The Big One Israel Couldn’t Pull Off!
Many times I have asked myself why Jesus Christ the Savior of the world would say, “the poor you will have with you always.” Maybe that hasn’t bothered you, but it has always bothered me. So yesterday, as I read in the Old Testament the book Deuteronomy 14-16 the answer came to me: greed!
These chapters are the record of some of the last sayings of Moses before he passed off the scene and a new leader, Joshua, would take his responsibilities to lead and conquer the land God had promised his chosen people. Deuteronomy is an interesting book for many reasons, but one in particular is that is discusses money matters more than any other book in the Bible.
Moses was seeking to help the Israelites understand what it would take to maintain a healthy spiritual life in a materialistic culture. In these three chapters Moses gives God’s principles for giving and borrowing. There were and are very important practices the Jews were to perform that would help insure the health of the entire community. One is to, “set aside a tenth of all that your fields produce each year”...for the Lord. Deut. 14:22 Moses went on to say in 16:16-17 “No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” We call that the “tithe” or 10% of what God has given you. It is to be given back into God’s house for the ministries that flow out from it. (God gave these instructions before the people had even entered the promise land!)
Two other practices were of special importance: the Sabbath year. After 6 years the 7th year was to be a time of rest. The fields would lay fallow and God promised to give a bumper crop the 6th year to carry the people over till the 8th year. As well as sufficient grain for sowing.The Sabbath Year was also the time to cancel all debts! (Wouldn’t that make our bankers squirm!). You can read the particulars of this practice in Deuteronomy 15. The point was to restrain greed. Biblical scholars tell us this was only practice rarely.
Do you know that the only time God’s land was relieved of exploitation was during the 70 years the people were held in exile in Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:21). If you calculate the time the people should have observed this practice from the time they entered the land there should have been “70” Sabbaths. LESSON: God will receive what is he’s one way or another! Sorry!
The one event the people of Israel NEVER practiced was the year of JUBILEE. There is no evidence in Biblical or extra-biblical literature to indicate that it ever took place. Jubilee was to happen once every 49 years. Or once in a lifetime. It was when all land reverted to its original owners, all slaves were freed, and all debts canceled. Now do you see why Jesus said what he did about the poor? Mammon is a strong and powerful tool that enslaves many for the benefit of the few. The Jews were not practicing God’s laws concerning money and finance.
As I read these passages and then further read again the words of Jesus in Luke 4:18-19, I hear his words read from Isaiah,” I am anointed to preach the good news to the poor, freedom for the prisoners and to PROCLAIM the year of the Lord’s favor.” This is all about God's son making possible our Jubilee year. We were all slaves or debtors and we had lost our inheritance at the garden of Eden. Who was going to free us from this bondage of sin? Who would once again restore the inheritance we had lost? The debt had to be paid by someone. If we couldn’t pay our debt, then who could? Jesus did. He did it with his precious blood. Each of us can experience a “spiritual” Jubilee even now. You don’t have to wait 49 years!
In closing, I want to remind us that money is powerful. It can gain a grip on our hearts. If we do not master our money, then our money will master us. The prophets clearly condemned the Jews who offered sacrifice and walked around as righteous when they were exploiting their workers and taking land from the widows. It is not enough to go to church or give a tithe. It is important to do right by every man. To reach out to the poor, to help the widows and orphans, to sacrifice our comforts to make it better for someone else in need. I believe if we do that, there is a promise for us.
“I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed.” (Psalm 37:25-26)
Have a great week!
Recording interviews for Christian Center's 25th anniversary in our current structure. Nina Nicaise sharing her stories. Soheil Tilli is recording the interview. Waterloo 29/09/2014
SARAJEVO CHURCH RECEIVES NEW VEHICLE. Christian Center raised 30,000 euros to assist the Sarajevo Evangelical Church. Besides construction and renovations in their building 15,000 Euros was raised from CC Congrgation for a van.
Pastor Sasa and his wife Drina send special greetings to the Christian Family for the new Opel nine passenger van. It was used during the summer to transport youth to retreats and transport materials for the second hand shops that provide employment for those coming out of prostitution and drug addiction. Pastor Sasa said that the van is being used to transport much needed supplies to areas affected by the recent flooding.
NEW PASTOR ELECTED. Yesterday following the Sunday morning service, the members of Christian Center voted overwhelmingly to invite Dr. Joe and Noemi Szabo as Senior Pastor's. Pastor Richard will continue to serve the church until early 2015 as the Szabos raise additional support from their sponsoring churches in the U.S. Pray for them as they prepare to join us.
Attention Cc Youth!
Upcoming Youth events at CC!
WELCOME TO EVERYONE who clicked on Christian Center's FB pages. This month people from 40 countries have visited us. Tell us what you think? What interested you most? Jesus loves you all!
The youth worship team in action.
A phenomenal Youth Sunday. So proud of our youth Pastors Seth and Tamar, the youth worship band and the spirit they brought to the church service this morning.
The MOB (Men of Brussels) had a great breakfast at Christian Center. Eggs, bacon, croissants, coffee, juice, home made cupcakes! Great fellowship as men share ideas about the future. You can contact Gregory or Tony for more info.0475537055 or 023452150
Kids, we have a great show for you - Les enfants, nous avons un spectacle génial pour vous!
Reminder to all our active members - Un rappel pour tous nos membres actifs.
LADIES you are welcome to join the Beth Moore Bible Study this Wednesday. 9-11 A.M. It is a time of fellowship, sharing around the study of 1-2 Thessalonians. Beth Moore's teaching is shared through video. Contact Caterina for more details. GSM # 0475 288 403.
Pastor Seth and Tamar have officially joined the Belgian Team by eating a mountain of frites. Welcome to the land of frites,waffles, and Belgian Chocholate. No place like it.
“The Job Description of the Savior”
At our home group we looked at the wonderful passage in John 10:1-21, “The Good Shepherd”. And in the light of today’s current events I was drawn to Jesus’ words describing his role versus the role of “would-be saviors”. Needless to say to unpack this passage in a short blog is impossible. But give me a chance just to speak to one aspect of the “role of the Good Shepherd”:laying down his life for the sheep.
In the opening verses Jesus describes those who came before him as would-be shepherds as “thieves and robbers.” Some commentators identify these bad guys as religious leaders. However there is another interpretation, and I tend to hold to this one, that here Jesus is describing the false messiahs that popped up from time to time. People who taught that only through bloody struggle could freedom and liberty be won. Even in Jesus’ day several of these leaders arose and drew thousands into bands or armies to defeat the Romans. Each time crushed by the armies of their masters. (one of the most destructive being the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. where more than half million Jews died defending their temple.)
Sadly, in Jesus’ time, the Jewish leaders and rabbis were looking for a military leader who would restore the Kingdom of David to its former glory, sweeping aways all forms of pagan hegemony. He in contrast, when asked to read the scriptures in his synagogue at Nazareth quoted Isaiah’s prophecy describing the role of the Messiah as follows:
“The Spirt of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” Then he dropped a bombshell, by declaring at the end of the reading, “TODAY this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”
Other passages foretelling the coming of the Messiah describe God’s anointed one as a “suffering savior” (Isaiah 53 and Psalm 2). Jesus the night he was betrayed found his disciples ready to defend his life with swords, and Jesus responded by saying, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword”.
I am not a total pacifist, but when I read history, I see what the Jews could not do through warfare, Jesus did through laying down his life. For the preaching of the prophetic message of the Old Testament and its fulfillment in the New Testament has wons more battles and given more hope for this life and the next than all the wars fought in the name of freedom and liberty.
Establishing religion by force never works. Only God’s love will win the day. I feel sorry for the Christians who have died in massacres in recent days, but they have the hope of “being absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” Those I truly feel sorry for are those mis-guided individuals and groups that think war will conquer. War cannot conquer the heart, only God’s love can.
Have a good week.
SPECIAL THANKS for all those who helped make this past Sunday one of the most memorable. Those who prepared the baptismal candidates, those who assisted Pastor Richard in the pool, the technical backup, the candidates' testimonies and the music. Thank you Don for a very appropriate message. Our prayer is that God will continue to bless each one who followed the Lord in water baptism. (Romans 6).
WATER BAPTISM THIS SUNDAY AT 10:45. COME CELEBRATE WITH US. TWENTY-TWO BELIEVERS WILL FOLLOW THE LORD IN WATER BAPTISM.