(v.14) “But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands”
(v. 16) “I will bring upon you sudden terror, wasting diseases and fever that will destroy your sight and drain away your life.”
(V.25) “When you withdraw into your cities, I will send a plague among you.”
Oh dear, this all sounds a bit familiar while facing at least another 3 weeks of Covid lockdowns.
NG (p. 151) comments that the reference to making the ‘sky like iron’ (v.19) could mean that prayers don’t get through to God while our relationship with him is broken. I think a remedy is ‘Praying in tongues (other languages)’. If we have asked the Holy Spirit to dwell fully in us and allow Him to pray to God for us, through our Spirit, than our prayers will get through.
Invite the Holy Spirit fully into your life so that He can pray through you:
“Come Holy Spirit and fill my heart. I invite you fully into my life. Give me a full measure of all of your gifts – particularly the gift of Praying in Tongues. Enkindle in me the power of your love. Send forth your Spirit and let me be recreated, so that you will renew the face of the earth.”
JM (p.199) states that we all must attempt to do what God instructs us to do – to keep his commandments.
However, the extraordinary list of diverse laws in the Old Testament meant that the Israelites were doomed to failure. We are all law breakers. Sometimes we don’t even know what all the laws are. I was nearly run down by somebody recently riding a silent electric scooter down the middle of the road. I knew it was illegal for him to ride it, because I had read this in a newspaper. I don’t know if the rider knew this or just didn’t care. The point being is that nobody can fully comply with an ever-increasing list of laws. We needed Jesus to become sin for us and ransom us by means of his blood, so that our sin (non-compliance with the law) could be forgiven and we could have a childlike relationship with God our father.
Thanks to Jesus, the ‘sky like iron’ has changed to a glorious sunny day.
Luke 1: 1-25
Who wrote the most pages in the New Testament ?
Most people would say Saint Paul. But looking in my NIV, the New Testament is around 286 pages long. Paul wrote 57 pages of these but Luke wrote 72 pages.
Doctor Luke, the only Gentile writer, compiled the largest chunk of the New Testament (the Gospel bearing his name and the Book of Acts) having carried out meticulous research using eye-witness accounts (v.1).
The first puzzle in this passage is who is the mysterious ‘Theophilus’ that Paul is writing this account for. There are plenty of theories: maybe he was the High Priest, perhaps he was a lawyer or a historian?
In verse 5, Luke stresses what a respectable family John the Baptist comes from. Not only was his father a priest but his mother was also descended from the first High Priest, Aaron brother of Moses.
The next puzzle regards alcohol. (v.15) ‘He (John the Baptist) is never to take wine or other fermented drink’. Why can’t someone especially dedicated to God drink fermented drink ? Is it something to do with the yeast? I drink apple cider vinegar every morning so I would be disqualified. Many people point back to Numbers 6:3 to interpret this reading and propose that John the Baptist was some kind of Nazirite – like Samson (perhaps they are confused by his long hair). However, I prefer Leviticus 10:8-10 when the Lord said to Aaron: ‘You and your sons are not to drink wine or other fermented drink whenever you go into the tent of meeting, or you will die’. John the Baptist was a Levite, the Israelite tribe from which all the priests came, and his role was to make the people ready for the Lord. According to Leviticus 10-11, wine can inhibit someone from ‘distinguishing between the holy and the common, between the unclean and the clean’ and from teaching effectively.
Maybe John the Baptist could enter into some kind of ‘Tent of Meeting’ in the wilderness with God to receive assistance and guidance?
In verse 17, Luke states that John will ‘go on before the Lord, in the Spirit and power of Elijah‘ (see Malachi 3:1 and 4:5). John denied that he was actually ‘Elijah’ (John 1:21) even though Jesus said he was (Matthew 11:14) ‘And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come‘ but he fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy in a spiritual sense. Jesus implies that there can be several different ‘Elijahs’ with John being this specific one. Of course, the original Elijah is still alive (to God) because ‘He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive (Luke 20:38) and turns up in Luke 9:30 at the Transfiguration: ‘Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendour, talking with Jesus.’
In verses 18-20, Zechariah unwisely doubts the Archangel Gabriel and is struck dumb. It is never wise to be rude to an Archangel. There is an interesting contrast between his disrespectful question: ‘How can I be sure of this?‘ and Mary’s question tomorrow: ‘How will this be since I am a virgin?‘ – to which Gabriel could well have answered: ‘Good point!’
Wisdom will keep you away from the adulteress.
Adultery is amazingly common these days – with divorce and remarriage common.
It’s an unpopular fact that if you or your spouse have been married more than once than you are living in a permanent state of adultery, unless it has been proved that any previous marriages were not valid or any previous spouses have died. This can be difficult and painful to unravel but, if people are willing and they speak to a qualified priest about their relationships, it can be sorted out: ‘For with God nothing [is or ever] shall be impossible’ [Luke 1:37].
Of course, God forgives all our sins but we also have to make a conscious effort to turn away from sin and not live in the same sinful way on a daily basis.
After the woman caught in adultery was not stoned (John 8: 3-11) we read: ‘Then neither do I condemn you,’ Jesus declared. ‘Go and leave your life of sin.’
Of course, it’s easy for me to say this as I have been happily married for nearly 30 years (thank God) but the world can tempt us with ‘adultery’ even when we are in our own homes doing something innocent. I wanted to read the world news today and clicked on a well known popular news site. The news stories all seemed well researched and informative. However, down the right hand side of the screen, there were dozens of gossipy celebrity news stories involving scantily clad celebrities. It’s common online that some useful information can be set up as bait to allow dubious material to infiltrate our lives. I had to swap to BBC News, which has some other pitfalls but at least it ensures that all its subjects are modestly dressed. That was the wise thing to do.
For ‘The Bible in One Year’ and recommended commentaries use: