The Ministry Begins

Scripture: Matthew 4:19, Matthew 3:1-12, 2 Peter 1:19
Date: 04/09/2016 
Lesson: 2
"Why is humility so crucial a trait for Christians? How can we learn to be and stay humble? What role should the Cross play in helping us in this crucial area?"
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Good morning, friends, and welcome again to Sabbath school study hour. A very warm welcome to the members here of the Granite Bay church and those who are visiting across the country and some even from some other places around the world, a very special welcome to all of you. We're glad you're here to study with us as we take a look at our lesson for this week. For our friends joining us, we also want to welcome you in a special way. I'll let you know that we are studying through the book of Matthew.

If you don't have your lesson quarterly dealing with the subject of Matthew, you can go to the Amazing Facts website - just You can download today's lesson - it's lesson #2 entitled the ministry begins - and you can follow along with us as we study together. We also have a free offer called Christ's human nature - a book written by Joe Crews. This is the free offer for today and we'll be happy to send this to anybody (in North America) who calls and asks. The number to call is 866-788-3966.

Again, that number is 866-788-3966 and you can ask for offer #703 and we'll be happy to send that to you. If you're outside of North America and you'd like to participate in our free offer, just go to the website and you can click on the free library and you can read the .pdf version of the book called Christ's human nature and follow right along with us. Well, before we get to our study today, as usual, we'd like to begin with a few songs of praise and we'd like to invite our choristers to come forward and they'll be leading us in some praise this morning. Thank you, Pastor Ross, and hello to everyone here and those of you joining us. It's time to sing.

We know that you look forward to singing your favorite hymns with us every week and so today we're going to continue with that tradition and our first one is #620 - on Jordan's stormy banks - join with us, we're going to do the first, third, and fourth stanzas - #620. On Jordan's stormy banks I stand, and cast a wishful eye to canaan's fair and happy land, where my possessions lie. I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; o who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land. When shall I reach that happy place, and be forever blest? When shall I see my father's face, and in his kingdom rest? I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; o who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land. Filled with delight, my raptured soul would here no longer stay; though Jordan's waves around me roll, fearless I'd launch away.

I am bound for the promised land, I am bound for the promised land; o who will come and go with me? I am bound for the promised land. That is such a beautiful song and such an upbeat, cheery song - bound for the promised land - that you can't feel down when you're singing that song, can you? Sometimes we sing unfamiliar, new songs, and today we're going to do that. We love learning new songs with you, so let's sing #232 at the name of Jesus. At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess him king of glory now; 'tis The Father's pleasure we should call him Lord, who from the beginning was the mighty word. At his voice creation sprang at once to sight, all the angel faces, all the hosts of light, thrones and dominations, stars upon their way, all the heavenly orders in their great array.

In your hearts enthrone him: there let him subdue all that is not holy, all that is not true; crown him as your captain in temptation's hour, let his will enfold you in its light and power. Surely, this Lord Jesus shall return again, with his father's glory, with his angel train; for all wreaths of empire meet upon his brow, and our hearts confess him king of glory now. Pastor Ross is going to come out and lead us in prayer. I'd like to invite you to bow your heads as we begin with a word of prayer. Dear Father in Heaven, we are indeed grateful to be able to gather together in your house on this beautiful Sabbath, to open up the Scriptures and to study about the life of Jesus and the ministry of Jesus.

And so, Lord, we invite the Holy Spirit to come and guide our hearts and our minds. Lead us into a fuller and clearer understanding of his great sacrifice, his life, his ministry - that we would be drawn closer to him, for we ask this in Jesus' Name, amen. Our lesson today will be brought to us by dr. Derose. Thank you, dr.

Derose. Well, it's great to be studying together again. We're studying from the Gospel of Matthew. We're on lesson #2 entitled the ministry begins - the ministry begins. It was some 80 years ago and a story - a narrative - was being disseminated, at least it was in germany.

The narrative was that if you were not of aryan bloodlines, you were of an inferior racial background. It was especially true of certain races including those from the african nations. That narrative - that story was being told and in 1936 the world turned their attention on berlin, germany because that was the site for the olympics that year. And many of you know the story of what transpired at that amazing olympic games. There was actually one individual among a number from those very african blood lines that were being disparaged in germany.

As hitler was leading the ceremonies there, one of the Americans who came to berlin was jesse owens, an african-American, just a couple of generations removed from slavery - his grandfather was a slave. And most of you know the story, how jesse owens won four gold medals at those 1936 olympics and, in essence, rewrote the narrative, at least for those who were listening. African-Americans were not an inferior race. The aryans were not the dominant race in the world. But as inspiring and as remarkable as the story of jesse owens is, today we're studying the story of another life that re-wrote history and, in fact, in a much greater way than jesse owens ever did.

It's the life of Jesus, our Savior. And as we look at the beginnings of the Gospel of Matthew, pastor doug promised us in our previous study, that we would revisit some of the things in the first few chapters. We'll do that, as well as looking through, really, the first four chapters of the Gospel of Matthew. Those four chapters actually talk about, in a very broad way, how Jesus was re-writing history. Turn in your Bibles to, perhaps, a surprising place to begin.

I'm turning to the book of Daniel - the book of Daniel because we want to get a perspective on this Gospel. As Pastor Doug made very clear in our last lesson, Matthew was especially writing for the Jewish people. And the Jewish nation had a very special prophecy that was written in the book of Daniel. I'm turning in Daniel, chapter 9, for what is commonly referred to as the seventy-weeks prophecy - Daniel 9 - and I just want to read the first verse of that prophecy - Daniel 9, beginning with verse 24 - Daniel 9, verse 24, "seventy weeks are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy." For those of you students of Bible prophecy, you realize that this prophecy, historians agree, began in 457 bc. And if you were to trace down through the stream of time when Jesus is beginning his ministry we're entering the final week of years of that prophecy.

So that seventy weeks took in seventy weeks of years or 490 years. And if that's a strange concept for you, you can go to the Amazing Facts website - there's a lot of resources there on Bible prophecy. But here's the interesting thing in this prophecy, it was a prophecy given to who? Do you see it there? In Daniel 9, verse 24, as it begins, seventy weeks are determined for who? "For your people and your holy city." So this is a prophecy given to the Jewish nation. And if you look at the narrative that was being written, the Jewish nation had not fulfilled what they were called to do. Some four hundred and what - eighty-three years had passed.

I mean, it's the closing hours of prophetic history, according to Daniel 9, and the Jewish nation has totally failed to accomplish what God called them to do. But now what happens in the Gospel of Matthew is the fulfillment of all that history looked forward to: Jesus is coming to re-write the history of the Jewish nation - actually, to bring fulfillment to all that God called his people to accomplish. So let's look at that as we speak about this topic of the ministry begins - and I just want to trace with you, very briefly, how Jesus re-writes this history. Let's look first at Matthew chapter 1 - we're going to touch on a few things that were touched on last week and then we'll tie that in with where we're going. So our focus is the first four chapters of Matthew and we want to see how Jesus changes the history - really fulfills the promise of Daniel chapter 9.

So in Matthew chapter 1, verse , we read this of Jesus' human origins. It says, "now the birth of Jesus was as follows: after his mother mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit." So Luke gives us a little more detail but Matthew, here, is alluding to the fact of this divine virgin birth. And, of course, as you read through Matthew's account in chapter 1, Joseph immediately, in verse 19, realizes that this is not the way that things are supposed to happen, right? And so he is going to graciously just put mary aside. He's not going to make a big ordeal. They're not yet married, they're just engaged or betrothed, but an angel appears to Joseph.

What I want you to realize here is, just like the Jewish nation basically had their birth in a set of miracle births, right? Abraham is given this promise of being The Father of what? A multitude. And you can imagine Abraham as he was first called abram, then Abraham, The Father of a multitude - can you imagine? You know, there's a lot - there's a lot to be said in your name. I mean, can you imagine introducing yourself? 'Hello, what's your name?' 'I'm father of a multitude.' 'Wow, father of a multitude, how many children do you have?' 'None.' None. And so God miraculously - it wasn't a virgin birth, but in Sarah whose womb was dead, in essence, it's a miracle birth just as much - the promise of a nation of an offspring comes through a miracle birth at its very beginning. Abraham is not The Father of any nation until there's a miracle birth.

