Author: Matt Sherro

Logos: God Before Time (Part One)

Logos: God Before Time (Part One)

As we begin our chronological study of the Gospels, it is important to realize that the Gospel story begins long before time when the Logos was with God and was God. John, the Beloved Apostle opens our understanding with a powerful theological declaration that echoes Genesis 1:1 and fills in the person and power of the God Who is Before Time…

 

John 1:1

En arkhêi (In the Beginning) ên ho lógos, (the Word was) kaì ho lógos ên pròs tòn theón, (and the Word was with God) kaì theòs ên ho lógos. (and God was the word)

 

NLT: In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

 

Here, beloved, in this verse begins the story of the Gospels. The Word, the eternal expression of the Godhead, is the focus of the story of the Gospels.

 

Let us look for a moment at Rabbi David Sturn’s exposition on John 1:1 and 2

 

1:1a ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ This echoes the first sentence of Genesis: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Word is not named as such in Genesis but is immediately seen in action: “And God said, ‘Let there be light’” (Gen. 1:3). God expresses himself as commanding, calling, and creating. This expressing, this speaking, this “Word” is God. A God who does not speak, a wordless God, is no God at all. Word, from the Greek logos, corresponds to the Aramaic memra, a technical, theological term used by rabbis in the centuries before and after Yeshua when speaking of God’s expression of himself. Thus the Messiah existed before all creation (cf. 17:5).

 

1:1b-2 And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.Some qualities of Yochanan (John) that have been considered non-Jewish or of Hellenistic origin in the past are better understood in a Jewish context. One example is its famous use of the Greek term logos: “In the beginning was the Word [logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” F. F. Bruce notes, “The term logos was familiar in some Greek philosophical schools,” and “constituted a bridge-word by which people brought up in Greek philosophy…found their way into Johannine Christianity.” At the same time, “The true background to John’s thought and language is found not in Greek philosophy but in Hebrew revelation” (Bruce, The Gospel of John 29). John’s use of logos is rooted in the creation account of Genesis and parallel Jewish discussions of personified wisdom (Pr. 8:22ff.) and of the Aramaic term memra or word. Another example is John’s frequent use of stark contrast, as between light and darkness (1:5ff.; 3:19–21; 12:35–36) or above and below (8:23). As with logos, this usage has been explained in terms of Greek philosophy, which was dualistic, but it actually reflects streams of Second Temple Jewish thought, in particular, the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

 

Let’s look a little deeper at Logos and then we will circle back

 

Word Wealth: The Word

(Greek ho logos) (1:1; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 19:13) Strong’s #3056: This Greek word was used to speak of the principle of the universe, even the creative energy that generated the universe. The term logos may also have some connection with the OT presentation of Wisdom as a personification or attribute of God (see Prov. 8). In both the Jewish conception and the Greek, the Logos was associated with the idea of beginnings—the world began through the origination and instrumentality of the Word (Gen. 1:3). John may have had these ideas in mind, but more likely he used this word in a new way to identify the Son of God as divine. He is the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15), the express image of God’s substance (Heb. 1:3). In the Godhead, the Son functions as the Revealer of God and is God in reality.

 

John 1:1 is probably the strongest passage in the NT for declaring the deity of Jesus Christ. Because of this, many who deny this biblical doctrine, especially cultists, have attempted to undercut it by arguing that this passage only teaches that Jesus is “a god” and so not fully Deity. This confused position falls on at least two grounds. Such a view is polytheistic, the belief in more than one god. Second, it betrays a misunderstanding of Greek grammar. Verse 1 of the first chapter of John reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The last portion of v. 1 is the major point of contention. It reads in the Greek theos en ho logos, or literally, “the Word was God.” God, or theos, occurs in this verse without the Greek article ho, so that some have contended that the lack of the article in the Greek text should cause the statement to be translated “the Word was a god.” The best understanding for the translation, however, as recognized by Greek scholars, is that since theos is a predicate and precedes the noun logos and a verb, it is natural for it to occur here without the article. Greek scholars are agreed that the verse should be translated as it regularly is in modern and ancient translations, clearly affirming that Jesus is indeed God.

 

Now we said that John’s use of Logos is rooted in Hebrew revelation, but how so? Let’s look at the 8th Chapter of Proverbs. The entire chapter deals with Wisdom as a personification; Wisdom, like Logos is a personification of God.

 

8.22: ‘Created me:’ Since ancient times, interpreters have disputed whether the verb “kanah” means “created” or “acquired.” The latter allows for the possibility that wisdom existed from eternity and was coeval with God. Some Christian groups preferred this, since they identified wisdom with the Logos, which was in turn identified with the Christ.

 

8.23 (me not the rabbis) does appear to suggest that Wisdom was a created being. This, however, is translation dependent, and seems to be a matter of dispute.

 

8.24: According to Gen. 1.2, the ‘deep’ (the primordial sea) existed before creation began. Wisdom insists that she preceded in existence even this most primordial of entities. ‘I was brought forth:’ This word is usually used of birth. The background metaphor of divine parenthood is reinforced by v. 30.

 

8.25: The mountains were thought to rest on foundations or on pillars set (miraculously, see Job 38.6) in the abyss or the underworld.

 

8.27-31: Wisdom declares that she was present when God produced the inhabited world. Compare this with John 1:3, “By Him were all things made and without Him was not anything made that has been made.”

 

8:22-24brought . . . forth . . . I was given birth. Together, these expressions depict Wisdom’s delivery in primordial time as the Lord’s daughter. In this case, wisdom issues from the very character of God; it is not something created apart from him. And as an attribute of God, wisdom is a characteristic he employed to create the cosmos (see Introduction: Lady Wisdom; see also Col 1:15-20). Consequently, Lady Wisdom has certain knowledge about God’s ways (cf. 30:3-4).

 

8:22–31 the first of his acts of old (v. 22). The same wisdom that makes this invitation is the wisdom that was present with God when he created the world and established it as a coherent system, for Wisdom (personified) says, I was daily his delight (v. 30; cf. also 3:19–20). The wisdom that enters the lives of the faithful actually enables them to participate in the rationality at the heart of things. This is why the impious are called “foolish” or even “stupid” (12:1); they are self-haters (cf. 8:36). On the question of whether the personification of Wisdom here goes beyond personification and describes an actual person, the Pre-Incarnate 2nd Person of the trinity.

 

A brief detour into the Introductions of the other gospel accounts…Where John lays a very theological preamble to the Gospels for us, Mark is much more succinct and Luke addresses his to a very specific person:

 

Mark 1:1

This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God

 

Luke 1:1-4

Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilledamong us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.

 

 

Limited comment on Mark’s Introduction is needed, so I will be brief: Mark’s Gospel account is very fast moving so he does not offer a ton of detail. In his account, we find simply enough information to come to faith in Christ. Luke on the other hand tells us why he wrote and what we can expect to find within his gospel account.

 

Let’s unpack Luke’s introduction a little more…

 

Most Excellent TheophilusOn the one hand, this appellation is a little curious but only if you are not familiar with the customs of Ancient Rome. By referring to Theophilus as most excellent, he identifies the reader as an official in the Roman government. In Acts 26:25, Paul refers to the governor Porcius Festus as, Most Excellent Festus. Luke addresses the book of Acts to the same person and given Paul’s appeal to Caesar at the end of Acts, we have the possibility that Theophilus was a Praetor (magistrate) who had become a Christian and now wanted to examine the facts behind his faith.

 

We know that Luke was a physician that traveled with Paul (Colossians 4:14) but he writes with the skill of both an historian and a lawyer. Luke states that this will be an orderly account and I personally believe that this account was submitted as part of Paul’s legal defense.

 

Now, circling back to our study of John 1:1

 

“In the beginning” In these powerful words John tells us that Jesus was before time and by saying God was the Word, John identifies the Jesus as being co-existent and co-eternal with God the Father.

 

In part two, we will look deeper at the pre-existence of Jesus and His role as creator.

ESV Archaeology Bible Review

ESV Archaeology Bible Review

 

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Crossway has finally answered Zondervan with an Archaeology Study Bible of their own. While I did enjoy Zondervan’s NIV Archaeological Study Bible I am thankful that Crossway’s is not the monstrous tome that its colleague is, though they serve a similar purpose. I am reviewing the hardcover, which was sent free of charge by Crossway in exchange for an honest review.

 

Other Bibles and Works in this Class

This particular class of study Bibles is, in my estimation, one of, if not the most, important class of study resources because of its focus on the historical and cultural context of the Bible. ESV Archaeology Bible joins 3 works from Zondervan/Harper Collins and at least one commentary set from Inter-Varsity Press. They are:

  • IVP Bible Background Commentary
  • NIV 1st Century Study Bible
  • NIV Archaeology Study Bible
  • Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible (Currently NIV and NKJV with NRSV coming soon)

 

An essential part of understand the Bible is to know the historical and cultural context as we look for Authorial Intent. We want to see what God said to the original audience and then look for how it applies today.

Product Description (From Crossway)

The ESV Archaeology Study Bible is a cutting-edge academic resource for those looking to dig deeper into the historical context of the Bible. It features study notes written by field-trained Biblical archaeologists and scholars, color maps, photographs, and drawings- all designed to bring life to the ancient text of Scripture. With editorial oversight from Dr. John Currid (PhD, University of Chicago) and Dr. David Chapman (PhD, University of Cambridge), the ESV Archaeology Study Bible assembles a range of modern scholarship, helping readers situate themselves in the Bible’s historical context by recognizing the truth that the eternal God became flesh entered human history at a specific time and in a specific place.

 

Features Include:

  • Presentation page
  • 2,000+ study notes
  • 700+ full-color maps and photos
  • 4 Timelines
  • 15 articles like “The Bible and History,” “Archaeology and Preaching,” Major Biblical Finds,” and “Daily Life in the New Testament Era”
  • Book introductions
  • Smyth-sewn binding
  • Double-column
  • Cross references
  • Footnotes
  • Lifetime guarantee (on leather and TruTone)
  • 9 point type (Bible text)
  • 8 point type (Study notes)
  • Black letter text

 

Maps and Photos

This is my absolute favorite amongst the helps. Often when I am preparing a lesson, I want to visualize a place or see a location on a map and these maps and photos make the world of the Bible more accessible to me. With nearly 70% of the population being “visual learners,” you could not find a more helpful tool for internalizing the Scriptures. At the risk of being trite, the maps and photos will help you put yourself in the narrative of Scripture, visualizing the land where Jesus walked and the people He talked to.

Book Introductions

The Book Introductions were a pleasant surprise; I had expected several pages of background material on each book of the Bible. What I got was much more pleasing to the eye and to the mind. The Introductions provide just enough material to give you an understanding of how the book fits the culture of its audience and also how it impacts redemptive history. The Contributions from Archaeologysection of each introduction is a delightful little bonus that brings the whole picture together.

 

Notes, Outlines, References

This is a study Bible but do not expect the massive amount of notes that you find in other study Bibles. To my surprise, the Oxford Annotated Bible has more notes in total, but perhaps not of the same quality. The 2,000 or so study notes, here, stay focused on the primary task for this Bible, helping you to understand the cultural background of the Bible and to see how God superintends archaeological finds to prove the Bible’s truth.

The Outlines and References are much more succinct in the Archaeology Bible than in other Crossway Study resources and this keeps with the theme of being focused on a single area of study. The outlines and references are more than sufficient to give you a framework of study but you will want to add other tools for a complete exegesis of the Scripture.

 

Articles

There are 15 somewhat in-depth articles. They can be found at the beginning, between the testaments, and at the end. The articles are:

  • What is Archaeology?
  • Ten Most Significant Discoveries in the Field of Biblical Archaeology
  • Daily Life in Israel in the Old Testament Times
  • Judea-Palestine in the Time Between the Testaments
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls
  • The Roman Empire and the Greco-Roman World
  • Daily Life in Judea-Palestine in the New Testament Times
  • Doing Archaeology
  • Archaeology as an Academic Discipline
  • Expository Preaching and Archaeology
  • Archaeological Dating
  • Biblical Geography and Archaeology
  • Inscriptions, Coins, and Papyri
  • A Short History of Archaeology in the Near East

Overall, these articles are extremely well written, which you would expect from a group of professors. There is one area that I would have really liked to see treated more; like my colleague at the Bible Buying Guide, I would have really appreciated some treatment of the original language documents beyond just the Dead Sea Scrolls. In our time, there have been some significant papyri discovered and it would be nice to see a dedicated article regarding original manuscripts.

 

Final Thoughts

This is one of the two most valuable study Bibles that Crossway has produced with the ESV Literary Study Bible being the other. I am embarking on a chronological journey through the 4 Gospels and I have already cleared a space on my desk for this Bible as it will provide extremely helpful background information for our study.

 

I do not, often, upgrade the Bibles that are sent to me for review but there is a strong possibility that I will upgrade this edition to a leather one for much longer use. I give the ESV Archaeology Bible the strongest recommendation possible.

 

 

ESV Thinline Bible Review

ESV Thinline Bible Review

 

Order from Christian Book Distributors

Order from Amazon

 

 

One of our most valuable partners is Crossway, publishers of the ESV Bible and I am pleased to be reviewing another of their excellent Bibles, the ESV Thinline Bible, which Crossway provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. They sent the Brown Natural Leather edition for us to review…

Special Note: my wife actually laid claim to this Bible the day that it came out of the box.

This ESV Thinline Editionfeatures:

  • Two-column paragraph format
  • Weights & Measures Table
  • Words of Jesus in red
  • 8 Pages of full-color maps
  • Presentation page
  • Family record section
  • Ribbon marker
  • Concordance
  • Eight pages of full-color maps
  • 8-point text size
  • 8.75″ x 5.75″ x 1.00″

 

The Leather and Binding

There is not a doubt in my mind that this “natural leather” is is actually a cow’s hide.  Truthfully, it feels as though someone simply removed all the hair from the skin of the cow and made a Bible cover from the top layer of skin. It is fairly stiff, which is to be expected from a mature cow and so it does not lay completely flat upon first opening.  Over time, the natural oils that occur in human skin will work their way into the cover and it will become softer and more supple. In the interest of full disclosure, there will always be a small measure of stiffness because it is a paste down liner as opposed to edge lined leather.

As is usually the case, this Bible has a sewn binding for lifelong durability.

Paper and Font

For such a small footprint, the paper is actually excellent. I have never found crossway paper to be lacking and in this case, it is no exception. If this were going to be your primary Bible for carry, you would have no issues with marking your favorite verses. As always, I recommend purchasing your highlighting products from a Christian Bookstore as they will have instruments specifically geared toward Bible marking.

Regular readers of this site will know that I have mixed feelings about red letter Bibles. This stems from two things: usually a very poor and inconsistent red ink and the fact that I write in my Bibles in red ink and so there is usually a visual disconnect for me. In this edition, though, Crossway’s red ink is very well done. It is rich and consistent which pleases my wife who uses this Bible on a regular basis.

It works out that my wife really enjoys this particular edition because an 8-point font is, in most cases, too small to be comfortable for me (the Cambridge Cameo, and I think Concord, being the only exceptions. Most people will not have any issues with the font size and it should, in most cases, be quite useful for daily reading.

For carry

The dimensions on this Bible make it ideal for carry in your purse or briefcase. You will find it large enough that you do not have to squint to read it but not so large that it will be cumbersome.

Overall Thoughts

At its price-point, you would be hard pressed to find a better leather Bible. Crossway’s Bibles are always superb and if they are not you can count on their customer service team to replace it fairly quickly.

 

 

 

The Bible Train/Family Worship 8.6.18-8.12.18

The Bible Train/Family Worship 8.6.18-8.12.18

This week the Bible Train rolls through the prophecies of Habakkuk, sees Ezekiel’s calling from the Lord, and views Daniel in the court of Nebuchadnezzar.

We do not have any discussion questions for this week. Those will return next week

 

Monday Habakkuk 3:1-19
Tuesday Daniel 1:1-21
Wednesday Daniel 2:1-49
Thursday Daniel 3:1-30
Friday 2 Kings 24:8-17
Saturday Jeremiah 24:1-10
Sunday Ezekiel 1:1-2:10

 

God’s Word Translation Review

God’s Word Translation Review

“A most interesting translation.” That is my overall impression of the God’s Word Translation of the Scriptures. Before we go further, I need to point out that God’s Word for the Nations Missionary Society provided this Bible for free in exchange for an honest review. My opinions are my own.

Let’s begin with some information from the publisher:

THE THEORY USED TO PRODUCE GOD’S WORD

  • Closest Natural Equivalence
  • Contrasting Closest Natural Equivalence to Form Equivalence
  • Contrasting Closest Natural Equivalence to Function Equivalence
  • Closest Natural Equivalence Maintains the Balance

 

Closest natural equivalent translation attempts to be exactly what its name implies. Above all else, it provides readers with a meaning equivalent to the source language (Hebrew, Aramaic, or Greek in the case of the Bible) in the target language (English in the case of GOD’S WORD). Second and equally important, it seeks ways to express that meaning naturally in a way that a native English speaker would have spoken or written. Finally, it expresses the meaning naturally in a way that is as close as possible to the way the source language expressed the meaning.

This translation most certainly falls into the dynamic equivalence/thought for thought/meaning based end of the Bible translation spectrum. It is an incredibly easy version to read and understand and I really appreciate that. Many of the people that I minister to have English as a second language and I would be confident in placing the God’s Word Translation in any of their hands.

I would mark this translation as a 3rd to 4th Grade Reading Level. For a Bible to be translated at this level of understanding is absolutely fabulous. Matthew 18:3 tells us that we need to become like a little child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven and the English used here would certainly be simple enough for most children to understand.

There is the question of gender in translation and God’s Word Translation endeavors to be what is considered to be gender accurate. What this means is it chooses the most accurate pronouns based on the audience addressed. This is different from being gender neutral which seeks to eliminate the patriarchal aspects of a patriarchal society. I am not sure how some of my conservative colleagues would receive this aspect of the translation but I have no issue with it.

I have used GWT alongside three translations: my New American Standard Bible, my New International Version, and my King James Version. Like the NIV, the GWT is very easy to understand and accurate to the thought of the original language documents. Similar to the New Living Translation, the GWT provides a very illuminating, almost commentary feel to the Scripture.

Who should use the GWT? My recommendation for GWT is to provide it to those who have English as a second language. I would also advise giving the GWT to elementary school students looking to read the Bible for the first time.

How should you use GWT? My recommendation for use depends on a couple factors.

Personal/Small Group Study: I recommend GWT in use alongside an essentially literal translation such as NASB or ESV. The GWT will provide a more well rounded understanding of the Scripture.

1st Time Readers: Given the ease of use, I highly recommend the GWT for 1st time Bible readers. There are a number of reading plans and devotional sources available for use. I would pair the GWT with a reading plan designed to get you through the whole Bible in a year, Tyndale’s One Year Bible is an excellent choice.

Pastoral Use: GWT is an excellent choice for an alternate translation from the pulpit. We always want to have two or three translations in use when preaching and GWT will most definitely help you to communicate the clear meaning of the Scripture.

All in all, the GWT was very interesting and I will be using it more in the future. It will be added to our distribution inventory for those who have never had a copy of the Scripture and for our chaplaincy visits to leave behind for prisoners and hospital patients that are in need of the Bible. I commend it to you for your use. Whether or not to make it your primary translation, I leave up to you but I do think it is well worth your investment.

The Bible Train 7.23-7.29

The Bible Train 7.23-7.29

This week, the stops on the Bible Train include an exercise in contrasts as well as time with three prophets, Nahum, Zephaniah, and Jeremiah. We will see Manasseh, the most wicked king, contrasted with his grandson Josiah, one of the most righteous kings in the history of Judah. We will also see the final doom of Nineveh, and by extension of the Assyrian Empire, predicted by Nahum.

Monday 2 Chronicles 33:1-25
Tuesday 2 Chronicles 34:1-35:27
Wednesday Jeremiah 1:1-19
Thursday Jeremiah 7:1-8:3
Friday Jeremiah 16:1-21
Saturday Nahum 1:1-2:13
Sunday Zephaniah 3:1-20

Discussion Questions:

  1. Why is Manasseh’s sin so much more than the sins of others?
  2. What can we learn about the importance of a father’s influence or lack thereof from the story of Manasseh and his righteous father Hezekiah?
  3. What do we learn about God and the preservation of the righteous from King Josiah
  4. Jeremiah is God’s voice during the final years of the kingdom of Judah. What do we learn about God from the fact that Jeremiah prophecies both judgment and comfort?
  5. Nineveh is used as an instrument of God’s judgment but God still pronounced doom for them. What does this teach us about God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility for the things he does?
YHWH Shua (Jesus): Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King

YHWH Shua (Jesus): Savior, Healer, Sanctifier, and Coming King

SAVIOR

The Name of Jesus has impacted lives around the world for more than 2,000 years. He is a universal Savior, promising “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

  • Jesus is an exclusive Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved” Acts 4:12. Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one—Jesus Christ

 

Jesus’ death and resurrection ensures His followers an endless list of promises from God’s Word. When we yield our lives Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, His promises are for us, including peace with God today and hope of eternity with Him.

Promises relating to the Atonement

Because Jesus is our Savior, Scripture tells us that:

 

  • we are forgiven of sin (Acts 2:38)
  • our guilt is taken away (Romans 8:1)
  • we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s wrath is satisfied (1 John 2:2)
  • we have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 4:24)
  • we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • we have eternal life which can never be taken away (John 3:16-21 and John 10:28-29)
  • we have been adopted by God and are now joint heirs with Christ (John 1:12, Romans 8:17)
  • the Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:11)
  • Jesus is our advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
  • death has no more sting (1 Corinthians 15:54)
  • we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4)

 

Because Christ died for us, all of these are ours when we surrender our life to Him as Lord (1st) and Savior.

 

 

 

The Tenses of Salvation

As we consider Christ’s death on the cross, I think it’s important to look at the three “tenses” of salvation.

 

  • Past: First, we have been saved. We have been justified or made righteous in God’s eyes. (Romans 5:1, Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

  • Present: Second, we are being saved. We are in the process of being sanctified or made more like Christ through the Holy Spirit. (1 Corinthians 1:18;2 Corinthians 2:15)

 

  • Future: And we will be saved. When Christ returns, we will be glorified or made like Him. We have an eternal inheritance. (Romans 5:9)

 

 

Four other things are important to consider about Jesus as our Savior:

  • He is a universal Savior (Representatives of all mankind will be saved from their sin). John 3:16 tells us that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” All who come to Him with repentant hearts, sorry for their sins, and believe that He is who He says He is, will receive His salvation. Revelation 7:9 Tells us that there will be a great multitude in Heaven from every tongue and tribe on Earth.

 

  • Jesus Christ is an exclusive Savior. Acts 4:12 tells us that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name in heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” Contrary to what contemporary culture tells us, there are not multiple paths to God. There is only one: Jesus Christ. I have said before that the idea that all roads lead to God is semi-true. Any path that is not following Jesus, as He Himself commands, will lead to an appointment at the Great White Throne Judgment.

 

  • He is a comprehensive Savior. Romans 8:29-30 make it clear that our salvation, predestined from before the foundation of the world includes not only justification and forgiveness of sins but also God’s commitment to reform us into the very image of His Son and that one day, when that process is complete, we will be glorified.

 

And He is an all-powerful Savior. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Christ’s work on the cross sealed our salvation forever. As Romans 8:38–39 tells us, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Further, John 10:28-29 tells us “ 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all[a]; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.”

 

 

Jesus is our Savior. Nothing can separate us from His great work on the cross, from His love.

 

SANCTIFIER (Baptizer with the Holy Spirit

 

Many Christians understand God’s promise of salvation but do not experience the ongoing vigor of the life of the Holy Spirit within us. For those who neither understand nor allow the Holy Spirit’s control in their lives, the results have a profound effect.

Unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrate those who have asked Jesus to be their Savior but not their Sanctifier, resulting in a lack of joy in their walk with Christ. At the point when we are born again, we become members of God’s family. We believe He paid the price for our sin, and we are positionally sanctified, or set apart from those who are not born again, and are seen as holy because of what Christ has done.

 

 

“But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” (1 Corinthians 1:30) NKJV

 

We saw earlier that the Bible teaches three tenses of salvation:

  • I have been saved: Justification
  • I am being saved: Sanctification
  • I will be saved: Glorification

 

Sanctification means separation

  • Separation from sin: “But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy.’” 1 Peter 1:15-16.
  • Separation to God: “(He) has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve His God and Father…” Revelation 1:6.

 

We read in John 1:29, 33 that Jesus is

  • “the one who is taking away the sin of the world…”
  • “the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit”

 

Two realities—two experiences. All Christians understand the first promise. But many Christians do not understand the experience of the second. It is the experience of Christ’s sanctifying work in a believer’s life. For those who neither understand nor allow for the Spirit’s control in their lives, the results will have profound effect. Ongoing and unsuccessful struggle against sin and a lack of power in life and ministry frustrates the believer. Doubts creep in about the assurance of salvation; there is a lack of joy in the walk with Christ.

 

Pneumatology “101”

In the context of the following Scriptures, the Greek word for Spirit is pneuma.

  • Every Christian is indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” (Romans 8:9).
  • Many Christians do not realize they have filled with the Holy Spirit. and baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3, Galatians 3:27)

 

With the decision to submit to Christ as Lord, the One who was sacrificed for the sin of the world, the believer is immediately indwelt by the Holy Spirit. The believer who forsakes the flesh, allowing the Spirit’s infilling, experiences victory and deliverance not only from the penalty of sin because Christ’s righteousness is imputed to him. The Christian who is filled with the Christ’s Spirit knows deliverance from the power of sin as Christ’s righteousness is imparted to him.

 

Not only does the follower of Christ experience freedom from eternal death because Jesus lives in him but also freedom to live an abundant life in the present because Jesus lives through him. With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit he is equipped to fight the temptations of the future.

 

A Sad Reality

  • Most American Christians show little evidence in their lives that they have been separated from sin.
  • Most American Christians behave in ways that make it difficult to believe that they have been “set apart” for the service of God.

 

Part Two

According to John 1:29-33, Jesus is:

  • the one who is taking away the sin of the world
  • the one who is baptizing with the Holy Spirit

 

Through the power of the Holy Spirit we experience

  • Deliverance from penalty of sin
  • Deliverance from the power of sin
  • Freedom from death
  • Freedom to live
  • Release from the guilt of the past
  • Equips for the temptations of the future
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us
  • Christ’s righteousness is manifest in us
  • Jesus lives in us
  • Jesus lives through us

 

True or False Christians?

According to the New Testament, there are two kinds of Christians.

  • I Corinthians 3:1-4 — spiritual and worldly (carnal/false)
  • Romans 7 and Romans 8 — self-propelled and Spirit driven
  • Ephesians 5:18 — filled and not filled

 

What does the fruit of a true Christians life look like?

 

  • “It’s all about purity.”
  • “It’s all about power.”
  • “It’s all about joy.”

 

Jesus tells us in John 15 that He is the Vine and we are the branches and because of our relationship with Jesus, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit:

 

  • “we will bear much fruit…” — PURITY
  • “we can ask whatever we want that is in harmony with His will…” — POWER
  • “our joy will be complete” — JOY

 

How to have a Spirit Filled Life

  • You cannot make yourself holy any more than you can make yourself saved! (Rom. 6:11; Rom. 12:1-2)
  • Christ is your Sanctifier in the same way that He is your Savior! (Col. 2:6; Gal. 2:20)
  • Maintain a continuous relationship with Jesus through obedience to his Word. (John 15:1-11)

 

Abiding and the Word of God

  • John 17:17 — “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth.”
  • John 15:3 — “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
  • John 15:7 — “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be given you.”.

 

 

Why do so few Christians experience the reality of sanctification and a life in communion with both the Sanctifier (Jesus) and the Agent of our Sanctification (the Holy Spirit)?

 

  • Ignorance — Acts 19:3
  • Sin — Ephesians 4:30
  • Fear — I Thessalonians 5:19
  • Lack of Desire — Matthew 5:6

 

Is there a difference between the baptism and filling?

The major problem here is that the New Testament does not clearly distinguish between several different words used to describe the dealings of the Holy Spirit with God’s people. Some of these words are listed below.

  • “baptized”
  • “filled”
  • “anointed”
  • “sealed”
  • “earnest”

 

While the language the Bible uses to describe the experience may be ambiguous, the possibility of living a spirit-filled life is a Clear Reality

 

Is this a one time experience?

While the initial filling of the Holy Spirit usually comes as an experience subsequent to conversion, it is important to understand that:

  • Sanctification is also a “progressive” experience. Philippians 2:12–13; Philippians 3:12–14; Colossians 2:6
  • It is also important to recognize that we need to be filled again and again because we leak!

 

Two Great Errors when pursuing a sanctified life:

  • Avoiding the Holy Spirit out of fear: Many Christians run from God because of sin or preconceived notions of inability or worthiness. When we remember to live Jesus’ words from John 15, “Apart from Me you can do nothing,” we realize that our daily sanctification is dependent on our willingness to surrender to Him.
  • Seeking an experience or feeling as the evidence that we have been filled: Experiences are temporary and feelings are fleeting. God’s Word is true and everlasting. We cannot put our faith in experience or feeling but only in His eternal Word.

 

 

HEALER

 

A great portion of Christ’s time was dedicated to healing the sick. He healed all kinds of people: the blind, the paralyzed, the lame, the deaf, lepers, those who had fevers, and many with chronic illnesses.

 

 

“Jesus Is Still the Healer”

We find no record in the gospels of Jesus turning away anyone who came to him for healing, nor do we find that any disease was too difficult for him to heal. He even raised the dead. Miraculous healings still occur today—evidence that Christ is still our Healer.

The Purpose of Divine Healing is to Glorify Jesus. In the Book of Acts, we find three important truths we need to grasp: Jesus is still the Healer, Healing comes from Jesus alone, and the purpose of divine healing is always to glorify Him.

 

Now, I need to point something out: Jesus does provide physical healing in accordance with the good pleasure of the Father’s will BUT THIS IS NOT THE HEALING PROVIDED FOR IN THE ATONEMENT.  The healing provided for in the Atonement is the healing of our sin sick soul and healing our relationship with God.

 

Why did grant physical attention to so many people?

 

  • To facilitate His message: Jesus knew that by meeting a physical need, healing, the door would be open to speak about Jesus’ greater mission—to bring salvation to souls. We see the same pattern throughout Jesus’ ministry. Whenever Jesus made an intangible claim, He backed it up with a tangible act. Jesus said He was the bread of life and fed 5,000 people with a few loaves of bread.

 

  • To prove He could forgive sin: How do you prove such an intangible thing? First, Jesus lived in a culture where the assumption was that sickness was a result of sin. Second, based on the same assumption, healing comes with forgiveness of sin. To prove that He had the power to forgive sins, Jesus said to the man who was lowered down through roof on a mat, “Friend, your sins are forgiven…take your mat and go home” (Luke 5:20).

 

  • To prove He was God: Jesus healed to prove He was the Messiah. Only One has authority to forgive sin—God alone—a charge the Pharisees made when Jesus healed sickness and at the same time forgave sins. He was claiming authority to be God.

 

  • To show His compassion: Jesus healed because he cared. There is no record of Jesus turning anyone away who asked for his help.

 

  • To show that He is the Lord of all of life: Jesus is the Lord of compassion—not just Lord of our souls but of our bodies as well.

 

  • To show that salvation starts now: Jesus’ wonderful, compassionate willingness to reach out and touch our physical needs demonstrates that it’s not just future tense but present tense. Salvation starts now. He heals in this life, in this moment, in anticipation of something much more complete as eternity rolls on.

 

Why Isn’t Everyone Healed?

Why do people get sick in the first place? The Bible gives a theology of sickness and suffering as well as a theology of healing. There are a number of reasons for sickness. The first is sin. The Pharisees were right that some get sick because of sin but wrong that all get sick because of sin. In 1 Corinthians, we are warned about abusing the table of the Lord. “That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you sleep.”

Sometimes God allows the enemy to make us sick. Sickness definitely is related to the curse, the fall, and the work of Satan. There is no better example than Job. In the testing, our faithfulness can be perfect. God allows sickness or disabilities to teach us lessons that would not be learned any other.

 

Healing also can be God’s way of taking us home, the moment of eschatological healing that ultimately comes when we are made perfect. No more glasses, no more insulin, no more antibiotics.

 

How Do We Respond?

Our prayers for healing tend to be, “Jesus heal me because I want to serve you more, I don’t want pain, or I want to be a testimony of your faithfulness. See how much more faith I have now.”

 

The only possible right response is: “What ever brings You glory, Lord. I believe you can. With the absence of a firm word to the contrary, then I believe that you will. But the only reason I want to be healed is because I want to bring You glory. If something else brings You more glory, that’s ok with me. It’s not about me. It’s all about Jesus.”

 

 

 

COMING KING

 

For the remainder of our time together, we will look at YHWH Shua as the King who is coming…

 

It is nearly impossible to look at the world without noticing that it has spun out of control and that’s the bad news. The good news is this: the world is right on schedule to meet its appointed culmination. How will this happen? Well if you will pardon the pop culture reference, it will happen with the return of the King.

The Lord of All the earth is about to make His return and to restore a paradise that has been lost. Officially, we call this “Our blessed hope” and it can be articulated this way: “The Imminent Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in the clouds of glory to gather His Church unto Him, is the Blessed Hope of the church.” Following that event, will be the Tribulation, the days of wrath, which will then culminate in the Millennial Kingdom.

Our text, for the remainder of our time, is Revelation 1:10-18

10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,

If you look back to Exodus Chapter 19, when the Lord made His visitation Sinai, His visitation was preceded by the sound of a trumpet, and it is interesting to note, that in most of human history, the blast of a trumpet announced the arrival of a coming King. In 1 Thessalonians 4:17, we see that, at the Rapture, the arrival of the King to gather His people to Himself into the clouds is accompanied by the sound of a trumpet. So we have two possible things in play here: 1. John heard the sound of a trumpet heralding the arrival of the King of the Universe. 2. The voice John heard was as loud, distinctive, and piercing as a trumpet blast. I tend to think that number 2 is the more likely scenario although 1st is a possibility.

11 saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

We are about to be treated to a glimpse into the Eternal Throne Room. Not only that, but we are about to receive a privilege unmatched anywhere in Scripture. Ever the teacher, the Lord Himself is about to give us the definitive exposition on the Scripture. We are going to see, in the imagery He uses, the Lord of all the Earth in resplendent glory and majesty.

We need understanding with verse 12-16 This vision is absolutely not a physical description of Christ in His Glory; we are not yet at the point where we will be able to behold Him as He now is. Instead, this is the lesson: Christ gives us a composite of Old Testament symbols representing the Lord of All:

 

10 Noteworthy Items

  1. One like the Son of Man

First, we need to note that this was not some otherworldly creature. The person that John saw was human in form. Over 80 times in the Gospels, Jesus refers to Himself or is referred to as the Son of Man. This term does not simply identify the humanity of Jesus; His use of it to refer to Himself shows that He identifies with us. The One who is God above all gods, whose own precious blood redeemed the church, has humbled Himself to the point of being able to identify with the Bride. Since she can never be God, like the groom is, He has brought Himself to her and came in her likeness, as a Son of Man.

  1. “Clothed” in a garment down to the feet

By being clothed in a garment down to the feet, Christ shows Himself in His High Priestly role. (Hebrews 2:17 and 3:1) From the Ascension until this point in Redemptive History, Jesus has filled the Office of ha Cohen Gadol, the High Priest continually offering intercession for His saints before the Throne of God the Father. His shed blood at Calvary was the final atoning sacrifice which then left the role of the High Priest to be intercessor before God.

  1. Girded about the chest with a golden band

In Matthew 28:18, Jesus tells us that all authority in Heaven and on Earth has been committed to the Son. In the Ancient World, a gold band was a symbol of power and authority. Kings, Satraps, Governors, etc. wore these bands around the waist as a sign of their authority.

  1. His head and hair were white like wool

This identifies Christ with the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9-14). Not to be confused with the “white hair of old age,” this is a blazing white that speaks of righteousness. White is, perhaps, an insufficient adjective. This is absolute, superlative, holiness; a holiness so bright that leaves no room for any shadow. The white is Shekinah, the personal divine holy presence of God Himself.

  1. His eyes were like a flame of fire

In Greek, this phrase literally says “eyes shot fire.” Two things are in play here: first, this phraseology indicates indignance at the apostasy of the churches since the Church not being what she should be would certainly arouse the indignance of Christ. Secondly, eyes like a flame of fire speaks of the omniscience of Christ. Every thought and motive must pass through this gaze and all that is impure will be burned away.

  1. Feet like fine brass, refined in a furnace

If we look back to the Tabernacle for a moment, the altar of burnt offering was covered with brass and its utensils were made of the same material (Exodus 38:1-7). Glowing hot, brass feet are a clear reference to divine judgment. Jesus Christ with feet of judgment is moving through His church to exercise His chastening authority upon sin.

  1. Voice like many waters

When you stand near a waterfall, every other sound is drowned out by the thunderous roar of the waters. This is a picture of Jesus on the Day of Judgment; every voice, every sound will be brought to stillness before His authority. That is to say, when Christ calls His Judgment Court to session, the entire cosmos will come together and be convened.

  1. In his right had He held seven stars

Many times in Scripture, we see that stars and angels are used interchangeably and since the word angelos means messenger, it is clear that these would be messengers to the 7 Churches. What is not clear is whether Christ is referring to 7 actual angels or to the pastors of the 7 churches that He was sending His messages to. That Christ holds them in His hand shows Him as absolute Lord over all things, including the Church.

  1. Out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword (Hebrews 4:12)

A two-edged sword speaks of judgment and portends to judgment on those who would attack Christ or His Church. The Standard of Judgment that Christ uses is none other than Sacred Scripture, His Word. What will determine your salvation and your righteousness? Nothing more or less than the standard laid out in the Bible.

  1. His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength

Think back to Matthew 17:12 on the Mount of Transfiguration. His countenance (face) is blazing in unmistakable resplendent glory.

Looking down to verse 17…

17 When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last,

It is possible that John simply passed out, but it is also possible that the shock of seeing Christ in His glory caused John’s aged heart to fail and, as He did so often in the Gospels, the Lord healed John with a touch.

“Do not be afraid”; when one is approaching the Sovereign Lord in His majesty, there is a measure of fear but that is not all that is alluded to here: The Lord, in His all-consuming holiness could have struck John dead for any sin, at all, that he had. Jesus, though, has an excellent memory, and knowing John as the Disciple Whom Jesus loved, he reached out in His grace and mercy and strengthened him.

18 and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.

I know Baptists don’t do this, but every time I read this verse it makes me want to jump and shout. I don’t think most people get this verse. The Living One who was dead and it alive forever more!! Stop and get that. The Source of Life, who was murdered by His creation is alive forevermore! No one will ever again take His life from Him and the life that He gives to His Church can never be taken to her either!

God’s Promises in the Atonement

God’s Promises in the Atonement

Because Jesus is our Savior, Scripture tells us that:

  • we are forgiven of sin (Acts 2:38)
  • our guilt is taken away (Romans 8:1)
  • we have peace with God (Romans 5:1)
  • God’s wrath is satisfied (1 John 2:2)
  • we have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 4:24)
  • we are “new creations” (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • we have eternal life which can never be taken away (John 3:16-21 and John 10:28-29)
  • we have been adopted by God and are now joint heirs with Christ (John 1:12, Romans 8:17)
  • the Holy Spirit lives in us (Romans 8:11)
  • Jesus is our advocate (1 John 2:1)
  • nothing can separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39)
  • death has no more sting (1 Corinthians 15:54)
  • we have an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade (1 Peter 1:4)
YHWH Shua: Kinsman Redeemer and Avenger of Blood

YHWH Shua: Kinsman Redeemer and Avenger of Blood

Last week we began our look at the God who saves with a look at the doctrine of sin and salvation. This week we are expanding our study of the God who saves by looking at YHWH Shua as goel, the Kinsman Redeemer and the Blood Avenger.

 

Kinsman-Redeemer

The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–2525:47–55). The kinsman who redeems or vindicates a relative is illustrated most clearly in the book of Ruth, where the kinsman-redeemer is Boaz.
Avenger of blood

(Heb. goel, from verb gaal, “to be near of kin,” “to redeem”), the nearest relative of a murdered person. It was his right and duty to slay the murderer ( 2 Samuel 14:7  2 Samuel 14:11 ) if he found him outside of a city of refuge. In order that this law might be guarded against abuse, Moses appointed six cities of refuge ( Exodus 21:13 ;  Numbers 35:13 ;  Deuteronomy 19:1  Deuteronomy 19:9 ). These were in different parts of the country, and every facility was afforded the manslayer that he might flee to the city that lay nearest him for safety. Into the city of refuge the avenger durst not follow him. This arrangement applied only to cases where the death was not premeditated. The case had to be investigated by the authorities of the city, and the wilful murderer was on no account to be spared. He was regarded as an impure and polluted person, and was delivered up to the goel ( Deuteronomy 19:11-13 ). If the offence was merely manslaughter, then the fugitive must remain within the city till the death of the high priest ( Numbers 35:25 ).

 

Jesus as the Believer’s Refuge

 

The New Testament reveals there is still today a place of refuge, one unique way, and but one and only one plan of salvation, enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as Lord and experience as a result, regeneration, spiritual rebirth, (John 3).

 

By faith, as a result of trusting in Jesus, the believer then experiences the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, and of Christ, and of God the Father. By means of spiritual baptism the individual is then taken out of the world-system (and his or her identification with the fallen-world) and is placed into the Body of Christ. The true church, the Body of Christ is a living organism. (Romans 6)

 

Jesus has been raised from the dead and has ascended into heaven. Joined to Christ, the believer has positionally been taken to heaven also, (Ephesians 2).

 

 

What is Jesus our refuge from? To a certain degree, Jesus is our refuge from Himself. As Christians, we love to talk about Jesus as the one who saves us from our sins, which we call redemption. On the other side of that coin is a fact that we generally attempt to avoid discussing: In His second coming, Jesus is coming to kill all of His enemies. He is coming as Goel, the Avenger of Blood.

 

The Avenger of Blood, in ancient Israel, was the nearest male relative, was responsible for protecting the property, liberty, and posterity of his next of kin, in addition to protecting their lives through the “avenging of blood.” This Old Testament Type of the Avenger of Blood is also fulfilled, as might be expected, by Jesus Christ the Lord.

…God deems it just to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to grant rest with us to you who are afflicted, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. (2 Thessalonians 2:6-10)

As might be expected for a “next of kin,” the coming Judge, the Jew named Jesus, will be especially zealous for the maltreatment of His own people, the Jews, down through history,

I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the valley of Jehoshaphat, and I will enter into judgment with them there, on account of my people and my heritage Israel, because they have scattered them among the nations, and have divided up my land, and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a harlot, and have sold a girl for wine, and have drunk it.

 

“What are you to me, O Tyre and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Are you paying me back for something? If you are paying me back, I will requite your deed upon your own head swiftly and speedily. For you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my rich treasures into your temples. You have sold the people of Judah and Jerusalem to the Greeks, removing them far from their own border. But now I will stir them up from the place to which you have sold them, and I will requite your deed upon your own head. I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the sons of Judah, and they will sell them to the Sabeans, to a nation far off; for the LORD has spoken.”

 

Proclaim this among the nations: Prepare war, stir up the mighty men. Let all the men of war draw near, let them come up. Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears; let the weak say, “I am a warrior.” Hasten and come, all you nations round about, gather yourselves there.

 

Bring down thy warriors, O LORD.

 

Let the nations bestir themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there I will sit to judge all the nations round about. Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Go in, tread, for the wine press is full. The vats overflow, for their wickedness is great. Multitudes, multitudes, in the valley of decision! For the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining. And the LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem, and the heavens and the earth shake.

 

But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel. (Joel 3:3-16)

 

If Jesus is the Avenger of Blood on behalf of millions of Jews who have suffered at the hands of Gentile oppressors and anti-semites, He is also the Judge of all the world.

The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:22-29)

 

A final question remains in considering Jesus as the Avenger of Blood for all mankind. Who avenges the innocent blood shed by the Savior of the World Himself? Who is Jesus’ next-of-kin responsible for Jesus’ own vindication and for just retribution against the guilty on His behalf? Surely it must be the heavenly Father of Jesus, the God of heaven and earth who gave His only-begotten, dearly-beloved son to make it possible for any one, or all, of us to be saved?

 

In the book of the Revelation both Jesus and God the Father are characterized as turning loose their great wrath against an unbelieving world,

When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale; the sky vanished like a scroll that is rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the generals and the rich and the strong, and every one, slave and free, hid in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand before it?” (Revelation 6:12-17)

 

We have already seen in the typology of the Cities of Refuge and the Kinsman-Redeemer that all sinners, Jew or Gentile, who seek the forgiveness of God, based on the substitutionary death of Jesus, our Great High Priest—all these persons are released forever from all guilt for all their sins. So the final issue is, who among the unforgiven sinners of the world must face the final Avenger of Blood who will personally deal with the enormous problem of the bloodguilt of the shed blood of the innocent Lamb of God?

 

Responsibility for the death of Christ is clearly distributed throughout the world. All of us are guilty—all of us are responsible. But when Jesus stood in trial before Pilate…

…the chief priests and the elders persuaded the people to ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.” And he said, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified.” So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” And all the people answered, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:20-25)

Accountability for sin in the eyes of God is measured in proportion to light received and the amount of revelation given. Deliberate sin is more serious than inadvertent transgression.

 

Furthermore Israel was instructed by Moses about the defilement of the land which shed blood would bring, especially innocent blood.

You shall not thus pollute the land in which you live; for blood pollutes the land, and no expiation can be made for the land, for the blood that is shed in it, except by the blood of him who shed it. You shall not defile the land in which you live, in the midst of which I dwell; for I the LORD dwell in the midst of the people of Israel.” (Numbers 35:33-34)

God’s judgment on the whole world is inevitable and soon to fall on everyone. The Bible describes the final conflagration as including the most terrible of all world wars as being centered in the land of Israel. For the Jews it will be “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” spoken of by their prophets. Believing Jews will find salvation, safety and refuge (see The Coming Exile of Israel in Edom). The majority of Jews, the Bible predicts, will be destroyed in a terrible blood bath described in Revelation Chapter 14. (Most of the rest of mankind will not survive World War III either).

 

I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one

“like a son of man” with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his

hand. Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him

who was sitting on the cloud, “Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap

has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe.” So he that was seated on the cloud

swung his sickle over the earth, and the earth was harvested.

Ray C. Stedman gives a vivid exposition and commentary on these terrible time,

We have to ask, who is this one seated on the cloud “like a son of man,” wearing a victor’s crown and holding a sickle in his hand? There can hardly be any doubt, can there? It is the Lord Jesus. He himself had told his disciples in Matthew 13, in the parable of the wheat and the weeds, when the disciples in the parable asked the Lord, “Shall we pull up these weeds?” He said to them, “No, let both grow together until the harvest, and then I will tell the harvester, ‘First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned, and then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” Then he

interpreted that parable to the disciples, saying, “The harvest is the end of the age (the seven-year period to which we have come in this book), and the harvesters are the angels.” This agrees exactly with what we have here. The angels announce that the time of harvest has come, and the words of Jesus then in Matthew 13 will be literally fulfilled. Let me read them to you:

“The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.”

These are very clear words from the lips of Jesus himself. Now there is still another scene of harvest. Verse 17:

Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, “Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth’s vine, because its grapes are ripe.” The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the great

winepress of God’s wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses’ bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [which is about180 miles].

Is this the same story of harvest twice-told? No. You will notice the first harvest is a harvest of wheat. It is cut with a sickle, and it is a separation of the true wheat from the false-looking wheat, the “darnel” is literally the word, the tares of the field. It looks like wheat, but it is not. The angels will separate the two. But this is clearly a grape harvest, a vintage harvest, and the vine in Scripture is always a symbol of Israel. ** The prophet Isaiah uses this symbol of Israel being brought as a vine out of Egypt and planted in a beautifully cared-for land by God himself. Psalm 80 refers to the same thing–Israel is described as a vine. At the Last Supper the Lord himself said, “I am the true vine and you are the branches,” speaking of his Jewish disciples.

 

This is the symbol of Israel, and it is referring to the judgment of apostate Israel. Strangely enough, most of the nation of the Jews today do not believe their own Scriptures. Many of them are atheists. Many of them have denied the Word of God and the Old Testament, or that it applies to them as a special people at all. This therefore is the judgment of apostate Israel. It is called in Jeremiah 30, “the time of Jacob’s trouble.” Many scriptures describe it. It will be a time of warfare once again against Israel, the time of the invasion of the nation by great armies from the north.

Palestine is overrun. This is when the woman (who is true Israel) that we saw in chapter 12 flees and hides in the desert. But apostate Israel is destroyed, and Jerusalem is sacked and partially destroyed. You can read that in Zechariah 12 through 14.

 

The prophet Joel describes it in vivid language. Let me give you these words from his third chapter:

Let the nations be roused; let them advance into the Valley of Jehoshaphat [which means “God judges”], for there will I sit to judge all the nations on every side. Swing the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, trample the grapes, for the winepress is full and the vats overflow–so great is their wickedness.”

Obviously this is the same scene as we have here.

 

Notice, by the way, in verse 20, the change from a symbol to the literal meaning. Grapes are thrown into the winepress (that is a symbol), but blood pours out–that is the literal meaning of wine; that is when wine symbolizes. When we take the Lord’s Supper, wine symbolizes the blood of Christ for us. Blood covers the land for 180 miles, the length of Israel, in a terrible scene of judgment…

 

The Go-el, or Kinsman Redeemer

 

The Book of Ruth (see Ruth: The Romance of Redemption) is a beautiful love story found in the Old Testament in which a foreign, (gentile) woman of Moab finds a home, an inheritance, a husband—and a place in the ancestral lineage leading to Jesus the Messiah. It also tells us in practical language the role of the Kinsman Redeemer in ancient Israel. The role of this relative was to redeem lost land and property and to protect the person and inheritance of the party in need of help. (For details see also the Reference Notes)

 

The Hebrew go-el gives us another magnificent type of Christ as our Redeemer, for He saves us totally, whether we are Jew or Gentile.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace which he lavished upon us. For he has made known to us in all wisdom and insight the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory. In him you also, who have heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and have believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:8-14)

 

Peter the Apostle reminds us,

You know that you were ransomed (redeemed) from the futile ways inherited from your fathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was destined before the foundation of the world but was made manifest at the end of the times for your sake. Through him you have confidence in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (I Peter 1:18-21)

The Bible Train 7.16.18-7.22.18

The Bible Train 7.16.18-7.22.18

This week, the Bible Train has stops at the majestic Passover celebration and then Isaiah, the Prince of Prophets will bring us several encouraging messages. Isaiah will tell us of the suffering Servant, he will invite us to the Lord’s salvation and offer comfort to those oppressed. In this week’s readings, we get some of our clearest pictures of Messiah.

 

Monday 2 Chronicles 30:1-27
Tuesday 2 Chronicles 32:1-23
Wednesday Isaiah 38:1-39:8
Thursday Isaiah 40:1-31
Friday Isaiah 52:13-53:12
Saturday Isaiah 55:1-13
Sunday Isaiah 61:1-11

 

 

Discussion Questions:

 

  1. Why was it so important that Hezekiah celebrated the Passover?
  2. What is the comfort that Isaiah foretold?
  3. Many of the Jews missed the fact that Jesus was suffering servant is Isaiah; why is it so important to Redemptive History that Messiah suffered and died for His people?
  4. Isaiah speaks in the 1st Person and on behalf of the Lord; what does this invitation tell us about the Lord’s salvation?
  5. What is the good news that Isaiah has for the oppressed?

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