Mark 7:25.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Mark 7:25

“But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came, and fell at His feet.” Mark 7:25.  

Jesus now goes to the region of Tyre and Sidon. These were ancient cities of Phoenicia which are mentioned several times in both the Old and New Testaments. Jesus mentions Tyre and Sidon in Luke 10 in the context of judgments He was pronouncing against the cities of Chorazin and Bethsaida. We read in Luke the following, “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the miracles had been performed in Tyre and Sidon which occurred in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment, than for you.” Luke 10:13-14. They were considered some of the most sinful cities, however, it was said of both Bethsaida and Chorazin that it would be better for Tyre and Sidon, both cities known for their idolatrous ways, in the last days then for Bethsaida and Chorazin.

We read in Mark the following, “And from there He arose and went away to the region of Tyre. And when He had entered a house, He wanted no one to know of it; yet He could not escape notice.” Mark 7:24. There is no indication as to why Jesus did not want others to know He was there, but I believe He was so well known they could not keep this hidden. However, see what comes up next. “But after hearing of Him, a woman whose little daughter had an unclean spirit, immediately came and fell at His feet. Now the woman was a Gentile, of the Syrophoenician race. And she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter.” Mark 7:25-26. She heard that He was there, and undoubtedly knew about the great works He had done. Therefore she went to Him with the purpose of Jesus helping her daughter be freed from the demon. Now she was a Syrophoenician. She was not a Jew but was someone from the borders near Tyre and Sidon. According to Matthew, she was a Canaanite. And when she arrived, she fell at His feet, prostrate before Him, asking for help for her daughter. Prostration was an indication of both grief and reverence. And she did not stop asking Him, for she so wanted her daughter to be delivered.

Then in the next verse, we see His response to her. “Let the children be satisfied first, for it is not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” Mark 7:27. In the Greek the word for dog can refer to a ‘puppy’ or ‘dog’. Jews often used the word dogs to refer to Gentiles. Even though it seems out of character for him to have done so, Jesus almost certainly used it in the same way. The obvious meaning is that Jews took precedence over Gentiles during the ministry of Jesus. Even Paul later adhered to a similar principle. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16. But now notice her response, which shows the faith she had in Jesus. “But she answered and said to Him, Yes, Lord, but even the dogs under the table feed on the children’s crumbs.” Mark 7:28. The woman did not deny the precedence of Israel over the gentiles but commented that this did not exclude the Gentiles, for the leftovers were theirs. And she referred to Jesus as Lord. This would not have been as significant if a Jew had called Him Lord, but this was a gentile who used this eminent title for Him.

Jesus was astounded by her answer to His comment. “And He said to her, because of this answer go your way; the demon has gone out of your daughter. And going back to her home, she found the child lying on the bed, the demon having departed.” Mark 7:29-30. Jesus commended the woman for her humility and, I believe, her faith. Although her faith is not explicitly mentioned, I am certain she trusted in Jesus that He could and would deliver her daughter. We need to see the power of coming in faith and humility to God as we are and letting Him make true His promises to those weak and unclean. If the woman had responded, who are you calling a dog, she would not have been humble toward Him and may not have received healing for her daughter. Her humble, faith-filled submission to Jesus brought the victory. This should be our attitude when coming to God. We must not order Him or come across as someone who deserves all we ask for. We must come to Him as someone who trusts God that He knows what is best and will bring what is best, according to His will, to fruition. God loves us. The question is do we love and trust Him enough to let Him decide what is best?

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries, Inc.

Isaiah 64:6.

