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.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Is Jesus Named in the Old Testament? Part 1

Excellent question, and one I went searching for recently. The Messiah's name is really a title: it means the "Anointed One." So, the word Messiah is plentiful in the Old Testament. This is to be expected. The Messiah is the Deliverer and the King to come, Who will bring justice and peace to the nations.

If the Old Testament is God's redemptive plan, and the Messiah is the culmination of all of God's movement and provision in history, then you would expect the Messiah to be named. All of the kings of Israel are named; deliverers such as Moses and Gideon are named; the prophets are named. And yet the Suffering Servant of Isaiah is not named; He walks through the pages of the Old Testament as a shadow, ever-present, yet not named.

I see Jesus as the center of everything God does; so why can't I find Him specifically referenced in the Old Testament? Then I found this wonderful posting:

I could never answer it satisfactorily to their way of thinking, and I admit I often wondered why His name was not actually written in the Old Bible. Oh, yes, I could show them His divine titles in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 and Jeremiah 23:5,6, and even the word MESSIAH in several places; but the Hebrew name that would be equal to Jesus, that I could not show. Then one day the Holy Spirit opened my eyes, and I just shouted. There was the very NAME, Jesus, found in the Old Testament about 100 times all the way from GENESIS to HABAKKUK! Yes, the very word - the very NAME - that the angel Gabriel used in Luke 1:31 when he told Mary about the Son she was to have. "Where do we find that NAME?" you ask. Here it is, friend: Every time the Old Testament uses the word SALVATION (especially with the Hebrew suffix meaning "my," thy," or "his"), with very few exceptions (when the word is impersonal), it is the very same word, YESHUA (Jesus), used in Matthew 1:21. Let us remember that the angel who spoke to Mary and the angel who spoke to Joseph in his dream did not speak in English, Latin, or Greek, but in Hebrew; and neither were Mary or Joseph slow to grasp the meaning and significance of the NAME of this divine Son and its relation to His character and His work of salvation. For in the Old Testament all great characters were given names with a specific and significant meaning.  ("Jesus in the Tanakh" by Arthur E. Glass at

I was excited! Could it be that His very name echoes throughout the Old Testament whenever the word "salvation" was spoken or written?

I then went to Strong's Concordance online, and I was blown away. I would like to share with you what I found. The number referenced in Strong's is H3444.

Starting in Genesis 49:18: "I have waited for thy yĕshuw`ah O LORD." The context here is Jacob prophesying over his each of his sons, as he faces his own death. He tells of their strengths, their weaknesses and how they will fare in the days to come. In the middle of his words, Jacob utters this in verse 18. The NIV Study Bible says he stops and asks God for help.

But it is deeper than that.

According to Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary, this is the first use of this word in the Bible.  Contained within this word "salvation" is the idea of being saved "through divinely appointed means and from inequity" (215).

Already, salvation is being tied into God Himself and His power.  It is not just a rescue from hardship or challenges, but it is a profound work where sin and its legacy, death, are vanquished.  Salvation is a name, and has a Name:  the future Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Consider:  Here is a man who is seeing what the future hold for his sons, and the tribes that they will lead. These men, with all of their faults and strengths, will be the founding fathers of the nation of Israel. They will need all of God's mercy, wisdom and guidance to act in accordance with what has been given to them and to lay the foundation for the future. Who better to be the Foundation than the Son of another Father? Who better to be Wisdom, Mercy and the very Word of God to build a kingdom without end? The father of  twelve sons is prophesying that the Father of the One Son will ultimately provide the only lasting hope of the nation; not only of the Jewish nation, but the nations of the Gentiles. In fact, verse 24 proclaims this truth: Jacob is speaking of Joseph and yet it echoes of Jesus: "But his bow remained steady, his strong arms stayed limber, because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel..."

Let's go for a moment to Psalm 118:21-22: "I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my yĕshuw`ah. The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. This is the Lord's doing; it is marvelous in our eyes."

Do you notice how yeshuw'ah is mentioned before the rejected cornerstone? Jesus' name is mentioned in the same Psalm where the Rock is selected by God to build His foundation for the nation of Israel and yet is rejected.

Jesus identifies with this Rock, this Cornerstone, in Matthew 21:42-44: "Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes? Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder."

One rabbinical teaching method is to cite a portion of Scripture and leave the remainder unspoken. The audience would hear the unspoken part in their minds and draw more deeply into what the speaker said, by completing it, if you will. Jesus here does not say His name mentioned in the Psalm; His listeners would have heard it in their minds, however, making this portion of Scripture even more powerful and compelling. He--Yeshua--is the Salvation of Whom the Psalm speaks; yet He will be rejected. Some will fall on Him and "be broken." Brokenness can be used by the Holy Spirit to bring a person to the Son. Being broken is being humbled. It is only in humility that a person can really see Who Jesus is.

Jesus gives another outcome: being ground into powder by the Rock. I think of wheat that is ground into a fine powder by a powerful stone wheel that rolls around in a groove, driven by a donkey. Either way, whether broken or ground up, a person has to allow the Rock to work on the soul, and allow the Spirit to give revelation as to Who He is.

Let's look at the other name Jacob gives in his blessing to the Almighty One: "the Shepherd."

Many times, in the Old Testament, God is called the Shepherd of Israel: "Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, In His arm He will gather the lambs And carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes." (Is. 40:11) Another reference is "Save Your people and bless Your inheritance; Be their shepherd also, and carry them forever." (Ps. 28:9)

There are many, many verses where God is identified, in Jacob's words, as the Shepherd. So, when Jesus identifies Himself with the Shepherd, it is more than a metaphor. He is using one of many of God's names in the Old Testament: "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” Jesus' words echo back to Jacob's blessing to his twelve sons. Jacob looks to God for salvation, and salvation takes on a personality: it is not just deliverance, but Deliverance. It is not just salvation, but a Savior.

We are going to explore in future blogs this amazing connection to Jesus' name echoing in the Hebrew word for salvation throughout the Old Testament. He is calling out and reminding us of His Father's goal: that salvation alone is found in Him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Check is in the Mail

     Picture this:  You go to the mailbox with your payment to the power company.  You drop the envelope into the box and then wait for the postal employee to pick it up, which, in few hours, she does.  You then hop into her postal truck and accompany her on her rounds, returning to the postal center with her.  You then walk boldly in with her to the sorting area, searching desperately for just a glimpse of your bill.  You spy it.  All is well.
     You then watch the sorting process.  You are contentedly keeping your eye on the bill, sitting beneath a stack of other letters and bills.  When your bill goes into the delivery bag, you are standing right there, waiting to go with it to its destination.  You once again pop into the delivery truck and away you go with the postal mail bags.
     You haven't slept in days.  You need a shower.  But you will not rest until that letter reaches its destination.  You want to watch the power company employee open that bill, and credit your account.
     You grab some zzzz's in the truck that is carrying the postal bags and your bill.  It arrives at the post office in the downtown office.  You wait, watching, hoping the day comes soon when you bill hits the power company's desk.
     After much sorting and loading, away goes your bill, headed to the power company's office.  You rejoice, although you  have slept poorly, eaten poorly and have been in constant worry about that bill.  You accompany the postal employee as he delivers the mail to the company; you then walk boldly to the elevators, because you will be there when the envelope is opened.  You hang around the accounts department.  You scan each employee's computer screen, hoping to catch a glimpse of your name on the screen and your account being settled!  Wait?  It that it?  No.  Another screen.  Is that it?  No!  Oh, the waiting, the wondering...then you see it!  Your name on the computer screen, and joy of all joys, your check's information is being applied to your account.  You walk out victorious.
     Or do you?  What was victorious about dogging every step of the process, exerting as much control over it as you could, even though you were really only watching.
     Maybe you should have helped sort the mail?
     Drive the truck?
     Deliver the bags?
     Sort the mail on the other end?
     Handed your bill to the accounts person directly?
     Hey!  Why not bypass the whole USPS process altogether and deliver, in person, your bill to the accounts department?
     No!  Better yet!  Why not hand-deliver the bill yourself, and then excuse the employee and enter the data yourself!
     Now, that's victory.  You start it, you carry it and you make it happen.
     May I present another scenario?  How about doing what you know you must do:  Write the check, place a stamp on the envelope and put it in the box.   Done.  Trust the post office to pick it up and trust it will reach its destination.  Trust the employee at the power company knows how to enter data and trust that if there is a problem, the power company will let you know.
     The second scenario is one we do everyday.  Occasionally a problem arises, but overall, we pay our bills and our accounts get credited.
     The first scenario leads to exhaustion and a false control over the situation.  Our watchful eyes and lack of sleep will not speed up the process in any way.  But we think, at least I am doing something!
     But is that something really somethingOr is it just an anything--anything to keep us distracted from the real issue underlying all our worry and flurry:  our fear.
     We have more faith in the Post Office than we do in our Lord.  We leave our mail in the box and never give it a second thought.  Not so with our praying. 
     Let's look at prayer and how we conduct ourselves after we pray. One of my favorite passages of Scripture is in Acts 12. Peter is miraculously released from prison by angel. He goes to John Mark's house: "He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, 'Peter is standing at the door!'
     'You’re out of your mind!' they said. When she insisted, they decided, 'It must be his angel.'
     Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed. He motioned for them to quiet down and told them how the Lord had led him out of prison. 'Tell James and the other brothers what happened,' he said. And then he went to another place."
    So, the apostles were in prayer. Good. But instead of rejoicing in the "answer" knocking at the door, they dismissed the report, came up with their own explanation as to what was happening, and went back to praying. Then, when they got off their knees and went and looked at the "answer"--Peter himself--they were "amazed."
     So, let's tie this in to our bill. We have a request to make of God. We have two choices: We can either drop our request into His mailbox: "Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." (Heb. 4:16) or we can hover over the process every day and in every way, exerting some level of control over what we hope will be the answer.  
    If we trust Him, we rest in Him.  We rest in His goodness and mercy, and know He will bring about the best for the situation. 
    If we don't trust Him, we do not rest in Him.  We dog the process with our own worry, concern and fear.  We ask Him and then watch, wait and worry.  Our faith really isn't faith.  It's us exerting control after we've asked Him, for our fear is what is really driving us, not our faith.   
    Now, if we put the request into His Mailbox, we walk away.  We enjoy His company and fellowship, knowing that our request is in good Hands. 
    One last thing:  The process of the Holy Spirit working in the life of someone we care about, or in a situation that we care about, cannot be rushed.  Real, lasting change takes time.  
    So, while we wait on the Lord, we should not complain, act victimized and share our stories as if the envelope isn't in the Box.  
    In other words, we should not behave as if the envelope isn't in the Box.  We behave as if, yes, the check is in the mail:  "Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  (Phil. 4:6)
    While we wait, we should be hanging out with Jesus, basking in His presence, not hovering around the Post Office. 

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