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Wednesday, May 9 2012

The Berean Lesson

"It's easy, when it's easy" may sum up a part of what has come to be known as "the parable of the sower," delivered by the Messiah (see Appearances Of The LORD God and A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah) to a multitude of people, standing on the shore of the Sea of Galilee at Capernaum, while He was in "ship" (i.e. a fishing boat; see The Ships Of Galilee) a short distance out - providing an excellent means of speaking to a crowd (sound carries very well over water, and the sloping shore provided a natural sight and sound vantage-point rise from front to back, just like in modern-day theaters and stadiums where seats are progressively higher from front to back).

Fishermen On The Sea Of Galilee

"13:1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 13:2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore.

13:3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 13:4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 13:5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 13:6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 13:7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 13:8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 13:9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear." (Matthew 13:1-9 KJV)

Sometimes parables (see also Parabolic Prophecies) are used to make a point clearer, for "now" (see Could Christ Return Tonight? and When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin). Sometimes parables are used to make a point, for later (see The Eighth Day: What Does It Mean? and The Church In The Kingdom Of God).

"13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables?

13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven [see Are We In Heaven Now?], but to them it is not given. 13:12 For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. 13:13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.

13:14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias [i.e. Isaiah; see What Did Isaiah Know About Jesus Christ?], which saith, By hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 13:15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.

13:16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see: and your ears, for they hear. 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them." (Matthew 13:10-17 KJV)

The Messiah then explained the parable of the sower.

The Narrow Road

"13:18 Hear ye therefore the parable of the sower [see also The Path To Glory].

13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side.

13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful.

13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:18-23 KJV)

The Messiah then also included, both within and as a continuation of the parable of the sower, the reason that the LORD permits evil to exist, for now.

"13:24 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is likened unto a man which sowed good seed in his field: 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went his way. 13:26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also.

13:27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares?

13:28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this.

The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up?

13:29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, Gather ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn." (Matthew 13:24-30 KJV)

"They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so ... the same is he that heareth the Word, and anon with joy receiveth it; Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the Word, by and by he is offended"

The Holy Bible is a "real life" Book. While many of the lessons used familiar experiences and circumstances (such as we read above), the teachings themselves were further proven and magnified by events and situations that the people encountered. The people of Berea, the famous "Bereans" (for the part, "They received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so") were also an example of the parable of the sower.

The apostle Paul visited Berea, a city of Macedonia (at that time, Macedonia was a Roman province in the north of Greece), during his second missionary journey. To understand what happened to him there, one must first understand why Paul had left where he was, in Thessalonica, to go to Berea. In Thessalonica, "some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few," until some of those "which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar."

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

"17:1 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: 17:2 And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, 17:3 Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. 17:4 And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

17:5 But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. 17:6 And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; 17:7 Whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. 17:8 And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. 17:9 And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go." (Acts 17:1-9 KJV)

It was from that reversal "of them that believed" into a "troubled" people, when they discovered that they had to follow the LORD in both Word and deed (to "walk the walk," not just "talk the talk") that Paul fled to Berea. Why go to Berea? Because they had been "more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so."

"17:10 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." (Acts 17:10-12 KJV)

But what then happened to the Bereans who had "received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so"? They became a "stirred up" people that caused Paul to flee Berea, just as he had fled Thessalonica.

"17:13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. 17:14 And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. 17:15 And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed." (Acts 17:13-15 KJV)

What part of "the parable of the sower" was the problem for the Bereans?

False Witnesses The Bereans apparently did understand, so it couldn't have been:

"13:19 When any one heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the way side." (Matthew 13:19 KJV)

Their "stirring up" occurred relatively quickly, not over time as "the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word" do over time.

"13:22 He also that received seed among the thorns is he that heareth the word; and the care of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becometh unfruitful." (Matthew 13:22 KJV)

Their problem was that they had and knew the Word, but they had a "shallow root" that could not withstand "when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word," and so they quickly became "offended."

"13:20 But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it; 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended." (Matthew 13:20-21 KJV)

Knowing the Word isn't enough in itself. Standing by and for the Word is required for the Word to produce a harvest of salvation.

"13:23 But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty." (Matthew 13:23 KJV)

Not all of the Bereans were weak in perseverance, while strong in the Word. Other Bereans were wholly strong (and were therefore "holy"). Of them, was "Sopater of Berea" - who knew the Word, and stood by it, when it was easy, and when it was difficult.

"20:1 And after the uproar was ceased, Paul called unto him the disciples, and embraced them, and departed for to go into Macedonia. 20:2 And when he had gone over those parts, and had given them much exhortation, he came into Greece, 20:3 And there abode three months. And when the Jews laid wait for him, as he was about to sail into Syria, he purposed to return through Macedonia. 20:4 And there accompanied him into Asia Sopater of Berea; and of the Thessalonians, Aristarchus and Secundus; and Gaius of Derbe, and Timotheus; and of Asia, Tychicus and Trophimus. 20:5 These going before tarried for us at Troas. 20:6 And we sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread, and came unto them to Troas in five days; where we abode seven days." (Acts 20:1-6 KJV)

Fact Finder: How did the "seven churches" serve as examples of all of the church, of all time?
See Where Are The Seven Churches Of Revelation Today?; also The Holy Place In History And Prophecy and the series of six studies (the links to all six are found in each one) beginning with The Church In The Garden


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This Day In History, May 9

1386: England and Portugal signed the Treaty of Windsor, pledging "permanent alliance and friendship."

1502: Christopher Columbus left Cadiz, Spain, on his fourth and last voyage to "the new world" (while he was away, his employer, King Ferdinand of Spain, was beginning the murderous Spanish Inquisition against non-Catholics all across Europe).

1657: William Bradford, English pilgrim governor of Plymouth Colony in Massachusetts for 30 years, died.

1671: Thomas Blood, the Irish adventurer popularly known as Captain Blood, stole the crown jewels from the Tower of London.

1793: Scottish explorer Alexander Mackenzie began his famous journey from Fort Chipewyan on Lake Athabasca in Canada. He eventually reached the Pacific Ocean by way of the Bella Coola River, becoming the first European to cross North America using a route north of Mexico.

1901: Australia opened its first Parliament in Melbourne.

1915: The Battle of Artois during the First World War began (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars). When it ended 18 days later, 216,000 men had been killed or wounded.

1927: The new city of Canberra replaced Melbourne as the capital of Australia.

1936: Italy formally annexed Ethiopia; King Victor Emmanuel was proclaimed emperor of Ethiopia.

1945: The Theresienstadt concentration camp in Czechoslovakia was liberated by the allies; to it had been sent the so-called "privileged Jews", holders of the Iron Cross first class or better and 50 percent disabled war veterans. Of the 141,184 people sent there, more than 88,000 were gassed, including 81 year old Adolfine, sister of Sigmund Freud (Freud, old and dying of cancer, had been ransomed from the Nazis and brought to England). 3 other of Freud's sisters were murdered: Pauline, 80, and Marie, 82, in Treblinka, and Rose, 84, in Auschwitz.

1946: King Victor Emmanuel III of Italy abdicated. The monarchy was replaced by a republic.

1962: A laser beam is successfully bounced off Moon for the first time.

1965: Lunar 5, an unmanned Soviet spacecraft, was launched toward the moon from a rocket already in Earth's orbit. It later crashed on the moon rather than making the projected soft landing.

1978: The body of former Italian Prime Minister Aldo Moro was found in the trunk of a car; he had been kidnapped and murdered by the Red Brigades.

1983: Pope John Paul II announced the reversal of the Catholic Church's 1633 condemnation of Galileo Galilei, the scientist who correctly taught that planets go around the sun - the "infallible" papacy said that Galileo was wrong (listen also to our Sermon Constantine's Papacy).


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