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 »
Jun 302017
 

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

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

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

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

Let’s look at the evidence.

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

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

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

After this Hagar said;

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

She attributes this appearance to God.

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

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

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

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

Jacob says an interesting thing after this encounter;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So how is Melchizedek a shadow of Jesus?

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

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

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

Jesus is the prince of peace;

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jesus himself compares these two events in Matthew 24

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and then the next day to underline it:

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

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

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (1 Peter 18-19)

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

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

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

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

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