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!

 

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He Is Alive

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“Oh that my words were written!
Oh that they were inscribed in a book!
Oh that with an iron pen and lead
they were engraved in the rock forever!
For I know that my Redeemer lives,
and at the last he will stand upon the earth.
And after my skin has been thus destroyed,
yet in my flesh I shall see God,
whom I shall see for myself,
and my eyes shall behold, and not another.
My heart faints within me!

Job 19:23-27 ESV

Job makes one of the most profound statements in these few verses. He says, “For I know that my Redeemer lives and at last he will stand upon the Earth.” This is the foundation for every hope that Christians proclaim and all of humanity searches for. It was the lifeline that Job was so desperately clinging to. It’s a reality that can bring that glimmer of light into anyone’s dark world.

We’ve all felt the sting of sin. Some more than others. Whether self-inflicted or caused by another, it hurts…bad. Anyone who would try to argue that this world isn’t in need of redemption and renewal doesn’t have much of an argument to stand on. The evidence is all around us. The news blasts it, our hearts testify of it, and the pain experienced in every human’s existence rebukes any belief contrary to the notion that things are way off the mark. Just like Job, our hurt is far too real to deny the need for redemption. Our bodies, while absolutely amazing, are frail and prone to sickness. The world is decaying. Social structures, in every culture, are far from perfect. Violence and hate take up way more headlines than love and charity. The hope that this will not always be so, is what motivates many to face another day.

We’ve all tried to make up for the mistakes we’ve made. To set things right again. Most people want to see change and progress made. But no matter how much we try, all our efforts will come short of bringing a lasting change. That’s because we don’t last forever and there’s no guarantee that those after us will continue our efforts. This world needs a redemption far greater than we can accomplish because it owes a debt far greater than we can pay.  But that payment has already been made by another.

The Messiah goes by many names in the Bible. One of those is Redeemer. To redeem is make compensation for faults. Synonyms include to save, justify, rescue, or vindicate. Because of sin, everything and everyone in this world, past, present, and future, need to be redeemed. That’s why the message of the Messiah is a universal one.

Job proclaimed a few things. One, that there is a Redeemer. Two, He is alive. Three, that He will one day stand upon the Earth. And four, that he will one day see the Redeemer face to face. Most Biblical scholars agree that the life of Job came at least 400 years before Moses. That means that Job is at least 1700 years away from the day that Jesus walked the Earth. So how could he possibly see Jesus? And if the Messiah was alive in the days of Job, how could that be a reference to Jesus?

We know that Jesus walked the Earth. No one with any historical credibility would argue against that fact. But that’s only one of the criteria spelled out by Job for the Redeemer. There are a lot of passages that reinforce the idea that Jesus was not only alive during Job’s lifetime, but long before that and way afterward too. Revelation 22 calls Jesus the Alpha and the Omega. These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. It’s a way of saying that Jesus is both the beginning of all things and the end of all things. Check out Colossians chapter one and John chapter one for more evidence to strengthen that concept. If Jesus was in the beginning and will be forever, then 3700 years ago and 3700 years from now is nothing in the life of Jesus. Jesus didn’t come into existence in a manger in Bethlehem. He has always been, and will always be. Our Redeemer is alive and nothing can ever change that. No cross. No grave.

Just like Job, we all can have the same promise that we will see Him. Not as some celestial being with wings and a diaper like popular images like to portray. We will see Him in the flesh. Jesus is coming back. Our destination is not heaven. Earth is our home and for the follower of Christ, always will be. God is making all things new one day. The Earth, along with followers of His, will one day be redeemed and we will enjoy it forever.

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my [Jesus] word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.  And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

John 5:24-29 ESV

The Bible ends with the greatest of all happy ending stories. Revelation chapter 22 paints an amazing picture of what is to come. It shows a world redeemed, nations of people healed, and a multitude drinking from the well of eternal life. And Jesus is there too. Forever, with those, He created and chose Him.

I know that my Redeemer lives and that one day I will see Him face to face.

This is the final post in part one of the series showing how God revealed the Messiah throughout the Old Testament. We began in Genesis and are wrapping up here in Job. In all, part one has included 22 posts, covering nine different books, over the last seven months. If you’ve missed any of them you can go to the Messiah tab on my home screen or click here. My plans are to have three more phases to this series. Part two will cover Psalms and Proverbs. Part three will just focus on the book of Isaiah because it is arguably the greatest portion of scripture that prophecies about the Messiah. The final phase will span Jeremiah to the end of the Old Testament. I am planning a brief hiatus from this series so as to focus on some other topics I’ve been working on. Part two should launch this summer.  God bless you guys and thank you for coming along with me on this journey.

Arbiter

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For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him, that we should come to trial together. There is no arbiter between us, who might lay his hand on us both.

Job 9:32-33 ESV

Anyone familiar with the story of Job knows that for period of his life it was pure misery. He had lost his entire family, besides his wife, and his body was riddled with pain. The quote from earlier comes on the heels of Job’s friends rebuking him and accusing him of sin. He’s being prosecuted by those close to him and labeled as guilty for his own misfortune. The problem with this is the God Himself had labeled Job as a righteous man earlier in the book. Here are the opening words of the story:

There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job, and that man was blameless and upright, one who feared God and turned away from evil.

Job 1:1 ESV

Job tried to state his case several times to his friends, but they refused to listen. They tried to explain their view of who God was and why Job’s circumstances had to be due to him being at fault. Job’s friends, however, had not be privy to information that you and me are…Job was under the assault of Satan himself (refer to the rest of Job chapter one).

Bildad, one of Job’s companions, prompted Job to go before God and state his case to Him. Job wasn’t having any of it. In a direct rebuttal, Job proclaims a somewhat misunderstood view of God’s relationship to man. Much of what Job says is true, but he doesn’t clearly grasp Who God is or how He wants to relate to His creation. This ultimately leads to God rebuking Job and his friends later in the book. His blurred view of God becomes pretty clear in chapter nine when he says that there is no arbiter who can bridge the gap between man and God. Through Job’s misconception (which is not his fault because he was operating with limited knowledge from time and space) he makes a prophetic statement about God’s plan for His Messiah.

An arbiter is a mediator. According to the dictionary, an arbiter is, “a person who settles a dispute or has ultimate authority in a matter.” That is a great representation for who the Messiah is. On one hand, what Job says is true. No man can fill the role of arbiter. The only one who could lay hands on both man and God, would have to be God Himself. This is another one of the many prophecies of the Old Testament that made it clear that the Messiah had to be both man and God.

First of all, then, I [Paul] urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.

1 Timothy 2:1-6 ESV [my emphasis]

Jesus solved Job’s conundrum. Jesus bridges the gap. He is both man and God. He is the Arbiter, because as the dictionary says, He has full authority in the matter of humanity’s salvation. No one supersedes Him. Before you say, “wait a minute, this passage says Jesus was a man and says nothing about Him being God. Isn’t that a contradiction to what you were saying earlier?” Not at all. Check out this passage from John chapter 10:

I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”

John 10:28-30 NIV

God is complex. By extension, so is the Messiah. No man could ever fill the role of Messiah because every human down through the ages are the same…we’re all fallen and imperfect creatures who fall vastly short of the glory of God. The Messiah had to be unique, set apart, and a one of a kind. Enter Jesus, who is both God and Man. He is the Bridge. He is the Arbiter.

For you and me, our enemy is the exact same as Job’s. We all have someone who is trying to blind us to reality, who is trying to make us consumed by our own goals, grief, and desires. Our enemy wants us to not know Who God is or that we have a way to be directly linked with Him. That is the beauty of the Messiah. He is someone who can connect a broken person with a Perfectly Holy God. You and me friend, have access to that loving Messiah…to Jesus. We can come boldly to the throne of God because of love…because of 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 ESV

 

No One Until Jesus

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I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

1 Samuel 2:35 NIV

The role of the priests in the Old Testament were second to no one. They tended the tabernacle and eventually the temple. They were on the front lines of ministering to the LORD. They were both worship leaders and pastors. They were set apart from the rest of Israel just as Israel was to be set apart from the rest of the world. If Israel was to be God’s light to the world, the priests were to be God’s light to Israel.

I’m sure, just as many worship leaders and pastors are looked upon with great admiration in Christian churches worldwide, so to would with the priests of Israel. The role of the priest, in a far greater context, was to point to something greater than themselves. The entirety of their responsibilities were to align the people with the heart of God. They were to be both faithful witnesses of Who God is and mediators for all His broken followers. They were to be both leaders and servants. Leaders of a nation and servants of the Most High God.  This image of servant leadership also pointed to something, or someone, far greater than themselves. It was to be a mark of all those who claimed allegiance to Yahweh. And no one demonstrated it better than the Messiah.

The book of 1 Samuel was recorded between 931 and 722 B.C. The central figure of the book is non other than a prophet and priest named Samuel. For his entire life he walked in faithfulness to God and continually pointed Israel back to true worship and obedience. He was arguably one of the greatest figures of the Old Testament. But he too was human. And by extension, he was imperfect. If Samuel had been a perfect representation of the character and mission of God, there would have been no need for a future Messiah. The fact remains, all of the priests down through history have portrayed an imperfect image of our God. Except one. Over 700 years after Samuel, a new prophet and priest would arise. He was and is like no one else. His name – Yeshua (Jesus).

Since the children have flesh and blood, he (Jesus) too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham’s descendants. For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:14-17 NIV

Few books describe Jesus as our faithful High Priest quite like the book of Hebrews. Chapter two explains the reason why God put on flesh in the form of Jesus. It’s a powerful explanation of the need for a new High Priest to fill the role that all the priests before Him only pointed to. Jesus is a merciful High Priest, one Who has faced every form of temptation that you and me have battled with. He knows pain. He knows hardship. He knows homelessness and loss. He knows what it means to be without and to be forsaken by those close to Him. No one has ever experienced betrayal quite like Him. Despite all of this, Jesus was still perfect. His life was the model of servant leadership. Jesus walked in both humility and power. He showed us how true worship should look. And everything He did pointed people to God. Later in Hebrews it goes on to say this:

Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest. He was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses was faithful in all God’s house. Jesus has been found worthy of greater honor than Moses, just as the builder of a house has greater honor than the house itself.For every house is built by someone, but God is the builder of everything. “Moses was faithful as a servant in all God’s house,” bearing witness to what would be spoken by God in the future. But Christ is faithful as the Son over God’s house. And we are his house, if indeed we hold firmly to our confidence and the hope in which we glory.

Hebrews 3:1-6 NIV

Moses set the bar for the priests who set the bar for Israel. Then came Jesus, Who set the bar for the world. When it comes to the priesthood, everyone who claims allegiance to Jesus is part of a kingdom of Priests (1 Peter 2:5). Jesus is our bar. Moses, who passed away, along with all other priests from history, have ceased to be priests. Jesus is the priest who continues forever.

Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Hebrews 7:23-25 NIV

No priesthood was permanent, until Jesus. No priest could unite the nations, until Jesus. No priest could ever save a single soul, until Jesus. No priests could ever change the hearts of God’s children, until Jesus.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 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 4:14-16 ESV

Peace in Christ, our Faithful High Priest, brothers and sisters!

