Daily Archives: May 20, 2017

May 20, 2017: Verse of the day

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16–17 Judah’s pattern of disobedience is rehearsed again. Because the people have lost their bearings and forgotten their way, the Lord exhorts them to return to the foundations, to the ancient paths, to the sure foundations of their ancestors. (Compare the description of false deities in Dt 13:6; 28:64 as gods which “neither you nor your fathers have known,” and note the call in Pr 22:28 not to “move an ancient boundary stone set up by your forefathers.”) This is where they will find respite and rest for their souls (language apparently borrowed in Mt 11:28–30), but in keeping with their history they said, “We won’t go that way!” (Compare the response to Isaiah’s invitation in Isa 30:15: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it.”)

So the Lord reached out to them once more (v. 17), warning them through watchmen (= prophets; cf. Eze 3:17–21; 33:1–9), who urged them to listen to the sound of the alarm, but they said, “We won’t listen!” (e.g., 18:12; note the call to the people to turn back and do right, followed by their negative response; on this, cf. already 2:25; note also God’s heart on all of this in 7:13b and par.).[1]


6:16 Here is the image of travelers who are lost, stopping to inquire about the right way they once knew before they wandered so far off it.[2]


6:16 the ancient paths. The way of faithfulness revealed to Moses and the earlier prophets. the good way. The proper life of faith-driven obedience. walk. A metaphor for patterned living (cf. Ps. 1:1). We will not walk describes strong rebellion against revealed truth.[3]


6:16 the ancient paths A metaphor for the proper way to worship Yahweh according to the laws of the Pentateuch. Compare Jer 18:15.

We will not walk The people’s refusal is direct and explicit; it is open rebellion against following Yahweh.[4]


6:16 ancient paths. This phrase describes the traditional religious life of the Israelites from the time of Moses; it is the task of priests and prophets to direct the people.[5]


6:16 Jeremiah admonishes the people to remember the old traditions of faith and obedience. By returning to those ancient paths and walking in them they could find rest. They defiantly refuse![6]


6:16, 17 Old paths probably refers to the Sinai covenant and the Book of Deuteronomy, as Jeremiah called the people back to former days of steadfast devotion. The people obstinately refused to walk rightly and find rest. They also refused to listen to the alarming sound of the trumpet, denying that any danger existed.[7]


[1] Brown, M. L. (2010). Jeremiah. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Jeremiah–Ezekiel (Revised Edition) (Vol. 7, p. 153). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Je 6:16). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[3] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 1385). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Je 6:16). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1270). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Je 6:16). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 889). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

May 20 – Desiring Christ’s Presence (Thomas)

The twelve apostles included “Thomas” (Matt. 10:3).

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The follower of Christ will have an intense desire to be in Christ’s presence.

When you think of Thomas, you probably think of a doubter. But if you look beyond his doubt, you’ll see he was characterized by something that should mark every true believer—an intense desire to be with Christ.

John 10:39–40 tells us Jesus and His disciples left Jerusalem because of threats on Jesus’ life. While they were staying near the Jordan River, Jesus received word that His dear friend Lazarus was sick. He delayed going to Lazarus because He didn’t want merely to heal him, but to raise him from the dead.

Lazarus lived in Bethany—just two miles east of Jerusalem. So when Jesus decided to go there, His disciples were deeply concerned, thinking it would surely be a suicide mission (John 11:8). Despite the danger, Thomas said, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him” (v. 16). That’s a pessimistic attitude, but it also shows his courage and his desire to be with Christ, whether in life or death. An optimist would expect the best, making it easier to go. Thomas expected the worst but was willing to go anyway.

I believe Thomas couldn’t bear the thought of living without Christ. He would rather die with Him than live without Him. That’s also evident in John 14, where Jesus told the disciples He was going away to prepare a place for them. Thomas responded by saying in effect, “Lord, we don’t know where you’re going or how to get there. Please don’t go somewhere we can’t go!” (v. 5). He didn’t understand what Jesus was going to do. All he knew was that he didn’t want to be separated from his Lord.

