Watching Daily At Wisdom's Gates

A Yorkshireman's take on life, death, and eternity

Cursed

And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;

Genesis 3:17
Maybe you sometimes wonder why work is such a chore. It wasn’t always the case, and was created to be very good and fulfilling. Work is still a good thing and can still be good but has also become drudgery.
It’s all because Adam listened to his wife to eat of the tree God had forbidden. This isn’t to say men can blame women for hard work. As the head of the relationship who had heard God’s command first hand, Adam should have known better.
But because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the ground he was to work from was cursed. Labour has become toilsome and hard. By the sweat of our brows we will earn our crust.
So men can’t blame women for laborious work. In fact, the writer of Ecclesiastes says the contrary. There’s nothing better than that men should enjoy life with their wives and the work God gives them to do.
“Heavenly Father, we’re sorry for rebelling against You and causing relationship breakdowns and burdensome work. Help us to find blessing and enjoyment in our relationships and work we pray. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Magi

And going into the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then, opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh.

Matthew 2:11
This verse will have taken place up to two years after Jesus was born. The wise men had travelled from the East when they saw His star, and Herod found out from them that it must have been up to two years since He was born. Understandably, looking for a king, they went to Herod, a puppet of the Romans who was understandably alarmed at the news of a new king.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph had long since left the place where they kept the animals, living in a house now as Joseph presumably resumed his work as a carpenter. Apparently he was at work when the wise men arrived, saw the child and His mother, and worshipped Him. Who ever worshipped an infant before or since? It’s pretty unusual behaviour!
What was so special about this toddler? The wise men’s gifts give a clue. Gold is a present fit for a king: the king of the Jews and indeed King of kings and Lord of lords. But He looked far from such in His humble backwoods home. Frankincense provides a fragrance that a priest would offer with His prayers: Jesus’ prayers for His people would be a sweet aroma to God the Father.
But Jesus wasn’t just a kingly priest, in the order of Melchizedek, the priestly king of Abraham’s day. Myrrh prophesies of the great and promised Prophet’s death for His people- for myrrh was used to anoint dead bodies. But when the women came to anoint Jesus’ body they discover He had risen in defeat of the grave as our great Prophet, Priest and King.
“Lord of glory, we worship Your holy name. We are overjoyed and rejoice that You would stoop so low as to become one of us, and our Prophet, Priest and King to deliver us, for Your glory, amen”

Fatherhood

“A son honours his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honour? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the Lord of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’

Malachi 1:6
As a general rule, sons honour their fathers. Especially when they’re very young, sons really tend to look up to their dads. Servants tend to honour their masters. Employees tend to respect their employers and try and work well for them, however much they may moan at times.
God is our heavenly Father. So He rightly expects us to honour Him. God is our Lord and master, so He expects a reverent fear and respect. As believers in Christ, we are described as a kingdom of priests, so we can’t dismiss this verse as applicable only to the old testament priesthood.
We have to question whether we as God’s people despise His name. But when Malachi’s hearers asked the question, it seems not to be in reverent fear but in indignant incredulity. We need to do some soul searching to make sure all is well between us and God.
Malachi’s hearers were offering God flawed sacrifices. We don’t sacrifice animals now that the Lamb of God has been sacrificed, but we are to offer our bodies as living sacrifices. Do we offer God the whole of us, or just our tongues and lip service? As a Christian song says, “To obey is better than sacrifice, I want more than Sundays and Wednesday nights”!
“Lord, and heavenly Father, please help us to honour You with our whole beings. May we offer the best that we have; our everything, to You. Please accept the praise of our lips, the devotion of our hearts and the application of our minds to the worship of You. For Your glory, amen”

Compassion

I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph. I will bring them back because I have compassion on them, and they shall be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the Lord their God and I will answer them.

Zechariah 10:6
It doesn’t matter how strong you are, you still need God to strengthen you. And it doesn’t matter how good you are, you still need God to save you. Judah was the strongest of Israel’s sons, as was his tribe. Joseph was the best of Israel’s sons, but he still needed saving, and his tribes after him.
Our hope rests on this statement applied to us, “I have compassion on them”. In Christ all God’s promises are to us His people “yes and amen”. We know that Jesus had compassion on the crowds of His days on earth, and that He gave His life for all who trust in Him. So we can be assured that God has compassion on us too.
God seemed to have rejected His people. They were sent into exile, banished from the promised land. But He brought them back. And He’s done it again in these latter days! For us as Christians, we are exiles and strangers in the world, despised and persecuted throughout the world. But when we reach heaven it will be as though God never rejected us, and in fact He hasn’t.
God is the Lord our God, and He will answer us. As surely as He is God, so will He answer us, it is in His DNA as it were to answer prayer. Famously He answers yes, no or wait. Often it’s the latter. For Judah it was 70 years wait in exile, for us it’s a lifetime until we get to glory.
“Lord our God, we praise You for Your strengthening, salvation and sympathy for us. Thank You for not rejecting us, and for answering our prayers. In Jesus’ name, amen”

Hallelujah!

After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,

Revelation 19:1
The metaphorical Babylon, the rich and powerful oppressor of God’s people, will not always be. Babylon as a political entity is no more. So is Rome (unless you count the treaty of Rome that formed the EU!). The Ottoman Empire, the Soviet Bloc and one day Communist China will be no more. But the kingdom of God shall outlast the sun.
There’s going to be a great multitude in heaven. None of us deserve to be there, but we will praise the Lord for our salvation, because salvation is of the Lord and it is only in Jesus’ name that we can be saved. Anyone who trusts in Babylon or themselves for salvation will be lost.
Glory belongs to God. Babylon might seem glorious now- all technicolour and full of riches and military might. But all the glories of Babylon are nothing compared to the glories of Zion with its pearly gates and streets paved with gold.
All the power belongs to God. He might permit Babylon some power now with which to refine the church with persecutions. But any power we might enjoy is loaned to us by the Almighty.
“Almighty Lord, we acknowledge that salvation, glory and power belong to You. We thank You for giving us salvation, promising glory, and equipping us with Your power to live our lives for You. For Your glory, amen”

Beast

And he carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness, and I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was full of blasphemous names, and it had seven heads and ten horns.

Revelation 17:3
People have all sorts of weird and wonderful interpretations for Revelation. Many of them may seem very current and relevant, but most of them in a generation are debunked. A popular interpretation of the woman on the beast is the Roman Catholic Church, a kind of adulterated perversion of the true church of Christ. Then the beast is interpreted to be Islam, a beastly religion that brings devestation and destruction wherever it goes.
These slightly fanciful interpretations may seem superficially attractive, but we are to find the meaning of the word, not our own meanings extrapolated out of the text. This vision must have meant something to John and the original readers, so it can’t just be about entities that came about hundreds of years after his vision.
Revelation was written not just to record what John saw, but also to comfort the persecuted church of his day. And it continues to speak to this day. So whatever it has to say must have enduring significance. I believe the prostitute woman represents a bastardisation of true religion, whether that be Judaism today, Roman Catholicism, or Islam.
The woman is later described as drunk on the blood of the saints. I believe the beast she rides symbolises military/political power, that false religion harnesses to persecute the church. Popes, rabbis and imams alike have often stirred up mobs, authorities or militias to persecute the church. The woman may bear a passing resemblance to the bride of Christ, but instead of committing herself to Him, she has prostituted herself with satanic world powers.
“Sovereign Lord, what a comfort it is to know that you are in control when religion and governments have it in for us as Your people. Please help us to remain faithful to You in the face of persecution. For Your glory, amen”

Complacency

At that time I will search Jerusalem with lamps, and I will punish the men who are complacent, those who say in their hearts, ‘The Lord will not do good, nor will he do ill.’

Zephaniah 1:12
The time Zephaniah speaks of is the great and awesome day of the Lord, when He will judge the world in righteousness and truth. God’s city of Jerusalem will not be exempt from God’s judgement. All peoples and nations, including God’s own, will be answerable to Him on that great day.
But many people are complacent. “Where is this promised return?” They scoff. Everything appears to continue as it has ever been. But as surely as the promised first advent came about, so will the second. Christ came first as Saviour, but will come secondly as Judge.
We are too often complacent about the sin of complacency. Maybe we feel over familiar with the truths of God, and we’ve just become rather blasé about the whole thing. But we mustn’t deceive ourselves that judgement isn’t coming, even for something as apparently trivial as complacency.
Some people assume God is impotent. They might acknowledge His existence, but they don’t think He does anything of any significance or has any relevance to their lives. The day of the Lord is too late to discover how wrong that view is, because it is a day of judgement. Better to acknowledge God’s goodness in sending Jesus as Saviour now, before it’s too late.
“Almighty God, forgive us our complacency. Help us to realise how important it is to make our peace with You before it’s too late. Thank You that peace is possible with You through the Lord Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray, amen”

