie!
Jesus then prays for some children and then encounters the rich young man.
In verse 24 Jesus is using hyperbole “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God”. There never was a needle gate where people had to take the packs of a camel for it to be able to fit through. That was made up by Theophylact of Bulgaria in the 11th century. What Jesus is saying is made clear in v26 – It is impossible for us to be saved! BUT with God all things are possible. God saves us, not us taking the load of our backs!
“Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Paul asked the Ephesian disciples. A valid question – if you believe, as Paul obviously did, that the baptism in the Spirit is not automatic at conversion. By the answer it turns out the reality is that they are not even saved yet – they have only heard about John’s baptism – a baptism of repentance. Paul explains the Gospel, baptises them in water and then prays for them to be filled with the Spirit. What’s the initial evidence? Tongues and prophecy. When you get baptised in the Spirit – expect an overflow coming out of your mouth!
Pauls starts a training programme for 2 years for leaders – so church get plated all over Asia!
Then he does “extraordinary” miracles – it seems there is more anointing than normal, so that Pauls’ hankies are so saturated with his anointing they can heal too. I’m not covinced that means we are to pray over green hankies and send them out for $15! That would seem to be sick profiteering and trying to make a descriptive text prescriptive. That said I’d like to start doing more ordinary miracles, move onto the extraordinary! Glory to God!
There such an effect that people stop buying silver idols to the god Artemis – so the silverworkers start a riot!
The Isrealites come back for another long meeting.
Firstly they had fasted and confessed their sin v2, Then they praised God v5 and reminded themselevs of all that God had done v6-15. Then confessed how bad the nation had been and reminded God He is gracious and merciful!
Even under teh old covenant there is an expectation of the Spirit guiding the people v20 – thankfully the Spirit has now been poured out so we can all know Him, be filled by Him and led by Him.