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 »
May 262017
 

Shadows of Jesus seed of the womanWe have been looking at Jesus and where His shadow is cast in the Old Testament or in other words where He is hinted at through a person, thing or event.

We have started in Genesis which seems a good place to begin and last week we looked at the many similarities between the first Adam and the second or last Adam, Jesus.

This week we look at an important verse which comes as part of the judgement God is making when Adam and Eve committed the first sins. As part of that curse, God speaks against the serpent who has led the two astray. This is almost certainly Satan in disguise. It is a really interesting judgement because it is also widely considered the very first proclamation of the gospel in the whole bible. It is called the protoevangelium and here is the verse:

And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel. (Genesis 3:15)

Satan doesn’t like human beings. He wants to destroy us because we are made in God’s image and God loves us. He wants nothing more than to extinguish the objects of God’s affection.

Enmity means; opposition, hatred, antagonism and hostility. Satan does things to human beings that cause all those emotions in us. He’s clever enough though to blame his actions on other things and even God himself. Satan knew from this pronouncement that he would eventually be defeated by a human but he had no idea of: when, where or who.

He must have had an inkling that the child born in Bethlehem would be dangerous because he tried to destroy him through King Herods despotic attempt to kill all the male babies under the age of 2 (Matthew 2). But God was protecting this child as His plan will never be thwarted. The whole pursuit of this offspring by the serpent is described (albeit in apocryphal language) in Revelation chapter 12.

This judgement by God in Genesis 3:15 was played out at the cross. Jesus as the seed of the woman had His heel struck when His feet were nailed to the cross and was then crucified. The ultimate victory belonged to Jesus though because when He rose from death He delivered a fatal blow to Satan. No-one survives a crushed head!

He might still be around causing havoc, but his ultimate fate has now been sealed, hallelujah!

 May 26, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
May 192017
 

Shadows of Jesus AdamWe are currently going through the Old Testament, discovering how Jesus is foreshadowed in various ways. The bible itself tells us some of the ways that Jesus is foreshadowed and today’s subject is one of those, the first man, Adam.

This is specifically mentioned at least twice in the New Testament;

Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:14)

The first man Adam became a living being; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45-47)

A shadow does not necessarily have to have a lot of similarities; it can also be a shadow by highlighting contrasts. That is what we find with a comparison with Adam and Jesus. Adam was the first man and Jesus is described as the second or last Adam.

Before we look at the similarities and differences of the two, it is important to consider what the term ‘federal head’ means. Both Adam and Jesus are federal heads. This is where each represents those that come after them; they are the template of all that follow after them. So for example, everybody that is descended from Adam is inclined to sin, everyone that puts their trust in Jesus is inclined towards loving and following God. The bible describes this as being ‘in’ Adam or ‘in’ Christ. Let’s look at a couple of verses:

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:22)

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people. (Romans 5:18)

So let’s look at how the first Adam was a shadow of the last Adam, Jesus;

  • They both had a miraculous beginning. Adam was made from the dust of the earth (Genesis 2:7) whilst Jesus was born of a virgin (Matthew 1:23)
  • The first Adam was created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). The second Adam is the image of the invisible God ( Colossians 1:15)
  • They are both rulers. Adam was given dominion over the created world

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)

Adam’s rule was limited but Jesus rules over all

when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church (Ephesians 1:20-22)

  • They were both tempted by Satan (I’m assuming that ‘the serpent’ was Satan himself)
  • Adam rebelled and was disobedient (Genesis 3:8) and Jesus was submissive and obedient every step of the way (Philippians 2:8)
  • They both experienced separation from God (Genesis 3:23) (Mark 15:34)
  • The first Adam was naked and unashamed in the garden of Eden (Genesis 2:25). The last Adam was naked on the cross and bore our shame (Hebrews 12:2)
  • The first Adam turned from God in the garden of Eden, the second Adam turned to God in the garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:39)
  • As part of the curse of the first Adam’s sin, thorns were produced (Genesis 3:18). The second Adam wore a crown of thorns as He redeemed us from that curse (Matthew 27:29)
  • The first Adam’s side was opened to bring forth his bride (Genesis 2:21) The second Adam’s side was pierced so that He could redeem His bride (John 19:34)
  • The first Adam was the first husband, the second Adam will be the ultimate husband to His bride, the church.

These are the main ones I could think of, but there are many more (although some that people have suggested seem a bit forced).

Can you think of any more? If so why not share in the comments below.

 May 19, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus No Responses »
May 122017
 

Shadows of Jesus Genesis 1I have just started a new blog series on the subject of Jesus’ shadow being revealed throughout the whole of the Old Testament. He is not mentioned by name, but His shadow is everywhere. He is revealed through; people, places, events, prophecies and all manner of other ways that you could well miss if you are not really looking for Him. Ways that we will be investigating over the following weeks.

As in any good story, it is wise to start from the beginning, so today we will look at Genesis 1 and the creation story.

The bible starts with the line “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1).

As we look at the bible as a whole we realise that Jesus is in the very first verse, because other verses make it clear that Jesus was the one who created. There is an interesting parallel with Genesis 1 verse 1 with John 1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. (John 1:1-3)

This is confirmed by the Apostle Paul in the letter to the Colossians:

For by him (Jesus) all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. (Colossians 1:16)

Jesus is revealed as God in the very first verse of the bible. From the beginning it is shown that God is 3 yet one, all three distinct but still the same. It is very revealing that in verse 26 it says “Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26)

Another interesting thing to notice in Genesis 1 is that God said “Let there be light” in verse 3 on the first day of creation and yet He didn’t create the sun until the fourth day.

What was providing the light until day 4? Many people have seen this as a major problem, but it is not at all.

Let’s look at the verses that follow John 1:1-3;

In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)

Jesus is the light and He was the light that was radiating before the sun was there. He said it in John 8

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)

Jesus was the light before the sun and he will be shining long after the sun has gone. In fact in the future kingdom it says in 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)

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more light will shine into our darkness. We will be able to see clearly and have a greater revelation of Him. Brilliant!

There are quite a few other shadows of Jesus in Genesis and we will look at another one next week.

 May 12, 2017  Posted by at 12:00 pm Shadows of Jesus 2 Responses »