Jul 282017

Shadows of Jesus shilohAs you are probably aware, there are many different translations of the bible. Have you ever been surprised at how different they can be? Some translations seek to give a translation as near to the original as they can, even though it could seem a bit stilted. Other translations flow better but only give a general sense of the original text.

Today’s word ‘Shiloh’ isn’t even in many translations of the passage we will focus on this week, but comparing two or more versions together actually reveals a better sense of what the word actually means. Here are two versions of the same verse;

The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.(Genesis 49:10 NIV)

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.(Genesis 49:10 NASB)

The context of this passage is Jacob, near to death, is prophesying over each of his sons. This verse is directed at Judah who we know to be the head of the tribe that King David comes from and ultimately down the line to Jesus himself. Another name of Jesus is the lion of the tribe of Judah

And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)

There has been much debate over the years at to what this verse is referring to, but it is commonly accepted that it refers to the messiah who was to come, who is of course Jesus.

The word ‘Shiloh’ actually appears many times in the bible, mostly as a place. It was the name of the place where the tabernacle was established when the Israelites took possession of the promised land.

Then the whole congregation of the people of Israel assembled at Shiloh and set up the tent of meeting there. The land lay subdued before them. (Joshua 18:1)

Psalm 78:60 tells us that God abandoned the tabernacle at Shiloh and Jeremiah speaks several times of its destruction (Jeremiah 7:12 & 14; 26:6 & 9).

The meaning of the word Shiloh is often debated and it has quite a few root meanings, but generally it means to be tranquil, secure or be in safety. The messianic part of the word literally means ‘he whose it is’

For the children of Israel the tabernacle, and later the Temple in Jerusalem, was a symbol of the God who dwelt with them, protected them and provided for them. But their reliance on the place rather than God himself led to their downfall and eventually the destruction of the temple itself. God had always intended that the temple was just a shadow of what was to come. The peace security and safety was not to be found in a building but In God himself through Jesus Christ and this protection would be eternal, true security!

 July 28, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jul 212017

Shadows of Jesus josephLast week I mentioned about how the bible shows the flaws of all the major biblical characters. It shows that they are human just like we are. In today’s study we look at just such a character. He is a shadow of Christ and as we will see, there are many similarities. But there are also many differences. Joseph started off quite unlike the humble character of Jesus. In fact he was a bit of a spoiled brat! So much so that his own brothers wanted to get rid of him. We see though how God shaped and moulded him into the type of man that God could use, so that in the end he was a lot more like Jesus than how he had started.

So let’s look at the ways that Joseph’s life shadowed Jesus’s;

  • Both were loved by their fathers

Now Israel loved Joseph more than any other of his sons, because he was the son of his old age. (Genesis 37:3)

and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

The difference being that Joseph’s love was human and limited. God’s love is not favouritism but perfect.

  • Joseph was hated by his brothers and Jesus was hated by the religious establishment who didn’t understand him

But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peacefully to him. (Genesis 37:4)

If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’ (John 15:24-25)

We see in both cases that hatred proceeded from jealousy.

  • The ones who hated them conspired to put them to death

They saw him from afar, and before he came near to them they conspired against him to kill him. (Genesis 37:18)

The Pharisees went out and immediately held counsel with the Herodians against him, how to destroy him. (Mark 3:6)

  • They were both promised rulership

Joseph via a dream: Then he dreamed another dream and told it to his brothers and said, “Behold, I have dreamed another dream. Behold, the sun, the moon, and eleven stars were bowing down to me.” (Genesis 37:9)

Jesus through prophecy and scripture: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder (Isaiah 9:6)

  • They were both cast into the ground

Joseph was cast into a pit: And they took him and threw him into a pit. The pit was empty; there was no water in it. (Genesis 37:24) this shadows Jesus’ descent into Hades after His death and before His resurrection: Therefore it says,“When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.” (In saying, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended into the lower regions, the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above all the heavens, that he might fill all things.) (Ephesians 4:8-10)

  • They were both sold for similar amounts of silver

Then Midianite traders passed by. And they drew Joseph up and lifted him out of the pit, and sold him to the Ishmaelites for twenty shekels of silver. They took Joseph to Egypt. (Genesis 37:28)

and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. (Matthew 26:15)

  • They were both falsely accused

she caught him by his garment, saying, “Lie with me.” But he left his garment in her hand and fled and got out of the house. And as soon as she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and had fled out of the house, she called to the men of her household and said to them, “See, he has brought among us a Hebrew to laugh at us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice. (Genesis 39:12-14)

For many bore false witness against him (Jesus), but their testimony did not agree. (Mark 14:56)

  • When in prison, Joseph was placed between 2 prisoners, one was pardoned and the other condemned. On the cross, Jesus was placed between 2 criminals. One was pardoned the other was not.
  • They were both marked by forgiveness

Joseph forgave his brothers and demonstrated that forgiveness years later:

When Joseph’s brothers saw that their father was dead, they said, “It may be that Joseph will hate us and pay us back for all the evil that we did to him.” So they sent a message to Joseph, saying, “Your father gave this command before he died: ‘Say to Joseph, “Please forgive the transgression of your brothers and their sin, because they did evil to you.”’ And now, please forgive the transgression of the servants of the God of your father.” Joseph wept when they spoke to him. His brothers also came and fell down before him and said, “Behold, we are your servants.” But Joseph said to them, “Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you and your little ones.” Thus he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. (Genesis 50:15-21)

Jesus forgave those who had caused His suffering

And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

There are many more similarities that people have found, but these are the main ones.