Can you identify with Thomas? Is Christ such an integral part of your daily decisions and activities that life without Him is unthinkable? Do you love Him so much you long to see Him? That was Thomas’s passion. May it be yours as well.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank the Lord for His presence and power in your life. ✧ Demonstrate your love for Him by communing with Him often.

For Further Study: Read John 14:1–31. ✧ What did Jesus say about His return? ✧ Who would comfort and instruct the disciples in Christ’s absence?[1]


Thomas

Probably since the first century, Thomns has been known primarily, if not almost exclusively, for his doubt; and “doubting Thomas” has long been an epithet for skeptics. But a careful look at the gospel accounts reveals this disciple was a man of great faith and dedication.

As with several other apostles, all that is known of him besides his name is found in John’s gospel. While Jesus was ministering on the other side of the Jordan River near Jericho, the report came that Lazarus had died. On hearing the news, Jesus said to His disciples, “I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, so that you may believe; but let us go to him” (John 11:15). Even after witnessing so many miracles, including the raising of the dead, the twelve were still lacking in faith, and Jesus determined to perform this last great miracle for their benefit. He had already decided to go back to Judea, despite reminders by the disciples that it would cost His life (vv. 7–8). Because Bethany was a near suburb of Jerusalem, for Jesus to go there was almost as dangerous as His going into Jerusalem. Fully realizing the danger for all of them, “Thomas therefore, who is called Didymus, said to his fellow disciples, ‘Let us also go, that we may die with Him’ ” (v. 16).

Thomas, and doubtlessly the other disciples as well, believed that, because of the hostility of the Jewish establishment, going to Jerusalem would be virtual suicide. But he took the initiative to encourage the twelve to go with Jesus and suffer the consequences with Him. He was obviously pessimistic about the outcome of the trip, but the pessimism makes his act all the more courageous. As a pessimist, he expected the worst possible consequences; yet he was willing to go. An optimist would have needed less courage, because he would have expected less danger. Thomas was willing to pay the ultimate price for the sake of His Lord.

Such unreserved willingness to die for Christ was hardly the mark of a doubter. Thomas was willing to die for Christ because he totally believed in Him. Thomas was perhaps equalled only by John in his utter and unwavering devotion to Jesus. He had such an intense love for the Lord that he could not endure existence without Him. If Jesus was determined to go to jerusalem and certain death, so was Thomas, because the alternative of living without Him was unthinkable.

Herbert Lockyet has commented: “Like those brave knights in attendance upon the blind King John of Bohemia who rode into the battle of Crécy with their bridles intertwined with that of their master, resolved to share his fate, whatever it might be … so Thomas, come life, come death, was resolved not to forsake his Lord, seeing he was bound to Him by a deep and enthusiastic love” (All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 178)

Thomas had no illusions. He saw the jaws of death and did not flinch. He would rather face death than face disloyalty to Christ.

In the Upper Room following the Last Supper, Jesus urged the disciples not to be troubled in heart and assured them that He was going to prepare a heavenly place for them and would come again and receive them to Himself, in order that they might forever be with Him. He then said, “And you know the way where I am going” (John 14:1–4). Puzzled at this, Thomas asked, “Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?” (v. 5).

Only a few days earlier Thomas had declared his determination to die with Christ if necessary. His devotion to Christ was unqualified, but like the other disciples he had almost no understanding of Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension, for which his Master had been preparing him for three years. Thomas had little comprehension of what Jesus had just said, apparently assuming Jesus was only talking about taking a long journey to a distant country. He was bewildered, saddened, and anxious. Again the disciple’s pessimism and also his love are revealed. His pessimism made him fear that he might somehow be permanently separated from his Lord, and his love for his Lord made that fear unbearable. Understanding Thomas’s heart as well as his words, Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life” (v. 6). “If you know Me,” Jesus was saying, “you know the way. And if you are in Me, you are in the way. Your only concern is to be with Me, and I will take you wherever I go.”

