Monday, January 25, 2010

The One Year Bible- January 25th

We are almost one month in to our year-long journey in the Bible and this week we finished up the first book of the Old Testament. This is no small accomplishment. Genesis is a long book, filled with important stories that serve as important pieces to the overall story of the Bible. We will make reference to many of these stories and events as we go along. Each time we reach a milestone in our journey we should celebrate. As well as finishing the book of Genesis we will also finish one month in the word. Give yourself a pat on the back and you should feel good for your accomplishments. I also want to encourage you to keep going. If it is not already, your daily reading will become habit and spending time in God’s Word is one of the best habits you could ever have. On to the study...

Seth’s Thoughts

The Old Testament
We finished up the story of Joseph this week. It has been a longer story than most and there is good reason for it. First of all, this is the back-story for the most important event in Jewish history, the Exodus. The Exodus tells of God’s love and mercy for his chosen people and how he redeemed them from slavery in Egypt. As a New Testament Christian this story foreshadows the story of how Jesus redeemed us from the slavery of sin. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. As we read the Old Testament we see many similarities between it and some stories in the New Testament. I believe that this is on purpose. Theologians call this Biblical Typology. I found this description of typology in a resource I have entitled “Fellowship With God” written by Rev. Henry F. Fingerlin:

“The Bible is an amazing book. But something not too commonly know is that the Bible contains a unique kind of prophecy that no other book contains or could contain, namely, Typology. In Romans 5:14b St. Paul says that “Adam...was a type of the one who was to come.” (That is Adam was a type of Christ). In I Peter 3:21 Peter tells us that Baptism “corresponds” to Noah’s ark in which 8 persons were saved through water. The word translated “corresponds” in the Revised Standard Version is antitype in Greek. There are many such “types” and “antitypes” in the Bible. For example the Passover Lamb and the scapegoat, who bore the sins of the people, are types of Jesus; and the work of the High Priest in making sacrifice for the sins of the people is a type of his saving work. Types, copies, shadows, miniatures, scale model, partial, earthly, temporal, limited, imperfect—these are the people, observances and events of the Old Testament. Fulfillment, spiritual, eternal, perfect, unlimited—these are the realities, the completion, the fulfillment brought into being through Jesus and the New Covenant. This is the way Jesus and the Apostles understood the Old Testament and its fulfillment in the New. Only God who knows the future and also brings it to pass, could so thoroughly detail through prophecy and types all that would transpire through John the Baptist, Jesus, and the beginning of the New Covenant.”

There is much to say about Biblical typology but one thing to remember is that Old Testament Biblical types are always less than the New Testament antitype. As Paul writes in Colossians 2:17, “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.”

How does this relate to the story of Joseph? Some theologians see Joseph as a “type” or Christ. Here are a few examples:

- Joseph is the “beloved” son of his Father(Gen. 37:3)—Jesus is the Father’s “beloved” son (Matt. 3:17

- Though innocent, Joseph is sold for silver (Gen. 37:28)—Jesus is betrayed and sold for silver (Matt. 26:15)

- Joseph finds himself in prison with two other criminals (Gen. 40)—Jesus suffered death (a kind of prison) between two criminals (Luke 23:32-33)

- Joseph foretells death to one prisoner and release and restoration of the other (Gen. 40:9-19—Jesus tells one of the thieves that he will be with him in paradise while the other dies in his sins (Luke 23:42)

- Joseph is freed from prison by a decree of Pharaoh (Gen. 41:37-41)—Jesus is freed from the prison of death by the Fathers decree of Life, Resurrection, for His Son (Acts 2:24)

- Joseph is exalted at Pharaoh’s right hand and given a name that is above all names (Gen. 41)—Jesus is exalted to his fathers right hand and given a name that is above every other name (Phil. 2:9-11, Acts 2:33-36)

There are others that we could talk about but these are the big ones. I will be highlighting some more typology as we go this year. Let me know what you think about typology. Remember you can't always say that something is a “type” of Christ, but if you see something that you may think is let me know and I will do some investigating for you.

The New Testament
We read a few more parables of Jesus as well as read about some miracles including the feeding of the 5,000 and just as amazing, the feeding of the 4,000. One of the most powerful passages we read came in Ch. 16. Peter’s confession of Christ is a powerful witness to the divinity of Jesus and his claim to be the Messiah. After hearing Jesus preach and witnessing his miracles he boldly professes, “You are the Christ (Messiah) the Son of the living God." Either Peter was crazy or he was convinced that this simple man from Nazareth was the promised Messiah.

Bits And Pieces

We will dive into the book of Exodus this week and here are the vital stats:

PURPOSE: To record the events of Israel’s deliverance from Egypt and development as a nation.
WHERE WRITTEN: In the desert during Israel’s wanderings, somewhere in the Sinai Peninsula
SETTING: Egypt. God’s people, once favored in the land, are now slaves. God is about to set them free.
KEY PEOPLE: Moses, Miriam, Pharaoh, Pharaoh’s daughter, Jethro, Aaron, Joshua
KEY PLACES: Egypt, Goshen, Nile River, Midian, Red Sea, Sinai Peninsula, Mount Sinai
SPECIAL FEATURES: Exodus relates more miracles than any other Old Testament book and is noted for containing the Ten Commandments

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Bethany Bullet - January 20, 2010

John 2:1-11 (NIV)
Jesus Changes Water to Wine

On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus' mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus' mother said to him, "They have no more wine."

"Dear woman, why do you involve me?" Jesus replied, "My time has not yet come."

His mother said to the servants, "Do whatever he tells you."

Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons.

Jesus said to the servants, "Fill the jars with water"; so they filled them to the brim.

Then he told them, "Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet."

They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now."

This, the first of his miraculous signs, Jesus performed in Cana of Galilee. He thus revealed his glory, and his disciples put their faith in him.

The first of Jesus’ miracles at the wedding at Cana in Galilee reveals that we have a God who provides for our needs, transforms our experiences, and supplies for our requests.

The young couple was in need of saving face. They were in jeopardy of hosting Cana’s most mocked marriage feast ever! “What cheap skates, can’t believe how little they had, I hardly had enough in my glass to toast ‘em.” When on the brink of ruin and rumor Jesus stepped up and made them the talk of the towns. That’s right, towns! Every town in every nation that has John translated into their language has heard this story. What a story it is. Jesus could have given just enough to make things bearable; He could have worked up a bottle than never ran out; yet He granted 180 gallons. Jesus provided for their need.

The master of this banquet never had such a night at work. I suppose when he came home, he woke his wife, “This was the most incredible festival I’ve ever conducted. Sweetheart I tell ya, it looked like it was going to be a disaster. I was certain they were about to run out of wine and we had barely gotten started. Then out of nowhere wine, aged and fine. I actually said for the first time in my career, ‘you have saved the best for last.’” Water itself had never been transformed like this. In Egypt it was turned into blood to cause pain and lead to repentance; but here it was turned into wine to cause joy and lead to acceptance. We have, in Jesus, a God who transforms experiences.

Mary had made the request. I rather doubt if in the past she had ever had Jesus to turn sand into sugar or mud into oil for a kitchen emergency, yet, I am certain that Mary knew that Jesus had come to supply what we lacked. She treasured up things like Simeon’s words, the Magi’s gifts, and the child Jesus’ action at the temple. Our God is one who supplies for our requests.

In Jesus Christ we have a God who provides for our needs, transforms our experiences and supplies for our requests.
Yet, more often than not He does so through means, rather than through miracles. Means—it is Lutheran theological jargon for avenues, vehicles, and ways in which God works.

Our God provides for needs.
Perhaps you’ve been running low, maybe on the verge of running out, emotionally, spiritually, physically, in your personal economy, daily bread or interpersonally – through friends, family members, the church, employers, doctors or government programs – through these our God continues to provide for our needs.

