Cleansing Lepers

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The entire system of Judaism was the gospel veiled.”

Stephen Haskell (The Cross and It’s Shadow)

We’ve moved into the third book of the bible on our journey to see how the entire Old Testament revealed the Messiah. The book of Leviticus is jam-packed with laws and regulations. This leads many people to avoid it all together. I admit, I was one of those people for many years. It wasn’t until I started to spend a lot of time studying the significance of the unfamiliar Old Testament passages that I began to appreciate all the little details.

One of the most incredible images of sin in the bible is seen in the leper. There is something about this disease, and the frequent alluding to it in the bible, that stands out. A leper was often treated with contempt and judgement, especially in the time of Jesus. They were separated from society and considered unclean. Their uncleanness made them social, and quite possibly, spiritual outcasts. Occasionally, people were struck with leprosy due to their rebellion against God. Like in the case of Miriam (Moses’ sister) for her actions against Moses. Or when King Uzziah was got it after doing what he was forbidden to do in the temple. But that is not the main point behind this disease. Many people got it, and many still do today. And it did make people unclean, but in a ceremonial sense, not in a moral sense. However, leprosy is a good outward picture of humanity’s inward sickness.

The nation of Israel had to experience cases of leprosy regularly, which I believe is why God created a method of cleansing them. In Leviticus chapter 14, God lays out specific steps for the leper to go through to be reinstated as ceremonially clean. That’s extremely important so that the individual can return to certain methods of worship that they would have to abstain from while unclean. I would suggest reading through all of Leviticus 14 on your own because I am going to be selecting only about 10 of the verses for this post. The verses I have picked all show some aspect of the Messiah’s purpose (verses 5-14), as well as the impact that He has on His followers’ lives (verses 15-18). Here we go…

#1- Birds and Pots

And the priest shall command them to kill one of the birds in an earthenware vessel over fresh water. (v.5)

The earthenware vessel of this ceremony is a picture of Christ’s dwelling in a human body which would eventually be used in the sacrifice. The bird being slain over flowing water alludes to the Messiah’s ever-flowing and ever-cleansing efficacy of His blood in the redeeming process.

#2- More birds, wood, hyssop, and blood

He shall take the live bird with the cedarwood and the scarlet yarn and the hyssop, and dip them and the live bird in the blood of the bird that was killed over the fresh water. (v.6)

The cedarwood tree represents the cross on which the Messiah hung and a small reed of hyssop supported the sponge that was dipped in vinegar wine and given to Him to quench His thirst as He hung there. The blood and the water were reflected by the blood and water that flowed from the side of Yeshua when the spear was jammed into His side (John 19). The live bird in this scene gained it’s freedom only after it was dipped in the blood of the slain bird. The Messiah, being that slain bird, who’s blood paid for our release.

#3- One last mention of birds

And he shall sprinkle it seven times on him who is to be cleansed of the leprous disease. Then he shall pronounce him clean and shall let the living bird go into the open field. (v. 7)

Seven is the number of completion in the bible. The blood being sprinkled seven times shows the completeness of the Messiah’s sacrifice in cleansing the leper, the sinner, you and me. We are said to have been sprinkled clean by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1).

#4- The blood of the Lamb

“And on the eighth day he shall take two male lambs without blemish, and one ewe lamb a year old without blemish, and a grain offering of three tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and one log of oil.And the priest who cleanses him shall set the man who is to be cleansed and these things before the Lord, at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the priest shall take one of the male lambs and offer it for a guilt offering, along with the log of oil, and wave them for a wave offering before the Lord.And he shall kill the lamb in the place where they kill the sin offering and the burnt offering, in the place of the sanctuary. For the guilt offering, like the sin offering, belongs to the priest; it is most holy.The priest shall take some of the blood of the guilt offering, and the priest shall put it on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot. (v.10-14)

A lamb without blemish, just like in the Passover celebration, is the image of the sinless one who was the Messiah. The blood was placed on the ear, thumb, and toe of the leper covering his body to signify he was wholly clean. Once the leper was deemed clean through the process described, he was then anointed for service.

Then the priest shall take some of the log of oil and pour it into the palm of his own left hand and dip his right finger in the oil that is in his left hand and sprinkle some oil with his finger seven times before the LordAnd some of the oil that remains in his hand the priest shall put on the lobe of the right ear of him who is to be cleansed and on the thumb of his right hand and on the big toe of his right foot, on top of the blood of the guilt offering.And the rest of the oil that is in the priest’s hand he shall put on the head of him who is to be cleansed. Then the priest shall make atonement for him before the Lord. (v.15-18)

After the sprinkling of blood, the newly cleansed person’s hands and feet were anointed with oil for service. His head was then anointed with oil which was often used in the method of commissioning people for service (like King David being anointed by Solomon). This is exactly what the effect of the Messiah would have on those who believe in Him. To accept His cleansing sacrifice is to also accept His anointing on our lives.

The leper was cleansed from a loathsome living death. He must have felt so thankful to God for the freedom and healing that he would have consecrated his life to the service of the Lord. His worship would have been amplified. His heart would have been open. No doubt, grace would have filled his life like never before. Another story of leprosy in the bible brings this to life even more.

On the way to Jerusalem he was passing along between Samaria and Galilee.And as he entered a village, he was met by ten lepers, who stood at a distance and lifted up their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” When he saw them he said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went they were cleansed. Then one of them, when he saw that he was healed, turned back, praising God with a loud voice; and he fell on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving him thanks. Now he was a Samaritan.Then Jesus answered, “Were not ten cleansed? Where are the nine?Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?”And he said to him, “Rise and go your way; your faith has made you well.”

Luke 17:11-19 (ESV)

Jesus cleanses ten lepers but only makes one well. The reaction of the one is the response of the truly humble. All ten received physical healing. The leprosy was gone. But when it says that the one was made well, it uses the same word (sozo in greek) that means saved from perishing. Wow! And the response of the one who was saved was humility, thankfulness, and straight up falling at the feet of Jesus. That was a man who recognized how desperate his situation was and how miraculous his encounter with Jesus was. That reminds me of yet another story in the bible.

One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table.And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment,and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty.When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.” And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.”Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Luke 7:36-50 (ESV)

Throughout the bible the condition of humanity is made very clear. We are all spiritually dead and separated from God because of our sin. God created a means, a process by which we can be in His presence. All of the old testament ceremonies were foreshadowings of what the Messiah would ultimately do once and for all. The Messiah’s mission was to heal the common leprosy that all of humanity suffers from. Yeshua did that for you and me. And His sacrifice comes with a calling. The oil of anointing is an emblem of the Holy Spirit, which is often symbolized by oil, preparing the follower of Christ for service. The Holy Spirit enables us to live the new life of freedom that Christ’s sacrifice made possible.

Here in a book written 1400 years before the Messiah would make His appearance and give His life to cleanse the world, God was giving us a picture of what to look for. The relationship between sacrifice and service was inextricably linked. To be cleansed means to be called.

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)

Be at peace my fellow cleansed and called ones!

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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?

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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!

The Sacrifice of a Son

This is just the third post in the series on how God revealed our Messiah. We’re barely scratching the surface but today’s post will wrap up our time in the book of Genesis. Enjoy.

God is mysterious. No doubt about that. But when it comes to His plan to redeem a fallen creation, He’s made it pretty unmistakable. It would take God himself to pay the price we owe. Even in the moments following the sin of Adam and Eve, God sacrificed animals in the garden to cover their nakedness and shame.

“And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.”

Genesis‬ ‭3:21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The animal that provided the garment for humanity was innocent. But sin equals death. And it takes life to restore life. The animal from the garden certainly didn’t remove the sin of man, nor restore them to life, but it pointed to a greater sacrifice that would. But this image in Genesis chapter three isn’t the only one that would point to the role of the Messiah. Another great foreshadowing appears in chapter 22 of the same book.

God calls on Abraham to take his son to a mountain, three days journey away, and offer him up. I know. That’s hard to swallow. But it becomes obvious that God had no intention of allowing Abraham’s son to be sacrificed because God would once again provide the sacrifice Himself.

“Then Abraham said to his young men, “Stay here with the donkey; I and the boy will go over there and worship and come again to you.” And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son. And he took in his hand the fire and the knife. So they went both of them together. And Isaac said to his father Abraham, “My father!” And he said, “Here I am, my son.” He said, “Behold, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” Abraham said, “God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son.” So they went both of them together. When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built the altar there and laid the wood in order and bound Isaac his son and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.” And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.””

Genesis‬ ‭22:5-14‬ ‭ESV

So much in this story points ahead to the Messiah. First, the picture of a son being given. Isaac wasn’t the sacrifice, only an illustration of the Son to come.

“”For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

John‬ ‭3:16-17‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Messiah would have to be ‘of God’ like a son. But not like a son in the human sense. Far closer. When the Bible talks about Yeshua as the Son of God, it is saying that He is from the bosom of Yahweh. He is connected in such a way that they are inseparable. But Jesus became the physical manifestation of the invisible God. And that physical manifestation would be offered in our place.

