While the Corona Virus emergency is on, apart from the Sunday Services being Webcast, especially for those who cannot get on the internet a newsletter called the Corona Chronicle is sent through the post to members of the congregation. It includes news, prayers through the week, a message published below, an order of service which you can pray through, and a biblical quiz.
The prophet Zechariah said: "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" (Zechariah 9:9).
A pure bred colt.
When Jesus mounted the donkey it was a pure bred colt, as Zechariah had promised—He was presenting Himself as Israel's promised king.
Although we read in John’s gospel that only when Jesus was glorified the disciples would understand the true nature of this event not many people in the crowd would have remembered the words of Zechariah and recognized what Jesus was doing. Sadly they did not see Jesus as head of the Kingdom of God but a political King to throw out the Romans.
It is not only Zechariah who speaks of these events. Solomon, who would became Israel's king a 1000 years before, was presented on the donkey of his father David. (1 Kings 1:38-39).
One clue that the people of Jerusalem recognized this connection is that when they saw Jesus riding on the foal of a donkey, they shouted, "Hosanna to the Son of David!" (Matthew 21:9).
In any case, by using that title, they were acclaiming Jesus to be their rightful king. They recognized that He had come "in the name of the Lord!" (Matthew 21:9;) we read about this in Psalm 118.v26
We can go back to an even older prophecy that explains why Jesus rode a donkey. In Genesis we read Jacob pronounced this blessing on his son Judah:
‘The sceptre (A symbol of Kingship) shall not depart from Judah,
Nor a lawgiver from between his feet,
Until Shiloh (A symbol of the Messiah or the tabernacle ) comes;
And to Him shall be the obedience of the people.
Binding his donkey to the vine,
And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine.’
Jacob's prophecy meant that Israel's true king would come from the tribe of Judah, and that in the messianic story with the colt of a donkey.
What is only hinted at in Genesis was made plain in the Gospel: Jesus, the Son of David, from the tribe of Judah, rode into Jerusalem as Israel's rightful king.
Jesus is Our everlasting King. Earlier Kings came and went. In England as soon as one dies his or her successor is proclaimed
Sovereign and the subjects cry ‘God save the King’ recognising their Sovereignty.
The Jews did this by calling Him the Son of David and by spreading their cloaks before Him. This was the ancient custom; people threw down their garments to make a carpet for the royal
The Psalmist is saying that everyone who trusts in God will be safe with the Most High who is the Almighty.
He abides under the shadow of the Almighty. In the Middle East shadows were most important because they brought protection from the Hot Sun.
We also read in the Psalm that God is as a fortress. It is said that ALL fortresses have a weak spot and it is for the Army to find it. With God there are no weak spots. God’s fortress is completely safe
‘A safe strong hold our God is still’ Martin Luther.
We have a promise to believers. A fowler is a trapper of birds in nets, sadly this still happens in the Middle East. But God will keeps us from snares and as we are told He will protect us as a bird protects her young from perilous pestilence.
In the context of today’s outbreak it does not mean we shall avoid the virus, although we should still pray that the Lord would protect us, but rather than being trapped by the Bird catcher we are to abide in the Lord and He draws alongside us bringing us comfort and protecting us from fear and worry. The Lord is loyal to His people and promises to protect us.
In the latter part of the Psalm it speaks of more dangers that may befall us. But we are told not to be afraid we can trust God to be our help because the Lord is on our side. It might seem very grim as ten of thousands suffer we are again reminded that physically we might suffer but our souls and spirits are with the Lord and even Angels who are God’s servants, whom we normally cannot see, are always there to help us..
Like wild animals and snakes that might attack you so the Devil like a roaring lion will try to bring fear to your souls but these fears can be cast out knowing that the Lord loves us and He will rescue us. He has rescued us from the penalty of sin and death on the cross through His atoneing death and He promises to keep us all our life until we reach the heavenly shores. When we call upon the Lord He will answer. The Lord will be with us in time of trouble. He is the one who gave us life and will save us for eternal life.
Another analogy comes from Psalm 23.
The Lord is our shepherd who restores our souls and even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we shall fear NO evil because the Lord is with us and His rod and staff they comfort us,.
Read Exodus 16
At evening the quails came up, and the people caught with ease as many as they needed.
The manna came down in dew. They called it Manna,( Manhu) , which means, 'to What is this?'
It is a portion; it is that which our God has allotted us, and we will take it, and be thankful.
It was pleasant food; it was wholesome food. The manna was rained from heaven; it appeared, when the dew was gone, it was small and round, as small as the hoar frost, like coriander seed, in colour like pearls.
The manna fell only six days in the week, and in double quantity on the sixth day; it bred worms and became offensive if kept more than one day, excepting on the sabbath.
The people had never seen it before. It could be ground in a mill, or beaten in a mortar, and was then made into cakes and baked.
It continued the forty years the Israelites were in the wilderness, wherever they went, and ceased when they arrived in Canaan
Lessons we can learn today
1. To be prudent
To be diligent in providing food for ourselves and our households; To the Hebrews the whole setup were in households living in tents in the Wilderness. God's bounty leaves room for man's duty .The widow and the orphan were cared for in the household and were not left out. The church is the 'household of faith' so we extend those into our household
2. To be content with enough for your Daily need. We have seen in recent days the result of selfishness and the effect it has in our supermarkets with empty shelves. The Hebrews gathered in to what they needed, they had their fill and there was none left over. All were satisfied.
3. To depend upon Providence: At night they had no bread or meat, yet they were able to sleep, trusting that God, with the following day, would bring them in their daily bread. It was surer and safer in God's storehouse than their own, and would come thence sweeter and fresher The manna laid up by some, who thought themselves wiser, and better managers, than their neighbours, and who would provide lest it should fail next day, bred worms, and became good for nothing. I wonder how much food grabbed by the greedy in their haste and panic goes by its sell by date and rots away. Such riches are corrupted, Jas 5:2, 3.
2 Your riches [a]are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver are corroded, and their corrosion will be a witness against you
The same wisdom, power, and goodness that brought food daily from above for the Israelites in the wilderness, brings food yearly out of the earth in the constant course of nature, and gives us all things richly to enjoy.
4. Jesus is the living bread.
Jesus miraculously fed thousands of people in the wilderness, re-enacting when God provided manna from heaven for His people in the desert. The day after Jesus first fed the people, many returned, hoping for more food.
Instead of performing another sign, Jesus claimed that He Himself was the Bread – the Manna that had come down from heaven. He had come from heaven into the wilderness of the world, amidst a spiritually-wandering people . Jesus then went further than simply associating Himself with bread; He said that whoever would come to Him would never hunger again.
“I am the Bread of Life” is another way of saying: “Without My death, you cannot live.” Just as bread is the essential element in the human diet, Jesus says that He Himself is the giver of spiritual life. Without His death, no one else can live. Those who come to Him will never again be ‘hungry’. Through His death, we live
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”: so begins A Tale of Two Cities, Charles Dickens’ novel set in the time of the French Revolution. In some ways we could apply those words to our present situation for we see attitudes and actions that lift our spirits and encourage us; conversely, however, we are confronted with events that sadden and depress us.
The Coronavirus pandemic has been, and is, causing widespread havoc and disruption in the nations of the world and also in all our lives in the UK. Yet this has called out tremendous examples of selfless and generous actions across our country as individuals and communities flock to help their neighbours and the needy. On the other hand we have seen irresponsible and deliberately anti-social behaviour and the attempts by some to exploit the situation to batten on
Why is it that we find such conflicting behaviours? What is so often forgotten by our society today is that human beings are made in the image of God and that, although marred by sin, can be capable of showing something of the compassion and care that characterizes Him. We can gladly delight and rejoice in these demonstrations of God’s common grace at work in those He has created.
The opposite reactions that we see sadly prove the truth that human nature is scarred and fallen from what God intended. And this truth is seen in various ways in all our lives, even though we may be capable of generous and caring
behaviour. The best and the worst of our nature will be
evident till the end of time.
In the events of the Easter story which began on that first Palm Sunday the best and the worst are present there too. The disciples of Jesus no doubt thought it the best of times when Jesus entered Jerusalem to the ecstatic acclaim of the crowds. But in a few short days many of those who had cheered Him howled for His blood. And even as Jesus was welcomed into the city the Pharisees were plotting His death.
But Good Friday demonstrated these conflicting assessments even more clearly. For the religious leaders it certainly was the best of times: they had finally got that annoying and dangerous Nazarene out of the way for good. Dead men stay dead! For Jesus’ followers it was the worst of times: Jesus expiring on the cross marked the failure of His mission and the destruction of all their hopes.
But they were both wrong. Watch this space!
Dennis R. Read