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Sep 082017
 

Shadows of Jesus mannaMany of the shadows we see of Jesus in the Old Testament are discovered as people have studied the scriptures and have reflected how different occasions and people point towards the one who was to come. Other shadows are specifically mentioned in the New Testament as pointing towards Christ. The Manna given to the Israelites in the wilderness that we will be looking at today is mentioned by Jesus himself.

Jesus has just fed the 5,000 with a few loaves and fishes and then walked on water across the sea to Capernaum. The next day a crowd gathers and amazingly but not surprisingly the religious establishment ask him for a sign. Just before he declares himself to be ‘The bread of life’ Jesus answers their questions;

So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” (John 6:30-34)

The manna given to the Israelites was to point towards the ‘true bread’ who was to come. For anyone who is unfamiliar with the original story it is in Exodus chapter 16. As we saw last week the Israelites were given fresh water to drink from the bitter pool. After this they were led to proper streams of fresh water at a place called Elim. Straight after this they go further into the wilderness and they are complaining again about a lack of food. God causes a type of bread to just fall from the sky, a substance called ‘manna’ which literally translated meant ‘what is it?’. God faithfully fed his people with this miraculous substance for 40 years.

Let’s consider some similarities between this manna and Jesus;

  • The manna first appeared at the wilderness called ‘sin’ (Exodus 16:1). How apt that Jesus also came down to a world that was full of sin in order to save everyone who partakes of him, from spiritual starvation.
  • It arrived at night time and Jesus came as a light in the darkness (John 3:19-21)
  • Manna came down from heaven and Jesus is called “The man of heaven” (1 Corinthians 15:48)
  • It was white in colour, pointing to Christ’s purity (2 Corinthians 5:21, Hebrews 4:15)
  • It had to be gathered individually (Exodus 16:16). We come to Christ as individuals, believing in Him as a personal and individual choice. (Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20)
  • It met a daily need (Exodus 16:4). We come to Christ daily for our spiritual sustenance (1 Corinthians 15:31)
  • Manna was not just picked up and eaten but was prepared by beating and grinding and prepared into cakes (Numbers 11:8). Jesus was beaten, crushed and broken for us (Isaiah 53:4-5)
  • Manna was gathered in double amounts on the day before the Sabbath (Exodus 16:23-24). Christ’s body, after he was crucified, lay in the tomb and did not suffer corruption (Psalm 16:10)
  • A portion of manna was set aside as a remembrance (Exodus 16:33) and later on was placed in the ark of the covenant which was a picture of Christ being exalted at the right hand of the father and established there for all eternity (Ephesians 1:20-23).

For further reflection, click on the following link to read a blog I wrote some while ago about Jesus being the bread of life http://adrianpursglove.com/the-bread-of-life/

 September 8, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
Sep 012017
 

Shadows of Jesus the water at MarahThen Moses led Israel to journey away from the Red Sea. They went out to the Desert of Shur, walked for three days into the desert, and found no water. 23 Then they came to Marah, but they were not able to drink the waters of Marah, because they were bitter. (That is why its name was Marah.)

24 So the people murmured against Moses, saying, “What can we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a tree. When Moses threw it into the water, the water became safe to drink. There the Lord made for them a binding ordinance, and there he tested them. (Exodus 15:22-25 NET bible)

The Israelites are on a high. They have just been delivered through the Red sea and the Egyptian army who were close behind were all drowned. At the beginning of today’s chapter they are writing and singing songs of triumph. God has delivered them and the only way is up.

As many of you will be all too aware, after many great victories and highs come some very testing lows. This happens to all of us and even Jesus himself was not immune. Just as the Israelites had just passed through water, Jesus had just passed through the waters of baptism. It was a great occasion, enjoyed by all three members of the trinity; the Holy Spirit descending like a dove and the father exclaiming with great love and compassion; “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:17)

Immediately after this, Jesus, just like the Israelites, is led into the wilderness (but for a lot longer than 3 days). Just like them He was tired, hungry and thirsty. Would He moan at the first opportunity? Absolutely not!

In many ways you can’t really blame the Israelites. 3 days is plenty of time to get over the euphoria of escaping captivity as they get increasingly hungry and thirsty. At last they find some water but as soon as they drink it they realise that it is bitter and undrinkable. “What is God doing, I thought He was on our side?” So begins the first of many tests for God’s people to see if they really trust Him or not. Will they trust Him through the testing times as well as when everything is going well?

This situation shadows Jesus because of God’s answer for making the water pure. I don’t think it is a coincidence at all that God commands Moses to throw a tree into the water. Jesus was crucified on a ‘tree’. Without God our lives are bitter, the curse of sin makes everything distasteful. The poison of sin and disobedience affects everything. The cross of Christ is applied to our lives and we are made pure and holy, sweet to the taste and just as we are meant to be.

The bible also has a lot to say about the symbolism of water and how it brings life. A very famous passage is in John 7 where Jesus gives an invitation for living water.

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” (John 7:37)

He is repeating an invitation by Isaiah “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters” (Isaiah 55:1)

And in the culmination of history, the invitation to take this living water is a central theme;

The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. (Revelation 22:17)

How about you, are you thirsty?

 September 1, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
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 »
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 »