A walk by the sea shore.

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There are so many fascinating things that is recorded in Matthew 4 which had made it so hard to pen down.

Just read these words.

Matthew 4:13-16
Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali— to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah:
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

I have tried to. I just don’t know where to start.

For one, the location of this lands are at Galilee. These were the 1st two tribes that were first lost under the Assyrians.

When Matthew penned this, he spoke about how they were once disgraced. They were in darkness.

This meant a lot to Matthew. One of the most profound truths about Matthew’s gospel is that it is written by a man who was considered a depraved sinner.

This was because he was a tax collector. His job was simple. He would collect a quota he was asked to collect for the Romans and whatever else he collected belonged to him.

As such it was common for a tax collector to use the muscle of Rome to force people to pay more.

In today’s scenario, they would probably be equivalent to mobsters who are debt-collectors or people who collect “protection money” or even politicians who exploit others for selfish gain.

Matthew was verily Jew but yet considered a “sinner” and outcast by his people.

If you are familiar with the Gospels you will realized, the worst thing you can ever be as a woman, is a prostitute. The worst thing a man can be is, to be a tax collector. A Roman dog.

As such, Matthew was a man who understood the “darkness of Zebulun and Naphtali.”

It was also the lowest place in all Israel. Mathew wants us to feel the desperation of where he was. He was not only in darkness. He was also in the lowest place of his life when Jesus found him.

I want to just quote this from
Mark Shea’s note:

“We immediately grasp that Matthew is trying to get us to think historically.

He then follows this up with a citation from Isaiah. And not just any part of Isaiah, but Isaiah 9:1-2 which is right in the heart of what scholars call “the book of Immanuel” found in Isaiah 7-11 and which Matthew has already quoted twice before.

His point then? That Jesus — the son of David — is beginning his restoration of the Davidic kingdom (and his transformation of it into the kingdom of heaven) at ground zero where God’s covenant judgment had fallen seven centuries before.”

I want us also to see what Matthew quoted.

Matthew 4:15-16
“Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,
the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people living in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of the shadow of death
a light has dawned.”

This must have been one of his favourite verses. “The people (including him) living in darkness have seen a great light.” He was living in the land of the “shadow of death” (think Psalm 23, people) and how this great light would be with him.

Little did Matthew know this great light would soon said to him, a man of darkness these words.

Matthew 5:14
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.

Mathew must have wondered “how is that possible?”

It is here John shed us some light in his Gospel. He tells us Jesus had a house there. Jesus invited Andrew and John there once. Jesus simply told them to “come and see”.

John 1:38-39
Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”

“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.

I marvel at this, that our Lord should have his home in the most pagan place in Israel. The first place where the tribes were lost.

Galilee was also known as the Garden of the Palestine as it was the most fertile land of all Israel.

Yet it is this place he invited the disciples to his home. John reminds us of the time they left Jesus’s house. 4pm.

Remember they were Jewish. Their day starts at 5pm and they walk. That’s like almost midnight and it would sometimes take a hour to reach home. Such was the intimacy they had. They had fellowship till they forgot about the time.

I want you to remember 3 things here.

Light. House. Garden.

Little did they know after the Cross, the disciples themselves, would be Jesus’s spiritual home. They would become his temple where the Father, the Word and the Spirit would dwell.

John 14:20
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.

They would be the Lord’s new house and the Godhead will dwell in them.

1 Peter 2:5
you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

Hebrews 3:6
But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house …

So Jesus began his ministry in the Garden of Galilee, the place where the tribes were first lost. He would end up making the lost, the new Garden, his new house.

Let me just close with this. In the Holy of Holies, the glory of God dwelled between the cherubim above a slab of gold called the “mercy seat.”

It is called the Shekhinah. It is where the Holy of Holies receives its light. The walls of this place was made of gold covered wood panels. As such it reflects the light that comes from the “mercy seat” and causes the Holy of Holies to light up in glory.

That house/temple however lies in rubble after the invasion of Rome in AD70. Peter and the writer of Hebrews tells us the Godhead now dwells in a new house. A new home. A new Garden.

That new Sanctuary is you.

You see the translators never quite got it right. They always translate 1 Corinthians 3:16 as “God’s temple”. Actually it doesn’t say that. Only the Amplified Bible captures it perfectly.

1 Corinthians 3:16Amplified Bible (AMP)

16 Do you not discern andunderstand that you [the whole church at Corinth] are God’s temple (His sanctuary), and that God’s Spirit has His permanent dwelling in you [to be at home in you, [a]collectively as a church and also individually]?

Notice the words “permanent dwelling” “home” and most important of all “sanctuary”? It’s not just a temple but the Holy of Holies and it is permanent.

I told you Matthew was telling a group of Christians who did not know their identity. So he started his Message by telling his believers, this light is the light that was on the “mercy seat” in the Old Temple. He had come to make his dwelling, a permanent home, a sanctuary in them.

He wanted them to see the picture of themselves as the walls of the Holy of Holies: The gold that surrounds the Shekhinah. The reflection of the glory of the Lord on the ark.

Paul tells how we mirror his glory.

2 Corinthians 3:18
And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

So Matthew sets them up as his audience. He tells them about the light that was coming. In the next chapter he would tell them that it was possible for a man who was in the darkest abyss to be the sanctuary of God. “You are too light”, he would echo Jesus’s words to them.

That my friend is the Gospel of a tax collector.

Today he bids you to open your heart and take a journey with Him. A journey of love. A walk by the seashore that would lead you to his Garden.

Would you?

I pray that you are blessed.

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