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Bible Pathways 10/10/2002

October 10

Read Matthew 23 -- 24

In Today’s Reading:

Hypocrisy denounced; destruction of the Temple foretold; signs of Christ's return.

Following the cleansing of the Temple and the denouncing of the religious leaders as hypocrites, the Lord sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives and foretold: Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure [to] the end, the same shall be saved. And this Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness [to] all nations; and then shall the end come. . . . Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away (Matthew 24:11-14,35). False prophets oppose the authority of Christ, not by outward opposition, but merely by choosing select verses to fit their agenda and ignoring the rest of His Word. False prophets could even be popular preachers appealing to what people want to hear. Perhaps there would be fewer "prophets" if there were less "profits" to be gained. Like the Pharisees of old, the false prophets today substitute contemporary opinions for the authority of God’s Word.

On the Mount of Olives, just three days before His crucifixion, our Lord foretold the destruction of the Temple that took place about 40 years after His resurrection. He also spoke of His return, saying: But of that day and hour [knows] no man, no, not the angels of Heaven, but My Father only (24:36). He also warned: Watch therefore: for [you] know not what hour your Lord [does] come. . . . Therefore be . . . ready: for in such an hour as [you] think not the Son of Man [comes] (24:42,44). Jesus made no attempt to detail the near destruction of Jerusalem, nor the more distant end of the age. But these words from the King emphasized the importance of being prepared by speaking of two servants. The unfaithful servant is one who may not be guilty of committing gross sins, but who gets involved in personal activities that crowd out his opportunities of service to his master. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord [has] made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he [comes] shall find so doing (24:45-46). The true servant of God will be found doing the will of Christ when He returns. But . . . if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; The lord of that servant shall come in a day . . . that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 24:47-51).

Thought for Today: God is more concerned about the inward condition of the heart than with the outward keeping of rules and regulations.

Word Studies:

23:5 phylacteries = small boxes containing Scripture texts worn by Jews as a reminder to keep the Law (see Deuteronomy 6:8); 23:15 compass = to encircle or surround; 23:29 garnish = to decorate, to adorn.

Cross References:

For Matthew 23:39: See Psa. 118:26. Matt. 24:15: See Dan. 9:27; 11:31; 12:11. Matt. 24:29: See Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 34:4; Ezek. 32:7; Joel 2:10,31; 3:15; Zeph. 1:15. Matt. 24:30: See Dan. 7:13. Matt. 24:31: See Deut. 4:32; Isa. 27:13; Dan. 7:2; Zech. 2:6. Matt. 24:38: See Gen. 7:7.

Prayer Needs:

Government Official: Rep. Joseph Pitts (PA) · Pray for the President · Country: Angola (11 million) in west-central Africa · Major languages: Portuguese and Bantu dialects · Christianity is gradually being driven underground by communism · 60% Roman Catholic; 20% Protestant; 5% belief in ancestor spirits, witches, and medicine men · Prayer Suggestion: Draw near to God in prayer with a clean and pure heart (James 4:8).

Memory Verse for the Week: Ephesians 5:21

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