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This picture is a painting entitled "Messiah." I chose it as our title illustration after looking through a lot of potential pictures that I could have used to highlight the message of Matthew 8:18-34 - the verses for our Tsiyon Academy study this week.
I could have gone for something that was not so stylized. Perhaps a more literal impression depicting one of the amazing things Messiah did within the target verses. Surely, there are some dramatic events within the passage, that could yield some very powerful pictures.
One very controversial interchange within these verses is the story of the disciple who asked to bury his father, before following on with Messiah. Here is the passage:
Another of his disciples said to him, “Lord, allow me first to go and bury my father.” But YESHUA said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.” Matthew 8:21-22
I searched for a picture to illustrate this passage, but couldn't find anything that really worked. It made me think that this is not a well-understood passage, or worse, not a passage that Bible teachers want to focus on. Perhaps it is just too radical, and even offensive, to the sensibilities of many, so it gets pushed aside in favor of more palatable stories.
Really, that radical focus is the whole point of the story though, isn't it? Messiah believed His mission, and following Him in His mission, was more important than the normal obligations of life. Of course, that must still be true, so these verses deeply challenge normal assumptions of most believers. What some people miss here is that the man who wanted to bury his father is called a "disciple." In other words, he had already made a commitment to follow Messiah. Once you make that commitment it must be your highest priority - you don't turn back for any reason - ever. Why? Because nothing or nobody is more important than the commitment you made to follow Him. I put together a picture to illustrate these verses to share with you, which I think makes the point pretty well. I didn't use this one for my theme illustration though, because it is really more about us and what we need to do, than it is about Him.
An obvious choice in these verses would be a picture of Messiah calming the wind and the sea. There are a lot of pictures to choose from to illustrate this. This picture to the left is more or less typical of the illustrations available. Here is the famous passage;
When he got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Behold, a violent storm came up on the sea, so much that the boat was covered with the waves, but he was asleep. They came to him, and woke him up, saying, “Save us, Lord! We are dying!” He said to them, “Why are you fearful, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was a great calm. The men marveled, saying, “What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” Matthew 8:23-27
Certainly, this is an amazing passage that paints an awesome mental image that can fairly easily be depicted in art. Many of these pictures, such as the one here, are quite powerful. In most cases, I really like them. So why didn't I choose one of these for our theme illustration?
Too external. The real meat of this story is what was going on inside of the men, and inside of Messiah. The external storm is a small thing in comparison to the internal storm of fear these men where carrying around with them all the time, only now being revealed because of the external storm. By contrast, Messiah was so internally at peace that he was sleeping in a boat in the midst of a storm on a storm-tossed sea! He was not burdened down with fear, which is a direct result of unbelief, and he didn't want them to be either.
When they marveled and said, “What kind of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” they were actually missing the point he was trying to get across to them. His message was; their fear and unbelief was preventing them from doing what he did! If they were to rise up to become the men they were created to be, then they would do what he was doing!
That's why I chose the stylized Messiah illustration. As I see the picture, it seeks to show us the Man on the inside, filled with the potent energy of faith and courage in the image of God. These divine qualities are endowed in God's men, and Messiah came, among other reasons, to be THE real-life example of what that looks like in the real world. While things like calming a stormy sea are seen by many as legend, the fact is these are all real events. Their purpose was not only to show us who He is, but also to show us who we can be in this world - if we will only believe.
As this little preview suggests, tonight's meeting at Tsiyon.Net at 8 CST includes some power-packed material that is sure to rock your world.Join us and be energized!
Trump-Putin safe zones deal
ousts Iran from Syria
Reprint: DEBKAfile, January 26, 2017
Syria stands on the threshold of dramatic changes that will directly impact on the strategic and military situation along the Syrian borders with Israel and Jordan, debkafile reports exclusively. They derive from a deal struck this week by US President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to establish US, Russian and Turkish security zones in Syria. This scheme will transfer military control of the country to those three powers. Each of them will be responsible for a zone whose borders will be defined and agreed upon by Washington, Moscow and Ankara.
As part of this arrangement, all forces from the Iranian military, the pro-Iranian Shiite militias and Hizballah will be required to leave Syria.
The US military is to have two security zones – one covering the entire area east of the Euphrates River up to the Iraqi border including Kurdish areas (see attached map). This arrangement will partly resurrect the accord reached in late 2015 by US President Barack Obama and Putin, for the division of Syria into areas of influence. All territory east of the Euphrates was allocated to the US, with Russia taking responsibility for all areas west of the river until the Mediterranean coast. .
Under the new deal, the Turkish area is to stretch about 650 kilometers along the entire Syria-Turkey border and extend between 35 and 50 kilometers into Syrian territory up to Al-Bab, the town where the Turkish military is engaged in its third straight month of fighting for its capture from ISIS.
debkafile’s military and intelligence sources report that the overriding change on the ground will be the establishment of a second US security zone adjacent to Syria’s borders with Israel and Jordan. It means that the approximately 7,500 US special operations forces troops currently in Jordan will be shifted northward into southern Syria.
Russia had originally planned to deploy Syrian military, pro-Iranian Shiite militia and Hizballah forces in battles for the capture of land around the cities of Derra and Quneitra on the Syrian side of the Golan. That plan has been dropped and will be superseded by the deployment in southern Syria of US troops accompanied by Jordanian special forces and Syrian rebels, trained by American instructors in Jordanian military camps.
Israelis will breathe a sigh of relief over the removal of the threat of Iranian and Hizballah forces being deployed along their northern border with Syria.
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