Monday, May 23, 2016

Jesus in the Old Testament: The Tabernacle

We are exploring the Old Testament, and seeing how Jesus' name, Yeshua ("salvation" in Hebrew) appears in many passages.  I have been reading Exodus, and I came upon the chapters where Moses is given very specific instructions on how to build the Tabernacle and then what the priests are to wear in it.  I noticed a pattern, and I am excited to share it with you.  It fits our study of Jesus in the Old Testament, although not by His name, but by representation.

First, Exodus 26:1 outlines the materials to be used for making the curtains which will surround the interior area of the Tabernacle:  "Make the tabernacle with ten curtains of finely twisted linen, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, with cherubim worked into them..."

This inner part will be then covered with a lining made of goat hair with two more coverings made with "ram skins dyed red, and over that a covering of hides of sea cows," (26:14) which is, in effect, an outer tent.  The inner sacred space is covered with leather, an earthly material, derived from flesh. We will visit this again in a bit.

Now, Exodus 26:31:  "Make a curtain of blue, purple, and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen, with cherubim worked into it..."  This curtain separated the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place.

On to Exodus 26:36:  "For the entrance to the tent make a curtain of blue, purple and scarlet yarn and finely twisted linen..."  This covers the entrance of the Tabernacle from the outer courtyard.

This all seems very orderly:  The curtains are to carry the colors of the evening sky:  blues and purples, with a fiery red, as from a sunset.  You move from entering the Tabernacle with a curtain of just the heavenly colors, to curtains with cherubim worked into them.  Interestingly enough, only the high priest will see the curtains with the cherubim worked into them.  The people will only see the one curtain without the cherubim.

The cherubim in the curtains in the inner area show that this isn't just the beautiful heavenly sky overhead; these curtains enclose a sacred space representing Heaven, the court of the King of the Universe.

Now, Chapter 28 of Exodus explains the priestly garments Aaron and his sons will wear.  The garments are to give them "dignity and honor" ( verse 2).  The garments set these men apart to serve the Lord as priests.  Think about it: Without the garments, they are indistinguishable from other men. Don the garments, and they are the priests of the most high God.  What are the materials to be used to produce all of the parts of the priestly ensemble?  "Have them use gold, and blue, purple and scarlet yarn, and fine linen." (verse 5)  

Their clothing, however, does not have the cherubim worked into the cloth.  They wear the sacred materials on the outside, but on the inside, they are still men of flesh.  They are not angels serving as men; they are men who have been clothed with power from Heaven.  Without the clothing, they are still men.  Their dignity and honor are bestowed.  Thus, they are the inverse of the Tabernacle:  the outer garments show sanctity only because it is given.  The Tabernacle encloses its sanctity and must be entered into only by men who are clothed properly.

The men serving in the Tabernacle are arrayed with the same sacred colors and linen as the inner sacred areas of the Tabernacle, not with the leather that covered the outside of the Tabernacle.

Consider:  What did God cover Adam and Eve after they sinned? The skin of a slain animal.  The Tabernacle will not just be another covering for a sinful nation using animal skins.  God is moving His people into a deeper relationship with Him and He is going to use a different kind of covering: An animal will be slain, yes, but the covering will be blood. Not a covering made from dead flesh, but a covering that carries life in it. Leviticus 17:11 makes that clear: "For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life."  Jesus's blood carries life and we are recipients of His very own life when we are saved by it.

How does the Tabernacle then point to Jesus?  John puts it well:  "The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us." (1:14)  The word for "dwelling" here is the word for "tent" and "tabernacle." So, Jesus was the Tabernacle in human form, covered with an earthly outer covering of flesh.  Within Him was a sacred space occupied by the very Lord of the Universe.  The Tabernacle becomes a representation of the One to come.