The second picture in the story of Genesis 22 is that of the ram caught in the thicket. Another title of the Messiah is the Lamb of God. The lamb to be the provision of sacrifice provided by God Himself. In the first chapter of John, baptisms were being done by a man named John the Baptist, to prepare people for the coming of the Messiah. Upon seeing Jesus John says,

“Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”

John‬ ‭1:29‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The Messiah is the Son and He is the Lamb. In both roles, He would be the sacrifice of God to save a sinful broken world. And the Lord did provide. Just as the prophecy foretold in Genesis 22. And if that’s not amazing evidence by itself, the mountain that the story takes place on is the same one on which Yeshua the Messiah would lay down His life. Nearly 2000 years later. And the wood for the altar would not be for fire but in the shape of a cross. A cross that our Messiah was nailed to. For us. For love.

Peace brothers and sisters

The ‘us and them’ mentality

I was raised to think the way that I believe most Christians are taught. It’s a sad reality and something that I’m not proud of. By raised, I simply mean that it was the message portrayed through various mediums, not necessarily my family. Everything around me seemed to reinforce that belief.

I’m talking about the separation we place between the church and Israel. A divide that was never meant to exist. A wall of separation, well over a thousand years in the making. A mentality that we inherited from our forefathers. And it runs deep!

I see it in the faces of many of my Christian brothers and sisters. I hear it on the radio, in certain podcasts, in books that have been talked about. History is littered with it too. I’ve even experienced the hostility myself, as a Christian, from other Christians. Six years ago I began a journey into the heart of the Lord’s Holy Feasts, talked about in Leviticus 23 and referenced through out the entire Bible. When some people heard I was doing this, they labeled me legalistic, and worse yet, questioned whether or not I was joining a cult. Neither of these could be further from the truth. I’ve also tried to be intentional about honoring the Sabbath, where I’ve been met with nearly equal criticism.

What is it about the Old Testament that is so threatening to modern western Christianity? Even in asking that question I shudder. I know people would never admit that their disposition towards the things of Israel and the Old Testament were hostile, but it sure seems prevalent. It’s as though the Christian Church has adopted a doctrine of ‘us and them’. Or even a position of ‘then and now’. What I mean is, it is taught that the destinies of Israel and the church are different. That God has replaced the nation of Israel with the church as His chosen people. That God no longer cares about the things of the Old Testament, only the new. Has that been your experience? How did we come to this? Here are some of my thoughts.

#1-Persecution

When the church was being born during the first few centuries AD, many Christians endured unthinkable evils at the hands of the Roman Empire. It was often due to local Jewish leaders causing a fuss and turning in Christians. It was a way of redirecting persecution off of them onto a controversial minority group. Over time, a divide was erected, even among believers who were once Jewish.

#2-Marriage with Paganism

In the forth century AD, the Christian Church got an influx of pagan rituals, most of which we can see in the idolatrous symbols in some churches, and in the celebrations of Christmas and Easter (both of which were pagan holidays long before any Christian celebrated them). Over time, the mingling of ideologies and practices drew followers of Christ further and further from their roots.

#3-Antisemitism

I highly doubt that any Bible-believing Christian today would admit to being anti-Semitic, but the disposition is as prevalent in the world today as it ever has been. Unfortunately, some in the church haven’t been immune to it. Sometimes it can be so subtle that someone may be completely unaware.

#4-Unfamiliarity

As the gap between Jew and Christian widened, people lost touch with practices and teachings that were thousands of years old. Today, most people are simply Bible illiterate, especially when it comes to the Old Testament. I think with that, comes a sense of fear.

#5-Changing Culture

We are so easily influenced and informed by the culture we grow up in. It’s true for everyone. Many of the Old Testament writings were from 3000-4000 years ago. Times have changed a lot in some ways. Not so much in others. And the Old Testament requires being culturally set apart as much as the New.

I don’t believe that any of these reasons, no matter how legitimate they seem, warrant where we are today. I mean think about it. How could we ever excuse shaming and ostracizing a believer who chooses to honor what the Bible teaches? But it’s like some people honestly think that if someone follows the Biblical dietary guidelines, keeps the Sabbath, celebrates God’s Holy Feasts, Studies Hebrew, etc…that they are somehow less Christian. That doesn’t make any sense.

When Jesus came, He did so to destroy the separation between Israel and the world. Israel was not fulfilling its role as the light of the world, to draw people to God. Instead, they had more times than not, merged with the world. The merger was supposed to happen the other way around. The nations of the world were supposed to see God’s glory and goodness through the nation of Israel and be drawn. Enter Jesus. He demonstrated the teachings of the Old Testament, and the character of God, the way Israel was meant to…the way humanity was supposed to. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus brought down the wall of separation forever. He grafted (Romans 11) the nations into Israel and made us all one through faith in Him.

“Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

Ephesians‬ ‭2:11-22‬ ‭ESV‬‬

It is no longer us and them. It can’t be. Jesus is the bond of peoples. He isn’t the gate through the wall of separation, He’s the wrecking ball that leveled the wall to the ground. We’ve been the ones, on both sides I admit, that have been rebuilding it. We do our Savior a great disservice if we allow ourselves to fall prey to any of the aforementioned reasons for the division that exists. We cannot allow prejudices to dictate our thoughts. We are about loving God and loving others. The ‘us and them’ mentality can’t harbor love. It is not Israel and the church. It is the Children of God, through faith in Christ. And when God calls a people His, they are His forever.

I implore you, brothers and sisters, to do your part to take down the wall, one brick at a time. Don’t allow unfamiliarity, prejudices, the culture, or history to estrange you from your Hebrew roots. Be the instrument of peace and unity where you are. Together, we can turn back the tide of fear and misconceptions and walk in the path of love and humility. Along the way, maybe we’ll all be changed by the Holy Spirit.

Lineage Speaks Loudly

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One of the most convincing arguments is DNA. It has been a cornerstone to our legal system for nearly 40 years. It’s revolutionized our understanding of history and relationships. There are programs now that can take a strand of our hair, or a drop of our blood, and trace our roots back to all corners of the globe. It’s absolutely incredible that we can know exactly where we came from because knowing where a person came from says a lot about them. The Messiah is no different. There are many passages throughout the Bible that establish very specific guidelines for the origins of God’s anointed one. This post will cover three of those which appear in the book of Genesis.

#1- The Lineage of Shem

He [Noah] also said, “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Shem; and let Canaan be his servant. May God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem, and let Canaan be his servant.”

Genesis 9:26-27 ESV

The above scene takes place following the great flood of the earth. Trouble has already begun to surface and Noah is pronouncing prophecy in response. The Lord is described here as the God of Shem and descendants of Shem’s brothers will either be welcomed in (made a part of) or become servants of his. The Bible has done us a huge favor here because it would go on to trace the lineage of Yeshua all the way back to Shem. That’s thousands of years of precise calculation between Shem and Jesus. A breakdown is provided for us in Luke 3:23-36. Another cool aspect of this lineage is how you can spot certain people in there and then go back through the Bible and read their stories. People like King David, Zerubbabel, and Abraham.

However, there is far more than just lineage in these verses from Genesis. It says that some of the descendants of Shem’s brothers will dwell in his tent. This essentially means they will become one family down the line. The problem existed though, when over the course of thousands of years Shem’s descendants became the people of Israel, and Japheth and Canaan’s line became gentiles. Anyone who has read the Bible knows that those two group had a major rift between them. But not after Jesus came Earth! A careful read of the book of Ephesians (yes, all of it) paints a clear picture of the effect of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It describes how the separation was torn down by the Messiah’s sacrifice. Gentiles have been “grafted in” to the line of Shem, to Israel, because of the sacrifice made by The One from Shem’s lineage, Yeshua the Messiah.

#2- The Lineage of Abraham

Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Genesis 12:1-3 ESV

There are a couple more verses (22:18 and 28:14) similar to this in later chapters, both of which are God reasserting His promise and blessing to the line of Abraham. The nation being discussed here is not what people would most likely connect. The ‘great nation’ are all of those who become Children of God through faith in the Messiah, who comes from Abraham’s line. Thousands of years later, the Apostle Peter would stand before a crowd of thousands in Jerusalem, and pronounce that the blessing of Abraham’s line had come. He was speaking of Jesus, who had died and been raised from the dead and seen by over 500 people.

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

Galatians 3:7-9 ESV

The Apostle Paul spoke these words to the church in Galatia to remind them of the sufficiency of Christ. That their faith in Him made them sons of Abraham. Jesus is the means by which God is blessing the great nation that fills the Earth, both Jew and Gentile. Just like in Shem’s lineage prophecy, the two have become one in Jesus. The great nation of blessing is not according to ethnicity or geography, it’s according to faith. It knows no borders. And people from all corners of the world are being blessed with salvation and hope and life because of Yeshua.

#3- The Lineage of Judah

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.

Genesis 49:10 ESV

Not only is the Messiah in the line of Shem and Abraham, but also of Judah. Judah was one of Abraham’s great-grandchildren. In the verse above, Jacob (Judah’s father), is speaking a blessing over his son. The blessing turns out to be very prophetic. Take the scepter as an example. This is a symbol of power and authority which should have been his older brother’s birthright, not his. But Judah’s older brothers forfeited that right through actions that we can read about in the preceding chapters of Genesis. The right of authority then passed to Judah. Guess who is a descendant of Judah. Jesus. And the obedience of the people of faith belongs to Him.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

John 10:14-18 ESV

Jesus was anointed to live, lead, and lay down His life for the world. Through that anointing, He also had the power to raise Himself to life and received the name above all other names.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:4-11 ESV

The more specific we get in terms of lineage, the more difficult it is to meet the criteria of the Messiah. That is one of many reasons why the Bible is sure to lay out specifics like this in order to remove confusion and fraudulent claims. Just as God’s response to our mistakes was immediate and precise, so too is the groundwork He laid for us to be able to recognize who that Redeemer was. The line to Jesus was determined from the very beginning and God often used people, such as Noah and Jacob, to announce the specific course it would take. One thing we can take from this is that our God is a planning God. That plan is good and was set forth from the beginning. Through His sovereignty, the plan has carried on from generation to generation for thousands of years.  A plan that was meant to save and to bless the world…to save and bless you through Yeshua the Messiah.

Peace in Christ brothers and sisters

Enter the Messiah

The title Messiah means anointed one sent of God. It is one of the most cherished titles among both Jews and Christians alike. The purpose of the one who would hold this title would incorporate so many facets. The Messiah would be a redeemer, a conquering king, a servant, and both humiliated and glorified. To be the Messiah one would have to embody both God’s character and His power. The Messiah would be utterly unique and set apart from anything in existence. The Messiah was God’s mission from the very first pages of the Bible. The reason? Humanity chose a path where the only solution that a loving God could have, would be salvation. And every single human in history has needed it.

In Genesis chapter three, a sneaky new character makes an appearance: the serpent. There’s much speculation surrounding what exactly this serpent is but one thing we can agree on: it is evil and it opposes God. For that reason, most believe that it is either the Devil himself, or him embodied in a reptilian creature of some sort. Regardless of which it is, this serpent is Satan, which means God’s adversary. We can make this claim because of what he does in one short chapter. He deceived Adam and Eve to eat of the forbidden fruit. It is this free will choice that makes salvation for humanity a necessity of love. I insert the ‘love’ in there because a detached god would simply allow humanity to pine away in their misery and offer no possible escape. But Yahweh (God) cannot. His character demands pursuit and a passionate commitment to His creation. Enter the Messiah.

Genesis chapter three contains both the fall of man and the redemption of God. The response of God to our tragic mistake is swift and powerful. In Genesis 3:14-15 God announces that the serpent is cursed and that:

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Genesis‬ ‭3:15‬ ‭ESV‬‬

This one verse says so much about the Messiah and introduces us to who exactly that Messiah is. Let’s break it down. The seed of the woman shall deal a fatal blow to the serpent…the adversary…Satan. The blow to his head would render him ineffective and useless. The reference here to just the woman is the first place where the Messiah is mentioned to be born of a virgin. Otherwise, he would belong to the seed of both the man and woman. But that is not what the Bible says. Nearly 2000 years ago, Yeshua (Jesus) became the only person in history to be born of a virgin (Matthew 1:18 and Galatian 4:4-5). This is just the first of many prophecies that reveal Yeshua as the Messiah of God’s redemptive plan. He also fit the second criteria by fatally wounding the deceiver of mankind. The blow that Yeshua dealt by dying on the cross, was, in fact, fatal and the serpent has been suffering from its wounds ever since. Eventually to succumb to those wounds and to die a painful death that never ends. The consequences of Adam and Eve’s sin were destroyed for everyone who believes in Jesus (Hebrews 2:14-15). This blow came at a great cost though. Genesis 3 said that the seed’s (Messiah’s) heal would be bruised by the serpent. A picture of suffering. Just read Matthew 26 and 27. To get a picture of Jesus’ suffering. It was the price of our sin that caused that suffering for the Messiah. A theme that will resurface over and over.

And there remains a final blow yet to be dealt. This will happen when the serpent is cast into utter darkness for good at the second coming of the Messiah (Revelation 20:7-10). This is a day when it is said that Jesus will return as conquering King to reclaim, once and for all, His creation. A day in the future, only known by God himself. A day when life will flourish and the stain of humanity’s error is removed. Praise Jesus for His victory now and His victory then. The serpent’s days are finished.

‬‬“Death is swallowed up in victory.”
 “O death, where is your victory?
  O death, where is your sting?

1 Corinthians 15:55 ESV