Nicodemus, a pious Jewish leader, struggled with the idea of grace rather than human merit to gain God’s acceptance. Self-righteous pride may be the most difficult obstacle to overcome when free grace is offered, for one relies on the merits of man while the other rests on the grace of God. The constant strivings of the religious man to become acceptable to God by works is a far cry from the submitted heart of a broken sinner, who is thirsting for salvation.
The Perfect Law
The perfect Law became our tutor to lead us to Christ, so we may be justified by faith. It was Nicodemus, a Pharisee and a leader of the Jews who came to Jesus by night. Like all religious leaders he was a man who was separated unto legal righteousness. He knew every nuance of the Law and at this time he was the main teacher in Israel.
If a ministry is dependent on the name of its leader it is doomed to fail. If Christ is replaced by a man, woman or denomination, a death knoll has sounded, for other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” 1Corinthians 3:11
John 4:34. But assault after assault was made upon His faith and His obedience… sometimes through the direct taunts and attacks of the tempter and sometimes subtle suggestions of family and His dearly loved friends… to leave His path of total dependence on the Father. Sometimes through the persistent criticism and accusations of religious leaders – whose hearts were set to discredit and denounce Him.
He is our glorious, heavenly and eternal Provider But your faith, beloved – and my faith is of such great importance to Him, that He permits life’s earthquakes; relational volcanoes and situational tsunamis – so that in all things we will hold fast to Him, as our Creator; Lord; Captain; Leader; Friend… as our beloved Bridegroom..
Tasted Death for ALL
By God’s grace, Jesus tasted death for ALL – every member of the fallen race of man, And as part of God’s plan to bring many sons to glory – God made Jesus (Who was made perfect through what He suffered) the leader and pioneer of our salvation.
That Son, Who Himself was made perfect through suffering – for it became Him, for Whom are all things, and by Whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the Leader of their salvation – through sufferings.
The common people were ready to welcome the King into their lives, but their religious leaders were protective of the outward trappings of a religious system that they themselves had built up..
But the unrepentant, jealous leaders of Israel had their King and Messiah crucified.
But God in His omniscience knew the hypocrisy of Israel’s religious leaders – He knew the nation would reject their Messiah and crucify their King – but God is faithful – God will never reject His people forever – His plan for the kingdom still stands….
Christ patiently started to open the eyes of this blind leader of the blind, who himself must come to terms with the truth that the penalty of the Law for ALL – is death. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness – Jesus too must be nailed to the tree so that all who look to Him in faith, will be saved.
How curious that simple shepherds, who were so despised by the Jewish leadership, should have been the first to be told of the arrival of Israel’s long-awaited Messiah-King – for this tiny infant was also God’s Great Shepherd of the sheep – the Good Shepherd Who lays down His life for His sheep… and one day He will return to earth as the Chief Shepherd, Who will award the crown of glory to all the under-shepherds of God’s little flock, who have faithfully fulfilled the work that God has prepared for them to do.
To be a leader one must be a dependent one, a led one; one who is looking away (from all that would distract) to Jesus, who is the Leader and the Source of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
One of the greatest needs in the Church today is for authoritative, spiritual, and sacrificial leadership.
Spiritual, because a leadership which is carnal and explainable in terms of the natural, be it ever so competent, can result in sterility and spiritual bankruptcy.
Sacrificial, because its source is the life of One who gave Himself a sacrifice, and stated that the path of leadership was by the lonely road of sacrificial service. -O.S.
The standard and measure of spiritual leaders has to be ahead of others, and as human nature generally likes not to be disturbed, but would seek the easy way, the pioneer is often a bit too much for people.
His is not the easy way, and because the whole nature of man is either downward or to a quiet and happy snugness, the leader is not always popular.
A part of the price of leadership is loneliness. -T.
Every soldier knows the foundational truths of victory. Victory lies in faithfulness to your leader. Triumph rests in knowing your enemy. Success is secured in obedience to the battle plan.
The eternal Son of God became the incarnate Word and was made flesh by being conceived of the Holy Spirit in a virgin’s womb and was born into the human race in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ – the only begotten Son of the Father – so that He could claim of His renowned ancestor, before Abraham was I AM. The religious leaders of the Jews knew without a doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was making the bold pronouncement that He was God – for He had dared to use the sacred name of God in reference to Himself, I AM – before Abraham was..
Claim to Deity
Christ’s claim that He existed before Abraham was inconceivable to these closed-minded and spiritually blind religious leaders of the Jews.
The tragedy is that, with [the book of] Hebrews in their hands, responsible leaders of the Church can still adhere to a system and form which is but the extension or carry-over of the Old Testament, with certain changes of phraseology.
List of Sinners
It was Christ Who uttered these words and many people come to mind:- The cruel Roman soldiers; Pilate; Caiaphas; Judas; the Sanhedrin – the angry mob that screamed “Crucify” – Israel’s leaders in their jealousy?
The glory of the Lord, Which led His people safely through the wilderness by pillars of fire and smoke departed from the disobedient nation of Israel and God’s presence left the holy temple in Jerusalem, which was to be a house of prayer for all the nations – but which had become a den of thieves for the unscrupulous religious leaders of the day.
It is a continuous battleground as to how things stand in this world before men, and even as to what the great religious leaders, and even evangelical leaders of our time regard as the important thing.
Son of God
There have been many religious leaders, but none have been like Christ Jesus. There have been many teachers and preachers, but none compare with the Lord. There have been many men that have had many disciples, but none are like Jesus, There have been many great orators, but no man has spoken the way Jesus spoke.
There’ve been many religious leaders, but all died, and their body remains in a grave. There are good teachers who teach God’s word, but only He is the Word of Life.
His character is applauded by religious and political leaders alike and many of the words He used and the principles He introduced have been gathered together like a string of pearls, to adorn their own manmade creed or their singular personal mindset.
He is simply looking for people of faith – people who will trust Him and believe His word – and throughout Scripture we see one here and we discover one there. He is looking for men of faith like Abraham and He is searching for leaders like Moses.
Paul pointed out that not one of the many spiritual principalities, power or demonic rulers of this age would have empowered and emboldened the religious leaders of the Jews or the civic channels of the Roman government to crucify the Lord of glory, if they had known the great and eternal victory that His death would have over the spiritual and natural realms.
The truth in this statement is not only evident in the leadership and statesmanship of entire nations and grand corporations, but can also be witnessed within the home and family.
In the governance of a nation, there are many examples of foolish decisions that have been made when wise counsel has been ignored, or when a proud leader has disregarded the advice of knowledgeable generals.
Whether he was collaborating with Christ's critics, or desiring to receive an honest answer to this all-important question is unclear, but it gave the Lord Jesus a beautiful opportunity to reiterate the most important commandment that God had given to Israel, through Moses - a command which had been ignored and violated by these pious, legalistic, religious leaders - who had not only ignored God's message of repentance, but had also rejected the Lord Jesus Christ, Whom He had sent.
