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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