Thursday, June 22, 2017

Daily Bible Reading - June 22, 2017

Today's Reading:

Mark 6:1-29

2 Samuel 15

Daniel 9

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Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading 

In 2 Samuel 15, we read of the terrible betrayal of Absalom. It is a sad and tragic tale of a son who betrays his own father.

Betrayal is something we all face, at one time or another. And since it comes to us all, the question is, how would Yahweh have us deal with it?

In more recent history, the story of George Washington comes to mind. Washington was the leader of the Continental Army, a task which most certainly must have had moments of great frustration, considering that he was leading a group of undisciplined soldiers. George Washington chose only the best and most trustworthy men. He wanted people who were devoted to the cause and would be faithful.

General Washington had one General whom he respected and trusted more than most.  This General's resume included helping to defeat the British at Ridgefield and Dansbury, helping to capture Fort Ticonderoga, leading the invasion of Canada, and single-handedly rallying the troops at the Battle of Saratogo in spite of a crippling leg injury.   

Who was this beloved General and trusted friend to General Washington? General Benedict Arnold!    
The man who General Washington respected and trusted turned out to be the poster child for betrayal.  No other person besides Judas Iscariot is so synonymous with betrayal as Benedict Arnold. 

As Wikipedia reports, In the American Revolutionary War, Benedict Arnold originally fought for the American Continental Army but defected to the British Army. While a general on the American side, he obtained command of the fortifications at West Point, New York (future site of the U.S. Military Academy after 1802) overlooking the cliffs at the Hudson River (upriver from British-occupied New York City), and planned to surrender it to the British forces. The plan was exposed in September 1780, and he was commissioned into the British Army as a brigadier general. Can you imagine General Washington's shock and pain to learn that his trusted friend had so deviously betrayed him?
The sensation of being stabbed in the back must have been horrific!  There is no worse feeling than having a friend, a close, personal friend who you trust stab you in the back.  How do you respond to such betrayal? 

General Washington was betrayed by a trusted friend. But king David was betrayed by his own beloved son. The only thing more painful than the betrayal of a close friend is the betrayal of a loved family member. David summed up the painful experience in Psalms 55 when he wrote,

"My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen on me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me…. If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it; if a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers."

Betrayal is something that Messiah warned us we will have to face at one time or another. And as times get darker, even the betrayal of close family members will be more and more commonplace:
Mark 13:12 "Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death." 
So how should we respond to betrayal? What would God have His people do about it? First, by God's Grace, we must not react in a vengeful or hateful way.  We cannot try and destroy our attacker or pay them back for the evil they did to us. This is the actions of a carnal man, and we are men following God. So as hard as it is, we have to respond in a Christlike manner. 

In Scripture, we find the beautiful Example of Christ, Who was betrayed.  As we examine Yahshua's Example, we will find vital keys for how to respond to betrayal, under the unction of Yahweh's Spirit, instead of reacting in the flesh.

Yahshua was good to His betrayer, loving and dealing kindly with Judas even though He knew beforehand that Judas would betray Him.

John 13:1-5 "Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Yahshua knew that His hour was come that He should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved His own which were in the world, He loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, to betray Him; Yahshua knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside His garments; and took a towel, and girded Himself. After that He poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith He was girded."

Yahshua knew Judas was about to commit the ultimate betrayal against Him, yet He still lovingly ministered to each of His disciples - Judas included.  He did good to Judas, even though he didn't deserve it.

With the Grace of God in our hearts, He will strengthen us to respond to our betrayers with good - not repaying evil with evil. 
1 Peter 3:8-9 "Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing." 

Yahshua forgave those who betrayed Him. Not only did Judas betray Christ, but Peter also betrayed Him.

It was the darkest night ever to hit our planet, from that day to this. Yahshua was facing Pilate’s tribunal, His Death mere hours away. The disciples had all forsaken Him, as He stood before the judgment seat beaten, betrayed, and alone. Gathered by a fire in the courtyard, several observers listened to the proceedings while warming themselves and quietly con-versing. Trying hard to blend in, Peter reached his own cold hands towards the flames. He strained to see and hear what was happening in the judgment hall, while carefully masking his interest.

Suddenly, his worst fears took form, as a young servant girl pointed at Peter, “I recognize you! You were with that Man!”

All eyes turned towards Peter. The red glow of the flames danced upon his face, further etching his momentariliy startled expression. Fellowship with Yahshua would bring him censure, possibly even death!

“I don’t know Him. You’ve mistaken me for someone else.”
Onlookers may have wondered whether the flicker of fear upon his face had been imaginary, a phantom born of firelight.

Someone else casually commented, “You sure look like one of the guys that was hanging around with Him.”

Only the very observant could see that his palms glistened with icy sweat. But there seemed no trace of fear in Peter’s vehement reply, “I told you people, I never knew Him!”

The fireside gatherers made a grim company, eyes averted and suspicions aroused. It didn’t take long for the next accusation to come. It was from the servant girl again. Her gaze fixed upon Peter she blurted, “But I know you were with Him. In fact, you’re one of His disciples! You even talk like Him.”

Profanity bubbled forth from Peter’s panicked lips, as he punctuated each word with sailor-style expletives, “I said I never knew Him. Now leave me alone!”

Barely had his profane denial left his mouth, when a rooster crowed, announcing that dawn was streaking the sky. In an instant, Yahshua’s prophecy given just hours before, flashed into Peter’s guilty mind, “Before the cock crows, you will deny Me three times.”

But when Peter's guilty gaze met the Saviour's across that judgment hall, there was no condemnation in His Eyes. And it was the love Peter found in Yahshua's gaze, which broke His spirit and convicted his soul. Yahshua's love was given, even to His betrayers.

Betrayal comes in all forms and sizes.  Most of us have experienced or will experience it at some point in our lives.  We have no control over how out betrayer acts, but by the Grace of God, we need to keep Spirit-filled control over our actions.  God can empower us to respond to those who hurt and betray us in a Christlike way.  We need to follow Yahshua’s Example and love, forgive, and do good to our enemies. 
Matthew 5:44-48 "...Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in Heaven: for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect."
 It is not humanly possible to love our enemies. Nothing about this injunction is easy. It is not something a carnal heart can even do. Yahweh does this mighty work in us and it is only by His Power that we may deal in a loving manner with our betrayers. But while such love is a miracle, there is a part we must play in receiving it. The "little boy's lunch" of our effort is then taken by God, blessed, and miraculously made to be enough.

What do I mean about the "little boy's lunch" of our part in dealing with a betrayer? Our part starts with praying for the person who has betrayed us. Love is to be demonstrated towards the person, in spite of what they have done to wound us. Scripture even tells us to "salute" them. This is a term that means to greet that betrayer kindly and graciously if you run into them in town. Act in love, pray in love, demonstrate love towards your offenders. And as you do, while praying for God to empower you to do the impossible, He will give you Heaven's Love for those who hurt and betray you.

This is the greatest expression of Heavenly Love. It is the God-given ability to love someone although they do not deserve it. This is the way God loves you and me also.