The inferior, Aaronic priesthood, and the glory that Moses received, stands in stark contrast with Christ’s superior priesthood, after the royal order of Melchizedek – for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, is acknowledged to be so much superior than that of Moses, the great prophet and leader of Israel.
After Jesus and His disciples had partaken of the Last Supper, Judas, who had been indwelled by Satan, left the Upper Room and returned to the Jewish leaders to betray Jesus into their hands.
Jesus was popular with the people because He healed the sick; taught them many things; told some good stories and had fed them with bread and fishes - but His betrayal, by one of the men that had accompanied Him throughout His ministry, emboldened the Jewish leaders to arrest Him.
Jesus was questioned, tested, and scrutinised unrelentingly, by Jewish leaders, scribes, Pharisees, and Sadducees, but He was found to be unblemished.
Four days of trick questions from the scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and religious leaders, followed by a series of false witnesses, unlawful trials, unfounded accusations, lies, and gross deception were exposed and failed, because Christ's character was unblemished and His heart was pure before God.
We are not here to overthrow governments as some suggest... we are here to pray for our leaders.
But the Scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees and the Herodians hated the Lord Jesus, for He was undermining their authoritarian monopolies and hypocritical practices - for Jesus spoke as one having sovereign authority - but it was a different sort of authority than that which was seen in their religious leaders.
and in spite of Christ's Own prolonged announcement of His Messianic credentials and heavenly authority, the Lord Jesus was accused by the Jewish leaders of His day..
As the Babylonian military leaders and soldiers were preparing to march against Judah, planning their siege against Jerusalem, and agreeing their battle strategies, the children of Judah and Benjamin refused to listen to Jeremiah's pleading cries to escape the wrath to come.
The prophet John had identified Him as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world, but legalism and false perceptions of their coming Saviour blinded the religious leaders to the truth of the gospel of God, and in chapter 17, Jesus starts to address their questions on the Kingdom in order to correct their false perceptions.
There are many today who reflect the practices of the unscrupulous money-changers and the ungodly priests and religious leaders who encouraged this blasphemous dishonesty and who benefit from the same fraudulent and sacrilegious profiteering.
The shocking way that the religious leaders plotted against the King of glory for their own selfish ends, shows the depths of defilement to which man will stoop when their heart is not right before the Lord.
Pride was the sin that was found in Satan and pride was the sin that was resident in the hearts of these religious leaders - for whoever denies the Son does not have the Father - but the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
Despite the inexhaustible testimony of the Law, the Prophets, and the Psalms, and in-spite of all His signs, miracles, wonders, and glorious Resurrection from the dead, many religious leaders refused to believe in Him then... and many continue to refuse to believe in Him today.
A thief in the earthly realm comes to steal and kill and destroy, and while the Lord walked on the earth there were many leaders of the Jews that sought to steal His position - and kill the Son and heir of God and to scatter the flock and to steal all that is His – but God’s plans and purposes will never be thwarted by jealous men.
Although the Jewish leaders plotted how they might destroy Him, Mary was a devoted disciple who regularly worshipped at His feet, honored His presence in her home and drank deeply from the fountain of life.
This great leader called Gog, is told by the Lord, WHAT he is going to do, You will come up against My people Israel, HOW he will come, like a cloud to cover the land, WHEN it will take place, It shall come about in the last days, WHERE this will happen, I will bring you against My land, and WHY it is happening, so that the nations may know Me and I will be sanctified through YOU, before their eyes, O Gog.
Too frequently we see the character or attitude of many Church leaders and their congregants becoming self-indulgent, while at other times we observe Christians being EITHER 1) overly critical of their fellow believers for insignificant things OR 2) prepared to compromise their Christian faith by refusing to address issues of spiritual importance which should not be ignored!
The head-knowledge of these Jewish leaders was of no value to their spiritual well-being, nor was it significant to them because they did not mix their knowledge with a trusting heart of faith in the Word of God and the prophetic writings of holy men of God.
Indeed, he gives three identifying characteristics of these false teachers and their satanic doctrines. 1) they defile the flesh 2) they reject authority and 3) they speak evil of angelic dignitaries such as Michael the archangel - and this would also include earthly leaders and dignitaries: For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.
3)They speak evil of angelic dignitaries, both divine and human, by cursing the Creator, scorning His appointed leaders, deriding His minister, and denigrating His established authorities.
Let us pray for our leaders, support the weak, help the afflicted, love and serve all men, and let us read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the Word of God, knowing that we are living in perilous times - and our only confidence and help lies in Jesus Christ, our Blessed Hope.
James was writing his epistle to Christians who had come out of Judaism and were not only facing persecution from their gentile overlords and the religious leaders of the Israel but also from their fellow Jewish countrymen.
Too often in Christian ministry and church gatherings there is resentment against other Christian leaders, because of what God is doing in their lives, which can often lead to rivalry; bitterness; jealousy and resentment.
A third group came back with Nehemiah, after the attempted extermination of the Jews during the time of queen Esther...and through whose encouraging leadership the city wall was speedily rebuilt and its broken gates restored.
As the shadow of the cross grew closer, Christ's little company of disciples became fearful of the antagonistic attitude of the religious leaders towards Jesus, which grew stronger as Calvary loomed ever closer.
Tensions between the two groups increased so significantly that the religious, Jewish leaders who rejected their Messiah, took steps to suppress the testimony of God's grace by exterminating everyone who professed faith in Jesus of Nazareth - the King of the Jews.
The simple structure of the early church is clearly defined in the opening verse of this letter to the Philippians, where saints, spiritual leaders, and temporal stewards of the Church, are all greeted by Paul and Timothy whose humble status as bond-servants of Jesus Christ, is also in view.
Indeed, the Jerusalem council was formally set up to clarify the fundamentals of the Christian faith.They agreed that Gentile believers could not be expected to adhere to Jewish rules, rites, and regulations, but too often, Jewish converts to Christianity clung fast to their former rituals, even though they knew that it was not the Law that justifies them before God, but faith in Christ.Although these early Jewish believers understood that salvation was by grace alone through faith in Christ alone, many of them, including some of the apostles, continued to cling to the Jewish Sabbath, Jewish sacrifices, the Temple worship, feasts days, and other Jewish observances.Time passed since Paul’s first, brief visit to Jerusalem where he had met with Peter and a few Church leaders.
