Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord – 1-5-22

“and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” Matthew 3:2 NKJV

Did any of you, who have followed me for a while, think that I would let this verse sneak by without attention?! If the kingdom of heaven was at hand 2000 years ago, how much more so is it true these days?! The kingdom of heaven is talked about being preached at least 6 times in the New Testament, by my count (maybe more).

RELATIONSHIP:

Do you already have a relationship with a powerful God who cares about your every need because He loves you? Did you know my God can communicate with you and protect you – He has a plan for you to prosper if you just submit to His will and let His plan play out in your life!!! God wants a relationship with you and has already made a plan for your life. He loves you so much He sent His son to this world, to die as a sacrifice for your sins and rise from death with victory over sin and the ability to have a personal relationship with you.
“If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” Romans 10:9-10 NIV
Here is a prayer for you to pray:
Jesus, I believe you are the way, the truth, the life, and the only way to the Father. I believe you are the son of God, you came to Earth and lived. That you died on the cross as a sacrifice for my sins, and rose again so that I may be saved from my sins and be able to get to know you. I declare: Jesus, you are Lord!
Therefore, I confess that I am a sinner and I ask that you forgive me of my sins and come into my life. Help me to turn away from my sins and transform me into what you have lovingly created me to be. Help me through a real personal relationship grow and accept your will for my life – that I may live in your blessings. Please walk with me, and talk with me – I accept a relationship with you and with our Father God, through you. In the name of Jesus I pray ~ Amen

BIBLE READING:

Dear Heavenly Father – Please give us the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of who you are, who Jesus is, and who the Holy Spirit is. Open the eyes of our understanding, please, so we may know the hope of our calling and the vast sovereignty and power of the grace of the cross. Please do not let us miss out on what you want and need from us today. Lord, I pray that your word prepares us and not scares us! We forbid the works and influences of fear over your word and our sound mind. And please keep us and bless us and shine your face upon us and pour out grace over us and give us peace! Thank you! – In Jesus name we pray, Amen

Today’s reading is the Book of Matthew chapter 3 (embedded below for your convenience in the NKJV). 

John the Baptist Prepares the Way

In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make His paths straight.’ ”

Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey. Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. 10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit [a]and fire. 12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

John Baptizes Jesus

13 Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. 14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?”

15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him.

16 When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and [b]He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Footnotes
a. Matthew 3:11 M omits and fire
b. Matthew 3:16 Or he

MEMORY VERSE CHALLENGE:

Numbers 23:19– “God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?”

STUDY/DEVOTIONAL

Why am I always so hung up on being humble and repenting? Well, we are ALL sinners but we are not all good repent’ers. I heard a Pastor preach this past week on the fact that he isn’t perfect, and of course we do not want to participate in reoccurring sins, and he went on to talk about deliverance and overcoming – and moreover he spoke of being good at meaningful repentance.  Not tears and drama and flare (although you may cry). But God is not moved by our tears but He is moved by the secret motivations of our hearts. It is so nice to hear others carry on about repentance like the Apostles and prophets did.

Back to the kingdom part – It is about tearing down MY KINGDOM and my plans (yours too if you personalize it) – and the KINGDOMS OF THIS WORLD – and letting heaven set up a kingdom inside of us that will never be destroyed.
“In the days of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will shatter all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, but will itself stand forever.” Dan 2:44

But the Kingdom of Heaven cannot be established in the heart of a man, woman or child who cannot repent well, as necessary, and under authority with the ability to do it on behalf of others.
“If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

“Whoever conceals his transgressions will not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will obtain mercy.” Proverbs 28:13

“But if a wicked person turns away from all his sins that he has committed and keeps all my statutes and does what is just and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions that he has committed shall be remembered against him; for the righteousness that he has done he shall live. Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Ezekiel 18:21-23

Wow today’s reading starts off dynamic and already has my heart strings and we haven’t even reached the third verse!! (good thin it is a short reading!)

So, verse 3 says that John fulfills the prophecies of Isaiah – let’s take a look and see. Turn to Isaiah chapter 40 and let me strongly suggest you read it as it is comfort and helps you understand John and his ministry more.

