John Four: A Divine Appointment

Most of us know that the Jews did not think of the Samaritans in a very high regard.  Israel, during the ministry of Jesus, was divided into provinces.  The southern province was Judea, where you would find Jerusalem, Bethany, Jericho, and Behlehem.  There are many events in the life of Christ that take place in Judea.

The northern province was Galilee.  This was the home of Jesus.  Nazareth was in the province of Galilee along with Bethsaida and Capernum.  Much of Jesus’ ministry was done here in this small area around the Sea of Galilee.  As a matter of fact, many of his disciples were from this same region.

Separating these two pieces of geography was an area known as Samaria.  The Samaritans were Jews who had lost the identity.  They had married pagans and had merged their faith with the religions of idolatry.  They were a mixed race with a mixed religion and the Jews had little to do with them.

When traveling from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north, you had three roads to choose from.  One when west and merged with the Kings Highway along the Mediterranean Sea.  The second headed east out of Jerusalem, caught the Jordan river and headed north to the Sea of Galilee.  Both roads allowed the traveler to bypass the province of Samaria completely.

The third road headed due north out of Jerusalem and took you through the heart of Samaria.  You would pass near the town of Sychar and the well of Jacob.  The mountains that cradled their temple for worship.  This path was often avoided by orthodox Jews.

In John 4 we are told that “He left Judea and went away again into Galilee.  And He had to pass through Samaria.”  He “had to pass through?”  Had to?  There were two other routes he could have taken.  Why did he have to pass through?

The Greek word is “dei” and it has the meaning of necessity as established by the counsel and decree of God.  It is a necessity as to what is required to attain some end.  This word implies that the action is essential and part of the direct plan or decree of God.  It could not NOT happen.

The Greek has a word, “chre,” that means “ought or should.”  It is not connected to the purpose of plan of God and is more of a strong encouragement.

The fact that Jesus found himself going to Samaria because he “dei” (HAD TO), indicates that this was a divine appointment.  A meeting arranged by God for this time.  Jesus HAD to go this way.  It was a divine appointment.

I think we have these moments in our day.  Moments that God has ordained as a divine appointment and “dei” meeting.  And, for whatever reason, we turn it into a “chre” meeting and go another way.  Jesus could have went west or east and ended up in Galilee where John 4 concludes and it would not have effected his ministry or ability to minster to those in Galilee.  The people of Samaria would have suffered, however.

We find that because of this meeting with the Samaritan woman, Jesus stays in Samaria for two days and “many more believed.”  The lives of many were changed because of that divine appointment that Jesus HAD TO make.

Don’t miss your appointment!  It is ordained by God and the consequences WILL be eternal.  Have a great “Dei” as you follow the Lord’s commands.

Living Water

In ancient times water was not easily accessible.  Much like it is today in third world countries, the people go to gather water daily.  If the people are fortunate, they have a clean source of healthy drinking water.

If you have ever looked at a map of Israel, you might have noticed that there is not a significant supply of fresh bodies of water.  There is the Sea of Galilea in the North and the Jordan River.  Apart from a few creeks or tributaries, the rest of Israel is dry and without fresh water.

To overcome the water problem, many would dig cisterns out of the rock.  It is essentially a well that does not have a water source.  It simply collects water from rain and run-off and stores it for later use.  It was a good way to hold onto a limited supply of water in a dry and barren land.

Cistern water was not ideal for drinking because it was stagnant.  As the water collected, it would become a breeding ground for parasites and potential dangerous pathogens.  It would collect debris and trash and could otherwise become unusable for drinking.

If you were wealthy or fortunate,  you were able to actually dig a well that was fed by underground springs.  A well that actually hit underground water supplies produced good, healthy drinking water.  These wells became important and valuable for communities.  Cities would usually grow up around them and access to the water was sometimes guarded or protected.  These natural spring wells produced what the locals would call “living water.”

It is at one of these wells where Jesus has an encounter with Samaritan woman (John 4).  As Jesus and his disciples are making the trip from Judea to Galilea, they pass through Samaria.  They stop at Jacob’s well, a living water well.  The disciples go into the town that is about a quarter of a mile away and gets food.  Jesus remains at the well because He has Divine Appointment.

Jesus shares the truth of the Gospel with this woman and declares to here that he is able to provide her with the true “Living Water.”  This water will quench your spiritual thirst and since it is fed from a living source it will bring about eternal life.

The Living Water.  It is more than just a spring fed well, its the source of abundant life for the believer.

Radical: The Book

I am not one who is always reading a book.  I have learned through my life, however, that reading is vital for growth and maturation.  I have heard it said that “Readers are Leaders.”  I’m not 100% sure I completely agree with the statement, but I do agree with the idea.  Because it is not innate, I have to intentionally discipline myself to read.  The last book was recommended to me by a friend and so now I am recommending to those who read this blog post.

Few books in my life have had this kind of effect on my thinking.  Radical by David Platt has really caused me to have a significant shift in my concept of Christian living and, more specifically, a shift in my understanding of the Gospel.

Platt looks at the Great Commission in Matthew 28 and paints a convicting picture that seems to stand in contrast to our American way of thinking.  As we are going about our life, we are to be making disciples, teaching them to do all the things that Jesus commanded.  As he dives into the Gospel message and reveals the power of its application, I found myself shrinking.

I tried to think of the last person I discipled.  I mean someone that I intentionally poured my heart into.  Someone that I shared the message of the Gospel and taught them to do all the things that Jesus commanded.  I had to really think.  It was several years ago.  I have not been effective in carrying out the Great Commission.  I had not been effective in LIVING the Gospel.

If you have not picked up the book yet, I highly recommend you do.  Either borrow or purchase the book and read.

I think some might say, “Why not just read the Bible, why read a book about the Bible?”  When you read the Scriptures with the perspective you have NOW, you are biased because of your point of view and perspective.  You are looking at the world and the Scriptures in a way that is MAY NOT be clear.  I’m not suggesting that you are distorting Scripture, but you MIGHT be slightly out of focus.  I was.

This book has adjusted my lens.  It has not changed the Scripture, nor does it reveal some new or revolutionary insight.  It’s like looking through your camera that is slightly out of focus and then having someone adjust the lens, all of a sudden things just look clear!

Read it!  I challenge you to look at the Gospel a little more clearly and evaluate your focus.  You may find your out of skew.

Let me know what you think when you read it.  I’m interested in discussing it.

Christian Worldview Has Changed

A few weeks ago I ran across a study that was conducted by The Barna Group regarding the changes in worldview among professing Christians in the United States.  I was blown away by the results.  I knew that the watering down of our Christian faith has had significant effect, but I had no idea it was this diluted.

We are becoming a people who has no understanding of our faith.  We have forsaken the truth and each generation is getting less and less.  In our postmodern culture where truth is relative and defined by the individual, our churches are becoming irrelevant.

Read The Barna Group’s report and tell me what you think.  Am I reading more into this than I probably should?  What do you think?

One of my favorites

One of my favorite verses in Scripture is Proverbs 16:9, “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.”

I have found this verse to be incredibly comforting.  When I was in college trying to figure out “what I was going to be,” and planning my life course, I rested firmly on this verse.  I knew that I had a goal and plan to get there.  But that also added some stress.

What if I failed!  What if I was not able to get there.  What if my plans were not complete.

The reality is that God is more concerned with the steps along the way than our planned destination.  He takes careful attention in directing the step.  The next step in the journey.  The destination is important, but the process in getting there is more important.

I love this verse.  I love knowing that God is directing my steps and they may not lead to the path I have planned.  But the journey is the important process.

What are you favorite verses and why?  What has God revealed to you in His word?  What nugget do you hold to?

Did You Know? Seventh Day Adventist

The Christian community is large and diverse. There are numerous denominations and groups that are nestled under the umbrella of Christianity.  The purpose of this post is to introduce the reader to the Seventh Day Adventist faith.

There are some who argue that the Seventh Day Adventist are a cult and Christians should not have fellowship with them.  I am not quite there yet.  I think they do have some unorthodox doctrines and teachings, but I’m not sure their faith should be characterized as a cult.

A Brief History of Seventh Day Adventism

During the Second Great Awakening of the early 1800’s, regions of New York were evangelized to completion.  These “Burned Over Districts” were regions where everyone professed to be Christians.  Thousands of new converts were searching for churches to teach them about Christ.

In this climate of new believers and few elders or discipled leaders to guide their understanding of Christian faith, misinterpretation of Scripture began to become doctrine.  A Baptist pastor by the name of William Miller spent years studying prophecy and concluded that Christ was going to return in October of 1844.

When Christ did not return, there was a Great Disappointment and many followers returned to their denominations.  In the aftermath that followed, a group of Millerites formed the Evangelical Adventist which would later become the Seventh Day Adventist.

The Adventist Movement

When 1844 came and went, the Millerite followers concluded that the interpretation of Daniel 8:14 proclaimed by Miller was wrong.  Miller taught that October 1844 was the date when Christ would return to the earth and cleanse the earth.  What some Millerites concluded was that the date was correct, but the cleansing was a heavenly event and not an earthly one.

This event marked the final act of atonement as Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies in Heaven which later developed into the doctrine of Investigative Judgment.

Ellen G. White

One key figure in the history of the Seventh Day Adventist church is Ellen G. White.  She played a critical role in transitioning from the Great Disappointment of William Miller to the Adventist movement that exist today.

Key Doctrines

  • The Law – The Law of God, embodied in the Ten Commandments, is still binding to Christians today.
  • The Sabbath – Observed from sunset Friday to sunset on Saturday, during which time no secular work is conducted.
  • Conditional Immortality – Those who do not receive Christ do not go to a place of eternal torment, hell.  Instead their souls are permanently destroyed, a doctrinal position called Annihilationism.
  • Investigative Judgment – A heavenly process that began in 1844 as Jesus began judging those who professed Christianity.  This process affirms who is and who is not saved.
  • Remnant – There will be an end times remnant who will have kept the commandments of God and the true testimony of Jesus.  It is this remnant that Revelation 14:6-12 refers.

Conclusion

The teachings of the Seventh Day Adventist church, for the most part, line up with traditional Christian doctrine.  Some argue that the Adventist teachings are heresy and they should be considered a cult.  I have not come to that conclusion.  I am still trying to gain a better understanding and want continue to study and learn.

What do you think?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

A Study of Other Faiths: Mormonism

Lesson One in the series “A Study of Other Faiths: Mormonism”

Our Sunday School class at Calvary Baptist Church.  This lesson was from Sunday, September 26, 2010.

A Study of Other Faiths: Mormonism