The Great Kinsman

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Once upon a time, there was a family. This was a beautiful family who fell upon hard times. Resources were scarce and money was tight. Due to the pressing circumstances, and facing few other choices, the family decided it was time to pack up and move. Not long after they arrived at their destination things started to look up. The two sons of this family found their future brides and soon married. But the joyous times were not meant to last. The father of the family passed away suddenly causing a shockwave of heartache to ripple through the family. Just when it seemed that life couldn’t get any harder, the two sons also passed away leaving the mom and her two daughters-in-law to fend for themselves. In a time that was very man-dominant, women faced few options for income. Difficult choices lay ahead.

Some readers may be able to relate to this story so far. The situation is bleak, and hard, and desperate. Life seems like a roller coaster of hardship to joy, and back to hardship. For every step forward in life, it seems like they take one or two back. They just can’t get ahead. People who have faced difficulty such as this hesitate to ever utter the phrase, “it couldn’t get any worse than this.” That’s because they’ve tasted the “worse” that seems to lay right around the corner. But Jesus doesn’t want to leave anyone here. These are the circumstances that God’s grace shines the brightest. For the family in this story had a beautiful future ahead of them. Ask them at this juncture and they may have had their doubts. But God’s love and God’s plan is not contingent upon our strength or our certainty.

In various passages of the Bible, we see the concept of a kinsman redeemer. Passages like Genesis 38, Deuteronomy 25, and Leviticus 25 all address this role. It’s a role that reveals something about God’s heart for the hurting and the destitute. The basic idea is that the closest family member would step in to take care of those who found themselves in a situation like the family from the previous story…the family from the book of Ruth. Naomi (the mom), and Ruth and Orpah (the daughters-in-law) were in need of such a person.

As the story progressed, Naomi and Ruth journeyed back to Naomi’s former home – to the land of Israel. When they arrived in Bethlehem the reception was somewhat mixed. It would be as a soldier returning home after a terrible defeat. The shame and hurt were immense and Naomi was in no mood for a welcome home party.

So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem. And when they came to Bethlehem, the whole town was stirred because of them. And the women said, “Is this Naomi?” She said to them, “Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara, for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me.I went away full, and the Lord has brought me back empty. Why call me Naomi, when the Lord has testified against me and the Almighty has brought calamity upon me?”

Ruth 1:19-21 ESV

Naomi’s heart would not remain in despair. In a short span of time, both her and Ruth would be rejoicing over the goodness of God. It is in our darkest times that we can experience His goodness the most. Naomi and Ruth are a testament to that. By the end of this story, Ruth meets the key character in the journey from ashes to beauty. His name – Boaz. The name means ‘strength is within him’. He is a successful landowner and farmer in Israel who had endured the famine which had motivated Naomi and her family to leave the land. Not only is he successful, but he is also compassionate and kind. He demonstrates this in the way that he tenderly cares for Ruth from the moment he laid eyes on her. The first time they met was when Ruth had gone out to glean scraps from the harvested fields so she and Naomi wouldn’t starve. Boaz doubled down and supplied for their every need. He didn’t stop here. Boaz would also restore the land back to Naomi from before she had left with her husband Elimelech. He was their kinsman redeemer.

Then Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses this day that I have bought from the hand of Naomi all that belonged to Elimelech and all that belonged to Chilion and to Mahlon. Also Ruth the Moabite, the widow of Mahlon, I have bought to be my wife, to perpetuate the name of the dead in his inheritance, that the name of the dead may not be cut off from among his brothers and from the gate of his native place. You are witnesses this day.”

Ruth 4:9-10 ESV

The institution of the kinsman redeemer was not only a method of grace bestowed upon God’s children, but it also pointed to a much greater act of grace to come to the entire world. Even if life’s circumstances haven’t placed all of us in a disposition of empathy for Naomi and Ruth, the Bible describes all our spiritual circumstances as far more desperate.

According to the Bible, we were:

  • Dead in our trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1 and Colossians 2:13)
  • Sinners and enemies of God (Romans 5:8-10)
  • Far off from God (Ephesians 2:13)
  • Unrighteous, immoral, and idolators (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

Homelessness does not compare. Being in need does not compare. Suffering tremendous does not compare. Humanity’s situation without Jesus is far more dire than anything we will ever face in our temporal lifetimes. But we have the Great Kinsman Redeemer – the Messiah. The Messiah of God was sent to buy us back with a far greater price than that of Boaz. Our Messiah paid with His life.

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 insightmaking known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

Ephesians 1:3-10 ESV

Peace in our Messiah, the Great Kinsman Redeemer!

General of God’s Army

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Between 1405 and 1385 BC the book of Joshua was written. It is the first book to follow the Torah. Contained in these pages are stories of conquest and victory over evil. There are also moments of fear and disobedience. There are tragic events, death, and new life. The nation of Israel still struggled to follow their redeeming God in pure obedience, as we all do. But overall, it is a story of God’s faithfulness in fulfilling His promises.

The victories in this book do not belong to Joshua and the nation of Israel…they belong to God. Multiple times (Deuteronomy 1:30 and 31:8) in the book right before Joshua, God spoke through Moses to the people of Israel letting them know that it was the Lord Himself that would be fighting for the people and that He would be leading the charge into the promised land. God wanted Israel to know that they were not alone in this fight because this fight seemed insurmountable. Without God, it would have been. There were many evil empires who were strong and deeply entrenched in the land. And Israel needed to purify the land through force of arms. They faced obstacle far greater than themselves. To anyone who is without faith, it would have been folly to even try.

After the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, the Lord said to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ assistant, “Moses my servant is dead. Now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, you and all this people, into the land that I am giving to them, to the people of Israel.Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses.From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory.No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.

Joshua 1:1-5 ESV

God was sure to remind the new leader of Israel that he was not alone. When God has called us to something, He will always be in it, with us, and for us. While none of us have ever tried to conquer hundreds of miles of territory from wicked nations, we have all faced tragedies, hardships, and obstacles that have been far too much for us to bear alone. But God has never abandoned us, especially in our darkest and most difficult moments of life. For Joshua and the people of Israel, this would be the greatest test of their lives. Some pass and others do not. But those who do, get to experience the glory of a faithful God.

The central figure of this book is not who you’d suspect. The book is named after Joshua, the leader of God’s people, but he is not the main character. He’s not even the highest ranking commander in this military campaign to regain and redeem the land. The lead protagonist doesn’t even make His entry until chapter five.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the Lord. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?”And the commander of the Lord‘s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

Joshua 5:13-15 ESV

A few things about this character. One, he is in charge. Two, Joshua reveres him. And three, his presence is holy. I want to point out how each of these qualities points to the Messiah. First of all, the commander of the Lord’s army is used multiple times in connection with the person of Jesus. This insignia of headship is important when it comes to recognizing who the Messiah is. Check out these passages and how they relate to the figure and story of Joshua chapter five.

Do you think that I cannot appeal to my Father, and he will at once send me more than twelve legions of angels?

Matthew 26:33 ESV

On the eve of His crucifixion, Jesus reminded His disciples of His ability to command none other than an army of angels. A standard legion consists of anywhere from 3000 to 6000 men. So in this statement, Jesus lets us know that he could call down up to 72,000 angels at His will. Guaranteed He could call them all down if He so chose.

Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty.On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords.

Revelation 19:11-16 ESV

In John’s vision of the time to come, Jesus again makes an appearance, not as a gentle and lowly servant, but as a conquering general. With Him were the armies of heaven. Far greater in magnitude than twelve legions. This passage in revelations is highly regarded as the parallel passage to the events of Joshua’s day. Reasons for that are pretty numerous. A couple being that they contain the same main character and the same purpose to rid the land of evil. In Joshua’s day, it was isolated to the land of Canaan. In the end, it will be the entire Planet Earth that gets renewed and cleansed. And it is God who accomplishes both.

For the final comparison, I’d like to draw off of what the Commander of the Lord’s army tells Joshua. He tells him to take off his shoes for the place where he stands is holy. There is only one Figure in all of the Bible who can create holy space…God Himself. As we’ve already talked about in previous posts, God is the Messiah. He’s the one who goes before. He’s the one who rescues. The words of the Commander are exactly like the ones God Himself spoke back in Exodus chapter three.

Then he [God] said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.”

Exodus 3:5 ESV [my emphasis]

The Messiah is holy. His presence should make us tremble and rejoice. He is the definition of perfection, unlike anything else we’ve ever known. When we come before Him, it should be with extreme reverence and awe.  And the fact that He loves us like He does should leave us even more awestruck.

Be at peace brothers and sisters. You have a Savior who goes before you. Find yourself facing insurmountable odds? Your Messiah commands legions of Angels. Nothing is impossible with Him in your life.

God bless

The Curse of the Tree

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How could a tree ever be cursed? Trees are beautiful and majestic and just another amazing part of God’s creation that points to His creative and loving nature. Well, towards the end of the book of Deuteronomy we find a somewhat miscellaneous law about criminals being hung on a tree and being cursed by God.

“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the Lord your God is giving you for an inheritance.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 ESV

Three things can be taken from these two verses that are distinct indicators that Yeshua is the Messiah.

#1 The Accusation
During His life and ministry, Jesus made several statements about His divinity and oneness with God. Of course, that’s who the Messiah would have to be. That’s why God gave so many prophecies indicating that He would be the one to come to us, to save us, to redeem us. He and the Messiah are one. But many of the Jews didn’t realize that. They were shrouded in spiritual darkness, blinded by their own ignorance and pride. So many Jews sought to kill the Messiah for basically identifying Himself as the Messiah. They accused Him of blasphemy which was punishable by death.

I and the Father are one.” The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?”  The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.”

John 10:30-33 ESV

#2 The Punishment
Despite the innocence of Jesus, the angry mob lashed out and called for His death. It was the Roman authorities who sentenced Him, it was the people. The head of Roman leadership in the area, Pilate, knew Jesus was innocent. But he bent to the will of the hateful and misunderstanding crowd. Jesus sentence was to be hung on a tree…to be crucified.

Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people, and said to them, “You brought this man to me and said that he was misleading the people. Now, I have examined him here in your presence, and I have not found him guilty of any of the crimes you accuse him of. Nor did Herod find him guilty, for he sent him back to us. There is nothing this man has done to deserve death. So I will have him whipped and let him go.” The whole crowd cried out, “Kill him! Set Barabbas free for us!” (Barabbas had been put in prison for a riot that had taken place in the city, and for murder.) Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he appealed to the crowd again. But they shouted back, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

Luke 23:13-21 GNT

#3 The Burial
According to the law, no man hung on a tree can be left there overnight. Jesus did not remain on the cross but was taken by a handful of people to buried in a rich man’s tomb. This was an exception because the Romans did not obey Jewish law. The bodies of those who were crucified were often thrown in piles and seldom buried right away. But Jesus was special.
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away.He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds.Taking Jesus’ body, the two of them wrapped it, with the spices, in strips of linen. This was in accordance with Jewish burial customs.At the place where Jesus was crucified, there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb, in which no one had ever been laid.Because it was the Jewish day of Preparation and since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there.
John 19:38-42 NIV
Let’s face the facts, none of us are perfect. No one in history, other than Jesus, has ever followed the law of God perfectly. We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We have all blasphemed at some point, either by thought or action. By extension, we are all cursed before God due to our pride and self-centeredness. We all deserve the tree. Yeshua did not. Yeshua chose the tree so that we wouldn’t have to hang there ourselves.
For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.”Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.
Galatians 3:10-14 ESV
Be at peace brothers and sisters. The curse has been lifted. Glory, not the tree, is our destination!