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Light To Read By A Key To Understanding Your Bible

In the Bible, God's creative activity begins with the sentence, "Let there be light." This is not merely a nice opening line, but it actually tells of the culmination of God's redemptive plan for mankind as well. The necessity of understanding this important biblical theme takes us to the gospel of Matthew.Matthew 6: 19-34.Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on.

Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.

Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.Now we simply have to ask the question here, "What was Jesus talking about?" Most people probably would strive to give an answer they could offer with confidence. They can read, re-read, and read some more, still too many trees dot the forest.

Certainly this was true of the guys who arranged this text into its various sections. Apparently, to them this simply looked like "various sayings of Jesus lumped together about how to get along in life" -- something a bit like "Don't worry, be happy.".It's hard to blame them. After all, here, you have stuff about money, worrying about tomorrow, clothes and pagans, Solomon and grass, birds of the air, eyes and bodies, etc. Most moderns too probably see this as a kind a rant posted online entitled "random thoughts about life.

".I believe that the key to understanding this text flows from the theme of resurrection, and I'll try to explain this as clearly as I am able. Jesus was here, and most everywhere else, TALKING ABOUT RESURRECTION UNTO GLORY.

You see, people in that day had a common problem. They kept dying. Sometimes they died because they didn't have clothes enough to keep warm, or food enough to eat. Life was then as Thomas Hobbes described it: Nasty, brutish and short.In this context, to tell people "life is more than just food and clothes" would not have met with the yawning consent moderns give this saying. They would have thought -- "You must be crazy! Don't you see all these people dropping like flies because they don't have the necessities of life?" And he would have answered them, "Oh yes, I see it.

But I also see that these people, should they live like kings today, having their needs met like Solomon did, will still DIE. And then what?".You see, Solomon was arrayed in GLORY. And the lilies were clothed BY GOD, and not by men.

This is the central point of the text. This is why Paul was fond of the metaphor of "putting on Christ," as though Christ were like clothing -- holy clothing -- like a priestly robe or a king's best. Pagans would instead strive to get MONEY, and store it up, so that they could meet life's demands of food and clothing. They put mammon on the top of the list so they could make ends meet, and get a little insurance against fickle fortune. This made them greedy for money.

This is why they laid up treasure here and now.Thus from the very beginning (v. 19), Jesus had entered into one LONG monologue about God vs. Mammon -- hoarding money for one's own personal gain. And yet, God commands men to get money. This is what work is all about.

But simply getting money differs from hoarding it for personal use. The evil eye presents us with the problem. If you read the Older Testament, you will find that it refers to a lack of CHARITY -- where charity means giving away money to the needy -- as an evil eye toward your neighbor. The opposite of an evil eye finds expression in Scripture as an open hand and an enlarged heart, or largesse. Royalty, in the ancient near East, preeminently concerned itself with showing what today we would call "extreme charity.

" This the pagans lack.By contrast, the Christian life builds others up by "faith, hope, and charity." Here, faith means "faith in the redemptive work of Christ and all the promises of God.

" Hope means the future expectation that God will raise those who have served him from the dead unto glory and immortality. And charity means "practical kindness," the only kind of love Scripture approves. The bottom line is this: you either fix your eyes on hoarding money as a means for getting more immediate pleasure in this life (serve Mammon and have an evil [stingy] eye toward your neighbor), or you trust God to provide for you and focus your efforts on doing works of faith, hope and charity -- with a "good eye" toward your neighbor.Jesus had said, "You Christians (their faith may have been little, but these were those who had faith) can trust God to provide you with temporary food and clothes because he will clothe you in the resurrection with greater glory than Solomon had." Don't worry about getting money to provide for the basics, instead work hard and pray hard (knowing that God will provide) and get about doing works of faith, hope, and especially charity. For, as Paul said, "To them who by patient continuance in well doing [i.

e. doing good works] seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: [i.e. resurrection of the body unto glory, honor, riches, wisdom, etc] ." (Romans 2:7).

God relates to others in an orderly way (though He is seldom predictable) by a principle called "Lex Talionis." The way you treat God and His people now determines how He will treat you later. What you sow now, you reap later. So by doing good works now, Christians "Glorify God." For Jesus said, "let your LIGHT SHINE before men that they may see your good works, and [so] GLORIFY your Father who is in heaven.

" And if you Glorify God through persistent, faithful obedience, He will also glorify you. That is called "resurrection." It is the primary subject of the entire book of Revelation, though most seemed to have missed the obvious for the subtle on that point.Solomon was a "type," a graphic picture of what a believer will be like in the resurrection. He will be a king, shine with great glory, be full of wisdom, and be called "Jedidiah," which means "Beloved of the Lord.

" This is why the lampstands of Solomon's Temple represent the Church. And remember, the Solomonic Temple was characterized by "glory and beauty." Lampstands give light, they shine.Jesus was always thinking of resurrection unto glory, of His own and of that of His people.

How do I know this? Because the author of Hebrews said so. "Who for the JOY SET BEFORE HIM endured the cross, scorning it shame." What was this "joy" he had set firmly in front of his eyes (meaning that it occupied His thoughts and perspective)?? You guessed it.Now let's carry this idea forward just a bit, looking at other instances of this theme in the Bible. What was Joseph's special "coat of many colors" about? Noah's rainbow? Moses' shining face? Why do the martyrs in Revelation get handed "White robes??"" Why is the kingdom of heaven like "A buried pearl later taken from the ground to show its light to the world?" What color are sheep? Why did Jesus say, "No one hides a lamp under a bushel?" Why did he say to his disciples "You are the light of the world"? Why does Scripture -- for all its emphasis on inner beauty -- go out of it's way to mention the great outward beauty of women of faith like Sarah, Esther, and Bathsheba? Why are Christians promised to be made "pillars in the temple of My God" by Jesus? What color are pillars? Why did Jesus tell a parable where a man was tossed out of the wedding party for wearing the WRONG CLOTHES? Why was the high priest clothed in so dazzling an array of costly luminous stones? Why did Jesus choose the word "glory" to characterize Solomon in a single word? Why is the Church described in terms of precious gems at the end of the Revelation? How is wisdom better than "rubies," and the tongue of the righteous like "choice silver"?? Why are wisdom and righteousness always so shiny in the Bible?Why did Solomon say that the END of a matter was better than its beginning?.

I suggest that the reader interpret the sayings of Jesus, the Lord of Glory, in the context of this theme when you next read his words, and, if the Lord blesses, you might find yourself pleasantly surprised by the clarity of his sayings where they once seemed more difficult. After all, says John, "God is light, and there is no darkness in Him at all." Amen.

.Carson Day has written some 1.3 gazillion articles and essays on all manner of topics. These aim to glorify God and offer people real help to live wisely and well. You can visit Carson's websites at http://ophirgold.

blogspot.com (The Omniblog, where Carson blogs everything) or http://extremeprofit.blogspot.com (Carson's Day Trading Outpost). Thanks for stopping by.

By: Carson C. Day

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