Friday, March 17, 2017

Israel's Turning Point

  America, as well as other “Christian” nations, seemingly is becoming more and more ungodly by the hour.  Just a quick scan of daily news articles and consideration of current trends will more than support this conclusion.  With that in mind, there is probably no greater book to address this concern than the often dismal but ever important Book of Judges, and a better understanding of its literary structure will assist in unlocking its much needed far-reaching message.  The overall theme of this book is one that every believer needs to consider personally, prayerfully, and carefully.  Of course, that theme is apostasy. 

      The structure of the Book of Judges is amazing.  A careful study will reveal that the judges, in the order of their appearance, are getting further from the truths taught to them in the Word.  An even closer study will reveal that this book is written in a chiastic structure that is meant to call attention to this drift.* When the main judges are charted and compared the pattern becomes obvious and the true message of the entire book becomes clear.  It is not how you start the race that counts, but how well you finish it!  While our performance as believers does not diminish the grace of God, it does injure our witness and effectiveness for the Lord.

     Briefly, a chiasm is an ancient literary device that placed a symmetric pattern into the text.  The purpose was to highlight a specific theme with thematic support before and after.  This device is very common and is found in the New Testament as well (As an example, the entire Book of Revelation is presented in a chiastic structure).  Patterns of this sort revolve around a center point, a point of reflection, and the life of Gideon is the point of reflection in Judges.  Every judge before Gideon has predominately positive characteristics while those following him are mostly negative.  In future articles these comparisons will be shown and many of the judges will be compared and contrasted as the text calls for.

     Before we go on, the word apostasy tends to be a controversial word the moment it is mentioned.  This is not going to be a series on all of the theological arguments and implications this word evokes.  The purpose is to see what we servants of Christ can do to bring much needed change to our society given that we are clearly at a crucial time when righteousness is mocked but godlessness is praised.  Are there areas in our lives where we can deepen our commitment at the foot of the cross and receive grace to end well in this time of cataclysmic moral need? We, the church, must be shrewd and not feud as it is certain that if it is rude, nude, crude, or lewd, today, it is now glorified in our nation and on our watch. It seems that sin and wickedness have poisoned the very soul of our society.  In Christ, the church is the light this lost nation needs—but can we burn brighter and bring greater glory to Jesus?  Again, the Book of Judges can help us rise up to answer these challenges.  We must then consider the example of Gideon.

     It was a grand day as recorded in Judges 6.  In a beautiful Christophany, Jesus visits Gideon and calls him to be a judge in order to answer the cries of His people and bring vital deliverance.  Furthermore, as He calls Gideon to battle God’s enemies, Jesus reveals himself as the “LORD our Peace” even as He is calling Gideon to war (a book could be written here as most of us are very unsettled by the advances of the enemy around us but let's stick to the pattern.  Just remember, Jesus is your peace even though it seems that the earth is being moved and the mountains are being cast into the sea).  Gideon then arises, builds an altar at Ophrah of the Abiezrites, and offers a sacrifice.  He is on the mountaintop spiritually and ready to take on the oppressors.  Rising from the altar of worship he then casts down the nearby altar to the idol Baal which led to a revival in his family.

      Now turn to Judges 8:27.  It is there one reads these terrible words, "And Gideon made an ephod thereof, and put it in his city, even in Ophrah: and all Israel went thither a whoring after it..." Where did he fall into idolatry?  The very place he arose in victory was the very place he fell in defeat.  Very soon he was meddling in areas which were forbidden and this assuredly was less than a God honoring witness.

     After Gideon defeats the Midianites and assures his position as a judge of Israel, things were looking up for the Lord’s people.  It truly was a glorious day for Israel.  Well, Almost!  Gideon forgot to call the tribe of Ephraim to battle.  They were not given a chance to be a part of the valiant 300.  It was at this point that the flesh and the adversary took over.  Petty jealousy arose and before you know it the valiant judge of Israel was found “chiding” with other Israelites.  His judgeship went downhill from that very moment, and soon he was in Ophrah where he made the ephod that led many astray.  From this point onward in the Book of Judges there are more frequent arguments that eventually led to armed battles between the clans.  Remember, the tribes were unified in chapter one as they prepared to fight Adonai-Bezek just like the Christian churches across America were mostly gospel preaching entities during the nation’s early years.  However, by the end of the book the sin of sodomy nearly caused the extinction of the tribe of Benjamin—need we consider that comparison to our current circumstances?

