Students of Old Testament divide it into three sections: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.
The Law concerns itself with the formation of God’s people as a nation and his guidance for them.
The Prophets are words of correction and hope for the nation.
The Writings are books like the Psalms, Job, and Proverbs. They contain the response of God’s people to events in history.
The Importance of the Law
Jesus taught that the Old Testament Law and the Prophets were important.
–– Luke 16.16-17 – “The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force.
“But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped.”
The Law and the Prophets were not dismissed by the arrival of the kingdom of God.
Every aspect of it’s guidance, correction, and hope is valuable for God’s followers.
Paul explained the inspiration and usefulness of the entire Bible.
— 2 Timothy 3.16-17 – All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
So that everyone who belongs to God may be proficient, equipped for every good work.
Readers of my blog know that I advocate using the Bible in prayer. I currently am reading from the Psalms, the Prophets, and the Gospels.
For many years I added the Law and the New Testament Letters to my reading and prayer time.
If you will read and pray from all of the sections of the Bible, you will have a balanced approach to Scripture. God will use this investment of your time to equip you for every good work.
Forced Entry into the Kingdom
There is a phrase in verse 16 that has puzzled me for years. Jesus said, “the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone tries to enter it by force” (Luke 16.16).
What does it mean to enter God’s kingdom “by force”?
One explanation that I like is to consider some of the unusual people who became followers of Jesus and participants in God’s kingdom.
— Luke 5.17-26 – Four men carried a man to Jesus, tore open a roof, and lowered the man into Jesus’ presence. That looks pretty forceful to me.
— Luke 7.36-50 – A sinful woman crashed a dinner party, wept on Jesus’ feet, and anointed them with oil.
Jesus told her that she was forgiven and commended her love. She was forcing her way into God’s kingdom.
— Luke 14.1-6 – A man with dropsy (an edema that produced swelling in the body) found his way into an exclusive dinner party to meet with Jesus.
Jesus healed the man and spoke to the guests about the need to be inclusive.
Apparently, the man forced his way into the kingdom.
— Luke 17.11-19 – Ten lepers called out to Jesus and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
Jesus healed all of them, but only the Samaritan returned to praise God and give thanks.
This is one more of many images of people taking the initiative to become members of God’s kingdom.
As we read further into the Gospel of Luke, we will encounter others who made significant efforts to become citizens of God’s kingdom.
On the other hand, there were religious authorities who believed that by virtue of their birth and lifestyle they were already members of God’s kingdom.
What is tragic is that the King of the kingdom was present in their midst and they rejected his leadership.
The Law and Divorce
The next verse in this section seems to be out of keeping for the discussion. Let’s look at the verse and attempt to understand Jesus’ words.
— Luke 16.18 – “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.”
There are two points of emphasis I want to make about Jesus’ words.
(1) Marriage needs to be taken seriously.
It appears that the religious authorities found ways to explain away God’s marriage requirements. Jesus upheld God’s guidance in this area.
In first century Israel, a woman could not divorce her husband. However, a husband could “send his wife away” (the language of divorce) at his will.
Women could not work, so a divorced woman had to return to her family, beg, or become a prostitute.
Men had all of the power in a divorce, but Jesus leveled the playing field with his remarks.
Everyone who has gone through a divorce knows the pain that is involved. They would echo my first point and counsel persons to approach marriage with intense seriousness.
(2) Jesus’ message on divorce is not the unpardonable sin.
Luke 16.18 is found in a book that is called a Gospel. A Gospel contains the good news of God’s love, forgiveness and transformation.
Rudy Ross has excellent thoughts on this point in today’s YouTube video. Please take a few minutes to listen to his ideas.
There is only one unpardonable sin. It is to refuse God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ.
Marriage and divorce need to be approached with great seriousness. In the event of divorce, persons are encouraged accept Jesus’ forgiveness and transformation.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. I think you will profit by listening to our dialogue.
The video can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.
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