1 Peter–Part X

1 Peter–Part X

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

Gary Pollard

I’ll be repeating the book of I Peter in present-day terminology. It’s not a true translation of the book, as I am not qualified to do so. It will be based on an exegetical study of the book and will lean heavily on the SBL and UBS Greek New Testaments, as well as comparisons with other translations (ESV, NASB, NIV, ERV, NLT). My goal is to reflect the text accurately, and to highlight the intent of the author using concepts and vocabulary in common use today. 

This is not an essentially literal translation, and should be read as something of a commentary. 

I Peter – Part X

Younger people, listen to the leaders. Every one of you should think of the other as being more important than yourselves. God stands against prideful people, but he’s very patient with humble people. Stay humble under God’s power and he’ll lift you up when it’s time. He cares about you, so you should always let him handle your anxieties. 

Exercise self-control, and make sure you’re watching carefully. Your enemy (the devil) is on a determined path – like a hungry lion – looking for someone to kill. Fight him with determined faith, he’s not targeting just you. Everyone in God’s family is experiencing the same kind of suffering all over the world. After you’ve suffered for a short period of time, the God who gives so much grace will personally make you strong, give you confidence, restore you, and give you security. He has eternal power. 

I’m sending this short letter to you through Silvanus, my faithful brother. This is all true, and it’s extremely important for you to understand God’s timeless kindness and let it keep you strong. The woman at Babylon sends her greeting; she is chosen, just like you. Mark, my son, says hi. Make sure you greet and affirm each other. I hope all of you who follow Christ enjoy peace. 

The Book That Was Lost In The House Of The Lord

The Book That Was Lost In The House Of The Lord

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

The last righteous king to ever sit on the throne of the southern kingdom was Josiah, often called the “boy king”–as he was only eight years old when he acceded to the throne. We have the general evaluation of his reign in 2 Kings 22:2 as one who “did right in the sight of the Lord and walked in all the way of his father David, nor did he turn aside to the right or to the left.” What a divine endorsement! The verses that follow show us a few reasons how he demonstrated that righteousness.

The first act of his office noteworthy enough to be preserved by inspiration was his commissioning of repairs on the temple. He sent Shaphan the scribe to Hilkiah the High Priest to pay carpenters, builders, and masons from the temple treasury to repair the temple (3-7). While Shaphan and Hilkiah finalized these plans, the High Priest makes a remarkable statement: “I have found the book of the law in the house of the Lord” (8). It is stated so matter-of-factly that we may lose the impact of this report. How could God’s Word be lost in God’s house? Was it not read in worship? Was it not consulted for direction? Was it not the heart and center of all that went on inside those walls? Incredibly, it had been buried, stored, or otherwise tucked away. Looking back to Manasseh and Amon’s reigns, they had had no need for the Book. They had abandoned God.

Shaphan takes the Book from Hilkiah, reads it, and then brings it to Josiah. He reads it to the king, who, when he hears “the words of the book of the law, he tore his clothes” (11). This godly king recognizes what a sin has been committed against God through this gross negligence! 

He sends a contingent to inquire of God about His written will, knowing God’s wrath was kindled against his people for not listening to and obeying the words of the book (13). The message they will hear from Huldah the prophetess is grim and hopeless, indicating that Judah would reap what they sowed (14-17). But, the punishment would not come in Josiah’s lifetime because of his tenderhearted, humble, penitent, and tearful response to the Word (18-20). His faith in God’s Word (and his obedient response to it that we read about in the next chapter) extended God’s grace and mercy to Josiah and the children of Judah. Sadly, the people did not share Josiah’s reverence for The Book (cf. Jer. 25:1ff). 

Surely, the Book could not get lost in the house of the Lord today! In how many sermons and Bible classes can God not “get a word in edgewise”? Human wisdom, insight, and guidance, without biblical support, is a quick way to “lose” God’s Word in His house. It also happens when church leaders do not constantly, habitually drive themselves to ask, in the face of decisions, “What does it say in the Book?” Homes where spouses and parents are not building on the bedrock foundation of the Book, but rather the sand of society, are unprepared for the storms of life (cf. Mat. 7:24-27). The constant plea of a faithful people is, “Is there a word from the LORD?” (Jer. 37:17).  There is an endless fountain of spiritual blessings held in reserve for the people who find and follow The Book! What a tragedy that it could ever get lost, especially in the house of the Lord! 

Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Can These Dry Bones Live Again?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail 

blond man with goatee smiling at camera with blazer on
Dale Pollard

Six hundred years before Christ would make His providential appearance, a righteous man finds himself in captivity. While exiled, Ezekiel was able to witness the spirit of God in a very intimate way (Ezekiel 1). Even so, he was still living under the thumb of the Babylonians like every other Israelite with him. While under these unideal circumstances though, he is privileged to see awe inspiring visions from God. Have you ever paid attention to the eerie sensations described throughout this book? In Ezekiel 1:4, the prophet feels a great and stormy wind on the bank of the river Chebar. The wind brings with it a massive cloud with fire flashing around it and a substance like glowing metal in the center of it. The wings of the creatures he saw (verse 24) made sounds like that of roaring waters. The voice of the Almighty was like the sound of a great army camp. What sights he was able to see! This great connection to God didn’t take away his pain or sorrow, though.

Chapter 19 is one long lament as Ezekiel cries over his hard-hearted Israelite brothers. Why won’t they listen to him? Even after Ezekiel performs some radical visual illustrations like eating his bread over dung and laying on his side for an entire year, they won’t respond to the “invitation.” How frustrating is that, preachers? God never abandons His faithful servant but His confused prophet is still left to wonder what God is going to do about the mess which makes up his reality. A familiar feeling for many faithful Christians today.  

Never underestimate the hand of the Almighty. This truthful statement can be pulled from Ezekiel 37, when the prophet is taken up and then placed in the middle of a dark valley. Ezekiel is surrounded on all sides by heaps of dry human bones and he’s probably wondering why in the world God has taken him to such a place. The text answers the question by asking a question. God speaks to Ezekiel and says, “Can these dry bones live again?” What an odd thing to ask. However, Ezekiel responds, “Only you know, oh Lord.”

It’s always when we’re deep in the valleys of life that we’re forced to answer the difficult questions about God’s abilities. When we’re surrounded by darkness, the question we have to ask is, “Does God have the power to see me through this?” If you remember, Ezekiel has become frustrated with the fact that Israel just won’t listen to him or Him. He’s lost hope in their ability to change— they’re just too far gone. However, God demonstrates to His prophet in a dramatic way that NOTHING is impossible for Him. 

He doesn’t bring the bones to life in the blink of an eye, but we know He could have. Instead, He allows Ezekiel to hear those bones rattle and to hear the sounds of fibers and flesh sticking together. He wanted to leave an impression on Ezekiel to demonstrate the might of the Almighty. Ezekiel had no idea how those bones came to life, but he knew one thing for certain. God did it. You may not understand why God has allowed you to enter your valley, but you can be certain that He has the power to see you through. You are standing on your two feet because God has given you the strength to do so. God has promised His faithful servants a heavenly light at the end of our tunnels and whatever God says— He will always accomplish (Ezekiel 37:14). 

 The Doom of Jerusalem 

 The Doom of Jerusalem 

Tuesday Column: Dale Mail

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Dale Pollard

Have you ever been to a “show and tell”? Maybe it was in school and the teacher asked you to get up in front of the class and show a particular object and explain and talk a little bit about it. I remember as a child dragging my giant yellow dump truck to class and showing everyone how the scoop on the back worked. I was very proud of it and after the class I sat on the truck and rode it down the hill in the parking lot. 

Jeremiah’s “show and tell” was not nearly as lighthearted. Instead of bringing a toy truck to show the people, he brought a sword and began to shave his face with it. The hair that he shaved off was what has been left alive by the people. The point of him dividing it into thirds was to make a point. That one third are the ones that survived the siege. Then the few that survive will be taken off but taken care of by God. In Zechariah 13 we find out that the fire of destruction took care of the first third. This wasn’t a fire that was meant to refine them. 

When we look at accounts like these it should make us think. Why was that account there? It’s definitely for our learning, but what is it that we need to take away? I believe at least two lessons can be learned from this. The first is that God will keep His word. If God says that He is going to punish the wicked for their wickedness, then He will most definitely do so. The second lesson to be learned is that in all of this, we can clearly see God’s love. Did God have to take care of the remnant? We know from previous scripture that God wanted to destroy them all at one point and start over. God still cares for His people and He still saw them through their trials, despite what they had done to Him. As His children today we need to realize that even though God may not necessarily strike us down on the spot for rejecting Him, He still takes it just as seriously. God still feels the same about selfishness and a self-serving lifestyle. It’s an ongoing battle to put away those human desires that pull us away from God but it’s a supernatural force that allows us to remain close to Him.