     Many start well in their walk with the Lord but the flesh gets in the way and hinders a great testimony.  Rising from the altar in victory they only fall on it continually in defeat while woefully sobbing over their latest episode of outright rebellion.  Bitterness, jealousy, gossip and a whole host of nasty, fleshy sins seem to continually plague them and they never fully allow the image of Christ to be perfected in them.  It is as if they forgot that there is a list of the works of the flesh that are found shortly before the fruit of the Spirit as seen in Galatians 5.  More time is then spent on arguing and fussing with other believers and less time is spent sharing the truth of the Gospel to those who need Christ before it is too late. Too many constantly find themselves praying the repentant Psalm of David but never find the power of God’s grace that makes them to walk with hind’s feet on high places.  God has better for us all, and His Spirit pleads with us to live a life of surrender to Him.  Is this not the very call of Paul in Romans 12:1-2?  Seeing the overwhelming price Jesus paid for us at Calvary it is more than reasonable that we wholly sell out for Him.
     What can we learn from Gideon?  Strive!  Thank God for the great gift of salvation!  Even ol’ Gideon was given a small mention in the Hall of Faith listed in Hebrews 11 even though it does not appear that he finished well.  Yet, it is only a mention of his name among others whose antics often caused a duplicitous witness.  Again, thank God for grace.  Paul, however, had a much different concept of devotion to Christ.  He would follow the Master in a relationship of total surrender.  His life would be devoted to Christ in ways that maybe even made others think he was a fanatic.  Paul teaches that we need to fight a good fight of faith. 

     What will you cast at the feet of Christ?  Will there be many trophies of victories fought and won in, by, and through His presence and power; or will you stand at his throne, glad to be there, but empty handed?  What crowns will you have to toss at His feet in worship, or will there only be a pile of ashes left after the Lord sifts through your works? 

“No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier.”  2 Timothy 2:4
“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” 2 Timothy 4:7-8

*If you are interested about learning more about chiasms and chiastic structure, I highly suggest the following work as a beginning point:  Dorsey, David A.  The Literary Structure of the Old Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academics, 2004

Monday, October 5, 2015

Argyroneta Aquatica

He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
John 3:31

Argyroneta aquatica, the diving bell spider, is the only known species of spider to live nearly all of its life under water.  It is such an amazing creature and it reveals the amazing intellect and creativity of the mind of the LORD.  Furthermore, there is much we can learn about our relationship with God and our witness to this lost world if we just take a bit of a closer look at this tiny 8 legged critter.  Take a few moments and consider the Lord’s handy work!

First, it is important to understand that this arachnid is like all others in that it breathes air and would drown in water.  So how does it live underwater in what should be an inhabitable environment?  Surrounding the spider are tiny hairs that are hydrophobic.  Simply speaking, there is no attraction between the hairs and the water.  This allows the hairs to seemingly repel the water and create small pockets of air around the spider.  However, the spider must return to the surface to replenish its air supply at least once a day.  If it does not, the oxygen would be depleted in the bubble and the spider would die.  This world is just as inhabitable to spiritual life as the spiders would be without air from above; furthermore, Psalm 23 calls this world the valley of the shadow of death.

Christians should consider their prayer life when thinking on this spider’s actions.  If we are to maintain an ongoing relationship with the Lord of Life that makes a difference to the world around us then we must stop daily and go “top side” to breathe in Heaven’s presence.  Ironically, the Spirit of the LORD literally means the “breath” in both Greek and Hebrew. He is the breath of the Holy One. Living in this world below is just as deadly to our spiritual life as what would take place should the spider lose its “diving bell”.  We must cultivate such a relationship with Christ that we literally take in His life giving power so that we can live as a topsider in an upside down world.  As a man, this was Jesus’ secret to living a life that glorified Heaven!  “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.”  Mark 1:35

