MATTHEW 21:33-46

Verses 33-46 “33Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country:
34And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it.
35And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another.
36Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise.
37But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son.
38But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance.
39And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.
40When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?
41They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons.
42Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
43Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.
44And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
45And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them.
46But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet.”

In a single parable, Jesus recounts Israel’s entire history. Like the householder who “planted,” “hedged.” “digged,” and “built,” God gave Israel all she needed to be successful as His chosen nation. He gave her the patriarchs, the prophets, the miracles, and the relationship with Himself. But Israel abused God’s judges, killed some of God’s holy men, and despised God’s prophets. And when “last of all he sent unto them His Son,” they rejected Him, denied His ownership, and killed Him. God is now judging national Israel. He has set her aside temporarily while He is taking a people for His own from among the Gentiles (the church). Israel presently is “broken off” (Rom. 11:17), and the Gentiles have been “grafted in” (Rom. 11:19). We must emphasize that Israel is TEMPORARILY broken off, and will be grafted back in when Jesus comes (Rom. 11:24).

Jesus referred to a story that the old Jews had always told about the building of Solomon’s Temple. The story says that a large stone was cut out and shaped in the quarry, but when the stone arrived at the temple site it did not fit where the builders thought that it should be placed. The stone was rejected, cast away, and rolled down a hill. Later, it was discovered that the stone should have been placed as the cornerstone of the building. With this story Jesus shows that He is the Cornerstone who has been rejected, but he is rolling down the mountain (coming again!), to crush his enemies and to judge those who continue to reject Him. Israel is being judged today for her sin and Christ rejection. She has been judged through the last 2000 years, and will be judged in the Great Tribulation.

The Cornerstone is more than a crushing stone of judgment, coming to grind God’s enemies to powder. He is also the stone of stumbling. So many stumble on this Stone! The Jews stumble on this Stone. But many others do as well. Do not stumble on Christ, dear reader. He is Who the Bible says that He is. Believe on Him. Trust in Him as your only Savior from sin. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

EXODUS 30:11-15

Verses 11-15 “11And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
12When thou takest the sum of the children of Israel after their number, then shall they give every man a ransom for his soul unto the LORD, when thou numberest them; that there be no plague among them, when thou numberest them.
13This they shall give, every one that passeth among them that are numbered, half a shekel after the shekel of the sanctuary: (a shekel is twenty gerahs) an half shekel shall be the offering of the LORD.
14Every one that passeth among them that are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering unto the LORD.
15The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.”

Ransom money was given to the Lord. Those who are ransomed from sin and destruction by the Lord and numbered among the freemen of Christ will normally want to give offerings of money and service to the One who delivered them. The Apostle Paul counted it a joy to be a slave to Christ. He said, “He that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant” (I Cor.7:22).

EXODUS 27:9-19

Verses 9-19 “9And thou shalt make the court of the tabernacle: for the south side southward there shall be hangings for the court of fine twined linen of an hundred cubits long for one side:
10And the twenty pillars thereof and their twenty sockets shall be of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets shall be of silver.
11And likewise for the north side in length there shall be hangings of an hundred cubits long, and his twenty pillars and their twenty sockets of brass; the hooks of the pillars and their fillets of silver.
12And for the breadth of the court on the west side shall be hangings of fifty cubits: their pillars ten, and their sockets ten.
13And the breadth of the court on the east side eastward shall be fifty cubits.
14The hangings of one side of the gate shall be fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.
15And on the other side shall be hangings fifteen cubits: their pillars three, and their sockets three.
16And for the gate of the court shall be an hanging of twenty cubits, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen, wrought with needlework: and their pillars shall be four, and their sockets four.
17All the pillars round about the court shall be filleted with silver; their hooks shall be of silver, and their sockets of brass.
18The length of the court shall be an hundred cubits, and the breadth fifty every where, and the height five cubits of fine twined linen, and their sockets of brass.
19All the vessels of the tabernacle in all the service thereof, and all the pins thereof, and all the pins of the court, shall be of brass.”

The dimensions of the tabernacle court tell us that there is room enough in Christ for all who will come to God by Him. For whosoever will may come. We do not have to worry about some one coming who was not elected. Anyone who comes to him will be among the elect and any who come to Him will be welcomed by Him. The Bible is clear when it says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22:17). Again Jesus said, “Also I say unto you, Whosoever shall confess me before men, him shall the Son of man also confess before the angels of God: But he that denieth me before men shall be denied before the angels of God” (Lk. 12:8-9). And Jesus gave this wide open promise in John 11:26, “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?” And the Apostle Paul adds these words of assurance in Rom. 10:13, “For whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Yes, there is room enough for all who will come to Christ.

EXODUS 26:15-30

Verses 15-30 “15And thou shalt make boards for the tabernacle of shittim wood standing up.
16Ten cubits shall be the length of a board, and a cubit and a half shall be the breadth of one board.
17Two tenons shall there be in one board, set in order one against another: thus shalt thou make for all the boards of the tabernacle.
18And thou shalt make the boards for the tabernacle, twenty boards on the south side southward.
19And thou shalt make forty sockets of silver under the twenty boards; two sockets under one board for his two tenons, and two sockets under another board for his two tenons.
20And for the second side of the tabernacle on the north side there shall be twenty boards:
21And their forty sockets of silver; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
22And for the sides of the tabernacle westward thou shalt make six boards.
23And two boards shalt thou make for the corners of the tabernacle in the two sides.
24And they shall be coupled together beneath, and they shall be coupled together above the head of it unto one ring: thus shall it be for them both; they shall be for the two corners.
25And they shall be eight boards, and their sockets of silver, sixteen sockets; two sockets under one board, and two sockets under another board.
26And thou shalt make bars of shittim wood; five for the boards of the one side of the tabernacle,
27And five bars for the boards of the other side of the tabernacle, and five bars for the boards of the side of the tabernacle, for the two sides westward.
28And the middle bar in the midst of the boards shall reach from end to end.
29And thou shalt overlay the boards with gold, and make their rings of gold for places for the bars: and thou shalt overlay the bars with gold.
30And thou shalt rear up the tabernacle according to the fashion thereof which was shewed thee in the mount.”

The boards of the tabernacle, being wood laminated with pure gold, was a type of the two natures of Christ. The wood represented His human nature. The gold represented his deific nature. Jesus is fully man, but also fully God. He has two separate and uncompromised natures in the one Person. That one Person will ever remain the same in eternity future. He became a man that He might die for our sins. Because He is God, His death has infinite value to save every believer who will ever believe in Him.

EXODUS 25:31-38

Verses 31-38 “31And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.
32And six branches shall come out of the sides of it; three branches of the candlestick out of the one side, and three branches of the candlestick out of the other side:
33Three bowls made like unto almonds, with a knop and a flower in one branch; and three bowls made like almonds in the other branch, with a knop and a flower: so in the six branches that come out of the candlestick.
34And in the candlesticks shall be four bowls made like unto almonds, with their knops and their flowers.
35And there shall be a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, and a knop under two branches of the same, according to the six branches that proceed out of the candlestick.
36Their knops and their branches shall be of the same: all it shall be one beaten work of pure gold.
37And thou shalt make the seven lamps thereof: and they shall light the lamps thereof, that they may give light over against it.
38And the tongs thereof, and the snuffdishes thereof, shall be of pure gold.”

The golden candle stick, a solid gold lamp, was in the tabernacle to give an object lesson about Christ as the Light of the World. Gold is a symbol of deity and speaks of the fact that Christ is God of very God. The seven branches with seven candles show that Christ shines through all of those who know and serve Him. “Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt.5:15-16).

EXODUS 25:23-30

Verses 23-30 “23Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.
24And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, and make thereto a crown of gold round about.
25And thou shalt make unto it a border of an hand breadth round about, and thou shalt make a golden crown to the border thereof round about.
26And thou shalt make for it four rings of gold, and put the rings in the four corners that are on the four feet thereof.
27Over against the border shall the rings be for places of the staves to bear the table.
28And thou shalt make the staves of shittim wood, and overlay them with gold, that the table may be borne with them.
29And thou shalt make the dishes thereof, and spoons thereof, and covers thereof, and bowls thereof, to cover withal: of pure gold shalt thou make them.
30And thou shalt set upon the table shewbread before me alway.”

The table of shewbread was put in the tabernacle as one of God’s object lessons about Christ, the Bread of Life (see John 6:31-65). Man shall not live by bread alone (Matt.4:4). Physical bread will nourish us in only a physical sense. But for spiritual nourishment we need every word of God. There were twelve loaves of the shewbread, which says that Christ is enough for all twelve tribes of Israel. Indeed, He is an endless supply of life for all who will trust in Him.

MATTHEW 12:30

Verse 30 “He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.”

No one can be neutral in-so-far as God is concerned. We must be actively for Christ, or we are against Him. All unsaved persons are the enemies of God, whether they know it or not and whether they believe it or not (see Rom.5:10 and Col. 1:21).

MATTHEW 11:20-24

Verses 20-24 ” 20Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.”

Those who have the greatest privileges and opportunities will be under the greatest responsibility in the judgment. Those who are blessed to hear the gospel should receive Christ without delay. There are millions who have never been privileged to hear that wonderful message, and they will die and go to hell. But those who hear the gospel and reject it are under greater condemnation.

EXODUS 5:3-14

Verses 3-14 “3And they said, The God of the Hebrews hath met with us: let us go, we pray thee, three days’ journey into the desert, and sacrifice unto the LORD our God; lest he fall upon us with pestilence, or with the sword.
4And the king of Egypt said unto them, Wherefore do ye, Moses and Aaron, let the people from their works? get you unto your burdens.
5And Pharaoh said, Behold, the people of the land now are many, and ye make them rest from their burdens.
6And Pharaoh commanded the same day the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
7Ye shall no more give the people straw to make brick, as heretofore: let them go and gather straw for themselves.
8And the tale of the bricks, which they did make heretofore, ye shall lay upon them; ye shall not diminish ought thereof: for they be idle; therefore they cry, saying, Let us go and sacrifice to our God.
9Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.
10And the taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spake to the people, saying, Thus saith Pharaoh, I will not give you straw.
11Go ye, get you straw where ye can find it: yet not ought of your work shall be diminished.
12So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble instead of straw.
13And the taskmasters hasted them, saying, Fulfil your works, your daily tasks, as when there was straw.
14And the officers of the children of Israel, which Pharaoh’s taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, Wherefore have ye not fulfilled your task in making brick both yesterday and to day, as heretofore?”

The Devil, an evil taskmaster, like the Pharaoh of old, wants to make life harder and harder for those who want freedom from their sins. Unlike the Jews of Moses’ day, we do not have to serve the Taskmaster even one day longer because Christ our Deliverer has already won our freedom. “For he that is dead is freed from sin…Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord…Being then made free from sin, become the servants of righteousness…But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.” ( Rom. 6:7; 11; 18; 22)

MARY AND THE VIRGIN BIRTH

A newspaper article by Lloyd Streeter

Once again we enter the Christmas season.  The celebration of Christmas has special meaning to those of us who are born again believers in Christ–a meaning that goes far beyond our decorations, caroling, and commercial activity.  Christmas is important to us because it says that God the Father sent His only Son (who is Himself God) to redeem us to Himself.  We are all sinful, fallen, and rebellious beings, but God loves us and intervened to save us by sending His Son.

God often uses humans to carry out His plan.  When Christ, the Son of God, was sent into the world, He came in the womb of the virgin Mary, a young Jewish girl.  This makes her an important and special person.  She, of course, is not in the same category as Jesus. He is the preeminent and primary Person (Colossians 1:18).  Without Him we never would have heard of Mary.  Nevertheless, Mary was highly favored by God and more blessed of God than all other women.

Mary should be honored and held in high esteem by all Christians.  She was used by God to bring our Savior into the world.  She is His mother.  She nursed Him when He was an infant, cooked for Him, taught Him, and cared for Him.

What do we know about this woman, the mother of Jesus?  First, we know that her place in God’s plan was prophesied in the Old Testament Scriptures.  Genesis 3:15 speaks of “her seed.”  In that important verse God said, “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”  This verse, which tells the first gospel in the Bible, also speaks of Jesus as the seed of the woman.  Usually, we think of a person as being the seed of a man, but Jesus was not the seed of any man.  His only human parent was the woman.  So, Mary was the prophesied mother of our Savior way back at the beginning of the Bible.

Isaiah 7:14 is another Old Testament verse which prophesied the virgin mother’s work.  This prophecy was written about 800 years before Christ came as a babe at Bethlehem.  This verse says, “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”  Second, we know some facts about Mary’s personal history.  We know that she lived in Nazareth, in Galilee.  She was of the tribe of Judah and from the family of King David.

Third, we know that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was born.  Jesus had no human father.  The Holy Spirit of God caused the conception of Jesus to occur.  In that sense, the birth of Jesus is the only virgin birth in the history of the world.  Through the miracle of the virgin birth, divine power caused God to be manifest in human flesh (I Timothy 3:16).  Those of us who are true believers, having trusted in Jesus as our only Savior, do not have any patience with liberal preachers and teachers who deny the virgin birth.  When a person denies the virgin birth, he denies the truthfulness of God’s Word and blasphemes our God.

There is no reason for anyone to believe that Mary remained a virgin throughout her earthly life.  She would not have been a better person if she had remained a virgin until her death.  In any case, the Bible says that she did not live all of her life as a virgin.  She was the mother of at least six children in addition to Jesus (Matthew 13:55-56).  Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters.  Matthew 1:25 says, “And [Joseph] knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son.” So, Mary was a virgin only until after Jesus was born as evidenced by the word “till.”  The word “firstborn,” of course, means others were born of her later.

Fourth, we know that Mary was a common believer like all of the others who were saved by the grace of God.  Acts 1:14 says, “These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.”  Here Mary is spoken of as simply one of the believers.  She is not superior to the others.  She simply took her place with the others and prayed.  She was not being a mediator.

God did not choose a regal woman of luxury and grandeur to be the mother of our Savior.  Jesus was not born to a woman of prestige or greatness.

Nowhere in the Bible do we find anyone praying to Mary–not at the wedding in Cana, not in the upper room, nowhere.  In fact, the Bible says, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5).

And we are told to pray in Jesus’ name (John 16:24).  So, we need no other mediator than Christ.  No one is more tender, more understanding, or more sympathetic than He.  And God has given us no other mediator.

Fifth, we know that Mary accepted Jesus as her own personal Savior.  She needed a Savior just as all of us do.  “There is none righteous, no, not one. . . . For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:10 and 23).  So, God did not preserve Mary from sinning, nor was the infection of original sin prevented in her case.  Mary obtained the grace of God and salvation through the merits of Jesus Christ because she was a sinner like all of us.

In Luke 1:47, in her song known as “The Magnificat,” Mary says “And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.”  Yes, Mary needed a Savior and she received by faith the Lord Jesus as her Savior.  In this, she is an example to all of us.  If one as virtuous as Mary (and as blessed of God as Mary) needed to be born again, how much more so do we poor sinners need salvation.

The most beautiful story ever told is the story of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ.  And a part of that beautiful story is the account of Mary, the mother of our Lord.

Mary was a pure, virtuous woman.  Nothing is clearer in all the Bible than this truth.  Read the gospels (Matthew and Luke) and you see her as she is–pure in mind, humble, submissive to God, thankful and joyful that God chose her to bring the Savior into the world, having faith to believe the message of salvation, and being wise to understand the purpose of God in her life.

“And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7).

She did it for God, and she did it for you.