 July 21, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jul 142017

Shadows of Jesus jacobs ladderThe story of Jacob’s ladder is an amazing story of God’s grace towards an underserving person. Jesus himself says the ladder is about Him and we will look at that in a minute. First, some background..

The story is told in Genesis 28. Jacob, the grandson of Abraham and son of Isaac is running away in fear of his twin brother Esau. Jacob has swindled his brother out of his inheritance and birth-right. He is an arch swindler which we see through the rest of his life. It is important not to see Jacob through ‘rose tinted spectacles’ because he is a patriarch and an important figure in the bible. I love the honesty of the bible and it certainly reveals Jacob’s deficiencies in glaring detail. I have said it before, but there is only one good man in the bible (Jesus), the rest are remarkable examples of dubious characters who have received the grace, mercy and kindness of God.

Going back to our story, Jacob has been sent to his Uncle’s house at Paddan-Aram to find a wife from his own clan. He is travelling between Beersheba and Haran and as the sun sets he needs to find a place to sleep for the night. He finds a rock for a pillow and somehow manages to fall asleep! While he is sleeping, he has a dream;

And he dreamed, and behold, there was a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven. And behold, the angels of God were ascending and descending on it! And behold, the Lord stood above it and said, “I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac. The land on which you lie I will give to you and to your offspring. Your offspring shall be like the dust of the earth, and you shall spread abroad to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and in you and your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land. For I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” (Genesis 28:12-15)

What an amazing promise to a rascal like Jacob! This ladder (or it could be translated as a stairway) signified an access for sinful man to reach God. It signified the amazing grace of God who created the ladder and provided it himself. It was initiated by Him.

Turning to the New Testament, in the first chapter of the gospel of John we see Jesus calling his disciples. He has quite a discourse with Nathanael and basically has a ‘word of knowledge’ about him. He then goes on to equate Jacob’s ladder with himself. Notice what he says in verse 51;

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” (John 1:51)

Jesus is saying “I am the ladder that connects sinful man with a perfect God. It is through trusting me and accepting that I am the only one who is able to deal with your sin. I have provided a way that you can come to God with clean hands and a pure heart. It is my grace that provides the way!”

He says further on in John’s gospel: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)

We now have access to approach God’s holy throne, through the ladder, which is our saviour, Jesus

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

 July 14, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Jul 072017

Shadows of Jesus IsaacThe story in Genesis of God telling Abraham to sacrifice his long awaited for son, Isaac is one of the most uncomfortable stories in the whole bible. If you have children, I’m sure you’ve considered the horror of being in Abraham’s position and probably, like me, fallen well short of the potential obedience required for this type of request. It raises all sorts of questions about God’s character. We of course know what happens in hindsight, but how could a loving God even ask such a question and go through with the charade?

When you look at what this scenario shadows, it puts things into a new perspective. In a minute we’ll look at the similarities between Isaac and Jesus. But consider this: God doesn’t ask us to do anything He wouldn’t do Himself. Isaac the sacrifice was spared, but Jesus the sacrifice wasn’t. There wasn’t a ram caught in some bushes next to Golgotha. Jesus was the lamb readied for sacrifice, and God the father went through with the whole thing, right to the end.

There is a reason we feel uncomfortable, we are supposed to. The full horror and consequences of sin need to be soberly considered and fully appreciated. There was no other way that sin could be atoned for.

The story of Abraham and Isaac is striking in its similarity with Jesus. Consider the following;

Isaac and Jesus both had miraculous conceptions. Isaac’s mother was 90 years old and Jesus was born of a virgin.

The place of Isaac’s sacrifice was a small mountain range called Moriah. This was next to the place that Jerusalem would later be built. Jesus was crucified on a hill outside Jerusalem. Although the bible doesn’t state it, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the location was exactly the same spot.

Isaac and Jesus both submitted to and were obedient to the will of their fathers. There was no record of Isaac struggling to get on the altar and be tied up. Similarly, Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane prayed “Not my will but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42)

Isaac carried the wood of the sacrifice up the hill. Jesus carried His wooden cross up the hill. They were both laid on that same wood.

A resurrection was prophesied. Abraham said to His companions “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” (Genesis 22:5) Jesus told His disciples he would be resurrected;

From that time Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. (Matthew 16:21)

The sacrifice provided was a substitute. The ram was a substitute for Isaac, Jesus was a substitute for us.

It’s highly significant, given last weeks blog, that the ‘angel of the Lord’ was communicating with Abraham throughout this process. As we saw last week, the angel of the Lord is Jesus himself. In that first instance He was an observer of the obedience of Abraham and Isaac knowing all along that later He would recreate that same scenario as the sacrificial lamb himself.

Abraham proved how much he loved God by not withholding his only son. God proved how much he loved us by not withholding His only son.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)

What great love God has for us and what a sacrifice He gave. I can only wonder in awe how He planned this all before the creation of the world, so that you and I might be saved. What an amazing shadow of what was to come.

 July 7, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »