John the Baptist enters the scene in Matthew Chapter 3.
I find this to be quite interesting because in the Gospels of Mark and Luke, John was introduced right at the start, even before Jesus himself.
And in the gospel according to John, John the Baptist is sandwiched between the “Word of God” and the testimony of Jesus as the Lamb.
Just the positioning of John the Baptist in the New Testament illustrates how perfect God is with his pattern of faith.
Since Holy Spirit is leading the way, and men are writing down what He says, then everything in scripture has a time and a place; and as the reader is led by his Spirit, the words on the page begin to make sense.
There is much more to learn about John the Baptist, like is he really the prophet Elijah; and where does John come from, and is he related to Jesus? If he was the most anointed prophet then why did he live homeless in the wilderness, and why was he allowed to be beheaded?
These are things that I will investigate and write about in the near future. For now I will marinate on how amazing God is with recording himself through the New Testament journalists.
Father God, I didn’t realize how much you communicated with Joseph while he was asleep until I re-read Matthew Chapter Two. You sent an angel to appear to him in a dream and encouraged him not to be afraid. You told him to take Mary as his wife, and explained that the child within her was conceived by your Holy Spirit. You told him Mary would have a son, and that he was to name him Yeshua - for He would deliver people from their sins.
After Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, the angel of the Lord appeared again. Once again, in a dream, the angel of the Lord gave Joseph a message. The angel told Joseph to get up and go, take Mary and Jesus to Egypt, right now! King Herod was angry and ready to kill, because he did not want to be thrown off the throne.
Matthew 2:14 to 2:18 says that Joseph listened and left immediately for Egypt. He took the child and Mary his mother, and they lived in Egypt until the death of Herod, thus fulfilling the words Hosea 11:1.
During their time in Egypt, Herod did awful things, he sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under. And these disgraceful acts fulfilled the Word that God had spoken through the prophet Jeremiah, in Chapter 31 verse 15: “A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
The angel of the Lord came again, through a dream to the man Joseph, while he was still living in Egypt. The angel told him to get up and go back to the land of Israel, and assured him that those who were trying to kill the child would no longer pose a threat to them.
And then the Lord’s message came again, when Joseph was redirected from Judah to Nazareth. And this is where baby Jesus would grow up, like a shoot extending from the Branch.
The truth that God speaks to people through their dreams was also seen when God spoke to the wise men from the East. Matthew 2:12 says when it was time to for the Wise Men to return to their own country, they took another route for they had been warned by God in a dream not to return to King Herod.
After reading Matthew Chapter 2, two things became abundantly clear to me. God speaks to people through dreams when they are asleep, and angels absolutely do exist! The Lord finds a way to direct our steps, especially when it comes to protecting the legacy of his beloved son, Jesus.
So it’s even worse than I thought, I believed the Pharisees did not pay attention to the prophets but rather focused on the Law. But apparently, after reading Matthew 2, it appears that they knew the words of the prophets too.
“King Herod called a meeting of the leading priests and teachers of the religious law and asked, “Where is the Messiah supposed to be born?”
And they said,
“In Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote:
“And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not least among the ruling cities of Judah, for a ruler will come from you and who will be shepherd for my people Israel.”
They quoted the word of God that was spoken out of Micah’s mouth which can be found in Micah chapter 5, verse 2.
You would think that just the question of the Coming King would spark a wondering in these men, but it didn’t. They simply went about their business of keeping tradition and customs while reading the Word of God.
Again, it’s so strange to me that the wise men from the east stood ready to worship the Baby King, but the religious men, who knew the Word of God, had no idea that their Savior had been born.
Sadly I believe we see the same mentality today. Priests and teachers quoting scripture but not paying attention to the signs and the times of the day.
I wonder, “Does anyone realize that the Day of the Lord is coming and the labor pains have already begun?”
“Then Herod called for a private meeting with the Wiseman and learned from them the time when the star first appeared. The he told them to go to Bethlehem and search carefully for the child.” Then he asked them to come back and tell him when they find the baby so that he could go and worship him.
Ha! This reminds me of the government we see today. A promise to bring unity and peace but a hidden mission to kill and replace.
And then there’s the church - who have been nudged to prepare their lamps for the return of Christ, but they go about their days, in merriment and feasts, for prosperity has been promised to exist in this place.
“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
What I see happening in America, and across the world, is people who have forgotten that the Lord is going to return. The watching and the waiting has been replaced with all kinds of distractions- like gnawing and gnashing of teeth.
Lord help us!
According to Luke chapter 2, other than the wise men, the only other visitors that baby Jesus had, were shepherds and angels. And this I find absolutely beautiful!
Shepherds - yes shepherds - who were minding their business and guarding their flocks, had an angel of the Lord appear to them!
The angel assured them that the Messiah had been born in the town of Bethlehem. Then suddenly, the armies of heaven appeared to them and they saw the angels praising God, saying “Glory to God in the highest heaven; peace on earth to those with whom God is pleased.”
When the angels returned to the unseen realm, the shepherds went to Bethlehem to see the beautiful thing that had happened. And there with the wise men, and Joseph and Mary and Jesus, they worshipped him!
So this morning, as I sit with Holy Spirit, this is what I have learned from my time with Him.
No sign under Heaven will go unnoticed to those who believe and who trust.
The common man will have an opportunity to see the second coming of our Christ. We must keep our lamps burning with the oil of the Holy Spirit.
Religion is full of falsehood. Its a name given by man to define a belief system about the act of worship - which could honestly be so many things because anything other than our Creator is an idol.
Herod represents a king of a worldly system governed by its own beliefs and its own thoughts. He had military power to kill thousands of innocent children because he was led by his sinful spots.
The religious priests and teachers lacked intimacy. They had all the rights words and customs, but they never paid attention to the signs of God at all.
I have learned that 80% of what we communicate is said through nonverbal language. A person could say they are fine, but their tone and inflection could communicate a very different thing.
Noticing and observation is the beginning of awareness.
“You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and sky. Why don’t you know how to interpret the present time?”
Perhaps it’s because we are a generation that does not know how to pay attention? Perhaps we think everything is about us?
I tell you this, no one knows the day or the hour, but the signs are clear. The Lord is preparing to establish His Kingdom on earth as it is in Heaven. The Day of the Lord is near.
Today I started reading Matthew 2, and the first thing I noticed was that men who had spiritual sensitivities found baby Jesus before the Jews!
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod, about that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2
According to the Greek translation, “wise men” meant Magi which is the singular word for Magus, a name given by the Babylonians (also known as the Chaldeans), Medes, Persians, and others, to wise men who acted as teachers, priests, physicians, astrologers, seers, interpreters of dreams, augers, soothsayers, sorcerers and magicians.
It’s strange to me that “spiritual” men who follow astrology saw the sign of the Coming King before the teachers of the Law and the Prophets did. I’m taking a guess, but part of me thinks, it’s because the Pharisees were taken over by a spirit of religiosity.
What I mean is that instead of seeking an authentic relationship with God, they sought to earn salvation through the works and traditions of men. Or even worse, their pride kicked in and they believed they could read and make sense of scripture through their own understanding.
I sometimes wonder if the Pharisees paid attention to the prophets as much as they did the Law of Moses? Since the Law was written by the finger of God onto a tablet perhaps they thought that was more important than the Word of God coming out of a man’s mouth? I suppose I probably would have thought the same way if I hadn’t experienced the Spirit of God myself, or the Words that he dropped into my heart that bubbled up out of my mouth.
You see when a person looks at another man’s face they usually don’t see what God created. They often see with eyes of hate, and their vision is mutated by the log of pride that proudly sits in their own eye.
We wrestle with God. We wrestle with man, and we wrestle with ourselves. We are quick to judge, quick to doubt, and quick to fall into juxtaposition; and yet we wonder why we find it hard to love and to forgive.
Anyway, let me get back to the Law and the prophets before I forget what I wanted to say.
Perhaps the Law was written to act like a mirror - to show humanity why we are in desperate need of a Father. In our own power, we fail.
Our rebellious hearts naturally follow the flesh and go against the purity of who God is. Without the Law to show us how evil we are, we would have no idea how depraved our natural instincts are.
So the Law is good and it is true because it reflects how perfect our Creator is; and thus we should take correction from it. And the only way for us to do this is to submit our flesh and learn to be obedient to it. When we begin to align our thoughts, feelings and actions to the Will of God, we have finally learned the beginning of Wisdom.
The truth is we are all sinners and we all fall short of the glory of God, and without his grace we are condemned to eternal death. And that is where the prophets come in and why the stories of the Old Testament are so important! All of them point God's grace that is gifted us through his beloved Son, Jesus!
Every prophet in the Old Testament prophesied the coming of Christ. Isaiah referred to him as the Suffering Servant and "unto us a child would be born." Micah said the Messiah would come out of Bethlehem and Hosea said he would be called from the land of Egypt. Zechariah said he would ride a donkey and also said he would be betrayed for silver. David wrote all about our righteous King through his many psalms, and Solomon referred to him through his precious Song. Perhaps the most interesting of all is Daniel, the young Judean boy who was led into exile and taken under the wing of the king of Babylon. Daniel shared the date when the Lord would be born, and described what the signs would be like when the Day of Judgment comes. Yet, scripture refers to the secret being bound in the hearts of men.
Daniel was a special man. He was gifted by God to have great wisdom, and was given the ability to interpret visions and dreams. But you see, his own brethren did not believe him. Yet, the Babylonian, the Medes and the Persian kings did.
Scripture says Daniel was exiled from Judah and indoctrinated into the Babylonian culture. He was placed into the royal service and he served the kings who reigned, from Nebuchadnezzar to Cyrus. He was promoted to the position of Chief Magician and ruled over all the wise men throughout the region of Babylon.
Daniel was able to tell and interpret many dreams because of the revelation power of the Holy Spirit. He was visited by angels and he was told about the first coming of the Messiah, and the great and terrible Day of the Lord. He saw history take place and unfold into the end of the generation.
And Daniel saw Jesus. In Chapter 7, Daniel says,
“I watched is thrones were put in place in the ancient one sat down to judge his clothing with as white as snow his hair like purest well he sat on a fiery thrown with wheels of blazing fire and a river of fire was pouring out flowing from his presence millions of angels minister to him and millions done to attend to him then the court began its session in the books were opened.”
During Daniel’s time and position serving worldly kings, he never abandoned his God. He always spoke the truth in love while he followed the customs of their culture. He paid respect to these gentile kings while he prayed and intervened.
There were many wise men among them, many Magi’s. But Daniel had the revelatory power of the Most High God, the God who holds all power and authority.
Deuteronomy 32:8 says,
“When the most high assigned lands to the nations, when he divided up the human race, he establish the boundaries of the peoples according to the number in his heavenly court the sons of God. “
Ephesians 6:12 says,
“We do not fight against flesh and blood but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world against mighty powers in this dark world and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.”
So you see, people who have spiritual senses should be given some credit. It means they know there is an unseen realm upon which the sons of God and the angels and demons live. This means they may have knowledge of things unseen and may have been gifted some wisdom to reveal some of it. The question is, 'Does it point back to Jesus?"
Spiritual wisdom into the unseen realm can be both dangerous and overwhelming. There are many evil spirits at work. And yet, Holy Spirit guides us - how do we know which way to go if we don't listen to Him?
Without intimate connection to the Word of God and a heart that is willing to fully submit yourself to Him, a person who is spiritually sensitive could easily be deceived and misled. They could follow their intuition when it is wrong, and the truth could easily be overthrown. They could follow their own worldly beliefs and experiences instead of submitting to the Will of God.
My hope is that teachers who preach the Word of God would start speaking this spiritual truth to the Church. As a spiritually sensitive person, I spent many years trying to make sense of my world. I was misled over and over again through things like higher education, human psychology and New Ageism, With so much false doctrine and so many false teachers and false prophets, it is very easy for a new believer in Christ who is a spiritually sensitive person to fall into the concept of Universalism.
But thank God Holy Spirit chases us down and allows us to become broken! Hebrews 12 is my Life Chapter for it speaks to the Christian who is willing to be corrected. Fear of the Lord is truly the beginning of wisdom, and that is why I believe the Truth in Love is so important!
Since followers of Christ are all called to go and make disciples of men, then the truth is I am to share the Gospel and remind people to be obedient to it. Pastors have the responsibility of shepherding people, and New Testament prophets have the responsibility of edifying, extorting and encouraging them. The Lord has showed me what my calling is. It is to extend the Sword of the Spirit and pray for God’s creation, as I walk with them - through conviction and NOT condemnation.
Yesterday, I studied the ancestry of Jesus and found there were three sets of 14 generations between Abraham and Jesus. I noticed several patterns of faith that come through God’s spiritual DNA -
like having a desire to lean in and listen to God speak.
Other faith patterns seem to include being obedient and stepping out when God tells you to. I am reminded of Abram when God told him to leave his home, the Land of Babylon, and go to a land that he would show him. How many people would trust and believe the Holy Spirit when he is leading them through the wilderness to the Land of Promise?
Do you remember Jesus, and how he called his disciples to follow him? They were faithful servants, willing to leave their home and their families, to follow Jesus in obedience.
Doesn’t God still speak the same way through his Spiritual DNA? Though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we shall fear no evil for our God is with us, and his rod and his staff comfort us. Psalm 23 says that the Lord is our shepherd, and we shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures, and leads us beside still waters. He restores our soul and leads us in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. This is promise that comes through God's spiritual DNA.
One foot a time, waiting for God to provide, leaning and listening for the next directive. This seems to be how faith works. Faith is being obedient, even when it doesn’t seem to make sense. It means trusting God above everything else and doing what he says despite what others may say.
Another faith pattern is believing that Jesus has placed us into position for a reason, despite the condition or the season. If we listen and do what he says, then it doesn’t matter if we live in a castle or in prison - we are in exactly the right position to carry out God’s mission. Health and wealth is not about earthly pursuits, it’s about God’s heavenly riches. God has many children who are born into sickness who bring joy and happiness to those who are depressed. And there are many people living in poverty who do a much better job at serving and thanksgiving than those who seem to have everything. The reward is in Heaven, and prosperity comes to the faithful and obedient.
Another faith pattern is being quick to repent for being out of spiritual alignment. The desire is not to continue to walk around crooked and bent, it’s to humble thyself and ask for forgiveness.
And I believe one of the most difficult faith patterns to master is to walk in humility and patient endurance, and this is why my life verse is Hebrews 12 - it's all about God's loving correction.
"Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." Hebrews 12:7-12
It's so important to remember that if we are aiming to please everyone instead of an audience of One, then we will trip over every lie that the enemy throws at us. Without our eyes totally focused on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of faith, it is easy to distracted by the shiny little objects that so easily distract us.
It's crazy to me that Holy Spirit showed me patterns of faith through the ancestry of Jesus. From Noah, a man who had never seen rain, yet built an arc according to God’s plan, to Abraham, who walked out of Babylon believing that God would lead him to the promised land; from Moses, who bravely went to Pharaoh and demanded that he let the Lords people go, to David. who trusted God so much that he was willing to take on a giant, and later, after being convicted by the Holy Spirit for committing adultery and murder, he wiped the tears from his eyes and believed in his heart that he had been totally forgiven by God. These are some of the faithful witnesses from who we get our spiritual DNA from.
To the men and the women who believe that Jesus is their Lord and Savior, remember - remember that when our time is up in this world, Jesus has prepared a place for us. When we are done wrestling with God and man, just as Jacob had been, we will receive another name to consecrate our deep faith.
Revelation 2:17 says, "Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it."
Children of God - Hold on. You are a faithful servant, and this is all that the Lord our God asks for. Be assured and have confident hope that Jesus is coming back to build his Kingdom, and that you are a Citizen of Heaven.
The Gospel according to Matthew is the first book in the New Testament. I wonder why “Matthew” is first, could it be because he starts with the genealogy of Jesus?
I know that whenever I meet with a new client, I usually do a family history to get background knowledge of my client. This helps me to know where they come from, and what kind of patterns they bring with them.
Matthew begins describing the ancestry of Jesus through Abraham - Who is the father of Isaac, and Isaac is the father of Jacob. Jacob is said to have wrestled with God and renamed Israel, because Israel means, “you have struggled with God and with humans, and have overcome.” This can be found in Genesis 32:28, and it represents one pattern found in the genealogy of Jesus.
Israel became the father of Judah, and on his death bed he blessed Judah with “Your brothers will praise you; Your hand will be on the neck of your enemies; Your father’s sons will bow down to you. You are a lion’s cub, Judah; You return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, Like a lioness – who dares to rouse him? The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until he to whom it belongs shall come And the obedience of the nations shall be his. He will tether is donkey to a vine, His colt to the choices branch; He will wash garments in wine, His robes in the blood of grapes. His eyes will be darker than wine, His teeth whiter than milk.” Genesis 49:8-12
Fourteen generations came from Abraham to David; the shepherd boy who killed Goliath.
And David became the anointed king, after Saul defiled himself. David is described as “a man after God’s own heart” because of his desire to be obedient.
David committed many sins, mistakes that many people would never recover from. He committed adultery with Bathsheba, then made arrangements for her husband to be killed. But in the end, he repented, and believed that God forgave him. Nonetheless, there were still consequences for the committed sin, He and Bathsheba lost their first son. David cried and prayed for many days, asking for God to intervene. But God’s decision was already made, and when David realized his child was not returning, he cleaned up his face and went on with his life.
David learned the fear of the Lord, and because of this, he would not strike Saul, God’s anointed one.
Instead he trusted and believed, that the Lord would intervene for him. And that is exactly what the Lord did when the time was right for him.
Anyway, fourteen more generations passed from David to Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin was King of Judah, when God exiled Judah to Babylon. Between David and Jehoiachin, Israel became a divided nation.
The 12 tribes of Israel divided into a Northern and Southern Kingdom.
When David’s son, Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became king. And when Rehoboam set high taxes, Solomon’s official, Jeroboam, resisted him. 10 tribes rejected Rehoboam and moved to the land of Shechem, Where Jacob’s well is located.
The area became known as Samaria, and it became the capital of Israel – what was known as the northern kingdom. Jeroboam made a fatal mistake by instituting a form of calf worship, and declaring that pilgrimages to Jerusalem were unnecessary. Only Judah and Benjamin remained loyal to Rehoboam, and they stayed in Jerusalem, also known as the City of David. And for hundreds of years, the kingdoms did not mix.
Finally, the Lord had enough. Both kingdoms were adulterous. God positioned Assyria to destroy the northern Kingdom and Samaria. Some were exiled and taken away, but most remained in the land.
The Assyrian king brought in people from other nations, to mix religions with other cultures. 100 years later the same happened with Judah, Benjamin and Jerusalem. This time by the Babylonians.
But in the case, the noble, wealthy and educated were exiled to Babylonia to be indoctrinated.
Between the birth of Jehoiachin and the birth of Jesus, another fourteen generations had past.
That’s three sets of 14 which equals 42 generations! Don’t you love how God is a God of order?
During this time, a remnant was created. Faithful servants who would be obedient. 70 years passed while Judah was in exile, During this time, they were encouraged by the prophet Jeremiah to live peaceful lives among the Babylonians while they patiently waited for the Lord to release them.
Zerubbabel was Jehoiachin’s grandson, and Ezra was a priest at that time. They were ready to lead the people back home, when the King Cyrus of Persia was told by God to release them. Between the time of temple rebuilding, and the time of the birth of Jesus, many Judeans took on a religious spirit.
Pharisees and Sadducees mixed the priests with the ways of their government. Fear of exile drove many to hold fast to the Law of Moses and tradition, while greed took over the mind of merchants.
Now onto Jesus.
To my knowledge, Jesus had no children nor was he married to any person. He spent his life forming friendships, and teaching people about the Kingdom of God.
The generations after Jesus did not grow by the flesh, but rather by Spirit of God. And those who accept Jesus as their King are impregnated by his seed. That is why Abraham is known as the Father of Faith, because it’s through his line that Jesus came. It all started with a single step of a man listening to God and leaning in, then having faith to walk away from Babylon, the home of Chaldeans.
Faith means being sure of the things we hope for, and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it. It is by faith we understand that the whole world is made by God’s command, and so what we see that the natural is not the end.
Faith come by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. And faith without action is completely dead.
I just love walking with Jesus, and am so glad Holy Spirit led me to read the Gospel according to Matthew. I have a feeling the Lord is going to show me more faith patterns growing beneath the genealogy of Jesus.