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. 

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