Our God transforms our experiences.
Perhaps you know someone who is filled with anxiety, as was the master of the banquet; filled with fear, as were the young couple; filled with uncertainty, as were the servants; filled with frustration, as were the guest running out of wine – through your witness, prayer, a word of encouragement, a challenge for godly responses, through you God can transform experiences.

Raise a glass, offer a toast, for we have a God who can work miracles, and who through means works daily to provide for our needs, transform our experiences and supply for our needs.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, January 18, 2010

The One Year Bible- January 18th

In seminary I took a class called Biblical Theology and Exegesis. Don’t get too impressed. I am convinced that theologians want to sound smart so they use technical names for most of the classes. For example I have taken Hermeneutics, Homiletics, and Old Testament isagogics. In regular English that means I took Bible study, preaching, and Old Testament history (I hope I didn’t give away any company secrets). Anyway, part of Biblical Theology and Exegesis is seeing the whole story of the Bible. My textbook gave this definition, “Biblical theology is principally concerned with the overall theological message of the whole Bible. It seeks to understand the various parts in relation to the whole.” This is exactly what I try to do each week with our studies. I guess I didn’t even know that I have been teaching a class in Biblical Theology every week on the internet for over four years. Well, I hope that through these studies you will start to see the whole picture and the overall theme of God’s Word. At the end of the first chapter of my textbook it says, “The Bible is about humankind falling into sin, and God’s determination to put things right. It is about salvation, God’s rescue plan for human beings under judgment. It is about the worship of the one true God and the rejection of the gods that fail.” Lets all try to keep this in mind as we journey in God’s Word together.

Seth’s Thoughts

Old Testament
The opening stories of the Old Testament revolve around what we call the Patriarchs. This includes Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph. The first week of the year we sped through many generations as well as many years but this week we have been focusing on one family. This family has some issues. Jacob is encouraged by his mother to pretend to be his brother so that Isaac will give him the family blessing. If this sounds dysfunctional you are right. We will see plenty of dysfunctional behavior in the Old Testament. Remember the Old Testament is setting the stage for the coming of the Messiah, the one that was to save the people. Just wait until we get into the book of Judges and then we will see some real dysfunctional behavior. That PLR (people, land, relationship) promise that we talked about last week comes back (in whole or in part) quite often. We saw it multiple times this week. Each time I read it I put the letters PLR in the margin. I hope you begin to see that this is an important promise. This becomes the foundation for all the other promises that God will make in the Old Testament, including the coming of the Messiah. We read about Jacob and his rather strange relationship with his father-in-law, and then his odd relationship between him and his bickering wives. Once again we see some facets of dysfunctional behavior, but we also see that God will be faithful and keep his promise. The story of Joseph is one of the longest stories in the Old Testament. I will have more to say about this story later. For now be sure to catch all the details and see if they remind you of any other stories in the Bible. Perhaps some of you are familiar with the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical called Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. This musical is a pretty faithful rendition of the story and if you get confused you may want to rent the movie version. It stars Donny Osmond (don’t let that scare you) and has an appearance by Joan Collins


New Testament
In our readings from this week we find that Jesus still continues to teach, and heal and now he is starting to generate some interest. John’s disciples start to question him about things and we get a deeper glimpse into the ministry of Jesus. Chapter 10 has some interesting things to say about going out and speaking about Jesus, but remember that Jesus was speaking to 12 Jewish men in Israel almost 2000 years ago. It can be dangerous to make some one for one comparisons with these teachings and today. One very interesting section in our reading is found in chapter 12:13. Jesus uses some Old Testament stories to bring light to his earthly ministry. He gives us some clues about the end of his earthly ministry as he compares himself to Jonah. This is a fascinating passage for theologians as it sheds light not only on the work of Jesus but also the reason that the book of Jonah is in the Old Testament. For those of you at Bethany, we will be studying the book of Jonah this Lenten season. In that study we will explore this relationship ever further. Jesus also says that he is greater than Solomon. This was a big claim because no one was a wise as Solomon especially in the eyes of a Jewish person. It is also another place that shows the relationship between the Old and New Testaments.

Bits and Pieces

One thing I think I forgot to mention last week. Every time you read the word LORD (in all capitals) in the Old Testament, the translators are saying this is the proper name Yahweh. It is God’s personal name. Remember that Moses is the one writing the first five books and he was the one to whom God revealed that name. So it makes sense that he uses it in his writing.

Another thing I want to point out to you is the use of names. Names are important in the Bible. like I just said above LORD is translated from Yahweh which means “I Am who I Am”. It sounds rather nebulous to us but how could you try to contain God in a few letters no matter what language it is in. On to my point, we have seen quite a few names, the names of people and places. If you are reading through the NIV or the ESV you will notice that every time we encounter a new name there is a footnote. If you follow those footnotes you will find some more information about the name. For example, when Isaac was born we read in the footnote that Isaac means “he laughs”. Some of these names have some theological significance. The name Jacob means “he grasps the heel” which is an idiom for someone who deceives which is just what he does to his brother twice. Later in the story we will get to Joshua. His name means “the LORD saves”. This is the same name that is translated as Jesus in the New Testament. Makes sense doesn’t it. The phrase Jesus Saves is almost redundant. I will try to point out some of these names when they come up but feel free to follow the footnotes to get some more information.

That is about all for now, but one word of encouragement. If you get behind in your reading don’t try to catch up all at once. Just double up your readings each day and soon you will be back on track. The other option is to just let some of the readings go, like water under the bridge and just pick up on the current day. Either way you are still in the Word, and that is a good thing. Have a great week and look for a new post next week!!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Bethany Bullet - January 12, 2010

According to the Christmas hymn, Do You Hear What I Hear?

Said the shepherd boy to the mighty king
Do you know what I know?

Prior to his knowledge, the shepherd boy himself had to learn what he had come to know. That happened in the preceding stanza,

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy
Do you hear what I hear?

What the lamb had heard was the voice of God as big as the sea singing a lullaby to the baby Jesus at His birth.

That voice was heard again in our text (Luke 3) at the Baptism of Jesus when it declared (verse 22),

"You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased."

Of course that voice didn’t fall silent after that Baptism. In fact, each and every time one comes up out of the waters of Baptism, “A voice as big as the sea” sings, “This is my beloved child, whom I love; with whom I am well pleased.”

Yes, at your baptism God said the same thing of you that He has said of Christ.

True, we came to the water radically different than Jesus did. The reason John the Baptist tried to deter the Lord from being baptized was that He had no sin to repent, no guilt to wash away, no taint of corruption to be cleansed - He was perfect, holy, righteous, and pure when He came to the Jordon River to be Baptized. Our coming to the waters of Baptism was not the same. We came weak, frail and fallen. We came bearing the load of sin, the weight of original guilt, as well as actual transgressions. Jesus came already perfectly united with God while we came to be restored to God. Jesus came to have put upon Him His role as Savior and Redeemer; we came to receive His salvation and redemption. While we came to Baptism totally different the same thing was heard at each – a voice as big as the sea declaring us to be His own children with whom He is pleased.

The other day, one of our teachers at Bethany told me about something else that might be the same at our Baptisms as it was at Jesus’. She stated that the water cycle provides the possibility that the water in which you were baptized was the water in which Jesus was baptized, or walked upon, or calmed with a word…you could go on and on with any Biblical story about water. Rather intriguing thought isn’t it? Of course, it would stand to reason, that the water in which you were baptized was the water I cannon-balled into when I was 10, or body surfed in when I was 18, or put my first golf ball into a few decades ago. However, the later is not nearly as romantic as the former I realize, but no less potent.

Whenever and wherever, you were baptized, regardless of the ‘waters cycle’ – the cycle of the ‘voice as big as the sea’ continued and God declared you to be His own beloved child. Then sent you to invite others to hear what you have heard and to make known what you know.

-Pastor Kevin Kritzer

Monday, January 11, 2010

The One Year Bible- January 11th

We are eleven days into the New Year and I hope your reading plan is going well. Each week I will kick off our study with a short thought or some general words of encouragement. This week I want to give you some information about how our weekly studies will be arranged. Each week I will give you my thoughts on the week’s readings. I will not be commenting on all the readings but I will be giving some general comment as well as highlighting specific passages and trying to make some connections for you. My quotes from the readings will almost always be from the NIV. Please don’t get discouraged if I don’t write about certain parts of the reading. You can always ask me questions via the comment section or via email. If you want some more detailed comment on a particular reading you can visit The One Year Bible Blog ( I visit this site regularly to get some insight as well. I have also been made aware that the readings for The One Year Bible are in audio form on the internet (the NLT version only). You can download these readings to your ipod or other mp3 player. You can also just listen to them on the net. Information for this can be found at

Each time we start a new book of the Bible I will give you some vital stats for it in the Bits and Pieces section of the post. This will help you get your bearings as you begin to read. The most important thing I will say today is that we must remember the context of what we read. The Bible is a Christ centered book and it tells one story. Try to keep that story in mind as you read. My posts will try to help with that as well. Keep up the good work and be ready to let God lead you as you immerse yourself in His Word. On to the study for today…

Seth’s Thoughts:

The Old Testament
Like any good book the Bible begins with some great storytelling and some drama. The reason for the whole book is right there at the beginning. Because of mans fall and the steadfast love of God, a series of events takes place that will have an impact on the world and all humanity forever. In fact, the first promise of a Savior is found in Genesis. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15 NIV). The story of God’s love continues with Noah. God saw how sinful the world had become so, in his love, he destroyed those who disobeyed yet saved Noah and the promise of his love became more fully known. One of the great Old Testament words we see early on in Genesis and will have great meaning later is the word we translate as “remember”. God remembered Noah, he remembered his promises to Abraham; later in our story God will remember his people in Egypt and in exile. He will remember his promise from Genesis and send a savior for the world.

After God dispersed the people at Babel, he called one man, Abraham and gave him a promise. We will come back again and again to this promise. It is a three-fold promise that I like to call the PLR promise. We first see it in Genesis 13, but it will come back over and over again. The promise is that God will make Abraham into a people, a nation set apart, he will give them land, and he will have a relationship with them (PLR = people, land, relationship). This three-fold promise will not be fulfilled in Abraham’s day. The only piece of land he will ever own is a grave. But this promise will be fulfilled as the story continues with the people of Israel under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. It will be expanded in the New Testament era as we are all called to be God’s people, our land is in heaven, and we have a relationship with Jesus because of the empty tomb.

One thing to keep in mind while reading through the Old Testament narrative is that you need to try to keep the characters straight. Think of it like a program at the ballgame or the theatre. If you need to write down the characters and how they are related that might help out. This brings me to my first point about context. If you missed the fact that Lot and Abraham are related, you don’t quite get their relationship. Abraham loves his nephew so much and that relationship enters in to his decision making process. Also, two times Abraham tells others that Sarah is his sister and at first it looks like he is flat out lying but in Chapter 20 we find the following passage, “Besides, she really is my sister, the daughter of my father though not of my mother; and she became my wife” (Genesis 20:12). Now this may seem gross or unthinkable to us but remember we need to read this within the cultural context of the day and this sort of thing was O.K. It can be dangerous to impress our 21st century American culture upon a people and a land far remove in time and place and make judgments. This sort of thing will come up again and we must place ourselves in the culture of the day to understand. We don’t have to like it, heck there are a lot of things in the Bible I don’t really like, but it is God’s Word.

