Aches and Praise Four Hundred & Fifty Five

May 28, 2020
Dear friends, 

Yesterday, the temperature soared to 36 degrees Celsius in Montreal, smashing the record for the highest recorded temperature on that date in the metropolis. What a change from having snow fall less than three weeks ago! Life in Quebec is anything but dull, that’s for sure.

For the past couple of weeks, Karen and I have been digging out weeds and planting flowers, while our daughter, Bethany, has planted a vegetable garden. It is wonderful to see the variety that God created in all the shapes and colours of flowers and vegetables, as well as animals and other forms of life.

In his study of Psalm 23, David Roper writes: “The desert is one of the best places in the world to learn. There are few distractions and there is little that can be used. In such a place we’re more inclined to think about the meaning of things than about what those things provide.” Before the winter ended, life as we knew it changed suddenly as a pandemic swept across the world. To some, confinement feels like being in the desert: lots of time to do little. Rather than look at what we can no longer do, we can concentrate on what the Lord has given us: time to read His Word and learn from Him.

In his Study Bible introduction to the book of 1 Samuel, Dr. David Jeremiah writes: “Change was in the wind in Israel, and to Samuel – the elderly prophet and leader of the nation – those winds were bitter and cold. His own sons had shown themselves unworthy to lead the nation as judges, and the elders of the land had made their desires known in no uncertain terms: ‘Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations’ (8:5).” Just like Adam and Eve, who experienced separation from God because of their sin, the people of Israel went through the wilderness physically in the time of the Exodus, as well as spiritually, as they sought substitutes for the sweet things of God.

Dr. Jeremiah observes: “During the turbulent period of the judges, many of God’s people had adopted their neighbors’ gods, moral standards, and practices. And now they wanted to adopt their ways of governance. The Lord was willing for Israel to have a king – His own Son would reign one day. The people’s sin was in wanting a king ‘like all the other nations.’”

Many years after the people of Israel clamored for a king, the Son of God walked through Israel and taught like no one had ever taught. Jesus was asked by the Pharisees and Herodians whether it was lawful to pay taxes to Caesar. This question came right after Jesus told a parable about a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14), in which a king arranged a marriage for his son and sent servants to call those who were invited to the wedding. Near the end of the parable, we see that the king told his servants to bind the man who did not have on a wedding garment.

In his comments on this parable, Dr. Jeremiah writes: “For the priests and scribes, the message is that the call of the gospel went out to the whole world, but to the Jewish people first. Relatively few accepted the Lord’s invitation to eternal life, so the invitation was extended to Gentiles as well. To participate in the great feast of God, one must not only be invited, but also put on the king’s wedding clothes – the righteousness of Christ, accepted by grace through faith.”

Now let’s look at how Jesus answered the Pharisees and Herodians. First of all, He called them “hypocrites” because He knew that they “plotted how they might entangle Him in His talk” (Matthew 22:15). He used a visual – a denarius – to make His point: “Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (v.21). Then Matthew records: “When they had heard these words, they marveled, and left Him and went their way” (v. 22).

As we reflect on the teachings of the Lord Jesus and meditate on the Word of God, may we never stop marvelling at His wisdom and love.

Scripture for the weekend: “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.” Proverbs 12:20 (NKJV)

Thought for the weekend: “The words of the Lord are seeds sown in our hearts by the sower. They have to fall into our hearts to grow. Meditation and prayer must water them and obedience keep them in the light. Thus they will bear fruit for the Lord’s gathering.” – George MacDonald (quoted in “The Lord is My Shepherd” by David Roper, Our Daily Bread Ministries, Grand Rapids, Michigan)

By His grace,