Jun 302017
 

Shadows of Jesus the angel of the LordThis week we are going to look at a fascinating topic and one which has intrigued me for some time.

I have always had an interest in angels, wondering if we see them or encounter them more than we realise. They are God’s agents, his heavenly ministers who are sent by God to help, protect and attend to us.

These would be introduced in the bible as an angel of the Lord. Today’s subject is not about an angel but the angel of the Lord.

I believe that the angel of the Lord is Jesus Christ himself, the second person of the trinity. He appears on a number of occasions in the Old Testament. His appearance is called a ‘Christophany’. As this series is about shadows of Jesus and not Him in person, perhaps it shouldn’t be included in this series, but it’s such an interesting subject, I couldn’t resist.

Let’s look at the evidence.

The first recorded appearance in the bible of the angel of the Lord is found in Genesis 16 where he appears to Hagar the servant of Abraham’s wife, Sarah.

Sarah had treated Hagar so badly after she had become pregnant with Abraham’s child that she ran away. The angel of the Lord appeared to her and told her to go back. With the command came a promise that only God can give as the giver of life;

The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will surely multiply your offspring so that they cannot be numbered for multitude.” (Genesis 16:10)

After this Hagar said;

So she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”(Genesis 16:13)

She attributes this appearance to God.

The next appearance was in Genesis 18 when 3 men appear to Abraham and Sarah to announce her pregnancy and the judgement against the city of Sodom where Lot is living.

And the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre, as he sat at the door of his tent in the heat of the day. (Genesis 18:1)

It clearly states that one of these men is the Lord.

The angel of the Lord also appeared to Jacob and wrestled with him all night. (Genesis 32)

Jacob says an interesting thing after this encounter;

So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered.” (Genesis 32:30)

I’m sure you remember the story of Moses and the burning bush.

And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2)

I must confess I had forgotten that it was the angel who spoke. In verse 6 the angel explains who he is;

And he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God. (Exodus 3:6)

Ok, I could go on, but I will do one more.

God promises to send an angel to guard the children of Israel

Behold, I send an angel before you to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. Pay careful attention to him and obey his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression, for my name is in him. But if you carefully obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. (Exodus 23:20-22)

The people were told to obey this angel because “My name is in him.” This has to be Jesus because God does not share His name or His glory with anyone else. Consider what the prophet Isaiah says;

I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other (Isaiah 42:8)

So gathering all these (and many more) accounts of these appearances of the angel of the Lord, we can make a strong case for this angel being God himself in the form of Jesus Christ.

(1) He is identified as ‘The Lord’ or God.

(2) He had the power to give life (Genesis 16:10)

(3) He had the ability to know all things (Genesis 16:13, Exodus 3:7)

(4) He was called the judge of the whole earth, a title that belongs only to God (Genesis 18:25)

(5) He had authority to forgive or not forgive sins which only God can do (Exodus 23:21)

(6) The angel of the Lord accepted praise and worship on a number of occasions.

When Jesus appeared as himself, as a man who walked on this earth for about 33 years, no wonder people were amazed at His authority. I find it incredible to think that when He taught the people, He taught them the key moments of Israel’s history, as someone who was physically present at the time. A first hand witness!

 June 30, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus 1 Response »
Jun 232017
 

Shadows of Jesus MelchizedekThis week we look at a very interesting and mysterious character from the Old Testament. I am not aware of another character in the Old Testament who is mentioned more in the New than the Old.

The Character in question is a man called Melchizedek and he first appears in Genesis 14:18-20. He is then mentioned again briefly in Psalm 110:4. His role is then expanded in the book of Hebrews in chapters 5, 6 and 7

He is an interesting character because he doesn’t really have a proper introduction and is simply mentioned as the King of Salem and a priest of God. This is before the priesthood established by Moses (Aaron’s descendants) after the law was given.

The story in Genesis 14 shows various squabbles between alliances of various kings. Abraham’s nephew lot has been captured with his household and Abraham goes to rescue him. Abraham is successful and as he returns, Melchizedek appears on the scene. He brings out bread and wine and blesses Abraham. Abraham in turn pays Melchizedek a tithe (a tenth of the spoils).

The book of Hebrews in the New Testament says some pretty amazing things about Melchizedek. Even though Abraham was the chief patriarch of the Jewish nation, Hebrews calls Melchizedek ‘greater’ because he was doing the blessing and he received the tithe.

So how is Melchizedek a shadow of Jesus?

Firstly Melchizedek’s name is translated king of righteousness. Jesus of course was righteous (having never sinned) and made a way for us to be declared righteous.

And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption (1 Corinthians 1:30)

Melchizedek was also the king of Salem, which means peace. Sound familiar?

