The Messiah of Psalm 35

John-15-18

This is our third Messianic post from the book of Psalms. So far we’ve covered Psalm 2 and 22. As we skip around, I want to be sure to point out some of the other Psalms that we are jumping over in case you’d like to do some more exploration on your own. It’s so fascinating! Today we enter the 35th Psalm. For your interest, there are some prophecies that appear in Psalms 23, 24, 30, and 31 as well. They are super rich with themes like words Jesus spoke while on the cross (to continue our crucifixion theme from last time), the resurrection, and the sinless life of Jesus. They even talk about how Jesus was a reproach among His neighbors and many plotted to put Him to death. But for today, let’s journey to the night, or early morning I should say before Jesus was crucified.

Psalm 35 mentions that false witnesses will one day rise up to testify against the Messiah. They will bring a barrage of lies with ill motives, solely based off of their own fears and pride.

Ruthless witnesses come forward; they question me on things I know nothing about.

(verse 11 NIV)

Indeed those who spoke up in those early twilight hours were of wicked intentions, ruthless bent on the death of Jesus…and innocent man. Of course, the Messiah would know nothing about the events of the testimony because they were all made up. But the Messiah would have known the intents of their hearts. In Matthew chapter 27 it says that the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin looked for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death but they couldn’t find any. It was a crooked, rig trial from the beginning.

They repay me evil for good and leave me like one bereaved.

(verse 12 NIV)

All Jesus had done in His life was for good. He healed the sick, raised the dead, fed the hungry, freed those in spiritual bondage, and taught the world to love as it always should have. Instead, He is treated as a criminal.

Do not let those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; do not let those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye.

(verse 19 NIV)

In the prayer of Psalm 35, there’s a plea for victory…a victory that actually came. Those who conspired against the Messiah would have a short-lived win. The persecution and death of the Messiah were only temporary. When Jesus rose from the dead three days later, those who winked their eye in malicious intent would now turn the eyes away in shame or in repentance. God glorified His sinless Messiah.

If you find the godless world is hating you, remember it got its start hating me. If you lived on the world’s terms, the world would love you as one of its own. But since I picked you to live on God’s terms and no longer on the world’s terms, the world is going to hate you. When that happens, remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. If they did what I told them, they will do what you tell them. They are going to do all these things to you because of the way they treated me, because they don’t know the One who sent me. If I hadn’t come and told them all this in plain language, it wouldn’t be so bad. As it is, they have no excuse. Hate me, hate my Father—it’s all the same. If I hadn’t done what I have done among them, works no one has ever done, they wouldn’t be to blame. But they saw the God-signs and hated anyway, both me and my Father. Interesting—they have verified the truth of their own Scriptures where it is written, ‘They hated me for no good reason.’

John 15:18-25 The Message

If you ever find yourself misunderstood or even hated, know that your Messiah knows your pain. He felt it too. A world that does not know God struggles to embrace the love of God. It should never stop us from laying down our lives for those around us, just like it never deterred Jesus. The love of the Messiah is not conditional upon how it is received. His heart was still full of love for those who lied about Him, who spit on Him, and who eventually yelled out for His blood to be spilled. Our sin demanded a sacrifice and His love compelled Him to be that sacrifice on our behalf.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!

Toxic Thoughts

Getty Images

This world offers a lot of opportunities to add toxic things to our lives. From food to entertainment, we are faced with a barrage of choices. You don’t have to go far, often just the click of a remote or mouse, and your being filled with things that not only don’t benefit you, but can even tear away at you emotionally and spiritually. Over the next few posts, I’d like to share with you my journey through detoxing my life. A lot of what I will be sharing started three years ago when I went through a devotional on the youversion Bible app. While the journey to detoxify started way earlier, this devotion helped me to target areas of my life in a very specific way.

The mind is definitely the control center of our bodies. When it’s shorting out, the rest of us is out of whack too. I’ve experienced that far too often. That’s why this first post is all about the toxic thoughts I’ve had to battle with and how God has been helping me through it. I’m not going to share all of it but a few of the big struggles.

#1- I constantly battle with thinking that it is all up to me to provide for our family.

God’s response: I am the one that had and always will be your source of provision. The pressure is off.

#2- Thoughts of always needing to be productive with my time otherwise it’s a waste.

God’s response: some of the most productive time is spent at rest, and in prayer, and alone with me doing nothing but sitting at my feet.

#3- Feelings of being overwhelmed, exhausted, and stretched too thin.

God’s response: Let me renew you each day. Focus more of that energy on me. Do more of the things that bring you into my presence.

In reading my top three, it’s probably clear to you that my problems were all related. The object goal of my life was way out of order. I have always had to wade through having a scattered mind. I have ADHD so my mind is always in overdrive. That makes it difficult sometimes to slow down. I need to have a goal…a destination…to keep me zeroed in. Otherwise, I’m all over the place. My goals have been providing for my family, being the best husband and father I can be, doing the best at teaching and my business, and being there for others. I’m not saying that those are bad goals, but none of them deserve the top spot on my priority list. That was my biggest fault. I was, and sometimes still do, miss out on the biggest object goals of my life. Here are some verses that have helped me refocus and ones I still fall back on nearly every day. You might want to read the verses for yourself because I’m just sharing what they tell me about where I am in life.

Matthew 6:33 tells me that the object goal of life is pursuing His kingdom and His righteousness before all else. God is the one who then adds to all of our needs.

Matthew 11:28-30 says that the object goal of life is Christ. Learning from and following Him gives us rest from life’s heaviest burdens.

Psalm 18:31-32 tells me to look to God who will give me strength, direction, and place me where I need to be.

Psalm 62:1-2 encourages me to wait and stand firm in God knowing that He provides salvation and defends me.

Psalm 127:1-2 says that the object goal is to partner with God and what He is doing in this world, not to continually strive on my own. Then He prospers my way and gives me rest.

Isaiah 40:28-31 reminds me of where my strength and endurance comes from…a life focused on God.

The mind is a minefield that can easily spell disaster each day we wade through our thoughts. They fuel insecurities and motivations. As the saying goes, “as a man thinks, so he is.” What better to think about than God? What better to think about than His purpose in my life? He has to be where our minds go first and most often. That’s the best way to detoxify our minds.

Where does your thought life take you? How has God encouraged you? I’d love to hear your story. Please comment and share so we can all be encouraged. Cheers!

The Messiah of Psalm 22

2912

We are continuing our journey through the book of Psalms, picking out several of which God used to reveal who the Messiah was for future generations…for you and me. In the last post I used Psalm 2 so we are skipping quite a few. We will have to do that as we move through the book. There are some great prophecies in Psalm 8, 9, 16, and 18 if you’d like to grab a cup of coffee, your Bible, and have a read. But for today, let’s dive into Psalm 22.

This psalm is unique in the sense that it highlights, in a lot of depth, one specific event in the life of the Messiah…the crucifixion. There are actually 17 specific verses that point to 13 connections to the crucifixion. For simplicity sake, I created a table below that show the side by side comparison between the verses of Psalm 22 and verses in the New Testament, along with a brief explanation of what connects them.

Connection Psalm 22 New Testament
The Messiah was forsaken for our sins Verse 1 Matthew 27:46

2 Corinthians 5:21

The Messiah cried out in darkness, just as He did when darkness fell upon the earth for 3 hours. Verse 2 Matthew 27:45
Those who looked upon the Messiah ridiculed Him. Verse 7 Matthew 27:39-44
They mocked Him by saying let God save Him. Verse 8 Matthew 27:43
The Messiah is born the Savior, connected with God from birth. Verses 9-10 Luke 2:7-12
They sought His death from birth and throughout His ministry. Verses 12-13 Matthew 2:13, 21:46, 26:3-4, 27:23
The blood from His side was accompanied by water when He was stabbed with the spear. Verse 14 John 19:34
The Messiah suffered on the cross. Verses 14-15 Mark 15:34-37
Jesus thirsted while on the cross. Verse 15 John 19:34
They pierced His hands and feet. Verse 16 John 19:34-37, 20:27
They stripped Him before everyone who looked on Him. Verses 17-18 Luke 23:34-35
They cast lots over Him. Verse 18 John 19:23-24
Jesus declared His Father, once He was resurrected, to His disciples while they were assembled. Verse 22 John 20:17

It’s absolutely astounding how much this Psalm overlaps with the New Testament accounts of Jesus. For many who had the Old Testament memorized, it must have been a very eye-opening experience after Jesus was crucified. What was maybe even more incredible is that so many people struggled to see that the Messiah would have to suffer and die. I guess it’s evidence that we only see what we want to see, no matter how convincing the evidence is. I’m sure that Jesus would have had the words of Psalm 22 running through His mind as He reminded His followers of what was ahead of Him. I can’t imagine choosing to endure something like this, especially when you didn’t have to. But thankfully Jesus did. For all of us.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters! It came at such a great price.

 

The Depths of your Loyalty

1433b2998df04ec0

A couple of weeks ago, I was reading an article from Voice of the Martyrs, and as it almost always does, the article tested my faith. Many of you reading this may be familiar with Pastor Richard Wurmbrand. Voice of the Martyrs stems from his work and devotion to spreading the gospel in hostile places. He spent his life discipling others to do the same. Much of his time was spent in Eastern Europe in what was known as the Soviet Block. Communism had taken the area by storm following the end of World War II and faith was starved by the new atheistic regimes. One evil, nazism, had been replaced with another. But faith outlasts fear and hatred. No manner of method used by the enemies of Christ has ever been successful in defeating the devoted. That is a lesson that Mr. Wurmbrand tried to teach his young patrons in this excerpt from the article I read.

The twelve students stood with their pastor along the fence. On the other side was a large ditch, beyond which was an opening to a manmade cave. A large lion paced back and forth in front of the cave’s opening. Their pastor said, “Your forefathers were thrown before such wild beasts for their faith. Know that you also will have to suffer. You will not be thrown before lions, but you will have to suffer at the hands of men who would be much worse than these animals. Decide here and now whether you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ.” The students looked at each other. Before them stood their pastor, Richard Wurmbrand, a man who had spent fourteen years in prison for his work in the underground church. This was the pastor’s last week in Romania, for he and his family had been ransomed from their homeland and would be leaving within a few days. Richard didn’t know if his Sunday school students would suffer under the brutal hand of atheistic Communists, but he wanted to implant a faith that would survive the harshest trials. So he had brought the students to the local zoo to see the lions. Although young, the students fully understood what their pastor meant. With tears, they answered resolutely, “We pledge our allegiance to Christ.”

Decide here and now whether you wish to pledge allegiance to Christ. Wow. I have never been confronted with that proposal in such a way. When I was a child deciding to give my life to Jesus, it wasn’t a matter of life or death. No one ever explained to me that there was so much hate in the world and that people might actually want me in prison, tortured, or killed because of what I believe in. Those are realities I’ve had to learn as I’ve grown up and grown in the faith. I use to have dreams where I was tied up and threatened to renounce my faith or die. I always woke up before the dream played itself out. What I was left with was wondering about just how deep my loyalties are. My life matters less to me than my allegiance to Christ. But what about my wife’s life? Or my children? I have been so privileged to grow up in a nation that acknowledges the right of every human being to choose their beliefs. That is a God-given right of free will. But what if that wasn’t the case any longer? As the world grows more hostile towards Jesus and towards set truth, difficult choices will probably have to be made. For the follower of Jesus, nothing can take precedent over their allegiance to their Savior. It is best to do the hard reflecting now for we may all have to face the day of decision. We need to teach our children to do the same. Jesus over everything!

*This is dedicated to all our brothers and sisters around the world who wage the spiritual war every day. We stand with you in prayer and acknowledge your great courage. You inspire us all.

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Colossians 3:1-4 ESV

The Messiah of Psalm Two

kiss son

The Psalms were songs of praise, repentance, remorse, and promise. They proclaim so much about who God is and who were are. The Psalms are also very rich in prophecy. Most breakdowns of the Bible do not have the Psalms grouped with books of prophecy, but few books of the Bible have nearly as much detailed messages for identifying the Messiah. Perhaps the only books that do rival the Psalms in this area would be Genesis and Isaiah. Maybe that’s not a fair statement since Jesus Himself proclaimed that the entirety of the Book is about Him. However, in my studies of prophetic messages about the Messiah, I’ve come across 28 different psalms that point to the coming Savior. Most of those 28 psalms contain multiple Messianic messages for us to interpret. Because my studying and knowledge are limited, and the scriptures are vast, I am fully aware that I have missed so many Messianic prophecies contained in this wonderful book.

Today we are beginning part two of the Messiah Series by looking at the Psalms and Proverbs. Over the next couple of months, we’re going to go through these beautiful songs and look at probably six to eight in detail. For the first one, I’ve chosen the second psalm. This psalm gives a very broad picture of the Messiah, from who his character to his crucifixion. Below, I will break down seven specific connection between the promised Messiah in this song and the revealed Messiah in the New Testament.

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision. Then he will speak to them in his wrath and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

Psalm 2 ESV

We have an advantage with the beginning of this Psalm because it is directly quoted in the New Testament by the disciples of Jesus. As the believers prayed for boldness they quoted from the Psalm and followed it up with this:

…for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place.

Act 4:27-28 ESV

A mixed group rose up to persecute Jesus. The nations were truly represented through the Jews and the Gentiles gathered in Jerusalem. Among them were two rulers, Pilate and Herod, both of whom plotted and discussed what to do with Jesus. Both rulers played a role in His destiny.

Also contained in the first three verses is a title. The Messiah/Christ means anointed.  In multiple places, Jesus is described with the same title. Peter said it in his sermon discourse to the people of Jerusalem on Pentecost:

Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”    Acts 2:36 ESV

Simon’s brother, Andrew, first introduced him to Jesus by calling Him by that very name:

One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother.  He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).   John 1:41 ESV

Here are five more New Testaments connections back to the language of the Messiah in Psalm two:

#1- The Wisemen called Jesus the King.

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2 ESV

#2- God proclaims Jesus to be the Beloved Son at His baptism.

And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him;and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matthew 3:16-17 ESV

#3- Jesus again to declared the Son.

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God,which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the fleshand was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord…  Romans 1:1-4 ESV

#4- In Paul’s recount of the crucifixion and resurrection in fulfillment he draws off of the second Psalm.

And when they had carried out all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. But God raised him from the dead,and for many days he appeared to those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, who are now his witnesses to the people.And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers,this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm, “‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’   

Acts 13:29-33 ESV

#5- And finally, life comes through Jesus, the Son, the Messiah, God in the flesh. To kiss the Son brings life.

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.   

John 20:30-31 ESV

Praise God for the life-giving Messiah!

 

Restoration

Over the last couple of months, I have been working on restoring a couple of World War Two era bayonets. It’s quite the process so I have to work on it when I can. It’s not like I’m ever going to strap these to a rifle and go charging into battle. I’m doing it because there’s something about taking an old, discarded, and damaged item and making it like new and valuable again.

I drive down the road most days and see sweet rides from the 1960s, 1950s, and even older. They aren’t rattling down the street losing parts as they go. No, they’ve been rebuilt, polished, and repaired. They look as though they just rolled off the lot.

I’ll think inside of everyone, there is a heart that greatly appreciates restoration. It’s human nature to want to see things made new. Not everyone will go through the process of restoring an object, but the appreciation is there nonetheless. And I think it’s written into the design of every image-bearing human being because of Who we’re made to reflect.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” Revelation‬ ‭21:5‬ ‭ESV

God is a God of new beginnings. The entire Bible is a story about restoring the world back to its original design, before sin messed it all up. It’s also about restoring humans back to our original purpose before sin led us astray. We appreciate restoration so much because deep down we long for it to be real inside of us and in the world around us. It’s part of the mission we’re invited into. You don’t even have to be a believer in Jesus to feel it. But the desire broadens to so many more areas and goes to so many deeper levels when you are.

Restoration is in our hearts because our hearts need it so much. That is the offer in the life with Jesus. He takes the old, imperfect, broken, and discarded you, and makes you whole again. He fills the voids, polishes the edges, and refines the character. Jesus, and Jesus only, can make us new. And newness is what we all need.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Must Gentile Christians Observe the Jewish Feasts?

jesusinthefeasts

Article by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg

This post was shared with me a week or so ago and I found it very interesting, full of good points. I’ve also written on the subject in the past. If you’d like to read a past article on the matter check out Celebrate Bible-Style.

There are several reasons why this topic is making a powerful comeback. The primary reason is that in the past 20 years Christian Churches around the globe, represented by almost every major Christian denomination, have become much more aware of the Jewish identity of their Savior and King. This, of course, is a wonderful thing.

The question is usually framed in a very simple way: “Must Christians observe the Jewish feasts?” I would submit to you that there are several problems with how the question is formed.

First, the assumption is that “Christians” are members of a non-Jewish movement, independent in every way from the people of Israel. Knowing what we now know about the Jewish background of the New Testament, we can say with full confidence that this is clearly not the case.

Second, the question refers to the Feasts of the Lord as “the Jewish feasts,” as if these feasts did not belong to God himself as their biblically native terminology clearly implies. Only when we adopt the biblical (rather than theological) categories, can we begin to see that we are asking the wrong question. Wrong questions, in turn, are known to lead good and godly people to wrong answers.

Third, the inclusion of “must” is problematic as well. It unintentionally advances the question in the context of the Protestant-Catholic, 16th-century divide regarding personal salvation (faith vs. works).

I would restate the question in a way that, while surely more cumbersome in Christian English (the language of our communication), is more fitting to the biblical context:

“Should the follower of the Jewish Christ, who comes from the nations and not from Israel, also mark as holy ‘the Feasts of Lord’”?

I think the answer to this question is clearly – yes. The question is not “if”, but “how” must Gentile followers of the Jewish Christ observe the Feasts of the Lord in covenantal continuity and partnership with Israel, yet with full realization of the powerful implications brought forth by Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension.

It is indeed very interesting to note that Christian Churches, especially in their Catholic and Eastern Orthodox expressions, have never claimed that believers should cease to observe the feasts of the Lord.

In fact, both Christian communities (along with most protestant ones) have regularly marked many key biblical feasts with special worship celebrations. Unfortunately, they have often observed the feasts purposely on different dates and often inventing traditions far removed (and sometimes antithetical) to the original biblical injunctions.

Gentile Christians today are called to reunite with the people of Israel through, among other things, Christ-centered observance of the Feasts of the Lord and in so doing to experience their belonging to the Commonwealth of Israel.

For more articles like these are various topics, go to the Israel Bible Center website.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters!