Knysna Methodist Church – lectionary notes – 6.3.2022
The Hebrews were faced with a daunting prospect as they arrived on the border of the Promised Land. The river Jordan was swollen with spring rains; the Canaanites were an intimidating force to deal with. Yet God assured them they would enter the land He had promised them. God told them to offer Him the first fruits of the very first crops they harvested once they had settled before they used any of the produce themselves.
The people were to thank God for their deliverance from Egypt, for their arrival in the Promised Land and for the fruits of their harvest.
God had sent His people into Egypt to separate them from the surrounding pagan peoples so they would grow in number and be a distinct people. Now God had brought them out of slavery and guided them to the land He had promised them. So the first produce from the first harvest was an appropriate way of showing their gratitude to the God who had saved them. This was to be a time of great joy. They were home.
Psalm 91 does not have a title so the author is unknown. However it has been attributed to David or Moses. It has been described as beautiful and profound. Those who follow God and put their trust in Him have a secret place where they can live under His protection, comforted and cared for by Him. They have to be near to Him to be in His shadow. God is the believer’s refuge and fortress; He is the most High (Elyon), the Almighty (Shaddai), the Lord (Yahweh), and My God (Elohai).
These verses contain principles and promises made to those who trust in the Lord and have made Him their dwelling place. They will be protected against evil and plague. The psalmist expresses his in the protection, comfort and care God offers His people.
When the angels are charged to watch over the people of God it is an absolute command given to all angels to watch over all who believe. But people need to remember it is God who gives the command and only God who is to be praised. (Satan twisted these words in the desert when He tempted Christ to create a false disaster by throwing Himself from a high point off temple mount in Matthew 4:5-7).
The phrase about the young lion and the cobra show the people of God are not just survivors but victors.
The psalm now turns to the first person as the psalmist witnesses to God’s people what God has done for him. God loves him because He has chosen to do so, and He will protect the psalmist and place him out of reach of his enemies. Those who love God acknowledge Him and call upon His name. They are content with His provision and will be blessed by Him as He answers their prayers and protects and provides for them.
Righteousness, says Paul, is something that can be received through faith. The word kurios is used for God by the Jews and for the emperor by the Gentiles. Here Paul uses it for Jesus. Only people who believed in Jesus would use this word for Him. But it was not enough just to speak the name. They also needed to believe in their hearts what they were saying. Believing and speaking about their belief were the two aspects of faith that were necessary for righteousness and salvation. Paul makes it clear that it does not matter who you are for all who call on God can be saved. He longs to save all people, but it is up to the individual to ask for salvation.
Jesus had been baptised by John in the Jordan and now the Holy Spirit led Him into the desert. He had identified Himself with human beings through His baptism. Now this identification was made stronger as He was tempted in the same way all people are. Jesus Himself must have told someone this story. There was no one else there. At some stage, Luke heard about it and wrote it down. Luke says Jesus was tempted for forty days, yet he only records three instances of those temptations.
The offer of food when someone has fasted for forty days would seem impossible to resist. But God allowed Jesus to be tempted in this way because He knew He could resist it. Satan does not doubt Jesus is God, but he urges Him to identify Himself as such. He suggested Jesus use His power for selfish purposes – to ease His hunger. Adam succumbed to Satan’s suggestion. Jesus did not. Some may think Satan was making a sensible suggestion. Jesus was hungry; He had the power; so why not use that power to change stones into bread and satisfy His hunger? Jesus responded with Scripture. Believers can resist temptation by doing the same. Satan’s lies cannot stand against the light of God’s truth.
Satan knew why Jesus had come to the world – to win people’s souls. Here he offered an invitation to do that task without going to the cross. He would give Jesus every person if only He would worship him. Jesus did not challenge Satan’s statement that he had been given authority over the kingdoms of the earth. If Jesus had accepted, there would be no salvation for humankind. Once again Jesus used the Word of God to resist Satan. Jesus would only worship God. Satan then took Jesus to the top of the wall surrounding Temple Mount. It was a long way down to the valley floor. Satan could only suggest Jesus throw Himself down – he had no power to push Jesus himself. This time he quoted Scripture to Jesus. Satan knows how to twist Scripture. Jesus countermanded Satan’s suggestion with His own use of Scripture.
Satan realised he was not going to succeed and so he gave up – for a while. Jesus made full use of the power of the Word of God and the Holy Spirit in His resistance. Both of these are available to Christ-followers if they open themselves up to Christ.
Points to Ponder
• How do you thank God for His blessings? What part does tithing play in your budgeting plans? What
encourages you, or holds you back, from tithing?
• Do you tithe in other ways than money? How do you do that?
• How have you experienced God’s protection, comfort, care etc? Briefly share your experience. What did this
time mean to you?
• All are called by God – and many believe. Whose faith has surprised you? (Do not name the person if it will
betray any confidences). Was it their culture, their history, their age, or some other factor that made
their belief in Jesus a surprise? What was your reaction?
• How have you been tempted recently? How did Jesus help you to resist? Or how has He shown you that He will
forgive you? Have you forgiven yourself?
• What Scripture would you used to reject temptation?
• Spend some time in prayer asking God for help and His strength when you face temptation so you can resist it and move on.
https//enduringword.com/bible-commentary/ Deuteronomy 26; Psalm 91; Romans 10; Luke 4