Acts 9:1-91 And Saul, yet breathing out threatening’s and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink.
Damascus was the capital of Syria (it still is today), a large city with a large Jewish population. The Church had taken root there, and provided a haven for the Christian refugees fleeing Jerusalem from the persecution Saul led. When he learned many had fled there, he went to the high priest and asked for official permission to go and extradite believers form there and bring them back to Jerusalem where they would either be forced into renouncing the new faith or be thrown into prison.
The Romans had granted the Jewish high priest authority to pursue fleeing criminals and to draw up their own extradition orders which they required. That Saul received such an extradition orders means he’d become the chief Jewish agent of persecution against the followers of Jesus.
Acts 9: 3-4 3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou Me”?
This was a Divine visitation that reduced Saul to a weak mess. His physical strength failed him and he fell to the ground.
It says HE heard the voice. It was Jesus, who in great tenderness asked, “Why are you persecuting ME.” There was no doubt who was speaking. Paul knew this had to be Jesus – and it was Jesus speaking to him. Imagine how crushing, how unnerving this moment of revelation had to be for poor Saul. He was now faced with several facts. (1) The Gospel was true. (2) Jesus was Messiah! (3) Jesus was God! (4) He, Saul, was guilty of opposing God – to the point of being willing to kill His servants! After all – he has official documentation in his hands with the authority to arrest and imprison all those who call on the name of Jesus.
While Jesus could have spoken with great anger and rage, He instead speaks with the utmost tenderness and mercy – “Saul, Saul”. The Lord was so compassionate and tender towards Saul. In human terms, Saul was the embodiment of evil, hate, false religion, hypocrisy. Without doubt what he did was mistaken – he thought what he was doing was out of zeal for God, but in fact, it was the exact opposite. Outwardly, he seems the one most deserving of God’s wrath. Notwithstanding – he receives grace – amazing grace, as he goes with letters in hand authorizing his brutality against the Godly. God would rather convert the lost than smite them. And he said, “Who are You, Lord”? He knew who it was, after all – he called Him ‘Lord.” But he had to make sure.
Then the Lord said, Acts 9:5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
No doubt Saul had the nagging sense the Apostles were right and the Gospel was true. Everything he had seen and heard among the followers of Jesus had struck him as right. Saul couldn’t shake the feeling he was on the wrong side of things. The harder he kicked against his conscience, the louder it spoke. So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do”? What next?
In that one question, we learn an awful lot about our brother Saul. He’s a convert now. He believes. His faith isn’t as full as it will be but it’s enough to get him started. The very first concern he has is – What do I do with what I now believe? For Saul, who will become the great Apostle Paul, who will fill out the Church’s understanding of Salvation by Grace through Faith. Faith means action, change.
Then the Lord said to him:
Acts 9:6 And the Lord said unto him, “Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do”.
Saul’s first lesson is to learn to WAIT on the Lord. And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one. Paul wasn’t alone in being undone by the Divine visitation. Those with him were drained of strength and left mentally and emotionally stunned. His companions had to lead him into Damascus because he was completely blind.
Blindness would be a great way to both reduce Saul’s tendency to be doing something, and to remind him what had happened was no fluke – it was a real, Divine encounter.
Judges 6:36-4036 And Gideon said unto God, If Thou shalt save Israel by mine hand, as Thou hast said. 37 Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by Mine hand, as thou hast said. 38 And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. 39 And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. 40 And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.
Gideon’s two requests for signs in the fleece may be viewed as weak faith; for even Gideon recognized this when he said, “Let not thine anger be hot against me” (verse 39), since God had already specially promised His presence and victory (verses 12, 14, 16). God nowhere reprimanded Gideon, but was very compassionate in giving what his inadequacy requested, so God graciously gave it without chastisement.
Gideon has now a large force to go against – the Midianites. He wants to be absolutely sure this is what God wants him to do, before he leads them into battle. Gideon wants to do the will of God, but just wants to be sure what he is about to do, is God’s will. We as Christians sometimes feel the same way – we know that God is speaking to us, that God has told us, but there is a BUT – “what if I got it wrong, what if I thought I heard God, but it wasn’t Him, how am I sure that the devil is not disguising himself as an angel of light”? – So many what ifs confront us!
There Gideon was on the floor where he was threshing, where the angel first appeared to him, and which lay exposed to the open air, so that the dew might easily fall upon it. “And if the dew be on the fleece only”. The dew that falls from heaven in the night, when he proposed it should lie on the floor till morning.
“And it be dry upon all the earth beside” – Meaning not upon all the world, nor even upon all the land of Israel, but upon all the floor about the fleece, “then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by my hand, as thou hast said”. For the dew being a token of Divine favour –
Hosea 14:5 I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow like the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.
It would show that Gideon would partake of it, while his enemies would be dry and desolate, and ruin and destruction would be their portion.
This is Gideon’s a way of proving to himself, if he is in the will of God. The LORD condescended to work this miracle for the confirmation of his faith, and for the encouragement of those that were with him. The fleece was wet with the dew of heaven, and all the ground about it dry. “For he rose up early in the morning” – being eagerly desirous of knowing whether his request would be granted, and how it would be with the fleece. “And thrust the fleece together”, to satisfy himself whether the dew had fallen on it, and there was any moisture in it, which by being squeezed together he would more easily perceive.
“And wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water” – So that it appeared it had not only fallen on it, but it had taken in a large quantity of it. God did exactly as he had asked.
Just in case that was an accident, Gideon asks Him for the reverse to happen. God does just as he asks. Gideon asks for a still greater miracle, for the fleece would more naturally retain heavy dew. The night following, the night being the season in which the dew falls.
“For it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground”. This might signify that not only should Gideon be granted Divine favour, but all the Israelites would share in the salvation wrought by him.
Luke 7: 11-1711 And it came to pass the day after, that He went into a city called Nain; and many of his disciples went with Him, and much people. 12 Now when He came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her. 13 And when the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not. 14 And He came and touched the bier: and they that bare him stood still. And He said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise. 15 And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And He delivered him to his mother. 16 And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people. 17 And this rumour of Him went forth throughout all Judaea, and throughout all the region round about.
Nain was a minor city located 6 miles south of Nazareth. There’s quite a crowd following Jesus at this point. This woman must have been fairly well known in Nain judging by the large crowd that’s attending the funeral of her son. Widows had a tough time in Israel because women lived off the support of their husband or grown children. A widow who had no children was almost always in terrible poverty. This poor woman is facing a life of intense hard-ship. Not only she is now bearing the grief of the loss of her only son, she’s facing a life of crushing desperation.
So here’s a crowdleavingNain carrying the dead only son of a widowed mother. They meet a crowd coming into Nain following a living only Son of the Heavenly Father. The dead son will live – because the living Son came to die. Jesus’ compassion was fuelled because of the grief she bore in the loss of her son, and because of the life He knew lay ahead of her without her son to provide for her.
Jesus had a habit of breaking up funeral processions by raising the dead. He entered Jarius’ house and told the professional mourners to stop their howling and wailing, then entered Jairus’ daughter’s room and healed her (Luke 8:41-56). He went to the tomb of Lazarus were the mourners were gathered to weep and told them to remove the door of the tomb. Then He called Lazarus forth. (John 11:1-45). Jesus didn’t like death and regarded it as an enemy to be defeated. 1 Corinthians 15:26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
Jesus raising the widow’s son would have reminded the people of Elijah’s raising the widow’s son in 1 Kings 17, so they proclaim Him a great prophet. Nain is in Galilee, but Luke tells us that the report of this healing was made major news in Judea, as well as the rest of Galilee. Luke’s comment that Jesus’ name is being spread far and wide, especially in Judea, is meant to let us know that He’s coming to the attention of the Jewish leaders.
Verse 16 And there came a fear on all: “and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited His people”.
Deuteronomy 18:18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put My words in His mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command Him.
God promised Moses that He would raise up a Prophet – a promise that pointed forward to the coming of the Christ
Acts 3:22-2322 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. 23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
The crowd while probably not realizing the full significance of their words proclaims that the promise has been fulfilled. WORDS = POWER!!!
Unbeknown to the people, they were prophesying that which had been foretold thousands of years earlier. A Prophet was truly amongst them.
Joshua 10:12-1412 Then spake Joshua to the LORD in the day when the LORD delivered up the Amorites before the children of Israel, and he said in the sight of Israel, Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon. 13 And the sun stood still, and the moon stayed, until the people had avenged themselves upon their enemies. Is not this written in the book of Jasher? So the sun stood still in the midst of heaven, and hasted not to go down about a whole day. 14 And there was no day like that before it or after it, that the LORD hearkened unto the voice of a man: for the LORD fought for Israel.
There is no other way to explain what happened here: As part of God’s miraculous help, we see the command; “Sun, stand thou still”
Habakkuk 3:11 The sun and moon stood still in their habitation: at the light of thine arrows they went: and at the shining of thy glittering spear.
In other words, the army had 24 hours of daylight to fight and rout the enemy. This is best accepted as an outright, monumental miracle. Joshua, moved by the LORD’s will, commanded the sun to delay going down. The earth actually stopped revolving or, more likely, the sun moved in the same way to keep perfect pace with the battlefield. The moon also ceased its orbiting – it did not come out. This permitted Joshua’s troops time to finish the battle with complete victory.
“Sun, stand thou still upon Gibeon; and thou, Moon, in the valley of Ajalon”. Notice the great faith of Joshua, and the power of God answering it by the miraculous staying of the sun, that the day of Israel’s victories might be made longer. This is not some miraculous power that Joshua has; it is the power of the LORD speaking through Joshua. Notice he speaks to the sun and moon as if that is their proper name. The sun and the moon were created to be containers for the Light. The source of all Light is the LORD. Joshua is asking for the light to remain until he can finish this battle. Scientists have now discovered that there was possibly a time when this very thing did happen. The sun and moon stood still at the Word of God.
The LORD answered the prayer of Joshua and extended the light until the battle could be finished. This day is like no other in all of history.
The lesson for us is this – When God has already given us the outcome, and we can see Him at work, the only rational response is to move out and join Him. We know – God has told us the outcome – Heaven is our destiny. No one can stand against us because God is with us, in us, before and behind us. He’s at work all around us. The evidence of His presence and power is unending. AMEN!!!
Acts 12:21-2321 And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost.
This account records the shocking death of Herod Agrippa. After the prison incident, Herod returns to Caesarea (12:19). Apparently there was some problem between him and the cities of Tyre and Sidon. Together with the support of Herod’s trusted aide, a man named Blastus. These two cities hope to gain an audience with Herod and sue for peace. The reason they want to make a pact with Herod is economic: “They depended on the king’s country for their food supply” (Acts 12:20).
Tyre and Sidon are the chief cities on the coast of Phoenicia, in the territory adjacent to Herod’s kingdom. They have been centres of commerce and shipping since Old Testament times, but they are dependent on Galilee for their food supply. The account implies some agreement has been reached between Herod and the coastal cities. Apparently, it is to be ratified publicly at a festival, at which Herod is to speak.
After Herod delivers the speech, his listeners shout, “This is the voice of a god, not of a man”. Immediately after this flattery, Herod is struck down with an illness because he does “not give praise to God”. Herod suffers a ghastly death – immediately after, Herod begins having severe stomach pains. He dies five days later, after being king of Judea for three years. His died 44 A.D, in the fourth year of the Roman emperor Claudius.
Herod’s death was God’s judgment on him. The king allows the crowd to hail him as a god, accepting the glory that belongs only to God. Thus, God punishes a vain king. Of course, many other despots and rulers accept, and even encourage, similar accolades. God doesn’t strike them down with worms or a horrible death. So what is special here?
In times when God manifests His glory through miracles, He does so both to vindicate the church and to judge people opposed to His will. God heals the lame man at the temple gate through Peter (Acts 3:1-11) and He also strikes Ananias dead after Peter accused him (Acts 5:1-10). God here strikes down Herod to make a point, to protect His church and further its work. Herod has become the chief enemy of the church. Working with the Jewish leaders, he is planning to have the apostles killed, and perhaps even ordinary church members martyred. By killing off the king, God effectively puts a stop to the conspiracy against the church.
God also sends a message to the conspirators that their plot against the church isn’t going to work. By ending the persecution and creating a chilling effect against any future attempt on the believers, God saves the church in Jerusalem for a few more years. The church is greatly encouraged, in that a major persecution is nipped in the bud. Having seen God’s miraculous hand in its affairs since Pentecost, the church can read between the lines of Herod’s death and know that God is involved.
Joshua 6:6-206 And Joshua the son of Nun called the priests, and said unto them, Take up the ark of the covenant, and let seven priests bear seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD. 7 And he said unto the people, Pass on, and compass the city, and let him that is armed pass on before the ark of the LORD. 8 And it came to pass, when Joshua had spoken unto the people, that the seven priests bearing the seven trumpets of rams’ horns passed on before the LORD, and blew with the trumpets: and the ark of the covenant of the LORD followed them. 9 And the armed men went before the priests that blew with the trumpets, and the rereward came after the ark, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 10 And Joshua had commanded the people, saying, Ye shall not shout, nor make any noise with your voice, neither shall any word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I bid you shout; then shall ye shout. 11 So the ark of the LORD compassed the city, going about it once: and they came into the camp, and lodged in the camp. 12 And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD. 13 And seven priests bearing seven trumpets of rams’ horns before the ark of the LORD went on continually, and blew with the trumpets: and the armed men went before them; but the rereward came after the ark of the LORD, the priests going on, and blowing with the trumpets. 14 And the second day they compassed the city once, and returned into the camp: so they did six days. 15 And it came to pass on the seventh day, that they rose early about the dawning of the day, and compassed the city after the same manner seven times: only on that day they compassed the city seven times. 16 And it came to pass at the seventh time, when the priests blew with the trumpets, Joshua said unto the people, Shout; for the LORD hath given you the city. 17 And the city shall be accursed, even it, and all that are therein, to the LORD: only Rahab the harlot shall live, she and all that are with her in the house, because she hid the messengers that we sent. 18 And ye, in any wise keep yourselves from the accursed thing, lest ye make yourselves accursed, when ye take of the accursed thing, and make the camp of Israel a curse, and trouble it. 19 But all the silver, and gold, and vessels of brass and iron, are consecrated unto the LORD: they shall come into the treasury of the LORD. 20 So the people shouted when the priests blew with the trumpets: and it came to pass, when the people heard the sound of the trumpet, and the people shouted with a great shout, that the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city.
The Israelites were not prepared to defeat Jericho in a conventional manner. Although the residents of Jericho were afraid of the Israelites (Joshua 2:11), the city was fortified, well-armed, and prepared for war. That “Jericho was straitly shut up” is another way of saying that its people were ready for an attack. Ancient fortified cities, with walls as high as 20 feet and as thick as eight feet, and with double or triple gates, could withstand a siege for months if they had sufficient food and a water supply. Guards standing high upon the walls in towers were prepared to shoot arrows, pour hot oil, or dump boulders on enemy warriors who tried to scale the wall or punch through it with a battering ram.
Since Jericho was built on a hill, it could be taken only by mounting a steep incline, which put the Israelites at a great disadvantage. Attackers of such a fortress often used a siege of several months to force surrender through starvation. Jericho had locked their gates, and they were not letting anyone in or out. Rahab had mentioned to the two spies that the whole town was terrified of what might happen. They had all heard of the destruction of Og and Sihon just across the Jordan from them. Now, they have heard about the Jordan River opening to allow them to cross. They are afraid of Israel’s God, not of Israel.
At this point, Jericho’s mighty defences are all set to repel Israel’s invasion. The city is shut up tight and well stocked for a long siege. Yet God says, “See! I’ve given you victory.” There’s the battle plan. A siege could last for months – this one – 1 week! Jericho’s walls formidable. The LORD is in control.
Each day the priests went with the trumpets of ram’s horns around the city once for six days. They blew the ram’s horns, as they walked around the wall. Again, the priests with the horns were in front of the Ark of the Covenant going around with them.
Seven means spiritually complete. Notice the seven priests with seven horns, walked seven days around the city wall. The seventh day they went around seven times. This is a spiritual war that God will complete. These trumpets were like jubilee. They were the sound of victory. These are not the silver trumpets, but of rams’ horns.
The one’s marching in this procession were Israel’s men of war, not the women and children. As before, 6 tribes in front, then the priests and The Ark, 6 tribes behind. What an eerie sight this must have been. How unusual – not a word said amongst such a great crowd – just the sound of the trumpets. Why did God have them do this for 6 days – why not just get it over with in 1 day? What was reinforced in Israel’s mind every day they tramped around the city? “That is a big wall!” This is why God told them not to talk – He didn’t want them distracted.
The only sound was that of the priests’ horn – calling attention to one thing – God was in the centre of Israel. Jericho was to be put to the torch. Everything in it was to be burned, just like the whole burnt offering, nothing was kept back. As their first conquest, it was totally dedicated to God. The only exception was Rahab’s household because the spies had sworn an oath of protection to her.
The accursed things – idols and idol paraphernalia – were all to be destroyed, including the total destruction of Jericho and killing of all its inhabitants wasn’t just because it was in Israel’s way. God brought Israel to Canaan, not only to fulfil His promise to Abraham, but He brought them right at this time to be the agent of His righteous judgment on the utterly wicked Canaanites. They were practicing human and child sacrifice. Women were brutalized, torture, incest, and corruption were the norm. Jericho’s destruction was nothing less than the judgment of God. And Joshua warns Israel not to take as the spoils of war anything that smacks of the evil of Canaan. The only thing that will be kept out of the spoils of Jericho.
Such a fortified City as Jericho was – crumbled by the shout of the Israelites – this is nothing short of a miracle. Yet another miracle that the LORD wrought before His children.
Mark 8:22-2622 And He cometh to Bethsaida: and they bring a blind man unto Him, and besought Him to touch him. 23 And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town, and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. 24 And he looked up and said, I see men as tress walking. 25 After that He put His hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up; and he was restored, and saw every man clearly. 26 And He sent him away to his house, saying, Neither go into the town, nor tell it to any in the town.