The New Testament
The first thing I need to say about reading the Gospels is that they are not always written in chronological order. I hope I am not sacrificing any sacred cows for you with this but it is difficult to put a time line and chronology together when looking closely at the text. For example, in the book of Luke Jesus seems to be jumping all over the place in Nazareth and Judea. One moment he is teaching by the sea of Galilee, the next moment he is in Jerusalem, and then he is back again. Many scholars (and I agree) tend to see the Gospels written from a thematic point of view. They take the stories and events and use them to not only tell the story but to highlight certain events. Taking a look at the Gospel of Matthew we see that it was written to a Jewish audience. How do we know that? First of all Matthew was a Jew so it makes sense to write to an audience that he knew. Secondly, Matthew places the events of Jesus ministry into an order that the Jews would see as very interesting. First of all Matthew tells us that the baby Jesus was taken to Egypt. Right after the family comes back from Egypt, we get the story of the baptism of Jesus then immediately to the desert for 40 days. A Jew of Matthews day would immediately see the connection to the Exodus story of the people coming out from Egypt and going through the waters of the Red Sea and then into the desert for 40 years. It is no coincidence that Matthew uses this series of events to bring a greater meaning to his Gospel to the Jews. A casual, non-Jewish reader might miss this connection. Matthew also leans on many of the Old Testament prophecies that his audience would be well aware (especially in the birth narrative). As you read in Matthew try to remember his audience of the first century and try to see how we can gain even more understanding by studying the book as a whole instead of taking parts out and studying them in isolation.

Bits and Pieces

Last week I gave you some helpful tips as you begin your journey and I want to repeat them here again. I know that some of you have just started this week and may have missed last weeks post.

Tips for Comprehension
-Begin your time in prayer and ask God to send His Spirit to guide you as you read.
-Find a place to read that is relatively free of distractions.
-Read the passage aloud and slowly if necessary. The goal is not just to finish, but to understand.
-Make some notes in the Bible and underline key verses. Look back at them later.
-Remember the Bible tells one story. That story is about redemption from Sin by the work of Jesus. Keep that in mind as you read.
-Take your Bible to Church and read along to see what comes before and after.
-Keep a journal about what you read and how it has affected you.
-Memorize key verses.
-Look at a children’s Bible storybook to get a mental image of the stories. This is especially helpful for the Old Testament stories.
-Teach what you have been reading to your children. This will help reinforce the stories for you and introduce them to your children.
-Share what you are reading with coworkers or friends who are not Christians. This can happen especially if you are reading during your lunch hour at work. If they are interested in the Bible point them to 1 John and to Mark.
-Use a daily devotional book (Portals of Prayer, Strength for the Day, etc.) in addition to your reading.
-Look at some Bible maps and get a layout of the land. This is important when talking about events in the Old Testament.
-Don’t worry if you miss a few days. Just double up your readings for a while until you catch up. Don’t try to read it all in one day.
-Some questions to ask as you read: What is the Biblical context of this passage? What is the historical context? Who is speaking and to whom are they speaking? How can I use this information today? Don’t worry if you can’t answer all the questions.

Have a great week and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Bethany Bullet - January 5, 2010

How Sweet the Sound of Protection

Living in the city we are constantly bombarded by noise. The sounds of traffic, leaf blowers, and airliners taking off fill the air with noise. Even noises that are meant to get our attention sometimes go unheard in the city: the sound of a car alarm, the recorded message at the airport, “The white zone is for loading and unloading of passengers only, no parking”, and a cell phone ringing. I don’t know if you have stopped to think about the sounds of the city but there’s some that cause an emotional reaction: the sudden burst of a police siren behind you as you drive and the wailing of the fire engine as it speeds to a call. For some of us, these sounds bring fear and a rush of adrenaline, yet for others these are the sweet sound of protection.

I have been in the habit for the past few years of praying every time I hear a siren. I know that for someone, that sound brings hope and comfort. I also know that someone is not having a good day and is in need of prayer and protection.

Today, we remember the protection of God. In our Gospel reading from Sunday, we have the story of the Holy Family being sent to Egypt to protect the life of the Messiah.

The Magi had just left their gifts for the Christ child. Mary, Joseph, and Jesus were still in Bethlehem and in a dream an angel tells Joseph to “get up” and “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt.” You see, they were in need of protection from King Herod who had been outwitted by the Magi. Herod had told the Magi he desired to worship the new king, which of course was a lie. In his selfishness, he desired to bring an end to the perceived threat to his throne. Jealousy, power and rage, consumed Herod. There could be no threats to his rule. Herod tried to protect what he thought was valuable, his kingdom.

Without any valuable information from the Magi, Herod resorted to killing all the boys in the area of Bethlehem who were two years old and under. This was a sad day. It is also a difficult part of the story to understand. Where is the protection of God for the babies of Bethlehem?

We know that God is in the business of protection. Not like a mob boss, but like a loving father.
  • After the fall of Adam and Eve, God’s providence and protection continued as he gave clothes to his children.
  • God protected Cain even after he took the life of his brother.
  • God protected Noah and his family in the ark.
  • God’s promise to Abraham provided protection for his family.
  • The family of Jacob was protected from famine in Egypt.
  • Even in the midst of slavery, God protected his people through the Passover, in the waters of the Red Sea, in manna from heaven.
  • God’s protection did not fail even after the people turned in unbelief and were sent into exile as God protected a remnant to return to the Promised Land.

What does humanity need protection from? The answer lies within us. The sinful nature that clings to us is at odds with God. We need to be protected from ourselves.

In many ways we are like Herod. We are comfortable in our lives as long as there are no threats to our Power, Position, Profit, or Pleasure. Like Herod we are filled with jealousy, and rage when threatened with something that would take away our power, cause us to lose our position or profit or make things un-pleasurable for us. Like Herod, our selfish desire for protection eventually leads to pain and sorrow.

Our sinful nature has convinced us that protection comes when we fight to preserve our own power and positions, when we seek profit at the sake of others, and when we give into the pleasures of this world.

You know what I am talking about, the half-truths told to keep a lid on your own behaviors; the words spoken that bring about pain to others…the list could go on and on. But in the midst of this, God is still in the business of protection.

For Jesus, protection comes as Joseph listens to the call of God. Our Heavenly father gives the protection of His Son to one who was in need of being saved. In His humiliation, Jesus was kept safe by one who was filled with sin.

God protected His own Son from Herod as He sent Him down to Egypt and in the end; those who were martyred by Herod are protected as well. You see, because they die, the Christ Child lives, and because He lives to die, they are ultimately protected and kept safe. Protection comes as one dies in the place of another, a precursor to an even greater event to come. Even after the sound of weeping and wailing was heard in Bethlehem—the children, and in fact all in Bethlehem were protected by what the Christ Child would do on the cross.

On the cross we hear the Sweet Sound of Protection as hammer strikes nail and the Christ child willingly gives up His life to bring protection to all. The Sweet Sound of Protection comes in the words “It is finished!” and is guaranteed by the sound of the stone being rolled away three days later.

You see, God is in the business of protection and that protection comes to you and to me as well. We need protection, not from a power hungry king, but from our own desire for power. In Christ we are protected from sin and the activity of the prince of this world.

The sound of protection comes to you, not in a siren, but in the words that were spoken over you at your baptism, in the words, “Broken and shed for you,” and in the words “Your sin is forgiven.”

God is in the business of protection. Don’t believe me? Hear these words of Jesus as He prayed for all of His followers at the end of His ministry recorded by John, “Father, the time has come…glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world…I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours…I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name—the name you gave me—so that they may be one as we are one. hile I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me…"I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them…My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message… May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me… "Righteous Father, though the world does not know you, I know you, and they know that you have sent me. I have made you known to them, and will continue to make you known in order that the love you have for me may be in them and that I myself may be in them."

While Jesus was on earth, He prayed for your protection. He prayed for unity and that the world might know Him through His followers. Jesus is still seeking our protection as John reminds us in his epistle, “But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” (1 John 2:1)

God’s business is protection. Martin Luther had it right when he penned the second verse of A Mighty Fortress is Our God:

With might of ours can naught be done,
Soon were our loss effected;
But for us fights the valiant One,
Whom God Himself elected.
Ask ye, Who is this?
Jesus Christ it is,
Of Sabaoth Lord,
And there’s none other God;
He holds the field forever.

Like Joseph, protection comes to us as we listen to the call of God. Ultimately, like the innocent children of Bethlehem protection comes as one dies in our place. Jesus Christ holds the field for us and fights for our protection today, and all days.

-Pastor Seth Moorman

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