Ruler

She gave birth to a male child, one who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron, but her child was caught up to God and to his throne,

Revelation 12:5
Revelation 12 is a cosmic Christmas, showing the birth of Christ from a heavenly perspective. It’s a pretty psychedelic vision involving a dragon hell bent on infanticide. Thankfully the woman gives birth to the Messiah, who we are assured will rule all nations with a rod of iron.
Of course, many people would like to keep Jesus in an animal feeding trough, meek, humble, innocent and harmless. Some don’t even mind Christ on a Roman cross, bearing the sins of the world. His resurrection gives us hope of eternal life. But His ascention to God’s throne uncomfortably reminds us that He is the king to whom we’re answerable.
We have a glimpse of the homicidal satan in Herod’s slaughter of the infants in Bethlehem, trying to wipe out the rival King of the Jews, Jesus Christ. Thankfully His stepdad Joseph had been warned in a dream to flee with Him and His mother Mary to Egypt. Satan may try and drag us down to hell with him and thwart God’s salvation plan, but He’s already failed.
Jesus is no longer the baby in Bethlehem, who became a refugee in Egypt. He is ruling from the throne of heaven, interceding for His redeemed people to His Father. And one day He will return to establish His rule and reign on earth as it is in heaven. Are you ready for that day?
“Heavenly Father, we give You all the praise for sending Your beloved Son in the power of the Holy Spirit to redeem us from hell. Thank You that nothing can thwart Your plans, and that we are Yours for all eternity, in Jesus’ name, amen”

Lame

and the lame I will make the remnant, and those who were cast off, a strong nation; and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion from this time forth and forevermore.

Micah 4:7
The knowledgeable lame must have leapt for joy at the advent of the Messiah, and not just literally at His miraculous signs of His divinity. This verse shows that the Lord Jesus didn’t just come to do healings, but to make the broken His people.
Jesus didn’t just make the lame His people, it was also the emotionally and spiritually broken. Those who were cast of in first century Palestinian society were those deemed “unclean” by the religious establishment, people like tax collectors, prostitutes and lepers. But these were exactly the kind of people who helped to make up the church, a “strong nation”, not from West, East or South, but a heavenly people redeemed from earth by God’s grace.
Mount Zion isn’t just the literal city of David in Jerusalem that Jesus visited, and taught from in the temple. It’s a picture of God’s heavenly dwelling. So when Micah tells us that God will reign over His people from mount Zion, he’s not just saying that Jesus figuratively reigned over the outcasts for the three years He ministered in.
Instead, Micah was pointing forward to the eternal reign from heaven of the Messiah, who is exalted in glory. He has reigned from the time He made the lame walk and welcomed the outcasts to this very day. And He will reign for ever and ever.
“Lord Almighty, we worship You today and thank You for humbling Yourself to come into our world and make us Your people. We are spiritually lame and broken people, but You have healed and restored us and we give You all the honour and the glory, amen”

Preaching

“Do not preach”—thus they preach— “one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.”

Micah 2:6
The world doesn’t want us to preach. The world doesn’t want us to tell our friends, family, neighbours, acquaintances and strangers the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. But we must obey God before our fellow humans.
Thankfully in the UK, there is a traditional respect for freedom of speech and religion, stemming from our Christian heritage. Sadly this is being increasingly eroded. “Do not preach”, people ironically preach to us. The reality is that people will “preach” or tell or proclaim whatever they believe in, and in a multicultural society it’s a free for all.
The onus on us is to preach the truth, however unpopular it may be. Note that we are to preach the gospel, not morality. Abortion and LGBT lifestyles might be wrong in the eyes of God, but our job as Christians is to tell abortionists and the LGBT community alike that God loves them and has made a way for them to be forgiven and transformed.
The gospel message is so unpopular because people struggle to get beyond the morality bit. We all have consciences and can be convicted by the Holy Spirit of sin, righteousness and judgement. But our sinful natures are so twisted that we flee from the God who can deliver us from our sins, make us righteous, and judge us to be acquitted from all our offences towards Him.
“God in heaven, help us Your people to be faithful to preach Your word and not to hide our light under a bowl. Don’t let us be intimidated by those who would preach at us not to preach, but give us conviction to do the right thing. For Your glory, amen