Trust and Obey
Matthew Chapter 11: 20-30
1. The Word of God
Have you ever wondered why the Bible is the world's most misunderstood
book? Why its teachings are ignored or branded as being obsolete?
The answer is, because comparatively few people believe the Bible is the
Word of God. To be sure, many agree that the Bible contains
classic passages and that it is the world's best seller: but the
Word of the Almighty God! no they cannot accept that. And yet the
fact is, if you want to be a really educated man or woman, and I mean
really educated, then the first thing you must learn is this: the
Bible is the Word of God. It wasn't the product of human
intelligence. The Bible was inspired by God's Holy Spirit: every book,
every chapter, every sentence and every word was God-breathed. That
is the first fact you will do well to accept if you really want to know.
|2 Peter 1:
||20: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.|
21: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”
2. Why was the Bible Given?
The Most High has a specific purpose in giving His Word. It is not a
book one would read for entertainment: it must be read to discover that
|2 Timothy 3:
||16: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.”
In other words, the Bible was given to define moral behaviour acceptable to
God, to point out sin, to correct error, to teach us what we should do
in order to be righteous, like God is righteous. That is why the
Bible was given to me.
- Doctrine: A principle, or set of principles and beliefs held
by a religious, political or other group.
- Reproof: An expression of condemnation for a fault or offence.
- Correction: An alteration being made to something that was
- Instruction in Righteousness: The process of teaching what is
3. Do I need the Bible?
Do I need correction? Most people think they're well nigh perfect. Others may need correction: but not me! Speaking
through the prophet Jeremiah the Almighty says this about the self-deceiving
human heart - your heart - my heart!
Oh yes, I need the Bible. You need the Bible. We all need the Bible: because
we have all sinned and we cannot live by bread alone. Every religious and political
party needs the Bible for doctrine, for reproof, for correction in
righteousness. The reason why this world is in such a mess, is because
mankind in general has rejected the Bible. In rejecting the Bible man has
rejected its, Author, the Saviour and the holy laws
which define sin and teach us how we ought to conduct human society.
||"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked;
who can know it?"
||"We have sinned ... neither have we hearkened unto thy servants
the prophets ... to us belongeth confusion of face ... because we have
sinned against thee ... we have rebelled against Him ... Neither have we
obeyed the voice of the Lord our God ... Yea all Israel have sinned."
||"... Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man
of unclean lips, and dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for
my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts."
||"But he (Jesus) answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live
by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
4. How should I study the Bible?
Read it prayerfully with the sole intention of meeting these objectives:
King David was called ‘a man after God’s own heart.’ Why? What
special quality did this shepherd have that earned him this description? I believe the
answer is found in this verse.
“Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.”
- To learn right from wrong.
- To recognize sin within your own heart.
- To understand what the Almighty is doing.
- And to become righteous - like God is righteous.
(Psalm 119: 118)
David treasured the Almighty's law more than any other possession. He loved and thought
about it day and night. Read Psalm 119 for proof of this amazing fact. David constantly
prayed to understand Yahweh's law: to plumb the depths of each command. Remember
what Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:20-21, that both the prophecy and the understanding
of prophecy come from God. In other words we can no more understand a divine prophecy
than we can deliver one. Both the prophecy and the understanding must come from above. So
pray for understanding like king David did. It will be given you in response to your true
reaction to Yahweh's law. You will either see or you will not see. You will either understand,
or the message will pass you by even were it thundered in your ears a thousand times. The
study of Yahweh's Word, and in particular the study of His law, will make you humble, wise,
happy and content. You too could become a man or woman after Yahweh's own heart. He will
react to your innermost yearnings just as He did to king David's. He will open your eyes to
see wondrous things out of His law. But more importantly, He will grant you the fruits of
true understanding: obedience, peace, happiness and joy in your own soul.
This means that we must not read the Bible with the intention of proving
others wrong: or even with the apparently noble aim of teaching others.
Because, as far as you - and I - are concerned, your Bible was not
written for other people. It was written for you. My Bible was
written for me. His Bible was written for him. Her Bible was
written for her. Do you get the point? If you read the Bible with
the wrong motive, it will not benefit you one iota. Most, if not all,
your studies will be a waste of time. You will certainly fill your mind
with facts; which you could use to bash others over the head and show them how
much Scripture you know: but as far as your eternal salvation is concerned, that will
profit you nothing! You'll be wasting your time.
Instead, you should read the Bible as though God were speaking
directly to you. To be sure there are parts which you may think do not
apply to you. After all you and I are perfect aren't we? The fact
is that divine diagnosis is critical. Do not skip over it. Pray for spiritual
eyesight to understand what God is saying to you through those very verses.
Read the whole Bible: alternating between the Old and New Testament
books. Read at least a chapter a day and chew over the contents - all the
while asking yourself What has my Heavenly Father to say to me today? What
doctrine? What correction? What instruction in righteousness?
Add to your studies a holy respect for the Almighty God! Fear Him! for He is
a High and Holy Person; and though He is your Heavenly Father, treat Him with the utmost respect.
||10: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy is understanding.”
5. The Bible interprets Itself
Remember that the Bible interprets itself. Obscure, symbolic passages
in one of its books are explained elsewhere in simple terms. As with all
good instructional literature, the Bible is packed with illustrations
and examples. In the first five books of the Bible we find all the
laws Yahweh gave mankind through His servant Moses. Then there follows
book after book of examples of how the Almighty reacts to His
people's behaviour regarding those laws. How does He react to:
- Family responsibilities
- Murder, Theft, Deception and Greed etc.
It's all there: the commands in the first books, the prophetic warnings
and living examples of how the Most High reacts in the other books. You
will not find many ethical decisions you have to face in life which are not
dealt with in the Bible: because the Most High has not only told us how
He wants us to live, but He has also included examples in His word of what
will happen if we do not. It is folly of the worst kind to imagine that one
can ignore the directions and commands of the Almighty God and get away with it.
6. Assemble all the Texts
Believers spend hours arguing about doctrine. Many make the mistake of
trying to find texts which support what they think is the truth. They
conceive an idea and then spend hours trying to find texts to support it.
Instead, we should study all the texts we can find on a given
subject before deciding what to believe. Invest in a Bible
Concordance: it will enable you to study many texts on a given subject.
If time allows, look up as many texts as you can. Then, after prayerfully
studying them, see what the Bible is saying on that subject. Don't teach
the Bible: learn from it. It is Yahweh's Word: and it has a great deal to
teach you. The Bible is life's USER GUIDE: read it every day. In
critical matters, that is, in those areas where a mistaken opinion could
result in sin, be extra careful. Don't delude yourself into excusing your
own sins: because on the Day of Judgement - and possibly even
earlier - you'll regret it.
7. Truth at two Levels
Most Bible truths are portrayed on two levels.
- The Physical
- This is the first level we humans can see and easily understand. It involves literal, physical things like nations, land
masses, trees, animals, fish, individuals and their possessions.
- The Spiritual
- This higher level contains the real lessons the Almighty is eager to teach us.
It involves concepts, principles, motives, thoughts and all the other activities which
go to make up human character. To explain lessons on this level the Master often used
parables which are stories based on first level physical examples. By using a level one
object lesson, a visual aid, the Saviour high-level truths which are normally not grasped
by the human mind.
The text which first triggered my awareness of how the Almighty conveys information on
these two levels is:
|1 Corinthians 10:
||11: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world have come.”
This means that most, if not all, the experiences recorded in the Old Testament
(and possibly even the New) have a wider, higher, spiritual application. They
occurred in those ancient days on level one; but were recorded ‘for our
admonition’ for our learning! because they are ‘real-life
prophecies’ of earth-encompassing realities scheduled to take place on a
massive scale in our day - upon whom the ends of the world have come.
This means that when you read an Old Testament story, besides learning the obvious moral
lessons it contains, look beyond the literal story and focus on the prophetic truth
behind the story. If you do this - and if Yahweh opens your eyes - you will see the
real lesson the story contains: the lesson the Most High wants you to see. Here are a
few examples of high-level truths hidden in well known Bible stories:
- The story of the Image of Gold in (Daniel chapter 3). Here we saw how Shadrach,
Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the golden image, even though they
were threatened with death in a fiery furnace. Now compare this story with the end-time
prophecy of (Revelation 13: 15-16) where all who refuse to worship the image of the beast
should be killed. The first experience is more than a story. It is a prophetic drama
for our time: because soon we'll be faced with the same alternatives: worship the image
of gold and you can buy and sell. Or refuse to worship and face economic sanctions and
apparent death. What choice will you make?
- The call-out of Yahweh's people from Babylon in (Jeremiah chapters 50 & 51).
Again, compare these passages with the call-out of Babylon in the book of the Revelation.
||2: “And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.|
3: For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies.
4: And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.
5: For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
6: Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
7: How much she hath glorified herself, and lived deliciously, so much torment and sorrow give her: for she saith in her heart, I sit a queen, and am no widow, and shall see no sorrow.
8: Therefore shall her plagues come in one day, death, and mourning, and famine; and she shall be utterly burned with fire: for strong is the Lord God who judgeth her.
9: And the kings of the earth, who have committed fornication and lived deliciously with her, shall bewail her, and lament for her, when they shall see the smoke of her burning,
10: Standing afar off for the fear of her torment, saying, Alas, alas, that great city Babylon, that mighty city! for in one hour is thy judgment come.”
8. Bible translations & other Aids
Currently there are over 100 English translations of the entire Bible and over
300 of the New Testament! There was a time I used to quote from many of these translations,
incorrectly supposing that they were all the Word of God. But I were wrong.
Not all are the Word of God. Some may be easier to understand than others, but not
all are the word of God. See A Voice In The Wilderness article Bible Versions:
Which is the real Word of God?
For more information on which English translation of the Bible you should study.
Bible Dictionaries & Concordances:
In my opinion, these are a better investment than Bible Commentaries - mentioned below.
I use two concordances: Strong’s and Young’s.
I also use the Westminster Dictionary of the Bible.
These are very expensive and often reflect one particular denomination's or author's views.
They do not compare with direct Bible study.
9. Make Notes
In the arena of learning nothing exercises the mind more than writing down what you
have learned. It is for this reason that A Voice In The Wilderness - Canada
advises all who study its
Course to write down the questions and
scriptural answers. Try to get into the habit of writing down what you have learned. If
necessary make notes in the margins of your Bible. Underline passages that impress you
as being important. Set up your own reference system which will point you to a
preceding or succeeding text which deals with the same subject. Do not be scared of ruining
the pages: because when you write something down on paper, you are in fact writing it
on your mind. Keep a Note book and write down the things you have learned. If you
have a computer, so much the better; because you will then be able to update your work
10. Practice the Truth
In the book of Daniel there is a vital clue to understanding end-time prophecy.
||9: “And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end. |
10: Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried: but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand.”
What is this text saying? It is saying that understanding will not be given
to the wicked, ‘none of the wicked shall understand:’ But understanding
is given to the righteous, to those who have been purified, made white and tried. In other
words, true understanding is not a matter of human intellect, education, will power or
finance. True wisdom and understanding are gifts from God to those who do His will.
The sincere desire to know and obey Yahweh’s law is the very first step towards
true wisdom and understanding. Conversely, the path of wickedness leads inevitably to
ignorance, confusion and folly.
||18: “But the path of the just is a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.”
This means that if you really want to know, you must
Trust and Obey
the Almighty: and as you do this your path will become brighter
and brighter as time proceeds. You will learn more and more, not only about human nature
and its follies, but of Yahweh's plans, His methods and His aims and, perhaps, even His
motives. For you, life will not become a confused mess, as it is with so many people,
but a glorious journey with Yahweh as your pilot.
11. Secret Things
Yahweh has many things He wants to reveal to the human race. But, alas! most are
hidden from our understanding. Not because the Almighty wants us to remain in the dark,
but because advanced knowledge is a powerful thing. Without holiness, inner strength
and experience, knowledge can produce terror, pride or doubt. For
example, if at the start of our adult lives the Most High told us everything that lay
ahead, we might give up our faith through sheer terror. Or we might become puffed up
with pride at our advanced knowledge. Or, with our limited experience, we may even
doubt His love, His wisdom and His power. That is why He only reveals His secrets to
His servants the prophets: and even they often failed to understand His purposes.
Through the prophets we who are really interested, have the opportunity to
Learn to Know.
||7: “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.”
If you really want to learn what God is planning to do, you'll need to study what
the Most High has already revealed to His servants the prophets: that is - the
Bible Prophets! All that we need to know is already recorded in their writings!
There are, however, certain things which the Almighty does not want us to know.
They are secret.
||29: “The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
- What is the Almighty and His Son doing right now?
- Why do they not reveal themselves?
- Why do they not put an end to human suffering?
- Why do they not exert their authority and wipe out war?
- Why do they take so long to carry out their plans? Why the delay?
- Why hasn’t Yahweh given His people more power to do the myriad things that need to be done here and now?
- Why does God allow His own followers to suffer pain, sickness, persecution and sometimes even martyrdom?
Answers to these and many more questions are sought every day by millions of people all
over the earth. When asked, we attempt to answer these questions, but comparatively
few accept our explanations. And all the while the Almighty remains silent.
Why? Why? Why?
The divine reasons are currently secret. There certainly are answers to these questions,
convincing answers: but right now we don't have them all. But one day we shall know.
The Apostle Paul wrote:
|1 Corinthians 13:
||12: “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known.”
That brings us to the end of this sermon Learn to Know. In your
search for knowledge I have spoken of the few guidelines which through the
years have helped me learn the little I know. I trust that they will help you
also. Let me end by summarizing the points I have brought to your attention:
- The Bible is the Word of Yahweh, the Almighty God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel.
Every word is God-breathed and must be understood with the help of the same
Holy Spirit who inspired it in the first place.
- The Bible was given for doctrine, reproof, correction and instruction in righteousness,
that we might grow to become like our Father in Heaven.
- We all need the Bible because we are all ignorant sinners and can not live by bread alone.
The Bible is life's User Guide. It is our spiritual food.
- The Bible should be studied with much prayer: not with the intention of proving others
wrong, but to improve your own performance.
- The Bible interprets itself: difficult issues in one passage are plainly explained in others.
The Bible never contradicts itself. It is after all - God’s Word!
- To understand a particular teaching you must assemble all the texts on that subject
before making a judgement. In this way you will not be side-tracked into error.
- Bible truths often come on two levels: the tangible low level which we can see
and hear: and the abstract high level which deals with moral concepts and eternal realities.
As a believer living in the end-time you should seek to learn the high level truths Yahweh has hidden in
every story in His Word.
- For serious Bible study the King James Version is recommended. It is the real
Word of God for the English-speaking world. Bible Concordances and Dictionaries are more useful than
Bible Commentaries, which usually reflect the beliefs of individuals or denominations.
- Practice Truth. True understanding is only given to the righteous. The wicked, by comparison,
shall never understand.
- At the moment we do not have all the answers. Many things are still secret. But one day
we shall know as we are known.
This brings me to my final point. The accumulation of knowledge is, in itself, not
enough. You must learn to know Jehovah and His Son Yeshua the Messiah.
You must also learn to obey God in thought, word and deed. The Bible is simply a
spiritual road map directing you to those two objectives: to know and to obey the Almighty
and His Son. Put differently I
may say: Trust and Obey and
“Fear God and keep His commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.”
I'll end this sermon with the words of the Saviour, the Son of the Most High.
||28: “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.|
29: Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30: For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
In the Son’s Name - For the Father’s glory.
Elder/Pastor: Max W. Mader