Jesus is the prince of peace;

and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

Under the Mosaic law it was impossible to be a king and a priest at the same time. Melchizedek was before Moses and he foreshadowed the ultimate priest and king, Jesus, who saves us as our priest and rules over us as our king.

The next similarity is very mysterious but the writer to the Hebrews says that Melchizedek;

is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever. (Hebrews 7:3)

Many people have debated what this means, perhaps Melchizedek was Jesus himself in a previous guise, but the writer links them together because we know that Jesus had no beginning and will never end. He is the Alpha and Omega (Revelation 1:8).

The last similarity I want to look at today was the fact that Melchizedek offered bread and wine. He blessed Abraham with it, just as Jesus blesses us with His ordinance of breaking bread. When we celebrate the breaking of bread with our brothers and sisters, we remember the sacrifice of His body that Jesus gave to us. We share a meal with God himself, what an amazing blessing!

 June 23, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus 2 Responses »
Jun 162017
 

Shadows of Jesus noahs arkThe Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight, and the earth was filled with violence. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. And God said to Noah, “I have determined to make an end of all flesh, for the earth is filled with violence through them. Behold, I will destroy them with the earth. (Genesis 6:5,11-13)

God regretted that He had even made man (v6) and basically wanted to start again.

Noah was no better than anyone else but it says in verse 8 that He found favour in the eyes of the Lord. This means that God shared His unmerited grace and favour to Noah. It’s important we don’t see Noah as a righteous person in his own right or he would have deserved rescuing. This is important as we parallel what Jesus has done for us.

The building of the Ark is one of my favourite stories in the bible and it has a lot of meaning for what was to come.

It’s also important to note that the ark wasn’t Noah’s idea, but a specific salvation plan of God. He knew what it would later signify and its part of the beautiful salvation plan that God weaved into the whole of scripture.

We live in an evil day, just as bad as at the time of Noah but now God’s full salvation plan has been revealed. God has provided a far better ‘Ark’ than the original. His salvation plan is the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The grace that he extended to just Noah and 7 others has now been extended and offered to all of us. There is room in God’s new ark for everyone.

Let’s look at a few similarities of how Noah’s ark shadowed Jesus.

1. The ark and Christ were both graciously provided by God for the salvation of sinners. As I said earlier there is no-one who is righteous, no-one who can stand before a holy God on their own merit. The ark and Christ were both God’s idea and part of His plan from the beginning. They are both as a result of His amazing grace and mercy.

even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. (Ephesians 1:4)

2. Even though it was God’s plan and His idea, to be saved we still have to enter by faith, Noah into the Ark, us into Christ.

By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. (1 John 5:4)

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God (Ephesians 2:8)

3. The ark and Christ are both places of safety. Noah was sheltered from the flood of God’s judgement. the ark itself was covered inside and outside with pitch (Genesis 6:14), therefore it would be thoroughly watertight, and as such, a perfect shelter. No matter how hard it rained or how much the world flooded, all inside the ark were secure. Jesus is the place of safety from the flood of God’s wrath. The bible describes it as being ‘in’ Christ and that is a very safe place to be.

for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26-28)

4. Noah and His family had to enter the ark to experience salvation, so too we must enter into a relationship with Christ to experience His salvation. It would be very easy for people to sit outside the ark and believe that it was capable of saving people in the event of a flood, but unless they entered it they would still drown. Likewise, an understanding of Christ’s sacrifice and salvation plan is not enough to save. We must put our faith in Him and enter into His salvation.

5. The offer to enter the ark to be saved was limited, so too is God’s call for salvation. Once the door to the ark had been shut there was no possibility that anyone could enter after that. Until you die the opportunity to receive Christ’s call to salvation is still possible, however to put off the decision to receive this salvation puts a person in great jeopardy.

Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6)

For he says,“In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation. (2 Corinthians 6:2)

6. When the flood started it was unexpected, so too no-one knows when Jesus will come again to bring judgement upon the earth. The people in Noah’s day had fair warning, Noah preached to them for about 100 years while the ark was being built (see 2 Peter 2:5)

Jesus himself compares these two events in Matthew 24

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. (Matthew 24:37-39)

7. There was only one door to the ark. Jesus is the only way to enter into His salvation.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6)

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9)

I will finish this study with a point I found interesting when researching this subject.

In Genesis 6:14 the word ‘pitch’ is kâphar. Besides meaning to cover something with pitch, this word also means to “make an atonement.” In fact, this word is used for pitch only here, but it is used to mean atonement (and similar words such as: purge, reconciliation, reconcile, cleanse, forgive, pacify, pardon) about one hundred times in the Old Testament. So by covering the ark with pitch, Noah made it a vessel that typified the atonement of Jesus Christ.

 June 16, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jun 092017
 

Shadows of Jesus the lambLast week we looked at what many believe to be the first sacrifice in the bible and I speculated that I wouldn’t be surprised that the animal sacrificed to provide a covering for Adam and Eve was a lamb.

A lamb is the animal most commonly associated with the sacrificial systems in the bible. Every time a lamb was sacrificed it was a shadow of the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus would make.

The first clear sacrifice in the bible is recorded in Genesis 4:3-7 where Abel presented a lamb before God as an offering. The writer to the Hebrews in the New Testament mentions this offering and described it as acceptable (Hebrews 11:4) although this was more to do with the faith with which it was offered.

As we travel through the Old Testament we see constant references to a lamb being sacrificed and it being a shadow of greater things to come. I will only mention a couple of occasions briefly here, because I will go into greater detail in future blogs.

The story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis 22 is significant. Abraham is asked by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Everything has been made ready, the wood, fire and knife are all present but Isaac asks his father “..where is the lamb for a burnt offering? (Genesis 22:7) In a moment pregnant with meaning, Abraham responds “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” (Genesis 22:8) A ram suddenly appears in a nearby thicket and the boy’s life is saved, but a deeply prophetic word has been spoken, the significance of which would transcend that particular situation.

Consider the story of the occasion of the first Passover in Exodus 12. A sacrificial lamb was central to this deliverance of Israel. The lamb had to be unblemished and its blood smeared on each house’s lintel and doorposts. The blood of the lamb protected each household from the destroyer.

As God presented the ordinances and laws to Moses, He laid out clear instructions on how sacrificial animals including lambs should be presented. They must be perfect and without blemish (Leviticus 22:21). Another shadow of the perfect sacrificial lamb to come!

In the book of Isaiah (chapters 52 and 53), it is revealed that the ultimate sacrificial lamb would be a man: like a lamb that is led to the slaughter (Isaiah 53:7)

As we move into the New Testament it is revealed that the lamb would be Jesus. Notice how John the Baptist introduces him;

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29)

and then the next day to underline it:

and he looked at Jesus as he walked by and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” (John 1:36)

Peter, one of Jesus’s disciples confirms this too;

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, 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. (1 Peter 18-19)

Finally, the lamb is a central figure in the book of Revelation and a focus for the end times and the culmination of all things;

And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, ….. And when he had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each holding a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,

“Worthy are you to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God (Revelation 5:6-9)

What a finale. We will join in this triumphal celebration as we celebrate the sacrifice Jesus the lamb made for us.

 June 9, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jun 022017
 

Shadows of Jesus the first sacrificeThe Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:21)

The issue of clothing in the bible is hugely significant.

In Scripture, clothing can symbolise righteousness or unrighteousness.

The prophet Isaiah contrasted the two. He talks about God’s righteous robes in chapter 61 verse 10 “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord; my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness.”

Later on he talks about garments that are distinctly ‘unrighteous’

We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. (Isaiah 64:6) In fact other versions describe them as ‘filthy rags’.

This theme crops up again and again in the bible. In the New Testament we encounter an interesting passage about a wedding feast. In Matthew 22:10 Jesus tells the parable of the marriage of the King’s son. The King sent his servants out to invite anyone they could find, the bad as well as the good, so that the wedding hall would be filled with guests. We then encounter a very interesting bit in the following 2 verses “But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ (Matthew 22:11-12)

Doesn’t this all sound rather harsh? A man sent to hell for not wearing the right clothes?

And how is this relevant to our theme of Jesus in the Old Testament?

In verse 7 of Genesis 3 we read that following their rebellion against God, Adam and Eve realised that they were naked and so they attempted to sew fig leaves together and cover themselves. Have you ever seen a fig leaf? They would not be very comfortable to wear and difficult to sew. They symbolise mankind’s pathetic attempts to justify themselves. Our efforts at justifying ourselves are never good enough. We simply don’t realise the seriousness or consequences of our sin.

Our sin is so serious that the spilling of blood, a sacrifice is required. I wonder if God actually showed the killing of this innocent animal to provide the clothes He made. I am sure He wanted to show Adam and Eve the consequences of their actions. It is not mentioned in the bible, but I would not be surprised at all if the animal being sacrificed, to provide their fur, was a lamb.

This all points to the ultimate sacrifice that Jesus made. He was the innocent sacrifice made in order to cover our sin and make us acceptable to God. The garments we have now been given are pure white and spotless, because we have been made righteous. We see this again and again in the book of Revelation when describing the saints of God.

Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels. (Revelation 3:4-5)

The clothes you wear before God are crucial to your eternal standing. The equivalent to sewing fig leaves together is ‘filthy rags’ because they reveal our own pathetic efforts. If we trust in God and take on His clothing (trusting in the sacrifice of Jesus) our clothes are acceptable to God. I’ll leave you with some sobering verses later on in Revelation 3

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen. (Revelation 3:17–18)

 June 2, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »