Foreshadowing Messiah Part 3

         There is a story I have heard repeated many times now that seems to stem from the East Coast school somewhere. The school policies allowed teachers to read devotionals and some religious texts to their students, but the school was a mostly Jewish population, so teachers were not supposed to read from the New Testament or mention Jesus. One day the mother of a student came in very upset. Her daughter, who was not so sheltered as to have never heard about Jesus, told her that the teacher had been reading from the New Testament story of Jesus. Naturally, in this situation, the mother was furious, and the teacher was called into the office to explain herself. The teacher brought with her a Bible and read for the mother and principal what she had read to her class. Please just listen carefully to what she had read…

1 Who would have believed what we just heard?

When was the Lord’s power revealed through him?

2 He sprouted up like a twig before God,

like a root out of parched soil;

he had no stately form or majesty that might catch our attention,

no special appearance that we should want to follow him.

3 He was despised and rejected by people,

one who experienced pain and was acquainted with illness;

people hid their faces from him;

he was despised, and we considered him insignificant.

4 But he lifted up our illnesses,

he carried our pain;

even though we thought he was being punished,

attacked by God, and afflicted for something he had done.

5 He was wounded because of our rebellious deeds,

crushed because of our sins;

he endured punishment that made us well;

because of his wounds we have been healed.

6 All of us had wandered off like sheep;

each of us had strayed off on his own path,

but the Lord caused the sin of all of us to attack him.

7 He was treated harshly and afflicted,

but he did not even open his mouth.

Like a lamb led to the slaughtering block,

like a sheep silent before her shearers,

he did not even open his mouth.

8 He was led away after an unjust trial –

but who even cared?

Indeed, he was cut off from the land of the living;

because of the rebellion of his own people he was wounded.

9 They intended to bury him with criminals,

but he ended up in a rich man’s tomb,

because he had committed no violent deeds,

nor had he spoken deceitfully.

10 Though the Lord desired to crush him and make him ill,

once restitution is made,

he will see descendants and enjoy long life,

and the Lord’s purpose will be accomplished through him.

11 Having suffered, he will reflect on his work,

he will be satisfied when he understands what he has done.

“My servant will acquit many,

for he carried their sins.

12 So I will assign him a portion with the multitudes,

he will divide the spoils of victory with the powerful,

because he willingly submitted to death

and was numbered with the rebels,

when he lifted up the sin of many

and intervened on behalf of the rebels.”

“You see,” the mother yelled at the principal, “She’s reading about Jesus. Even I know that…” The teacher then showed them the passage she had just read. It was Isaiah chapter 53. As the story goes, as a result, the woman and her entire family came to believe in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah.

         The prophet Isaiah was born during the 8th century before Christ was born and wrote somewhere around 740 years before the birth of the man we know as Jesus. No matter how liberal theologians try to twist the scriptures by claiming up to three writers for what Hebrew and Christian traditions say was written by one man, the fact remains that ancient fragments of the scrolls of Isaiah were found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, still dating long before Jesus lived on the earth. Trying to pull the miraculous out of scripture because “modern enlightened man” can’t accept the existence of miracles, still doesn’t change the fact that somehow, someone who lived and wrote hundreds of years early could have given such a details account of what was to come. It is nothing short of a miracle. Compare what we just heard from Isaiah to these passages from the New Testament.

John 1:11

He came to what was his own, but his own people did not receive him.

Isaiah 53:3 said he would be rejected by his people.

Romans 5:6-8

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.) But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Isaiah 53:5 explains Messiah will die as a substitutionary sacrifice for his people.

Mark 15:4-5

So Pilate asked him again, “Have you nothing to say? See how many charges they are bringing against you!” But Jesus made no further reply, so that Pilate was amazed.

Isaiah 53:7 says he will be silent before his accusers.

Matthew 27:57-60

Now when it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut in the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance of the tomb and went away.

Isaiah 53:9 speaks of Messiah being buried among the rich, though it was intended he be buried with criminals.

Mark 15:27

And they crucified two outlaws with him, one on his right and one on his left.

Isaiah 53:9 mentions the criminals, but verse 12 says he willingly submitted to death and was numbered with the criminals, when he lifted up the sin of many and intervened on behalf of the rebels.” And who are those rebels? ALL who have rebelled against God in our pride and vanity, thinking we know better for ourselves than the God who created us and wants to adopt us into his family as children.

         We have a promise keeping God! Amen? Over 7,400 hundred promises made, over 1,800 prophecies predicted, over 300 of those prophecies foreshadowing or predicting Messiah like this passage in Isaiah 53, each and every one of them kept, or fulfilled, or yet to come. God has been reaching out to humanity for thousands of years. God has approached us time and time again, and yet he is rejected. God has demonstrated his love for us in the death of his Son and given us an opportunity at a new life in relationship with him. As we look into the prophecies and passages foreshadowing and predicting Messiah coming; we also remember, in spite of knowing the scriptures, his own people didn’t recognize his coming. That makes it easier for us to grow complacent to the schemes of those who try to steer us away from the inspiration and authority of scripture. Our promise keeping God has kept his word! Amen? He has given us proof of what he would do, and he has done it time and again.

         Let us continue one more time in Isaiah, this time chapter 9:6-7.

For to us a child is born unto us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.

How often have we heard these verses? Not only do they echo from other passages we have heard and studied out of the Old Testament, but the New Testament sees these things fulfilled and the second coming of Christ an everlasting kingdom.

There has been a lot of questions about the meaning and timeline behind Daniel’s 70 weeks referenced in Daniel 9:25. However, over the years, and many scholars are able to narrow down the timeline from the prediction of this prophecy and the conclusion of 69 of those weeks to the approximate time we know Jesus’s ministry was active. One article on biblearchaeology.org lays out many of the theories and dates in question. However, one thing is absolutely clear, no matter how closely we argue the accuracy of each date; God through Daniel years before the restoration of Jerusalem predicted of a time when Messiah would come and during that time, Jesus was here on earth. While in our flawed humanity and limited understanding we may not have it exactly right; God did get it right from the beginning. We are the ones who keep messing it up. Thank God for mercy and grace to see us through!

Micah 5:2,4 foreshadows Messiah coming out of Bethlehem,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

And the chief priest and teachers of the law quote this passage when answering King Herod in Matthew 2:6. Whose origins but the Son of God who was at the foundation of creation could be from such ancient times yet will come out of Bethlehem as Jesus was recorded to have been born in Luke 2:4-7. Who else but God could predict in Jeremiah 31:15 the slaughter of the innocents we find in Matthew 2:16-18 when Herod had the boys under age 2 all killed who had been born around Bethlehem. But the angel in Matthew 2:13-15 had warned Mary and Joseph to take Jesus to Egypt and yet that was also predicted hundreds of years earlier in Hosea 11:1.

         Only our amazing promise keeping God could do all this! Only our amazing promise keeping God would send his Son as a ransom, a sacrifice, for all mankind and give us hints, prophecies, and promises of his coming going all the way back to Genesis chapter 3. Only a loving Creator, a perfect Father, a compassionate God would show those who are so willful and disobedient such a wonderful gift. This holiday season, let us remember to accept this gift with open hearts, and share this gift with all around us with open arms.

Foreshadowing Messiah Part 2

         Today we’re continuing our series, Foreshadowing Messiah, and acknowledging that we have a promise keeping God who has never, ever broken a promise. Amen! Scripture records over 7,400 promises God has made to humanity, and other than the smaller percentage that have not been met yet, each and every promise has been kept! God is a faithful to keep his promises, unlike so many people we may know.

         It reminds me of a politician. We all expect politicians to break their promises, but some are just bold-faced lies. For instance, a politician visited a small town and asked what their needs were.

“We have 2 basic needs sir,” replied the councilman. “Firstly, we have a hospital, but there’s no doctor.” On hearing this, the politician whipped out his cellphone, and after speaking for a while he reassured the town council that the doctor would be there the next day. He then asked about the second problem. “Secondly sir, there is no cellphone coverage anywhere in this village.”

         God doesn’t break his promises.

1 Samuel 15:29 says,

The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.”

Numbers 23:19 says,

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a human being, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not make it happen?

God has made his promises and kept them. When we look at predictive prophecy, we can look at those prophecies as promises of what will happen and throughout scripture, we find that when God has told a prophet to speak; it has happened as God said it would. If it hasn’t, it simply hasn’t happened yet. Of the 1,817 prophecies recorded in scripture, all have come true except those that haven’t happened yet. Those prophecies yet to happen, largely have to do with the end-times or with Messiah himself when he returns at the end of the age as Jesus promised. For a couple hundred years, liberal scholars and pastors have tried to remove the miraculous from scripture. Especially the fulfillment of prophecy… Why? Because prophecy is the stamp of authenticity on God’s great masterpiece of scripture. If the Bible is truly written by Holy Spirit as it claims to be, if it is truly God-breathed with the life of God flowing through every word, then twisting it, corrupting it, denying it, and using it to justify, condone, and openly approve of sin in the lives of believers could almost be judged by God as blaspheming the very Holy Spirit that wrote every word. Praise God, he is the judge. However, as you know, I take teaching and preaching the Word of God very seriously. The more evidence and ancient documents we discover, like the Dead Sea Scrolls so many years ago, the more proof we have of how God has guarded the transmission of scripture down through the ages. The more we can see; the Bible is truly miraculous in nature.