Verse of the Day Devotion.  Isaiah 64:6

“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” – Isaiah 64:6     

At the end of chapter 63, Gods people lament for it appears that He is absent or inactive regarding His people. “Why, O LORD, dost Thou cause us to stray from Thy ways, And harden our heart from fearing Thee? Return for the sake of Thy servants, the tribes of Thy heritage. Thy holy people possessed Thy sanctuary for a little while, Our adversaries have trodden it down. We have become like those over whom Thou hast never ruled, Like those who were not called by Thy name.” Isaiah 63:17-19. Isaiah wishes that God had left his heavenly home long ago, had split open the solid curtain in the sky that hides him from human view, had come down to earth in his full glory, and had caused all of nature to quake. The idea of ‘quaking’ because of the Lord is also mentioned in the Book of Judges. “LORD, when Thou didst go out from Seir, when Thou didst march from the field of Edom, The earth quaked, the heavens also dripped, Even the clouds dripped water. The mountains quaked at the presence of the LORD, this Sinai, at the presence of the LORD, the God of Israel.” Judges 5:4-5.

Then in chapter 64 we read, “Oh, that Thou wouldst rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Thy presence, As fire kindles the brushwood, as fire causes water to boil, to make Thy name known to Thine adversaries, That the nations may tremble at Thy presence! When Thou didst awesome things which we did not expect, Thou didst come down, the mountains quaked at Thy presence. For from of old they have not heard nor perceived by ear, Neither has the eye seen a God besides Thee, Who acts in behalf of the one who waits for Him.” Isaiah 64:1-4. Isaiah, the one who was praying, wanted God to intervene on behalf of Israel. He remembered God’s great work for Israel in the days of the Exodus. Here, He also remembers how the LORD shook Mount Sinai when Israel camped there on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land. And those who wait on God’s work will see Him act on their behalf.

Then Isaiah changes his focus. “Thou dost meet him who rejoices in doing righteousness, Who remembers Thee in Thy ways. Behold, Thou was angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time; And shall we be saved?” Isaiah 64:5. Isaiah here answers the question, what kind of man does the LORD answer in prayer?” In essence He meets with those who ‘rejoices in doing righteousness’. Those who remember God in all His ways. And then Isaiah said they have not followed His ways.  ‘Behold, Thou was angry, for we sinned, We continued in them a long time.’ He made it clear that God’s people had sinned, and he asked the question, ‘Shall we be saved?’ And then Isaiah continues in our focus verse. “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; And all of us wither like a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6. Isaiah declares their righteous deeds can be compared to filthy rags. The term “filthy rags” is quite strong. The word filthy is a translation of the Hebrew word ‘iddah’, which literally means the bodily fluids from a woman’s menstrual cycle. And the word rags is a translation of ‘begged’, meaning a rag or garment. Therefore, these ‘righteous acts’ are considered by God as repugnant as a soiled feminine hygiene product.

Then Isaiah takes it a little deeper. “And there is no one who calls on Thy name, Who arouses himself to take hold of Thee; For Thou hast hidden Thy face from us, And hast delivered us into the power of our iniquities.” Isaiah 64:7. The idea here, connected to their sin being as filthy rages, is that they have become so corrupt, they did not call on God or worship Him in sincerity. Their iniquities have essentially overcome their desire to worship God in the way they should.

And then Isaiah calls on God for His mercy. “But now, O LORD, Thou art our Father, We are the clay, and Thou our potter; And all of us are the work of Thy hand. Do not be angry beyond measure, O LORD, Neither remember iniquity forever; Behold, look now, all of us are Thy people. Thy holy cities have become a wilderness, Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, Where our fathers praised Thee, Has been burned by fire; And all our precious things have become a ruin. Wilt Thou restrain Thyself at these things, O LORD? Wilt Thou keep silent and afflict us beyond measure?” Isaiah 64:8-12. Isaiah is in a desperate place; he needs the mercy of God because the justice of God condemns him. In his appeal for mercy, he first reminds God that He is their Father and then pleads for mercy for himself and God’s people. Isaiah declares that God is the potter, and we are the clay. It is like saying, LORD we are like clay in Your hands. Deal gently with us, and mold us according to Your mercy.

Let us all, as Isaiah did, not just call out to God regarding ourselves and our needs but let us call out to God for what our brothers and sisters in Christ need as well. Let us pray that we all desire a greater relationship with our Father God, and we acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness, and move forward in the life He has called us to live. And let us pray that our righteousness will no longer be as filthy rags, but will be a light to many in the hope of bringing some into the fold.

William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.