Friday, June 17, 2016

The True Tragedy of the Terrorist Attacks

When something tragic happens, two things inevitably ensue: the "how?" and the "why?" The "how" shows us how desperate we are to prevent a future event, and understandably so. The "why?" is less constructive and quickly moves into blame. It seems lately that the conclusion many are touting is that American society is ultimately causing the attacks, with its liberal gun laws, its homophobia, its islamophobia, and its failure to identify those troubled with mental or emotional issues.

But I sense a deeper tragedy here, one with eternal consequences. Most of us picture death as a medical condition. We will fight it as long as we can, denying its intimate relationship with life itself.

If we picture dying at all, it's in our bed, old and infirm, with family gathered all around, saying good-bye and then closing our eyes, and off we go. Or we go to bed one night and not wake up the next day.

But Orlando, Boston, Ft. Hood, San Bernadino, Aurora, and September 11th all force us to face a very uncomfortable question: Are we ready to face death?

That question alone may cause you to leave my blog.

We don't like to discuss death, let alone face our own.

But this is critical.

Irrespective of foreign and domestic policy, gun laws, mental health laws and society's treatment of various identity groups, we will have to face this question.  At some point. At some time.

The greatest tragedy is not death itself, it is not being prepared for it. How so? I cannot change death's inevitability, but I can choose how I will respond to its inevitability.
A quick and less disconcerting example would be I cannot stop the hurricane brewing off the coast, but I can secure my house and my family, and if need be, leave the area and go to safer ground.

So, let's go deeper and look at this world through spiritual lenses. 1 Peter 5:8 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."

Jesus said, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10)
OK.  Let's review:  We have an enemy.  He is on the lookout, stalking and waiting to strike.  He wants to steal what we have, destroy who we are and lead us down the road to destruction.  He pushes our destruction on all fronts, with the final stroke being our lives.  Yes, we can choose how we proceed, but he lies in wait and when we are not sober and alert, he strikes.

He destroys us "by any means necessary":  addiction, murder, abuse, illness, insanity, and yes, terrorist attacks.  He destroys the one who perpetrates the attacks as well as those who are the targets.
Ezekiel 18:23 says, "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?"  Clearly, God wants all to come to repentance, but Jesus comments on those who are being used by the enemy to bring the destruction:  "Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!" (Matthew 18:7)

So, we have now peered behind the cosmic curtain, and see the ultimate source of evil in this world. Jesus, before His final act of love to this world, His willingness to die for our sins, said, 

"'Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.'  This he said, signifying what death he should die.

The people answered him, 'We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man?'

Then Jesus said unto them, 'Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.  While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.'  These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them."  (John 12:31-36)

There it is.  We walk in the dark without Jesus, and it is His death and resurrection that we must choose to embrace to be prepared, at any time, to meet death.  His death will save us, and His life will change us from citizens of a world ruled by Satan to children of God, whose kingdom, like our Lord, is forever.

But, you say, that is too simple.  Accept Jesus, receive eternal life and live victoriously and die victoriously only to live with Him?  But what about now?

We can change laws, but we cannot change human hearts.  What is the state of the human heart? Jesus says, "For out of the heart come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander."  (Matthew 15:19)

We can change our attitudes, but we cannot change our deepest nature, which is sinful. "I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do good. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!" (Romans 7:21-25)

So, in the end, we grieve for those who were lost in these attacks.  We pray for their families.  

One last point. Jesus commented on two tragedies that occurred in His lifetime and it is instructive: 

"Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, 'Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.'” (Luke 13:1-5)

The true tragedy of unexpected and sudden death is not being ready for eternity.  


Sunday, June 5, 2016

The Beginning and The New Beginning: Genesis 1 & 2 and John 1

Consider, as we are looking at Jesus in the Old Testament, how the apostle John sees Jesus.  The only Scriptures John had were in the Old Testament, and as he sat down to pen the very beginning of his gospel, the drumbeat of Genesis provides the bass notes for the lovely melody of his words.  As you read first from Genesis and then alternate with John, a cosmic picture of Jesus emerges.  

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.

Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness.  God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

And God said, “Let there be a vault between the waters to separate water from water...” 
And God said, “Let the water under the sky be gathered to one place, and let dry ground appear...”
Then God said, “Let the land produce vegetation: seed-bearing plants and trees on the land that bear fruit with seed in it, according to their various kinds...”
And God said, “Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth...”
There was a man sent from God whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  

And God said, “Let the water teem with living creatures, and let birds fly above the earth...” 
And God said, “Let the land produce living creatures according to their kinds…”
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may      rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
    in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good…
He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Amen.  We cannot have the Old without the New, for what the Old concealed, the New revealed.

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!

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