         The over 300 prophecies concerning the life, ministry, death, burial, resurrection, and second coming of the Messiah are proof of the identity of Yeshua bin Yoseph ‘al Nazereth. The man we know as Jesus the Christ, the Holy Son of the one true and living Creator God and Father. Last time, we looked at the books Holy Spirit inspired Moses to write and the prophecies they contain regarding the identity of the Messiah. We looked at how those prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament scriptures talking about Jesus. Today, we are going to look more closely how Job foreshadowed the coming Messiah, at the promises made to Israel through Samuel the prophet, and the some of the Psalms written by David and others describing Messiah in more detail.

         Four different places in the book of Job, Holy Spirit foreshadows the coming of the Messiah as the story of Job’s tribulation and the attacks by the Adversary, Satan, commence. We have to remember, Job nor his friends nor wife, can see the scenes of what is happening in heaven. Yet, we find passages that directly foreshadow who Messiah is and the coming of the Messiah.

Job 9:32-35

For he is not a human being like I am, that I might answer him, that we might come together in judgment. Nor is there an arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both, who would take his rod away from me so that his terror would not make me afraid. Then would I speak and not fear him, but it is not so with me.

Job is crying out that he doesn’t have an arbiter or other translations say mediator, but Paul says in 1 Timothy 2:5-6,

For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.

Job foreshadows Messiah, Paul shows us how Jesus fulfilled that role for all of humanity.

Job 16:19-21 says,

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; and he contends with God on behalf of man as a man pleads for his friend.

Jesus tells his apostles in the Garden when teaching on the indwelling Holy Spirit’s presence and purpose in John 14:15-17 and then John 15:26-27,

“If you love me, you will obey my commandments. Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever – the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

Jesus saying that God the Father will give another Advocate, or comforter, or helper implies that Jesus himself is the first Advocate. Continuing to teach on Holy Spirit, Jesus says again in John 15.

When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father – the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father – he will testify about me, 27 and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.

In Job 19:23-27 he cries out for a Redeemer; Job 33-23-28 he is again asking for a Mediator, and then we find Jesus. We have no idea who Holy Spirit used to write the book of Job, scholars believe Job would have lived before the flood, but we don’t know. What we do know is in James 5:10-11 the believers are told,

As an example of suffering and patience, brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the Lord’s name. Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.

While scholars would have us doubt whether Job truly lived or not, James certainly uses what those believers know about Holy Spirit’s testimony of Job to instruct them on perseverance, the Lord’s purpose, compassion, and mercy. How then can we choose to throw out those lessons, or how Job had foreshadowed the coming Messiah?

         The books recording the history Samuel and David also give us more information concerning the coming Messiah. In 1 Samuel 2:1-10, Hannah describes the LORD, the Adonai, in her prayer of thanksgiving concerning the birth of her son Samuel, and in this prayer she is also foreshadowing the Messiah. She says,

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;

my horn is exalted high because of the Lord.

I loudly denounce my enemies,

for I am happy that you delivered me.

2 No one is holy like the Lord!

There is no one other than you!

There is no rock like our God!

3 Don’t keep speaking so arrogantly,

letting proud talk come out of your mouth!

For the Lord is a God who knows;

he evaluates what people do.

4 The bows of warriors are shattered,

but those who stumble find their strength reinforced.

5 Those who are well-fed hire themselves out to earn food,

but the hungry no longer lack.

Even the barren woman gives birth to seven,

but the one with many children withers away.

6 The Lord both kills and gives life;

he brings down to the grave and raises up.

7 The Lord impoverishes and makes wealthy;

he humbles and he exalts.

8 He lifts the weak from the dust;

he raises the poor from the ash heap

to seat them with princes

and to bestow on them an honored position.

The foundations of the earth belong to the Lord,

and he has placed the world on them.

9 He watches over his holy ones,

but the wicked are made speechless in the darkness,

for it is not by one’s own strength that one prevails.

10 The Lord shatters his adversaries;

he thunders against them from the heavens.

The Lord executes judgment to the ends of the earth.

He will strengthen his king

and exalt the power of his anointed one.”

 and then in verse 35 when God condemns the house of Eli he tells him,

Then I will raise up for myself a faithful priest. He will do what is in my heart and soul. I will build for him a secure dynasty and he will serve my chosen one for all time.

