Aug 252017
 

Shadows of Jesus the servant of the lordMany of the key characters in the bible were referred to as ‘servants’ of the Lord. Among them:

Abraham

And the Lord appeared to him the same night and said, “I am the God of Abraham your father. Fear not, for I am with you and will bless you and multiply your offspring for my servant Abraham’s sake.” (Genesis 26:24)

Moses

Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses. (Exodus 14:31)

David

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? (2 Samuel 7:5)

Isaiah

Then the Lord said, “As my servant Isaiah has walked naked and barefoot for three years as a sign and a portent against Egypt and Cush (Isaiah 20:3)

Isaiah was one of a select band of chosen and set apart prophets that God called “his servants”

From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. (Jeremiah 7:25)

Being a servant of God was a great privilege and an awesome responsibility. It wasn’t a ‘part-time’ job, but one that demanded single-hearted devotion. Even though they are plainly named as God’s servants, they were still only a shadow of God’s one true servant who was to come – Jesus, who would clearly and perfectly show what true servant humility was all about.

The book of Isaiah lays out quite clearly the role of God’s servant and speaks of his special and treasured status;

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. (Isaiah 42:1)

Looking back, after the cross, we can see how accurately Isaiah described the life and death of Jesus and His ultimate sacrificial service, especially as recorded in Isaiah 53.

Jesus himself describes himself as a servant.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45)

He also demonstrated His servant hood through His actions. One of the clearest examples was in John 13 when He washed his disciple’s feet.

The apostle Paul also clearly describes Jesus as a servant. One of my favourite passages in the whole bible is in Philippians;

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. (Philippians 2:6-7)

As we focus on this particular characteristic of Jesus, it is important to recognise that being a servant doesn’t stop Him being God at the same time, as some Muslims have tried to argue. The mystery of the trinity will always, with our limited minds, be difficult to fathom, but it is important to let scripture illuminate what God has chosen to reveal. Jesus’ character is multi-faceted and we mustn’t just look at one aspect at the expense of the others. As a servant, Jesus has lost none of His divinity, but chose to willingly submit to the father’s will. That is not weakness but strength.

Jesus has set a wonderful example for us to replicate. How much more like Him will we become when we take on His attitude of serving others.

 August 25, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Aug 182017
 

Shadows of Jesus the pillar of fireOne of the most precious things about being a Christian is the certainty that God is with us and he guides us. If you don’t know Him, this may be a difficult concept to believe. How can you know? But we do, beyond a shadow of a doubt!

God has always been with His people and He loves to guide as an expression of His love, care and protection. We see this clearly in our subject today.

God, through Moses, led His people out of Egypt and proceeds to lead them to the promised land. He did not leave them to fend for themselves though, so He provides two amazing signs, one for the day and the other for the night.

And the Lord went before them by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them along the way, and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. The pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night did not depart from before the people. (Exodus 13:21-22)

What amazing sights these must have been, a clear and tangible proof of God’s presence.

The bright light of the fire illuminating the way for God’s people was a foreshadowing of Jesus.

As John the baptiser was preparing the way for Jesus He said;

John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. (Luke 3:16)

As we have seen previously, fire symbolises; holiness and light means; clarity, truth and understanding.

Jesus said it clearly and revealed that following him as the light was the same as the Israelites following the cloud and pillar:

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

We see the culmination of all of this in the book of Revelation:

And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and its lamp is the Lamb. (Revelation 21:23)

Are you ready to allow this light to guide your path as well?

 August 18, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Aug 112017
 

Shadows of Jesus the passover lambThis week we are going to look at one of the pivotal moments of Israel’s history and how it has significant meaning to what Jesus accomplished on the cross. I’m sure many of my regular readers will know the circumstances surrounding the first Passover, but just in case you are unfamiliar here is my brief summary.

In many ways the patriarch Joseph had been Egypt’s saviour. He made sure they were prosperous and survived severe famine. Jacob’s family, who were to become the Jewish nation moved to Egypt ‘en-masse’ under the protection of Joseph. A few hundred years later it seems that Joseph has been largely forgotten and the Israelites are being treated as slaves by their Egyptian hosts. Into Israel’s history steps Moses, who is God’s man of the moment to bring His people out of Egypt and lead them into the promised land. Understandably the Egyptian Pharoah is not too happy with this plan. There follows a series of 10 plagues where God judges Egypt with all sorts of nasty natural disasters. These are all covered in Exodus chapters 7 to 11. The tenth and final plague is the one that necessitates the Passover meal and the release of the Jews from slavery. God has decreed that unless Pharoah lets His people go, God will send an angel of death over Egypt who will kill the firstborn of every person and all the cattle. God then instigates a way for the Israelites to avoid this plague by killing a lamb and wiping its blood on the doorposts of each house. This singular event is integral to Israel’s history and shadows the sacrifice Jesus made to release us from the bondage of sin. Let’s consider some of the similarities.