Well, you know, after a number of generations, God's people, the Jewish nation, finds themselves in Egypt. And as we come to Matthew chapter 2, we see Jesus - he's actually, in essence, fulfilling or redeeming the whole Jewish history. As you look through it - so it begins with this virgin birth - with this miraculous birth - and when we're in chapter 2 of Matthew - you know the story, how it unfolds - the magi, these wise men from the east have come to be there and to show their respect for - who is it? the King of the jews. So in Matthew's Gospel, the introductory message does not come through shepherds - it does in Luke's Gospel, and it did happen that way, of course, but Matthew is highlighting the Kingship of Jesus. As we walked through it in our last study with Pastor Doug, what did we see? We saw Jesus of the Kingly line - the emphasis - and on - in on him being The Son of David and being of the line of Abraham.

So as Luke speaks about people that, in Jewish culture, weren't very significant, like shepherds and women and old women like ana in the temple. In Matthew's Gospel the focus is on these wise men who come to Jesus. But after the wise men come - go with me to Matthew chapter 2 and verse 13. Matthew 2, verse 13 it says, "now when they" - the wise men - "had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, 'arise, take the young child and his mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for herod will seek the young child to destroy him.' When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of herod..." Why? Why? Do you catch what Matthew then says? He says he was there so "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 'out of Egypt I called my son.'" So you see what's happening here? Jesus, a miracle birth, a line that has promised Kingship - Jesus is looked to as the King - and then what happens? the King goes - the Kingly line, if you will, the King himself, Jesus, goes to Egypt. He is actually re-writing, if you will, he's re-writing the history of the Jewish nation.

Jesus, as he walks on earth, is fulfilling all that God's people were called to fulfill. And so not only - not only does he have this history, what happens now is that we get into the special focus of this lesson. We come to Matthew chapter 3 and in Matthew chapter 3 we're introduced to John the baptist. John the baptist is preparing the way for who? For the Messiah. He's preparing the way for the King.

And so what happens to Jesus when he comes to John? What happens? When Jesus comes to John - listen carefully to the dialogue that happens. I'm in, now, Matthew chapter 3, verse 13 - Matthew 3, verse 13. It says, "then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan to be baptized by him. And John tried to prevent him, saying, 'I need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?' But Jesus answered and said to him, 'permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.' Then he allowed him." Do you see what's happening here? Jesus goes through - he goes to Egypt and then after he's come back from Egypt he goes through a baptism experience. How many of you are aware that in the Jewish mindset they understood that they, as a people, had been collectively baptized.

Are you aware of this? If you have a question about this, turn into 1 Corinthians chapter 10 - 1 Corinthians chapter 10 as we hear the apostle Paul describing something that was part of the cultural identity of the Jewish nation. We know this for a number of reasons: baptism was not introduced by the John the baptist. Baptism was a practice that was engaged in for Jewish converts. So if you were not of the seed of Abraham - if you were not of the biological lineage of Abraham, when you became a jew, you were baptized. And the reason for it was, if you were born into a Jewish bloodline, you didn't need to be baptized because of what Paul describes here in 1 Corinthians chapter 10.

Let's look at it - 1 Corinthians chapter 10, beginning with verse , "moreover, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware that all our fathers were under the cloud, all passed through the sea, all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank of that spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ." Do you catch the picture? As Paul is retracing something that the Jewish nation knew - now he's writing, remember, here to a church in corinth. So these were not jews by birth. He's writing to a church that we would say would be in modern-day greece, as we draw lines today, and so this was a gentile church at one of the crossroads of the - of the world, during the new testament times. And so, as Paul is writing he says, 'I'm reminding you.

I don't want you to be ignorant. I want you - I don't want you to be unaware of what we in judaism have known and that is that the Jewish people went through a baptism experience. And so, as we're reading through the Gospel of Matthew, the first four chapters we see Jesus, basically, redeeming the entire history of God's people. Jesus is the one of that promised lineage. He's the miracle-birth child.