2 Samuel 7, God makes a series of promises to David within those promises we find foreshadowing of the Messiah to come from the line of David, picking up in verse 11 we read,

The Lord declares to you that he himself will build a dynastic house for you. When the time comes for you to die, I will raise up your descendant, one of your own sons, to succeed you, and I will establish his kingdom. He will build a house for my name, and I will make his dynasty permanent. I will become his father and he will become my son. When he sins, I will correct him with the rod of men and with wounds inflicted by human beings.  But my loyal love will not be removed from him as I removed it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will stand before me permanently; your dynasty will be permanent.’”  Nathan told David all these words that were revealed to him.

In Matthew 1 and then in other New Testament passages, Jesus is described as coming from the house of David, Jesus the everlasting King, and Jesus on the throne of David.

         When we jump into the Psalms, we find so much more describing the Messiah to come, all written 500 to 1,000 years or more before Jesus ever lived.

In Psalm 2 Messiah is declared to be God, a conqueror, an enthroned ruler ; we find all those themes throughout the New Testament, and in Matthew 3:17 we find God himself claiming Jesus as his one and only Son. Psalm 16:10 and Psalm 49:15 speak of the resurrection that we find record of in Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20, and even referenced in passing in the histories of Josephus a Jewish historian in Roman. Psalm 68:18 speaks of Jesus ascension that we find in Ephesians 4:8 and Acts 1. Psalm 22 describes the scorn and ridicule that Jesus went through, even describes his clothes being gambled away. We find those recounted for us in Luke 23:35 and Matthew 27:35. Psalms 34:20 refers to Messiah having no broken bones that is later described in John 19. Psalm 35 describes how false witnesses will testify against Messiah recorded about Jesus in Mark 14:57, and he’ll be hated for no reason as Jesus himself says about himself and his disciples in John 15:24-25. In Luke 22:47-48 the prediction of Messiah being betrayed by a friend is fulfilled; that prediction was made in Psalm 41:9. In Psalm 109:4 it is predicted Messiah will pray for his enemies, and we find Jesus doing that in Luke 23:34. And Psalm 110:4 describes the coming Messiah as being a priest like Melchizedek that the writer of Hebrews describes for us in Hebrews chapter 5.

         But one of the most important predictive prophecies of Messiah I believe is in Psalm 118. The entire Psalm is a description of the coming Messiah, but three times in the Gospels and three other times in New Testament we find Psalm 118:22. It reads,

The stone which the builders discarded has become the cornerstone.

Jesus himself quotes it as recorded in Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, and Luke 20:17; after telling the pharisees and other religious leaders the parable of the tenants who kill the land owner’s son because they do not want to send their portion of the crops to him; the religious leaders realize we are told Jesus was talking about himself and them. That he was the landowner (God’s) Son, and they were going to reject and kill him.

         Jesus is the cornerstone. Not only do we see it here in Psalm 118, Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Zechariah 10:4, Isaiah 28:16, Jeremiah 51:26 all foreshadows and prophesies it of the coming Messiah. Peter says it in Acts 4:11 and again in 1 Peter 2:6-7, Paul calls Jesus the cornerstone in Ephesians 2:20. The Messiah who was promised. The Messiah who was prophesied. The Messiah talked about for thousands of years. The Messiah Holy Spirit wrote about for over 1,500 years. Jesus, our Messiah who came, our Messiah who lived a perfect life, died a sacrificial death, rose again to bring us into new life, and give us the indwelling Holy Spirit. Jesus is the cornerstone of our faith, the foundation of all that we believe, and who without; our faith is useless.

         The evidence is overwhelming but just like those who lived while he lived and should have recognized his coming; he is rejected and scorned by those who live today. The scriptures are scoffed at as mere fairy tales and myths. Their miraculous nature is denied. But as those who believe, our lives should be a living testimony to the truth. We shouldn’t live in fear of proclaiming the name of Jesus. We should stand firm on the inspiration and authority of scripture. Holy Spirit wrote it for them then and for us now to learn to live by, for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness as 2 Timothy 3:16 says. Our Messiah came as prophesied.