  • The Passover lamb must be a choice male lamb in the prime of its life (Exodus 12:5) Jesus started His ministry at the prime of his life at the age of around 30; Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age (Luke 3:23) He was of course God’s choice!
  • The Passover lamb had to be without blemish (Exodus 12:5). Jesus himself was spotless, having committed no sin; 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 1:18-19)
  • The Passover lamb was kept under scrutiny (kept until the 14th day of the month where it was inspected for possible faults). Jesus was tested daily in the temple courts and constantly by the scribes and the Pharisees; As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say. (Luke 11:53-54)
  • The Passover lamb had to be killed (Exodus 12:6) Tradition suggests that the sacrificial lambs were killed around mid-afternoon which was the time that Jesus died on the cross (1 Peter 2:22-24)
  • The bones of the Passover lamb were not to be broken (Exodus 12:46) Jesus did not have any bones broken even though it was common practice for Roman soldiers to break the legs of those being crucified to confirm death; But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. (John 19:33) Consider also Psalm 34:20: He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.
  • The blood of the Passover lamb had to be applied in the appropriate manner (Exodus 12:7) We need to appropriate Jesus’ sacrifice by faith and apply it to our lives. Believe and receive.
  • The meat of the Passover lamb was eaten (exodus 12:8) It provided sustenance for the journey that was ahead. For our walk with Jesus, we need to ‘feast’ daily on Him.
  • The blood of the Passover lamb afforded protection for those living in the home where the blood was applied (Exodus 12:13). This analogy goes to the heart of what the Passover was all about. When the angel saw the applied blood, it passed over that home. Those who trust in Jesus’ blood and sacrifice are protected from wrath and judgement. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
  • The blood was applied by a Hyssop branch (Exodus 12:22). Jesus was offered wine and vinegar on a Hyssop branch while He was on the cross; A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. (John 19:29)

Finally, just as the Passover was to be celebrated every year, so ‘The Lord’s supper’ is to be taken and celebrated regularly. It was probably the Passover that Jesus was celebrating with His disciples as ‘the last supper’. These ‘feasts’ serve as a reminder of what God has done for us. The Passover was the shadow which pointed to Jesus, the ultimate sacrificial lamb.

 August 11, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Aug 042017
 

Shadows of Jesus the burning bushThe bible certainly has its fair share of odd stories and tales that can certainly seem strange. I’m used to the story of the burning bush having been brought up with the story in Sunday school, but when you stop to analyse it, it is a bit weird. As with other stories we don’t understand in the bible, we need to delve a bit deeper to comprehend what the passage is saying.

The burning bush is full of symbolism and the majority of it points to Jesus. This week I am going to focus on 3 aspects of how this encounter Moses had with the burning bush shadows Jesus;

1. The Angel of the Lord

2. God’s name ‘I AM’

3. The nature of the bush and why it was not consumed.

First let’s look at the passage:

Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 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. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 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: 1-6)

The first point will be fairly brief because I covered it in a recent post http://adrianpursglove.com/shadows-of-jesus-the-angel-of-the-lord/

In the blog I set out a number of evidences to show that ‘The angel of the Lord’ is Jesus Christ himself. This passage moves seamlessly from describing the angel appearing in the bush to God speaking to Moses himself and confirming that it is God speaking to him.

The second point is the name that God ascribes to himself. In verse 14 of Exodus 3 we reach a point in the conversation between God and Moses when Moses asks who he should say has given the message to the Israelites, God answers;

God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:14)

Again, I have covered this subject in a previous post http://adrianpursglove.com/i-am/ God names himself as ‘I am’ which means, I am who I am, or I will be. It speaks of God’s transcendence. The name was considered so holy that the Israelites would never say it or even write it down, they just used the letters YHWH. No wonder the Scribes and Pharisees got so annoyed when Jesus ascribed that name to himself in John 8:58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am. They were so annoyed they picked up stones to stone him. Jesus was merely repeating in John 8 his original declaration in Exodus 3. If only the Scribes and Pharisee’s had realised that they were in the presence of God himself!

Lastly, let’s look at the symbolism of the bush itself. Firstly, if we look at the original Hebrew we will realise that the bush is a thorn bush. The Hebrew word sineh and its Greek translation batos both mean “thorn bush”. Thorns in the bible symbolise sin or a curse. When Adam and Eve both sin in Genesis 3, God pronounces a number of curses including;

cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you (Genesis 3:18)

Jesus of course had a crown of thorns placed on His head just before the crucifixion.

The second aspect of the bush was that it was burning. Fire in the bible symbolises holiness, purity and judgement.

The bush not being consumed is truly symbolic. It symbolises God’s mercy and grace. Jesus on the cross became a curse for us, but he was not consumed. He absorbed God’s wrath against sin and was not destroyed. One of my favourite verses in the whole bible describes it well;

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)

So in a passage that appears initially to have nothing to do with Jesus, in reality his shadow is all over it.

 August 4, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »