Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory

July 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Matthew 26:7-9

The Disciples accused the woman with the alabaster box of wastefulness, but Jesus defended her. The one who was really guilty of “wastefulness” was Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called the “son of perdition.” Judas wasted his opportunities, and betrayed his Master. He was not a martyr or an innocent tool of providence. He thought that he could “use” his place in the earthly ministry of Jesus for profit. Remember, things are to be “used;” people are to be “saved.” Things “used up” for the glory of Christ are not “wasted.” The King will be loyal to those who truly worship Him.

In Matthew Chapter 27 the King was placed on trial. The charges were: misleading the nation; forbidding the paying of taxes; and claiming to be king, as shown in Matthew 27:11-26. This third charge is the one that Pilate dealt with because it could have been a threat to the Roman Empire.

Pilate found no fault, because he understood that Jesus was claiming to be King of a Kingdom “not of this world.” However, Pilate chose to yield to the people and not to the true King.

At this point, King Jesus demonstrated His meekness and submission and strength. For His willingness to submit and for the strength that allowed Him to endure this tremendous, indescribable humiliation, we who know Him as Savior shall be eternally giving thanks.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42

It was ironic for the people to claim that they would like to have a king who would save himself and not others. That’s how warped their idea of kingship had become.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:45-50

Jesus was crucified at what we would consider to be 9:00 a.m. He was on the Cross for three hours until noon. At noon darkness covered the land – not a coincidental eclipse or a sandstorm, but a supernaturally produced darkness. Then it was dark for three hours. To the extent such a thing can be said to have occurred in “time,” this is believed to have been the time when Christ was “made sin.”

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Exodus 10:21-22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Psalm 22:1-2

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The King’s victory was yet another proof of His Kingship. In earthly governments, such as the Roman Empire of that time, it is common to see the principles of realpolitik and “might makes right,” but with God His might and His right flow from His Divine nature, so that He can never be overcome by, or with, wickedness.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:1-6

The angel sat upon the rock, bearing witness to the King’s Resurrection, but we bear witness today by standing upon the Rock and speaking forth the truth of Scripture.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

The King commands us to be active, making not just converts, but also disciples: making learners and doers. We are not called to be, or to make, mere spectators.

Catechism Question 16

January 26, 2015 at 1:56 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism, Isaiah | 8 Comments
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Question 15: What did Jesus do while He was here on earth?
Answer: He lived a perfect, sinless life.
Prove it.
John 8:29

Question 16: How was Jesus treated here on earth?
Answer: He was hated, rejected, and falsely accused.
Prove it.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

Jesus of Nazareth, the most kind, loving, compassionate person Who ever walked the face of the earth, was held, at least part of the time, by at least a certain segment of the populace, in varying levels of esteem. There were even those who loved Him and honored Him to a degree. Some even worshiped and adored and learned from His teaching. Yet the overall tenor of His sojourn through this world was scorn, ridicule, abuse, and persecution. Why?

Because He was the light Who came into the world to expose the evil of human beings who loved their sin and did not want it exposed. Because He divided the true from the false, and division is seldom comfortable. Because Satan was motivating his followers to attack and oppose Christ’s ministry and mission. Because He challenged the status quo of false religion and the greed and self-righteousness of the religious leaders and system of that day.

Other verses to consider:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5

But they cried out, Away with [him], away with [him], crucify him. Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar.

John 19:15

From What Were You Saved? (A and B)

July 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Salvation | 15 Comments
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Lord, thank You for Your great plan of salvation – offered freely to us even though it cost You so much. When we look in Your Word we see that we are so unclean, and we have no excuse – we are undone. All our reasoning, all our speculation, all our schemes and imaginings apart from Your Word must be crucified. Lord, help us to recognize that You are now, have always been, and will always be worthy of all praise, honor, and glory, and to recognize that You alone can save and sanctify. In the holy name of Christ Jesus. Amen.

Have you been “saved?” If your answer is “yes,” and if you understand the term “saved” to be synonymous with “born again” or “regenerated,” then let me ask you this: From what were you saved?

