The coming of the Messiah - 12 December 2017

Neville Turley

“I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.”Malachi 3:1 (NIV)

The Book of Malachi, the last book in the Old Testament, was written between 450-425 BC. The temple had been rebuilt but the morale of the Jews was at a low ebb.  Times in Judah were hard.

They had returned from exile with such high hopes. Now almost 100 years later they remained a subject people, insecure and in fear of foreign invasion. In addition, they were facing famine for a severe drought was crippling the economy. Worse of all, the Messiah had not come.

They questioned God’s love and justice. Why should they serve God when it was the wrongdoers who were prospering? 

Malachi was a true prophet. In no uncertain terms, he pointed out to the Jews that their dismal lot was the result of their own sinfulness.

He condemned the corrupt practices of the priests for violating God’s covenant.  They did not take their temple duties seriously and were disrespectful towards God, even accepting blemished offerings for sacrifice at the altar. 

Malachi was equally critical of the people. They did not give of their best to God and openly doubted whether there was any real benefit to be gained in serving the Lord. 

Malachi warned that the Day of the Lord was near. Then the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who did not, will be clear for all to see. 

Who was the messenger who would precede the Messiah in our verse for today?  Jesus himself declared that the messenger was John the Baptist. He would come in the tradition of Elijah as the Prophets and the Law had prophesied. (Matthew 11:10-14)

What Christ said about John confirmed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Day of the Lord had dawned. 

Prayer: Almighty God, by whose grace alone we are accepted and called to serve you. Strengthen us through the Holy Spirit and make us worthy of your calling, for Jesus sake. Amen

Isaiah a prophet without equal - 11 December 2017

Neville Turley

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  Isaiah 9:6 (NIV)

God’s prophets were inspired by the Holy Spirit. They fearlessly revealed God’s will.  In their preaching and teaching they would relentlessly attack the evils prevalent in their society. Their messages were not always well received, and many were martyred.

Isaiah was the greatest of the Hebrew prophets. He was born in Jerusalem in 765 BC and at the age of 25 accepted God’s call to be a prophet.  (Isaiah 6:8)

The prophecies and events Isaiah foretold are so accurate, he could have been giving an eye witness account of the life of Jesus. He wrote of the human nature of the Messiah, his miraculous birth and the twofold form of his ministry. 

Isaiah said the Messiah would heal and uplift his people spiritually.  “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, …” (Isaiah 61:1)

The Messiah would also heal physical disabilities. “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped.  Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy.”  (Isaiah 35:5-6)

The book of Isaiah contains such a wealth of detail, one needs to study it closely. In our verse for the day there is a line that is sometimes overlooked. It refers to that first Christmas – “to us a child is given”.

Long before you were born, God gave you your first Christmas gift.  It is the most precious gift, you will ever receive. God’s love for you is so great, the Father gave you his beloved son – the long-awaited Messiah, Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

He gave you his son so that he could be your Father too.

Prayer: Father God, may the Holy Spirit motivate us to appreciate anew your gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen

Die koms van die Messias - 12 Desember 2017

Neville Turley

Ek gaan nou my boodskapper stuur, Hy sal die pad voor My uit regmaak, en dan sal die Here na wie julle soek, skielik na sy tempel toe kom. Ja, die Verbondsengel na wie julle met soveel vreugde uitsien, gaan nou kom, sê die Here die Almagtige.  Maleagi 3:1

Die boek Maleagi, die laaste boek in die Ou Testament, is tussen 450-425 v.C. geskryf. Die tempel was weer herbou, maar die moraal van die Jode was baie laag. Dit was moeilike tye in Juda.

Die volk het met baie hoë verwagtinge uit ballingskap teruggekeer. Nou, byna 100 jaar later is hulle steeds onderdanig, onseker en bang vir invalle deur ander volke. Verder het hulle hongersnood in die gesig gestaar as gevolg van 'n erge droogte wat die ekonomie nadelig beïnvloed het. Maar die ergste was egter dat die Messias nog nie sy verskyning gemaak het nie.

Hulle het God se liefde en geregtigheid bevraagteken. Hoekom moet hulle God dien terwyl die misdadigers en oortreders vooruitgaan en floreer?

Maleagi was 'n ware profeet. Hy het sonder om doekies om te draai vir die Jode gesê dat hulle droewige lot die gevolg is van hulle sonde.

Hy het die korrupte gebruike van die priesters wat God se verbond verbreek het, sterk veroordeel. Hulle het nie hulle tempelpligte ernstig opgeneem en die nodige respek aan God bewys nie. Hulle het selfs besmette offerhandes aanvaar om op die altaar te offer.

Maleagi het egter ook die volk veroordeel. Hulle het nie hulle beste vir die Here gegee nie en dit openlik betwyfel of dit enigsins die moeite werd is om Hom te dien.

Maleagi waarsku hulle dat die dag van die Here naby is. Op dié dag sal die verskil tussen die regverdiges en die sondiges, tussen diegene wat die Here dien en die wat Hom nie dien nie, duidelik gesien kan word.

Wie was die boodskapper wat as voorloper van die Messias sou kom en waarna ons teks vandag verwys? Jesus self het gesê dat die boodskapper Johannes die Doper was. Johannes is die Elia wat sou kom en waaroor al die profete en die wet geprofeteer het. (Matteus 11:10-14)

Wat Christus oor Johannes gesê get, het bevestig dat Jesus die Messias was en dat die dag van die Here aangebreek het.

Gebed: Almagtige God, dit is slegs deur u genade alleen dat ons geroep word om U te dien. Skenk aan ons deur u Heilige Gees die nodige krag om hierdie roeping waardig te wees. In Jesus se Naam. Amen

Jesaja, 'n profeet sonder gelyke - 11 Desember 2017

Neville Turley

Vir ons is 'n Seun gebore, aan ons is 'n Seun gegee; Hy sal heers, en Hy sal genoem word: Wonderbare Raadsman, Magtige God, Ewige Vader, Vredevors.  Jesaja 9:5

God se profete is deur die Heilige Gees geïnspireer. Hulle het dapper God se wil geopenbaar. Hulle het meedoënloos die verkeerde dade in hulle samelewings deur hulle prediking en onderrig aangespreek. Hulle boodskappe is nie altyd goed ontvang nie, en baie van hulle is gemartel.

Jesaja was een van die belangrikste profete van die Ou Testament. Hy is in 765 v.C. in Jerusalem gebore en op die ouderdom van 25 het hy God se roeping om 'n profeet te word, aanvaar. (Jesaja 6:8)

Die profesieë en gebeure wat Jesaja voorspel het, is so akkuraat dat mens soms voel dat hy 'n ooggetuie van die lewe van Jesus moes gewees het. Hy skryf oor die menslike natuur van die Messias, sy maagdelike geboorte en die tweeledige aard van sy bediening.

Jesaja skryf dat die Messias sy volk geestelik sal genees en ophef. "Die Gees van die Here my God het oor my gekom; die Here het my gesalf om 'n blye boodskap te bring aan die mense in nood, Hy het my gestuur om dié wat moedeloos is, op te beur, om vir die gevangenes vrylating aan te kondig, vryheid vir dié wat opgesluit is." (Jesaja 61:1)

Die Messias sal ook fisiese gebreke genees: "Blindes sal kan sien, dowes sal kan hoor, lammes sal kan rondspring soos takbokke, stommes sal kan sing." (Jesaja 35:5-6)

Die boek Jesaja bevat 'n magdom besonderhede en 'n mense moet dit in diepte bestudeer. In ons vers vir vandag is daar 'n reëltjie wat soms misgekyk word. Dit verwys na daardie eerste Kersfees – "aan ons is 'n Seun gegee".

Lank voor jou geboorte het God reeds jou eerste Kersgeskenk aan jou gegee. Dit is die kosbaarste geskenk wat jy ooit sal ontvang. God het jou so oneindig lief, die Vader het sy geliefde Seun aan jou gegee – die langverwagte Messias, Wonderbare Raadsman, Magtige God, Ewige Vader, Vredevors.

Hy het sy Seun aan jou gegee sodat Hy ook jou Vader kan wees.

Gebed: Hemelse Vader, gee dat die Heilige Gees ons sal lei om u geskenk van ewige lewe opnuut te waardeer. Ons bid dit in die Naam van Jesus Christus, ons Verlosser. Amen

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