But there's more. Jesus also donned the "garment" of the priests--His miracles. His miracles set Him apart from other men. For example, at the marriage at Cana, He was just one more guest at a table. But, once He turned the water into wine, He was now a Man set apart for sacred service. John 10:37-8 underscores this: "But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.  If I am not doing the works of My Father, then do not believe Me."  John 14:11 says, "Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves."

Jesus looked like a mere man, but He was "clothed" with power from on high when He was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended on Him and He heard His Father's voice proclaiming Him.  So, Jesus came to be our High Priest (the book of Hebrews beautifully unpacks that) but He also provided the offering itself:  His own blood would not only cover the nation of Israel, but the whole world.  Not just once a year, but for all time.

So, the Tabernacle and the priests were intimately connected:  one did not exist without the other. The one was the place to meet the Lord by ones chosen to provide that interface between Heaven and Earth.  They will chosen by God and despite the temporary providing of atonement, the priests point to the One to come.  

Jesus left the court of Heaven and covered Himself with the flesh of our humanity: He was a walking Tabernacle. He was chosen by God to be our Priest and with clothed by God with power and might to do His works among us. He will clothe us with power from on high because of what He did on the cross and His resurrection: "For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)

Paul also writes, "And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit. Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy; the second man is the Lord from heaven. As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly." (1 Cor. 15:45-49)

The earthly Tabernacle that was moved from place to place, showing that God moves among His people wherever they go, was a representation of the One who would walk among us, preside over us and die for that He may live in us!

This is so rich and we will continue as the Lord leads!


Saturday, May 14, 2016

Does Jesus See Himself in the Old Testament?

We will digress a bit from our study on this posting. We are exploring the idea that Jesus is named in the Old Testament when the Hebrew word yeshuwa'h (salvation) is used, for that is what His name means: "She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, ["the LORD saves"] because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

How did Jesus see Himself in light of the Old Testament? The Tanakh (the Jewish Scriptures) is the only reference He and His listeners had.

Let's go to Matthew 5:17-18: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished."

Jesus sees the Law as needing fulfillment, which would imply that it is awaiting something deeper, something that will complete it. Strong's defines "fulfill" as "to become" and "come to pass." This would imply that the Law is incomplete, that it was not an end in itself but a means. Jesus is effectively defining Himself as the end. What are the Law's means? To show us our utter need for a Savior, for no one can keep all of the Law all of the time: "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short that it cannot save; nor is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear." (Is. 59:2)

In Isaiah 53:5-6, we read: "But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, but the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him."

As Jesus is speaking in Matthew 5, He has Isaiah as one of many reference points. In fact, He inaugurated His ministry with the reading of Isaiah in His local synagogue. He knows all too well of "The Suffering Servant" mentioned in Isaiah, and may be implying that His suffering and final offering for sin is what the Law longs for and what His Father longs for. He is the end-game of the Law. 

Jesus speaks of His authority, for the Law is the authority to His contemporaries. So, if He breaks the Law, which He does by healing a man on the Sabbath (thus working on the Sabbath) and encouraging him to carry the mat he used to lie upon (which was also working) then what is the valid basis for His ministry? If not the Law, then what? He responds in John 5:16-19:

"So, because Jesus was doing these things on the Sabbath, the Jewish leaders began to persecute him. In his defense Jesus said to them, 'My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.' For this reason they tried all the more to kill him; not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. Jesus gave them this answer: 'Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, and he will show him even greater works than these, so that you will be amazed.'"

Jesus predicates His authority on what His Father is doing, which is the Law of Love over the letter of the Law.  The Jewish leaders had authority to point out transgressions of the Law, but Jesus possessed a higher authority.  Both where given by God, but Jesus is coming to fulfill the Law and put into operation a higher one:  the Law written on newly born-again hearts.

A little later, Jesus says, “I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to finish—the very works that I am doing—testify that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life." (John 5: 36-39)

So, Jesus is arguing that His authority is derived from the very Scriptures that the Jewish leaders are using to condemn Him and His ministry. He is saying that the Scriptures are about Him. He then invokes the very leader that the Jewish people so revered: “But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (John 5:45-7)

Jesus saw Himself as the One to Whom the Law pointed: a Mediator like Moses, a High Priest like Aaron and the Passover Lamb of the Exodus.

So, in essence, the Law is fulfilled in Jesus.  He is our Mediator Who will bring a new law down from Calvary's mountain: the Law of Love, written on believers' heart and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

He is our High Priest, Who offered Himself once and for all and satisfied the Law's requirement for atonement.

Finally, He is our Lamb: His blood, over our doorpost, will cause the Angel of Death (who flies out of our sin) to pass over us as we sit at the feast of eternal life.

Did Jesus see Himself in the Old Testament? Yes, and resoundingly so. He staked His life on it.


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testmament? Part V

We are taking a breathtaking sweep across Scripture to discover if Jesus was present in the Old Testament.  We have seen how His name, Yeshua, (yeshuw'ah) is present in many Old Testament verses, and means "salvation."

We are continuing our look at the Old Testament, the Tanakh, in the Neviim or "Prophets" with Isaiah.  His is a prophetic book, richly filled with verses on the Suffering Servant.  This Servant is unnamed, but His presence is felt as He silently walks through the prophecies.  Let us look at those verses where yeshuw'ah is used:

Isaiah 12:3:  "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."  

Jesus frequently referred to Himself as Living Water.  His encounter with the woman at the well is instructive:

"Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, 'If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.'

'Sir,' the woman said, 'you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?  Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?'

Jesus answered, 'Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.'” (John 4:4-13)

Do you hear the echo of Isaiah in what Jesus said?  The "wells of salvation" has been embodied in Jesus Himself.  Let's recast the verse, and it speaks powerfully: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of yeshuw'ah."  He is the Well, He is the Water, and the woman's deepest need (and ours) is to have our spiritual thirst satisfied, and not just for the moment, but for all time.  

But why is she (and us) so thirsty?  Well, this woman lives in desert area, dry and with little rain.  Going to the well to draw water each day is not an option; it is a necessity.  She is rather rattled by the fact that this Jewish Man is asking her (a despised Samaritan) for a drink.  She immediately declines His request by citing the historical grievance between her people and the Jews.  But the wall is coming down.  Salvation is here.  So, the past is no longer important, and Jesus gently dismantles her concern by bringing her closer to Him and away from all that would impede that encounter.

The water from the well is only a temporary solution to the hot dry conditions.  But even more to the point, water drawn from an earthly well will not satisfy.  But the water Jesus gives is another matter:  not only does it completely satisfy, it produces water in the person who partakes!  The well, in other words, changes location.  It goes from the outside to the inside and it keeps producing!  It is a living moving spring that keeps "welling up."  It doesn't sit at the bottom of a person's soul, waiting passively for the person to draw it up.  It cannot be contained!  It is a constant source.  Why, because He is a constant Source.  He cannot be contained, so if He dwells in us, the Water flows and refreshes, bubbles up and strengthens, invigorates and renews.

Look at Isaiah 12:3 one more time:  "Joy" is the experience at this well of yeshuwa'h. Jesus goes on to explain to this woman why her source has left her dry spiritually:  she is living in the desert of sin:
"The woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'

He told her, 'Go, call your husband and come back.'

'I have no husband,' she replied.

Jesus said to her, 'You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.'

'Sir,' the woman said, 'I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.'

'Woman,' Jesus replied, 'believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.'”

The woman said, 'I know that Messiah' (called Christ) 'is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.'

Then Jesus declared, 'I, the one speaking to you—I am he.'” (John 4: 15-26)

Jesus showed her the dry desert of her life and why her thirst was unquenchable.  She wanted the water without changing her life.   But the Well shows us our thirst, and it is only the Well that can satisfy it.  The Water in it is Life itself:  the salvation of our souls. 

Like Moses leading the Children of Israel and striking the rock for water, our Salvation came from One who was struck.  Isaiah lovingly pours forth the poetry of the One through Whom yeshuw'ah comes: 

Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.

Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:1-6)

Amen.   May your day be blessed and may you find joy in the Water that never runs dry!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testament? Part IV

In our exploration of the word yeshuw'ah in the Old Testament, we would want to see this word used throughout all the books.  It is not.  But does that discount our theory that Jesus is present in the Old Testament, through His name and through His character?  Someone's name includes both a designation and a description.   

Another way to approach this exists.  Does Jesus' (Yeshua) appear in a representative sample?  Jesus Himself did not quote from every book of the Old Testament.  Does that somehow diminish His involvement with it?  No.

Let's explore a Jewish concept for a moment about how they see their sacred scriptures.  They refer to the Old Testament as the Tanakh.  It is an acronym that stands for all the books of their Bible.  Here's how beaks down:

Torah (the first five books of Moses; it means "law" but also "teaching" and "instruction")
Neviim (meaning "Prophets")
Ketuvim (meaning "Writings")

So, if you quote from each section, but not necessarily every book, you are still standing on His word in its completeness.  Jesus quoted from each division.  His name also shows up in each division.

We have already cited the two places yeshuw'ah is used in the Torah, in Genesis 49:18 and in Exodus 14:13.

Now, we will explore the name in the Neviim, in the Prophets, and yes, there are many uses of the name in this division of the Old Testament.  The  greatest number is found in Isaiah, who lavishes many verses on "the servant of the LORD."  So, you would expect to find yeshuaw'ah mentioned many times in Isaiah, and you do.

Let's first look at the three verses mentioned before we go into Isaiah.  There are three:  2 Samuel 22:3,
2 Samuel 22:51 and 2 Chronicles 20:17.

2 Samuel 22:3 says, "The God of my rock; in him will I trust; he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation (yesha' ), my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence."  This scripture comes from a song that David sang, "when the LORD delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul."  (2 Sam. 22:1)

We should expect David, who is the king that prefigures the Messiah, would use the Messiah's name in his victory song.  A beautiful symmetry exists here in his song.  When he begins, he starts with this verse.  When he completes the song, he ends with this verse:  "He is the tower of salvation (yeshuw'ah) for his king: and he shewth mercy to his anointed, unto David, and to his seed for evermore."  (22:51).

Do you see it?  David begins his song with the Hebrew word for salvation (yesha' ) that means "salvation, safety, saving." (Strong's)  He ends his song with the word for salvation (yeshuw'ah) that means "salvation, help, deliverance, health, save, saving, welfare." (Strong's) The second word he uses seems to carry a deeper meaning.  According to the "Outline of Biblical Usage" in Strong's, this word yeshuw'ah carries the definition of salvation "by God."

Deliverance from enemies, yes.  Deliverance from difficulties, yes.  But salvation by God is both attributing ultimately Who provided the deliverance, and Who is the Deliverance.  David used two different words, and ends his song with the one with greater meaning.  David starts out thanking God for saving him "from violence" and ends with thanking God for delivering him.  He is not just safe, out of the fray; he is in God's hands.   

David's name means "Beloved" in Hebrew.  He is a king beloved by God, delivered by God and sustained by God.  Now, fast forward to a river and two men standing in the slow current.  One man, reluctant but obedient, gently lowers another Man into the river.  With water streaming down His face,  this Man hears a voice that says, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." (Matt. 3:17)

Later, this Man will characterized by Isaiah's description of God's servant.  The context is the same for this Man as it was for David:  "But the Pharisees went out and plotted how they might kill Jesus."  (Matt. 12:14)  He is facing His enemies.  Having healed a man's withered hand on the Sabbath, Jesus knows His enemies are going to kill Him, and He withdraws:

"Aware of this, Jesus withdrew from that place. A large crowd followed him, and he healed all who were ill. He warned them not to tell others about him. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
'Here is my servant whom I have chosen,
the one I love, in whom I delight;
I will put my Spirit on him,
and he will proclaim justice to the nations.
He will not quarrel or cry out;
no one will hear his voice in the streets.
A bruised reed he will not break,
and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out,
till he has brought justice through to victory.
In his name the nations will put their hope.'” (Matt. 12:15-21)

The interweaving of the Old and New Testaments is breathtaking.  The Old speaks of yeshuw'ah and David; the New speaks of Yeshua and Beloved.

David was delivered from his enemies, and speaks of a deeper deliverance from evil, brought from God's mercy on His anointed king and on his descendants.

Jesus delivers us from the ultimate enemy:  sin and death.  He deeply delivers us because of God's mercy shown through the life and death of His Beloved Son, and we are His descendants, His children.

Two passages beautifully teach this:   

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved." (Eph. 1:3-6)

"What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
As He says also in Hosea:
'I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.
And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
"You are not My people,"
There they shall be called sons of the living God.'” (Romans 9:22-26)

Deliverance. Safety. Salvation. All are contained in the Hebrew word and later name of yeshuaw'ah/Yeshua.

Finally, the third scripture we find yeshuw'ah in the Neviim is 2 Chronicles 20:17: "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation (yeshuw'ah) of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the Lord is with you.” 
Wow.  These were spoken by a man, Jahaziel, who was anointed with God's Spirit.  He is speaking to King Jehoshaphat and his people. 

Fast forward again to a Man, anointed with God's Spirit and speaking to us as we face our world.  We too have seen God's salvation--His Son--and we can move out into the world, knowing that He is with us.  We need not fight.  We are positioned in His Son.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Leadership in Love, Love in Leadership

It's been awhile since my last post.  I went to visit some friends in Reno, and then we went to Canada in search of the northern lights.  I want to resume my study on Yeshua/salvation in the Old Testament, but I would like to share with you something I did just before I left.  It was an assignment that I worked on for a leadership training class.  The question posed was, how does you incorporate Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians to a leadership role?  Here is my answer.

God is love. It is the operating force in the universe. It is like gravity or electricity—His love operates unseen but is ever present.

Jesus brought His Father’s love down to me, and it flows within His blood.

I am washed in that blood.

I have the greatest force in the universe in me now.

The Divine equation is thus: HIS LOVE + my surrender = operational power every day!

If I speak in angelic tongues—or tongues of men that sounds heavenly and love is missing? If I advise all I want with wise words and HIS LOVE is not present in my heart, or I am motivated by pride and a “Listen to me!” attitude, then I am only touching the person’s mind or heart, and not the person’s spirit. I must allow HIS LOVE to operate in me in everything I say.

If I walk strongly without HIS LOVE present in my heart, and wow people with what I know, and seem to be mighty in my faith, my nothing will yield nothing for His Kingdom. I must see others as Christ see them and how He sees me. I have been forgiven much. I must forgive much. I must allow HIS LOVE to operate in me to tell me who I am.

“Look at me!” is no substitute for “Look at Him!” What I do in HIS LOVE is to point only to Jesus. Thus, only to Him will the glory go. Not to me, my works and my need for approval. I must allow HIS LOVE to operate in me in everything I do.

