Matthew 5

Matthew 5:

The Sermon on the Mount: Part 1

                Jesus preaches the famous, Sermon on the Mount. After seeing a multitude of people, Jesus goes to the top of a mountain and began to teach his disciples. In this one chapter, which comprises only 1/3 of the Sermon on the Mount, we learn a vast amount of important doctrine.

Jesus begins his address by addressing those who are blessed;

Blessed are…

  • “…the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5:3)
  • “…they that mourn…” (Matthew 5:4)
  • “…the meek…” (Matthew 5:5)
  • “…they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness…” (Matthew 5:6)
  • “…the merciful…” (Matthew 5:7)
  • “…the pure in heart…” (Matthew 5:8)
  • “…the peacemakers…” (Matthew 5:9)
  • “…they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake” (Matthew 5:10)
  • “…ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” (Matthew 5:11)

“Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which before you.” (Matthew 5:12)

What is Jesus saying here? He is saying that as a disciple of Jesus Christ you WILL be persecuted, and you will mourn. These things are just part of life. However, those who are meek, pure in heart and are persecuted for righteousness’ sake will be rewarded. It wasn’t easy for Jesus, he was persecuted, and so were the prophets after him. Where good prevails, evil will always follow behind in jealousy. Good men and women suffer, so that they might understand what the true joys of the world are. For you cannot have comfort, without pain. For how would you know the difference? The same is with the gospel of Jesus Christ, we must be tried, so that we can be corrected and put on a straight and narrow path.

Jesus continues his address by saying; “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick… let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

As disciples of Jesus Christ we are the salt of the earth, if we lose our flavor, what are we good for? Nothing! Therefore it is important that we set the example for the rest of the world. We need to show the world our good works and do as Jesus would do. The popular Christian “WWJD: What Would Jesus Do?” fits perfectly in this scenario. OR perhaps we can use the LDS version of “CTR: Choose the Right”. Either way, we need to Choose the Right, and do, as Jesus would do! We should never set our talents aside. We need to shine brightly before all men, doing good and representing Jesus as our savior.

Jesus continues his address, by altering some of the most basic LAWS of MOSES. At the time of his Sermon, I can imagine people confused and possibly upset by the words of Jesus. After all he was contradicting some of the most basic laws of the time.

Jesus says that whoever is angry with his brother, shall be in danger of judgment. Those who commit adultery will be judged, but the same is also applied to those who look after women to “…lust after her…” (Matthew 5:28), this is also committing adultery in your heart.

Jesus also contradicts the common “eye for an eye” and a “tooth for a tooth” law of the time, by stating; “…whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39)

Jesus teaches about compassion and love for not only your neighbor, but for your enemy; “…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.” (Matthew 5:44)

Jesus taught that we should be compassionate and not worry about the wrongs of others. If someone wrongs you, we are not to judge them. We should try to love those that hate us, use us or persecute us. We should try to help those in need and if necessary turn our other cheek to those who wish to smite us. In the end, we are here on the earth to become more like our Father in Heaven. We are not perfect, but our goal is to strive to be perfect; “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:48)

What is the Bible?

What is the Bible?

What is the Bible? Where did it come from? Have you ever asked yourself these questions?

Today there are dozens of “versions” or “translations” of the Bible in English alone! Not including a translation in at least some small form in every language spoken on earth!  I use the King James Version of the Bible which was translated in 1611 and is probably one of the most common and most quoted “translations” of the Bible in the world.

Lets step back in time for a moment and learn some of the history of the Bible; I personally am always blown away with the extensive history of the Bible! Someone could easily spend their entire life studying the Bible and still not know the entire history. Let’s start by examining the word “Bible”, what does that mean? Bible comes from the Latin word; Biblia, which means “books” or a collections of books. So the Bible literally means a collection of Books or if we were to see “Holy Bible” we could translate that to the “Holy Books”.

So we know that the Bible is a collection of Books, but where did these books come from? We know that the first five books of the Bible, known as the “Pentateuch” were authored by Moses of Israel, but he most likely took existing records, collected, edited, wove and abridged the books into a complete narrative. It is believed that some 700 years after Moses, Ezra, and the scribe returned to Jerusalem from the Babylonian captivity to start the demanding task of collecting, sorting and editing existing records and biblical texts to form one collection. The Old Testament that we know today probably reached its current form sometime around the late first century A.D.

The New Testament was formed in a similar manner, but often not how people have perceived. The books and the order they are placed in the Bible does not coincide with the date they were written. Before they were even written down, the stories and teachings of Jesus were first circulated as an oral history, with the earliest writings appearing sometime around 50 A.D. We know that the “Gospels” (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) were actually written much later than other parts of the New Testament, even though they appear first in the New Testament. The earliest known circulation of the “Gospels” appeared in Egypt no later than 125 A.D.

The earliest known collection, where the Old and New Testaments were together, is known as the “Codex Vaticanus” which is housed in the Vatican Library, and dates back to the 14th century.

From here the Bible follows a remarkable story filled with drama, inspiration and intrigue. The man that is credited with the first complete Bible in English is John Wycliffe (1328-1384), who was a theology professor at Oxford. He pioneered church reform in both doctrine and practice, and because of that him and his followers were greatly persecuted by corrupt church officials. Wycliffe saw that the current church was corrupt and far removed from the pattern of order and structure described in the Bible. Wycliffe set out to make the Bible available to all for their own interpretation, in their own tongues, instead of listening to corrupt church officials.

A century passed after the death of John Wycliffe and the birth of the man, who the world would recognize as the “Father of the English Bible” was William Tyndale (1492-1536). By the time Tyndale had begun his translation of the Bible, Martin Luther had already made a new translation of the Bible into German and Johann Gutenberg had perfected the moveable-type printing press, resulting in the famous 42-line Vulgate Bible. This Bible was a two-volume masterpiece that was printed in 1455.

Martin Luther (1483-1546) is probably one of the most famous of the pioneers for the reformation of the Bible and the church, which at the time was corrupted. Luther insisted that the teachings of the church must be grounded in scripture. He produced his new translation, so that the common man could understand its concepts and principles, and so misunderstandings could be avoided.

Shortly before William Tyndale was persecuted to the point of being burned at the stake, he said; “If God spare my life, ere many years I will cause a boy that driveth the plough to know more of the scriptures than thou doest”. Tyndale’s work was not in vain, his work would later influence versions of the Bible, like the Geneva Bible of 1560, which was used by Shakespeare and brought over to America by the Pilgrims on the Mayflower.

In 1607, King James I of England appointed nearly 50 scholars, divided into six groups to research, organize, translate and bring to light a new translation of the Bible. The King James Version, which was published in 1611; “For without translation into the common tongue the unlearned are but like children at Jacob’s well… without a bucket or something to draw with”. Modern scholars have come to the conclusion, that almost 84% of the King James Bible was retained in the original texts of Tyndale’s work.

We must understand that as the world moves forward new versions or translations of the Bible are appearing every day. Reasons include; keeping up to pace with changes in language, facilitate ease of understanding and to go along with general understandings of words and doctrines of the modern world. But it must be understand that a “translation” is automatically a “interpretation”.

Because a translation is an “interpretation”, we must treat it as such! This does not mean that the Bible is not credible, it is very credible! I believe that the Bible is the word of God, but only when it is translated or interpreted as such! Meaning that we must read the Bible and understand its principles and doctrines with the spirit of God. We must read the scriptures with a prayer in our heart. We cannot simply read the Bible and take it for its literal “interpretation”, especially the interpretation of another.

Psalms 33-34

Psalms 33-34

Chapter 33: Rejoice in the Lord

David opens this Psalm with; “REJOICE in the Lord…” (Psalms 33:1)

He goes on to say that “…the word of the Lord is right…” (Psalms 33:4) and that “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made…” (Psalms 33:6)

Who is the WORD? In the Gospel of John we read; “IN the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. All things were made by him…” (John 1:1-3) The “Word” in this case is referring to Jesus Christ who was there with God (our Heavenly Father) when the world was created.

“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord…” (Psalms 33:12) We are reminded of the importance of keeping God in our government. Separation of Church and State are important. However a complete lack and disregard for God in our government is a huge mistake.

Chapter 34: Watch What You Say

A Psalm of David, when he changed his behavior before Abimelech; who drove him away and he departed.

                                David blesses and praises the Lord at all times, because by doing so we can be delivered from our fears.

David also gives us a really great counsel;

“Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile (honesty). Depart from evil, and do goo; seek peace, and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the Lord is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.” (Psalms 34:13-16)

                Essentially, keep yourself from being bad. Do good, keep peace and don’t lie. All pretty good advice!

 

Psalms 7-8

Psalms 7-8

Chapter 7: God is Angry with the Wicked

Shiggaion of David, which he sang unto the Lord, concerning the words of Cush the Benjamite.

“Shiggaion – From the verb shagah, “to reel about through drink.”  The plural form, shigionoth, is found in Habakkuk 3:1. The word denotes a lyrical poem composed under strong mental emotion; a song of impassioned imagination accompanied with suitable music; aka a dithyrambicode.”

The New King James version translates the Hebrew word “Shiggaion” as meditation.  The specific occasion is not easily connected with an event recorded in the historical books of the Old Testament; it may be a reference to either Shimei’s accusations against David in 2 Samuel 16:5 or to Saul’s slanders against David. More likely this Cush, a Benjaminite was simply another partisan of Saul against David.

“O Lord my God, in thee do I put my trust: save me from all them that persecute me, and deliver me” (Psalms 7:1)

When David was under attack from Cush the Benjamite, the only one he could trust was God. No one else was around (whom he could trust). But with the trust in God, was all he needed. David knew that he was not perfect, but he was asking deliverance from what he believed to be worse… his enemies.

“God judgeth the righteous, and God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalms 7:11)

                David knew that God was a JUST GOD. He would judge accordingly. Those who do wickedness in the eyes of the Lord have the wrath and anger of God upon them.

Chapter 8: What is Man? Nothing!

To the chief Musician upon Gittith, A Psalm of David.

“Gittith – A Stringed Instrument of music”

“O Lord our God, how excellent is thy name in all the earth…” (Psalms 8:1)

David understand how excellent the Lord really is, and how He is known throughout the entire world. David then tells God that when he considers the creations of the world and the stars, and moon… he asks…

“What is man…” (Psalms 8:4). David is trying to put man in contrast with the Lord, it amazes David that we were given such great responsibility to have dominion over His creations. He sort of asks, what is man? When compared to God? The answer is that, YES we were created in His image, but we are still beneath him and his Excellency.