Laborers in the Vineyard – Matthew 20:1-16

I preached from this parable when we studied the Book of Matthew. I tried to teach what I thought was the Lord’s primary lesson. There were several groups of laborers, and each served for a different length of time, but they were rewarded equally. Tonight I’d like to take another look, but emphasizing different aspects of the Lord’s story. Without actually saying so, this is a parable, and so there are opportunities for different interpretations and different applications. But I believe we can agree that the primary subject is the “Kingdom of Heaven.” After that, as I have pointed out before, there is debate about what exactly that Kingdom entails. I have had teachers who said that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is not the same as the “Kingdom of God.” But in comparing related verses from different gospels, I am compelled to disagree. I think that the “Kingdom of Heaven” is just another way of saying “Kingdom of God.” But after that – is it the millennium, is it internal, is it spiritual or is it political? Is the Kingdom of Heaven past, present, future, perfect or a perfect participle? I think that everyone should be able to agree that where there is a kingdom there must be a king. Who is the King of Heaven? The answer is Jehovah God. Therefore the “Kingdom of Heaven” is the “Kingdom of God.” I also hope that people can see that there is an element of evangelism in this kingdom. Matthew 13 is filled with “Kingdom of Heaven” parables. And like this one, most of those parables speak of spreading the...

Meat Ye Know Not of – John 4:1-42

This is an often preached passage of scripture. But you may not have heard a message which emphasizes verses 32-34. And, as you might surmise, this is not a gospel message. The Lord Jesus had been working very hard in the previous few months prior to this chapter. In His humanity, as He and His disciples passed through Samaria, He couldn’t go on without a little food and rest. So the disciples were sent into Sychar to buy some vittles from Samaritans. When they got back to where they had left Him, Jesus seemed like a different man. Where He had been dragging, now He was pulling; Where He had been sleepy, now He was surging. And where He had been starved, now He was stuffed. When the disciples asked how He had so changed, He said, “I have meat ye know not of.“ WHAT was that meat which did Him so much good? Simply put, Christ was doing the will of the Father who had sent Him. He was fed; He was empowered; He was blessed by serving the Samaritan woman and others. I think there are some things we might see here about anyone’s work for the Master – OUR work. We might call them “Natural Laws about Spiritual Work.” Or we might call this message simply, “Meat Ye Know Not Of.” First, we see that serving the Lord can be GREATLY REFRESHING. Isn’t it true that the mind has great influence over the body? I remember Fred Norling and Harry Riggs plotting against a teacher back in our 11th grade. They told some of the key...

How WE got OUR Bible – Matthew 24:32-35

Our thoughts tonight are a corollary to the message of last Sunday night. The theme was and still is – “How we got our Bible.” It’s not how the Holy Spirit inspired God’s word. We know that “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” Rather, how were those inspired words passed down through the last 2,000 years to us today. There are a number of scriptures which teach, in one way or another, that God’s words are eternal. But those scriptures might be interpreted in several ways by the unbeliever. For example – “Verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” – Matthew 5:18. It might be argued this refers only to the Pentateuch – or its purpose will stand only until Christ fulfills it. That is not all that it means, but someone might argue that way. I Peter 1:25 – “But the word of the Lord endureth for ever.” Someone might say that since “word” is singular, it doesn’t necessarily refer to the Bible. They might suggest that it applies to the decrees of God. There could be arguments used against all of the scriptures which speak of the eternal nature of the Word. Isaiah 40:8 – “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth; but the word of our God shall stand for ever.” “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in Heaven” – but not necessarily on earth. However other scriptures might be abused, Matthew 24:35 is pretty specific – “Heaven and...

How WE Got OUR Bible – Luke 21:29-33

Every once in a while I will read an article which impresses me. Some times that article develops into a message which is entirely my own. But on other occasions, there is little that I can add to what the author has said. And when that happens I don’t mind telling you that the ideas and sentiments, research and words belong to that other man – whoever he might have been. This message is one of those occasions. My source for this message is Benjamin G. Wilkinson. David Otis Fuller highly recommends him, but I must criticize Fuller to some degree. He should have pointed out that in several ways Wilkinson was a heretic. I don’t want to leave you with the idea to accept all that this man says about everything. He may have possessed the true Word of God, but he failed in his interpretation of it. He was a Seventh Day Adventist. But after reading 50 pages of his defense of the King James Bible, I recommend him in this one particular area. My message tonight is my own edited version of Wilkinson’s material on the history of the Bible. We start with Constantine. Flavius Valerius Constantine became emperor of Rome early in the 4th century – in 312 A.D. If you know history – that date coincides with the approximate founding of the Roman Catholic Church. Constantine became emperor and embraced “the Christian faith” – not only for himself but for his newly won empire. As this so-called “first Christian emperor” took the reins of both the civil and spiritual world he made a deliberate...

What ever Happened to the Ark of the Covenant? – Jeremiah 3:11-20

As some of you may be aware, but none of you called my hand, we have NOT considered every reference to the Ark of the Covenant – despite what I mistakenly said last week. There were at least two more, and possibly more than that. The first of my oversights is found in our scripture here in Jeremiah. Despite Jehovah’s constant warnings and chastisement, both Judah and Israel persisted in their sins. There were prophets, like Elijah and Elisha, Isaiah and Jeremiah, preaching repentance. There were good Kings who lead by example and wicked Kings whose lives were sermon illustrations. And there was the Ark of the Covenant itself – a testimony to the presence or the absence of the Lord. Eventually the ten northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by the Assyrian Empire. Judah, which was slightly more godly, was permitted to go on, but she proved herself to be even more stupid than Israel. The Southern Kingdom had the lessons which were showered down upon the Northern Kingdom, but she gave no heed to that testimony. The Southern Baptists refused to recognize God’s hand of judgment on the Northern Baptists until they both ended up in the same cesspool of compromise and heresy. Eventually the army of Nebuchadnezzar pounded Judah and Jerusalem into submission. The streets of the city flowed with Jewish blood. The Judean King was taken captive as were with the best and brightest of the city – like Daniel. Only the poor, the criminals, and the leeches who would be burden on Babylon were left behind – with a few other special...

A House for the Ark of the Covenant – II Samuel 7:1-12

Tonight, let’s tie together most of the remaining references to the Ark of the Covenant. In II Samuel 11, David probably wished that the temple had been built. The lack of a temple actually thwarts one of the most wicked things that David ever did. Again, we can say that when the Ark of the Lord, illustrating the Person of Christ, is firmly settled in a person’s heart, he will be successfully kept from sin. David had sinned with Bathsheba and in an attempt to cover his wickedness, the King ordered the woman’s husband back from battle. But Uriah respectfully refused to go home to his wife. “Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing.” Another reference on which we will not speak is found in II Samuel 15:24. It was at that time that David was fleeing Jerusalem before his son, Absalom. Zadok the High Priest wanted to bring the Ark of God with him as he accompanied David, but the king sent both him and the Ark back to the city. “And lo Zadok also, and all the Levites were with him, bearing the ark of the covenant of God: and they set down the ark of God; and Abiathar went up, until all the people had done passing out of the city. And...

The Ark and Formal Religion – II Samuel 6:12-23

Can we say that David is a good picture of the child of God? Was he one of the Lord’s men? Assuming that to be true, we still find a man whose life fell short of God’s standards at times. David committed some terrible sins even as one of the Lord’s servants. Besides others, there were those which were directly connected with the Ark of the Covenant. One of the lessons we have seen over the past couple of weeks has been that different people face the problems and the effects of their sins differently. Ideally, as we mature our response to problems should improve. And when there is judgment against us, we should respond responsibly. Obviously it is possible to try to do the right things in the wrong ways. Bringing the Ark to Jerusalem was a good idea, but not on the back of oxen or a cart. And so the hand of God fell in judgment on the man who was leading the project. And with that it becomes our responsibility to learn the lesson the Lord wants to instill. How did David learn about the proper way to bring the Ark to Jerusalem? It wasn’t by reading some handbook or watching a u-tube video. In effect, he got out his old Bible and started studying what the Lord had revealed. There is a right way of doing the right thing. We have a responsibility to learn the way of the Lord. And we should not be surprised when we find that some people don’t like it. David’s soul was stirred in direct correlation to the...