Many times this spider will work tirelessly to bring bubble after bubble down into the water and use webbing to assist in holding them in place.  He changes the atmosphere.  Have you ever been around a person who spends so much time in prayer that their very presence changes the atmosphere around you?  This reminds me of the story of a region changing revival that broke out at Oriskany Creek, NY during the 2nd Great Awakening.  The intercessors for Charles Finney, Daniel Nash being one of them, had been earnestly pleading to  God for a change in the spiritual climate of the environs.  As he entered the area where the prayer warriors were fast at work, Finney went to visit a cotton factory in nearby Whitesboro where his brother-in-law worked.  Walking through one of the rooms where many women were sitting behind sewing machines, two ladies suddenly seemed very agitated at the presence of the evangelist.  Soon, the ladies throughout the mill were sobbing under the convicting power of the Holy Spirit.  The mill had to be shut down and an great revival ensued.  Just the presence of Finney had changed the atmosphere. Prayerful believers had changed the atmosphere.  Like the hairs on the spider that dispel water, the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives should dispel the darkness around us and allow the presence of the Holy Savior to invade.

Then scientific name, Argyroneta Aquatica, carries an interesting meaning.  Aquatica, of course, means water and reminds us of the spider’s habitat.  Argryo is a form of the Greek word for silver while "neta" means spinner.  This gives a rough translation to water silver spinner.  Interestingly enough, silver is the metal in the Bible that is a type of redemption.  For how much money was Jesus sold out for?  It was for thirty pieces of silver--the price of redemption.  Though the spider is actually a dull brown/grey color the presence of the body bubble causes it to have a shiny silver appearance.  It is the air bubble that affects its appearance.  Shouldn’t the presence of Heaven’s Redeemer also cause believers to shine brightly for His glory!  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all were so filled with Heaven’s presence that all could see Christ in us, the hope of glory?  Shine brightly for Him as He is Soon2Come!

PS--Did I mention that this spider catches fish?

"And Jesus said unto them, Come ye after me, and I will make you to become fishers of men."
Mark 1:17

Friday, September 4, 2015

Kim Davis Needs to Submit or Quit?

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Romans 13:1

It seems there are many Christians who either do not understand the battle in the heavens that is occurring around them or who do not hold a true biblical worldview.  Reading comments on social media sites often bears this out.  For instance, there are those that hold the opinion that Kim Davis should have simply done her job so that she could be in line with the verse above calling for believers to submit to governmental authority.  Others feel that she should just tolerate what others are doing "behind closed doors" and just try to get along in love.  One quote said, “No one’s being jailed for practicing their religion.  Someone’s being jailed for using the government to force others to practice their religion."  So are these points really valid. 

Is this true?  Does the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:13-14 also bear this out when he writes, “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme or to governors…”  There seem to be some pastors who think her proper course of action would be to have just quit and step aside rather than try to be "a hero"  (A Case in Point—Not a Hero).  What would happen to society if every Christian suddenly left their job every time godlessness was displayed in public?  Is that the right thing to do?  What if every teacher who will soon be forced to teach homosexual behavior as normal just walked out of their classroom rather than take a stand?  Should Christian doctors be forced to murder infants just because the government has deemed abortion legal to the point of even funding it?  Should they just leave their practice?  Maybe all Christians should leave politics because everyone knows that politics is filled with unscrupulous men and women?  After all, even the apostles told us to follow the government and fear their sword. 

Well then it is apparent the both Paul and Peter were hypocrites, or were they giving us a greater example to follow when government goes astray?  Paul was ordered to stop preaching in the name of Jesus by government officials countless times.  What about both John and Peter being called to stop preaching in Jesus name by an official board of inquiry?  Look at their answer, “Peter and John answered them, “Decide for yourselves whether God wants people to listen to you rather than to him. We cannot stop talking about what we’ve seen and heard.”  They did not stop and were considered criminals because of it.  Really, how many times do we see them in jail for their stand for righteousness in the pages of scripture?  To use Romans 13:1 or 1 Peter 2:13 to justify siding against God on moral issues He alone has the authority to define is just plain bad hermeneutics.

So, should a care giver at a nursing home stop offering assistance to a person because they are gay?  Should a cashier at a grocery store not sell something to someone because they are clearly a crack addict?  Should a pastor meet folks at the door and usher out every prostitute that tries to enter the church?  Of course not!  These are person to person responses where one might be given the ability to be the hands and feet of Christ to minister healing or salvation.  God always has redemption in mind, and that is the key to the situation that this Kentucky clerk finds herself in.  To permit a marriage license that is a direct affront to God from an unjust government is paramount to sending a message that God has changed His mind about what is right and wrong at a national level.  Here we have much biblical precendent.

Was not Daniel a government official?  He held one of the top positions in the government of Babylon.  For the sake of tolerance and unity in the nation (actually, it was to make the Jews stand out in order to prepare them for persecution—sound familiar to recent government actions?) several bureaucrats came up with the plan that would make all prayer to the king alone.  Since individual spiritual beliefs were so powerful and they often revolved around national themes, it seemed to make sense to the king to stop all disobedience to His power and to issue an edict that created the worship of the king (This was also an issue the early church faced in Rome, and we know that these folks died in their official positions and their lives rather than desecrate the name of Jesus by worshiping a mere man).  However, Daniel REFUSED to follow the law which was a violation of his governmental established authority as a public official.  To Daniel, serving God was more important than a man-made law that defied the Commandments of God.  He didn't quit!  He stood firm to see the LORD's salvation.  How many souls may have been lost had Daniel just faked a prayer for the sake of unity, “love” and tolerance? 

Were not Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah also bureaucrats with a sworn duty of allegiance?  Not bowing to a statue in public after a royal edict was tantamount to treason.  Yet, they saw that serving God was much more important than following a godless law that would have destroyed their beliefs and biblical values.  Would we have even heard of any of these men above had they “Just quit” as some have suggested that Kim Davis should do?  Neither did they quit.  My friend, you will not see the 4th man until you are in the fire!

Would we know of the midwives of Egypt who rebelled against Pharaoh’s command to kill the Jews had they just ran from their official capacities rather than defile conscience?  What about Samuel the Judge?  He withstood a king to his face. Consider the many prophets who told the truth to erring kings. Were they wrong to “withstand the powers that be”?  Friends, we are in a spiritual battle for the soul of a nation.  To abandon your post in the middle of the war does not make one a hero but a coward. 

To justify the wicked in their sin by committing a sin of omission (running from duty so as to not “offend”) is an act of hatred not love.  It blinds the sinner from their need of salvation and effectively hides the cross.  As AW Tozer once said, “I’d rather stand with God and have the world as my enemy, than to go along with it to destruction.”  I would rather take a hit in the public’s eye while standing true to God than allowing anyone to think that their godless actions are acceptable to a Holy GOD. 

Hopefully you can see that Jesus Christ is Soon2Come.

y the way, Read Psalm 2 today!  When Jesus returns He will use a rod of iron to “use the government to force others to practice their religion.”   Those who use this foolish argument need to study Lt. Governor Gavin Newsome of California? He was the mayor of San Francisco when the citizens of California legally banned gay marriage in the state in 2004. He blatantly ordered his clerks to continue issuing marriage license in spite of the law. No judge sent him to jail nor chastised him, but he was considered a hero. Maybe they should also look at the civil disobedience of Sheriff Sandra Hutchins of Orange County, CA who is refusing to issue concealed carry permits in spite of the law.  Hmmm… sounds like double standards.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Jesus—The Amen

I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

Revelation 1:8

Amen!  It is the Bible’s last word.  Jesus, Himself, will ultimately get the last word.  With astounding insight Jesus declared that He was the Last Word.  Once the KING of Kings and JUDGE of Judges speaks there will not be anything left for anyone to say.  There will be no appeal.  There will be no rebuttal.  There will be no second chance.  His verdict is final.

This truth was proclaimed to a church that was in a lot of trouble.  It was the infamous church of the Laodiceans found addressed in Revelation 3:14-22.  The first portion of this compound Greek word is laos. Laos simply means people.  The second portion, dike, is Greek for justice.  Put together, the name means the “people’s justice”.  The letter reveals that the one who shed His blood to purchase their salvation had been left out of this human organization bearing His holy name.  The people, not God, were in control.  The devices, strategies, thoughts, ideas, doctrines, and methods of this professional church were men's inventions and not of the Holy Spirit's direction.  Therefore, Jesus immediately introduces Himself as "the Amen."

Jesus’ point was that He alone will get the final say.  While they might think they are in control and they know what is best even to the point of redefining God’s word, will, and way, The Lord wants them to understand the there will come a day when He speaks and all opinions, ideas, philosophies, and godless stratagem will be silenced before His majesty.  Christ went on to acknowledge that He also was the faithful and TRUE witness.  His point is well taken.  God has clearly spoken about righteousness, truth, and His ways.  All attempts to alter or change the truths of God are utterly vain and will be met with Divine justice in time unless one repents at the foot of the old rugged cross.

Truth!  Pilate asked the question, “What is truth (John 13:8)”?  Earlier in John's gospel, Jesus had already revealed what truth is, and like “amen”, He personalized it as well.  “Jesus saith unto him, "I am…the truth (John 14:6).”  Jesus Christ is the truth to the exclusion of all other “truth”.  The word truth has an interesting spelling in Hebrew and it speaks a similar message as the word amen.  It is the word “emet” spelled with the letters aleph, mem, and tav in that order.  The aleph is the first letter in the Hebrew alphabet while tav is the last.  Sandwiched between these two is the letter mem—the central letter in the Hebrew alphabet.  Truth is spelled with the first, middle, and last Hebrew characters. An old Jewish proverb says that truth is the beginning and the end and everything else in between.  Jesus was informing us that truth begins in Himself, ends with Himself and to Him all knowledge will be compared. 

His statement above in Revelation 1:8 is actually a statement of His ultimate power and Godhood.  He is the Alpha and Omega.  Being a Hebrew speaker as Paul mentioned in Acts 26:14, Jesus would have said "I am the Aleph Tav" giving us the framework for the expression of truth being that truth is usually expressed by language.  He is revealing that He is the Omniscient One--the source of all knowledge, wisdom,and understanding.  When He judges it will be with perfect knowledge for there is nothing hidden from His sight.  He then mentions that He is the beginning and the end who was and is and is to come, a time reference.  In other words, He is the Omnipresent One and there will be no place to run and hide from His presence.  Finally, He reveals that He is the Almighty—the Omnipotent One.  He has power to enact His retribution. 

May the entire world hear His voice! America—you need to hear His voice! You may think can redefine marriage and then persecute His people, people like Kim Davis, the brave clerk from Kentucky.  May it be clear to you!  Jesus Christ is the Amen and His Truth will prevail.  Before Him, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess the He is Lord to the glory of God the Father.  Call on Him as Lord and Savior now or bow in utter shame at the foot of His Great White Throne and proclaim it later—but you will bow to HIM that is Soon2Come!

May the LORD bless you Kim Davis.  Your judges will bow too!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

24—The King is Coming

The earth is the LORD'S, and the fullness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein…Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come.  Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.
Psalm 24:1, 7-10

If you have been following this series, the relevance of numbers and their biblical symbolism has been considered.  Specifically, we have been looking at 22, 23, and 24. The number 22 pointed to the suffering of Christ for our sins and shadowed His ministry as God’s Great Prophet.  The shadow of death is related to 23, and this number actually points to the service of Jesus as our Great High Priest.  It is certain that the ministry of Jesus has three distinct phases—prophet, priest, and king.  If 22 pointed to the prophet and 23 pointed to the priest, then it follows that 24 will point to Christ the KING of Kings.  This is exactly what is found in scripture. 

The value 24 follows the similar pattern of 22.  Remember that 22 was the product of 2 and 11.  The number 11 points to confusion caused by the sin of humanity and 2 relates the suffering and/or fellowship of Christ with our sin.  In Genesis 22 Isaac was offered as a type of Christ while Psalm 22 was a graphic picture of the crucifixion around 1000 years before that fateful day when Jesus hung between Heaven and earth for our sin.  Correspondingly, 24 is the product of 2 and 12.  Twelve is a well known number signifying the perfection of God’s government.  In short, 24 is the number portending the reign of the 2nd Adam, Jesus Christ.  It is a prophetic picture of the soon coming King who will reign for 1000 years from His throne in Jerusalem fulfilling His role as the Son of David while at the same time having an eternal reign as the Son of God. 

At first glance, Genesis 24 may seem to deviate from the pattern.  It is the wonderful retelling of Abraham sending out an unnamed servant (probably Eliezer of Damascus) to a distant land to find a bride for Isaac.  Isn’t this the same Abraham who was given the promise of a special heir through whom all the world would be blessed?  Genesis 24 is a beautiful shadow of the bride of Christ being drawn by the Holy Spirit to their Savior.  Every King needs a kingdom, does He not?  He also needs a queen at His side (hence a rapture shadow for the next post). More on this passage another day, but let’s suffice it to say that there is much more in this beautiful love story than meets the eye.  “And they blessed Rebekah, and said unto her, Thou art our sister, be thou the mother of thousands of millions, and let thy seed possess the gate of those which hate them (Genesis 24:60).”

This brings us to one of the most obvious passages of Christ the King in scripture, Psalm 24.  Dovetailing perfectly in the trilogy of Psalms sharing the ministry of Christ, this Psalm foretells the second coming in stunning detail including the triumphal entry of Christ through the currently closed Eastern Gate.  Jesus isn’t returning as the Lamb that was slain nor is He returning for a group hug. No!  He is returning as the Lion of Judah, the Supreme Ruler of all humanity.  He will reign with a rod of iron and all will be done in holiness and righteousness.  Jerusalem will be His capital and to Him all will bow.  Only those with clean hands and a pure heart will enter that glorious reign.  Jesus is coming to straighten out this sinful world once and for all. The other Psalm of the King, Psalm 2, gives even more detail as does Psalm 12 (2x12=24). He arrives at a time when the godly men cease upon the earth even as Psalm 12 mentions.  It is at a time when the ungodliest of all men, the antichrist is usurping the throne of Christ. Jesus' promise of justice comes with Him!  “For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him (Psalm 12:5).”

What a beautiful trilogy of Psalms.  Psalm 22 is the Psalm of Christ the Prophet.  Psalm 23 is the Psalm of Christ our Heavenly High Priest.  Psalm 24 is the promise of our Soon2Come

In 22 He is despised and rejected of the people and forsaken due to our sin. In 23 He is seated at the right hand of the Father making intercession for the saints leading them through the valley of the shadow of death.  In Psalm 24 He is the glorious King returning with the armies of Heaven in tow. 

In Psalm 22 He died for you!
In Psalm 23 He lives to pray for you!
In Psalm 24 He is coming for you!

We see the cross with its shame in Psalm 22.
We see the crook and staff with their watchful care in Psalm 23.
We see the crown and its resplendent glory in Psalm 24.

His cry is in 22!
His comfort is in 23!
His claim is in 24!

By His death He was left strength less for us in Psalm 22.
By His intercession He is found strengthening us daily in Psalm 23.
By His return He is found to be the strongest of the strong in Psalm 24.

Bless the LORD Jesus Christ--Prophet, Priest, and King!  He is certainly Soon2Come and fulfill His ministry as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!  Bless the Lamb of GOD!  Bless the Lion of Judah, mighty to save!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

23—The Shadow of Death

And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
Genesis 23:2

The Bible is clearly an intricately woven work sharing God’s ultimate plan of redemption which is found only in Jesus Christ.  His fingerprints are clearly seen from the beginning to the end of this Holy Spirit inspired masterpiece.  Not only does the plain text give us a consistent message about the work and person of Jesus Christ, but the types and shadows throughout the Word also consistently share the same plan of salvation found in Jesus.  The Bible truly is an amazing revelation of the infinite mind of the loving Creator.  (Fingerprints--The Number 22)

Looking at the symbolic meaning of the number 22, the product of 2 and 11, it was noted that there is an essence of Christ’s fellowship with the suffering caused by our sin.  The Word says it best when it comes to the suffering of Jesus for our benefit, “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 (2 Corinthians 5:21).”  In short, 22 points to the ministry of Christ, God’s ultimate prophet, who would share the plan of salvation while shedding His blood as a propitiatory sacrifice for all humanity to purchase salvation.  If 22 shares about His death, then 23 takes us through the shadow of death as it seems that 23 has a shadow of death to it. 

Take a few moments and read Genesis 23.  Who is conspicuously missing from the narrative of Sarah’s death?  There is much there about the grief of Abraham and his arrangements for the funeral of his beloved wife, but where is Isaac?  He was the joy of her heart and the center of God’s promise.  Yet, he suddenly disappears mysteriously from the account.  Given the years she longed for a child, he certainly would have been mama's baby always! A real close reading of chapter 22 will reveal that he was last seen on the altar, but it never mentioned him leaving Mt. Moriah.  Only Abraham is mentioned coming down the mountain.  “So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba (Genesis 22:19).”  What happened to Isaac?

Seeing that Isaac is a type of the ministry of Jesus, he purposefully disappeared from the storyline by the LORD’s inspiration.  Just like Genesis 22 had a counterpart in the Genesis book of Psalms (Psalms 1-42), so does Genesis 23.  It is this pair that reveals why Isaac mysteriously vanished.  Everyone seems to know Psalm 23 and its precious message about the LORD our Shepherd.  Many verses in the Old Testament openly reveal that the priests of the LORD are often called shepherds, so Psalm 23 would be the Psalm of Christ our Priest.  In Psalm 22 He is Christ the Prophet, but in Psalm 23 He is Christ the Priest.

What a beautiful pair of Psalms.  In Psalm 22 we see the shame of the cross, but Psalm 23 is the care of the crook.  In Psalm 22 Jesus dies for His people, but in Psalm 23 Jesus lives to intercede for them.  In Psalm 22 we see Christ made low, but in Psalm 23 we see Christ mighty to save.  In Psalm 22 we see our Savior’s yesterday of suffering, but in Psalm 23 we see His today of grace.  In Psalm 22 we see Jesus dying for our sin, but in Psalm 23 we see Christ hidden from the world at the right hand of the father making intercession for His saints. What a beautiful pair of Psalms.

Did you catch that last comparative sentence above?  Jesus is hidden from the world and the overwhelming majority of humans think He is dead.  The last place the world saw Jesus was on the cross lifted high between heaven and earth, but the church knows better as they see the risen Christ.  He is momentarily hidden in the Holy Place of Heaven serving as our Great High Priest.  This is why Isaac was hidden in His role as a type of the ministry of Christ.  Jesus is in the heavenly tabernacle guiding us through “the valley of the shadow of death” while an unsuspecting world goes on with its vanity fair.   He is still on duty for you and for me who will take time in prayer to speak to Him and who read His words of comfort endearingly.  While there is a Revelation 22, there is no Revelation 23 as God recreates all and there will be no more shadow of death. Of course we also know that He is Soon2Come for us too.  More on this with a look at 24. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Fingerprints--The Number 22

And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.
Genesis 22:14

Fingerprints.  For decades they have been used to prove the presence of an individual at a certain location.  Fingerprint evidence has foiled many criminals over the years.   Since the ridge patterns on fingers are unique to the individual and they remain the same over a lifetime, they are perfect for identification.  So, has the Almighty God left any fingerprints anywhere?  Could we possibly ascertain that He touched something leaving divine evidence of His involvement in human affairs?  It is certain that He has and the most obvious place to look is in the 66 books of the Bible that claim to be His work.

Most ardent students of the Word of God understand that numbers often play an important part in the text of scripture.  Some numbers, like 3 or 7 or 40, are so obviously repeated that it is nearly impossible not to realize that they play some significant symbolic role.  Other numbers take a little detective work to lift their meaning, work that must always be reliant on much prayer.  At other times, numbers are just numbers used to give an accurate count in a narrative and they have no typology attached to them at all. Again, much study and much prayer are needed to detect their message.

The number 22 is such a number.  The product of two primes, 2 x 11, it has a rich meaning revealing something wonderful about the work of Jesus Christ.  One should note that an accurate interpretation of the scriptural symbolism of numbers revolves around the purpose and person of Christ.  If He isn’t the centerpiece you are probably misdirected.  Jesus and His redemptive work are the master focus of the Bible from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22 (There’s that number again).  Considering the work of Christ, let’s investigate this number just a bit. 

As noted above, 2 and 11 are both factors of 22.  The number 2 has much significance.  First, it represents fellowship.  Did not the prophet Amos record, “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?”  In order to have a meaningful relationship with someone there needs to be mutual and beneficial fellowship.  How does a man or woman have fellowship with God?  Is it not through the person and work of Jesus (Again, the entire theme of the Bible)?  Why can we have a relationship with God in Him? It is because Christ is the 2ndperson of the Godhead.  Jesus was the middle man (2) on the cross. He is the mediator of the New Covenant in His blood standing between God and Man.  We are fully bound to God in and through Him alone.
Eleven is not really a good number in the Bible.  It has to do with chaos, confusion, and disarray.  In what chapter of the Bible do we see mankind creating chaos that results in the confusion of language at a place called Babel?  Genesis 11, of course.  Its first use as a number is in Genesis 32:22 where 11 sons of Jacob with their mothers cross the Jabbok ford ahead of Jacob on their way to a rendezvous with Esau.  Why were there 11 sons only and not 12?  The confusion of sin in the family led to Joseph being sold into Egyptian slavery.  After the death of Judas Iscariot how many apostles were left?  Was it not sin’s chaos that left only 11?  Oh that I had the space here to tell why there were 11 panels of rams skins dyed red in the coverings of the holy place of the tabernacle, but I’ll have to save it for another day. 

So what does the product of these two numbers, 22, represent?   It is certain that it has to do with multiplied sufferings of Christ and His fellowship with human sin. 

In Genesis 22 we see one of the first major shadows of the future suffering of Christ for our sin.  Remember, Jesus was foreordained to suffer at the cross before Adam ever willfully ate from the forbidden fruit.  In this chapter we see Isaac walking up Mt. Moriah destined to die.  Abraham was being tested with one of the greatest trials of his faith in God.  As Abraham lifted the knife, God spoke and spared Isaac.  In the bushes nearby was a ram that God had sent which would shadow the vicarious atonement of Jesus.  Abraham clearly saw Christ that day (John 8:56)!  Abraham was correct when He said that God would provide himself a sacrifice.  In the mountain called Calvary GOD’s sacrifice was seen—it was Jesus who would be substituted for us.  It was at the cross where Jesus brought us fellowship with God while He took our sin, chaos, and confusion.

In a Divine repeat that only the true author of scripture could plan, the Holy Spirit spoke through David giving us a clearer picture of the sufferings of Jesus on our behalf.  Want to guess where that is?  It is in the Genesis book of Psalms (Psalms 1-42).  It is Psalm 22. This song begins with the quote Jesus cried in agony from the cross, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”  Written 1000 years before the cross, it is the one of the most graphic prophecies about the suffering of Jesus for sin in the entire Old Testament.  There is no doubt that in this precious Psalm we see Jesus in fellowship with the confusion of man’s sin that we might be made whole in Him?  Coincidence?  Just who worked all of this out so precisely anyways?  Can you see the fingerprints of God on the plan of salvation?

When will Christ’s work for sinful man end?  Will it go on forever?  No!  The fellowship of man’s suffering and Christ’s mediation will end in a creation of a new earth.  The story that begins in Genesis 22 with grace extended to Isaac and continued through the prophetic Psalm 22 ends in Revelation 22. Christ’s work is completed there.  What a day that will be!  You can be there.  Accept the atoning sacrifice God provided for you in Christ by faith.  Call on Him today…He is mighty to save.  The evidence of God’s lover for you is proven by His fingerprint clearly on the Bible’s message of salvation.  It is all there to allow you to see Jesus and accept Him as your one and only Savior.  May you accept Him today as He is Soon2Come!
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Revelation 22:21