Eyewitnesses of His Majesty
For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory,
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount. (2Peter 1:16-18)
PETER WAS ONE OF THE FOREMOST WITNESSES of Jesus’ ministry. He made every possible effort to cause his followers to remember. How important it is, to remember! Jesus said: “remember Lot’s wife” (Luke 17:32). “Remember” occurs 148 times in the King James Bible. Before we continue with today’s text, we need some perspective on the period between Jesus’ resurrection in A.D. 30 and the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple by Titus in A.D.70. In the Bible, 40 is the number of testing. God gave the nation 40 years to repent before He used Titus to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple.
WHEN ROME UNDERSTOOD THAT CHRISTIANS WERE NOT just a branch of Judaism, Rome began to persecute and kill Christians as enemies of the State over the issue of Lordship. Nero had Christians impaled on stakes, covered in tar, and set on fire to make light for his garden parties. Christians were fed to the lions in the Coliseum at Rome. The masses were entertained by it.
BUT JERUSALEM HAD ITS OWN PROBLEMS WITH ROME. At last, Titus came with a big army to destroy Jerusalem, the Temple, and the whole system of Jewish worship. Jesus had told the disciples that the Temple would be destroyed and not one stone would be left upon another. The effect would last almost 2,000 years.
IT IS ESTIMATED THAT A MILLION PEOPLE who had gathered for Passover in Jerusalem, were slaughtered by Titus. The picture today is of the Arch of Titus, in Rome, commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem. It was constructed in c. AD 82 by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus's victories, including the Siege of Jerusalem (AD 70).
On the walls of the arch are reliefs, carved into the stone, showing the bringing of Jewish slaves to Rome in chains. Israel ceased to be a nation. Jews were dispersed throughout the world until 1948 when they declared themselves to be a nation and U.S. President Harry Truman recognized them as a nation, against the wishes and advice of his own State Department. President Truman’s mother taught him: “Be good to the Jew, Harry.” She drilled it into him. When the time came, Harry Truman was “good to the Jew.”
AT FIRST, THE RECORD OF CHRIST'S CHURCH WAS VESTED IN THE MEMORIES of those who had been eye witnesses to Jesus’ preaching, miracles, death, and resurrection. It was that way for 20-30 years. But, what happens when the eye witnesses age out and die off the scene? God knows these things and after allowing the new church a little time to grow, began prompting men to write.
JAMES, THE HALF-BROTHER OF JESUS, WAS PROBABLY THE VERY FIRST WRITER of New Testament books, about A.D.49. He writes when the church was primarily Jewish and addresses the twelve persecuted and scattered groups of Jewish believers. James refers only to Elders which is a carry-over from Jewish structure and does not mention bishops or deacons. There is no mention of a Jewish-Gentile controversy, so the book was probably written before A.D.49.
He mentions many of Christ’s teachings but there’s no tie-in to the four Gospel accounts. James emphasizes Jesus’ expected return but nothing about the doctrinal underpinnings of the Gospel of Salvation. The book of James has been dubbed: The New Testament Book of Proverbs. Josephus, the 1st Century Jewish historian says that James’ martyrdom was about A.D. 62.
JAMES, PETER AND THE WRITER OF HEBREWS to persecuted Jewish Christians who were scattered and persecuted for their faith. None of these three books mentions the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. The Jewish system of animal sacrifice is intact in Hebrews. The first persecution of Christians was by their own families and by the Jerusalem Temple. As Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, they later were persecuted by Rome and especially by Nero.
As time stretched out, a second generation of Christians found themselves far from home. Jesus had not returned as they thought He would. So, the writings to them urged them to hold steadfast to the faith.
SO, WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ME, YOU SAY. Just this: in America, if there is not a genuine spiritual awakening within a few years, or if Jesus does not return soon to rapture you out of this world, some bad times may be ahead for Bible-believing Christians. Not in my lifetime, because I’m 83, but for the younger ones: most likely.
NERO WON'T COME BACK AND USE YOU TO LIGHT HIS GARDEN PARTIES, but Christians can expect to be “squeezed” in many ways. What do we do when Christians are persecuted in America? Do what they did during the Roman Empire. When they step on you, smell like a crushed rose. Dan, have you lost your mind? I may, but not yet. We need to get serious about praying for a great spiritual awakening in America.
THIS ROUGH SUMMARY OF THE TIMES OF THE EARLY CHURCH is helpful in understanding the text of Peter’s epistles. Tomorrow, we will explore our text: Eyewitnesses of His Majesty. Ω
Read Through the Bible in a Year
MAY 10, 2018 – THURSDAY
A.M. 1 Kings 21-22 P.M. John 3:1-21
(Bible Gateway will read this to you if you like. Look for the speaker icon.)
(A lady told me they go to Morning Minute and let the man read to them while they eat breakfast.)
Good Memory Verse:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. (Colossians 3:16)
Song for Today:
My Jesus I Love Thee (2:47) – (Mary Tom Speers & Gaither Group)
Note: You may need to turn off the song when finished to avoid something else you do not want to hear.