Peter started to separate himself from Gentile Christians during mealtimes, which flared up into a face-to-face confrontation between the two best-known Christian leaders – Peter and Paul.Although Peter, himself, happily engaged in fellowship with these uncircumcised, Gentile believers in Antioch, eating and drinking at their tables, his behaviour suddenly changed with the arrival of certain Jewish men from Jerusalem – who influenced the great apostle and other liberated, Jewish believers, into separating themselves from their Gentile brethren.Paul had been battling this issue of Jewish legalism for much of his apostleship, and to discover Peter was engaging in this unacceptable and unbiblical discriminatory behaviour and influencing others to do the same, caused Paul to openly oppose his fellow apostle, to his face.Paul stated, When Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face concerning his conduct there, for he was blameworthy, and stood condemned.
But He also displays His gentleness and sensitivity towards insignificant individuals as well – people like Hannah and the widow of Nain; people like Jairus, the leader of the synagogue; the apostle Peter who denied His Lord three times and sweet Mary of Bethany who was wrongly accused of gross extravagance by the disciples – people like you and me.
When Christ was rejected by the leaders of Israel and condemned to die at the hands of their cruel Roman overlords, it was through this tiny company of godly Jews that the glorious gospel of the grace of God was first delivered to a world that was dead in trespasses and sins - to the Jew first and also to the outcast gentiles.
Similarly, when the wife responds to her husband’s leadership, as the Bible teaches, and becomes his most responsive and devoted helper, then the relationship between husband and wife, reflects God’s initial plan and purpose, for the whole of humanity.
Paul places much emphasis on the quality of leaders in the Church and begins to list the character traits that should be evident in the life of every man who takes on a responsibility in Church eldership An elder - or overseer must be above reproach.
and as a result Christ's miraculous healing of the man at the pool of Bethsaida, who had been crippled and bed-ridden for 38 years, was considered as inconsequential by the religious leaders of the day - because in their estimation it constituted breaking the Sabbath of the Lord!
The Lord Jesus was not intimidated by these religious leaders but pointed out that like God the Father, He too was exempt from the petty tradition of men, which they had added to the Mosaic Law and brutally imposed on the Jewish nation..
But this Sabbath day healing was seen by the religious leaders of the Jews as breaking the Mosaic Law, and Christ's claim to be equal with the Father was considered blasphemy, for in their eyes: He not only was breaking the Sabbath, but also was calling God His own Father, making Himself equal with God.
the truth of the glorious gospel of grace was hidden from these religious leaders, underneath a black cloud of unbelief - and sadly there are many today who are also trapped in religious legalism and the traditions of men .... May we have ears to hear and take heed of all that the Spirit says to the churches in these increasingly evil days.
Jesus presented His faultless, Messianic credentials which were authenticated by His mighty signs and wonders, but His offer was refused. He was despised by men, hated by the Jewish leaders, and rejected by those He came to save.
It was to the great religious teacher that Jesus spoke these life changing words- unless a man is born from above he cannot see the kingdom of God. These words were spoken to a very religious leader of the Jews – a ruler and a teacher, who read his bible, worshiped on the right days and tried to keep the commandments of God.
Although the majority of the Jewish leadership were against the Lord Jesus and conspired how to get rid of Him, there were those from the ruling classes who were convicted by Christ's words and who sought the truth.
In Matthew 15, Jesus had already been accused of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub, His Messianic claims had already been rejected by Israel's religious leaders, and He had already started to teach in parables - to all who had ears to hear.
They highlight Israel’s growing disregard and hatred of Jesus, and all four gospels give detailed accounts of the Jew’s rejection of their Messiah-King – His illegal trial by their leaders and His crucifixion, death and burial by His own people.
These proud leaders of the Jews were seeking to discredit the Lord Jesus.
In their proud and jealous attitude, the religious leaders of the day were so intent on discrediting this little miracle of the Lord Jesus that they missed the greatest miracle of all - that God incarnate was in their midst.
Yes, the eternal Son of God, Creator of heaven and earth humbled Himself and was born as Son Man – even making Himself, for a short time, a little lower that the rebel angelic forces, under the leadership of their rebellious leader - Satan who had become ruler over the fallen world into which He came.
Timothy was entrusted by Paul to be pastor of the church at Ephesus, but being the leader of a Christian community in the first century, under Roman rule was no easy task, and Paul's letter to this 'son in the faith', contained personal encouragement, many warnings, and a lot of wise instruction on how to deal with a myriad of theological and practical issues that Timothy was likely to meet as he shepherded the little flock of believers in their spiritual journey through life.
The Bible records that Christ came as the King of the Jews to fulfil Scripture, and it was this title of 'King' that intrigued the governor... and so we read, Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, 'Are You the King of the Jews?' Pilate knew Jesus had been brought to him out of envy, and he sought to deliver Him from the hands of the Jews - not out of compassion, but as a slight to the Jewish leaders, who caused him much grief with their various uprisings and resistance to Roman rule.
Nehemiah was a man who loved the Lord and was grieved to hear that the broken walls and burned gates of Jerusalem remained in ruins, despite the return of a small band of Jews under the leadership of Zerubbabel, decades earlier, and a second group of exiles who had returned 14 years before, under the leadership of Ezra the scribe - a descendent from Eleanor, Aaron's third son.
We not only see Peter being filled with the Holy Spirit on that day of Pentecost, for they were ALL filled with the Holy Spirit, but in the fourth chapter of Acts, we see this apostle being filled, once again, by the Holy Ghost, and speaking boldly to the religious leaders of the day, concerning a man who had been healed by the power of Jesus Christ.
The Lord chose this pagan man to find favour in the eyes of his king, become a mighty leader in the Syrian army, and gain many victories in the region so that God's name would be glorified throughout the land.
Similarly, the Sabbath day ritual, which was guarded so jealously by the religious leaders of Israel, was simply a pale shadow of the Lord Jesus Christ Who Himself, has become the Sabbath rest for the people of God, and for all who trust in Him for the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting.
But Gideon was faithful to the Lord and during his 40-year long leadership, Israel enjoyed peace and safety.
Israel forgot that the Lord had delivered them from all their foes under the steadfast leadership of Gideon.
This resulted in Abimelech, a power-hungry usurper - one of 'Jerubbaal's' many sons, taking the law into his own hands to maintain dominion over Israel as their new leader.
Abimelech, which means 'Molech is my father' was not appointed as judge by God to succeed his father, nevertheless this wicked man persuaded the citizens of Shechem to establish him as their next leader, by having about seventy of his own brothers murdered by worthless and reckless men.
Jotham courageously challenged the leaders of Shechem to examine their actions and motives in supporting Abimelech's grab for power by telling them 'a parable of the trees'.
They had condoned the evil slaughter of seventy sons of his father Gideon, by accepting Abimelech who was nothing more than a cruel power-hungry murderer, as their leader.
The armies of heaven were at His disposal, but He could never respond to the jeering crowd that taunted, if you are the Son of God, come down from the cross and save Yourself, for to do so would have shut the door to paradise for everyone, and slammed closed the gates of heaven for ever, with no hope for mankind in the world.The mocking hatred of the crowds, the spurious lies of the leaders, the twisted testimony of the false witnesses and the foul deeds of the Roman soldiers were amplified with the reviling sneers of the two criminals who were crucified alongside Jesus, until one was deeply convicted and recognised the King that was staked at his side.
Paul knew that the purity of the true gospel of grace was under attack from these Jewish sources and that clarity needed to be reached and implemented across the leadership of the fledgling Church, if the Christian faith was to remain untainted and flourish – but how similar to the world of Christianity today.
From the moment they entered the land of Israel, under the leadership of Joshua, the Israelites engaged in a downward spiral of events, under the leadership of a succession of judges, which finally resulted in a situation, where everyone rejected the sovereign authority of God, and did only that which was right in their own eyes.
The quiet, unassuming prayer life of the Lord Jesus was very different from the showy pomposity of Israel's religious leaders, whose presumptuous prayers were designed for the ears of other people and were not offered to our Father in heaven.
It embraced the Jewish nation who screamed, His blood be on us and on our children – together with the scheming Jewish leaders and Caiaphas – the high priest who unwittingly prophesied: it is expedient for us, that one Man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
He had been specifically sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and yet in these early chapters of Matthew's Gospel, we can already see that Christ's message was not understood by the Jewish crowds nor were His Messianic claims accepted by the religious leaders.
He knew the authoritative commands of a leader must be obeyed immediately and implicitly.
But this was not what the blind leaders of Israel wanted to hear, and they charged Stephen of speaking against the Law and of seeking to destroy the Jewish Temple.
The blind leaders of Israel did not realise that the Law had been given to point them to Christ and Stephen rightly accused them of being stiff-necked people, who were uncircumcised in heart and who resisted the Holy Spirit - for they had killed the Lord of glory and refused to be convicted of sin, righteousness and judgement.
It was the leaders of the nation that were held accountable for this shocking state of spiritual decline, and the priests, in particular, were held responsible by God for this dire state of affairs within His chosen nation.
We are to pray for leaders and the rulers of our nations - both the good and wise leadership and our tyrannical and evil overlords.
We are to pray for church leaders and those that educate our children.
God often hears the petitions of His people as we cry to Him for godly rulers, but at times He allows ungodly leadership to be appointed to bring His people to repentance and to return the wandering soul to the God of their salvation.
After a period of national fasting, individual repentance, prayer and the confession of their sin (and those of their Jewish forefathers,) the entire Jewish nation stood up, as one – to listen to the public reading of the Law of Moses and to give heed to the nations priestly leaders, who rehearsed a national prayer of praise and thanksgiving before the Lord.
As the end of Christ's earthly ministry drew ever closer the conflict with Israel's hypocritical leaders continued to escalate.
The religious leaders were more concerned with ceremonial washing of hands that the inner cleansing of their heart from sin.
These critical hypocritical leaders paid great attention to exterior devilment whilst ignoring the all-important need for inner cleanliness - and a heart that has been washed white and clean by the Blood of the Lamb.
The Jewish leaders taught them to love their fellow man and hate their enemy - but Christ taught them to love their enemies as well as their neighbours, and to lift them up to their Heavenly Father in prayer.
Jesus also warned against sanctimonious and self-righteous praying that was practised by the religious leaders of the day.
Although He was only sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, Christ's rejection began in chapter 12 when the Jewish leaders challenged His authority and accused Him of casting out demons by the power of Beelzebub.
Having outlined the duties of church elders and the pastoral role of those in Christian leadership, Paul exhorts Titus, and all his fellow-believers in Christ, to be subject to rulers, to obey the legislative authorities, and to be ready for every good deed that God has prepared for us to do.
Indeed, earlier in his epistle Paul gives specific instruction on godly leadership and Christian living which should be adhered to and shared with others.
However, we read in this particular verse that pastors and those in church leadership have a duty to remind the people of God to be submissive to magistrates and other administrative authorities.
As has been evident from the beginning of time, God has established certain fundamental principles and institutions to which we should all adhere - including marriage, family, leadership, and government.
Jesus was a Man Who knew that the crown of glory would not be gained without the cruel Cross.Let us fix our gaze unswervingly upon the Lord Jesus, our Prince and Leader in the faith, and the Author and Finisher of our faith.
As leaders in their respective Church assemblies, both Timothy and Titus needed this serious reminder to preach sound doctrine to those in their charge - which encompasses the whole council of Scripture - so that the flock of God would not be hoodwinked by any false teachings or unbiblical doctrine they might come across.
Although they had a measure of success in conquering the promised land under the leadership of Judah, they failed to obey all that the Lord had commanded through Moses and Joshua, and were finally punished for their disobedience.
This led to their supplicating pleadings to Lord to save them, which God answered through providing a leader (a judge or saviour), who would rescue them from the oppression into which they had fallen.
Timothy had come to a deepening faith in Christ through the ministry of the apostle Paul and is identified in Scripture as one of the men who would wear the mantle of leadership in the Christian Church.
When unbelievable decisions are made by leaders and governments that impact the lives of God's people, the Lord takes the schemes of men and blends them together with the lives of His people, and uses them for their eternal benefit and to forward His plan of redemption, which He purposed before the world began.
God spoke to Israel's ancestors through the prophetic writings which were all pointing to Christ, but finally God spoke to makind through His only begotten Son, Whom He appointed Heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe - for Christ is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being - and yet the leaders of Israel not only missed Him..
These religious leaders missed the many clues that identified Jesus as their Messiah and King.
blasphemous law are passed in the corridors of power, corrupt leaders are honoured and rewarded for their depraved acts and profane people foolishly flaunt their devious and demonic behaviours - unaware or unconcerned that judgement is at the very door and that the warning words: 'Prepare To Meet Your God' are imminent.
But the magnificent outburst of praise in this particular Psalm foreshadows the climatic celebration that will accompany Israel's long awaited Messiah-King, at His second advent - when the nation, the leaders, the priests and the people will gather together at the triumphal entrance of the Holy City..
Knowing that Christ, the Messiah and anointed King of Israel was soon to be rejected by His people, had already been labelled as a blasphemer by Israel’s leaders and was soon to be handed over to the Gentiles to be crucified, it appears that God refused to recognise the Passover as ‘a feast of the Lord’ – God knows the end before the beginning and knew that the people would reject and crucify His dearly beloved Son, and had already rendered the deep significance of the Passover into a required religious ritual.
And so Christ gave a blistering response to these blind leaders of the blind: Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come - either in the dispensation of Law or the dispensation of the Church.
No surprise that Christ referred to these Jewish leaders as 'a brood of vipers'.
Finally, Moses handed the reins of leadership to Joshua, the son of Nun, and the day came when he blessed the people of Israel and went up to the top of Mount Nebo, in Moab, where this faithful servant of the Lord died.
In this passages, which was written to instruct Church leaders on godly conduct, we discover that the mystery of godliness is connected with 1) faith is Christ and 2) a spiritual walk.
Paul had been instructing Church deacons and other Christian leaders on godly conduct, personal purity and spiritual living... and his teaching culminated in the fact..
The faith of deacons and leaders, together with all who trust in Christ for salvation, must be rooted securely in sound doctrine..(that Christ was manifest in the flesh..
The mystery of godliness, where the resurrected life of Christ is manifested in the life of godly leaders and spiritual believers will always stand secure on the glorious truths of the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and glorification of Jesus Christ. Paul equates correct doctrine and godly behaviour as two vital components in the life of all Christian leaders and spiritual believers.
He also details the terrors pronounced over Jerusalem - because of their unbelief, their refusal to turn from sin, their rebellious attitude towards God, and the sacrilegious practices of their prophets, priests, people, and leaders.
Despite a few attempts by godly leaders to turn the people back to righteousness... by worshipping the true and living God, the inevitable decline and dispersion of the nation and the shocking prophecies of doom and destruction in the, Day of the Lord, flood through the pen of this prophet - to the deaf ears of a defiant and disobedient nation.
It is women with a controlling spirit who claim to being independent of clear, church protocol - as laid out in Scripture, and assume unbiblical leadership and authority over the clearly laid out instruction given through Paul.
This passage teaches that women should not exercise authority over the Church's eldership, which should consist of correctly qualified and biblically appointed male-leaders... including its pastor.
It was not only the people who were forsaking the way of the Lord, but the leaders of Israel, and those that had authority over them.
The leaders of the nation did not teach the people to carry out the things that were ordained by God.
The judgements of God are always fair and altogether righteous and He knew that the failure of the nation's leaders to teach the Word of truth to the people of God, would result in curses being poured out on His disobedient and errant nation, instead of the blessings the Lord desires to given them.
How we pray that Church leaders in this post-cross, church age, do not fall into the same foolish ways as the leaders of pre-cross Israel, who allowed children and young people to oppress them, and permitted feminism and similar ungodly practices to infiltrate the God-ordained structure, in their homes and their meeting places.
How important it is to KNOW the Word of God, so that we are not led astray by false teachers, doctrines of demons, liberal leaders and the worldly philosophies and practices of this modern, ungodly culture.
The challenges Jesus received to His Messianic claims; the accusations of blasphemy from the leaders of the Jews; the controversies that stemmed from His Sabbath-day healings and His authoritative claim to David’s throne, all combined to cause His family to come and speak with Him, for: someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.
But Paul reminds us that even if we were to keep to every letter of the law like the Jewish leaders that Jesus mentioned, we would never achieve righteousness, for we are all born with an inherent sin nature and there is none good – no not even one.
It seems that little groups or different sects were forming within the body of Christ, with each one stating their preference for a different Church leader.
Some were arguing that Apollos was a superior teacher to Paul and vice versa, while others trumpeted their preference for Peter’s style of teaching or some other favourite leader in the early Church.
Certain members even boasted that they were the ones who belonged to Christ – which seemed to imply that others in the congregation were excluded from the ‘real’ Church, simply because they were siding with the wrong leader.
Every born-again member of Christ’s body and their Christian leaders should be united in heart and manifesting the fruit of the spirit in their lives for the glory of God, and each one should be using their spiritual gifts for the benefit of the whole body of Christ.
Although leaders and elders in the Church should be respected by the rest of the members, they should not be revered or exalted as they were in Corinth.
Joshua had to realise that Israel's success in conquering the land did not depend on his own fighting skills or leadership abilities, but on God's precious promise, to sustain them in the battle, and to guide his servant in the way he should go.
Judas, the traitor, had conspired with leaders of the Jews to hand Him over to them - and Christ's warning of his arrest, His trial, His crucifixion, and Resurrection intensified with every passing hour.
Paul provides Timothy with some important instructions on how to conduct himself in his own leadership role in chapter 4, and in the following section, he continues by giving advice on developing interpersonal skills and providing the necessary emotional support for the widow-women in their fellowship, as well as older men. Do not sharply rebuke an older man, is Paul's advice to Timothy, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.
From the beginning, God ordained that the man should hold the leadership role, while the woman is the helper of man.
Leadership in both the home and the Church has been entrusted, by God, to men and not to woman.
When the roles and responsibilities within the Church are correctly implemented and function biblically, the quiet, submissive spirit of godly women is seen to compliment the leadership role of the men, and helps to unite the body of Christ in the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
The religious leaders had taken and twisted the sabbath law and other commands to lay heavy weights on the necks of the Jewish people.
The Sabbath day restrictions which were imposed on the people by the religious leaders had become out of hand and unmanageable over many years of abuse, such that Christ’s disciples were accused of breaking the Sabbath-Day regulations.
It was under the leadership of Ezra that the nation, which had strayed so far from God, and fallen into gross apostasy and ungodly idolatry, were reminded of their covenant with the Lord, and Ezra was instrumental in returning the nation from sin to salvation.
We sometimes feel that we are surrounded by evil leaders who seem to have an anti-God agenda and we find it difficult to understand why.
Despite the polices of politicians, the regulations of religious leaders, and the dictates of both national and international dignitaries under whom we are currently placed, we have an assurance from the authoritative Word of God, that He is in control and has authorised every authority to carry out His eternal plan and purpose - so that CHRIST is ALL, and CHRIST will be ALL and in ALL.
Having rejected 1) the prophetic warning of John the Baptist to turn from their sins and produce righteous fruit; 2) the heavenly witness of the Father and the Spirit at His baptism and 3) the undeniable testimony of His messianic signs as proof of His heavenly calling, Christ exposed the sinful desires of the leadership of Israel, which were to destroy the Lord Jesus Christ and claim His inheritance for themselves.
Having turned their back on the Lord their God for many generations, the religious leaders of Israel rejected the Word made flesh.
Christ's blistering words of condemnation against the wicked leaders of Israel, also stood as an undeniable proclamation that He was indeed their Messiah and was prophesying of His forthcoming betrayal and death.
To the blinded eyes of the religious leaders of Israel, Christ's proclamation was blasphemy.
Sometimes inexperienced leaders, timid elders, overbearing brethren, or misguided Christians, can cause great damage when attempting to reprove a fellow believer, due to legalistic leanings, incorrect doctrine, dogmatism, or lack of spiritual understanding.
However, Titus was clearly called into his leadership position in Crete, and Paul wanted to be sure that he was not intimidated by those in his care, and that his presentation of the gospel was not disregarded or dismissed.
May we hold fast to the gospel of truth and live lives that encourage others, support our leaders, and honour our God and Saviour.
But spiritual blindness; the hypocrisy of their leaders and disobedience to God's written Word..
The parable of the two sons paints a picture of Israel as a disobedient son - for it was not the self-righteous, religious leaders who would enter the kingdom of heaven, but the publicans; prostitutes; sinners and the Gentiles that they so despised.
Their hostile rejection of Christ was to become a stumbling stone to Israel - and yet the sobering consequences of which Christ foretold, (where all who reject His authority would be crushed by the stone of judgement,) was insufficient to melt the heart of Israel's rebellions leadership towards their God and Saviour.
He understood the value of prayers and intercession for those in political and spiritual leadership, and encouraged Timothy to regularly pray for all in authority – so that we may lead a quiet, peaceable life in the sight of God.
Search the scriptures, He challenged the religious leaders, for they testify of ME! Scripture is the gradual revealing of the New Order, the New Creation in Christ, and the New and Better Covenant, with its limitless, eternal, and superior administration, for the Law made nothing perfect, but on the other hand, there is a bringing in of a better hope, our hope in Christ, through Whom we draw near to God.
But he also knew that after his departure savage wolves would enter the church and not spare God's little flock, and so he encouraged the elders in Ephesus, (just as he urges church-leaders today) to stand firm in the faith; to guard their spiritual well-being; to care for God's people and to feed the flock of God.
This was to be the forum, whereby the apostles and early Church leaders were to hammer out the post-Cross, Church-age doctrine upon which the gospel of God was founded.
It was for this reason that Paul visited Jerusalem, where he spoke to the spiritual leaders of the Church about the gospel of grace - knowing that the message he taught was given to him by divine revelation.
And so it was, following this vital teaching and the many miracles designed to validate His Messianic claims, that we read, On that day, when evening came, He said to them, 'Let us go over to the other side.' In the midst of all the blasphemous accusations of the leaders, and the thronging multitudes, with their 'frantic' demands for more mighty miracles... Jesus said to His true disciples, Let us cross over to the other side of the lake.
Why did we need to know that on that very day, when Jesus was inundated with requests for healing, the leaders had rejected Him with their blasphemy, the self-centred crowds refused to recognise the truth of Who He was, and Jesus then started to teach His true followers in parables?
and his denunciation of their ungodly leaders and covetous clerics, Micah gave a wonderful description of Israel's future blessings - which are to become a reality in the prophesised millennial rule of Christ.
On the day of Pentecost many Jewish men were pierced to the heart when they heard that they had crucified their Messiah, and they cried out to the apostles – “brothers, what shall we do?” Peter’s response was ‘brothers, I know that you did it in ignorance, just as your leaders also’.
The supremacy and superiority of Christ over Israel’s greatest leaders, mightiest heroes and revered patriarchs, prophets, priests and kings, cannot be emphasized more exhaustively than in these early chapters of Hebrews.
Hatred for Christ was beginning to ferment and His Messianic claims were beginning to infuriate the religious leaders.
Perhaps he was satisfied with his physical bondage, or maybe was irritated when he was rebuked by the religious leaders for carrying his bedding on the Sabbath.
And so, when challenged by the authorities for breaking the Sabbath day rule, he did not withstand their rebukes by glorifying God for his miraculous release from sin and supernatural healing - he simply answered that he had no clue who Jesus was... and informed the Jewish leaders that he was not the one who should be held responsible for breaking the Sabbath Law - it was the responsibility of the Man who said to him, Pick up your pallet and walk!!
The stereotypical 'JESUS' of modern-day thinking, is far removed from the Man that marched to the cross, overturned the tables of the money-changers in the Temple of God, called the Jewish leaders, 'a brood of vipers' and vehemently condemned them of hypocrisy.
Jesus is the singular Leader of the Church and Captain of our salvation, Who was made perfect through His sufferings, on our account.
Too often this sort of leader starts to read into Scripture whatever they want it to say, so that they can shackle their devoted followers with legalistic practices, for financial reward or to exert power over their weaker brethren.
Each one was saying, “I am of Paul,” or “I of Apollos,” or “I of Peter” or “I of Christ.” Had this attitude not been quickly corrected by Paul, or had any of these leaders allowed such foolish hero-worship to continue, the Church could have fragmented into many different sects.
How often have we recognised the idolisation of certain preachers or the development of a greedy, self-seeking attitude in certain Church leaders, which too often encourages apostate teachers to sneak into the Church and start speaking lies in hypocrisy – causing many to fall away from the faith!
And this same verse has also been used by some unscrupulous and legalistic church leaders, as a threat against the eternal security of the body of Christ, in order to gain control over the members of their congregations.
Despite the testimony of John the Baptist, which announced the arrival of Israel's Messiah-King, and the many signs and wonders that Jesus performed during His earthly ministry, we read that the Lord Jesus was despised and rejected by the religious leaders of His day.
I wonder why the religious leaders rejected His heavenly witness.
But why did the Jewish leaders appear ignorant of this supernatural event, which happened 30 years earlier?
Wise men had travelled from the east to worship Him and had asked King Herod, where is He that is born King of the Jews? Indeed, the religious leaders quickly supplied the correct answer from their holy Scriptures, In Bethlehem of Judea, they proudly announced, for this is what has been written by the prophet, Micah: 'and you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the princes of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.' But why didn't these knowledgeable Scribes and Pharisees join the wise men in their holy search and rejoice with them that Micah's great prophecy had finally been fulfilled.
We don't know the reason why these proud, pious, close-minded religious leaders, rejected their Messiah and crucified their Saviour... but we do know that each of us has been supplied with the same witness, from the Word of God, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and we all have the same choices to make - to believe in Him or to reject His offer of salvation.
But once we are justified... we should strive to grow in grace and in a knowledge of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and to study the Scriptures daily, so that we do not make the same mistake as the religious leaders of Christ's day.
But from the moment that Israel’s leaders accused Jesus of healing the sick in the power of Satan, His focus changed, and He began to speak in parables. Jesus started to prepare His little band of followers for His forthcoming betrayal, crucifixion and resurrection.
The religious leaders were astonished at Christ's biblical learning and authoritative teaching, in consideration that He was not schooled in the rabbinical tradition.
As His walk to the Cross drew ever closer, the scribes and religious leaders engaged the Lord Jesus in many heated debates, and here in John Chapter 8, the central conflict between Christ and the Pharisees was in connection with His claims to have come from above, and that He would soon return back to heaven.
However, spiritual blindness prevented these religious leaders from recognising their own Messiah, and they foolishly blocked their ears to His redemptive message.
But despite years of study and their knowledge of the Scriptures, these argumentative religious leaders did not KNOW God.
It touches on our conduct towards governmental authority and local leadership, our attitude towards society and the many unbelievers that cross our paths.
It is not only a message that is pertinent for leaders in the church but for all believers - whether babes in Christ or the spiritually mature - all believers have a duty to live godly lives in Christ Jesus - in our countries, our communities and our churches.
Knowing how easy it is to isolate ourselves from what we know to be godly and how quickly we forget sound biblical instruction... Paul starts to reminds us that our behaviour towards authority should be respectful - (for governments and leaders are ordained of God) and our duty towards society at large should be gracious and gentle - humble and courteous.
However, the spiritually hungry Gentiles heard the good news and spiritual revival broke out in their ranks, prompting the early Church leaders to agree the fundamentals of the Christian faith - how it applied to both Jews and Gentiles and what were the foundational principles and practice.
Paul, who had met with Christ on the road to Damascus, had been commissioned as His apostle to the Gentiles, and had received direct revelation from the Lord, was acknowledged by the foundational Church leaders as a chosen vessel of the Lord.
A long and comprehensive list of qualities and qualifications which Paul considered so important in church leadership, are clearly laid out in this passage of Scripture.
Caring for the church of God is the role of every elder, and Paul points out that the man who is unable to manage his own domestic circumstances and gain respect from his wife and obedience from his own children, is hardly equipped to gain respect from others, implement biblical discipline in a Church congregation, or provide leadership in the wider family of God.
Paul is making a valid point that appropriate management in a man's home-life, is likely to translate into expedient leadership within the body of Christ.
Many of the qualities that are found in a successfully run household, are the same characteristics that will translate into appropriate leadership within the Church of Christ.
Wise, kind, and careful leadership at home, should be the mark of every Christian family.
Instead of Israel being a dignified and distinguished people, they are described by Isaiah as being like a gaunt vagabond, left standing in pile of rubbish – like a watchman’s hut in a cucumber field!! Like the leaders of Sodom, Gomorrah and other pagan cities that were destroyed, God’s people had deteriorated into offering religious sacrifices without a heart that was open and obedient toward the Lord.
Despite Israel's Old Testament idolatry, their rejection of God's promised Messiah, and their leader's blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, Amos was moved by the Spirit of God to offer hope, and he prophesied, In that day, I will raise up the fallen booth of David.
But the early Church could not be silent and when Peter and John exercised power from on high, by healing a paralyzed man, the Jewish leaders became fearful, arrested the apostles, and brought them before the Sanhedrin for trial.
This old prophet was preparing to hand the reins of leadership to Joshua and so he made an appeal to the heavens and earth to bear witness to his testimony as he renewed the terms of the covenant with the people... while giving honour to the Lord their God... ascribing greatness to His holy name.
It was customary in those days for an old man to pass the 'sceptre' to the son who was to take on the responsibility of family leadership.
Normally this leadership role would be passed to the oldest son, but Reuben was denied this privileged position, because he had dishonoured his father by having sex with his father's concubine.
The next two sons in seniority were Simeon and Levi, whom their father described in his final address as being, implements of violence. Like their older brother, both men were rejected as the overall leader of the twelve tribes of Israel, because of their deceitful behaviour in the ungodly massacre of the men of Shechem, which was carried out in revenge, because their sister, Dinah, was raped by the prince of Shechem.
The 'sceptre' speaks of the kingly authority, while the phrase, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, indicates that the authority Judah was given, was to be passed from one generation to the next, UNTIL Shiloh comes. The leadership of the nation was given to Judah, and it was not to be challenged, for Jacob added, and to HIM shall be the obedience of the peoples.
but the evil schemes of the Jewish leadership, who were using the undeniable guilt of this adulteress to trap the Lord Jesus, was an underhand plot to either: 1) accuse Him of disregarding sin by demonstrating His contempt for the God-given Law of Moses..
His blood be on us and on our children, was the cruel cry from the crowds - but how prophetic that cry has become, for the Messiah of Israel shed His blood for the sin of the whole world, including Caiaphas, the leaders of Israel, and the multitudes who cried out hysterically - Crucify Him!
Although salvation is open to all who believe, the callused hearts and stiff-necked unbelief of theses Pharisees and Jewish leaders, caused them to become a fulfilment of Jeremiah's prophetic words, O people, foolish and without heart, eyes they have and they see not, ears they have and they hear not.
The Jewish leaders knew Christ claimed to come from heaven as their Messiah and King.
Israel's opposition came to a climax in Matthew 11, when the Jewish leaders accused Jesus of casting out a demon by the power of Beelzebub, and we see a distinct change in Christ's teaching... for He began to teach about His coming kingdom in parables.
Because of the mighty signs and wonders that were taking place in the holy city, the apostles became spiritually emboldened and both religious and political leaders determined to stamp out this new religion.
He was falsely accused of the same things for which Stephen was killed - and his accusers were the same religious and political leaders.
By chapter 6, Jesus has already been falsely accused of performing miracles by the power of Beelzebub, rejected by both the Jewish leaders and the people, and had started to teach His disciples through parables - so that only those with ears to hear would understand.
His life displayed an indescribable beauty, an intangible tenderness, an inexpressible sweetness, and an indefinable goodness, and yet to the hypocritical leaders of the Jews and those that were blindly following them, He became the most obnoxious stench.
If world leaders of today were to understand this simple truth, and if they were to apply Solomon's proverb in their own political decisions of government, they would soon discover the validity of this uncomplicated, yet profound truth - for even human wisdom is more beneficial than human folly.
And although the short-sighted, small-minded leaders of Israel resented and rejected Him, news of His miracles and healings started to spread throughout the land of Galilee - and many came to Him to be healed.
The qualities that Paul lists for church elders and spiritual leaders are those to which every godly man should aspire.
The qualities that Paul lists for a church elder or spiritual leaders has nothing to do with ones bodily stature, physical strength; educational qualifications; bank balance; social status, business acumen; oratory skills or magnetic personality.
They were living within a ruined city, under an authoritarian, foreign leadership. Some of the people in the city would have been those deported by Nebuchadnezzar, or descendants of exiles, who most likely returned when Cyrus the Great issued his decree to rebuild the city and the sanctuary - as prophesied by Daniel.
but started to murmur against the Lord during their long, wilderness wanderings, and they flirted with insubordination under the leadership of Joshua, when, by God's grace, they entered the promised land of Canaan.
Israel grew strong under the leadership of Joshua, but instead of obeying the Lord and expelling the Canaanites completely, they started to live alongside certain of the inhabitants of the land.
As well as offering encouragement to these younger men, the three epistles give instruction on how the Body of Christ should function and interact with one another, and also list the roles and responsibilities of Church leaders and those in their charge.
Abraham did many good works that were commended by men. And down through centuries of time, Jewish leaders proudly proclaimed that being Abraham's physical descendants, they too were imputed with some of his righteousness and meritorious acts.
The increasing resistance of the Jewish leaders, who constantly called for more and more evidence of His claimed Messiah-ship were about to hear the clear evidence of Christ right to the throne of Israel, I and the Father are One.
Israel's leaders knew this was His claim to be almighty God, which was why they sought to stone Him - the legal, God-given punishment for such a claim..
The victory Christ gained at the Cross is our victory too, but do we listen to His instructions without believing His Word - like the leaders of Israel who listened to His Sermon on the Mount but did not hear what He said?
With unbelieving Israel back in the land, the curious happenings of chapter 38 prove to be imminent - and Ezekiel pronounces God's judgement on a specific leader who attacks Israel - GOG, from a particular location - the land of MAGOG.
Gifts of leadership are given to pastors, teachers, prophets, and evangelists, so that the saints are built up in the faith until we all live in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God - until we all come to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Prayer for ourselves, our families, our leaders and nation..
through their great leader Moses, where blessings would result from Israel's obedience and faithfulness..
Certainly we should intercede for our world leaders, governments, nations and lost souls - indeed we are urged to make entreaties to the Lord through prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, on behalf of all men - and Paul specifically mentioned kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity - and certainly we should pray for the body of Christ, which is the Church - as well as for families and friends - yes, there are many instructions for Christians to pray and intercede.
Certainly we should earnestly pray that in His goodness and grace God would bless our nations, our leaders, our countries and our world..
Though the prideful Pharisees, the bigoted scribes, and the blinded leaders of Israel, rejected their promised Messiah, there were those who responded to the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Repent of your sin.
Sadly, most of the short-sighted people in Capernaum were simply looking for some temporary physical relief, and were paying little attention to their spiritual poverty, their need of salvation, or their eternal destiny, while the blind, jealous, Jewish leaders foolishly overlooked the presence of the incarnate God, Who was living in their midst - as they sought to find anything that would discredit His important, heavenly-ordained ministry, to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Though God lifted him up to be governor of Jerusalem, and a leader of His people, Nehemiah was not a man who sought to make a name for himself or profit from his fellow-men, but one who desired to lift up the name of the Lord.
The first few chapters of Ezra give details of the king's decree to rebuild the Temple and records the various preparations that were made by leaders like Zerubbabel and Ezra, concerning the nation's return to Jerusalem.
May our spirit be ever ready and willing to be stirred up to fulfil His Word, like the leaders of Judah and Benjamin, the priests and the Levites, and those in Persia whose spirit was stirred to go up and rebuild the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.
Teaching in parables became increasingly important after the blasphemous accusation of the religious leaders that Christ was casting out demons by the power of Satan.
Although multitudes enjoyed His stories and the Jewish leaders heard the parable of the sower, it was only a small remnant of believers, along with His twelve disciples, that were privileged to discover its deeper meaning.
However, extra-biblical oral laws had been added to the Mosaic Law and the religious leaders so idolised these human traditions, that they were blinded to the presence of their Messiah - the Lord of the Sabbath Who was in their very midst.
The healing of this paralysed man was punishable by stoning, according to the religious leaders, because it broke their Sabbath Law.
The healed man pleaded his 'innocence' and appeared ignorant of Who Jesus was, when interrogated by the Jewish leaders.
I wonder if this man was thanking God for his healing when Jesus found him in the Temple, or if his attitude was apathetic and thankless - for he chose to tell the Jewish leaders who were so outraged about the Sabbath healing and that it was Jesus Who had healed him.
The new was to replace the old, but throughout Christ's earthly life the religious leaders of Israel sought to hold on to the old familiar religion of Judaism, which had fulfilled it's purpose in Christ - by denying and eventually crucifying the very Person Whom God sent to save them from their sin. Their futile endeavour to patch up their old religious system and produce a righteousness of their own failed... but rather than admitting that the good works which they carried out in their own strength were rejected by the Lord and regarded by Him as filthy rags - these religious Jews sought to produce a righteousness by means of their own self-effort.
For many years, both the leaders and the people had been easing their conscience by saying, The time has not come, for the house of the LORD to be rebuilt, but Haggai sharply rebuked Zerubbabel and Jehozadak with the words Consider your ways!
We hear how Joshua was charged by God to lead the children of Israel into the land that was promised to their forefathers, while the people received their instructions from Joshua, their newly appointed leader.
He had learned the lesson from his own experience that they should explore the land secretly and that a report should be given to the leaders rather than all the people, lest their hearts failed from fear of the unknown.
In the same way, Christ was scrutinised for four days prior to the Passover, by the scribes, Pharisees, Saducees, and leaders of the people, in a fruitless attempt to trip Him up so that they could accuse Him of blasphemy.
The religious leaders were baying for His blood and despite having him flogged, beaten, belittled, and physically exhausted, Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified.
They expected a military leader, who would save His people from slavery and Rome's cruel subjugation, without understanding that their Messiah must save His people from their sins before His prophesised kingdom rule.
It is poignant to realise that only a matter of hours before Christ's betrayal, arrest, trials, and crucifixion... when He too was surrounded by His enemies; rejected by the religious leaders; despised by the multitudes, falsely accused by the chief priests; mocked by the Roman soldiers; abandoned by His disciples and nailed to a cruel cross, that Jesus sang this very hymn with His disciples in the upper room, after they had partaken of the last supper, for Psalm 118 is one of the songs of ascent that was sung at the Passover.
These foolish blind leaders of the Jews scoffed Christ's humble beginnings and disapproved of His lack of formal education.
Oh Yes, Jesus was indeed rejected by the builders - the religious leaders of Israel.
But when He arrived, Jesus did not fit in with their predetermined expectation, and there was a certain point in Christ's ministry when the leaders of the Jews committed the unforgivable sin - they attributed the Spirit's work through Christ, to Beelzebub.
For much of His ministry the Lord Jesus was teaching the gospel of the kingdom to none but the lost sheep of the house or Israel, but as the animosity and hatred towards their promised Messiah became increasingly evident among the Jewish leaders, Jesus began to prepare His little band of disciples for the significant changes that were about to take place after His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.
Oh, the physical, mental, and emotional pain of being betrayed by His friend; denied by His disciples; rejected by His own people; accused falsely by the Jewish leaders - mocked and spat upon by the gentiles and nailed to a Roman cross would be terrible - but it was the spiritual pain that Christ knew must happen when He became sin for you and for me that caused Him so much bitterness of soul. 'MY GOD, MY GOD, why have You forsaken Me, would be the pain He had to face when He died for the sin of the world.
He made many other Messianic claims which caused the Pharisees and leaders of the Jews to express increasing hostility towards Him and increased their determination to discredit His name, by whatever means they could - no matter how destructive or untrue.
Gog is a leader, who has yet to be identified on the world scene, but in His wisdom and power, God manipulates Gog's evil schemes to perfect all that the Lord has purposed for His people Israel, the Christian Church, and the world at large.
Paul had presented his position as the authoritative apostle of Christ by the will of God in the opening remarks of his letter, but here he also identifies himself and other Church leaders as servants of Christ who are required to carry out God's will as it pertains to the Body of believers.