He actually goes to Egypt for a period of time. He comes out of Egypt and after he comes out of Egypt, he is baptized. Where were the children of Israel baptized? In the red sea, you see? So then what happens to the children of Israel after the red sea experience? What did they have to deal with? That's right, they had to deal with 4o years in the wilderness. And so, as we read of Jesus' baptism - and what we're doing in this beginning of our study together, we're trying to give you the big picture of the first four chapters and then, by God's grace, we'll pick up some of these details a little bit more, but we're trying to see what the narrative - what Matthew was trying to display - what he was writing as he was writing this book to Jewish believers. And so we see, now, after Jesus is baptized - so I'm back in Matthew.

In Matthew 3 we read of the baptism and then we're going to find that Jesus finds himself, again, reliving or rewriting the history of the Jewish people. Matthew chapter 3 ends with the baptism and God speaking these words of approval. He says, 'this is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.' But then we come into chapter 4 - Jesus just baptized - now some of you can perhaps relate to this. You remember your baptism very well. And perhaps some of you, when you were baptized you had an idea that when you went under the waters of baptism, that when you came up you would be a new person.

Now, that is true, but in your mind a new person meant that you would be free of all those temptations that you had before you were baptized. Can any of you relate to this? That somehow that baptism - there'd be an amazing transformation. It is - it's an amazing, amazing service that God has instituted. But you know what, if you're like me, when you came out of the baptismal waters, you still dealt with the same - some of the same old struggles. Are you relating to this? We're not immediately removed from temptation by baptism.

And with Jesus, who never sinned, even Jesus, after he comes out of the waters of baptism, what do we see happening next in Matthew chapter 4? Matthew 4, verse 1 says, "then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil." And as Matthew is writing his account of the Gospel - by the way, if you read Mark's account, just a very succinct reference to this period, but Matthew and Luke describe what happens in detail. It says, in verse 2, when Jesus "had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry." So catch the picture here, the Jewish nation, they're baptized in the red sea and then where do they find themselves? They find themselves in the wilderness for how long? For forty years. So Jesus has this forty-day experience in the wilderness and what is happening to Jesus there in the wilderness? That's right, just what happened to the children of Israel. They were tempted in the wilderness. How well did they do? Not too well.

That's right, they didn't do all so well there in those wilderness temptations. In fact, all of the men - all of the individuals over twenty died in the wilderness, except for caleb and Joshua. None of them entered the promised land. They all died. This was not a successful overcoming of sin.

But what does Jesus do in the wilderness? Jesus overcomes in every area. Now remember, I'm struggling because we're trying to give an over - kind of a broad overview. I know it's taking a little time to give a broad overview and I'm struggling with the temptation that maybe some of you are struggling with because you want to dive in a little bit more to some of these stories. But the point is, we're trying to see this big picture that Jesus overcomes in the wilderness in the area of temptation. And then he enters, if you will - Jesus does - after these temptations, what? The promised land.

He enters into his ministry. By the way, maybe I should remind you of this. Look in your Bibles at Genesis - I'm turning to Genesis chapter 12 - Genesis 12. This promise that God gave to Abraham - Genesis chapter 12, beginning with verse 1. "Now the Lord had said to abram: 'get out of your country, from your family and from your Father's house, to a land that I will show you.

'" By the way, where was the house of Jesus? Of what lineage was he of? That's right, he was the lineage of judah and he was of Bethlehem, you know, David's seed. He was born in Bethlehem, but we find Jesus - his early ministry is especially focused, as we'll look at in this lesson, in Galilee. So he's called from - called from his home, if you will - you might say we're taking a little bit - making a little bit more to the parallels than is warranted, but follow along. In verse 2 of the promise to abram: "I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you" - who shall be blessed? - "All the families of the earth shall be blessed.

" So here's the point: although the Jewish nation began to think in narrow terms of just an isolated focus on themselves, the original call to Abraham was to bless the whole world. And so Jesus, as he enters into his ministry, we see Jesus really, reaching in a sense, the whole world. And we'll catch that early on in Matthew's Gospel. But as Jesus enters into ministry look at how Matthew summarizes his ministry. Matthew chapter 4 beginning with verse 23, "and Jesus went about all Galilee.

.." Now it was just a little bit earlier in Matthew 4, if you want to be exact, verse 15, that there is a particular description of Galilee. It's not just called Galilee - do you see it there in verse 15, it's called Galilee what? Galilee of the gentiles. So Galilee is in a region of the promised land that for centuries had not been under, if you will, Jewish control. You know the history, back in the days of Solomon there was a united twelve tribes of Israel. And Solomon, like his father David, reigned over those united twelve tribes.

But what happened during the reign of rehoboam, Solomon's son? That's right, the Kingdom was divided and the ten northern tribes were separated from the two southern tribes of judah and Benjamin. Those ten northern tribes, centuries and centuries before Jesus' birth, had been conquered by assyria and they had become a gentile or a heathen region. And so Jesus' early ministry and, as Matthew is describing it, is to Galilee of the gentiles. Jesus is going to the non-Jewish world with this message, even though there are many jews there. And, of course, he's preaching in synagogues and ministering to jews, primarily during his ministry.

But, hopefully, you're catching this imagery that Jesus is reliving the experience of the Jewish nation. He is the promised one. He is fulfilling the promise of Daniel 9. He's bringing to fruition the seventy weeks' prophecy. And so, let's read on there in Matthew 4, verse 23 and onward.

It says, "and Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. Then his fame went out throughout all syria; and they brought to him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and he healed them. Great multitudes followed him - from Galilee, and from decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan." And so what it's saying here - as Matthew, in these first four chapters, is describing the early background of Jesus. He's presenting, I would suggest to you, a picture of someone who has redeemed - who has redeemed the history of the Jewish nation. He's rewritten the history.

The Jewish nation, for 483 years, couldn't fulfill what God asked them to do and Jesus comes and he does that. And the good news for me and for you is that that history that Jesus lived - that life that he lived - he wants to account it - not just for the history of the Jewish nation, but for every one of us - every one of us. So as we look at what God calls his people to be - we look and we say, 'I don't measure up to that.' Have you actually read the Bible and looked at its counsel? And you say, 'you know, as I read through this, I'm not living the kind of life that God called me to live.' Well, Jesus has lived that life. One of my favorite authors wrote about this in a little book called faith and works - faith and works - this is from page - listen to this: "perfection through our own good works we can never attain. The soul who sees Jesus by faith, repudiates his own righteousness.

" So, in other words, if I'm seeing Jesus and I'm seeing what he calls me to be and I look at myself, how do I look? I don't look very good. And that's putting it mildly, isn't it? So we repudiate - we say, 'my - I can't do it.' "He sees himself as incomplete." Now, I know today - this was written many years ago. If we were writing today we would say, you know, he or she. But you understand when they wrote in the male gender years ago. "He sees himself" - or if I were to put it in the first person, 'I see myself as incomplete, my repentance insufficient, my strongest faith but feebleness, my most costly sacrifice as meager, and I sink in humility at the foot of the cross.

' Are you following along? Can you relate to this? Do you ever feel like you just haven't repented enough? Have you ever felt like your faith is feeble? This is a common Christian experience. If we're seeing with God's eyes, we just don't - we don't stand up. And as we fall at the feet of Jesus at the cross, it says, 'a voice speaks to us from the oracles of God's Word' and then it quotes a passage from the book of Colossians: "in amazement we hear the message 'you are complete in him.'" See, I can look at my history and my history, how good does it look? Doesn't look very good, okay? And like I told you, I'm just being gentle with myself. It doesn't look very good. And you can look back at your history and it doesn't look very good, does it? But the focus in Jesus is not to look at my history.

Whose history should I be looking at? Jesus' history. And as we look at Jesus' history, we hear this voice from the cross, 'you are complete in' - who? 'In him.' Now all is at rest in your soul. No longer must you strive to find some worthiness in yourself - some meritorious deed by which to gain the favor of God. So what Jesus is playing out in Matthew 1 through 4, he's living a perfect life. And not only does that perfect life stand in place of the failures of God's people in the old testament, it stands in place of my life when I accept Jesus as my Savior.

So the first four chapters of Matthew speak about how Jesus offers a perfect life to us. And as we get to the last four chapters of Matthew, it shows us that Jesus offers a perfect sacrifice for us. He dies in our place. And so, this is this grand picture that we see in Matthew's Gospel. But let's go back and look, now, at some of those dimensions that we only hastened over.

And there is so much we could talk about, but why don't we look at one thing that I was just really struggling to just brush by and that's John the baptist's ministry. Go there, back with Matthew 3 - from this context, now, let's look at this Gospel that was especially written to Jewish believers - Matthew's Gospel - and in Matthew 3 we want to notice something interesting. John the baptist is giving a prophetic message. It's interesting to me that Matthew, as he's speaking of the ministry of John, in verse 3 of Matthew 3, he quotes from Isaiah the prophet, these words: "the voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" Now one exercise that I would encourage you to engage in as you're studying through the Gospel of Matthew is comparing the different Gospels, and we're going to do that right now. I want to just challenge you to turn in your Bibles to the Gospel of Mark.

Now, although Matthew begins with the early life story of Jesus, Mark does not have anything that corresponds to Matthew chapter 1 or 2, but in the second Gospel, which you remember from our last study, was actually written first. Mark's Gospel was written first. Mark actually connects his Gospel at the very beginning more seamlessly with the old testament. So look with me at Mark chapter 1, picking up right where Matthew 3 starts, did you notice who Matthew quoted from? What old testament writer did he quote from? Isaiah, that's exactly right. Look at what Mark does.

Mark says, in Mark 1, verse 2, "as it is written in the prophets: 'behold, I send my messenger before your face, who will prepare your way before you. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: 'prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'" So Mark is quoting from Isaiah, but he's also quoting from who? Do any of you know? That's right, he's quoting from Malachi. Those of you who know the chronology of the Bible, where does the book of Malachi fall in the old testament? That's right, it's the very last book of the old testament. So I'm turning there to Malachi, just to catch this here, just to catch the impact a little bit more. Some of you may have enjoyed the story that concluded our lesson.

And, by the way, again, if you don't have this lesson quarterly, you can go to the website and you can access the lesson studies. But the closing illustration was of a pastor. Did you like that? The pastor who promised that if you came to his evangelistic meetings he would tear a page out of the Bible. Now how many of you treat the Bible as a sacred book? I mean, I do. I mean, doesn't - this sounds like something you may not want to go to.

In fact, if you're a parent, a watchful parent, and you heard about an evangelist who would be tearing pages out of the Bible, would you allow your children to go to the meeting? You might say, 'no way, I'm not going to allow my kids to go there.' But the story is that he would have people come and he would say, 'I'm going to tear a page out of the Bible' and I'm looking at the very page he tore out. Now, don't worry, I'm not planning to tear my page out, but he would tear this page out right here. And some of you might be able to see, if you're up front, what the page says. It's actually a blank page. There's nothing on it.

It just says the new testament and he, supposedly, would tear that page out. And his point was that the Revelation of God is seamless. There's no division between the old and the new. And so it is, as we're in the Gospel of Matthew, Matthew didn't quote from Malachi, but Mark did. And you see what's happening there in Malachi? In Malachi, he's giving that prophet of a messenger that was to come.

And that messenger - that messenger was John the baptist. So why I'm turning here is because there's a promise here that I think you want to catch. In Malachi 3 it not only - let's just read it together - Malachi , beginning with verse 1, "'behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, he is coming,' says the Lord of hosts.

But who can endure the day of his coming? And who can stand when he appears? For he is like a refiner's fire and like launderers' soap. He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; he will purify The Sons of levi and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer to the Lord an offering in righteousness." What's happening here? This messenger - there's two messengers, by the way, if you look carefully at Malachi 1. There's two messengers - one messenger is referring to John the baptist, in its first application there. But then there's a second messenger, the messenger of the covenant. Some translations capitalize that messenger because it's referring to who? It's referring to Jesus.

And then it speaks of Jesus refining with what? What do you use to refine metals? That's right, refining with fire. So, now, look back at Matthew 3. Matthew 3, John the baptist is living this fulfillment of the prophecies of Isaiah and of Malachi. So Matthew's writing about it; John is fulfilling it. And John gives this call to repentance.

And do you see what John promises in verse 11? He's baptizing with water, but what does he say the messenger of the covenant, Jesus, will baptize with? Fire. So do you see this connection? So the old testament seamlessly merging into the new. Now, I'm actually preaching, it just so happens, from the andrews university study Bible. And I want to read you an interesting footnote - a very accurate footnote - speaking about John the baptist. As we read about John there, it has some interesting details - one that has captured people's attention is in verse 4.

It says, "now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist;" - and what was his food? - "Locusts and wild honey." Let me read you a footnote here: 'there's a long history of scholarly debate over whether this term refers to an insect, listed as a clean food in Leviticus 11:21-22, or to the carob bean.' Have you heard that before? Now listen to this: counsels on diet and foods, pages 70 and 71, "John separated himself from friends, and from the luxuries of life...his diet purely vegetable, of locusts and wild honey, was a rebuke to the indulgence of appetite, and the gluttony that everywhere prevailed." Interesting, isn't it? Makes you wonder, if someone was weighing in on this question of what the locusts were. But whether they were beans or whether they were grasshoppers, it sounds like a far sparser diet than I'm planning to enjoy at lunch today. How about you? You can relate, right? So what does this all mean? It means that John, focused on a message, is living a life that is saying 'no' to the temptations of appetite surrounding him. And I think it's interesting that after John baptizes Jesus he realizes he is unworthy, but Jesus says, 'allow it. Suffer it.

' Do you remember these words? Verse 15, allow it, or "permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." And so John allowed him and he baptizes Jesus. And then there's this heavenly proclamation where God says, 'this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.' And he says that to you too, you know? When you're baptized - when you commit yourself to a life of ministry. This is really Jesus' ordination - his Christening, if you will - his setting apart - his anointing for ministry. What happens right after? We looked at it already. Jesus is in the wilderness and what is the first temptation that he encounters? It is the temptation on appetite.

Now, if you've ever read anything about the fasting literature in medicine - I've read some of that literature. As a physician, I've put patients on medically supervised fasts before, and so I've been interested in this topic. And when you read the medical literature, what you read may be something that you've learned. After a relatively short while on a fast, usually within a few days, your body is in a phase of what we call ketosis - your body is burning fat and it's making these compounds called ketones. And when those ketones rise in the body, your hunger is actually suppressed.

And many people, after several days of fasting, really are not hungry. So with that in mind, read with me what it says about Jesus' days of fasting. Look at verse 2 in Matthew 4. It says, "when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward he was hungry." What they tell us in the research is, although initially those ketones suppress the desire to eat, as you approach death, hunger returns. So the indication here is that Jesus had been fasting so long that he's now at about the point of death.

Now I will remind you, we're speaking about Jesus reliving a history. Early in the history of Israel there was someone else who thought they were about at the point to die because they hadn't eaten in such a long time. Do you know who I am refering to? Esau, that's right. Esau had been hunting all day - was he about to die? No. No, but he made a decision based as if he were going to die, right? I mean, if you're going to die, what does your birthright matter to you? But he wasn't going to die.

It's very interesting - we don't have time to fully explore it, but you know, what you tell yourself in your mind sets yourself up either for success or failure. If you tell yourself, 'I am - this temptation is just too much for me' what are you setting yourself up to do? You're setting yourself up to fail. But Jesus did not make excuses in the wilderness. What did he do? He relied on his father - his father's assurance of his acceptance - and he relied on the Word of God. Did you catch that? At every temptation Jesus says what? 'It is written.

' Jesus actually lived a perfect life to show us that sin has no power over the one connected to the Savior. Jesus died in our place to show us that there is no penalty for sin that has not been paid for by Jesus. So today, as we've looked at these first four chapters of Matthew - touched on some of their high points, I hope we've grasped, a little more firmly, Jesus as giving us - giving us a - not just a perfect example, but being our perfect substitute. Now, when we come to our study next time, we'll be studying from what happened from a mountain - a proclamation of God from a mountain - sounds a lot like sinai, doesn't it? The new sinai, if you will, the sermon on the mount. That's what we'll be studying, by God's grace, in our next time together.

Well, as we're winding up, I want to remind you that we do have a special offer that continues today's message. It is called Christ's human nature. It's free book offer #703 and you can get it by writing - actually, going on line if you're anywhere outside of north America and Canada - to If you're in the u.s. Or Canada, you can call -study-more - that's 866-788-3966.

Until next time, may God bless you whether you're here or whether you're joining us from around the world, as we continue to live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. Can't get enough Amazing Facts Bible study? You don't have to wait until next week to enjoy more truth-filled programming, visit the Amazing Facts media library at ''. At '' you can enjoy video and audio presentations as well as printed material all free of charge, 24 hours a day 7 days a week, right from your computer or mobile device. Visit ''. Hello friends, we all know a marathon is one of the longest and hardest races a person could run.

But did you hear about the ultra marathon they used to have in australia? It was 544 miles from melbourne to sydney. It attracted as many as 150 world-class athletes. But then something happened that no one would ever forget. In 1983 a 61-year-old potato farmer named cliff young decided to enter the race. Now people were very amused because he had on rubber galoshes over his boots and when the race began and all the runners took off, sure enough old cliff was left behind shuffling along very slowly - but he was shuffling very persistently.

Normally, during this 7-day race, the runners would go about hours running and then they'd sleep for 6 hours, but nobody ever told cliff that. When the other runners stopped to rest during the night, cliff just kept on running. Some people were afraid old cliff was going to have a heart attack and they were asking the race organizers to show mercy and stop the crazy old man. But he would have none of it. Each day he was gaining on the pack because when they were sleeping he was plodding along.

During the last night of the race cliff passed all of these world-class athletes. Not only was cliff able to run that 544-mile race without dying, he won - beating all the other racers by 9 hours, breaking the record and becoming a national hero in the process. What's really amazing is that when they told him he had won the $10,000.00 prize, he looked confused and said he didn't know there was a prize and he decided to share it with the other runners. When asked how he was able to run all night long, cliff responded that he grew up on a farm where they had about 2,000 head of cattle and, because they couldn't afford horses, he used to have to round them up on foot, sometimes running two and three days non-stop. So, throughout the race, he just imagined that he was chasing after the cows and trying to outrun a storm.

Old cliff's secret was to keep on running while others were sleeping. You know, the Bible tells us that the race is not necessarily to the swift. Something like aesop's fable of the tortoise and the hare - the tortoise just kept on plodding along. That's why Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:13, 'he that endures unto the end, the same will be saved. Now you might slip and fall during the race.

You might even get off to a bad start. But in the Christian race that we run, the main thing is you want to finish well. Keep on running, friends, and don't give up. Amazing Facts has impacted my life. And I just praise God for Amazing Facts.

Amazing Facts actually did have an impact on my life. This whole process - getting where I am today - I felt good about that. I didn't feel condemned. I began reading the Bible and - I got baptized into a Seventh-day Adventist - I realized that there had to be more to life. God is really doing this.

The life that he's given me. This message was so powerful. I'll follow Christ wherever he goes. Amazing Facts. More than 45 years of proclaiming God's message around the world.

And then the logo pops across Amazing Facts presents. I've listened to a lot of different ministers, but this was the first time that he's actually saying something where I had to grab my Bible and actually pick it up and I've never heard this before. Let me - let me look through and find this. That I just couldn't get enough. And so I started doing Bible studies.

Every single one of these guys started being changed, including myself. My question was, 'why did that happen to me, God?' the Lord was able to reach out and - and I actually saw him as a father. I lost everything and that was when I realized that it was God missing in my life. I went to a prophecy seminar, which knocked me out. This message was so powerful and so irrefutable, I just went, 'this is real.

This is - this is amazing.' For life-changing Christian resources, visit or call 1-800-538-7275.

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