The Tribulum

Throughout the Mediterranean world archaeologists have discovered many examples of a farming implement called a tribulum, which was a sort of sled with sharp flint or stones embedded on its underside. As it was dragged over harvested wheat, its sharp stones rubbed the seed from the pods and chopped the straw into chaff. From this Latin word comes our word “tribulation,” which literally means, “being raked by the sharp troubles of life.”

The word “tribulation” often appears in the Bible. Jesus spoke of a coming Great Tribulation (Matthew 24:21), but His people face tribulation even now. In Acts 14:22 the apostles warned the believers in Derbe, “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” But Romans 8:35 assures us that tribulation will never separate us from the love of Christ. “In the world you will have tribulation,” Jesus warned in John 16:33, “but take heart; I have overcome the world.”

In 1 John 5:1-5, and in particular verses 4 and 5 tell us that we are “born again” to be overcomers: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world–our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”.

Yet we will go through times of tribulation that come to prove our allegiance to Christ. In Hebrews 5:8 we learn that Jesus Himself “learned obedience through what he suffered.” Jesus “learned obedience” in the sense that He experienced what obedience means through what He suffered and sacrifice. He was always obedient to the Father’s will, but the proof of obedience is revealed in situations where obedience is not pleasant. Suppose that when my children were younger, I told you, “I have obedient children. Let me prove it to you: ‘Children, eat your ice cream.’” You would say, “That’s no test of obedience!” The real test would be, “Children, clean your rooms!” Jesus experienced obedience to the maximum when He went to the cross. We learn obedience and prove our allegiance when at times that obedience also involves suffering. Romans 5:3 & 4 says we should “rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope.”

If you feel you’re caught in a tribulum, be patient and take heart. The Lord will deliver you. “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer” Romans 12:12.

We welcome you to join us on Sunday at 10:30 am as we worship God, study His Word and fellowship together.

Bruce Davie, Pastor/Elder IBCZ

Sermon Title “Encourage One Another”, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14 &15


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