The Ark in the House of Obededom – I Chronicles 13:1-14

Let’s begin with a review. David had just become king of the United Tribes of Israel. For just over three years he had been king of Judah only, but now the rest of the nation had come to recognize the plan of God and had submitted to the Lord – and to David. The new king had taken steps to create a national capital in the former city of the Jebusites. David and his army had taken the best and most fortified city in the interior of the Promised Land. It was centrally located; it was beautiful; it was nearly impregnable; it was a perfect place for the capital. It formerly had been called “Jebus,” but it will eventually be given the name of “Jerusalem.” One part of the city was called “Zion,” and a second section is going to be known as “the City of David.” Some of the neighboring nations had recognized David’s reign and had begun sending ambassadors. And one in particular had either recognized God’s hand in Israel, or perhaps had taken a personal liking to David. Tyre, with its king, Hiram, had sent to David workers and materials for the fortification of Zion and the city of Jerusalem. He had also sent materials for the construction of a beautiful palace in David’s suburb. Perhaps it was this construction which sparked David’s interest in bringing the worship of the Lord to Zion. During the long, nasty days of the Judges, the Tabernacle of the Congregation had fallen into disrepair. The priests of the Lord were no longer serving the Lord as faithfully as they should...

The Ark of the Covenant and Revival – II Samuel 6:1-17

I think that we have looked at all the references to the Ark of the Covenant through I Samuel 7. Last week we saw it being abused in Bethshemesh and then being sent to Kirjath-jearim. It was a blessing to the house of Abinadab and to the family of his son Eleazar. Now we skip all the way to II Samuel with related material in I Chronicles 13 and 15. I don’t think that we are missing any references to the Ark before this chapter, except for one comment. During the days of Saul’s reign as king, the blessings of the Lord were not heavy on Israel. The Philistines once again began to nibble away at the prosperity of the nation. And at several points the two countries met in battle. I believe that if Israel had kept the Ark at the center of her national heart, she would never have had to face an enemy again, but alas such was not the case. On one occasion, Jonathan, the son of Saul, was the instrument through which God gave a rare victory. I guess that the father and son weren’t on speaking terms at the time. The king didn’t know who God’s secret agent had been; who was the warrior in charge. After he learned that it was Jonathan, he called for Ahiah to fetch the Ark from Kirjath-jearim. He apparently wanted to use it as a lucky charm once again in any on-going battles. But that never happened because the battle proceed without his help, and the Ark wasn’t necessary. The reference to the Ark is so short...

The Ark at Bethshemesh: Christ Abused – I Samuel 6:13-7:2

Who can teach us more about the Ark – the Philestines, the Bethshemites, or those of Kirjath-jearim? I guess it all depends on the condition of our particular heart. We’ve already considered the Philistines and their heathenistic treatment of the Ark. Tonight let’s concentrate of Bethshemesh and Kirjath-jearim. We may have more to say about Kirjath-jearim next week. We can learn from the people of Bethshemesh. Out of the three groups of people I’ve mentioned, these are the most privileged – at least by nature. First of all, they were Israelites, unlike the heathen Philistines. As Paul says in Romans 9 – to the them “pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” The point is – the Ark, in a sense, belongs to the people of Israel and not to the Philistines. These people grew up with the history and reality of God among them. They were like some of us – raised in the Word; brought up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord.” In addition to that, verse 15 reminds us that these people were Levites. Among their privileges were exemption from war and special cities and homes in which to live. They were fed through the tithes, offerings and some of the sacrifices of the nation. But more importantly, they had more time to be occupied with the Lord than most others. They should have known the...

The Ark Among the Unbelievers – I Samuel 5 and 6

Just as baptism is a picture, symbol or type of a believer’s union with the death, burial and resurrections of Christ, the Ark of the Covenant was a picture, symbol or type of Israel’s union with Jehovah through Christ. It is called “the Ark of the Covenant” to represent the covenant which the Lord made with that nation. And it is called “the Ark of the Covenant” all the way from Deuteronomy to Chronicles, Jeremiah and ultimately to the Book of Hebrews. God made an agreement with Israel – “Meet me as I demand, and I will bless you.” The demand the Lord put upon Israel was a meeting based upon the blood of the sacrifice. The only authorized person to make that meeting was the priest of God’s choice. And the designated place of meeting was at the Mercy Seat, which sat upon the Ark of the Covenant. That is what made it “the Ark of the Covenant.“ And of course, the New Testament shows us that actually the meeting of the sinner and God is in Christ. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” “Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” Everything the Ark was to Israel, Christ is to the New Testament saint – and more. That Ark is a type or symbol of Christ. But as superstitions grew in Israel and as they were found in other nations already,...

The Ark In Absence – I Samuel 4

Thus far, to the best of my knowledge, we have looked at all the references dealing with the history of the Ark of the Covenant. We have not looked at every passage relating to the design and construction and the Ark. But we’ve noticed them all since the completion of the Tabernacle, as far as I know. Now, we’re going to skip over a couple more, but I want you to be aware of them before we move on. We have looked at the Ark in relation to the victory at Jericho. Then last week we noticed the Ark in relation to the defeat at Ai. In Joshua 8 we find Israel fulfilling the command of the Lord to read Deuteronomy 28 and 29. Those chapters describe the curses and blessings for obedience and disobedience. Israel was commanded to gather at Shechem, in valley between the mounts Ebal and Gerazim. The Levites brought the Ark into the midst of the assembly as the Word of God was read. That could be developed into a beautiful illustration of a worship and preaching service. But I think that you’ll find that most of the major points of that illustration will come up elsewhere in the history of the Ark. Then the next reference is found in I Samuel 3:3 which simply says that the Ark was illuminated the candlesticks in the Temple of the Lord. That might lend itself to a message, but it would take a mightier mind than mine to keep it interesting. And that brings us up to chapter 4. According to the dates printed in some Bibles,...

The Ark of the Covenant in Times of Trouble – Joshua 7:1-15

I hope you’ve noticed that we’ve been studying the person of our Saviour. In our first message we simply said: “Behold the Christ.” Then we said look at Him in the guidance of His chosen people. Following that we looked at Him in our many moments of crisis. And last week we said, “Look at the Lord in the midst of our successful ministry.” Thus far we have been following the Ark of the Covenant historically or chronologically. Our application as been – Without Christ we are nothing. “He is the vine and we are the branches.” “Without Him we can do nothing.” “We can do all things through Jesus Christ which strengthenth us,” but we will do nothing without Him. Only “God is able to make all grace about toward us; that we, always having all sufficiency in all things. may abound to every good work.” Without the Lord we are ever and always going to be falling on our faces. Like the lady filled with so much vanity she can’t admit that she needs glasses. We need the Lord in the days of decision, but also in days calamity. And we need the Lord in the days of our greatest despair. Some picture life as they do a river – ever flowing downward to sea of death. But It may better picture life like ebb and flow of the tide, in and out, in and out – good and bad. Israel had taken up one of the false doctrines being rejuvenated today – Prosperity. Now that we’ve “asked Jesus into our hearts” life will be nothing but...

The Ark of the Covenant and the Christian Ministry – Joshua 6

I begin once again reminding you of the symbolical significance of the Ark of the Covenant. That beautiful chest and the Tabernacle wherein it usually rested were the most important items in Israel. They were Israel’s Smithsonian Institute; its Congressional Library and Washington Monument. They also contained the Constitution of the United Tribes of Jacob. That golden coffer with the Law, the Manna and the rod of Aaron pictured Christ. So many things about the Tabernacle were a type – a typological picture of the Son of God. It was in the Tabernacle and at the Ark that the Father met with His prodigal sons. And everywhere Israel went, when she was in the will of God, the Ark of the Covenant was with her. “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Last week I said that my favorite application of the crossing of the Jordan is progress in the Christian life. I know that many say that it is a picture of death, but it doesn’t fit enough of the facts to suit me. Why not let the river picture baptism followed by growth into Christian maturity? Only now the people were ready to accept new challenges and to enjoy their spiritual Christianity. When it comes to the city of Jericho, there are again different ways to apply the facts. Some can only see the sin of Achan, and there are lessons there, but not in respect to the Ark. What if we apply Jericho to sinful society? Those people inside Jericho’s walls were Israel’s neighbors. They, were for the most part,...

The Ark of the Covenant in the Crises of Life – Joshua 3

There are major events which stand above all others in history. Things like Noah’s flood and the crucifixion of Christ. There are things which are so far back in history we can hardly comprehend their importance to us today. Things like the Norman invasion of England has a great bearing upon us in western North America. Then there are other events like the signing of the Declaration of Independence. On a smaller scale there are major events in each of our lives. Some are momentous because of the joy they have brought us. In my life, it would be like the day that Judy Lynn Price changed her name. The birth of a child has radically changed thousands of parent’s lives. Some major events might be categorized as crises of our lives. A crisis by definition is “an important turning point, or highlight in something.” I have a book in my library by G.C. Morgan entitled “The Crises of the Christ.” That work looks at the baptism of the Lord, His Transfiguration, His Crucifixion and resurrection. Eventually, in every life there come several major crises; hinges upon which those lives turn. Some common ones are the acceptance of the gospel message or perhaps the rejection of Christ. Whether we join one of the Lord’s churches, and which church it is. The choice of further education, where and in what direction. Perhaps whether or not we move, and at what time in our lives that move comes. In all of these moments of crisis, I believe the Christian has a Helper at our side. And that is what I want...