Foreshadowing Messiah Part 1

Foreshadowing Messiah

Our Promise Keeping God Pt. 1

         Do you know someone who throws around the word “promise” for everything, and probably rarely keeps those “promises”? I promise I’ll wash those dishes before bed, then doesn’t. I promise I’ll send you a check, then doesn’t. I promise I’ll pay you back, then doesn’t. I promise I’m telling you the truth, and isn’t? In our language, the word “promise” ends up being a lot like the word “love”. Although love has even more potential definitions, in English, promise can be defined in 13 different ways, and I would say it’s used far too frequently. Especially when people really don’t mean what they say…

The Bible is full of promises. Victor Knowles of Pepperdine University found throughout the Old and New Testaments there are 8,810 promises recorded; 7,487 of those promises recorded are promises that God has made to humanity. In addition to promises made and kept, J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy lists 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament, for a total of 1,817. We can easily think of prophecies as promises God has made through his prophets predicting future events. Proof of an all-powerful Creator God and loving Father who will step into the natural world he created to do miraculous things that are scientifically impossible by human standards.

Over the last 200 years or so, liberal theologians have been trying to take the miraculous out of scripture. They deny that inspiration of the scripture as the very words that God wants his people to hear and read. They say modern enlightened humanity cannot accept the miraculous and it is all superstitious nonsense made up to convince the ignorant, uncultured, and uneducated to follow the precepts of the Bible. These are church leaders and scholars with Pastor, Reverend, and Doctor before their names. People whose opinions and false teaching bear a lot of weight with some denominations, within universities and seminaries, and develop belief systems. They deny when the biblical passages were written and what they meant, deny the deity of Christ, that Jesus was truly God in the flesh, they deny prophecies that predict his coming, deny that Jesus bodily rose from the grave, deny the very fundamentals of biblical Christianity while still claiming to be Christian.

Peter said in 2 Peter 1:20-21,

‘Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ 2 Peter 1:20-21

These people would deny this statement for the Holy Spirit could not carry along anyone. Scripture is not inspired and authoritative. Jesus was not born of a virgin overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, the blameless, righteous, sinless, spotless, Son of God who is the only acceptable atoning sacrifice on behalf of sinful man before a perfect God. Jesus was a great teacher and a fully God-conscious man, but he was not God in the flesh. Jesus may have been crucified and buried, but he did not physically rise from the grave. Only the spirit of Jesus still lives today, he did not bodily rise to heaven after appearing to and teaching his disciples for 40 days. Those are all just made-up stories, not miracles.

If we disregard the inspiration and authority of scripture, we might as well throw the Bible away completely. If we don’t believe that God has made 7,487 promises to humanity and hasn’t been keeping his promises, what is the point of faith? If we deny the miraculous and toss out the 1,817 predictive prophecies God has made, including over 300 having to do with the plan God had for the coming Messiah, how can we stand firm on the Solid Rock of our foundational belief in the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus, who is God’s anointed Messiah, the Christ, the Son of the one true and living God.

Jesus was not just a good man, a great teacher, a moral leader, or even a fully god-conscious man. Jesus is the Adonai, the LORD, the eternal Son who existed from before the beginning, was involved in creation, the living Word, the light of the world, the cornerstone and capstone of our faith, the Head of the Body of the Church, and the fulfillment of the predictions and prophecies of his coming are not only a part of the fingerprint that identifies who he truly is; they are also offer proof of who God is and what he has been doing for humanity from the beginning.

Over the coming weeks, we are going to be looking at some of the prophecies and passages foreshadowing the coming Messiah. The passages and prophecies that the Hebrews would have know and been expectantly looking for before the birth of Jesus. The passages and prophecies that are evidence that we have a promise keeping God, who has never broken a promise or failed to keep his covenant with his people.

God told his people through Moses in Deuteronomy 18:21-22,

‘Now if you say to yourselves, ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord ?’ – whenever a prophet speaks in my name and the prediction is not fulfilled, then I have not spoken it; the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”’

Unfulfilled predictions made in the name of God are a stamp that God did not speak. Unlike Nostradamus and any other oracle, unlike weatherman trying to forecast, every prophecy spoken by God and recorded in scripture has come true as predicted, except for those yet to happen. There are still prophecies from both the Old and New Testaments yet to be fulfilled. But for the coming weeks, starting with the writings of Moses beginning in Genesis, we are going to look at Messianic passages and prophecies and compare them to the life and ministry of Jesus. Why? Because we have a promise keeping God, and our mission is to develop disciples. With a world that denies the existence of God, with denominations that deny the inspiration and miraculous nature of scripture, with theologians and scholars who claim to be Christian trying to change the very nature of the faith we profess; we need to be ready to strengthen our own spirit against such attacks based on the truth and offer hope to those who have none or are looking for answers when even their own churches are feeding them lies.

We are going to start in the beginning, with the creation of mankind and the birth of sin in our world, all the way back to the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve. In Genesis chapter three, serpent starts his discourse to deceive Eve by asking, “Is it really true that God said…?” This same question is used as justification for nearly every willfully sinful act Christians make today, does the Bible really say? Or did God really mean that when it was written? Or the Bible says, BUT… The serpent asks, “Did God really say?” And as a result of following her own desires and lead by the lies of the enemy, Eve ate of the fruit and then gave some to her husband, her husband who should have stepped in and defended her, her husband who was not deceived as Eve was, but instead followed his wife’s lead rather than standing up for what God said, ate as well. And sin came into the world. Then we have the first foreshadowing of the coming Messiah the Redeemer who will defeat sin and death. Genesis 3:14-15 says,

‘The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, cursed are you above all the wild beasts and all the living creatures of the field! On your belly you will crawl and dust you will eat all the days of your life. And I will put hostility between you and the woman and between your offspring and her offspring; her offspring will attack your head, and you will attack her offspring’s heel.”’

You may have heard it as, ‘And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel.”’

In Galatians 4:4-5, Paul explains that Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophecy. Paul said,

‘But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights. ‘

Galatians 4:4-5

Jesus is the promised offspring, the promised seed of the woman who came in response to sin to redeem humanity. From the very beginning of time, God has been planning to redeem his creation.

         Starting in Genesis 9 and jumping into Genesis 12 we read,

‘He also said, “Worthy of praise is the Lord, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem! May God enlarge Japheth’s territory and numbers! May he live in the tents of Shem and may Canaan be his slave!”’

Genesis 9:26-27

The Hebrews would have considered this passage a foreshadowing of the coming Messiah to abide with, or live in the tents of, his people through the line of Shem. From the line of Noah through Shem, one of Shem’s descendants is Abram, later know as Abraham. God made a covenant with Abram in Genesis 12, we read,

‘Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go out from your country, your relatives, and your father’s household to the land that I will show you. Then I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you, and I will make your name great, so that you will exemplify divine blessing. I will bless those who bless you, but the one who treats you lightly I must curse, and all the families of the earth will bless one another by your name.”’

Genesis 12:1-3

In Matthew 1:1 we read,

‘This is the record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.’

John 1:14 says,

‘Now the Word became flesh and took up residence among us. We saw his glory – the glory of the one and only, full of grace and truth, who came from the Father. ‘

Jesus in John 14 and John in 1 John 2 both use the language of abiding and remaining, living with and in that we find of God living in the tents of or abiding with the family of Shem and from the line of Abraham. Jesus is the fulfillment of these prophesies and promises of God. The fulfillment of the First Covenant with Abraham.

         Listen to these other passages of scripture foreshadowing our Messiah…

Genesis 49:10

‘The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; the nations will obey him.’

Numbers 24:15-19

‘Then he uttered this oracle: “The oracle of Balaam son of Beor; the oracle of the man whose eyes are open; the oracle of the one who hears the words of God, and who knows the knowledge of the Most High, who sees a vision from the Almighty, although falling flat on the ground with eyes open: ‘I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not close at hand. A star will march forth out of Jacob, and a scepter will rise out of Israel. He will crush the skulls of Moab, and the heads of all the sons of Sheth. Edom will be a possession, Seir, his enemies, will also be a possession; but Israel will act valiantly. A ruler will be established from Jacob; he will destroy the remains of the city.’”’

Balaam wasn’t even a Hebrew prophet, but he prophesied the coming Messiah. In Luke 3:33-34 we can find the evidence of Jesus being from the line of Isaac and the tribe of Judah, Matthew 1:1-14 confirms Jesus lineage as well from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and down through Judah. All predicted 1,500 years in advance when Moses was writing recounting the history of the Hebrew people and foreshadowing the coming Messiah, then we find Moses making this prediction.

Deuteronomy 18:15,17-19

‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites; you must listen to him. The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. I will personally hold responsible anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet speaks in my name.’

Peter addressed the crowds in Jerusalem saying in Acts 3:18-26,

‘But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets – that his Christ would suffer – he has fulfilled in this way. Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you – that is, Jesus. This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets. Moses said, ‘ The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you . Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people .’ And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed him, have spoken about and announced these days. You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.”’

We have a promise keeping God! We have a God who has given us his word, written hundreds and hundreds of years in advance of the days of fulfillment. We have scrolls dating years before the birth of the Messiah telling of his arrival and historical records proving his life, death, and resurrection. No other religion or belief system on Earth has the evidence and providence that foundational, fundamental, biblical Christianity does. But we are fallen people, in a fallen world, who don’t want to have to live by the objective standards got has set. So we justify and deny them instead of conforming our lives into his image through the power of indwelling Holy Spirit.

Gospel in a Nutshell

Define Love, Divine Love

Define Love, Divine Love

If you have been a Christian for any period of time, or even if you are not a Christian and you have been around Christians very often, there are a few things you have heard. You have heard John 3:16, or maybe you remember Tim Tebow putting the reference in white on his black sun block. You may have even been one of the millions of people to Google the reference to find out what it was.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.

You have heard Jesus said that the two greatest commandments were to:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength; and love your neighbor as yourself. Mark 12:30-31; Matthew 22:37-38; Luke 10:27; points back to Deuteronomy 6:4-5

You may have even noticed that the board right here in our church says, “love God, love others.”

We see signs and hear phrases everywhere… Live, laugh, love. For love of dog. I’m lovin’ it. Love of my life. Love is blind. All is fair in love and war. Love-hate relationship. Make love, not war. Falling in love. Puppy love. Love will find a way. For the love of all things… And one of my personal favorites, a face only a mother could love…!

Not to mention all the things we love… I love coffee. I love my dog. I love my friends. I love Chick-fil-a. I love racquetball, golf, and fishing. I love my kids. I love my wife. I love spending time with some people, but not everyone obviously. I love steaks on the grill, not to mention, ribs and brisket on the smoker! I love being a pastor, but God hasn’t put me in a position to do that full-time. I love teaching, but I don’t really love my job. I love it when I get to sleep in, but my body hardly ever lets me and I always feel hungover when I do sleep in. I love that I have been clean and sober for almost 25 years…! I love GOD!!!

Do these all mean the same thing??? Obviously not! Or if they do, there is something definitely more wrong with our society than we can even imagine. Maybe that is why the world has gone crazy. We really don’t know what love actually is!!!

I believe there is much more truth to that statement than we truly understand.

In the time Jesus was walking on the earth, the Greeks had at least three different words with an idea translated and defined as love in our culture today. But those three words they used had three very different meanings. And that is part of our problem today, how do we define love? On dictionary.com, the word love has 22 different entries under its definition. 14 of them are used as nouns, 6 as verbs (or actions) with an object, 1 has a verb without an object, and 1 as a verb phrase. No wonder we are confused!!!

This confusion leads to all sorts of misunderstandings too. Who do you love, how do you love, when should you love, what shouldn’t you love, why should you love, do you love at all, shouldn’t I be able to love who, how, or whatever I love, who are you to say I shouldn’t love this, that, or the other?

So many questions and yet we as Christians are commanded to LOVE. The two greatest commands Jesus tells us are to LOVE. God is LOVE.

How we define LOVE is extremely important if we are going to LOVE the way  God has commanded us to LOVE and if we are going to teach others to LOVE as he has commanded us to teach others to obey his commands. Friends, we have gotten ourselves into one heck of an ever-lovin’ mess!

Why don’t we see how God, who is love, and who created love, defines love. Instead of 22 definitions of love, and instead of 3 definitions of love, we are going to focus on just ONE definition of love and what that LOVE looks like.

The love we are going to look at in Greek is agape. ἀγάπη In every one of these passages I am going to reference, the same root word agape, is used. So we are only talking about one kind of love. We are talking about what Divine Love really looks like.

When we look back at what Jesus said in the context of Matt. 22; Mark 12; and Luke 10 when he was repeating the Hebrew Shema and adding to it, Jesus used this word agape: to love. We must love God and love others. He told his followers to love one another in several other passages. Same love. When God so loved the world, it’s the same love. This is agape love.

John, the apostle whom Jesus loved, writes this for us.

Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love. By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.

1 John 4:7-10 NET

John goes on to tell us…

Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue but in deed and truth.

1 John 3:18 NET

We find that although love, agape, is being described, love is in every way described as an action. God’s divine love is an active love. But when we are talking about active love, we are not talking about the activity of what we call ‘making love’ we are talking about putting our money where our mouth is and actively doing something when we love God and love people. Paul helps make this even clearer for us. Because God is love, a facet of the fruit of the Spirit of God is love.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

Galatians 5:22-23 NET

To combat lawlessness, all the acts and desires of the flesh that are contrary to walking by the Spirit: sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy and murder; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Paul says we need to walk by the Spirit and that first in the list of the facets of the fruit of the Spirit is love. Divine love, God-like love, unconditional love; along with joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control is the fruit that Holy Spirit produces in our lives. And in 1 Corinthians 13 Paul illustrates for us that love is a spiritual gift. 1 Corinthians 12-14 is the longest dissertation on spiritual gifts and the use and practice of the gifts within the context of worship in the New Testament, and Paul says this right in the middle of it about love.

1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.

4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful. It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

8 Love never fails. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways. For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known. ‘

13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-13 NET

We very frequently hear verses 4-7 taken out of context and read at weddings as instructions to a husband and wife how they should love one another. However, this love, this agape love, this divine love, this is how love should act toward all those around us. The people we like, the people we love, the people we minister to, Jesus even said we should love, agape, our enemies…

Now, you’re going to ask, “Well, Pastor Joe, you’ve given us a whole lot of lip service and description of love; divine, agape, biblical love. But what am I supposed to do if divine love is an action?”

Well, figure it out for yourself…just kidding. Here are 5 ways to show God’s love to others.

Number one:

Show God’s love by actively listening to others.

Don’t just hear what people are saying, but really listen to them.

Number two:

Show God’s love by praying with others and for others.

Don’t just tell someone you’ll be praying for them. Offer to join with them in prayer, right then, if they’ll let you. If not, that’s okay, but make sure you do include them in your prayers…don’t just say it and forget it.

Number three:

Show God’s love by being generous.

Not just generous with your money. Although that is a great way to be generous, but also be generous with your time and with your talents as well.

Number four:

Show God’s love by encouraging others.

Especially encouraging them to continue to walk the path of faith when times are hard and life is disappointing.

Number five:

Show God’s love with acts of kindness.

Especially acts of kindness where God receives all the glory. Anonymous good deeds are awesome. Paying for someone’s meal or drink behind you in the drive-thru. But doing an act of kindness with the message that God loves them and is concerned for them, leaving yourself out, is always best. If anything, God lead me to do this for you is a great way to go as well.

Lastly,

No matter who they are and how much you may have against them personally or them against you because of some kind of bias…

It’s possible to show God’s love to anyone.

And showing God’s love to everyone is exactly what Jesus came here to do and what he left us behind to do.

Jesus came to the world to love it and save it, not to condemn it, because the world already stands condemned.

We don’t have to condemn the world. We have to show the world God’s love, because we are Jesus’s body left here on earth.

 May you be a blessing and representative of God’s love to someone.

Pastor Joe

If you are a follower of Christ, this is a must-read!

I have had some similar experiences with people, but this pastor’s story is phenomenal! A must read, but especially for church leaders.

Don’t forget!

Don’t forget to visit, like, share, and follow God’s Word is Life on Facebook! https://m.facebook.com/pastorhoot/?tsid=0.8345818494675541&source=result

I post much more encouragement, memes, and information to that page than the website.

Rejoice Always

There are a lot of places in Scripture where it specifically says, ‘this is the will of God”, although it is certainly implied in most places. And, definitely is in the commandments…

Yet, here is one where it’s absolutely clear. It was our kids memory and handwriting verse at school Monday and Tuesday. Originally, until I said something, they looked at three verses and saw them as separate.

I had they take a closer look then zoom back out again. Guys, it’s all one sentence, one thought, one instruction.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5:16‭-‬18 ESV
https://bible.com/bible/59/1th.5.16-18.ESV

The Prayers of the Savior

This is part four in our series, Jesus, Who? In our first message, Jesus According to Jesus, Jesus told us his identity and purpose. We then listened as he taught The Sermon on the Mount. And, we walked with his closest friends during their Conversations in the Garden.

Today, we are going to be parked in John 17. The Prayers of the Savior. These are Jesus’s prayers for his Church (that’s us) and his apostles right before he is handed over to the Jewish leaders for trial.

They are our Lord’s final words of prayer before his death, burial, and resurrection. This is also the longest prayer of Jesus we have recorded. We have been flying through Jesus words and teaching at about 30,000 feet. Today, we are going to kneel in the Garden with Jesus and listen closely to his prayer. I believe it’s worth taking a close look.

Thanks again to my son, Robbie, for video editing…the camera worked right this week!

Audio is available here…

Conversations in the Garden

This is important stuff, maybe more important than the Sermon on the Mount, because these are Jesus’s final words before he is taken off to be tried and killed.

His first words in verse one of chapter 14 are,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1

Just how important are those words??? How important are the final words of hope and instruction Jesus left his closest friends right before they saw him tortured and killed?

Just how important are those same words for us today. We are struggling in a post-Christian society. We are struggling in a world and country terrified by a pandemic. We are struggling with those who are becoming disillusioned with attending church. Those who are unplugging from the community of believers completely, not even viewing a service online if they have the option. We are struggling against a society that is more and more opposed to hearing the Word of Truth. Jesus tells us as well,
“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.” John 14:1

I apologize, we had some camera issues this week, so only audio is available. Listen here.

Conversations in the Garden