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耶和華的豁免年

〈申命記〉 15:10   你總要給他,給他的時候心裡不可愁煩;因耶和華─你的 神必在你這一切所行的,並你手裡所辦的事上,賜福與你。

在〈申命記〉第15章裡,摩西一共用了五次的「賜福與你」,來強調神要我們「鬆開手」的重要性。

每逢七年末一年的意思就是安息年,安息年又叫做「耶和華的豁免年」;安息年的條例,主要是指著土地的休耕,此處則是債務的免除。

神說,我們若遵行祂的命令,在我們中間就沒有窮人了(申15:4)。這是一句很嚴厲的話,轉過來說,就是:因為我們沒有遵行神的命令,所以在我們當中才會有窮人。

所以人的貧窮不是因為神不公平,而是人不肯遵行神的命令而造成的差距。

因為人的自私和沒有安全感,對神缺乏信心,因此我們把錢抓得緊緊的,不敢鬆手。

所以摩西說:「在耶和華─你 神所賜你的地上,無論哪一座城裡,你弟兄中若有一個窮人,你不可忍著心、揝著手不幫補你窮乏的弟兄。總要向他鬆開手,照他所缺乏的借給他,補他的不足。(申15:7-8)」

「總要向他鬆開手」。對需要幫助的人鬆開手,表達的是一種對神的信心,相信神己經供應,並且會繼續供應。

在安息年,也就是第七年,以色列人要考慮四方面的事:一是債務的豁免,二是幫補窮人,三是怎樣對待賣身為奴的人,四是怎樣對待牛羊群中頭生的牛羊。

Not Condemned Because of Jesus

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 8:1-11.  We’ll also take up John 7:53 as part of it.  Let’s go!

John 7:53-8:1 (NIV) 
53  Then each went to his own home.
1  But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

On 7:53-8:1:   Why did Jesus go to the Mount of Olives?  To pray.  See, for example, Luke 22:39-41.  This was an important secret to Jesus’ success: Jesus prioritized time praying to the Father.  He would go out of his way to do so, and in so doing he experienced a peace, a power and a wisdom that the world could not give.  As we like to say at Thrive, much prayer, much power.  Little prayer, little power. No prayer, no power.  Be a person of prayer and you will experience God’s power.

John 8:2-6a (NIV) 
2  At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them.
3  The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group
4  and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery.
5  In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?”
6  They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him…

從預定論看苦難的意義

〈腓立比書〉一章29節    因為你們蒙恩,不但得以信服基督,並要為祂受苦。

上帝預定我們與耶穌基督一同受苦,這一點是很多人談預定論時沒有提到的事。上帝預定我們成為祂的兒女,預定我們領受耶穌基督的生命,預定我們得著兒子的名分,上帝也預定眾子要效法長子,這長子因受苦進入榮耀,因順從得著完全,「他雖然為兒子,還是因所受的苦難學了順從。他既得以完全,就為凡順從祂的人成了永遠得救的根源」(來5:8-9)。「苦難」、「順從」、「完全」是基督道成肉身成全上帝旨意必經的三個步驟,祂在苦難中學習順從,進入完全,基督在受苦的事上成為我們的榜樣。

當我查考《羅馬書》第八章的時候,我發現論到預定的經文竟夾在前一段受苦的經文和後一段受苦得勝的經文中間,這讓我深受吸引,相當感興趣。保羅提到預定、救贖和得兒子的名分後,接著提到上帝預定我們效法耶穌基督的樣式,並讓我們看見預定在前一段和後一段的受苦中間有一個堅固的位置。上帝揀選人不是為了讓人驕傲,不是為了讓人自義、誇口、輕看他人。上帝揀選人,要人在苦難中與主一同承擔重擔,與主一同承受苦難,不但如此,也要人在苦難中見證上帝所揀選的人是能夠受苦的。

為此之故,保羅提到:「因為你們蒙恩,不但得以信服基督,並要為祂受苦」(腓1:29)。福音派傳福音的時候講「信基督」,培靈造就的時候講「順服基督」、「跟隨基督」、「效法基督」,卻很少提到上帝在苦難中為教會所定的旨意。沒有受苦的傳道人,很難釋放出能力;沒有受過苦煉的傳道人,很難懂得什麼叫做順從上帝的主權;沒有得勝過苦難的傳道人,很難用豐盛的生命把上帝的道變成人所需要的信息。兩千年的教會歷史一直不斷啟發我們受苦的重要性,但歷經兩千年的神學研究卻沒有使這個課題得到當有的地位。

Come Thirsty to Jesus + What Pressure Does

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 7:37-52.  Let’s go!

John 7:37-39 (NIV) 
37  On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.
38  Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
39  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

On verses 37-39:  Jesus, who often sat when he taught, stands for emphasis and makes the invitation for all who are thirsty to come to him and drink.  The promise Jesus publicly gives here is the same promise Jesus privately gave to the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:13-14: that those who believe in him will have flowing from within them streams of living water.  Streams of living water are a reference to the Holy Spirit.

生活和飲食上的潔淨

〈申命記〉14章1-2節「你們是耶和華─你們 神的兒女。不可為死人用刀劃身,也不可將額上剃光;因為你歸耶和華─你 神為聖潔的民,耶和華從地上的萬民中揀選你特作自己的子民。」

神把以色列人放在歌珊地四百卅年,現在要讓他們進迦南地,神有太多的不放心。在歌珊地時,以色列人以蓄牧為主,是埃及人所厭惡的;以色列人被奴役,也是埃及人所輕賤的。以色列人在埃及自成一族,沒有和他外族混和,非常單純。但是在迦南地有很多外邦民族,他們的生活習慣都是神所厭惡的。因此神要以色列人把迦南民族趕出迦南,免得以色列人受到影響。但是神也知道以色列人的信心有限,無法達成神的願望。因此祂只能一再教導,多方教育,希望他們進了迦南還能記得並遵行神的話。

為死人用刀劃身,或將額上剃光,是古代中東及巴勒斯坦各族的異教風俗。當家人離世或遭遇災禍時,他們便用這種方式來表示極大的哀傷。有時候他們也會用刀槍自割自刺,直到流血,以表示他們對所事奉的偶像之虔誠。好像台灣廟裡的乩童,也經常在邪靈附身時,用各種方法自殘,有的吞玻璃,有的用刀亂砍己身,等等。神不想以色列人學傚這些風俗習慣而受害,因此提醒以色列民,既是神聖潔的兒女,便要過分別為聖的生活。

我們的生活也會受到異教和民俗的影響,例如廣東人在安息禮拜之後要派發糖果和有硬幣的白包,有的說那個糖要當場吃掉,不可帶回家。糖果是為了讓親友吃了去掉他們的「苦」,硬幣是以前足夠搭一程(單程)車的錢,取其「不回」之意,希望不會再碰見這種悲哀的事。基督徒在主裡的死亡是回天家,實在不要學外邦人才好。有的人擔心去參加喪禮的也有非信徒,但這不是我們讓他們知道信主和不信主的不同,正好跟他們傳福音的機會嗎?

Get to Know Jesus Better

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 7:25-36.  Let’s go!

John 7:25-26 (NIV) 
25  At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill?
26  Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Christ?

On verses 25-26:  Some in Jerusalem wondered why the Jerusalem authorities were allowing Jesus to preach publicly if they considered him to be public enemy number 1 (v25-26).  By not doing anything seemingly to stop Jesus, the religious leaders were seen by some as possibly approving of Jesus’ claims.  What can we learn from this?  When you’re silent on an issue, you may give others the impression that you accept the status quo as being okay.  May you have wisdom to know when to speak up and when to remain silent, and when you do speak up, may you speak up with wisdom.

John 7:27 (NIV)
27  But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from.”

戒受引誘從侍他神

〈申命記〉13章1-3節: 「你們中間若有先知或是做夢的起來,向你顯個神蹟奇事,對你說:『我們去隨從你素來所不認識的別神,事奉它吧。』他所顯的神蹟奇事雖有應驗,你也不可聽那先知或是那做夢之人的話;因為這是耶和華─你們的 神試驗你們,要知道你們是盡心盡性愛耶和華─你們的 神不是。」

去年的美國總統大選讓我們感受到這段經文的真實和警戒。這場歷時了兩個月才塵埃落定的選舉,在它開始以前就己經沸沸揚揚了。引起我觀注的是世界各地靈媒的預言,其中也包括了天主教的神父和基督教的牧師。印度神童觀天象,耶穌半夜造訪牧師,每一個人都言之鑿鑿:川普歷經艱難後,必贏得大選。可是今年1月6日的宣佈,讓這些預言都落空了。

我突然連想起耶利米當年的情景。巴比倫王大軍來襲,而以色列裡許多先知都預言: 「你們必不看見刀劍,也不遭遇饑荒;耶和華要在這地方賜你們長久的平安。(耶14:13)」但是耶和華神告訴耶利米:「定為死亡的,必致死亡;定為刀殺的,必交刀殺;定為饑荒的,必遭饑荒;定為擄掠的,必被擄掠。(耶15:2)」事情的發生果然如耶利米的預料,因為那才是出於神的帶領。

人對於神蹟奇事總是特別好奇,即使信主後,聽到有些預言或看到有些特異功能還是會被吸引。所以有許多人特別喜歡讀〈啟示錄〉,總是想要知道將來會如何,其實不是真的想因為知道將來而好好把握現在,只是想滿足對於未來的好奇。也有許多人迷惑於特異功能,想藉著一些超自然的力量來達到某些目的,因而被邪靈所制。

Wisdom from the Father

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 7:14-24.  Let’s go!

John 7:14 (NIV) 
14  Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. 

On verse 14:  The Feast of Tabernacles lasted 8 days.  According to some scholars, it had been approximately 18 months since the last time Jesus visited Jerusalem.  Many were expecting Jesus to make a public appearance at the Feast, but Jesus does not appear when everyone expects.  Only when the Feast is halfway through did Jesus begin to teach in the temple courts.  There he amazes the crowd with his teaching. 

John 7:15 (NIV) 
15  The Jews were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”

On verse 15:  When the Jews ask, “How did this man get such learning without having studied?”, some scholars read this as the Jews simply being amazed that a man without formal rabbinical training like Jesus could teach with such wisdom and power.  However, there is probably also a streak of skepticism in their question as well. 

宰牲食肉之例

〈申命記〉 12:25    不可吃血。這樣,你行耶和華眼中看為正的事,你和你的子孫就可以得福。

在非常推崇素食的時代裡,看到〈申命記〉12章19-32節,會不讓你連想到昨天讀的經文:「各人行自己眼中看為正的事」?今天這段經文給了我們一節對照的經文:「行耶和華你神眼中看為善、看為正的事(申12:28)」。在人的一生裡,經常在這兩節經文的掙扎之中做選擇,究竟要行自己眼中看為正的事好,還是要行耶和華神眼中看為正的事?前一陣子我也一直在思考這個問題,一定要吃素食才健康嗎?雖然現在的肉食有太多的抗生素等等因素,但是有些肉店還是有品質不錯的肉,我們必須放棄嗎?在不斷地思考中,我幾乎不知如何下廚了。

在神起初創造這個世界時,神把蔬菜和水果賜給亞當和夏娃作為食物;在大洪水之後,神又把動物賜給挪亞和他的後裔作為食物。然後在以色列人出埃及之後,神正式宣告,哪些是不潔的動物,哪些是潔淨可食的動物。潔淨的肉食,表示是適合人吃的肉食,也表示是乾淨、完整、無瑕的肉;不潔淨的動物包括自死的或是被野獸撕裂的,當然也有人吃,但是吃了不一定對健康有益。例如,現在有一些地方流行豬瘟疫,有的生意人把病死的豬也拿去做香腸,醃肉,等等,不知內情的人吃了生病都不知道是怎麼回事,十分可怕。

這段經文給我們一個很清楚的引導,肉是神給人的一個恩賜。是人說不可以吃肉,不是神說不可以吃肉。「在你各城裡都可以照耶和華你神所賜你的福分,隨心所欲宰牲吃肉(申12:15)」,不管是潔淨的人或是不潔淨的人都可以吃。只是不可吃血。摩西說得非常清楚,肉是神賜給人的福份。但是不可將血與肉同吃,要先把動物的血放掉,如同倒水一樣倒掉(申12:24)。

From Not Enough to More Than Enough

Hi GAMErs,

Today’s passage is John 6:1-15.  Let’s go!

John 6:1-5 (NIV) 
1  Some time after this, Jesus crossed to the far shore of the Sea of Galilee (that is, the Sea of Tiberias), 
2  and a great crowd of people followed him because they saw the miraculous signs he had performed on the sick. 
3  Then Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down with his disciples. 
4  The Jewish Passover Feast was near. 
5  When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?”

On verses 1-5:  Notice that when Jesus sees the crowd, his heart goes out to them and he wants to serve them.  When he sees the crowd, he probably envisions fields ripe for harvest. What do you see when you see crowds in your city? Like Jesus may you have a heart for the people around you.  Like Jesus, may you desire for God to work powerfully in their lives. As we will see in this passage, multitudes will be blessed when the hearts of a few willing and courageous individuals match the heart of God.