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

Isaiah 53:5 (emphasis added)

The “He” in that verse is Jesus. The “our” is you and me.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6 (emphasis added)

“The LORD” is God the Father. The “Him” is Jesus. The “us all” is you and me.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:7-10 (emphasis added)

“Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him” means that it pleased God to bruise Jesus. Does that surprise you? Have you heard it before? Is your understanding of salvation limited to a Gospel tract containing the “ABC”s of salvation: “A.dmit (that you are sinner); B.elieve (that Christ died for you); C.onfess (with your mouth the Lord Jesus)?” To help us have a deeper understanding of what it means to be saved – and from what we need to be saved – I want to present to you a different set of “ABC”s.

Christ’s A.gony

Most people have either seen a film called The Passion of the Christ, or have been in a church service where someone has preached about some of the graphic and violent details of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion. You have probably heard about the crown of thorns, and the beatings, and the Roman whips, and the spear piercing His side, and the blood pouring down (not the discreet trickle of blood that is depicted in popular Roman Catholic art, but a veritable blood bath). If so, you may have the idea that this type of physical suffering is what Christ endured in our place, and I certainly do not believe we should try to minimize the importance of the physical suffering of Christ on the Cross. But there was much more to it than that.

Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done. And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.

Luke 22:42-44

Before His arrest and subsequent crucifixion, Christ was in agony as He prayed in the Garden of Gesthemane, and it was more than the agony of knowing that He was going to endure a painful physical death. As He sweated out great drops of blood He was thinking about more than Roman whips and punches – about worse than thorns and spears and nails and thirsting and physical torture. As Christ looked forward from the garden to the Cross, He saw the moment when He must say, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me..?” We are talking about the perfect Son of God Who had never for a fraction of a moment been out of the loving graces of His Heavenly Father. He was a Son who had never grieved His Father – had done nothing but bless Him for all eternity. When Jesus accepted the Father’s will, and agreed to drink the cup instead of letting it pass from His lips, He suffered agony that went beyond the physical. If you have been “saved,” it is true that the physical “stripes” on the back of the Lord Jesus were endured in your place, but what you have been “saved” from is so much worse than sickness and physical pains and infirmities and ailments.

Christ’s B.ruising

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him…

Isaiah 53:10

We use the word “bruising” to mean a little discoloration of the skin due to a relatively minor injury. But the word being translated as “bruise” in Isaiah 53:10 means “to crush.” It contains the idea of the way grain was placed into a millstone to be ground into bits – crushed and utterly shattered. How could it please the Lord – God the Father – to bruise – to crush – His Son?

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

If you are truly “saved,” then God has justified you, meaning that He has declared you to be righteous, even though, as a sinner, you are truly wicked. How is it that God can declare you righteous without being an abomination unto Himself? And how is it that He allowed Christ Jesus – the only truly “just” human being to ever walk the earth – to be unjustly condemned? The answer lies in understanding exactly what transpired on the Cross of Jesus Christ, which we will look at next time.

Spending Time with the “Right” Kind of People

March 15, 2013 at 10:29 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 12 Comments
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I suppose I can understand the temptation. You are scrolling down your Facebook feed, checking up on all your friends and relatives, oohing and aahing over the latest baby pictures and commiserating with the complaints about the weather… and suddenly you see it. Someone has shared what looks like an ad from an old-timey magazine with a drawing of a lady in a sunhat sipping an iced tea above a paragraph of prose so catchy and inspiring you feel like you just can’t help yourself from clicking “share!” Before you even realize you are doing it, you have posted something like this:

Free yourself from negative people. Spend time with nice people who are smart, driven and like-minded. Relationships should help you, not hurt you. Surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be. Choose friends who you are proud to know, people you admire, who love and respect you – people who make your day a little brighter simply by being in it. Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. When you free yourself from negative people, you free yourself to be YOU – and being YOU is the only way to truly live.

I don’t know how to transliterate the sound of one of those buzzers that go off when someone guesses incorrectly on a television game show, but just imagine it here. Unless you are not a Christian, that is. If you’re not a Christian, these kinds of mushy self-help slogans and pop psychology tripe are perfectly understandable. If you’ve never trusted Christ as your Savior, you can stop reading now – or better yet click here for something that will help you tremendously.

Now, for those of you Christians who are still reading, I know it’s asking a lot, but let’s try to think before we “share.” The Bible says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind, not the removing of your mind.

Should you “free yourself from negative people?” Not according to the Bible.

Blessed are ye, when [men] shall revile you, and persecute [you], and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great [is] your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you. Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:11-16

Should you “spend time with nice people who are smart, driven, and like-minded?” Not if you want to be like Jesus.

The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!

Luke 7:34

Is life really “too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you?” If you are selfish, and your goal in life is to make yourself “happy” with a false circumstances-dependent happiness, then it sure is! However, if your goal is to be conformed to the image of Christ, and to love and serve difficult, suffering, and miserable people, then those are precisely the type of people you want in your life.

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Philippians 2:5-7

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

Is “being YOU the only way to truly live?” Silly me, I thought the way to truly live was to die to self and have Christ the Lord live through us.

And he said to [them] all, If any [man] will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?

Luke 9:23-25

For to me to live [is] Christ, and to die [is] gain.

Philippians 1:21

There is no easy “like” button to click when it comes to sanctification.

How Tall Was Jesus?

October 21, 2011 at 10:20 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Teaching, Luke | 17 Comments
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When I first became the teacher of an adult Sunday School class my biggest worry was that somebody in class would ask a question for which I didn’t have an answer. So I would tend to “over-study” in preparation for class. Even if we were going to be covering something really simple (Does Jesus say you should love your neighbor?) I would be prepared to do a complete exegesis on the Olivet Discourse and to defend my position on infralapsarianism versus supralapsarianism – just in case. Well, after a few weeks, I stopped worrying about that. I came to realize that I had more pressing concerns than somebody asking a difficult question and putting me on the spot. My bigger concerns had to do with just trying to keep everybody awake for 35 minutes – or trying to make sure the people who preferred the chairs to be arranged in a circle didn’t physically attack the people who preferred to sit classroom-style. Instead of being afraid that someone would ask a difficult question, I actually began to hope that anyone would ask anything – which would at least indicate that someone was listening or had read the lesson. Finally, it happened.

A particular fellow stayed after class one Sunday morning and came up to me as I was shuffling my notes back into my folder. Oh boy, I thought, maybe he wants to know about modalism or the Sabellian controversy! But instead he said in a gruff voice, “Hey you’re one of them Christians – one of them ‘church people.’ How tall do you think Jesus was?”

Of course, I had no idea. And although I don’t think Jesus’s height bears a tremendous significance on the essentials of the Christian faith, I did promise to study the matter and get back to him.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

From the time Jesus was 12 years old He “increased in stature.” Presumably, this means that He “grew up” physically. So, however tall He was at 12, we can assume He got taller as He got older. The last part of that verse, which says “with God and man,” appears to apply to the part about Him growing “in favor,” but I suppose it might also apply to “increased in stature.” If Jesus grew “in stature with other men,” that would not tell us definitively how tall He was, but it would lead us to suppose that He reached an “average” height – similar to other men.

And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.

Matthew 27:35 (emphasis added)

The Roman soldiers cast lots (gambled) for Jesus’s clothing after He was stripped and crucified. They did this partly to fulfill Old Testament prophecy, but it is unlikely that the soldiers in their own minds even knew this prophecy, much less that they knew the Divine hand of God was causing them to fulfill it. It is also unlikely that they cast lots hoping to win a valuable souvenir or a Roman Catholic “relic.” More likely, they were hoping to obtain some free clothing. (Clothing was relatively expensive back in those days.) From this, we might infer that Jesus was physically around the same size as the average Roman soldier.

In that same hour said Jesus to the multitudes, Are ye come out as against a thief with swords and staves for to take me? I sat daily with you teaching in the temple, and ye laid no hold on me.

Matthew 26:55

When Jesus was arrested, He pointed out to His persecutors that He had been among them openly, and the fact that He referred to His teaching as the means by which they might have recognized Him and arrested Him sooner, rather than by His physical appearance, may mean that there was nothing especially noteworthy about the way He looked.

Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

John 8:59

It is possible that when Jesus escaped being stoned in the Temple He supernaturally camouflaged Himself, but it is also possible that, during the confusion, He simply blended in with the crowd and got away, which, if He was of average height and appearance, would not have been terribly difficult to do.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

If Jesus, during His earthly life, was tempted in all the ways in which we are tempted, might not that have included the temptation that comes with being made fun of for how we look? This does not really tell us anything about His height, but it does tend to support the idea that Jesus was not especially physically attractive. We know from the Gospel records that He was not a wimp, but He was gentle. Great stature (height or size) is usually associated in the Bible – especially in the Old Testament – with sin or great wickedness. (See Genesis 6:4-5; Numbers 13:30-32; I Samuel 17:4.)

These are only clues at best, but it seems that there was nothing glaring or especially attractive about Jesus’s physical appearance.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:2-3 (emphasis added)

Regardless of whether Jesus was tall or short according to the standards of His day, we know that God looks at men’s hearts more than their outward appearance. Jesus was a giant when it came to righteousness and love. He did not intimidate people with His physical size. He was “tall enough” to bear our sorrows, griefs, and sins and to nail them to His Cross.

While we don’t have a detailed description of the physical appearance of Jesus during His days on earth, we do have something of a description of how He will look when He returns to set things right once and for all:

His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

Revelation 1:14-15

By the way, that explanation did not satisfy my friend who stayed after class to ask me about it, and I suppose he went down the road to another church where the preacher got “a rhema word from God” and told him without a doubt that Jesus was five foot eleven and a half. Oh well, you can’t win ’em all.

Made a Scapegoat

August 24, 2011 at 9:43 am | Posted in Common Expressions | 5 Comments
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The term “scapegoat” has come to mean a person who takes the blame as a sacrifice for someone else who is actually at fault. For example, imagine that a government entity is collecting taxes for the improvement of roads, but the funds are actually being spent on thousands of dollars’ worth of Community Coffee. When the matter comes to light, the government officer responsible will often fire someone in accounting who was only following orders and was not truly responsible for the misuse of the funds. The reason for this injustice would be to appease the public and create the impression that the “higher-ups” were not really at fault for the corruption. In that example, the fired person is said to be the “scapegoat.”

Another example is when a football team is predicted to go 12-4 in the preseason polls, but actually finishes 5-11. The owner and the general manager and the head coach will get together and decide to fire the special teams coach. This is supposed to satisfy the ticket-buying fans that real changes are being made for next year. In that scenario the special teams coach is the “scapegoat.”

“Scapegoat” is a term that is slowly being replaced these days by the ubiquitous phrase, “thrown under the bus.” To “throw someone under the bus” has a similar connotation in that the person being “thrown under the bus” is someone who is being betrayed by a lack of loyalty on the part of his former colleagues or employer. A “scapegoat,” in popular usage, is usually someone who doesn’t deserve the blame he is getting. Whereas, the person “thrown under the bus” may actually have done something worthy of blame.

I prefer the term “scapegoat” because it is found in the Bible.

And he shall take the two goats, and present them before the LORD at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation. And Aaron shall cast lots upon the two goats; one lot for the LORD, and the other lot for the scapegoat. And Aaron shall bring the goat upon which the LORD’S lot fell, and offer him for a sin offering. But the goat, on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat, shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make an atonement with him, and to let him go for a scapegoat into the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:7-10

https://i0.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/db/Webb_Sending_Out_the_Scapegoat.jpg

The laws of the “holy place” were given to Moses by the Lord after the death of Aaron’s sons. God told Moses to tell Aaron that this is how God wants the sacrifices done. The occasion described in these Verses is known as the Day of Atonement.

There is much disagreement among Bible scholars as to what the two goats represent. The lot for the Lord fell upon the goat which became the sin offering. The other goat was let go to escape in the wilderness after Aaron had laid his hands on it and confessed all the sins of the children of Israel on its head. Some Bible teachers think that the sin-offering goat represents Christ. Some think that the scapegoat represents Christ. Others say that the scapegoat represents Satan. Some say that the word for “escaped goat” or “goat removed” is “Azazel” who was a pagan god or symbol. Still others think that both goats represent Christ.

And Aaron shall lay both his hands upon the head of the live goat, and confess over him all the iniquities of the children of Israel, and all their transgressions in all their sins, putting them upon the head of the goat, and shall send him away by the hand of a fit man into the wilderness:

Levitcus 16:21, emphasis added

Notice that the scapegoat bore the iniquities of the people.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11, emphasis added

The scapegoat was not allowed to wander about until he found his way into the wilderness. He was “sent” away by the hand of a fit man.

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.

John 19:16, emphasis added

And the goat shall bear upon him all their iniquities unto a land not inhabited: and he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.

Leviticus 16:22

The scapegoat symbolically took away the sins of the people.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29, emphasis added

There is a popular praise chorus which says about Jesus:
Living, He loved me;
Dying, He saved me;
Buried, He carried my sin far away;
Rising, He justified freely forever;
Some day He’s coming back – oh glorious day!

Leviticus 16:21 says that the priest was to confess over the goat’s head all their iniquities and all their transgressions and all their sins.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:2

I believe that the scapegoat was a symbol or a foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ. I could be wrong, but what I do know for sure is that my sin has been carried away by Jesus. He has paid for it in full.

If someone tells you they’re tired of being the scapegoat, or if you ever find yourself in the position of being a scapegoat, remember the original scapegoat. The only way to be a true “escaped” goat – to escape the price that has to be paid for sin – is to put our faith and trust in the only One Who could pay – and has paid – the price for sin – the only One Who was sinless and perfect enough to carry our sin away.

The Bookends of Faith (Part 1)

November 15, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Exodus, John, The Bookends of Faith | 31 Comments
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The Bookends of Faith in the Deity of Jesus Christ: The first and last of the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John

Here are the seven “I AM” statements in the Book of John:

1. I AM the Bread of Life (6:35)

2. I AM the Light of the World (8:12)

3. I AM the Door (10:9)

4. I AM the Good Shepherd (10:11)

5. I AM the Resurrection, and the Life (11:25)

6. I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)

7. I AM the True Vine (15:1)

I AM the Bread of Life and I AM the True Vine: these two principles are the “bookends of faith” in the deity of Christ.

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.

John 6:38

The Bread of Life came down from Heaven. Only God could come down from Heaven.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

John 15:4

The True Vine provides life to the branches, and, because the branches are “in” the Vine, they are secure. Only God can give and preserve life.

The two words that John 6:35 and 15:1 have in common are “I AM.”

And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13-14

God told Moses, “I AM THAT I AM.” God is unexplainable. God is unending (eternal and infinite – unending and unbeginning). God is uncommon (truly unique). In John Chapter 6 Jesus had performed a miracle. He had made five loaves into enough bread to feed a whole multitude. Many were grateful for this miracle, but few were grateful because of what it taught or what it pronounced: It pronounced that Jesus was God.

Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.

John 6:26

Most were grateful because of what it provided.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? how is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven?

John 6:41-42

Jewish rabbis taught that the Messiah would duplicate the miracle of the manna, but Jesus didn’t call down bread from Heaven – He was the Bread from Heaven. The manna was a type and Christ was the reality, but like every “type” that Christ fulfilled, He not only fulfilled it, He also turned out to be a “better-than” the type.

Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead.

John 6:49

I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

John 6:51

How Jesus was like the manna:

1. The manna was a mystery. It’s name meant “what is it.”

And when the children of Israel saw it, they said one to another, It is manna: for they wist not what it was. And Moses said unto them, This is the bread which the LORD hath given you to eat.

Exodus 16:15

Jesus seemed mysterious to those who saw Him.

But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

John 6:36

2. The manna came when it was dark.

And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

Exodus 16:21

Jesus came into a (spiritually) dark world.

3. The manna was small and round.

And when the dew that lay was gone up, behold, upon the face of the wilderness there lay a small round thing, as small as the hoar frost on the ground.

Exodus 16:14

Jesus was not physically significant or socially “important.” Like a round object, which has no beginning and no end, Jesus, being God, is eternal.

4. The manna was white and sweet.

And the house of Israel called the name thereof Manna: and it was like coriander seed, white; and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Exodus 16:31

White represents purity and sinlessness – Jesus was pure inside and out. Although the manna was sweet, Jesus is even sweeter.

