Rock Solid

1888931_orig

And the Lord said to Moses, “Pass on before the people, taking with you some of the elders of Israel, and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb, and you shall strike the rock, and water shall come out of it, and the people will drink.” And Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.

Exodus 17:5-6 (ESV)

A quick reading of this passage may not give the reader any indication that it’s a picture of the role that the Messiah would play for future generations. But the rock gave up water. A ROCK gave up WATER! That doesn’t happen short of a miracle. A miracle of provision. They were roaming through a dry and weary desert. The people were thirsty. And what did God do? He provided for their deepest needs. God rescued them in a desperate hour. That’s exactly what the Messiah would do. Not necessarily in a physical sense, but for a far greater need.

Check out what God said to Moses when He was giving him instruction. God said, “Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb.” God was in their midst. God was on the rock. In fact, God was pictured in the rock itself because that rock was a picture of the Christ. 

For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea,and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea,and all ate the same spiritual food,and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (ESV)

The rock from this passage is the same rock from the book of Exodus. If you were thinking that I was stretching it by claiming that a rock pictured the Christ, scripture itself states it. It’s actually a beautiful picture. A rock that gives forth water to a people desperate for it. Have you ever been dreadfully thirsty, like to the point of going crazy and feeling like your mouth is full of sand? That first drink of water is one of the most refreshing and life-giving experiences. That’s a great way to think about the Messiah. His mission is to give life and to refresh the soul. That’s why the Rock of Horeb is such a powerful image of the Messiah. That’s why Jesus Christ is called the Rock that Israel drank from in the desert.

This prophecy is about more than just the rock. It’s about the flowing water. The imagery of water is used repeatedly throughout the Bible to describe the Messiah and a relationship between Him and His followers. Jesus showed this in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. During the course of Jesus’ discussion with her, He pointed out her need for what He came into the world to offer. He did that by helping her to see that where she was looking for meaning was a dead end. Because they were at a well, Jesus used it as a powerful illustration of His purpose and mission.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water [from the well] will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 4:13-14 (ESV) [my emphasis/addition]

Physical water can only sustain a person for so long, just like the waters from the rock in the wilderness. But that water pointed to a greater water that satisfies an eternal and spiritual thirst. Not only does it satisfy the believer, but it also changes the way they interact in life.

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

John 7:38 (ESV)

The Messiah is an oasis in a dry and wasted land. He is the source of a miracle, the provision we all need. And that’s exactly the climate that Yeshua stepped into. Most of the world was controlled by despotic regimes. Persecution was rampant. True religion had been distorted by human constructs. Corruption was a commonality among all people groups. The world was arid and thirsty for living water. Sounds like our world today doesn’t it?

Many people don’t even realize what they’re thirsty for. We all have an inclination that something is missing. We all have a basic awareness of a need but we are quite sure how to meet it. Just like the woman from the well that we talked about earlier. She looked for it in the opposite sex. Failed relationship after failed relationship couldn’t quench her thirst. It wasn’t until Jesus met her and led her into the discovery of the underlying problem. We need the life-giving water from the Rock. This world is a desert, with nothing to offer for our deepest needs. The Messiah appears in our desert to offer springs of living water, as a gift of God’s grace.

God stood on the Rock of Horeb as a symbol that He was the source and the life-giver. It wasn’t until the rock was struck that the water poured forth for the people to drink. Yeshua, our Rock in the desert, was also struck as He hung upon a cross. It was blood and water that poured out of His body. That death is what provided the spiritual life we all need. The Messiah was God’s gift our the desert. Come and drink!

And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.

Revelation 21:6 (ESV)

Advertisements

Broken Over Brokenness

A few days ago I was driving home, like any other day, and spotted a man up ahead. As I got closer I noticed that he was begging for assistance. His sign said, “Anything Helps”. His clothes were haggard, equally matched by his warn, wrinkled, and sun-scorched skin. His appearance told a story and it must have been far from a fairytale. It was hard to tell the man’s age but I’m sure it was well past mine. Life plays tricks on a person’s age. Our experiences can make us look beyond or behind of our actual age. For this man, I have no doubt it was the first.

I’ve had a high level of empathy for the downtrodden for most of my adult life, especially since developing a deeper relationship with Jesus. But for some reason, this particular occasion made me want to burst into tears. This man appeared broken by life. I know, I know, some readers may be thinking that we can rise above life’s circumstances and don’t have to allow them to break us. I would agree that we always have a choice on how we react to everything in life. But I also believe that we don’t all have the same resources to help in the time of need. I’ve been very fortunate to have the life that I’ve had. I had a good home life with two parents who were present in my life. I’ve always had a handful of friends. I have a great church family now. My wife and kids are amazing. Life, while difficult at times, is pretty easy to make my way through because I’m surrounded by so many great people.  That’s not the case for many people in this world. I’ve never known poverty, except for when I was in college. But that wasn’t actually poverty as most of the world experiences it. Yes, I’ve faced some of the worst things that life can deal a person, but I’ve always had those loving people help walk with me. I’m guessing, for this man, that was not the case.

I don’t know the man’s story. I wish I would have had a chance to talk to him. Caught in the wave of fast-moving traffic in a crazy busy thoroughfare, I had no opportunity to pull over. I only wish that he had been in different part of town. He’s been on my mind ever since that day and I’m hoping that I get another chance to run into him. I can’t help but think of the fact that he has to have a mom and dad somewhere. If not now, then at some point he did. Who knows if that too isn’t a sad story. Being a father of two little girls, I can’t help but think of them being in this man’s shoes. How could any father allow his child to grow up and become homeless? What has gone wrong in this man’s relationships? Does he have anyone who loves him? Does anyone know that his life has come to this? Have people tried to help him but at no avail? I was heartbroken.

Many people look at the homeless and see nothing but dirty clothes and a begar who will probably waste their money on alcohol. Sadly, I think that’s how most people see them. Coming from someone who has spent a lot of time with homeless people over the last six years, I can tell you that they are so much more than that. They are the culmination of a sad tale. I am fully aware that many of them choose to remain where they are but a lot plays into that. Things like fear, rejections, not knowing a way out, being surrounded by apathy, accepting a view of themselves that many portray to them, and being caught in a downward cycle. I’ve seen some come out of it, but sadly, most do not.

A few months ago at one of the local parks, I spotted a new sign that read, “don’t help the homeless”. It’s part of a new city campaign aimed at stopping individuals from giving handouts to homeless people. I understand the motive. They want people to push them to go to assistance organizations rather than depend on aid at the micro level. That sounds great, except, it won’t work, and in essence, it’s absolutely heartless. These are broken people…very broken people. They need help now. Immediate, short-term, and long-term help. Ever hear the slogan, “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime”? Well, to teach a man to fish, you have to buy him a fishing pole, tackle, bait, and invest the time in their life to help them learn. Most people I know want to pass the buck along to someone else. They want to complain about “those people loitering in the park” yet they won’t go out of their way to show them some love. If there’s one thing that broken people need, it’s love. Judgment never helped anyone break free from anything.

I will be quick to admit that most of the time the homeless reek of booze and tobacco. They can also be very crude. Some of the people I meet with today, I’ve been hanging out with in parks for the last six years. But they are created in God’s image just the same as I am. For that reason alone, they deserve the same love as anyone else. They don’t deserve to be overlooked and cast aside. They’ve probably been treated that way most of their lives. We can either be one more voice of love and truth, or we can add to the resounding negativity and hate that gets thrown at them day after day.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person?Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.

1 John 3:16-18 (NIV)

I want to be more broken for the broken in this world. Homeless or not, there are so many people around me that need my love and compassion. I don’t want the people in my life to have the same story as the man on the side of the road in the busy intersection. I want to do everything I can to speak life and hope into the lives of my family, my friends, my students, and my community. I don’t know what happened in this man’s story but I do know the stories of well over a hundred homeless people I’ve met over the last six years, and they are not filled with life and hope. If a third of the world claims to be followers of Jesus, how could that be? How can there be so many desperate hurting people filling our parks and intersections with cardboard signs? Lord, forgive us for all the times we’ve scowled and turned our heads. Lord, forgive us for ever thinking we were better than them. Lord, forgive us for not acting out the love we say is inside us. I count myself among the multitudes who need to do more, love more, and give more because my King gave everything.

If I speak with human eloquence and angelic ecstasy but don’t love, I’m nothing but the creaking of a rusty gate. If I speak God’s Word with power, revealing all his mysteries and making everything plain as day, and if I have faith that says to a mountain, “Jump,” and it jumps, but I don’t love, I’m nothing. If I give everything I own to the poor and even go to the stake to be burned as a martyr, but I don’t love, I’ve gotten nowhere. So, no matter what I say, what I believe, and what I do, I’m bankrupt without love.

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 (The Message)

To be Among Us

1888931_orig

The book of Exodus is so rich in Messianic prophecy. Already we looked at the identity of the Messiah through the title of the “I Am” and an ancient celebration that God established to be a picture of the purpose and power of the Messiah. I feel like we’ve only skimmed the surface. So much more is left to discover, even with the topics already covered.

A couple posts ago I shared my experience during the Feast of Tabernacles this year while sitting in my backyard. It was an awakening of sorts…a major redirect…because it was an encounter with the very Messiah we’ve been studying in this series. The Feast of Tabernacles is one of seven High Holy Feasts that are laden with prophetic meaning about our Messiah. I’ll cover more about it when we get to the book of Leviticus in the next month or so. For now, I want to talk simply about the Tabernacle itself.

The Tabernacle is also referred to as the Tent of Meeting. The instructions for this building project were given by God, to Moses, during the period they met on the mountaintop after crossing the Red Sea. These instructions were among many that Moses received during the Exilic phase of Israel. Many people just read over these chapters in Exodus because they don’t understand them or see the importance. I admit a blueprint isn’t the most invigorating read. But we can’t disregard the fact that six full chapters are devoted to the layout of this building. SIX. That’s more than the 10 commandments which would’ve been given at the same time. I’m not saying that the Tabernacle is more important than the 10 commandments, but they should not be tossed aside as unimportant either. They tell us as much about who God is and who the Messiah is as any of the 10 commandments and any of the other laws given by God. Exodus 25-31 are not just a blueprint for a building, they are a blueprint for the Gospel.

We could easily spend a year studying the significance of the tabernacle in God’s redemptive plan but my hope is that today’s post gives you a desire to dig in more on your own. For now, I want to show you seven features about the tabernacle and what they mean for identifying who the Messiah is and what his role would be in God’s grand story. Keep in mind, as we go through these seven things, that the objective of the tabernacle was for the people to be in God’s presence.

  1. You had to approach the tabernacle through the tribe of Judah. Back in a Genesis post, we looked at how the lineage of the Messiah would come through the tribe of Judah. The entrance to the outer courtyard of the tabernacle was in the east. Each tribe was laid out in specific places when Israel stopped and encamped. Judah’s place was in the east. To get to God, you had to go through Judah. To get to God, you have to go through the Messiah and the Messiah is from the tribe of Judah. In the book of Revelation, Jesus is referred to as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.
  2. There was only one entrance to the tabernacle. There was one door to access both the outer courtyard, the holy place, and the holy of holies. The theme of one point to the one way to access God…the Messiah. This feature builds on the last. Jesus told the crowds that He is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the Father except through Him. The Messiah, Jesus, is the door, the only door, to access God.
  3. You enter by the way of sacrifice. The first thing you’d see when you entered the outer gate would be the altar of sacrifice. This is where all the animal sacrifices were made to atone for the sins of the people. Sacrifice was necessary for sinful people to enter a Holy God’s presence. This meant that the Messiah would have to be sacrificed to clear the path for us to access God. Romans 5 talks about how the blood of Jesus justifies us and makes a way for us to escape God’s wrath. Ephesians 1 reinforces that concept by talking about how we’ve been redeemed and forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus.
  4. The never-ending light. Once in the holy place, you would see several objects. One of them was the lampstand that would be tended to by the priests and would never be allowed to go out. It would light the holy place. That light would allow the priests to worship the Lord correctly and serve in their priestly duties. The Messiah’s role would be to light the way to the Lord and allow us to worship God in the way we were created to. In John 8 Jesus announced that He is the Light of the World. In John 1 Jesus is called the Light of Life. The only way to see our way to God and to worship correctly is to do so through Yeshua the Messiah.
  5. The Bread of Life. Another element of worship in the holy place was the table of the showbread. The bread was used in the worship process to symbolize the sustenance provided by God to all His people. It reflected the manna that was given in the Exodus journey so that Israel would not go hungry. In John 6 Jesus tells the people that he is the Bread of Life…the greater bread than that of the manna. He is the bread from heaven given to satisfy our deepest hunger.
  6. Aroma of Prayer. Right before the vail, which divided the Holy and Most Holy place, stood the altar of incense. This is where incense burned day and night as a symbol of prayers going up before the Lord on behalf of the people. One of the roles of the Messiah is to make intercession on our behalf, for our sins before a Holy God. Romans 8 says that Yeshua lives forever to make intercession on our behalf. He is the prayer that never goes out.
  7. The Mercy Seat. There are so many more items and unique qualities about the tabernacle that we could link to the Messiah but, in my opinion, there’s no better way to wrap it up than with the symbol of God’s deep desire to show us grace. The mercy seat was located in the heart of the Holy of Holies. In a way, it was the symbol of God’s heart…and it represented mercy. The Messiah was the greatest reflection of God’s mercy. Someone who would step into our place, die on our behalf, and remove our sin, so that we could be with God. The most well-known verse in the whole of the bible is John 3:16. It’s that verse that puts into words God’s love for His creation. The next verse states the motive.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

John 3:17 (NIV)

Take heart brothers and sisters. God’s desire for you has always been to save you because He loves you with an endless love. And through the Messiah, Yeshua, He has made a way for us all.

Peace in Christ

When Being Passed Over is a Good Thing

Many of us can probably think back to times when we’ve been passed over for things. Like maybe a school yard game, a get together, or a promotion at work. Those moments don’t feel good. They can even be crushing. But it doesn’t always have to be that way. Today’s section out of Exodus is one of those moments when being passed over is not only a good thing, but a great thing.

In the last post on the Messiah in Exodus I wrote a lot about the nature of the book itself. God pronounces salvation for a people in desperate need of it. It’s the central message of the Messiah. As the process unfolds for Israel, God wrecks Egypt with plague after plague. All of which are designed to dethrone their imagined gods. Prior to the final judgement, God announces to Moses a ceremonial feast for all those who had given their allegiance to Him. It becomes known as the Passover.

“The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, “This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the Lord ‘s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the Lord. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”

Exodus 12:1-14 ESV

I want to break this down now by pointing to seven messages about the Messiah contained in these fourteen verses. All of them center around The Messiah being the Passover Lamb.

The lamb is the provision from God used in the place of humanity. Remember back to the Genesis post about Abraham and Isaac? On that mountain God provides the sacrifice for Abraham. The lamb of the Passover is the annual celebration of God’s provided sacrifice. It was that lamb that was a ‘stand in’ for the death Israel deserved, right along with Egypt. But only those who trusted in the provision would be covered. Here’s a little bit more about the Passover lamb and it’s Messianic implications.

  1. It was chosen ahead of time (v.3) just as the Messiah was chosen from the very beginning, thousands of years before He would carry out His purpose.
  2. The lamb had to be without any blemish (v.5) and so would the Messiah in order to be an acceptable sacrifice for imperfect humanity.
  3. It was thoroughly examined (v.6) to make sure it was acceptable before it would be sacrificed. The Messiah would have to stand before onlookers with the same examination.
  4. The lamb was killed by the people (v.6) following it’s examination. The unfortunate role of the Messiah was to die.
  5. The death of the lamb happened in the evening (v.6) so the Messiah would have to die during the similar time of day.
  6. The blood of the lamb had to be shed (v.7) which means the Messiah’s blood would also need to be shed.
  7. The blood of the lamb saved the people from God’s impending judgement (v7, 12-13) so the Messiah’s blood would have equal and far greater power than that.

It would probably be a good idea to go back and read through the passage from early now that it’s been broken down. Context is always good. From this point on I’m going to be showing, from the text of the Bible itself, how Yeshua (Jesus) is revealed as the Lamb from the Passover Feast. Each number below will correspond with one from above.

  1. Yeshua was chosen, not from the moment sin entered the world, but before sin was ever an issue. Yeshua was the Messiah before the world ever existed.
    • He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:20-21)
  2. Yeshua is described as being one who never sinned. Sin is an obvious blemish and Yeshua had none. A full life without a sinful thought, word, or action.
    • A sinless, spotless life. No one in history has, or ever will, come close to that.nd if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 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 1:17-19)
    • 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)
  3. Yeshua was placed on trial and examined by many people: the sanhedrin, Pilot, Herod, the people, etc…In the end He was found to be innocent and blameless.
    • When day came, the assembly of the elders of the people gathered together, both chief priests and scribes. And they led him away to their council, and they said, “If you are the Christ, tell us.” But he said to them, “If I tell you, you will not believe, and if I ask you, you will not answer. But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” So they all said, “Are you the Son of God, then?” And he said to them, “You say that I am.” Then they said, “What further testimony do we need? We have heard it ourselves from his own lips. Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, “We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.” And Pilate asked him, “Are you the King of the Jews?” And he answered him, “You have said so.” Then Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowds, “I find no guilt in this man.” But they were urgent, saying, “He stirs up the people, teaching throughout all Judea, from Galilee even to this place.” When Pilate heard this, he asked whether the man was a Galilean. And when he learned that he belonged to Herod’s jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod, who was himself in Jerusalem at that time. When Herod saw Jesus, he was very glad, for he had long desired to see him, because he had heard about him, and he was hoping to see some sign done by him. So he questioned him at some length, but he made no answer. The chief priests and the scribes stood by, vehemently accusing him. And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him. Then, arraying him in splendid clothing, he sent him back to Pilate. And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other. Pilate then called together the chief priests and the rulers and the people, and said to them, “You brought me this man as one who was misleading the people. And after examining him before you, behold, I did not find this man guilty of any of your charges against him. Neither did Herod, for he sent him back to us. Look, nothing deserving death has been done by him. (Luke 22:66-23:15)
  4. It was the people who shouted for the death of Yeshua. Despite His innocence and perfection, the mob called for Him to be crucified.
    • From then on Pilate sought to release him, but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” So when Pilate heard these words, he brought Jesus out and sat down on the judgment seat at a place called The Stone Pavement, and in Aramaic Gabbatha. Now it was the day of Preparation of the Passover. It was about the sixth hour. He said to the Jews, “Behold your King!” They cried out, “Away with him, away with him, crucify him!” Pilate said to them, “Shall I crucify your King?” The chief priests answered, “We have no king but Caesar.” So he delivered him over to them to be crucified. (John 19:12-16)
  5. The death of Yeshua would last all day, all the way up until sundown. Those who wanted to burry Him, had to quickly get Him down before light was gone because a Sabbath was approaching.
    • And when the sixth hour had come, there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour. And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” And some of the bystanders hearing it said, “Behold, he is calling Elijah.” And someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.” And Jesus uttered a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” (Mark 18:33-39)
  6. Crucifixion has been shown to be among the worst ways to die. Not only was Yeshua’s hands and feet pierced with nails, but His flesh was torn from His body by the lash. Yeshua’s blood was most definitely poured out.
    • And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:14-20)
  7. The Bible is full, and I mean full, of passages that state the power and efficacy of the blood of Jesus Christ in saving us.
    • For if the blood of goats and bulls, and the sprinkling of defiled persons with the ashes of a heifer, sanctify for the purification of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. (Hebrews 9:13-14)
    • But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)

There are so many more verses to back up the identity of the Messiah as the Passover Lamb. If you’d like to study more on the topic, here is a list to get you going:

It’s incredible to see how one ceremony, instituted thousands of years ago, could say so much about the identity of the Messiah, and that one person could embody it all.

