Holidays

“Establish the Work of Our Hands”

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (NKJV, Ge 2:15)

In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. (NASB20, Pr 14:23)

I went by the field of a slacker and by the vineyard of one lacking sense. 31 Thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground, and the stone wall was ruined. 32 I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: 33 a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, 34 and your poverty will come like a robber, and your need, like a bandit. (CSB, Pr 24:30–34)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. (NASB20, Ec 9:10)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (ESV, Col 3:23)

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (ESV, Eph 4:28)

About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. 10 In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, 11 to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone. (CSB, 1 Th 4:9–12)

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The Hanukkah Hang-up

In my service for The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, one of the things I set out to accomplish this fall was to study the subject of Hanukkah in order to bring special messages on that topic.

With God’s help, I was able to do so in three churches, along with sharing the material in a Bible study group that I teach regularly—and I have greatly enjoyed the experience!

As I strive to make clear when I present educational Passover Seder demonstrations, as well, I am not Jewish by heritage, nor do I claim to have any personal background that bestows expertise in the historical, religious and cultural aspects of these issues. But, as I always say, I am a Bible teacher, and thus I have the ability to research and speak before congregations in these vital areas.

As I have studied and taught on the origin, meaning and significance of Hanukkah this year, however, I have become overwhelmed with the reality that the events of the Hanukkah story are absolutely essential to our understanding, as Christians, of the New Testament, the gospels and the life of Christ.

But this revelation has also left me pondering on a question.

Why do we seem to know so little about Hanukkah—when the elements behind it are ultimately foundational to the storyline of the Bible? It is really quite remarkable—almost shameful—that we are not exceedingly familiar with them for that reason alone. This is to say nothing of the need to learn about Hanukkah for the purpose of relating to our Jewish friends at one of their most important seasons of the year.

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Light in the Darkness: A Series for Advent Part Four – Dayspring

Read Part 3.

Light is essential for life, and light is a central subject in the Bible. It literally bookends the storyline, from its creation (Gen. 1:3-4) to the point where it becomes obsolete—aside from the light that emanates from the Son of God Himself (Isa. 60:19-20; Rev. 21:23).

In between, He is “the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5; see 12:46). As such, He is “the light of men” (John 1:4), and “the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world” (John 1:9).

The word light is found 180 times in the Old Testament and 98 times in the New Testament—with 20 of those uses appearing in the gospel of John. Truly, we could sum his gospel up in this one verse, which has been our theme in this series: “The light shines in the darkness” (John 1:5).

As God’s people waited for centuries in darkness (Isa. 8:22; 9:2; Matt. 4:16), they often experienced fear and hopelessness (Ps. 88:1, 6, 18; 143:3). Oh, there was certainly light available, as we have seen. At times, it was even brilliant and blazing (Ex. 33:18-23; 34:29-35). The nation of Israel found light for guidance in the law that God had revealed (Ps. 119:105) and in the presence of God Himself (Ps. 27:1). Still, in the grand scheme of history, the darkness was palpable. All of the centuries before the Messiah came were a time of waiting and watching “for the morning” (Ps. 130:5-6).

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Light in the Darkness: A Series for Advent Part Three – Starlight

Read Part 1 and Part 2.

I have never been a stargazer, at least not in the sense that some are. I have known people who will brave any kind of weather and stay up all night to watch for the appearance of some unique star.

But, while I admire their beauty and am amazed at their nearly incomprehensible qualities, stars have never been my hobby—to say nothing of my passion. Suffice it to say, I would need another lifetime, and greatly increased interest, to become any kind of an expert on the stars.

It is necessary, however, that we recognize the importance that the Bible places upon the stars. The description of their very creation demonstrated the vital role that they would play all throughout history (Gen. 1:14). Stars were at the center of the episode that once and forever demonstrated the significance of the covenant that God made with Abraham (Gen. 15:1-6). This same event bears a critical role in our understanding of the central Biblical concept of justification by faith (Rom. 4:1-25).

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