The focus for us, though, is verse three, which is quoted almost word for word in verse 3 of Matthew. The fact that they are both verse 3, is fun.  For more fun: Mark also referenced this verse at Mark 1:3!!! John quotes it at John 1:23 (there is still a three, but just not as much fun). (And Luke, being a gentile, seems to not understand the significance of John the Baptist and referenced Elijah and doesn’t make it the third sentence, and… well… Luke was a gentile.)

In Hebrews Numerology 3 – Shelosh [f.], sheloshah [m.] Seeds to tree to fruit can also mean revelation and resurrection. Just let us look at the symbolism of 3 in the Bible and draw conclusions on repeating patterns: trinity of the God head (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), Trees (seeds to trees to fruit) were created on the third day, three patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) were the seeds of the nations, three ply cord (which is why it is sometimes connected to unity and strength), Jesus was in the grave for 3 days (the word is Jesus and the word is like a seed).  The third Hebrew letter, Gimel (with a value of three), resembles ripening, reward, and more. So is John the Baptist like the seed being planted so Jesus can come and harvest?!

This is not reading through the Bible but I have to admit this is fun!

Ok so verse 4 referenced the leather girdle and eating locus and honey – like Elijah (2 Kings 1:8).

So I am going to slip ahead because the next few verses reference things we have already discussed including repentance. But I will stop to discuss “Brood of Vipers” Ah this brood!
If you have ever studied it before I am sure you heard someone explain this was a common saying, slang term, and considered vulgar as well. There were also variation of this slang – like calling someone serpents, or a generation of vipers, which we will see in other places of the New Testament.
I would almost say it wouldn’t be wrong if we swapped it out for vulgar slang terms of our day if… that is a big if which actually prevents me from saying it – IF it wasn’t for the fact that the symbol of a viper or snake is so suited for the story line. Ya see:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Gen 3:15
(another 3 – the seed.. oh yes the seed of woman aka Jesus!)
The Pharisees and the Sadducees are the serpent – they are the struggle – they are the ones who rallied the cry: “Crucify Him!”  (Oh geesh! I am sorry to anyone new here who doesn’t know – Spoiler alert, Jesus Dies. I mean I think I breeze over it in the relationship section, and again when speaking of 3’s and I am sorry – but it is a good things as he comes back to life after 3 days – and there is that three! And statistically speaking, people only remember thing they hear 3 times and since it is the third time I said something today, there is a high chance you are starting to have questions about it.)

We are only up to verse 8.  Maybe these chapters are too long! Lol But we planted the seeds of repentance (so to speak) so what about the fruit? Matthew, the king of referring to the old scriptures also refers to one here!
“Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, Learn to do good; Seek justice, Rebuke the oppressor; Defend the fatherless, Plead for the widow.” Isaiah 1:16-17
So if you were a Jew and reading this, you would not assume, as many modern gentiles assume, that you can repent and continue in the sin and keep repenting saying we care covered by grace.  The book of Isaiah is neither law nor grace – it is prophets. Therefore, it is not a matter of living under law or grace… but living justly, free, empowered and with compassion – which can only happen if sin is stopped.
(On a side note, I love the TV series “The Chosen” and it’s portrayal of these characters. Like everyone says it really brings them to life. I like how they play Matthew as possibly being high functioning Asperger’s – having them myself I see a lot of myself in him. BUT they also portray Matthew as NOT knowing the old scriptures. And from what I can see, where every verse references an old scripture, that is not the case. Matthew a more of a Bible geek than me!)

Let’s skip ahead in my review of today’s reading. Verse 16-17!  When the heavens open and Jesus is there in flesh – the spirit is there like a dove and the Voice of God is there… All three (again with the three!) and all manifested!!! Is there ANY place else in the Bible where all three manifest together at the same time?! Like, wow! This is a point in Biblical history to wish you could stand there and see!

“And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;” Isaiah 11:2

“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles.” Isaiah 42:1

“As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” Isaiah 59:21

***

Thank you for reading in 2022 – a Year of Wisdom and Salvation
May the God of peace keep you and bless you. May you stay focused on Christ and covered in grace.
Maranatha ~ Come Lord Jesus!

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