tractor preparing the fields September 30 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Matthew 2:1-23; Luke 2:41-52; Mark 1:1-8; Matthew 3:1-12; Luke 3:1-20; John 1:1-18


Farmers prepare the ground for planting by plowing. At this time of year in the northern hemisphere, immediately after harvest they often turn over the soil to give more nutrients to the ground.

Those who attend church services may participate in something called the “Preparation for the Message.” Sometimes these are selected hymns played by the organ, piano, or some other instrument, or a song before the preaching service starts. The intent is to soften their moods, silence the fellowship of the believers (which can get loud at times), push away their cares of the day, bring them into an atmosphere of subdued worship, and prepare the ground of their hearts for the “seed” of the message. Not all worship is meant to be quiet of course, but the intent in this case is to make them ready to listen to the Word of God.

In today's Bible reading, before Jesus comes to this earth, God prepares the Jewish people for His coming and His message of salvation. Later, this gracious message will be extended to all non-Jewish people who also believe, trusting in Jesus for their salvation.

In our last Bible study we learned that the person of Jesus Christ was validated or authenticated through His genealogy, fulfilled prophecies, historical records, and testimonies. More testimonies, times, dates and fulfilled prophecies validate His person in today's Bible reading.

Magi, famous wise men from the east (astrologers) see signs in the heavens of a coming king. They follow a particular star (perhaps a comet; there is no word for comet in the Greek language so they would have termed it a star) to Jerusalem. When they appear before King Herod to find out where the King of the Jews is born, Herod pretends to be interested in worshipping him. In reality, he is jealous and suspicious. He becomes an instrument of Satan to try and destroy Jesus. From this episode we can learn that when the message of God is coming, we can expect opposition. Satan knows changed lives and hearts will be the result of God's Word being heard, and he will try to stop it. Jesus Christ is the Word of God personified in the flesh (John 1:14).

After visiting Jesus, the wise men are warned in a dream not to return to Herod.

When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. (Matthew 3:16, NIV)

Why did God allow this? We don't know. God does not choose to stop all evil in the world. Innocent babies of greater number are killed every day in America and other parts of the world. The problem is not with Him – the problem is with humanity; our hearts need to be changed. Over all the evil, however, we can see that God is Sovereign; He does not let Satan overcome His plan to save the world through His Son. All these events, and yes even the tragic events (prophesied in Jeremiah 31:15 and fulfilled in Matthew 2:18), are arranged to make preparation for the message of Jesus Christ. People will hear the fulfillment of these prophecies and wonder, who is coming? Where is He? How will we know Him? They live in expectation of a coming savior (although they are primarily looking for a physical savior from Roman rule to stop their oppression and return their control of the land).

Other preparations are also made for the ministry of Jesus. John the Baptist prepares the hearts of many people as he baptizes them in the Jordan River. He works with the Holy Spirit to bring about true repentance. He is bold to speak the truth with convicting messages. If we are Christians, “God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind,” (2Timothy 1:7, NIV). We just need to trust Him, be obedient in speaking the truth of the gospel, and live it.

As we might expect, even those who are falsely religious come to John. The Pharisees and Sadducees are two orders of clergy which come, not to repent, but to check out the scene. What does God require for repentance – a religious show or expressions of regret? No. True repentance is an honest, brokenness over one's sin that results in a changed life (Joel 2:12-13; Matthew 3:7-10; Luke 3:10-14). Are we hanging onto our sins and entering into worship? James 1:21-22 says, “... get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves,” (NIV). Our hearts must be prepared ground for service.

Lessons to Live By

  • We must prepare ourselves for the message of God's Word in our lives.
  • If we are in position to do it, we should prepare others for the message of God’s Word.
  • We should trust God and speak the truth boldly.
  • True repentance (brokenness) is required if we wish forgiveness from God (more...)
  • Our hearts must be prepared ground for service.

Today’s Memory Verse

Matthew 3:3b: “Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him”

Here is a song that goes well with today's Bible study: Here He Comes!

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