The next day he [John the Baptist] saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

John 1:29 (ESV)

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Waves or Glory

glorious-heaven-background_njd-yfut__F0000.png

There are a lot of things to focus on in life. So much competes for our attention; some good some not so good. It’s easy for me to become consumed with things, whether it’s a task, my family, or concerns that have been weighing me down. Whatever it is, it can draw my attention for quite some time. Lately, I have had some really heavy things that have been filling my mind. I’m sure you, reader, can relate. If not now then at some point in your life. It can really seem like a tempest at times. Wave after wave crashing on or around you with no immediate signs of relenting. It never lets up so you can never get dry. You feel cold and exhausted just trying to keep your face towards the horizon. The concerns are mounting to point that you begin to wonder if they will ever become insurmountable.

That is an extremely bleak picture. One that I’ve found myself walking through at several moments over the last few years. I also believe it’s easy to get there. To let our minds drift to such dark and hopeless places. To try and carry so much weight that our knees are buckling beneath us. Weight that we were never meant to pick up in the first place. And while it’s easy to get there, it can be equally as easy to escape. Perhaps escape isn’t the best word. To ‘rise above’ seems to fit better. It all boils down to choice. Circumstances actually have nothing to do with it. Bills, health problems, difficult people, homelessness, and even the death of a loved one, can hold no power over us that we don’t surrender to it.

Recently, we finished up celebrating the Lord’s Feast of Tabernacles. It was first instituted by God back in Leviticus 23, more than a few thousand years ago. But it carries every bit of the significance today that it did back then. A quick rundown of the Feast for anyone who isn’t familiar with it. In the Old Testament context, the feast reflected God’s deliverance of the nation of Israel from bondage in Egypt and their temporary dwelling and wandering on their journey to the promised land. It also pointed to the tabernacle that was constructed for God’s dwelling place among the people of Israel. Fast forward to the arrival of the Incarnate God on planet Earth. Yeshua is described as the Word of God made flesh dwelling among us. The word for dwell is literally to tabernacle. The Feast also carries with it a future importance. In the book of Revelation, it is said that Heaven and Earth will unite as one and God will make His dwelling among us forever. We spend a week celebrating all of these awesome things.

On one of the evenings, I was sitting under our makeshift tabernacle (which people construct as a symbol of the Feast) in our backyard. It was really dark out but we had strung up lights on our tabernacle so it was pretty bright underneath. As I sat there, contemplating all the heavy things life had been tossing our way, I decided to open up my bible. I picked John chapter one and here is what I read:

“In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it. There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the light, so that through him everyone might believe. He was not the light, but he came to bear witness concerning the light. The true light, coming into the world, gives light to every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him; but the world did not know Him. He came to His own, but His own did not receive Him. But whoever did receive Him, those trusting in His name, to these He gave the right to become children of God. They were born not of a bloodline, nor of human desire, nor of man’s will, but of God. And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us. We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testifies about Him. He cried out, saying, “This is He of whom I said, ‘The One who comes after me is above me, because He existed before me.’” Out of His fullness, we have all received grace on top of grace. Torah was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Yeshua the Messiah. No one has ever seen God; but the one and only God, in the Father’s embrace, has made Him known.”

John 1:1-18 TLV

Everything in that passage spoke to me, not just where I was physically, but where my life was. Here I was, surrounded by darkness, but covered beneath the light of the tabernacle. The symbolism of that was huge! If I were to walk out from under the tabernacle, I would have difficulty seeing my way around the backyard. But where I sat, everything was as clear as day.

All things were made through Him, and apart from Him nothing was made that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overpowered it.

It didn’t matter one bit how dark it got outside, the light that I was in would not be changed. That’s life in Jesus. I started thinking about how I’ve been spending so much of my thought life wandering around outside of the covering of His light. I had been focusing so much on all the difficult things in my life and it was beating me down. But here I was, reading God’s word, illuminated by the light of the tabernacle, at peace.

We looked upon His glory, the glory of the one and only from the Father, full of grace and truth.

My eyes had been looking at all the wrong things. Who can blame me right? Well, I can. I had felt like I was in a sinking ship, all the while missing the point of my life. When God wrapped Himself in flesh and walked on this Earth, we were given the ability to behold His glory. Not just in a past tense, but even now. At any moment, we can look at the glory of God in Yeshua. Are you kidding me? Can we even understand what that means? Apparently, I really didn’t. Because I wasn’t gazing at His glory. Not even a little bit. I was looking at everything else. I was beholding the waves crashing over the sides of my boat.

These few precious moments under my tabernacle did so much to alter where I was mentally and how I felt physically. It was one of those experiences that I’ll always remember. I was able to catch a glimpse of His glory during a fall evening in Colorado in my backyard. How amazing is that?

I’m a J.R.R Tolkien fan so sometimes I can’t help but find spiritual illustrations in the movie adaptations from his books. Here is a scene from the Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug. To set it up a little, the town is under attack by the Dragon Smaug. It’s burning to the ground and only one man stands in the way of him killing everyone in Lake Town. Bard, the Bowman, and his son are stranded atop this tower and come face to face with the evil creature. This scene is so full of meaning. First, the world is falling apart around them. The danger is very real and there is every opportunity to despair. Everything could come crashing down at any moment. But Bard looks at his fretting and fear-filled son and says, “Stay still son, stay still.” In the moments that follow, Smaug continues to try and strike fear into their hearts and make them come to terms with their imminent demise. As the son, again shaken by the situation he finds himself in, turns to look at the approaching beast. Just then his father says, “Look at me son, you look at me.” It’s then that the son looks at his father with confidence and the surroundings seem to fade in significance. Shortly after, Bard slays the dragon Smaug with one precisely placed shot of an arrow.

I know it sounds cheesy but my eyes seriously started to well up when I watched that scene. I couldn’t help but find myself in the place of the boy, caught in life’s difficulties, wanting to look at them and fall apart at times. But then hearing the gentle voice of my Loving Father call me to be still and to look Him. In those moments, like the one I had under tabernacle that night, I am in a state of complete peace. Everything around me might as well be burning down, but I am still when I look at Him. His light beats back the darkness and the darkness will never overtake it. The key is to behold His glory and not the waves crashing around us. I’ll finish with one last scene. Only this one comes to us from the Bible. A man named Peter, an apostle of Jesus, is about to do the impossible. He is going to walk on water.

And Peter answered him, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” He said, “Come.” So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased.And those in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Matthew 14:28-33 ESV

I used to focus so much on how Peter took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. I would talk about his lapse of faith and how he focused on the waves and wind rather than Jesus, and that’s when he got into trouble. And all those things are true. And all of us have been Peter more times then we care to count. But what I want to leave you with is what Peter said when he found himself sinking and how Jesus responded.

…beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.”Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him…

If you find yourself sinking because of the pressures of life cry out, “Lord save me,” and that’s exactly what He’ll do.

Peace brothers and sisters

He Is that He Is

We’ve concluded our journey through the book of Genesis which introduced the Messiah right from the beginning of Man’s fall. God revealed His identity as a son of a virgin, who would one day defeat the one who led man astray. Genesis also identified the Messiah as a son who would be sacrificed as God’s provision for our need. In addition to that, we’ve been given the lineage that the Messiah would come from. All of those things pointed to Yeshua. And that’s only the beginning.

The events recorded in the book of Exodus paint an incredible picture of the Messiah because the entire book happens to be about God working out salvation. That’s exactly what the mission of the Messiah is. Over the next few posts we’ll be looking at a key statement made in the book of Exodus, a prophetic ceremony, a character trait, and a title, all of which point to who the Messiah is and what He would do.

In the third chapter of Exodus, God makes an appearance of sorts to a man named Moses. I say ‘of sorts’ because God showed Himself through a burning bush which was not consumed by the flame. The reason for this interaction was to proclaim the coming salvation of the people of Israel from the slavery in Egypt. During the conversation Moses asked God by what name he should call Him. God’s self given name is ‘I Am’.

“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 ‭ESV‬‬

Within the dialogue between God and Moses, both a name and a purpose is given. Once again, God is making it clear that it is He that does the saving. So by extension, if the purpose of the Messiah is to bring salvation to the world, the Messiah must also be God. The Exodus story itself is a foreshadowing of the greater salvation to come to the entire world. And both acts of redemption and freedom from bondage would be done by God.

Well over a thousand years later, we have another significant conversation. It takes place between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. This woman was an outcast in her village much like Moses who lived in exile when God appeared in the burning bush. She was searching for meaning and purpose in life and she was desperately lost. She was bound to her bondage of broken relationships. It mirrors the struggles we all go through in our own way. The way that Jesus speaks with her displays a tender and compassionate heart. The heart of a savior. Towards the end of the conversation, Jesus identifies Himself as the “He” that the scriptures talk about as the source of living water. He was the answer to her needs, to her bondage.

“The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.””

John‬ ‭4:25-26‬ ‭ESV

Not only did Yeshua make this statement, He backed it up, over and over. In this circumstance Yeshua showed His intimate knowledge of her life, past and presence, and of her hearts deepest needs. But this wasn’t the last time Jesus would make the bold statement about Himself. In an exchange with the religious elite of the day, Jesus was instructing them on faith and what places people in right standing before God. Their response was condescending and indifferent at best. That’s when Jesus told them who He really was.

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.””

John‬ ‭8:53-58‬ ESV‬‬

There it is. The ‘I Am’ statement. This made the Pharisees furious because a man was making Himself equal with God. But as already mentioned, His claim was not baseless. Jesus lived a life of miracles. He healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and rose from the dead. There is only one way that could be possible. If He really was who He said He was. If He was the Messiah. If He was God.

Yeshua didn’t stop there. Throughout His time on Earth he made many ‘I Am’ statements. A good read through the book of John would include the following: I am the bread of life (6:35, 48, 51), I am the light of the world (8:12 and 9:5), I am the door of the sheep (10:7, 9), I am the good shepherd (10:11, 14), I am the resurrection and the life (11:25), and I am the way, the truth, and the life (14:6). The ‘I Am’ statement was essential to knowing who the Messiah was and is. The Messiah is the great I AM.

When was the Gospel first proclaimed?

thegospelslidecover11.jpeg

If you were to read the following statement, what would come to mind?

“Man was appointed to be mortal and experienced sorrow. But God came down and taught them. He gave His life for them and His death brought the despairing of the world comfort and rest.”

It sounds a lot like the gospel message doesn’t it? Jesus, Immanuel, God with us, stepped out of heaven, showed and taught us how to live, and then gave His life on the cross for the sins of the world.  That sacrifice gave humanity a way to escape the despairing end of sin. His death sets us free. Our mortality is not the last word. His victory over death is. And that victory is enjoyed by everyone who calls on the name of Jesus as their savior. The reward: eternal life. Jesus said:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

Matthew 11:28-30 ESV

That message wasn’t newly proclaimed 2000 years ago though. It was as foundational as the world itself. God, in His foreknowledge, set a plan in motion to save His creation, which wandered into desperation. Tucked away in the fifth chapter of the Bible, is the gospel message. In studying the meaning of the Hebrew names from the lineage of Adam in Genesis chapter five, we can see how God planned to rescue mankind from our own undoing. Check this out:

Hebrew English
Adam Man
Seth Appointed
Enosh Mortal
Kenan Sorrow
Mahalalel The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Enoch Teaching
Methuselah His death shall bring
Lamech The Despairing
Noah Rest and comfort

When you put it all together, it looks like this: Man appointed mortal sorrow; the Blessed God shall come down teaching; His death shall bring the despairing rest and comfort.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will,to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christas a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

Ephesians 1:3-14 ESV

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters. Our God is so good!