Bethsaida lies on the northern shore of the Lake of Galilee This blind man lived in the midst of great beauty but could not enjoy it because he couldn’t see. Verse 22 makes it clear he didn’t live in Bethsaida, but when his friends heard that Jesus was there, they led him to Jesus and pleaded with Him that He heals their friend. What can we take from this verse? These friends of the blind man knew Jesus could heal him, and though it meant a bit of work for them, they were willing to invest in it if it would mean their friend would gain his sight – so they brought their blind friend to Jesus. Jesus is the answer to all men’s and women’s needs. But they will not come to Christ on their own; they need someone to bring them to Him. Bring them, Christian! The first and best way you can bring the lost to Jesus is by bringing Jesus to them through the testimony of your own changed life. Notice that once these friends brought the blind man to Jesus, they then urged Jesus to heal him. As important as being faithful to present Jesus to the lostthrough our example & witness also lies in the need to present the lost to Jesus in prayer. Pray for your friend’s salvation.
Did Jesus want to heal this blind man? Was Jesus able to heal him? Did those who brought him believe Jesus could heal Him? Did they have reason to believe He would heal him? Their friend was blind. Jesus heals all those who come to Him. They put those two things together and concluded – let’s get our friend to Jesus and ask Him to heal him. Our prayers for the lost will probably be a lot more earnest and fervent when we approach them with the kind of clarity these men had. We need to keep 2 things in mind. (1) The lost are doomed to the unending torment of a Christ-less eternity. (2) Jesus came to save them from that fate and He is their ONLY hope!
All 4 of the gospels make it clear there was a wild atmosphere that characterized the crowds around Jesus at this time. Jesus took this man outside the hubbub of Bethsaida because He intended to use his healing as an important lesson for the disciples and He didn’t want them distracted by the clamour of the crowds for more miracles. There’s a lesson here for us reader – it’s found in verse 23And He took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town, and when He had spit on his eyes, and put His hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought. This seems just plain bizarre and a bit disgusting. What is going on here? Spittle was believed by the people of the ancient world to hold healing properties. When Jesus spat in this man’s eyes, He wasn’t insulting Him – He was employing a form of medicine for that time. Of course Jesus knew there was nothing in the spittle which had medicinal value.
It’s interesting to note that the man’s healing through the use of the spit wasn’t complete. Jesus asked the man to describe what he saw. This is the ONLY healing we’re told Jesus performed that wasn’t instantaneous. It seems this man had had his sight at one time because he was familiar with what trees looked like. After Jesus’ first touch, his vision was blurry and indistinct so that people were only discernable as slender upright forms, much like a tree. The only difference was that he perceived motion and knew they couldn’t be trees. Jesus then touched Him again, no spit this time, and when the man looked, his sight was made whole – he could now see Jesus and the disciples clearly. Jesus then sent the man home.
Here is another lesson that Jesus teaches us through this miracle. The progression of this man’s healing was not due to the fact that this was an especially hard one so Jesus had to do it twice! He had done much more dramatic things with less apparent effort before this – (1) walking on the water, (2) feeding the thousands with a sack lunch (3) calming the storm, (4) raising a 12 year old girl from the dead (5) delivering a man possessed by a whole legion of demons – all of these were far more dramatic in their demonstration of the power of God than healing a guy who had become blind.
So what’s going on here? Where Mark places this story gives us the answer. Twice now Jesus has feed thousands with just a meagre supply of bread and meat – yet despite the obvious demonstration of His power, the disciples are still in doubt over just who He is. The problem is this – the disciples, all of them, were just like this blind man Jesus healed. They had been blind, but at this moment, their spiritual sight had been awakened. The problem is, it wasn’t wholly restored – just as the blind man mistook people for trees, and they mistook Jesus for something other than Who He was. The day would soon come when He would touch them again, and their spiritual sight and discernment would be made clear. That day came on Resurrection Sunday when Jesus breathed on them and they were born again. Luke 24:45 He “opened their understanding” to the reality of Who He really was.
At this point in Mark’s gospel, the disciples were blind to the full reality of Who Jesus was because of their own ideas about what the Messiah would be like. They could only see Jesus through the lens of their expectations. Jesus knew the struggle the disciples were having with figuring out Who He was, and used this man’s healing as an object lesson to teach them that while their views and opinions of Him were blurry and uncertain, the day would come when they would see clearly. Instead of sending them home with the command to be quiet, He would send them into the whole world to shout it from the housetops.
Final lesson for us…What we can glean from this story is that spiritual growth is a process. All true spiritual growth is based in the knowledge of God. His revelation is an unending process of deepening intimacy. The same is true of our relationship with God and how it impacts our lives. It’s only as we grow in our knowledge of Who God is that we understand who we are, and in His mercy, God only imparts His revelation to us as His grace prepares and equips us to receive it. Spiritual growth is a process that unfolds with the passage of time.
The crucial issue for us to grasp today is that just as this man found his sight restored by the touch of Jesus, that’s where we’ll find our spiritual sight made clear – at the touch of the Lord. However, it doesn’t just come we need to press on and grow in grace, and spend time with the Lord. Note the progression in this story: (1) People brought this man to Jesus. (2) Then Jesus then took him by the hand outside the city to a private, quiet place. (3) Then He touched him. (4) And again; — (5) then his sight was clear.
Dear reader IF you have already been brought to Christ, and He has faithfully led you by the hand into faith in Him – now it is time to pursue His touch – not of these eyes, but the eyes of your heart. The key to your growth in life is the touch of Jesus. Paul prays in Ephesians that the eyes of our understanding be open (Ephesians 1:16-23).
Dear Reader – IF you have not accepted Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour of your life – it is our belief that time is running out. To receive and accept Jesus as Lord is as simple as A. B. C.
A – ACCEPT that you are a sinner, and you need the blood of Jesus to cleanse you of your sins.
Romans 3:23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
B – BELIEVE in you heart that Jesus is the Son of God and He came and died on the cross to take away the sins of Mankind.
John 3:15-18 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
C – CONFESS – Confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord.
Romans 10:9-11 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
PRAY THIS PRAYER IF YOU BELIEVE THE ABOVE
Heavenly Father – I come to you as a sinner in need of the blood of Jesus who shed His blood on the cross of Calvary to forgive me and take away my sins. I ask that You forgive me and wash me and cleanse me with the blood of Jesus of all my sins Lord. I believe in my heart that Jesus is the Son of God. I accept Him today as the Lord and Saviour of my life. I ask Lord that you send your Holy Spirit to come and live within me and help guide my footsteps as I walk in the newness of the new life in Christ Jesus. I thank you Father for writing my name down in the Lamb’s Book of life. In Jesus name I pray. AMEN.
Brothers and Sisters – if you prayed the above pray for the first time – you are NOW born again. WELCOME TO THE FAMILY OF GOD.
I would encourage you to tell others of your new found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Find a church that preaches and teaches the undiluted Word of God without fear of man, and start to grow in the Lord.
Joshua 3:14-1714 And it came to pass, when the people removed from their tents, to pass over Jordan, and the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people; 15 And as they that bare the ark were come unto Jordan, and the feet of the priests that bare the ark were dipped in the brim of the water, (for Jordan overfloweth all his banks all the time of harvest,) 16 That the waters which came down from above stood and rose up upon an heap very far from the city Adam, that is beside Zaretan: and those that came down toward the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, failed, and were cut off: and the people passed over right against Jericho. 17 And the priests that bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD stood firm on dry ground in the midst of Jordan, and all the Israelites passed over on dry ground, until all the people were passed clean over Jordan.
The time has come to cross the River Jordan. They move right up to the bank of the River. Spend 3 days there, making final preparations to enter Canaan. Then, the leaders give instructions about how they will proceed. The Ark – that gold covered box which was the heart of the Tabernacle –the heart of the nation would go first. It would lead the nation where it went – they were to follow. Up till this point, they had followed the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.
Now that they were entering the Promised Land, a great many things were about to change, No longer would Manna be supplied for them each day, and no longer would the pillar and cloud lead them. Now they would be led by the symbol of God’s presence – The Ark.
This was an unusual way of crossing the Jordan. No doubt the more practical minded had spent days trying to figure out how they were going to get across. The Jordan wasn’t simply flowing in its normal channel at this time. This was flood season. The winter snows on Mount Hermon were thawing and the river was overflowing its banks. The ford that was usually found at this point was deep under water, and the way seemed impassable.
However, we know that God delights in taking His people through what appears to be an impossible situation, just so that He can reveal Himself as a loving God, Provider, and Protector. First, the people were going to have to trust Him. So the command was given to the priests; they were to carry The Ark to the edge of the river and begin the journey across by moving forward, even before there was any evidence of the river stopping its flow – they were to wade in
Can you imagine what must have been going through the priests’ minds? They must have wondered – “LORD You want us to go ahead and walk into the water? You want us to get these nice priestly garments wet? You want us to take The Ark down in to the river? LORD – wouldn’t it be easier for us just to wait until You stop the river and the river bed is dry – just like You stopped the Red Sea”? NO!!! The command had been given, and there was nothing for it but to obey so the priests hoisted The Ark onto their shoulders, they walked down to the edge of the water and took one very tremulous step in. Suddenly, the flow of waters STOPPED. They stood up like a heap upstream, the river began to spread out as it tried to find some way downstream soon, a whole expanse of river bottom lay exposed and ready for the crossing of the people.
Why did God tell the priests to get wet before the river would stop flowing? He could have just as easily stopped the river first why make them take a step first? Very simply; God wants us to realize that the life of faith is one of walking in trust and reliance in Him when there is no other evidence but His Word. We say, Show me and I’ll believe. God says, Believe, and I will show you. The priests could move forward in faith because in Joshua, under the inspiration of the LORD told them what would happen. He told them that they would wade in and then the water would stop. Armed with this promise they went forward. Although their feet got wet, the rest of their garments stayed dry, as did the entire nation.
In our walk with the LORD, every step forward is a step of faith every new lesson – every new promise, is launching out and trusting God. If we are not living by faith, we are not moving forward.
Proverbs 3:5-65 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Acts 12:7-177 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. 8 And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. 9 And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. 10 When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. 11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. 12 And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying. 13 And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. 14 And when she knew Peter’s voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. 15 And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. 16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place.
This was a wild miracle. The angel roused Peter by poking him sharply in the side and telling him to get up. Take note of the urgency in all the angel does. Peter was awakened out of a dead sleep by circumstances so unusual, he didn’t realize it was real. He thought it must be a dream or vision. Following the angel’s word, he put on his garments and followed him out of the cell. Peter had been housed in the innermost maximum security ward. Passing by two manned checkpoints, they came to the front gate of the Antonia; a huge locked iron gate that required two strong men to open. As they approached, the locks opened, the bars lifted, and the door swung open automatically. Once clear of the prison, the angel led Peter down the street, and then disappeared. Once the angel was gone, Peter came to himself and realized it was no dream. God had just staged a rescue operation and he was free.
Neither Herod nor the Jewish authorities would get their way. The first time Peter and John had been busted out of prison by an angel, they were told to go right back to the temple and continue preaching. This time, the angel breaks him out and once clear, jets back to heaven. Peter knew the that God wanted him to pursue his continued deliverance. Though it was late, he knew a place likely to have a group of believers. Mary, Barnabas’ sister and John Mark’s mother had made her home one of the primary meeting places for the Church in Jerusalem. Peter went there quickly, knowing as soon as the guards realized he was gone, a search would be mounted. The door Peter knocked at was the gate in the stone wall that bordered the street. Just inside it would be an open courtyard, then the house with another more secluded open area on the other side. That’s where the disciples were gathered for prayer.
Rhoda was a young servant girl whose job was to welcome guests into the home by washing their feet. Her station would be to sit within earshot of the gate so that if someone came, she could hear them knocking. Peter arrived – knocked and she went to perform her duty. But it was well past the time when guests were welcome, so she asked who it was. Peter whispered it was he. Though young, Rhoda was a believer, and had heard Peter preach many times so she knew his voice. Realizing it was he and knowing the prayer meeting was dedicated to his release, she went running to them to give the good news he was at the door.
So Rhoda knows that it is Peter, but she leaves him there. Why? Could it be because she was so excited, she got flustered and wasn’t thinking clearly? Or is it possible that she did not let him in was because God wanted to teach us an important lesson through what follows? She goes running to her master and the disciples and tells them Peter’s at the gate. They said, “You’re crazy”! When she insisted, they tried to silence her by saying that what she heard must be Peter’s guardian angel. It was a lame reason but all they were trying to do was shut her up – why? So they could pray for Peter’s release? Funny that – their prayers have been answered – but not the way they expected Peter to be released. Peter kept knocking, becoming more insistent. They needed to let him in because it wouldn’t be long before guards came looking for him. Finally, they realized someone was at the gate and went to check it out. When they opened and Peter stepped in, they were stunned. Sure enough, it was he!
It’s their reaction we have so much to learn from. They we astonished. When Rhoda first told them Peter was at the gate, they didn’t believe and felt no inclination to go see. Yet what were they doing there at Mary’s house in the early hours of the morning? What had they been doing for the last week? Praying; earnestly, fervently, intently and intensely. However, a crucial element of prayer had been lacking – expectation. Prayer had become form – even their intense, fervent prayer – it had become routine. There was no sense of expectation in their prayer. They prayed for Peter because they knew it was the right thing to do. James had already been executed and Peter was in the most secure prison in all Israel. There was nothing that gave hope or encouragement to their prayers – but they knew it was still right to pray for him.
Our prayers, especially earnest prayers like this, need to be coupled to an eager expectation that God hears and He will do what’s best. That expectation will keep us in the right place so that we can receive the answer when it comes and praise God for it. God hears and answers every prayer. The answer is a “Yes”, a “No” or a “Wait”. What we need to remember is that HOWEVER God answers – it is the right and best one. We must never lose that sense of expectation that He will answer our prayer.
The Christians had no expectation of Peter’s deliverance while the Jewish authorities had everyexpectation of his death. Their expectation was thwarted while the unformed expectation of the believers was realized.
Time was short and Herod’s search parties would soon be scouring the City. He needed to get away. So he told them to carry word of his release to the other leaders.
The entire church at Jerusalem had spent a week praying for Peter. On the eve of his trial they called an all-night prayer meeting for him. God heard and answered their prayers. Peter was miraculously delivered! But they couldn’t believe it when it happened! So, it wasn’t the greatness of their faith that accomplished Peter’s release – It was the grace and power of God.
Numbers 20:7-117 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. 9 And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. 10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? 11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
The rod was to act was a sign pointing to Moses and Aaron’s authority and calling. There at Kadesh where they were camped was a large rock. Moses and Aaron were to simply speak to the rock and the water would flow – enough to water every soul & beast in the camp.
But here he is speaking to the people…..“Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock”? Moses has never spoken this way before. When being accused and criticized by the people, he’s always taken it to the LORD in prayer. He would then return with the simple directions God had given him. But now his frustration and anger is showing through. Moses is probably thinking – “Oh happy days! Here we go again.”
He’s had it and his anger comes out in his words “Hear now, ye rebels; must WE fetch you water out of this rock”? This is just wrong. First of all – Moses is taking a very uncharacteristic place for himself here by making himself a partner with God in the miracle. Second – it was precisely his duty as the leader of the nation to provide for them.
Anger is a dangerous thing because it can drive us to say and do things that we ought not say or do. When anger becomes the motivating force behind our words and actions, we’ve erred.
Ephesians 4:26 Be ye angry, and sin not; let not the sun go down upon your wrath.
God had never told Moses to strike the rock. The instructions were quite clear; he was to SPEAK to the rock – water would then flow. Moses struck the rock – with Aaron’s budded rod! What happened to the branches, blossoms and fruit on it? Broken, torn, stripped off. A precious memorial to God’s miraculous power and Moses and Aaron’s calling was shredded – in that shredding – their calling was ended. That was it for Moses. A little harsh one may think, since Moses had been so faithful for almost 40 years in leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land. Now – because of his anger, he would not complete his mission leading them to the Promised Land.
Moses’ error at the rock in Kadesh is a really serious one for this reason: He knew what God had told him to do, and he did something else. Another reason Moses and Aaron faced such severe judgment was because as God said in verse 12, they had not “hallowed” or “rightly represented” God before the people.
Moses and Aaron were charged with the solemn task of representing God to the nation – Moses politically. Aaron – religiously. Both misrepresented God in a most grievous manner. For this, they forfeited their ability to lead.
God had intended to use the whole rock at Kadesh incident as a means of putting in play another picture of the Coming Messiah. The history of Israel was a tapestry God was weaving depicting the Coming King. So when they arrived again at Kadesh and cried out for water, God planned to use it as the way to install yet another picture of Jesus.
God told Moses what part he was to play. What thread in the tapestry he was to insert. He was to speak to the rock – and water would flow in abundance. Moses had already struck the rock at the command of God way back in Exodus 17:6 when the people arrived at Mount Sinai. When he struck the rock, the water flowed. Here now at Kadesh – once the rock had been struck – all that was needed was to speak, and the water would flow once more.
Exodus 17:6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
As Paul makes clear in:
1 Corinthians 10:4 and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
God intended the “Rock” to be a picture of Christ. He was smitten at the cross for our sins. When He was struck, the blood flowed, and this provided the cleansing we need. The spear went into His side and the blood and water flowed – by which we are made the children of God. But now that Christ has beensmitten – His death atones for our sins once for all, as it says in:
Hebrews 7:27Who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.
Now, all we need to do is speak to the Rock of our salvation and the abundance of the Spirit is ours. The Word of God is quite clear – Jesus was offered once and His one offering forever atones for our sin.
God intended the events here at the rock at Kadesh to be a picture of all this – but Moses threw a wrench in the works by angrily striking the rock.