The third text in which John tells us about Thomas is by far the best known. When Jesus was crucified and buried, all of Thomas’s worst fears had seemed to come true. Jesus had been killed, but the disciples were spared. Their Master was gone, and they were left alone, leaderless and helpless. For Thomas it was worse than death, which he had been perfectly willing to accept. He felt forsaken, rejected, and probably even betrayed. From his perspective, his worst pessimism had been vindicated. Jesus’ promises had been empty-sincere and well meaning, no doubt, but nevertheless empty. Because he loved Jesus so much, the feeling of rejection was all the more deep and painful. The deepest hurt is potentiated by the greatest love.

When the other disciples told Thomas they had seen the Lord, he probably felt like salt had been poured into his wounds. He was in no mood for fantasies about His departed Lord. It was unbearably painful trying to adjust to Jesus’ death, and he had no desire to be shattered by more false hopes. When Thomas heard that Jesus was raised from the dead and alive, he declared, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (John 20:25).

A person who is depressed, especially if he is naturally pessimistic, is hard to convince that anything will ever be right again. Because he is convinced his plight is permanent, the idea of improvement not only seems unrealistic but can be very irritating. To the person confirmed in hopelessness, even the idea of hope can be an offense.

But Thomas’s attitude was basically no different from that of the other disciples. They, too, were incredulous when first told of Jesus’ resurrection. When Peter and John ran to the tomb and found it empty as Mary had said, “as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Even with evidence of the resurrection, they did not search for a risen Lord but went back home (v. 10). When Christ appeared to the ten disciples (Judas was dead, and Thomas was elsewhere), who huddled behind closed doors “for fear of the Jews,” they were not certain that it was the flesh and blood Jesus until after He “showed them both His hands and His side” (vv. 19–20). Nor had the two disciples to whom Jesus appeared on the Emmaus road believed the reports of His resurrection (Luke 24:21–24). None of the disciples believed Jesus was alive until they saw Him in person.

Because they all doubted His promise to rise on the third day, Jesus allowed Thomas to remain in his doubt for another eight days. When He then appeared again to the disciples, He singled out this dear soul who loved him enough to die for Him and who was now utterly shattered in spirit. “Reach here your finger, and see My hands,” He said to Thomas, “and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving, but believing” (John 20:26–27). In one of the greatest confessions ever made, Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Now all doubt was gone and he knew with full certainty that Jesus was God, that Jesus was Lord, and that Jesus was alive! The Lord then gently rebuked Thomas, saying, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed” (vv. 28–29). But His rebuke was fully as much of the other disciples as of Thomas, because his doubt, though openly declared, had been no greater than theirs.

If Jesus is not God and is not alive, the gospel is a foolish and futile deception, the furthest thing from good news. “If Christ has not been raised,” Paul told the Corinthian skeptics, “your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins … If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:17, 19).

Tradition holds that Thomas preached as far away as India, and the Mar Thoma Church, which still exists in southwest India and bears his name, traces its origin to him. He is said to have had died from a spear being thrust through him, a fitting death for the one who insisted on placing his hand in the spear wound of his Lord.)[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 153). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 10:3). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 20 – GOD WOULD IMPART HIMSELF WITH HIS GIFTS

And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.

2 CORINTHIANS 9:8

Have you had any part in the modern cheapening of the Christian gospel by making God your servant? Have you allowed leanness to come to your soul because you have been expecting that God would come around with a basket, giving away presents?

I feel that we must repudiate this great modern wave of seeking God for His benefits. Anyone can write a best-selling book now—just give it a title like “Seventeen Ways to Get Things from God!”

I would say there are millions who do not seem to know or understand that God wants to give Himself! He wants to impart Himself with His gifts. Any gift that He would give us would be incomplete if it were separated from the knowledge of God Himself.

If I should pray for all of the spiritual gifts listed in Paul’s epistles and the Spirit of God should see fit to give them, it would be extremely dangerous for me if, in the giving, God did not give Himself as well.

It is a fact that God has created an environment for all of His creatures. Because God made man in His image and redeemed him, the heart of God Himself is the true environment for the Christian. If there is grief in heaven, I think it must come because we want God’s gifts but we do not want God Himself as our environment![1]


While it is possible to give without loving, it is not possible to love without giving. God gives His Son to all believers, but as previously noted, He blesses in a unique way generous, cheerful givers. In fact, He blesses such believers on such a grand, immense, staggering scale that it beggars language to express it. Trying to convey the magnanimity of God’s generosity, Paul resorted to hyperbole, using a form of the word pas (all) five times in verse 8. God’s gracious giving has no limits; it is off the scale.

Since giving naturally seems to result in having less, not more, it takes faith to believe that giving will open up God’s blessing. Christians must believe that what God has promised to do He is able to do. Dunateō (is able) literally means “has power.” God’s power is great (Deut. 4:37; 9:29; Neh. 1:10; Pss. 66:3; 79:11; Jer. 32:17; Nah. 1:3; Rev. 11:17) and is exhibited in creation, providence, miracles, salvation, the resurrections of Jesus Christ and believers, and in the eternal destruction of the wicked in hell. Not surprisingly, then, Paul expressed his concern “that [the Corinthians’] faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:5).

Human wisdom teaches that prosperity comes from grasping for wealth, not from giving it away. But faith trusts in God’s promise to bless the giver and in His ability to keep His promises, knowing that He is able to “do exceeding abundantly beyond all that [believers] ask or think” (Eph. 3:20), guard and preserve them (2 Tim. 1:12; Heb. 7:25; Jude 24), help them when they are tempted (Heb. 2:18), and raise them from the dead (Heb. 11:19). Believers, like Abraham, must be “fully assured that what God [has] promised, He [is] able also to perform” (Rom. 4:21).

God gives back magnanimously so as to make all grace abound to Christians who give generously. He gives so freely and abundantly that His children will always have all sufficiency in everything. In this context, that refers primarily to material resources, because the harvest must be of the same nature as the seed. Having sown material wealth by their giving, believers will reap an abundant harvest of material blessing in return. God graciously replenishes what they give so that they lack nothing; He will continuously provide the generous giver with the means of further expressing that generosity.

To the Cynic and Stoic philosophers of Paul’s day autarkeia (sufficiency) meant independence from people and circumstances. They viewed such independence as essential to true happiness. But the believer’s sufficiency does not come from independence from circumstances but rather from dependence on God. As Paul wrote to the Philippians, “My God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19).

The reason God gives back to those who give is not, as prosperity teachers falsely imply and exemplify, so people can consume it on their own desires with bigger cars, homes, and jewels. God supplies them so they will have an abundance for every good deed. The Lord will fully supply cheerful givers with what they need to use for what is good work to the honor of the Lord. He constantly replenishes what they expend so the cycle of giving and ministering to others can continue. Generous givers are the people whose lives are most full of righteous deeds.[2]


For God is able to make all grace abound toward you, so that in everything you may always have enough of everything and you may abound in every good work.

Power. “For God is able to make all grace abound toward you.” Here are two preliminary observations:

First, in the preceding verse Paul teaches that God is love, and in the present verse that God is all-powerful. That is, God expresses his love to his people through his power.

Next, throughout this verse the concept all appears five times: all, everything, always, everything, and every. With this concept, Paul attempts to describe God’s infinite goodness and greatness.

The first item Paul discusses is that God has power “to make all grace abound toward you.” God is involved in all the intricacies of a person’s life, even in the decision one makes to give for a certain cause. Paul wrote that the Macedonians received God’s grace so that their decision to give resulted in a wealth of generosity (8:2). In the service of the Lord grace begets grace, although the believer’s grace in joyful giving can hardly be compared with God’s abounding grace to the believer. God showers his love on the joyful donor, who is unable to match God’s grace. He grants the gift of salvation, spiritual gifts, the fruits of the Spirit, and innumerable material blessings. In conclusion, all the spiritual and physical gifts are included in the word grace. The Corinthians were fully aware of Paul’s teaching on this point (see, e.g., 1 Cor. 1:4–7; 12; 2 Cor. 4:15; 6:1).

Sufficiency. “So that in everything you may always have enough of everything.” If we take these words literally, they appear too good to be true. Does God give the joyful Christian everything to meet all his or her material needs (compare Phil. 4:19)? True, God’s grace is all-sufficient to meet our every need any time. But when he grants us his grace, it is always meant to glorify him in his church and kingdom on earth:

It is given to us and we have it, not that we may have, but that we may do well therefore. All things in this life, even rewards, are seeds to believers for the future harvest.

A Christian who because of God’s grace always has enough of everything (compare 1 Tim. 6:6–8) must give within the framework of loving God and neighbor (Matt. 22:37–40). The spiritual and material flow of gifts coming from God to the believer may never stop with the recipient. It must be passed on to alleviate the needs of others in church and society (Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 6:17–18; 2 Tim. 3:17). The believer must always be a human channel through which divine grace flows to enrich others.

Paul writes the word autarkeia, which in this context means “sufficiency.” This cannot be interpreted as self-sufficiency or self-reliance, for we are completely dependent on God to supply us in every need. God provides us sufficiency for the purpose of our dependence on him and the support of fellow human beings.

Service. “And you may abound in every good work.” Twice in this verse Paul relates the verb to abound to God and to us. God makes his grace abound so that we may abound in performing good deeds. Fully trusting God to provide the necessary means, we may support the causes that promote his message at worship on Sundays. We support missions and evangelism, and in society we apply his divine message. God’s grace (singular noun) appears in varied forms; similarly, our good work (also a singular noun) includes all our activities.26[3]


8 One way God’s approval of cheerful givers (v. 7b) finds expression is in the provision of both spiritual grace and material prosperity (“all grace”) that will enable them constantly and generously to dispense spiritual and material benefits (“you will abound in every good work”). As regularly as the resources of the cheerful giver are taxed by generous giving, they are replenished by divine grace. This gives such a person a “complete sufficiency” (pasan autarkeian; NIV, “all that you need”) born of dependence on an all-sufficient God. In the writings of the Cynics and Stoics, on the other hand, this same term (autarkeia, GK 894) denoted an intrinsic self-sufficiency that made a person independent of external circumstance.

But autarkeia may also mean “contentment,” as in 1 Timothy 6:6 (“godliness with contentment is great gain”). Some commentators thus interpret v. 8 to mean that God supplies generous people with multiplied material blessings, so that, content as they themselves are in every circumstance (cf. Php 4:11), they may be able to shower multiplied benefits of every kind on the needy. But to restrict “all grace” to temporal benefits seems unnecessary.[4]


9:8 Here we have a promise that, if a person really wants to be generous, God will see that he is given the opportunity. Grace is here used as a synonym for resources. God is able to supply us with resources so that we will not only have a sufficiency ourselves, but so that we will be able to share what we have with others and thus have an abundance for every good work.

Notice the alls of this verse. All grace, always (that is, at all times), all sufficiency, all things, every good work.[5]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2003). 2 Corinthians (pp. 315–316). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 19, pp. 313–314). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Harris, M. J. (2008). 2 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 508). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1854). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 20 – What Is God’s Kingdom?

Your kingdom come.—Matt. 6:10a

“Kingdom” is not so much a geographical territory as it is a sovereign dominion. When Christians pray “Your kingdom come,” they are asking God to rule through Christ’s future enthronement, His coming reign over the earth. The Greek for “come” indicates a sudden, instantaneous coming and here refers to the coming millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4). Jesus is not speaking of some indirect effort by human good works to create a godly society on earth.

God’s coming kingdom will be a kingdom on earth but not a kingdom of this present world system. Jesus told Pontius Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36). No human kingdom fits with God’s, which is why even the best measures to improve society are mere holding actions that only retard sinful corruption until Christ returns to establish His perfect kingdom.

Jesus came to “preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43), and there is no other gospel but the good news of His kingdom. Even during His final days on earth He was faithful to teach the apostles things concerning that kingdom (Acts 1:3).

Yes, the kingdom has a past element that encompasses the Old Testament patriarchs (Matt. 8:11). The kingdom was also present during Jesus’ earthly ministry because He, its king, was “in [people’s] midst” (Luke 17:21). In a sense that is true today as believers are members of God’s invisible kingdom. But the particular focus of our prayers regarding the kingdom should be future, as we hope for the visible one to come.

ASK YOURSELF
What will you miss the least about earthly life when the fullness of His kingdom becomes your forever reality? Doesn’t that give you something to really look forward to? Let the genuine hope of this occurrence bolster your hope as you live through the coming day.[1]

God’s Program

Thy kingdom come. (6:10a)

Frances Havergal wrote these beautiful words of tribute to her Lord in her hymn “His Coming in Glory:”

Oh, the joy to see Thee reigning,

Thee, my own beloved Lord.

Every tongue Thy name confessing,

Worship, honor, glory, blessing,

Brought to Thee with glad accord.

Thee, my Master and my Friend,

Vindicated and enthroned,

Unto earth’s remotest end,

Glorified, adored, and owned.

Our greatest desire should be to see the Lord reigning as King in His kingdom, to have the honor and authority that have always been His but that He has not yet come to claim. The King is inseparable from His kingdom. To pray Thy kingdom come is to pray for the program of the eternal Deity to be fulfilled, for Christ to come and reign as King of kings and Lord of lords. His program and His plan should be the preoccupation of our lives and of our prayers.

But how self-centered our prayers usually are, focused on our needs, our plans, our aspirations, our understandings. We are often like tiny infants, who know no world but the world of their own feelings and wants. One of the greatest struggles of the Christian life is to fight the old sinful habits, with their constant and unrelenting focus on self.

Even problems and issues outside of ourselves can cloud our supreme concern for God’s kingdom. It is our responsibility to pray for our families, pastors, missionaries, national and other leaders, and for many other people and things. But our prayers in every case should be that God’s will be done in and through those people, that they would think, speak, and act in accordance with God’s will. The best we can pray for any person or for any cause is that God’s kingdom be advanced in that person or that cause.

The holy purpose of the divine Father is to exalt Christ in the consummation of history when the Son rules and reigns in His kingdom. The Talmud is right in saying that if a prayer does not name the kingdom of God, it is not a prayer (Berakoth 21a).

The greatest opposition to Christ’s kingdom, and the greatest opposition to Christian living, is the kingdom of this present world, which Satan rules. The essence of Satan’s kingdom is opposition to God’s kingdom and God’s people.

Basileia (kingdom) does not refer primarily to a geographical territory but to sovereignty and dominion. Therefore when we pray Thy kingdom come, we are praying for God’s rule through Christ’s enthronement to come, His glorious reign on earth to begin. Come translates the aorist active imperative of erchomai, indicating a sudden, instantaneous coming (cf. Matt. 24:27). It is the coming millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4) of which the Lord is speaking, not an indirect effort to create a more godly society on earth through the progressive, human-oriented work of Christians.

To pray Thy kingdom come is to pray for God’s kingdom, the kingdom over which He, and He alone, is Lord and King. It will be a kingdom on earth (v. 10a), but it will not be a kingdom of this world-that is, of this present world system. “My kingdom is not of this world,” Jesus told Pilate (John 18:36). No human kingdom could dovetail with God’s kingdom, even partially. Sinful man could not be a part of a divine reign. That is why we do not advance God’s kingdom by trying to improve human society. Many good and worthy causes deserve the support of Christians, but in supporting those causes we neither build the earthly kingdom of Jesus Christ or bring it closer. Even the best of such things are but holding actions that help retard the corruption that will always and inevitably characterize human societies and human kingdoms-until the Lord returns to establish His own perfect kingdom.

The kingdom of God, or of heaven, was the heart of Jesus’ message. He came to “preach the kingdom of God” (Luke 4:43). There is no other gospel but the good news of the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ. Always and everywhere He went, Jesus preached the message of salvation as entrance to the kingdom. He even stated that He “must preach the kingdom … for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43). For the forty days that Jesus remained on earth between His resurrection and ascension He spoke to His disciples “of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3).

God’s kingdom is past, in the sense that it embodied Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matt. 8:11). It was present in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, in the sense that the true divine King was present “in the midst of you” (Luke 17:21, lit.). But the particular focus of our praying is to be on the kingdom that is yet to come.