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

Psalm 34:8

5. Manna was given to a rebellious people.

And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.

Exodus 16:3

Jesus came to seek and save rebellious sinners.

The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.

John 6:41

6. The manna had to be either picked up (received) or trampled.

Jesus must be received or rejected (despised.) Make no mistake, when you reject Christ, you are doing far worse than stepping on Him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Isaiah 53:3

Jesus was treated as utterly vile and was completely forsaken by men. He experienced the kinds of feelings associated with rejection that make you physically sick.

7. Manna sustained life. Jesus gave life – eternal life.

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

John 6:35

Next time, we will ask, “Are you more grateful for what the I AM proves or for what it provides?”

A Leopard Can’t Change His Spots

October 4, 2010 at 11:39 am | Posted in Common Expressions, Jeremiah | 9 Comments
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Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.

Jeremiah 13:23

The Bible uses the Ethiopian in this verse because Ethiopians were known to have dark skin. The point seems to be that those who are long accustomed to sin are going to find it impossible to break the practice. That is because, like the color of our skin, or like a leopard’s spots, it is part of our nature. We can’t, by force of will, change our skin color any more than a leopard can change his spots. We can’t do it, but Someone else can change our nature.

Ethiopians are mentioned a few times in the Old Testament, but there is one particularly well known Ethiopian in the New Testament. At the end of Acts Chapter 8 the Bible gives us the historical account of the ministry of Philip. He encountered an Ethiopian servant, riding in a fancy chariot, reading aloud. Philip asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” He was reading what we refer to as Isaiah Chapter 53. The Ethiopian had already “opened” the Word of God. Philip could get right to the alleging and reasoning and sharing.

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Acts 8:35

Philip opened his mouth. The Lord Jesus, as referenced in Isaiah 53:7, kept His mouth closed. Part of the reason that He kept His mouth closed was to empower us to open ours. Philip, his tongue surrendered to the Holy Ghost, opened his mouth, but he did not start to entertain the Ethiopian with songs. He opened his mouth, but he did not simply begin to pray aloud for the Ethiopian. He opened his mouth, but He did not perform a drama or a skit. He opened his mouth, but he did not invite the Ethiopian out for a cup of coffee. He opened his mouth, but he did not politely inquire as to how the Ethiopian’s job was going these days. No, Philip opened his mouth and preached. And what did he preach? Ten easy steps for eunuchs to regain their self-esteem? How to speak forth the promises of God every day for three months in order to get out of debt? No, he preached Jesus!

When the Ethiopian saw some water, he said, “Hey there’s some water, what’s stopping me from just getting down right here and being baptized?” Just like the leopard who can’t change his spots or the person who can’t change his nature by washing in water, baptism can’t change our sin nature. But something else can. What can wash away our sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Would you be whiter, much whiter than snow?
There’s power in the blood, power in the blood;
Sin stains are lost in its life giving flow.
There’s wonderful power in the blood.

“There Is Power in the Blood,” Lewis E. Jones

“Well,” says the weary wife of a wayward husband or the discouraged parent of a prodigal child, “I sure would like to see my loved one quit running the roads and settle down, but you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, or a leopard can’t change its spots.” Don’t give up! The Bible says a leopard can’t change its own spots, but the blood of Jesus can wash them away.

If you feel discouraged over the long practice of a favorite pet sin, remember: The Word of God is a cleansing agent. Sin will keep you from the Bible, or the Bible will keep you from sin.

Holiness is not the way to salvation. Salvation is the way to holiness.

Character and Integrity Part 6

October 13, 2009 at 10:49 am | Posted in character and integrity, Luke | 10 Comments
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Our three main enemies are the devil, the world, and our flesh. The devil wants to lie to us and deceive us. Our flesh wants us to please ourselves, and not God. The world wants us to be fake – something we’re not – in order to get money.

We must not fool ourselves into thinking we can control your own bodies. We must not let people tell us that we have a built-in excuse: our nature. God has the power to control everything. He controls the wind, waves, earthquakes, and atoms. We should not be the one thing that God created that rebels against Him.

What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.

I Corinthians 6:19-20

God can control our bodies – the desires of our flesh – if we surrender to Him. But we have to surrender every day. Our minds are not going to be blank. We have to replace bad thoughts with good thoughts.

Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Colossians 3:2

In this ongoing series of lessons, I have made comparisons between the character and integrity of material objects and the character and integrity of Christians. Continuing in this vein, I submit that a straight wall has better character and integrity than a crooked wall.

Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall made by a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more:

Amos 7:7-8

For a wall to stand, it must be in balance. Jesus Christ was the most balanced Person of all time.

And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

Luke 2:48

When the Lord Jesus, as a boy, went to the temple without checking in with his earthly parents, they probably thought He had lost His mind. He had not, but here in the story of the Prodigal Son, we see someone who had lost his mind, evidenced by the expression, “he came to himself.”

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Paul was accused of being “beside himself,” another term for having lost his mind.

And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul, thou art beside thyself; much learning doth make thee mad.

Acts 26:24

There was a belief in Bible times that the mind could be separated from the body. The symptoms were that the person’s body was doing something that was out of balance with what the mind would have dictated.

The Lord Jesus, even at age 12, was completely in balance, despite some of the so-called disadvantages which we use as excuses for being out of balance today.

Jesus’s earthly family was not wealthy.

And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:24

His brothers did not believe in Him.

For neither did his brethren believe in him.

John 7:5

His mother did not always understand Him.

There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren?

Mark 3:31-33

Joseph, his earthly foster father, did not always understand Him.

And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.

Luke 2:50

Whenever you feel frustrated because you think nobody understands you, remember that Jesus was misunderstood His whole earthly life!

And yet, look at the balance in His life.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

The Lord Jesus spent His teenage years preparing for His ministry mentally. When Jewish boys turn 13 they celebrate a “Bar Mitzvah,” which means “son of the law.”

Each of us has different degrees of intellectual ability, but no matter how smart we are, it is important to do our best. If we do well in every part of our lives except our intellectual studies, we are going to be out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

“Stature” can refer to size and age. This verse leads us to believe that Jesus was healthy, but He did not give unbalanced attention to His outward physical appearance. He was probably ordinary-looking.

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah 53:2

We need to eat right, get enough sleep, exercise.

But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:27

Our outward appearance is not as important as the spiritual condition of our heart, but it is important. We need to be guided by the example of Jesus. He stood out because of His Words, manner, and actions, not because of His physical appearance. As Christians, we should sometimes stand out, but we should not stand out for the wrong reasons: tattoos, body piercings, facial piercings, ridiculously long hair on boys and men. Remember, Jesus was a Nazarene, not a Nazarite. There is no warrant in Scripture for portraying Him with the long girlish hair seen in most artwork. A common objection to the admonition not to have an attention-seeking physical appearance is, “I’m just expressing myself.” But the truth is, God doesn’t want us expressing ourselves – He want us to express Him!

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.

Romans 15:1

A good question to ask about my physical appearance is whether I am exalting God, or exalting me? If my “stature,” my body, is not surrendered to God, then I am out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

If anybody had the right to really think He was Somebody special, it was Jesus. But even though He was the “Lord,” He didn’t “lord” it over everyone.

But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.

Luke 2:44

Notice that Jesus’s earthly family could go a day without worrying about how people treated Him. They knew that people like someone who is a servant, and who is obedient and respectful. As a man, the Lord Jesus was invited to weddings and parties. If you’re not socially acceptable, or if you’re acceptable only around people who love sin, you are out of balance.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and Man.

Luke 2:52 (emphasis added)

Jesus was and is God, but in Jesus’s humanity it is also true that God “was with” Jesus. Jesus had favor with God.

And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.

Luke 2:46

When Jesus went to the temple, He did not slump down in the back row. He did not pass notes. None of the teachers got frustrated because He wasn’t paying attention. Jesus was not only asking questions, but He was “hearing them.”

Jesus prayed often. He even taught lessons on how to pray. He quoted Scripture when He was tempted by Satan and challenged by the Pharisees. He always knew the right Verse for the occasion. If you are not right spiritually, you are out of balance.

Jesus was perfect mentally, physically, socially, and spiritually, and He is our model.

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