HIS LOVE (in me) is patient with me, so I must be patient with others. His timeline for me and other people is just that: His timeline. I am in the process of working through the cross, with some areas still needing healing on one side; on the other side, where the victory is won, I find some of myself there. I am still in a process. So are others. I can be patient with myself and others only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) is kind. Of all the people He talked to, He only excoriated the Pharisees, for kindness left them long ago and had been replaced with scorn. I must commiserate with those I come across, for someday, I may need that cold water in the desert. I can be kind only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) does not envy. Why? God alone is my Provider. I have access to Him every day, every minute. I have it all if I have Him. Others may have more, or may have less, but I need to be content with my lot. He is good. I can cease to envy only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) does not boast. Why? What I am today is because of Him and not because of me. When I speak, let it be about “Christ and Him crucified.” I can ignore the need to have others approve of me and not promote myself only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) is not proud. Why? I am nothing without Him. If I “boast” and act “proud,” let it be to shout of His great love. I can ignore the “What about me?” only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) does not dishonor others. Why? They equally bear the image of the Heavenly Father and Jesus died for them as well. The Golden Rule rules. I must love my neighbor as I love myself, and I must love Him with all my heart, mind, soul and spirit. I can serve others and Him only if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) will not seek to elevate myself. Why? If God is for us, who can be against us? If God is for us, why would we feel insecure? I can know that these are His doors opening and I need not fear only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) will not fly off the handle. Why? He sees beyond the stupid/childish/negative/sneering/judgmental/hopelessness and sees the deeper cause: fear. He overcame this world. My anger is a sign that I am not trusting Him to sort it out. I am serving fear. I can overcome the world and its provocations only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) doesn’t keep track of every knife in the back, every harsh word spoken, and every deed done in malice or ignorance. Records are kept for retaliation and recrimination, not for restoration. I can keep one record: what He did for me on the cross. I can have a selective memory only if His love in me is operating.

Evil = no God, no love. Truth = know God, know love. This is pure (washed by His blood) and simple (His wisdom, not mine). Just desserts? Justice? Just us? No. Just Him. I can only see His hand in the victories and in the trials only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) always protects. Why? To quote the band Switchfoot, “Love alone is worth the fight.” He is fierce in His love. I cannot explain the cross any other way. I can guard the precious things of God (starting with each person He sends my way) only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) always trusts. Why? That despite sin’s hard icy crust over the planet, His love, justice and mercy will melt that permafrost like a meteorite strike. His will shall be done on earth as it is now being done in heaven. Until then, I can trust the outcome even when I cannot see it only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) always hopes. As long as I draw a breath, as long as anyone draws a breath, hope says that He will keep seeking to show Himself. Love is the seed under the snow, the sun behind the clouds, the joy behind the pain. Emily Dickinson said it best: “Hope” is the thing with feathers – That perches in the soul - And sings the tune without the words - And never stops - at all – Hope sees what He sees, and I can only have His perfect vision if His love is operating in me.

HIS LOVE (in me) keeps on keepin’ on. The race of faith must be run. It is not a walk, lest we do it in our power. It is not a crawl, lest our knees become so bloody we lose sight of the goal. It is not a dance, lest the music carries us off the track and into a world filled with our imagination. It is a race: forceful, fierce and shoed with faith. I will run it with joy only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE (in me) never fails. “Jesus is the same today, yesterday and forever.” I can only succeed in bringing this love that has the cross under it and the Savior over it only if His love in me is operating.

HIS LOVE will fill in the gaps until we meet Him face to face.

HIS LOVE will allow me to know Him here, and I will be in HIS LOVE when I go home.

Faith is the wind in our sails.

Hope is our northern star.

Love is the very ship we are in.

Our Captain calls.

He only asks me to surrender my heart and get on board!

Friday, March 11, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testament? Part 3

Let us review from previous blogs where our journey so far has taken us.  The position I am taking is if Jesus is the Messiah, His name would be found throughout the Old Testament.  That is a reasonable assumption to make given the enormous significance of this claim of Jesus being the Messiah. 

The angel announces to Mary the name of the Baby she carries, which will be Yeshua.  It means "the LORD saves."  Mary and Joseph did not select the name of their firstborn--He was already named in the courts of Heaven.  His name designated His office and His mission.  His name designated His office, that of being the "Anointed One," the King of kings and Lord of lords.  His name also captured His mission:  to save people from their sins.  How this would be accomplished is not revealed in the name;  it is enough that He is appointed and anointed to do what He will do, once He enters the world as that wee Baby.

The first use of the word yeshuw'ah in the Old Testament is recited in what is called "Jacob's blessing."  Jacob is on his deathbed, looking at his sons, who are the future of his family and the nation that will bear his name: Israel. Israel is Jacob's God-given name. 

It is God Who calls us, and the name He gives is His confirmation of His calling. Do you know what your name is? Beloved! But we will get to that in the near future!

As Jacob looks over his sons, he sees the light and the dark of what they've done and who they are. When he gets to fourth son, Judah, he describes him as a "lion's whelp" and his preeminence before his enemies and his brothers. Then Jacob goes into an interesting prophecy: "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his." (Gen. 49:10)

The scepter is what kings carry, but Judah will not be a king in his lifetime. But he will be the family's keeper of the symbol of royal rule (metaphorically speaking) and he will keep it until the One Who will carry it, ruling over all the nations.  The King to come is named "Shiloh." 

Here is an interesting sidelight on the name Shiloh:  "The Messianic name Shiloh is then, with quite a substantial bit of poetic lenience, said to mean He Whose It Is (according to BDB Theological Dictionary). The main literary defensive argument for this view comes from Ezekiel 21:27, where the prophet speaks of Him who shall come and whose right it is to own everything. In this statement the section between "until the coming of..". and " the right, and I will give it" is spelled אשר־לו, which looks a lot like the expanded version of our name. Add to that the detail that both Genesis 40:10 and Ezekiel 21:27 deal with Judah and the government or ownership of that tribe, and the argument becomes quite compelling." (

So, Judah is the keeper of the Messianic keys, so to speak.  How so?  His tribe will be the Messiah's.  The only king whose dominion will be over the nations (not only his own) would have to be the Messiah, whose government is universal.  Isaiah, Chapter 6, speaks to this.

After the 7th son, Jacob invokes the first use of the word yeshuaw'ah.  After looking at his sons, and then looking ahead, he sees the need for salvation on a deep and grand scale.  He invokes the Name of the only Son Who can lead uprightly and forever, Yeshua to come. 

The next time we come across the word is in Exodus 14:11-14:

"And when Pharaoh drew nigh, the children of Israel lifted up their eyes, and, behold, the Egyptians marched after them; and they were sore afraid: and the children of Israel cried out unto the Lord.

11 And they said unto Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, hast thou taken us away to die in the wilderness? wherefore hast thou dealt thus with us, to carry us forth out of Egypt? 12 Is not this the word that we did tell thee in Egypt, saying, Let us alone, that we may serve the Egyptians? For it had been better for us to serve the Egyptians, than that we should die in the wilderness.

13 And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the yeshuw’ah (salvation) of the Lord, which he will shew to you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. 14 The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."

You can just picture the scene: the sons and daughters of slavery are now the sons and daughters of the One True God.  But they are standing with their backs to the sea and Pharoah's army bearing down on them.  They are so afraid that they are very willing to trade in their freedom for bricks without straw and the lash of the whip.

Back up, children of Israel...You have seen plagues that have judged the gods of Egypt.  The last one, where the blood of a lamb kept away the Angel of Death from you and yours, smote down the very son of the Pharoah, who was supposedly a god and his son, by extension, would be also.  The mighty God, the LORD, has led you out and do you think the waters of a sea and the army of a king could stop you? 

It is salvation that they are longing for, and yeshuwa'h is coming.  Moses is reminding them of what is coming...not an army but a complete and utter rescue.  How so?  The Egyptians are going to go completely away.

So, if Yeshua is our salvation, what army do we face? The army of sin and death, pure and simple. Both are terrifying. Hebrews 4:9-11 says, "There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience." Yeshua is our peace and rest.

Yeshua stood and fought for you the day He mounted up on that cross. He satisfied completely and forever the justice that God demands for our sins.  He knows the terror of death and being overwhelmed by the army that charges at us every chance it has.

Hebrews 4:14-16 is the ground we stand on:  "Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need."

Our sin, just like that Egyptian army, is drowned forever in His blood.  He remembers it no more and wants us to instead focus on what is to come:  the Promise Land of His Father.  No sin, no death, just eternal life with Him.  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testament? Part 2

We are exploring the very real possibility that Jesus is named throughout the Old Testament. The question that I am pondering is, Could it be that His very name echoes throughout the Old Testament whenever the word "salvation" was spoken or written?

Jesus’ name in Hebrew is translated as Yeshua in Matthew 1:21. The angel tells Mary what the Baby's name is to be: “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins.”  Yeshua means “the LORD saves."

It thus follows that if the Baby to be born is the Messiah, and His office is to save people from their sins, then Yeshua embodies that very idea that the LORD saves.

Let's look at Strong's Concordance on this.  Here is the entry:

Yeshuw’ah: (yᵉshûwʻâh, yesh-oo'-aw) something saved, i.e. (abstractly) deliverance; hence, aid, victory, prosperity:—deliverance, health, help(-ing), salvation, save, saving (health), welfare. 
The word is used for salvation, deliverance, welfare, prosperity, deliverance, salvation (by God), victory. (emphasis mine)

Now, let's contrast this with another Hebrew word that is translated "salvation."  It is teshuw'ah.  Let's again look at Strong's:   

Teshuw’ah: ( tᵉshûwʻâh, tesh-oo-aw') in the sense of rescue (literal or figurative, persons, national or spiritual):—deliverance, help, safety, salvation, victory. The word is used for salvation, deliverance (usually by God through human agency), salvation (spiritual in sense). (emphasis mine)

Do you notice something?  If Yeshuw'ah implies salvation by God versus Teshuw'ah implies salvation through "human agency," we have a profound idea here.  It is the LORD alone Who saves.  yes, he uses human beings to achieve His ends, but here, the very name given to His anointed supports the idea that it is God Who is doing the saving, not just using a man to do it.  I hear the music of Jesus' deity being sung right here.

Let's go a little further.  You notice that Yeshua means "The LORD saves."  Let's look at the two names for God that are illustrative here.

"God" comes from 'elohiym in Hebrew. Strong's says that "God" can be used, in its plural form, for rulers, judges, divine ones, angels, gods. In its "plural intensive - singular meaning," it can be used for god, goddess, godlike one, works or special possessions of God, the (true) God, God.

But notice, Yeshua doesn't mean "God saves," it means "The LORD saves."

So, let's look to Strong's for the meaning here: Yᵉhôvâh: (yeh-ho-vaw') from H1961; (the) self-Existent or Eternal; Jeho-vah, Jewish national name of God:—Jehovah, the Lord. Compare H3050, H3069.

The LORD is God's covenant name, the very name He gave to Moses on Mount Sinai.  Exodus 14:13-14 is God's response to Moses' inquiry as to Whom Moses has been talking, and what name should he presented to the people.   God responds with the name:  "I Am Who I Am."  This is the Name tucked inside of Yeshua:  The One Who covenanted with His people to lead them out of sinful Egypt to a land of freedom and blessedness.  He would set the captives free.  In fact, Isaiah beautifully outlines what the Messiah's liberation and restoration truly means:

"The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor."  (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Yeshua began His ministry by reading the very two verses from this passage.  He stopped at "the Lord's favor" because the "day of vengeance of our God" will come with His second coming.  His first coming would be like Moses leading the children out of Egypt, and like Joshua (yes, that's translated Yeshua) He will lead His children into the Promised Land.

In a sense, the Promise Land harkens to a  return to the Garden of Eden, where God walked among His children.  Yeshua walked among us, bringing us back to that Garden moment.

Yeshua leads us out of slavery to sin, to a Land filled with milk (the Word) and honey (the sweetness of His presence).

His name and His mission echo that the Lord is with us, fighting for us and reminding us how much He loves us.

We will continue to search Yeshua out through the Old Testament.  We will find that name again with Moses.   The echoes of the Lord's Son are just have to listen carefully.

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