God now and always has ruled the kingdom of the universe. He created it, and He controls it, orders it, and holds it together. As James Or comments, “There is therefore recognized in Scripture … a natural and universal kingdom or dominion of God embracing all objects, persons, and events, all doings of individuals and nations, all operations and changes of nature and history, absolutely without exception.” … (cited by Alva J. McClain, The Greatness of the Kingdom [Winona Lake, Ind.: bmh Books, 1980], p. 22). God’s is an “everlasting kingdom” (Ps. 145:13), and even now “His sovereignty rules over all” (Ps. 103:19; cf. 29:10; 1 Chron. 29:11–12; etc.).

But the most obvious fact of life is that God is not now ruling on earth as He rules in heaven (Matt. 6:10c)-and it is the divine earthly kingdom we are to pray will come. Our praying should be for Christ to return and to establish His earthly kingdom, to put down sin and enforce obedience to God’s will. The Lord will then “rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:27; cf. Isa. 30:14; Jer. 19:11). After a thousand years His earthly kingdom will blend into His eternal kingdom, and there will be no distinction between His rule on earth and His rule in heaven (see Rev. 20–21).

The Greek of this verse could be translated “Let Thy kingdom come now.” There is therefore a sense in which we pray for God’s kingdom to come presently. In a present and limited, but real and miraculous way, God’s kingdom is coming to earth each time a new soul is brought into the kingdom.

First of all, the kingdom comes in this way by conversion (Matt. 18:1–4). So prayer should be evangelistic and missionary-for new converts, new children of God, new kingdom citizens. Conversion to the kingdom involves an invitation (Matt. 22:1–14), repentance (Mark 1:14–15), and a willing response (Mark 12:28–34; Luke 9:61–62). The present existence of the kingdom on earth is internal, in the hearts and minds of those who belong to Jesus Christ, the King. We should pray for their number to mightily increase. Praying for the kingdom to come, in this sense, is praying for the salvation of souls. Every believer should seek others who can sing, “King of my life, I crown Thee now, Thine shall the glory be” (“Lead Me to Calvary,” by Jennie Evelyn Hussey).

The kingdom for which we are to pray, and of which we now have a taste, is of infinite value. “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field” or a “pearl of great value” which a person sells all his possessions to buy (Matt. 13:44–46). Its value is so great that each of those parables emphasizes that the procurer sold all he had to purchase salvation (cf. Matt. 10:37).

Second, the kingdom comes now through commitment. The desire of those already converted should be to respond to the rule of the Lord in their lives now so that He rules in them as He rules in heaven. When we pray as Jesus teaches, we will continually pray that our lives will honor and glorify our Father in heaven.

The call for the kingdom to come is also related to the second coming of the Lord. John says in the last chapter of Revelation: “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20).

In that day, our prayers will finally be answered. As the hymn by Isaac Watts begins, “Jesus shall reign where’ere the sun does its successive journeys run. His kingdom spread from shore to shore, ’til moon shall wax and wane no more.” Paul emphasizes that waiting for the kingdom to come in its final form is not so much looking for an event as for a person-the King Himself (1 Thess. 1:10).[2]


10a. Thy kingdom come. For the meaning of the concept “kingdom of heaven” or “of God” see pp. 249, 250. The second petition implies the following:

  1. It is only when the heavenly Father, on the basis of the Son’s atonement, and through the operation of the Holy Spirit, rules in men’s hearts that true and lasting betterment in individual, family, social, national, and international conditions can be expected (Ps. 20:7; Zech. 4:6).
  2. This is a prayer. In the history of missions it has been demonstrated again and again that the coming of the entrance of the reign of God into human hearts requires earnest prayer (Matt. 7:7; Mark 9:29; Acts 4:31; 13:3).
  3. Until the moment of the second coming there is need for this prayer; for, though the kingdom is here already (Luke 17:21), it is still absent from many hearts. In fact, there is every reason to doubt that progress in evangelization is keeping pace with progress in iniquity.
  4. The transforming grace and power of God is required before a man changes from the ardent yearning, “My kingdom come,” and from the boast, “By my own effort I am already on the way to the realization of this goal,” to the humble petition, “Thy kingdom come.” As to the boasters and their fall, think of Korah and his company (Num. 16), Sennacherib (Isa. 37:10–13, 37, 38), Nebuchadnezzar (Dan. 4:30–33), Edom (Obad. 1–4), Haman (Esther 3–7; especially 5:11, 12), Herod Agrippa I (Acts 12:21–23), and “the rich fool” of the parable (Luke 12:18–20).
  5. Prayer for the establishment of the kingship of Christ in human hearts does not exclude the necessity of work. There must be preaching, visits to the homes, Bible translation and distribution, follow-up work, etc. Cf. Acts 20:17–38; 1 Thess. 2:9–12.
  6. “Thy kingdom come” is clearly a prayer for the progress of missionary activity (Rev. 6:2);

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun

Does his successsive journeys run;

His kingdom stretch from shore to shore

Till moons shall wax and wane no more.

(Isaac Watts)

  1. The desire of the supplicant is, however, not only that the kingdom mar come extensively but also that it may more and more be established intensively, that is, that he himself and all those already converted may increasingly acknowledge God in Christ as their sovereign Ruler:

Fill thou my life O Lord my God

In every part with praise,

That my whole being may proclaim

Thy being and thy ways.

Not for the lip of praise alone,

Nor e’en the praising heart

I ask, but for a life made up

Of praise in every part.

(Horatius Bonar)

Just as the first petition already implied the second, so the second implies the third, for God’s kingdom will not come unless his will be done. [3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 149). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 379–381). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 330–331). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 20 – GOD WAS, THAT’S ALL!

Thy throne is established of old: thou art from everlasting.

—Psalm 93:2

God never began to be. I want you to kick that word “began” around a little bit in your mind and think about it. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1), but God Himself never began to be! “Began” is a word that doesn’t affect God at all. There are many concepts and ideas that don’t touch God at all, such as the concept of beginning or creation, when God spoke and things began to be. “In the beginning God created”—but before the beginning, there wasn’t any “beginning”; there wasn’t any “before”! The old theologians used to say that eternity is a circle. Round and round the circle we go, but back before there was any circle, God was!

God didn’t begin to be—God was. God didn’t start out from somewhere—God just is….

But there never was a time when God was not! No one said, “Let God be”! Otherwise, the one who said “Let God be” would have to be God. And the one about whom He said “Let him be” wouldn’t be God at all, but a secondary “god” who wouldn’t be worth our trouble. God, back there in the beginning, created. God was, that’s all! AOGII057-058

Lord, You are beyond my comprehension and worthy of my praise. Thou art from everlasting, the great I AM. Amen. [1]


Yahweh’s Kingship on Earth (93:1c–2)

Commentary

1c–2 The Lord established his kingship on earth when he created the “world” (tēbēl; cf. 24:1). The doctrine of God the Creator stands in stark contrast to the pagan teachings on chaos, primordial forces, and random happenings. Yahweh is the Creator-God. He has “established” (tikkôn) the world, and it will not reel and totter under the duress of hostile forces (10:6; 104:5), for Yahweh has established his rule over it. The nations may rage against his rule, but it will not fall (2:1–4; 46:6). His throne is “established” (nākôn, GK 3922, v. 6, from kûn, as is tikkôn above). Yahweh is “from all eternity” (90:2), but his rule over earth has a historical dimension (“long ago”; cf. Isa 44:8; 45:21; 48:3, 5, 7–8); therefore the psalmist considers that the “throne” was established when creation took place.[2]


93:1, 2 The songs that will be sung when Jesus is crowned Lord are all ready—and this is one of them. It anticipates the glorious day when Israel’s Messiah proclaims Himself King. He will be clothed with majesty, in contrast to the lowly grace which characterized Him at His First Advent. He will openly clothe Himself with the strength that is needed to reign over the world. And world conditions will then be established on a firm, stable basis, no longer subject to vast moral and political convulsions.

Of course, the throne of Jehovah has always existed, but it has not been as clearly manifest as it will be when the Millennium dawns. The King Himself too is eternal, and as His authority had no beginning, so it will have no end.[3]


93:2 from everlasting. God has no beginning; He is uncreated. This conception of the eternal kingship of God stands in stark contrast with the theology of Mesopotamia and Canaan. In these neighboring regions, the power of the gods varied according to changes in the political arena.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 708). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 692–693). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 941). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.