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Who is the Bright and Morning Star? Jesus or Lucifer

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The Light of the World, James Holman Hunt (1827-1910)
Source: Artists for Christ

Introduction

The titles ‘Bright and Morning Star’, ‘Day Star’, and ‘Light Bearer’, belong to the Lord Jesus Christ.

I fail to grasp why many believers attribute this title to Satan. Most likely, the basis of their assumption is the tenuous interpretation of Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28. Not only does it demean this appellation of Christ, it exalts the Satan to a level far above his station.

It is remarkable that the majority of Christians, based solely on private interpretation, has embraced this doctrine concerning the origin and character of Satan. For example:

A Quote from Got Questions

‘There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Lucifer is Satan,” but an examination of several passages reveals that Lucifer can be none other than Satan. The fall of Lucifer described in Isaiah 14:12 is likely the same that Jesus referred to in Luke 10:18: “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.” A similar fall is depicted in Ezekiel 28.’

There is no verse in the Bible that says, “Lucifer is Satan,”’ Alarm bells should be ringing after reading this opening sentence.

The fall of Lucifer described in Isaiah 14:12 is likely the same…’ Is likely the same? Should a doctrine be based on ‘likely’.

Jesus and the New Testament writers often quoted and alluded to the Old Testament to endorse the authenticity of their statements. Yet they never referenced Isaiah 14 or Ezekiel 28. Surely, it is reasonable to expect at least one quote, considering the magnitude of this doctrine’s influence on the Church today.

I will seek to explain from the Scriptures why I am convinced these chapters do not describe the character of Satan.

Isaiah 14

When taken out of context, Isaiah 14 gives license to the most imaginative and ludicrous descriptions of Satan; elevating him to a position that is totally inappropriate and unscriptural.

Isaiah prophesied the deliverance of Israel and the fall of the Babylonian Empire.

Summary of Isaiah 14

Deliverance of Israel from captivity, which shall follow the downfall of the great empire, Isa 14:1, Isa 14:2. Triumphant ode or song of the children of Jacob, for the signal manifestation of Divine vengeance against their oppressors, vv. 3-23. Prophecy against the Assyrians, Isa 14:24, Isa 14:25. Certainty of the prophecy, and immutability of the Divine counsels, Isa 14:26, Isa 14:27. Palestine severely threatened, Isa 14:28-31. God shall establish Zion… Isa 14:32.’ – Adam Clarke

Isaiah 14 the Proverb

Isa 14:4 KJV That thou shalt take up this proverb against the king of Babylon, and say, How hath the oppressor ceased! the golden city ceased!

Isaiah 14 was actually a proverb or poem, which mocked the rise and fall of the Babylonian dynasty, from powerful Nebuchadnezzar to partying Belshazzar.

The Lord can exalt rulers and the Lord can cast them down, Babylon was not an exception, ‘he removeth kings, and setteth up kings’… Daniel 2:21; Daniel 4:32

Lost in Translation

Isa 14:12 KJV How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, (heylel) son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!

Heylel

The meaning of the Hebrew word ‘heylel’ is ‘morning star’. In my opinion, it was used to illustrate the magnitude of Nebuchadnezzar’s rise to power; the ‘morning star’ was one of his honorific titles.

Phosphorus

‘Heylel’ was translated ‘phosphoros’ in the Greek Septuagint, subsequently; when Jerome translated his 4th Century Latin Vulgate Bible he used ‘lucifer’.

‘Phosphorus’ appears only once in the New Testament when Peter described Jesus as ‘the morning star’… 2 Peter 1:19 Surely, he would not have done so if the title belonged to Satan!

Lucifer

It is unfortunate that the translators of the King James Version not only retained the Latin ‘lucifer’, but also personified it by adding a capital ‘L’.

In the KJV, ‘Lucifer’ appears once. It is folly to build a doctrine on one verse of Scripture.

Isa 14:12-14 KJV How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! 13 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

Striking Facts or Striking Fiction

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

Striking Facts: Isa_14:12-14. ‘This is a reference to Satan, the real, though unseen ruler of successive world powers. This tells the story of the beginning of sin in the universe. The universal catastrophe here predicted has never occurred and has to do with the close of the times of the Gentiles and the setting up of Christ’s Kingdom.’

This quote from the Summarized Bible is a typical example of reading between the lines and reaching a conclusion that is bereft of scriptural support. I wonder if the Summarised Bible would have made this presumption had the King James Version properly translated the Hebrew ‘heylel’ into English (morning star) instead of Latin (Lucifer).

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Isaiah 14:12 ‘Isaiah 14:12’O Lucifer, son of the morning – The Versions in general agree in this translation, and render היללheilel as signifying Lucifer, Φωσφωρος, the morning star, whether Jupiter or Venus; as these are both bringers of the morning light, or morning stars, annually in their turn. And although the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar, yet this has been, I know not why, applied to the chief of the fallen angels, who is most incongruously denominated Lucifer, (the bringer of light!) an epithet as common to him as those of Satan and Devil. That the Holy Spirit by his prophets should call this arch-enemy of God and man the light-bringer, would be strange indeed. But the truth is, the text speaks nothing at all concerning Satan nor his fall, nor the occasion of that fall, which many divines have with great confidence deduced from this text. O how necessary it is to understand the literal meaning of Scripture, that preposterous comments may be prevented! Besides, I doubt much whether our translation be correct. הילל heilel, which we translate Lucifer, comes from ילל yalal, yell, howl, or shriek, and should be translated, “Howl, son of the morning;” and so the Syriac has understood it; and for this meaning Michaelis contends: see his reasons in Parkhurst, under הלל halal.’

The well-respected commentator Adam Clarke felt it necessary to set the record straight. He was convinced ‘the context speaks explicitly concerning Nebuchadnezzar’.

A Quote from the Amplified Bible

Isaiah 14:12 ‘Some students feel that the application of the name Lucifer to Satan is erroneous, even though it is commonly taught to that effect. Lucifer, THE LIGHT BRINGER, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word phosphoros, which is used as a title of Christ in 2 Peter 1:19 (…until the DAY STAR arise in your hearts.) and corresponds to the name `BRIGHT MORNING STAR’ in Revelation 22:16, which Jesus called Himself. The application of the name Lucifer has only existed since the third century A.D., and is based on the supposition that Luke 10:18 (I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven) is an explanation of Isaiah 14:12, which authorities feel is not true.’

Isa 14:16 KJV They that see thee shall narrowly look upon thee, and consider thee, saying, Is this the man that made the earth to tremble, that did shake kingdoms;

In this chapter, the ‘morning star’ was an epithet of Nebuchadnezzar the man, not a spirit being.

Isa 14:22 KJV For I will rise up against them, saith the LORD of hosts, and cut off from Babylon the name, and remnant, and son, and nephew, saith the LORD.

There is no evidence in the Scriptures to purport that ‘morning star’ was a description of Satan, or that Isaiah 14 explained his origin and character.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Isaiah 14:22 ‘For I will rise up against them, saith the Lord of hosts – That is, against the family of, the king of Babylon. And cut off from Babylon the name – That is, all the “males” of the royal family, so that the name of the monarch shall become extinct (compare Rth_4:5; Isa_56:5)…….’

On the contrary, Isaiah clearly prophesied God’s judgement on the Babylonian dynasty.

Isaiah 14:12

‘The exposition of this passage, which some have given, as if it referred to Satan, has arisen from ignorance; for the context plainly shows that these statements must be understood in reference to the king of the Babylonians. But when passages of Scripture are taken up at random, and no attention is paid to the context, we need not wonder that mistakes of this kind frequently arise.’ – John Calvin

Ezekiel 28

There has been far more ‘Striking Fiction’ than ‘Striking Facts’ written about Satan, to grant him the title of ‘morning star’ is completely untenable.

Let us eliminate the myths surrounding this character and attempt to uphold what the Scriptures actually teach.

Summary of Ezekiel 28

‘Against the Prince of Tyre – Ezekiel 28:1-19 As the city of Tyre was first of all threatened with destruction (Ezekiel 26), and then her fall was confirmed by a lamentation (Ezekiel 27), so here the prince of Tyre is first of all forewarned of his approaching death (Eze 28:1-10), and then a lamentation is composed thereon (Eze 28:11-19).’ – Keil and Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament

The accolade ‘morning star’, the titles anointed cherub and archangel, are included in Lucifer’s curriculum vitae. There is no evidence in the Scriptures to prove that Satan was either an archangel or a cherub.

Eze 28:2 KJV Son of man, say unto the prince of Tyrus, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Because thine heart is lifted up, and thou hast said, I am a God, I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the seas; yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God:

‘yet thou art a man, and not God, though thou set thine heart as the heart of God’. The fact of the matter is that Ezekiel prophesied the downfall of the King of Tyre.

A Quote from Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

Ezekiel 28:1-10 ‘The pride of the prince of Tyre is described in Eze_28:2 as consisting in the fact that he regarded himself as a God, and his seat in the island of Tyre as a God’s seat…’ ‘…The Tyrian state was the production and seat of its gods. He, the prince of Tyre, presided over this divine creation and divine seat; therefore he, the prince, was himself a god, a manifestation of the deity, having its work and home in the state of Tyre…’

Was Lucifer the Anointed Cherub?

Eze 28:14 KJV Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire.

The purpose of the cherubim is to guard the things of God, while angels are messengers sent from God. According to Christian tradition Satan was both!

Was Lucifer Really One of Three Archangels?

Although Christian tradition has adopted the idea that Satan was one of three archangels, this misconception is from extra-Biblical sources; there is no mention of three in the Scriptures. Michael is the only archangel named… Jude 1:9

Eze 28:17 KJV Thine heart was lifted up because of thy beauty, thou hast corrupted thy wisdom by reason of thy brightness: I will cast thee to the ground, I will lay thee before kings, that they may behold thee.

‘because of thy beauty’ Many scholars contend Satan was the most beautiful of all the angels. However, Ezekiel 28 described the king of Tyre, not a spirit being.

Did Lucifer Enjoy the Delights of the Garden?

Ezekiel’s 28:13 KJV Thou hast been in Eden the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering, the sardius, topaz, and the diamond, the beryl, the onyx, and the jasper, the sapphire, the emerald, and the carbuncle, and gold: the workmanship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou wast created.

Scholars also claim Lucifer fell from his elevated position in the angelic host prior to the creation of Adam and the Garden Eden, if so, how could he have been the person described in Ezekiel 28:13?

Jesus Is the True Morning Star

Isaiah prophesied ‘ people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined’… Isaiah 9:2 This and similar prophecies pointed to the coming of the Messiah… Isaiah 60 1-2

Joh 1:5 KJV And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

2Pe 1:19 KJV We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

John described Jesus as ‘the light shineth in darkness’. Peter also used a similar phrase ‘a light that shineth in a dark place’ when he described Jesus as ‘the day star’. The fulfilment of Isaiah’s prophecies was the advent of Christ.

Conclusion

Satan may have been a predominant fallen angel who possessed great powers, but why glamourise him by the misappropriation of Scripture.

I find it incomprehensible that Christian tradition has given Satan the grand title of ‘light-bringer’!

The Final Word

Rev 2:28 KJV And I will give him the morning star.

The reward of the overcomer is ‘the morning star’; thankfully in the final chapter of the Revelation, Jesus settled the identity of ‘the bright and morning star’.

Rev 22:16 KJV I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.

If Jesus said it, then I believe it!

What do you think?

Footnote

Recommended Reading:

I discovered this fascinating article on the city of Tyre while ‘searchin’ for information on Ezekiel 28: Tyre in Prophecy

 

 

Jesus is ‘The Branch’

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King David, Arent de Gelder (1645-1727)
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH!

‘The Branch’ is a descriptive title belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ. By taking a closer look at the credentials attributed to ‘The Branch’, we will benefit from a greater understanding of Christ’s relationship to David and His right to sit on David’s throne.

The Title

Why Jesus is ‘The Branch’

The Hebrew word ‘tsemach’ was translated ‘The Branch’ in the KJV, with a little research it becomes apparent ‘tsemach’ also means ‘sprout’ or ‘shoot’. Taking this into account a clearer understanding will gradually unfold.

A Quote from Brown, Driver and Briggs’ Hebrew Definitions

Branch, H6780 tsemach BDB Definition: 1) sprout, growth, branch1a) sprouting, growth, sprout1b) growth (of process)1c) sprout, shoot (of Messiah from Davidic tree)

A Quote from Dictionary.com

Branch: A line of family descent stemming from a particular ancestor, as distinguished from some other line or lines from the same stock; a division of a family.’

The Throne

2Sa 7:16 KJV And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.

David the son of Jesse was chosen to be King Saul’s successor and God made a covenant with him promising his throne would last forever.

1Ki 2:4 KJV That the LORD may continue his word which he spake concerning me, saying, If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not fail thee (said he) a man on the throne of Israel.

The covenant required the obedience of David’s descendants and heirs to the throne; however, on numerous occasions wicked kings led Israel into idolatry.

David’s descendants were invariably rebellious and incapable of meeting the demands of the covenant. As long as David’s ‘sons’ were unrighteous kings, the Kingdom could not be established forever.

Jeremiah and ‘The Branch’

Jer 22:28-30 KJV Is this man Coniah a despised broken idol? is he a vessel wherein is no pleasure? wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into a land which they know not? 29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD. 30 Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

The throne of David reached an all time low when king Jeconiah was deposed.

Jeconiah, also called Jehoiachin, ascended to the throne when he was 18 years old and reigned in Jerusalem for three months during 597 BC. Deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive, he died while still in Babylonian captivity after 36 years of imprisonment. Although Zedekiah took his place on the throne, the exiled Jews still acknowledged Jeconiah as their rightful king… Ezekiel 1:2

Zedekiah was the uncle of Jeconiah and reigned from 597-586 BC, having been placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. Imprisoned following a rebellion, and made blind after he witnessed the execution of his sons; he was considered a weak king and died in Babylonian captivity.

‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’ Jeremiah’s prophecy is a dilemma for proponents of Dispensationalism who adamantly maintain that Christ will reign on earth from Jerusalem… Acts 2:29-36

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 22:30 ‘Childless – No child to sit on David’s throne. See 1Ch_3:17 note. Jeconiah was the last king of David’s line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah’s death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is “Yahweh our righteousness” Jer_23:5-6.’

Jer 23:5 KJV Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

‘I will raise unto David a righteous Branch’ The Lord kept His promise to David; provision already existed in the plan and purpose of God.

‘The Branch’, God’s righteous and obedient Son would sit on David’s throne in Heaven, and would meet the demands of the covenant that David’s descendants could not keep.

Jer 33:15 KJV In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

A Quote from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

Jeremiah 33:15 ‘The branch – The kings they had hitherto had of the line of David, were most of them unrighteous men, but God promises that after the captivity, they should have a branch of David who would execute judgment and righteousness in the land, for the protection and government of those that feared him.’

Isaiah and ‘The Branch’

Isa 4:2 KJV In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

‘In that day’ This is a reference to the day of the Messiah.

‘for them that are escaped of Israel’ What judgement did Jesus execute? The judgement of the great and the terrible day of the Lord on His return to His generation in AD 70; the evidence being the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, the dispersion of the Jews, and the deliverance of the remnant from Jerusalem.

Isaiah 4:2 ‘for them that are escaped of Israel; not beautiful and glorious; excellent and comely, in the view of all men, only them that believe, who have seen his glory, and have tasted that he is gracious; these are the remnant according to the election of grace, the preserved of Israel, the chosen of God, and precious, who were saved from that untoward generation, the Jews, and escaped the destruction of Jerusalem, and were saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation.’ — John Gill, Exposition of the Entire Bible

Isa 11:1 NIV A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Isaiah 11:1 ‘stem — literally, “the stump” of a tree cut close by the roots: happily expressing the depressed state of the royal house of David, owing to the hostile storm (Isa_10:18, Isa_10:19), when Messiah should arise from it, to raise it to more than its pristine glory…’

On this occasion, Isaiah used the Hebrew ‘netzer’ instead of ‘tsemach’. John Gill’s explanation is interesting.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Isaiah 11:1 ‘The branch is a well known name of the Messiah; See Gill on Isa 4:2 the word Netzer, here used, is the name of the city of Nazareth (q); which perhaps was so called, from the trees, plants, and grass, which grew here; and so our Lord’s dwelling here fulfilled a prophecy, that he should be called a Nazarene; or an inhabitant of Netzer, Mat 2:23.’

Isa 53:2 KJV 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 described the character and ministry of the Messiah in detail and alluded to ‘The Branch’. Luke wrote ‘And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.’

Isaiah 11:10 KJV And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

The Lord kept His covenant with David and caused ‘The Branch’ to grow out of the root of Jesse. Jesus is ‘The Branch’ of Jesse in whom the remnant of Israel and the Gentiles would put their trust.

Rom 15:11-12 KJV And again, Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. 12 And again, Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.

Paul wrote to the Church at Rome exhorting them to ‘praise the Lord’ because Isaiah’s prophecy had its fulfillment in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Temple

In my article entitled ‘Jesus Never Mentioned the Millennium Temple’, I identified and expanded on the Lord’s imperative pre-requisites for the construction of the tabernacle and the temple during the Old Covenant Age. The men chosen and commanded were equipped for the task. I cited Moses, Solomon, and Zerubbabel to substantiate my premise, and compared their success to the failure of the magnificent but ill-fated temple of Herod.

One other ‘man’ was chosen, commanded and equipped to build one more temple… Matthew 12:18; 1 Peter 2:4 It was not Dispensationalism’s millennium temple, but the temple of the New Covenant Age, and His name is ‘The Branch’.

Zechariah and ‘The Branch’

Zec 3:8 KJV Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai and prophesied around 520 BC, during the rebuilding of the second temple. Both prophets encouraged Zerubbabel and Joshua when ridiculed by unbelieving Jews. Zechariah went on to prophesy ‘The Branch’ would build an even greater temple.

Zec 6:11-13 KJV Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

‘he shall build the temple of the LORD’ How many temples would ‘The Branch’ build? Only one, but surely this cannot be Ezekiel’s temple with the Levitical priesthood led by the sons of Zadok, complete with animal sacrifices, circumcision, and separation of Jew and Gentile.

Zechariah’s’ prophecy was the fulfilment of the spiritual temple of the New Covenant.

Jesus never referred to Ezekiel’s temple during His ministry, but John alluded to Ezekiel 37:26-27 in Revelation 21:2-3. By doing so, he affirmed the New Covenant fulfilment of Ezekiel’s prophecy. The New Covenant, established in AD 70, is synonymous with the ‘covenant of peace’ and the ‘everlasting covenant’. God’s dwelling place is not a future temple made with hands, He tabernacles within the hearts of His people today.

A Quote from John Wesley

Ezekiel 37:27 ‘My tabernacle – The tabernacle wherein I will shew my presence among them. Their fathers had a tabernacle, but the Messiah shall bring with him a better, a spiritual, and an heavenly. They shall be my people – By my grace I will make them holy, as the people of a holy God; and I will make them happy, as the people of the ever blessed God.’

‘and he shall be a priest upon his throne’ Not only would ‘The Branch’ build the temple; He would be both High Priest and King. The Lord Jesus Christ is the antitype of Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the prince and builder.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Zechariah 6:12 ‘And he shall build the temple of the Lord – The material temple was soon to be finished, and that by Zerubbabel, to whom this had been promised, Zec_4:10, not by Joshua. It was then a new temple, to be built from the foundation, of which He Himself was to be “the foundation” Isa_28:16; 1Co_3:11;Eph_2:20-21, as He said, “On this rock I will build My Church” Mat_16:18; and in Him “all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto an holy temple to the Lord” Eph_2:21…’

Paul and the Temple

Act 17:24-25 KJV God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;

Even although Paul preached to the men of Athens that God ‘dwelleth not in temples made with hands’, Dispensationalism intransigently declares the Messiah will build Ezekiel’s temple in the millennium, surely this assumption is contrary to the Scriptures.

Eph 2:19-22 KJV Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

When Paul wrote to the Church at Ephesus, he described the spiritual temple of the Lord, Jesus being the chief cornerstone, the Apostles and Prophets the foundation. Those who are in the Body of Christ constitute the ever-growing building, the spiritual temple in which dwells the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

Paul neither mentioned a millennium nor Ezekiel’s temple vision in any of his Epistles.

Conclusion

Rev 5:5 KJV And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.

Jesse was of the tribe of Judah and the lion was its ensign. Studying Christ ‘The Branch’ directs us to Christ ‘The Lion of the Tribe of Judah’.

‘The Branch’ has taken His rightful place on the throne of David in Heaven, having established it forever.

Jesus came figuratively as ‘the lamb’ and returned as ‘the lion’!

The ‘Lion of the tribe of Juda’ is a worthy appellation for the King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

What do you think?

 

 

Jesus is Lord of the Sabbath

 

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The Disciples Plucking Corn on the Sabbath, Gustave Dore (1832-1883) Source: Dore Bible Gallery Felix Just, S.J., Ph.D

Introduction

There are those who teach that Christians should keep the Sabbath. Some go as far as to insist that Christians should observe the Sabbath on a Saturday, thereby condemning Sunday worship in the process.

This issue has been around since New Testament times; Paul constantly rebuked the Judaisers who sought to mingle Mosaic Law with the Gospel of Grace, consequently bringing believers into bondage.

Today Christians are being encouraged by Christian Television (I use the term loosely) to share in the weekly Sabbath, the Jewish Feasts, and even to purchase Jewish prayer shawls!

Col 2:16-17 KJV Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 2:16-19 ‘Let no man therefore judge you. As the law was nailed to the cross (Col_2:14), let no man compel you to keep its ordinances.   In meat, or in drink. By requiring you to eat only what the Jewish law prescribes (Lev. 7:10-27). See Rom_14:17; 1Co_8:8; Heb_9:10. Compare 1Ti_4:3.
Or in respect of a holy day. Such as the Passover, Pentecost, etc.
Or of the new moon. The monthly observances (Num_28:11).
Or of the Sabbath day. The Jewish Sabbath had passed away with the law.
Which are a shadow of things to come. The body, or substance, which casts the shadow is Christ. We are to pay no attention to the shadows since Christ has come, but to observe what we find in him and the gospel…’

I will endeavour to explain why I believe ‘born again’ believers are not required to observe the Sabbath.

The 4th Commandment to Remember the Sabbath Was to Old Covenant Israel, not the Gentiles.

The leading question asked by those promulgating the Sabbath doctrine is:

Do you keep the 10 Commandments, yes or no?

If the Christian answers yes, but does not keep the Sabbath, the debate begins as to the reason for breaking the 4th commandment.

If the Christian answers no, this leads to the accusation of disobedience to Jesus’ commandment. ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments’… John 14:15

The Book of Acts and the Law of Moses

Act 15:5-10 KJV But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

The Apostles and Elders concluded it was not necessary for gentile believers to keep the Mosaic Law, which included the Sabbath. If the Sabbath was an exception, why was it not discussed at the gathering?

Act 21:25 KJV As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication.

The Apostles upheld the decision approximately eight years later in Acts 21. Once again, the Sabbath was not an exception.

Romans and the Law of Moses

Rom 7:6 KJV But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter.

Romans 7:6 ‘But now we have been delivered from the law. By death. Having died in Christ (Rom_6:2-4), we are released from the dominion of the law. See Rom_7:1. So that we should serve in the newness of the spirit. This service of Christ is the new service of those living new lives. It is a spiritual service: “God must be worshiped in spirit and truth.” God’s law under the new covenant is “written in the hearts” (Heb_8:10); hence it is not a bondage, but a free, willing service.’ — The People’s New Testament

Galatians and the Law of Moses

Gal 3:1-3 KJV O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2 This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

Gal 4:9-11 KJV But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? 10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. 11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Paul challenged the Galatians as to why they desired to return to the bondage they once knew under the Law.

James and the Law of Moses

Jas 2:10 KJV For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

Should the Christian observe the Law? Can you name the 613 commands? If we cannot name all the commands, how could we hope to keep them?

James said if the Law observer failed in one point then that person was guilty of all.

Believers are in danger of taking their eyes of the Lord by mixing Law and Grace. The incorporation of Jewish traditions into the Church would result in a watered down gospel, the emphasis would shift from faith to works.

Man Was not Commanded to Observe the Sabbath since Creation

Sabbath observers also insist that because God ‘rested’ on the seventh day, consequently, observance of the Sabbath was demanded of mankind since creation. However, there is no such commandment found in Genesis, neither is there any evidence of the Patriarchs having kept the Sabbath.

Exo 16:23 KJV And he said unto them, This is that which the LORD hath said, To morrow is the rest of the holy sabbath unto the LORD: bake that which ye will bake to day, and seethe that ye will seethe; and that which remaineth over lay up for you to be kept until the morning.

A Quote from the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

‘The statement that God set apart the 7th day for holy purposes in honor of His own rest after six days of creative activity is boldly challenged by many modern scholars as merely the pious figment of a priestly imagination of the exile. There are so few hints of a weekly Sabbath before Moses, who is comparatively a modern character, that argumentation is almost excluded, and each student will approach the question with the bias of his whole intellectual and spiritual history. There is no distinct mention of the Sabbath in Gen, though a 7-day period is referred to several times (Gen_7:4, Gen_7:10; Gen_8:10, Gen_8:12; Gen_29:27 f). The first express mention of the Sabbath is found in Exo_16:21-30, in connection with the giving of the manna……. If we cannot point to any observance of the weekly Sabbath prior to Moses, we can at least be sure that this was one of the institutions which he gave to Israel. From the days of Moses until now the holy Sabbath has been kept by devout Israelites.’

There is no mention of Sabbath observance in the Scriptures prior to Exodus 16.

The Greek words ‘katapausis’ and ‘katapauo meaning ‘rest’ were used constantly in Hebrews 4. On one occasion however, in Hebrews 4:9 the Greek word ‘sabbatismos’ was used instead, thereby differentiating between the Law and the believer’s Sabbath Rest found in Jesus.

Jesus Is the Believer’s Sabbath Rest

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

Jesus fulfilled all the Law and the Prophets and we ‘rest’ from our works by grace through faith in Him.

Hebrews and the Believer’s Sabbath Rest

The answer to those who would bring bondage to the Christian by raising a straw man argument with regard to Sabbath keeping is in Hebrews 4.

Heb 4:7 GW So God set another day. That day is today. Many years after your ancestors failed to enter that place of rest God spoke about it through David in the passage already quoted: “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.”

The writer to the Hebrews alluded to Psalm 95:8-11. He reminded Jewish believers of their ancestors demise during the forty years of wandering in the wilderness; due to their unbelief, they failed to enter into God’s rest.

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

Hebrews 4:1-16 ‘…The privileges by Christ under the Gospel are far greater than those enjoyed under the Mosaic law. The seventh day rest commemorating a finished creation, was but a type of heart-rest which is to be had by covenant relation with Jesus Christ, and which is offered to those who will renounce their own works as a means of salvation and put their entire trust in the finished work of the Great High Priest who has passed into the heavens.’

The Judaisers who undermined the teachings of Paul, were subverting the 1st century Church by persuading believers to observe the Law. By adhering to these erroneous teachings, they were in danger of missing the even greater ‘sabbatic rest’ through faith in Christ.

Jesus or Joshua?

Heb 4:8 KJV For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

Heb 4:8 YLT for if Joshua had given them rest, He would not concerning another day have spoken after these things;

Many Bible Translations including the KJV translated ‘Jesus’ instead of ‘Joshua’ (the son of Nun) in Hebrews 4:8 and by so doing jeopardised the context of the passage.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 4:8 ‘For if Jesus had given them rest – It is truly surprising that our translators should have rendered the Ιησους of the text Jesus, and not Joshua, who is most clearly intended……. The apostle shows that, although Joshua did bring the children of Israel into the promised land, yet this could not be the intended rest, because long after this time the Holy Spirit, by David, speaks of this rest;…’

Heb 4:9 YLT there doth remain, then, a sabbatic rest to the people of God,

The Greek words ‘katapausis’ and ‘katapauo’ meaning ‘rest’ were used constantly in Hebrews 4. On one occasion, however, in Hebrews 4:9 the Greek word ‘sabbatismos’ was used instead, thereby differentiating between physical rest and the believer’s Sabbath rest found in Jesus.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Hebrews 4:9 ‘There, remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God – It was not, 1. The rest of the Sabbath; it was not, 2. The rest in the promised land, for the psalmist wrote long after the days of Joshua; therefore there is another rest, a state of blessedness, for the people of God; and this is the Gospel, the blessings it procures and communicates, and the eternal glory which it prepares for, and has promised to, genuine believers…’

Heb 4:10-11 YLT for he who did enter into his rest, he also rested from his works, as God from His own. 11 May we be diligent, then, to enter into that rest, that no one in the same example of the unbelief may fall,

The Mosaic Covenant Ended in AD 70

A Quote from Halley’s Bible Handbook

‘Hebrews, One of the objects of this Epistle was, we think, to prepare Jewish Christians for the approaching Fall of Jerusalem. After accepting Jesus as their Messiah, they continued to be zealous for the Temple Rites and Sacrifices, thinking, we suppose, that their Beloved City, under their Messiah’s reign, was about to become Capital of the World. Instead, they were to receive the shock of their lives. By one stroke of the Roman Army the Holy City was to be wiped out, and the Temple Rites cease.’

Forty years after the crucifixion the destruction of the temple ended the Old Covenant Age with its Law and Offerings, the Judaisers fell in the judgement that took place in AD 70.

The 1st century believers who had rested from their works through faith in Christ entered into the New Covenant Age.

Has this Hub challenged you to search the Scriptures?

Conclusion

Eze 20:12 KJV Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the LORD that sanctify them.

The Children of Israel received the Sabbath as a sign of the Old Covenant.

Col 2:16 KJV Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Colossians 2:16 ‘Therefore – Seeing these things are so. Let none judge you – That is, regard none who judge you. In meat or drink – For not observing the ceremonial law in these or any other particulars. Or in respect of a yearly feast, the new moon, or the weekly Jewish sabbaths.’ — John Wesley, Explanatory Notes

Prior to the time of Moses there was no reference to Sabbath observance in the Old Testament.

The ‘sabbatismos’ rest promised in Hebrews 4 is redemptive life in Jesus Christ; the believer is to cease from his works and rest in the finished work of Christ.

From the physical aspect, it does make sense to have one day of rest in the week, but it is folly to allow the traditions of men to distract us from the reality of true ‘Sabbatic Rest’.

What do you think?

The Resurrection and the Heresy of Hymenaeus and Philetus

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The Resurrection of Christ, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Source: wikiart.org

Introduction

2Ti 2:17-18 KJV And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.

Paul condemned Hymenaeus and Philetus for teaching the false doctrine ‘the resurrection is past’, causing to ‘overthrow the faith of some’.

I will attempt to ascertain the nature and timeline of the resurrection, define the 1st century Church’s understanding of Paul’s teaching on the subject, and explain why Paul was so adamantly opposed to the false doctrine of Hymenaeus and Philetus.

The Timeline of the Resurrection

When Exactly Was the Resurrection to Occur According to the Scriptures?

All the New Testament writers anticipated the impending second coming of Christ and the end of the Old Covenant Age, consequently, ushering in the resurrection and the judgement. It never entered the minds of the Apostles this would take place thousands of years in the future. Since these men of God were inspired by the Holy Spirit and sat at the feet of Jesus, who are we to contradict them.

The Two Ages

The Jews had two ages in their eschatological thinking, the Mosaic Age and the Messianic Age. The Mosaic Age would end with the coming of the Messiah.

Deu 31:29 KJV For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

Prior to Moses’ death and having faithfully fulfilled God’s plan and purpose through the establishment of the Old Covenant Law and the Offerings, he prophesied the children of Israel would be judged for their apostasy in the ‘latter days’ of the Old Covenant Age.

Dan 9:2 KJV In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem.

Dan 9:13 KJV As it is written in the law of Moses, all this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the LORD our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.

Daniel interceded on behalf of his people, he was not seeking God regarding the end of the world. His desire was to understand the prophetic timeline of Jeremiah and Moses concerning Old Covenant Israel.

Lazarus and the End of the Age

Joh 11:23-24 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

We learn from Martha’s discussion with Jesus that she had no doubt the resurrection would be ‘at the last day’. The timeline of the resurrection was not the last day of time, but the last day of the Old Covenant Age!

Let us continue studying the resurrection timeline more closely by comparing Daniel 12 to the Gospels.

Compare Daniel 12:1-2 and Matthew 24:21:

Dan 12:1-2 KJV And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

Mat 24:21 KJV For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘Great Tribulation’

Daniel prophesied the resurrection would take place after ‘a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time’… Daniel 12:1 Jesus alluded to Daniel’s prophecy in Matthew 24:21 when He predicted its fulfillment during His generation’s lifetime… Matthew 24:34

‘no, nor ever shall be’

Some scholars conveniently teach the ‘great tribulation’ in Matthew 24:21 is a double fulfilment prophecy, claiming the AD 70 event will be repeated in our generation. Nevertheless, Jesus specifically said such great tribulation will never be seen again, ‘no, nor ever shall be’! Therefore, it was a one-time fulfilment.

Compare Daniel 12:2-3 and Matthew 13:39-43:

Daniel 12:2-3 NIV Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. 3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever.

Matthew 13:39-43 NIV and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. 40 “As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. 41 The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. 42 They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears, let them hear.
The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘End of the Age’

Jesus alluded to Daniel 12:2-3 during His discourse with the disciples. He described the judgement about to fall upon Old Covenant Israel… Matthew 13:39-43

‘The harvest is the end of the age’ The disciples were living during the last days of the Old Covenant Age.

‘Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father’ Jesus alluded to Daniel when He described the outcome of the judgement. Once again, we see the same timeline in the statements of Daniel and Jesus.

Compare Daniel 12:11 and Matthew 24:15-16:

Dan 12:11 KJV And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.

Mat 24:15-16 KJV When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

The Timeline of Daniel 12 was the AD 70 ‘Abomination of Desolation’

It is interesting to note the Greek word ‘erēmōsis’ translated ‘desolation’ appears only three times in the New Testament… Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14; Luke 21:20

Luke’s timeline harmonises perfectly with Matthew and Mark, we can therefore rely on his additional insight into the meaning of the ‘abomination of desolation’. This also refutes the concept that Luke wrote about a different event.

‘Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains’ The remnant seized the opportunity to flee from the abomination of desolation and found refuge in Pella; Jerusalem finally fell to the Roman Army in AD 70, thereby, fulfilling the words spoken by Jesus.

Luk 21:20 KJV And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.

‘Jerusalem compassed with armies’ Some scholars suggest that ‘armies’ cannot refer to the Roman army in AD 70, because the plural ‘armies’ must mean a confederation from various nations. The Greek word ‘stratopedon’ translated ‘armies’, used once in the Scriptures, according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions it means ‘soldiers in camp, an army’.

It was not unusual for the Romans to conscript the armies of subjugated nations to fight their wars. On this occasion, the Roman army mainly consisted of the nations surrounding Old Covenant Israel; all had a vested interest in its destruction, hence the extent of the devastation.

The timeline of ‘the abomination of desolation’ was commensurate with the resurrection. According to Jesus, it was ‘when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies’… Daniel 12:1-2; Daniel 12:11-13

The Resurrection and the 1st Century Church

The Hymenaeus and Philetus heresy gives insight into the resurrection beliefs of the 1st Century Church.

The Church had many false teachers who attempted to undermine Paul’s ministry. Among them were Hymenaeus and Philetus who caused confusion by teaching the resurrection was past.

Paul did not challenge Hymenaeus and Philetus as to the nature of the resurrection, whether it was physical or spiritual. However, he did refute the timing because it was not a past event.

The Nature of the Resurrection

If the nature of the resurrection were physical, surely believers would have witnessed the extraordinary event.

If Paul taught the popular 21st century concept leading to the Day of the Lord including:

The rapture

The two stage return of Jesus

The physical resurrection of the dead with open graves

Every eye beholding the physical and visible return of Christ

The end of time or the end of the world

How was it possible for false teachers to convince believers in Thessalonica, Corinth, and Ephesus the resurrection and the Day of the Lord were past events? If a physical rapture had taken place they would have noticed the disappearance of some believers at least? The rapture is supposed to happen seven years prior to the Day of the Lord! All they had to do was look around the graveyards and see nothing had changed!

In my opinion, it is reasonable to conclude, the early Church believed the resurrection of the spiritual body not the physical.

Paul’s Opposition to the False Teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus

Why was Paul opposed to Hymenaeus and Philetus, could he not simply have drawn them aside and corrected their error?

1Ti 1:19-20 KJV Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: 20 Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.

These men were beyond accepting instruction from Paul; they were neither genuine students of the Word of God nor were they seeking the truth. Paul had already dealt with Hymenaeus according to his 1st Epistle to Timothy.

Act 13:45 KJV But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.

Paul constantly rebuked those who contradicted the Gospel; the most prevalent false teachers were Jewish converts who refused to leave behind Judaism, as in Antioch…Acts 13. What Judaism was unable to achieve by persecution, it sought to destroy by infiltration.

The resurrection without the second coming of Christ was heresy.

2Ti 4:1 KJV I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Christ’s return, the resurrection, the judgement, and the establishment of the New Covenant were concurrent events.

Luk 24:44 KJV And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.

To teach the resurrection had occurred without the other major events surrounding the Day of the Lord was contrary to prophecy and the teachings of Christ.

The Transition Period

Heb 9:8 KJV The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

The Hymenaeus and Philetus heresy postulated the establishment of the New Covenant while the earthly temple in Jerusalem ‘was yet standing’. Their ulterior motive was to justify the inclusion of the Law of Moses into Christianity, resulting in a mixture of Law and Grace.

The 1st century Church lived during a ‘transition period’, also described as the ‘already but not yet’. This period was during the passing of the Old Covenant and the establishment of the New. Believers experienced some of the blessings of the New Covenant, but until the Lord had fulfilled all His promises to Old Covenant Israel, they could not enter into its fulness.

The outward manifestation of Christ’s parousia was the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70, until that time the Law and the Prophets remained unfulfilled.

An Attempt to Vindicate Judaism

The false teaching of Hymenaeus and Philetus undermined the authority of Christ’s ministry. To falsely teach the resurrection was past without the second coming of Christ and the impending judgement on apostate Israel, was an attempt to vindicate Judaism and the hypocrisy of its religious leaders; thereby giving an acceptable credibility to the Gospel’s greatest opposition.

The Resurrection and the Old Covenant Age

Heb 11:13 KJV These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

The resurrection of the dead was not a biological resurrection of decayed bodies; it was the raising of the spiritual body from Sheol.

Act 23:6 KJV But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees, and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee: of the hope and resurrection of the dead I am called in question.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Acts 23:6 ‘With great propriety, therefore, he might address the Pharisees and say, “Brethren, the doctrine which has distinguished you from the Sadducees is at stake. The doctrine which is at the foundation of all our hopes – the resurrection of the dead; the doctrine of our fathers, of the Scriptures, of our sect, is in danger. Of that doctrine I have been the advocate. I have never denied it. I have everywhere defended it, and have devoted myself to the work of putting it on an imperishable basis among the Jews and the Gentiles. For my zeal in that I have been opposed. I have excited the ridicule of the Gentile and the hatred of the Sadducee. I have thus been persecuted and arraigned; and for my zeal in urging the argument in defense of it which I have deemed most irrefragable the resurrection of the Messiah – I have been arraigned, and now cast myself on your protection against the mad zeal of the enemies of the doctrine of our fathers.” Not only, therefore, was this an act of policy and prudence in Paul, but what he affirmed was strictly true, and the effect was as he had anticipated.’

Resurrection was a promise made to Old Covenant Israel. It was the ‘hope of Israel’, and took place at the passing away of the Old Covenant.

The Resurrection and the New Covenant Age

Since Christians have continued to physically die over the past 2000 years, it is obvious, Christ’s commission was resurrection from ‘spiritual death’ not physical death.

Adam did not die physically when he chose to disobey God. His expulsion from the Garden of Eden resulted in spiritual death, his wonderful relationship with the Lord ended.

God’s great plan of redemption was not only the resurrection of the faithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel, but through Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross, resurrection and reconciliation was offered to all nations.

Joh 11:25-26 KJV Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?

Jesus promised all born again believers they would never die!

Joh 5:24 KJV Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

The New Covenant is synonymous with the Kingdom of God; all born again believers are spiritually resurrected from spiritual death.

Conclusion

Eph 2:5-6 KJV Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Ephesians 2:4-7 ‘Having shown that both Jews and Gentiles were spiritually dead, Paul now declares the spiritual resurrection of the saints. This lifting up from death to a new life is due to God, rich in mercy, and on account of the great love wherewith he loved us. The next verse affirms the fact.

Hath quickened us together with Christ. As he quickened Christ and raised him, so when we were dead in sins he gave us spiritual life by the gospel and lifted us to a new life. “We were planted in the likeness of his death and resurrection” (Rom_6:5).

By grace ye are saved. Not by works of the law, as he has shown so fully in the Galatian letter.

And hath raised us up together. Buried into the death of Christ, we are risen with Christ (Col_2:12). We are risen as new creatures to walk with the Risen Christ, with our minds on heavenly things (Col_3:1).

To sit in heavenly places. In our present state, to have our minds above (Col_3:2).

That in the ages to come. In all coming time.

The exceeding riches of his grace. In saving, purifying and blessing his children.’

By His death, resurrection, ascension, glorification and return, Jesus defeated ‘the death’ that separated ‘man’ from fellowship with God.

What do you think?

The Ascension of Christ and the ‘In Like Manner’ Question

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The Ascension of Christ, Rembrandt Van Rijn (1606-1669) | Source: Source: Rembrandt the Complete Works

Introduction

The ‘In Like Manner’ Question

Most scholars today, especially the proponents of Dispensationalism, insist Christ will return in the future ‘in like manner’ to His ascension, with emphasis on Him returning with the same body in which He ascended.

By allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture I will seek to prove otherwise. In my opinion, ‘in like manner’ does not mean in ‘exact same’ manner.

Will Christ really return with the same body in which He ascended? Let us examine the implications of such a claim.

The Ascension and Christ’s Second Coming

Act 1:9-11 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The following comparisons reveal little similarity between these events:

Angels

2Th 1:7-8 KJV And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, 8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

Mat 25:31 KJV When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:

Only two angels appeared at the ascension… Acts 1:10 but the Scriptures teach Christ would return with all the holy angels.

Trumpet

Mat 24:31 KJV And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

Jesus ascended silently, yet those who propose a future return believe He will come with the literal sound of a trumpet.

Every Eye

Rev 1:7 KJV Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Jesus ascended visibly in the presence of a handful of disciples; Dispensationalism teaches that literally every eye shall see Him at His return.

White Horse

Rev 19:11 KJV And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.

Jesus did not ascend on a white horse!

‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more…’

Joh 14:19 KJV Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also.

A major premise of Dispensationalism is that Jesus will return in the same body and physical appearance in which He ascended. Obviously, to accommodate the theory that He will literally sit on a throne in Jerusalem; even although He said ‘Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more’.

The Ascension and John’s Vision of Christ

Rev 1:13-16 KJV And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. 14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire; 15 And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters. 16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Jesus appeared to John on Patmos in His post-ascension form, and what he described was resplendently different to the Jesus he had known.

Although He is the same Jesus there can be no doubt His appearance now emphasises His glorification and deity.

Daniel’s Prophecy

Dan 7:13 KJV I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

John could only say that the One he saw was like the Son of Man described by Daniel in his Messianic prophecy.

1Jn 1:1 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

‘and our hands have handled’ John had seen and touched Jesus during His earthly ministry; he witnessed His transfiguration and was one of those taught by Him for forty days after His resurrection. If we also take into consideration the post resurrection appearances of Christ to 500 witnesses, we must conclude they already knew what Jesus looked like. Yet, clearly there was a significant difference between Christ prior to His ascension and Christ of the Revelation.

1Jn 3:2 KJV Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

‘for we shall see him as he is’ John wrote in his 1st Epistle ‘it doth not yet appear what we shall be’ then added ‘when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is’. Why did John make this statement if he believed Jesus would return looking the same as at His ascension?

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

1 John 3:2 ‘John had seen his glory on the mount when he was transfigured; and this we find was ineffably grand; but even this must have been partially obscured, in order to enable the disciples to bear the sight, for they were not then like him. But when they shall be like him, they shall see him as he is – in all the splendor of his infinite majesty.’

John was anticipating the imminent parousia of the glorified Christ, coming in His majesty and deity!

The Ascension and Christ at the Transfiguration

The Transfiguration Was a Vision of the Passing Away of the Old Covenant Age

Mat 17:2-5 KJV And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. 3 And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. 4 Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias. 5 While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

Peter did not fully understand the significance of the vision. By suggesting three tabernacles, he may have thought the three persons were of equal greatness and stature.

Luk 9:35-36 KJV And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him. 36 And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept it close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

However, Peter was left in no doubt as to whom the greatest glory belonged when the voice of the Lord spoke out of the cloud.

Heb 8:13 KJV In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

The transfiguration was a vision of the passing away of the Old Covenant glory, symbolised by the departing of Moses and Elijah… Luke 9:33 Thereby making way for the greater New Covenant glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When did the Old Covenant vanish away? It ended at the time of the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the dispersion of the Jews in AD 70.

Since Jesus promised to return during the lifetime of His generation, we must concur that the second coming of Christ and the establishment of the New Covenant Age took place simultaneously.

The Transfiguration Was Also a Vision of the Glorified Christ of the Parousia

2Pe 1:16 KJV For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

Peter in his 2nd Epistle was able to proclaim to the scoffers he was an eyewitness of ‘Christ’s majesty’. He had seen the glorified Christ and preached His imminent return with conviction.

Luk 19:15 KJV And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

‘having received the kingdom’ Although the ascension concluded Jesus’ earthly ministry as He entered into the heavenly Holy of Holies, it was the commencement of His heavenly priesthood and kingship.

The parousia was a glorious occasion when the ‘King of Kings and Lord of Lords’ returned having received His Kingdom.

The Conversion of St Paul

The Ascension and Paul’s Vision of Christ

Act 9:3-7 KJV And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Who art thou, Lord?’ No doubt Paul heard many first hand accounts and descriptions of Jesus, but he did not recognise this Jesus. The encounter left him trembling and astonished.

Once again, we have a vision of the glorified Christ. If Jesus was to return in His resurrection body, why do we constantly find manifestations of a transformed Christ after His ascension?

The Ascension and Christ at His Resurrection

Some scholars today teach that Jesus rose from the dead in His glorified body. In my opinion, Jesus rose from the dead in the same body placed in the tomb; His glorification took place after the ascension.

Others claim He received His glorified body having been taken up to heaven soon after the resurrection, but prior to His ascension. This is based on their interpretation of John 20:17.

Joh 20:17 KJV Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Touch me not’ Jesus did not restrain Mary from touching Him for any spiritual reason, He simply wanted Mary to go quickly and inform the dejected disciples of the good news of His resurrection.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary of the Bible

John 20:17 ‘Touch me not – Μη μου ἁπτου, Cling not to me. Ἁπτομαι has this sense in Job_31:7, where the Septuagint use it for the Hebrew דבק dabak, which signifies to cleave, cling, stick, or be glued to. From Mat_28:9, it appears that some of the women held him by the feet and worshipped him. This probably Mary did; and our Lord seems to have spoken to her to this effect: “Spend no longer time with me now: I am not going immediately to heaven – you will have several opportunities of seeing me again: but go and tell my disciples, that I am, by and by, to ascend to my Father and God, who is your Father and God also. Therefore, let them take courage.’

Joh 20:27 KJV Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing.

‘Thomas, Reach hither thy finger’ It is assumed because Jesus discouraged Maryfrom touching Him, but later invited Thomas to thrust his hand into His side, that He had ascended to His Father during the intervening period.

Mat 28:9-10 KJV And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him. 10 Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me.

However, in Matthew’s account of the resurrection, Jesus did not forbid the women from touching or worshipping Him! Therefore, the change in His appearance took place at His glorification after the ascension.

Jesus Walking on the Sea

Christ in the Midst v Walking on the Sea

Joh 20:26 KJV And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.

‘the doors being shut’ It is also unsustainable to claim that Jesus’ resurrected body was His glorified body because He could appear in a room with all the doors closed.

Mat 14:26 KJV And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

The occasion when Jesus walked on the sea repudiates this; it was equally miraculous and occurred prior to the resurrection.

The motive behind this hypothesis is to support the eschatological position held by scholars who demand a less glorified Christ, to accommodate their theory that Christ in His resurrection form will sit in the temple in Jerusalem during the ‘millennium’.

Act 2:34-35 KJV For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.

Christ’s enthronement did not happen directly after His resurrection; Jesus spent forty days with His disciples before that glorious event.‘Sit thou on my right hand’

Jesus was to be King not only over Israel; He was to be King of Kings.

Peter declared Christ’s resurrection from the dead… Acts 2:22 and thereby Jesus was the recipient of the promise made to David that his descendant would sit on his throne… Acts 2:30-33

Where was the throne located?

Peter made it clear; the Messiah would sit on the throne of David in heaven, not on earth.

Christ now appears in all the glory of His deity, not as He was before or after the resurrection, but as He is since His ascension and glorification!

The Ascension and the Glorified Christ

Joh 17:5 KJV And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

After His ascension, Christ received the glory that was His before the foundation of the world. Once again adorned with the resplendent glory of the second person of the Trinity.

Php 2:9-11 KJV Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

The Father highly exalted Him in recognition of His triumph over sin and ‘the death’.

The Ascension and the Cloud of the Lord

The significance of the ‘cloud of the Lord’ is the only common denominator. The theophanic cloud of the Lord was the visible manifestation of the divine presence.

The Old Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

Exo 24:17-18 KJV And the sight of the glory of the LORD was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. 18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

‘Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up unto the mount’ Here we find an Old Testament type and foreshadow of Christ and His ascension. Moses entered the cloud and returned after ‘forty’ days; a cloud also conveyed Christ into Heaven, and He returned after ‘forty’ years.

Exo 34:29 KJV And it came to pass, when Moses came down from mount Sinai with the two tables of testimony in Moses’ hand, when he came down from the mount, that Moses knew not that the skin of his face shone while he talked with him.

Moses not only ascended the mount, but while there he received the Old Covenant, likewise when Christ ascended to the Father, He received the New Covenant.

Exo 34:30 KJV And when Aaron and all the children of Israel saw Moses, behold, the skin of his face shone; and they were afraid to come nigh him.

Rev 1:16 KJV And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

Moses’ appearance changed having been in the presence of the Lord, the appearance of Jesus at His return was even more glorious.

The New Covenant ‘Cloud of the Lord’

2Co 3:7-11 KJV But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not steadfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away: 8 How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious? 9 For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. 10 For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth. 11 For if that which is done away was glorious, much more that which remaineth is glorious.

‘much more that which remaineth is glorious’ The New Covenant glory eclipsed the glory of the Old Covenant.

The glorified Christ returned in majesty on the ‘cloud of the Lord’, having neither the identical appearance with which He ascended, nor with a mere cumulus cloud.

Act 1:9 KJV And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.

Rev 14:14 KJV And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.

A Quote from Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary

‘The Old Testament. The Literal Cloud. Natural phenomena involving clouds are depicted occasionally in the Old Testament, but far from being only “natural,” these are invariably linked with the direct activity of God…’‘The Theophanic/Eschatological Cloud. The remaining twenty-two New Testament occurrences of the word “cloud” appear in the context of theophany, and encompass six theologically crucial, eschatologically related events or visionary scenes in salvation history: (1) the pillar of cloud at the exodus, viewed as a type of Christian baptism in the time of eschatological fulfillment (1 Cor 10:1-2); (2) Jesus’ transfiguration, as a foretaste of the kingdom of God, during which the Father appears and speaks in a cloud (Matt 17:5; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:34); (3) Jesus’ ascension, explained by the angels as a paradigm for his return (Acts 1:9); (4) the “mighty angel” descending from heaven wrapped in a cloud, announcing (against the eschatological backdrop of (Dan 12:7) that time should be no longer (Rev 10:1); (5) the two resurrected witnesses ascending to heaven in a cloud, described in the context of the eschatological measuring of the temple of God (Rev11:12); and (6) Jesus’ parousia, against the backdrop of Daniel 7:13, as the Son of Man coming with/on/in a cloud/the clouds/the clouds of heaven (Matt 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26;14:62; Luke12:54; 21:27; 1 Thess 4:17; Rev 1:7; 14:14-16)’.

Conclusion

Mat 16:27 KJV For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

The effulgent glory of Christ’s deity shone through at His return; that was not evident at the ascension. The emphasis at the second coming was the glorified Christ, coming in the glory of the Father.

What do you think?

The Atonement: Nothing but the Blood of Jesus

IMG_3746

Paradise and the Fall, Jan Brueghel the Elder (1568-1625) /
Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

There are many Atonement theories in Christendom today, some emphasise a particular aspect of the Atonement while others do a great disservice to the Lord.

I may be accused of over simplifying the matter, but my intention is to state my understanding of this important doctrine by allowing Scripture to interpret Scripture.

Christ Died for Our Sins According to the Scriptures

1Co 15:3-4 KJV For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Atonement provided the forgiveness of sins through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, by whom reconciliation between God and ‘man’ became possible.

I will explain my understanding of the important doctrine of Atonement and its crucial link to Jesus our High Priest’s return.

Christ Died for Our Sins According to the Scriptures

1Co 15:3-4 KJV For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

The Atonement provided the forgiveness of sins through the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the Cross, by whom reconciliation between God and ‘man’ became possible.

The Rite of Sacrifice

To comprehend the rite of sacrifice it is crucial to understand the demands of justice regarding payment for sin, the forfeit of the life of the transgressor.

A sacrificial sin-offering was a substitute for the transgressor, and involved the death of a pure and innocent animal by the shedding of its blood. The sinner should have been the one put to death; but God in His mercy allowed a sacrificial offering, thereby granting life and forgiveness.

The animal sacrifices of the Old Testament were a type and foreshadow of the ultimate sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ that would take place at God’s appointed time.

Adam and Eve and the Atonement

The Protoevangelium

Gen 3:15 KJV And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.

This first prophetic declaration concerning the Messiah in the Scriptures, ‘the Protoevangelium’ or First Gospel, would have been communicated by Adam and Eve to their descendants.

Gen 3:7 KJV And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

The day Adam ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil he died spiritually, being cast out from the presence of God and the Garden of Eden. He did not die physically.

Gen 3:21 KJV Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.

God clothed Adam and Eve with the skins of the first recorded victims of sacrificial death. The Scriptures do not specifically record the Lord’s original instruction to offer animal sacrifices as sin-offerings, although it is interesting to note that the only physical deaths mentioned as a direct result of the fall were those of the animals slain to be a covering for Adam and Eve.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 3:21 ‘God made coats of skins – It is very likely that the skins out of which their clothing was made were taken off animals whose blood had been poured out as a sin-offering to God; for as we find Cain and Abel offering sacrifices to God, we may fairly presume that God had given them instructions on this head; nor is it likely that the notion of a sacrifice could have ever occurred to the mind of man without an express revelation from God. Hence we may safely infer, 1. That as Adam and Eve needed this clothing as soon as they fell, and death had not as yet made any ravages in the animal world, it is most likely that the skins were taken off victims offered under the direction of God himself, and in faith of Him who, in the fullness of time, was to make an atonement by his death. And it seems reasonable also that this matter should be brought about in such a way that Satan and death should have no triumph, when the very first death that took place in the world was an emblem and type of that death which should conquer Satan, destroy his empire, reconcile God to man, convert man to God, sanctify human nature, and prepare it for heaven.’

Cain and Abel and the Atonement

Gen 4:4 YLT and Abel, he hath brought, he also, from the female firstlings of his flock, even from their fat ones; and Jehovah looketh unto Abel and unto his present,

Abel’s Acceptable Sacrifice

The Lord looked favourably on Abel’s animal sacrifice.

The first mention in Scripture of ‘man’ offering an animal sacrifice is in Genesis 4:4. It is reasonable to contemplate that the acceptable animal sacrifice made by Abel was the result of the concept communicated to him and his brother either directly by the Lord, or through their father Adam who had first hand knowledge of the Lord.

Heb 11:4 KJV By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

According to the writer to the Hebrews, Abel ‘obtained witness that he was righteous’ because his offering was by faith and a contrite heart.

Cain’s Unacceptable Offering

Gen 4:5-7 YLT and unto Cain and unto his present He hath not looked; and it is very displeasing to Cain, and his countenance is fallen. 6 And Jehovah saith unto Cain, `Why hast thou displeasure? and why hath thy countenance fallen? 7 Is there not, if thou dost well, acceptance? and if thou dost not well, at the opening a sin-offering is crouching, and unto thee its desire, and thou rulest over it.’

Cain’s offering and attitude was unacceptable to the Lord.

A Quote from Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary

Genesis 4:7 ‘If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? — A better rendering is, “Shalt thou not have the excellency”? which is the true sense of the words referring to the high privileges and authority belonging to the first-born in patriarchal times.
sin lieth at the door — sin, that is, a sin offering – a common meaning of the word in Scripture (as in Hos_4:8; 2Co_5:21; Heb_9:28). The purport of the divine rebuke to Cain was this, “Why art thou angry, as if unjustly treated? If thou doest well (that is, wert innocent and sinless) a thank offering would have been accepted as a token of thy dependence as a creature. But as thou doest not well (that is, art a sinner), a sin offering is necessary, by bringing which thou wouldest have met with acceptance and retained the honors of thy birthright.” This language implies that previous instructions had been given as to the mode of worship; Abel offered through faith (Heb_11:4).
unto thee shall be his desire — The high distinction conferred by priority of birth is described (Gen_27:29); and it was Cain’s conviction, that this honor had been withdrawn from him, by the rejection of his sacrifice, and conferred on his younger brother – hence the secret flame of jealousy, which kindled into a settled hatred and fell revenge.’

Gen 4:8 YLT And Cain saith unto Abel his brother, `Let us go into the field;’ and it cometh to pass in their being in the field, that Cain riseth up against Abel his brother, and slayeth him.

The Lord gave Cain the opportunity to repent and make an acceptable ‘sin-offering’, he continued to rebel and as a result he murdered his brother.

1Jn 3:12 KJV Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

The Old Testament contains many types and shadows, Christ being the antitype. To understand the Atonement of Christ it is advantageous to grasp the significance of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

Moses Coming Down from Mount Sinai

Old Covenant Israel and the Atonement

The Law of Moses

Lev 4:3-4 KJV If the priest that is anointed do sin according to the sin of the people; then let him bring for his sin, which he hath sinned, a young bullock without blemish unto the LORD for a sin offering. 4 And he shall bring the bullock unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD; and shall lay his hand upon the bullock’s head, and kill the bullock before the LORD.

Lev 4:12 KJV Even the whole bullock shall he carry forth without the camp unto a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn him on the wood with fire: where the ashes are poured out shall he be burnt.

The Law of Moses required the sacrificial victims be free from blemish. An animal’s death did not automatically make a person right with God in some ritualistic way. God provided the means of atonement in the sacrificial system, but the Israelites had to recognise the seriousness of their sin… Leviticus 16:29-30; Micah 6:6-8 They also had to identify themselves personally with the victim that died… Leviticus 1:4

Lev 17:11 KJV For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

During the Old Covenant Age, did the blood of an animal cleanse their sin? Yes it did.

Heb 9:22 KJV And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

The Law of Moses was the fundamental principle by which God continued with them, the taking of a life by the shedding of blood was required when the Old Covenant people broke the Law.

Heb 10:4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

Rom 3:25-26 KJV Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; 26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.

Although Old Covenant believers received genuine atonement, the sacrifice of animals was unable to meet the demands of God’s judgement upon sin. A greater sacrifice was necessary, the Lord Jesus Christ… Romans 3:25

The Day of Atonement

Lev 16:34 KJV And this shall be an everlasting statute unto you, to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year. And he did as the LORD commanded Moses.

The Day of Atonement first began c 1490 BC and was an annual cleansing of all the sins of Israel committed during the course of that year.

Heb 9:11-12 KJV But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; 12 Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

The Great High Priest of the New Covenant was the antitype of the Old Covenant high priest.

Heb 10:8-12 WNT After saying the words I have just quoted, “SACRIFICES AND OFFERINGS OR WHOLE BURNT-OFFERINGS AND SIN-OFFERINGS THOU HAST NOT DESIRED OR TAKEN PLEASURE IN” –all such being offered in obedience to the Law– 9 He then adds, “I HAVE COME TO DO THY WILL.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. 10 It is through that divine will that we have been set free from sin, through the offering of Jesus Christ as our sacrifice once for all. 11 And while every priest stands ministering, day after day, and constantly offering the same sacrifices–though such can never rid us of our sins– 12 this Priest, on the contrary, after offering for sins a single sacrifice of perpetual efficacy, took His seat at God’s right hand,

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Hebrews 10:1-10 ‘The apostle having shown that the tabernacle, and ordinances of the covenant of Sinai, were only emblems and types of the gospel, concludes that the sacrifices the high priests offered continually, could not make the worshippers perfect, with respect to pardon, and the purifying of their consciences. But when “God manifested in the flesh,” became the sacrifice, and his death upon the accursed tree the ransom, then the Sufferer being of infinite worth, his free-will sufferings were of infinite value. The atoning sacrifice must be one capable of consenting, and must of his own will place himself in the sinner’s stead: Christ did so. The fountain of all that Christ has done for his people, is the sovereign will and grace of God. The righteousness brought in, and the sacrifice once offered by Christ, are of eternal power, and his salvation shall never be done away. They are of power to make all the comers thereunto perfect; they derive from the atoning blood, strength and motives for obedience, and inward comfort.’

Under the Law of Moses, the sacrifices were ineffectual in that they could not remove sin permanently. However, these were types and shadows of the coming Christ who would be the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.

The ‘Lamb of God’ and the Atonement

The Lamb of God

Joh 1:29 KJV The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

Gen 22:8 KJV And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Genesis 22:8 ‘My son, God will provide himself a lamb – Here we find the same obedient unshaken faith for which this pattern of practical piety was ever remarkable. But we must not suppose that this was the language merely of faith and obedience; the patriarch spoke prophetically, and referred to that Lamb of God which He had provided for himself, who in the fullness of time should take away the sin of the world, and of whom Isaac was a most expressive type. All the other lambs which had been offered from the foundation of the world had been such as Men chose and Men offered; but This was the Lamb which God had provided – emphatically, The Lamb Of God.’

Isa 53:7 KJV 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.

Many Jewish scholars insist that Isaiah 53 does not apply to the Lord Jesus Christ, the suffering Messiah. Instead they claim it was a description of the sufferings of the nation of Israel.

Act 8:32 KJV The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:

The Ethiopian eunuch was endeavouring to understand Isaiah 53 when Philip, under the unction of the Holy Spirit, approached him and preached Christ from that very portion of Scripture. The result was the conversion of the ‘eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians’… Acts 8:27

Matthew and the Blood of Christ

Mat 26:28 KJV For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

Paul and the Blood of Christ

Eph 1:7 KJV In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;

Col 1:14 KJV In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

Col 1:20 KJV And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Blood of Christ

Heb 9:14 KJV How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

John and the Blood of Christ

1Jn 1:7 KJV But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

Rev 1:5 KJV And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

The Atonement of Christ is reconciliation by redemption through His blood for the forgiveness of sin.

Gal 3:13 KJV Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

The Lord Jesus was born by supernatural conception and was not tainted with Adam’s sin, having no sin of His own He had no sin counted against Him; therefore death could not hold Him.

When He died as our substitute He ‘bare our sins in His own body on the tree’… 1 Peter 2:24 Isaiah who lived c 700 BC prophesied ‘the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all’… Isaiah 53:6

Lev 17:11 KJV For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.

To denigrate the efficacy of the Blood is to attack the integrity of the Scriptures. In recent times, those offended by the preaching of the ‘Blood of Christ’ described Christianity as the ‘slaughterhouse religion’. In fact, a ‘Christian theologian’ created the slogan; I use the term loosely!

Prophetic Fulfilment and the Atonement

Heb 9:7-8 KJV But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people: 8 The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

By comparing the Old Covenant high priest with the New Covenant High Priest in Hebrews 9, we discover a clearer understanding of the full and fulfilled atonement.

On the Day of Atonement, the high priest offered an annual blood sacrifice. However, it was not until he descended from the temple, thereby providing evidence of an acceptable sacrifice, could the Children of Israel rejoice having been reconciled for another year… Leviticus 16:16-18

Lev 16:17 KJV And there shall be no man in the tabernacle of the congregation when he goeth in to make an atonement in the holy place, until he come out, and have made an atonement for himself, and for his household, and for all the congregation of Israel.

Likewise, Jesus our High Priest had to return to us before our salvation was complete.

The simple fact is, if Jesus our High Priest has not returned from the heavenly ‘temple’, then He has still to finish the work He set out to do. Not only is a 2000 years gap inconceivable it also discredits the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles; His imminent return was their clarion call.

2Co 1:22 KJV Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Heb 6:5 KJV And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Did the blood of Christ cleanse 1st century believers from sin? Yes it did. Nonetheless, it is necessary to take into account that prior to the parousia in AD 70 there was a ‘transition period’ of 40 years, sometimes referred to as the ‘already, but not yet’. The 1st century believers were sealed and had already tasted the Word of God and the powers of the ‘age’ to come, but until Christ returned in AD 70 they were unable to enter fully into all the blessings of the New Covenant Age.

Heb 9:28 KJV So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

The return of our Prophet, Priest, and King meant the completion of our Salvation.

Dispensationalism’s Dilemma and the Atonement

Through the full and fulfilled atonement of Christ, the Scriptures declare all the types and shadows of the sacrificial system have their antitype in Christ. There is no justifiable reason for reinstating animal sacrifices even as a means of remembrance, as some scholars suggest.

For Dispensationalism to teach the re-establishment of animal sacrifices during a millennium reign of Christ on earth, is not only totally contrary to the Scriptures, it does a great disservice to the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Not only did Jesus fully atone for sin, no other future sacrifice is required.

A Quote from Charles S Price

Leviticus 17:11 ‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the souls.” In the heavens above–in the water beneath–in the world in which we live–there is no atonement for sin except through the blood. From the time when our foreparents in the Garden of Eden were told to make skins with which to cover themselves, unto this day, there has never been ONE SINGLE CASE of atonement for sin without the shedding of blood. The sacrifice of Cain was rejected while the sacrifice of Abel was acceptable to the Lord. In all of the types of priesthood that we discover in Old Testament scripture, there was never any system or method of atonement offered to them except the shedding of blood. Type and antitype must correspond. The life of the body is in the blood–and Jesus shed his precious blood upon Calvary–and thereby gave His life for the atonement of all of our sins.’

We may never fully understand why God in His infinite wisdom chose to do things the way He did. With a thankful heart we rejoice in the fact He has made reconciliation a reality.

That’s my Saviour!

What do you think?

Footnote

The Old Covenant Offerings

Voluntary Offerings

Burnt Offering… Leviticus 1:1-17… for consecration…Romans 12:1
Meat (meal) Offering… Leviticus 2:1-16… offered with the Burnt Offering
Peace Offering… Leviticus 3:1-17… for reconciliation

Compulsory Offerings

Sin Offering… Leviticus 4:1-35… for sins against God
Trespass Offering… Leviticus 5:1-7… for sins against man or holy things

Jesus is King of Kings

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Source: gospeldrivendisciples.blogspot

Introduction

This may seem like a stupid question: Is Jesus reigning now?

Of course He is.

Nevertheless, there is a lack of understanding among many believers regarding the kingship of Jesus. For example, although Dispensationalism is probably the most popular ‘end times’ theory and widely accepted by Christendom, there are mixed messages from its proponents regarding the question of whether Jesus is King at this present time. A familiar phrase from my own days in Dispensationalism was ‘Jesus is my Prophet, Priest, and coming King’.

To make my point, I have selected a few shocking statements from a prominent author and leading advocate of Dispensationalism:

Had the people received Him, He would have fulfilled the kingly prophecies in their day in addition to the ones regarding the suffering Messiah. But when the Jewish nation as a whole rejected Christ, the fulfilment of His kingship was postponed until the final culmination of world history.’

‘…even though Christ has the right to rule the earth, He isn’t exercising this authority over kings and kingdoms at this time.’ — Hal Lindsey, There’s a New World Coming, Pages 30, 206.

Jesus is King and Reigning from Heaven

Jdg 8:23 KJV And Gideon said unto them, I will not rule over you, neither shall my son rule over you: the LORD shall rule over you.

God was Israel’s King.

1Sa 8:5-7 KJV And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations. 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us. And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

The Lord ruled from Heaven by means of His revealed Law, but Israel wanted an earthly king like other nations. God assented after their remonstrance, but added they were rejecting Him as their King.

Hos13:11 KJV I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.

Dispensationalism would have us believe that God’s great plan and purpose was to have a king ruling from Jerusalem. Nonetheless, God had a far greater plan for the Messiah… Acts 2:30-33

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

‘for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah’ When the Kingdom of Judah ultimately descended into apostasy, God removed king Coniah, also called Jeconiah, sending him into captivity in Babylon.

Nebuchadnezzar placed Zedekiah the uncle of Jeconiah on the throne. Following a rebellion, Nebuchadnezzar imprisoned Zedekiah and after he witnessed the slaying of his sons, Zedekiah’s eyes were put out. He died in a Babylonian prison.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

Jeremiah 22:30 ‘Childless – No child to sit on David’s throne. See 1Ch 3:17 note. Jeconiah was the last king of David’s line. His uncle indeed actually reigned after him, but perished with his sons long before Jeconiah’s death (literally 10): and yet from so dead a trunk, from a family so utterly fallen, that spiritual King came forth whose name is “Yahweh our righteousness” Jer 23:5-6.’

Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah… Matthew 1:11-16 and the rightful heir to David’s throne, but according to Jeremiah He will not reign on the throne of David in Jerusalem. Yet, that is exactly what Dispensationalism teaches.

Jesus Avoided Becoming an Earthly King

Joh 6:15 KJV When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.

If His Kingdom was of this world, why did Jesus circumvent those who could have brought it to pass?

Act 1:6 KJV When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?

Acts 1:6 ‘ Wilt thou at this time, etc.? They still held to their old ideas of a worldly restoration of the kingdom of Israel. Their only question was, “Wilt thou restore it now?” After the Holy Spirit was given, this delusion was dismissed, and they understood that Christ’s kingdom is not of this world.’ — People’s New Testament

Dispensationalism teaches that God has two separate peoples, national Israel and the Church. The Jews remain special heirs of Abraham and will rule over the Gentiles in a future millennium kingdom. This is contrary to the Scriptures and accentuates why it is important to have a clear understanding of the Kingdom of God and the Kingship of Jesus.

Jesus Reigns on David’s Throne in the Heavenly Realm

Act 2:30-33 YLT a prophet, therefore, being, and knowing that with an oath God did swear to him, out of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, to raise up the Christ, to sit upon his throne, 31 having foreseen, he did speak concerning the rising again of the Christ, that his soul was not left to hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. 32 `This Jesus did God raise up, of which we are all witnesses; 33 at the right hand then of God having been exalted–also the promise of the Holy Spirit having received from the Father–he was shedding forth this, which now ye see and hear;

Peter proclaimed the fulfilment of God’s promise to raise up Christ upon David’s throne… Psalm 89:3-4 Therefore, Jesus was reigning over Israel during the lifetime of His generation.

Joh 18:36-37 KJV Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. 37 Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

When Jesus answered ‘My kingdom is not of this world’, it was in keeping with His parable of ‘A certain nobleman’…Luke 19:12-27

A Certain Nobleman

Luk 19:12-15 KJV He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.13 And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. 14 But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us. 15 And it came to pass, that when he was returned, having received the kingdom, then he commanded these servants to be called unto him, to whom he had given the money, that he might know how much every man had gained by trading.

In this parable, we see a clear reference to Christ going by way of His death, resurrection, and ascension, to receive His Kingdom from the Father and to return in judgement.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

Luke 19:12-15 ‘A certain nobleman – The Lord Jesus, who was shortly to be crucified by the Jews. Went into a far country – Ascended to the right hand of the Divine Majesty. To receive a kingdom – To take possession of the mediatorial kingdom, the right to which, as Messiah, he had acquired by his sufferings: see Phi_2:8, Phi_2:9; Heb_1:3, Heb_1:8, Heb_1:9. In these words there is an allusion to the custom of those days, when they who had kingdoms or governments given unto them went to Rome to receive that dignity from the emperors. Bishop Pearce. In proof of this, see Josephus, Ant. l. xiv. c. xiv., where we find Herod went to Rome to receive the sanction and authority of the Roman emperor. And, from lib. xvii. c. 3, we learn that his successors acted in the same way. And to return – To judge and punish the rebellious Jews.’

The Church and the Kingdom

Mat 16:18-19 KJV And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Jesus referred to the Church and the Kingdom in this portion of Scripture and His statement can only make sense if the titles are synonymous.

Heb 12:23 KJV To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

Heb 12:28 KJV Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

In the Epistle to the Hebrews, the Church and the Kingdom are interchangeable terms; to partake of one is to partake of the other.

Eph 2:12-15 KJV That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;

Eph 2:19 KJV Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;

To be in Christ is to be in the Church and in the Kingdom.

Conclusion

Hal Lindsey has written numerous successful, highly acclaimed books based on Dispensationalism’s ‘end times’ theory.

In my opinion, he reveals the dubious nature of this doctrine by his failure to acknowledge the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Luk 1:33 KJV And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.

Believers are citizens of the spiritual Kingdom of God, with King Jesus reigning in their hearts from His everlasting throne.

Rev 19:16 KJV And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.

That is my King!

What do you think?

Footnote

Further to my comment on Jeremiah 22:30

Jer 22:30 KJV Thus saith the LORD, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.

Chronology

Josiah was King of Judah 640-609 BC; he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD. He died in battle against the Egyptians at Megiddo.

Jehoahaz 608 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Necho II and imprisoned in Egypt.

Jehoiakim was King of Judah 608-597 BC; he was a wicked king.

Jehoiachin also called Jeconiah 597 BC reigned for three months then deposed by Nebuchadnezzar and taken captive to Babylon. Although Zedekiah took his place on the throne, the exiled Jews acknowledged Jeconiah as their king…Ezekiel 1:2. Matthew recorded Jeconiah in Christ’s genealogy… Matthew 1

Zedekiah was King of Judah 597-586 BC; he was Jeconiah’s uncle and placed on the throne by Nebuchadnezzar. After a rebellion, was imprisoned, his eyes were put out, and he died in Babylonian captivity.

Jesus was not Smitten of God

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The Flagellation, Caravaggio (1573-1610) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Son 2:15  KJV Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.

Subtle misconceptions are the little foxes that spoil our understanding of the Scriptures.

An unbalanced view of the relationship between God the Father and God the Son is often the result of misrepresentation of Scripture.

I have heard preachers explicate how Jesus was ‘smitten of God’, ‘made sin for us’, ‘forsaken of God’, and have often repeated these ill-conceived views without examining the Scriptures for myself.

I will attempt to explain my understanding of substitutionary atonement.

Was Jesus Smitten of God?

Zechariah

Many preachers and websites narrate arduous and unremitting accounts of Jesus being ‘smitten of God’.

Zec 13:7  KJV Awake,  O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

For example:

A Quote from Living Stream Ministry

‘However, not only did men reject and betray Him, but God smote Him. “Smite the shepherd.” He was smitten by God on the cross. He was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by men, but following that, He was smitten on the cross by God Himself.’

Some scholars suggest Zechariah prophesied the Lord would personally smite the Shepherd. In my opinion, Albert Barnes elucidated the meaning and context of this portion of Scripture when he wrote:

Zechariah 13:7 ‘But by this command he signifies that human malice, acting freely, could do no more than His “Hand and” His “counsel determined before to be done” Act 4:28. The envy and hatred of Satan, the blind fury of the chief priests, the contempt of Herod, the guilty cowardice of Pilate, freely accomplished that Death, which God had before decreed for the salvation of the world…(Ribera), “the sword shall be aroused against My Shepherd, that is, I will allow Him to be smitten by the Jews. — Albert Barnes, Notes on the Bible

The Perpetrators Were Identified by Peter in Acts 4

Act 4:26-28 KJV The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

‘For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.’ God the Father did not smite His Son; Peter in Acts 4 listed the perpetrators.

All the evil that sinful ‘man’ could muster while driven by Satan and his kingdom of darkness, was according to the Lord’s divine plan for the redemption of mankind.

God knew Adam would disobey His command and result in ‘mans’ fall and deprivation. Nevertheless, God’s great plan of redemption was in agreement with the Son before foundation of the world. He permitted Satan and wicked fallen ‘man’ to smite and unleash all within their power upon the Lord Jesus Christ, but to no avail, on the third day Christ rose victoriously from the dead.

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Acts 4:28 ‘and thy counsel determined before to be done: God’s decrees are from eternity; there is nothing comes to pass in time but what he has beforetime determined should be done, either by effecting it himself, or doing it by others, or suffering it to be done, as in the case here. Whatever was done to Christ, either by Jews or Gentiles, by Herod or Pontius Pilate, was according to the secret will of God, the covenant he made with Christ, and the council of peace that was between them both: what they wickedly did, God designed for good, and hereby brought about the redemption and salvation of his people: this neither makes God the author of sin, nor excuses the sinful actions of men, or infringes the liberty of their wills in acting.’

Isaiah

Isa 53:4 KJV Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

A Quote from R C Sproul ‘The Servant Lord II’

‘He is “smitten by God” for our sins and “crushed for our iniquities” (v. 5). Note that it is not any sin in Jesus that causes this punishment. Rather, the Father punishes the Son for the sins that we have committed, the sins that were imputed to Him on the cross.’

The Old Testament animal sacrifices were a type and foreshadow of Jesus the Lamb of God, I fail to find God pouring out His wrath upon the innocent lambs for being sin bearers.

A Quote from Gloria Copeland

‘Jesus was smitten of God with sin and sickness in order for you to go free. Verse 6 tells us, “The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”’

Jesus was smitten, but not smitten of God!

yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’ Isaiah did not write Christ was smitten of God! The prophet clearly said ‘yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted’. There is a huge difference, the crowd witnessing the crucifixion considered Him smitten of God because of His predicament and punishment.

Consider other translations:

Isa 53:4 Douay-Rheims Bible Surely he hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows: and we have thought him as it were a leper, and as one struck by God and afflicted.

Isa 53:4 Geneva Surely hee hath borne our infirmities, and caried our sorowes: yet wee did iudge him, as plagued, and smitten of God, and humbled.

Those who beheld the spectacle of Christ’s sufferings assumed He was in that wretched condition for His own sins, of which He had none. They were oblivious to the fact it was for their sins and for the sins of the world that He endured the cross.

Isa 50:6-7 KJV I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair: I hid not my face from shame and spitting. 7 For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed.

I gave my back to the smiters’ Jesus willingly gave Himself in the knowledge that God the Father would come to His aid.

But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!’

Luk 22:53 ISV While I was with you day after day in the temple, you didn’t lay a hand on me. But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!”

‘But this is your hour, when darkness reigns!’ The crucifixion was a spectacle of violent aggression. However, it was not a manifestation of the Father’s wrath on His Son. It was a testimony of God’s love and forgiveness in contrast to the violence and wrath of sinful ‘man’, incited by the Devil and the powers of darkness.

Col 1:13 KJV Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Christ prevailed over ‘mans’ wickedness unleashed on Him in the physical realm, and Satan’s futile attempt to overturn God’s great plan of redemption in the spiritual realm.

A Quote from the People’s New Testament

Colossians 1:13-14 ‘Who hath delivered us. The language implies that we were captive. We were under the power of darkness. Compare Luk_22:53. Satan is the power of darkness. Those in sin are held under his power.’

The Devil’s hostile yet ineffective attack on Christ was a desperate attempt to thwart the plan and purpose of God. Although he bruised Christ’s heal at the crucifixion, his final demise was imminent, when Christ would bruise his head… Genesis 3:15

The concept of God the Father pouring wrath on His Son is not in the Scriptures, nor did the Apostles teach God punished Jesus when He was on the Cross.

Was Jesus ‘Made to Be Sin’ for Us?

2Co 5:21 KJV 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.

2Co 5:21 Douay-Rheims Bible Him, who knew no sin, he hath made sin for us: that we might be made the justice of God in him. Sin for us… That is, to be a sin offering, a victim for sin.

The Douay-Rheims translation not only makes more sense, it is also in keeping with Christ being the antitype of the Old Covenant sacrificial system.

The innocent animal was not made to be sin, but the sin bearer.

William F Beck’s God’s Word, Adam Clarke, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, and the Summarized Bible, all captured the true meaning of the verse.

Did Christ Become Sin?

A Quote from Matt Slick, Carm.org

2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘It is possible that at some moment on the cross, when Jesus became sin on our behalf, that God the Father, in a sense, turned His back upon the Son. It says in Hab. 1:13 that God is too pure to look upon evil. Therefore, it is possible that when Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), that the Father, spiritually, turned away. At that time, the Son may have cried out.’

Contrary to Matt Slick’s view, I believe:

a) Christ did not become sin; He became the sin-bearer and sin offering.

b) God can look upon evil.

c) The Father did not turn His back on His Son.

Christians generally accept the statement made by Matt Slick; personally, Adam Clarke clearly addressed this topic.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

2 Corinthians 5:21 ‘Had our translators attended to their own method of translating the word in other places where it means the same as here, they would not have given this false view of a passage which has been made the foundation of a most blasphemous doctrine; viz. that our sins were imputed to Christ, and that he was a proper object of the indignation of Divine justice, because he was blackened with imputed sin; and some have proceeded so far in this blasphemous career as to say, that Christ may be considered as the greatest of sinners, because all the sins of mankind, or of the elect, as they say, were imputed to him, and reckoned as his own. One of these writers translates the passage thus: Deus Christum pro maximo peccatore habuit, ut nos essemus maxime justi, God accounted Christ the greatest of sinners, that we might be supremely righteous. Thus they have confounded sin with the punishment due to sin. Christ suffered in our stead; died for us; bore our sins, (the punishment due to them), in his own body upon the tree, for the Lord laid upon him the iniquities of us all; that is, the punishment due to them; explained by making his soul – his life, an offering for sin; and healing us by his stripes. But that it may be plainly seen that sin-offering, not sin, is the meaning of the word in this verse.’

Did God Treat Christ as a Sinner?

2Co 5:21 CEV Christ never sinned! But God treated him as a sinner, so that Christ could make us acceptable to God.

The Contemporary English Version goes to the extent of asserting ‘God treated him as a sinner’, such theories have led preachers to extrapolate fanciful and exaggerated sermons.

To have a clear perspective of the crucifixion, our answers are found in the Scriptures and not in imaginative sermons, preached to reach the emotions rather than the heart.

Isa 53:6 KJV 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.

The Lord ‘made the iniquities of us all to meet on him.’ TSK Cross References

Is God too pure to look upon evil?

Hab 1:13 KJV Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity: wherefore lookest thou upon them that deal treacherously, and holdest thy tongue when the wicked devoureth the man that is more righteous than he?

The Scriptures do not teach God cannot look upon evil. The Book of Habakkuk contains the prophet’s conversation with the Lord, similar to a soliloquy.

It is interesting to compare the King James Version of verse 13, which begins with ‘Thou art’ in italics, (meaning it is not in the original text), to commentators Keil and Delitzsch ‘Art Thou’; Habakkuk’s assumption is transformed into a question and is an equally valid rendition.

A Quote from Keil and Delitzsch commentary on the Old Testament

Habakkuk 1:13 ‘“Art Thou too pure of eye to behold evil, and canst Thou not look upon distress? Wherefore lookest Thou upon the treacherous? and art silent when the wicked devours one more righteous than he?’

A Quote from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible

Habakkuk 1:13 ‘Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look upon iniquity,…. The Lord with his eyes of omniscience beholds all things good and evil, and all men good and bad, with all their actions; but then he does not look upon the sins of men with pleasure and approbation; since they are contrary to his nature, repugnant to his will, and breaches of his righteous law: and though sin in general may be included here, yet there seems to be a particular respect had to the “evil” or injury done by the Chaldeans to the Jews, in invading their land, spoiling their substance, and slaying their persons; and to the “iniquity”, labour, or grievance, by which may be meant the oppression and violence the same people exercised upon the inhabitants of Judea; which, though permitted by the Lord, could not be well pleasing in his sight. The Targum interprets it of persons, workers of evil, and workers of the labour of falsehood; see Psa 5:4.’

Did God Forsake Jesus?

Mat 27:46 KJV 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?

I have heard elaborate accounts of God the Father turning His back on Jesus while He bore the sins of the world on the cross, however, the Scriptures do not substantiate this concept of the Father. The fact is, the opposite is true.

For example:

A Quote from R C Sproul ‘The Truth of the Cross’

‘He was overwhelmed by the outer darkness. On the cross, He was in hell, totally bereft of the grace and the presence of God, utterly separated from all blessedness of the Father. He became a curse for us so that we one day will be able to see the face of God. God turned His back on His Son so that the light of His countenance will fall on us. It’s no wonder Jesus screamed from the depths of His soul. (134-135)’

When Matthew recorded the words of Jesus ‘My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ he did so as part of his narrative of the events that occurred during the crucifixion.

Psalm 22

Psa 22:1 KJV My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?

When a Rabbi taught from the Scriptures, it was commonplace for him to read the introductory Scripture only, the congregation understood the whole portion or Psalm was to be considered. The Lord Jesus Christ effectively used this teaching method called ‘Remez’.

A Quote from Ray Vander Laan thattheworldmayknow.com

Remez ‘The great teachers (rabbis) during Jesus’ day used a technique that was later called remez. In their teaching, they would use part of a Scripture passage in a discussion, assuming that their audience’s knowledge of the Bible would allow them to deduce for themselves the fuller meaning of the teaching. Apparently, Jesus, who possessed a brilliant understanding of Scripture and strong teaching skills, used this method often.’

‘My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?’ King David first uttered these words during a time of severe trial; nonetheless, the Psalm contains a significant Messianic prophecy. Jesus fulfilled this prophecy when He expressed His suffering with a cry of despair.

Psa 22:24 KJV For he hath not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard.

‘neither hath he hid his face from him’ The Psalmist continued by declaring God neither abhorred His affliction, nor hid His face from Him.

‘but when he cried unto him, he heard’ God the Father also heard His cry!

If the Pharisees had not been blind to the truth they would have realised fulfilment of prophecy was taking place in their midst.

Contrary to R C Sproul, in my opinion, God the Father did not forsake His Son.

Conclusion

I have admired and learned from the ministries of R C Sproul and Matt Slick, but I am compelled to disagree on this particular aspect of substitutionary atonement.

Joh 16:32 KJV Behold, the hour cometh, yea, is now come, that ye shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave me alone: and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with me.

‘yet I am not alone’ Jesus told the disciples that they would forsake Him, but He assured them His Father was always with Him.

‘the Father is with me’ These were the words of Christ prior to His crucifixion; did Jesus get it wrong? Of course He didn’t!

What do you think?

The Deity of Christ: Jesus did Claim to be God

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Doubting Thomas, Caravaggio (1573-1610) Source: Art and the Bible

Introduction

Did Jesus ever claim deity? Yes, He did.

The deity of Christ is a fundamental doctrine of the Christian faith. There are those today who deny the deity of Christ by suggesting He never claimed to be God, but that is a straw man argument. The Scriptures in fact clearly record that not only did Jesus declare His deity, the New Testament writers by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit constantly referred to it.

His Jewish audience understood exactly the claim Jesus made and attempted to kill Him for speaking blasphemy… John 10 The 1st century Jews knew the term ‘Son of God’ was a reference to divinity.

Is Jesus really God? The answer is a resounding yes.

Thomas and the Divinity of Christ

Joh 20:27-29 KJV Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

A Quote from Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible

John 20:28 ‘…Thomas was the first who gave the title of God to Jesus; and, by this glorious confession, made some amends for his former obstinate incredulity. It is worthy of remark, that from this time forward the whole of the disciples treated our Lord with the most supreme respect, never using that familiarity towards him which they had often used before. The resurrection from the dead gave them the fullest proof of the divinity of Christ. And this, indeed, is the use which St. John makes of this manifestation of Christ. See Joh_20:30, Joh_20:31…’

‘My Lord and my God’ Jesus did not restrain Thomas from worshipping Him; if Jesus was not worthy of worship He would have rebuked him.

Joh 11:16 KJV Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

Let us not be too harsh towards doubting Thomas. When the disciples were deeply troubled that Jesus was returning to Judaea so soon after the attempt to stone Him, it was Thomas who encouraged the disciples to follow Jesus, even if it meant they would all die with Him… John 10:33

A Quote from the Summarized Bible

‘The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men through Him might become the sons of God.’

Jesus and His Divinity

Luk 22:70-71 YLT And they all said, `Thou, then, art the Son of God?’ and he said unto them, `Ye say it, because I am;’ 71 and they said, `What need yet have we of testimony? for we ourselves did hear it from his mouth.’

A Quote from Robertson’s Word Pictures

Luke 22:70 ‘Art thou the Son of God? (Su oun ei ho huios tou theou̱). Note how these three epithets are used as practical equivalents. They ask about “the Messiah.” Jesus affirms that he is the Son of Man and will sit at the right hand of the power of God. They take this to be a claim to be the Son of God (both humanity and deity). Jesus accepts the challenge and admits that he claims to be all three (Messiah, the Son of man, the Son of God).
Ye say (Humeis legete). Just a Greek idiom for “Yes” (compare “I am” in Mar_14:62 with “Thou has said” in Mat_26:64).’

Jesus clearly declared during His trial that He was deity… Mark 14:62

The Father and the Divinity of Christ

Mat 3:17 KJV And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

At the commencement of His earthly ministry, the Father declared Jesus was the Son of God.

Mat 17:5 YLT While he is yet speaking, lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and lo, a voice out of the cloud, saying, `This is My Son, –the Beloved, in whom I did delight; hear him.’

This was endorsed a second time at the transfiguration. The Apostles were enthralled to see Moses and Elijah talking with Jesus; perhaps they considered the three to be of equal standing. When the voice from the glory cloud declared ‘This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him’, they were left in no doubt as to the greatest among them, only Jesus was left standing before them.

Act 13:33 KJV God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.

‘Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee’ When visiting the synagogue at Antioch, Paul preached the risen Christ and the fulfillment of Psalm 2:7.

The Gospel of John and the Divinity of Christ

King James vs New World Translation:

Joh 1:1 KJV In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1 New World Translation In [the] beginning the Word was, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.

‘and the Word was God’ Notice the subtle difference. In a vain attempt to support the concept that Jesus was Michael the archangel and a created being, the New World Translation mistranslated John 1:1 by substituting the phrase ‘and the Word was a god’. In my opinion, this is nonsensical; to imply that Jesus is ‘a god’ is to suggest there is another god forby Jehovah. There is no justification for rewriting John 1:1.

Col 1:16-17 YLT because in him were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created, 17 and himself is before all, and the all things in him have consisted.

Paul declared that Christ is not only the Creator. He also sustains all things.

John 1:1 ‘…God creates and speaks to man through the Word. As we clothe our thoughts in words, God reveals his will by the Word, and when that Word is clothed in flesh, as the Teacher of men, we recognize it as Jesus Christ…’ — The People’s New Testament

Joh 8:56-58 KJV Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. 57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? 58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

‘Before Abraham was, I am’ When Jesus said ‘Before Abraham was, I am’, He declared His divinity. By drawing from their knowledge of the Scriptures, His Jewish audience understood exactly what He meant when He said ‘I am’.

The term ‘I am’ was specifically attributed to Jehovah. ‘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 3:14

Abraham received the revelation of the gospel…Galatians 3:8, and he rejoiced to see Christ’s day… John 8:56

Dispensationalism teaches the Old Testament Patriarchs belong to God’s future plan for the Jews and are not included in the Church; this presupposition is based on the premise God has two separate ‘peoples’. Yet the Scriptures clearly teach the Old Testament saints heard the Gospel and those who looked for the Messiah belonged to the remnant, the Israel of God, into which the Gentile believers were ‘graffed in’.

Joh 10:33 KJV For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God.

‘because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God’ Again, the Jews, to whom Jesus was addressing, understood exactly the claim He made; Jesus claimed deity! Their reaction was to take Him and stone Him for speaking blasphemy. Why stoning in particular? It was the punishment for blasphemy according to the Law of Moses… Leviticus 24:16

Isaiah’s Vision and the Divinity of Christ

Isa 6:5 KJV Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

Joh 12:41 KJV These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

‘for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts’ John confirmed Isaiah saw Christ’s glory when he beheld ‘the King, and LORD of hosts’ in his vision (758 BC). When ‘LORD’ is in capital letters in the King James Version it is a translation of the Hebrew ‘Yehovah’.

A Quote from Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

Isaiah 6:5 ‘This vision is explained, John 12:41, that Isaiah now saw Christ’s glory, and spake of Him, which is a foolproof that our Saviour is God. In Christ Jesus, God is seated on a throne of grace; and through him the way into the holiest is laid open.’

Joh 16:15 KJV All things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I, that he shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you.

‘All things that the Father hath are mine’ If ‘all things’ the Father has belong to Christ, does ‘all’ mean ‘all’ including His characteristics and attributes? A created being could not make this claim.

Joh 17:5 KJV And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.

‘I had with thee before the world was’ Jesus, God the Son existed with the Father in eternity and shared the glory… John 17:24

Rev 22:12-13 KJV And, behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to each as his work is. 13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last.

the First and the Last’ In the Revelation, Jesus fittingly used the epithet normally attributed to Jehovah, ‘the First and the Last’, and in the same verse He expressed His imminent return!

Isa 44:6 LITV So says Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts: I am the First, and I am the Last; and there is no God except Me.

‘I am the First, and I am the Last’ Isaiah frequently used this phrase and attributed it to Jehovah… Isaiah 41:4; Isaiah 48:12

Polycarp Bishop of Smyrna AD 70 – AD 155 / 160

O Lord God almighty… I bless you and glorify you through the eternal and heavenly high priest Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be glory to you, with Him and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever.’

Paul and the Divinity of Christ

1Co 15:47 KJV The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.

‘the Lord from heaven’ Only despots at their peril would dare to claim the title ‘Lord’, which means God, Master, and Supreme in authority.

Phi 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

‘equal with God’ Christ has equality with, and the form (nature) of God. No created being can claim such attributes.

Phi 2:10-11 KJV That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;

‘at the name of Jesus’ If Jesus is not divine then this is surely an idolatrous command!

Col 1:14-15 YLT in whom we have the redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of the sins, 15 who is the image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation,

‘first-born of all creation’ ‘First-born’ is not always understood literally in the Scriptures. It often signifies simply a well-beloved or best-beloved son, one preferred to all the rest, and distinguished by some eminent prerogative.

Thus, God called Israel His son, His first-born… Exodus 4:22 He also called Ephraim His first-born… Jeremiah 31:9

Col 2:9 KJV For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

‘the fulness of the Godhead bodily’ All the divine attributes dwell in Him.

1Ti 1:17 KJV Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

‘the King eternal’ If Jesus Christ is not ‘the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God’ then why did Paul worship Him with ‘honour and glory for ever and ever’. Amen’.

1Ti 3:16 KJV And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

‘And without controversy’ In other words, the subject was not open for public dispute or debate.

‘God was manifest in the flesh’ Paul made clear the authenticity of Christ’s deity. The Scriptures testify to the fact ‘God was manifest in the flesh’ through the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Writer to the Hebrews and the Divinity of Christ

Heb 1:6 KJV And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.

‘And let all the angels of God worship him’ God alone is worthy of worship; we are to have no other gods before Him… Exodus 34:14 The Son came into the world and began the earthly, human phase of His eternal existence. Jesus the divine Son of God received worship at His incarnation, the instruction to angels was to worship Him… Hebrews 1:8

Heb 1:8 KJV But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of thy kingdom.

‘Thy throne, O God’ God the Father declared the divinity of Christ.

Heb 7:24-27 KJV But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

‘because he continueth ever’ Jesus our High Priest presented the ultimate sacrifice in the heavenly presence of the Father, it had to be perfect, sinless and without blemish. No mere man or angel could be that High Priest and sacrifice, that is why God sent His Son to shed His blood and die on the Cross for our salvation.

Hebrews 1:8 ‘The person of the Son was the true image and character of the Person of the Father. He is not said to be the “likeness” of God (implying resemblance) but “image,” which means that He reveals God. In beholding His power, wisdom and goodness, men were beholding the Father, for He was God manifest in the flesh, having all the perfections of God in Him.’ — The Summarized Bible

Peter and the Divinity of Christ

Mat 16:16-17 KJV And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God’ Peter emphatically professed by revelation of the Father that Christ was the Son of God. From what greater source could Peter have received such assurance?

Demons and the Divinity of Christ

Mar 1:24 KJV Saying, Let us alone; what have we to do with thee, thou Jesus of Nazareth? art thou come to destroy us? I know thee who thou art, the Holy One of God.

‘the Holy One of God’ Even demons knew who Jesus was!

Conclusion

God paid the price for our salvation. There was not a created being capable of paying for ‘mans’ sin, not even Michael the archangel. Only Jesus, God the Son, was able to offer a perfect sacrifice.

‘The Son of God became the Son of Man that the sons of men through Him might become the sons of God’… The Summarized Bible

What do you think?

Nicodemus and the Transforming Power of the Gospel

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The Descent from the Cross, Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)
Source: Olga’s Gallery

Introduction

What is the Gospel? This may seem a stupid question since the Gospel has been around for 2000 years, but if ever the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ was in need of clarification, it is today.

What the Gospel Is Not

It is not the ‘prosperity gospel’ preached by many of today’s so-called TV evangelists. The misuse of this media is an embarrassment to Christianity.

It is not the ‘power of positive thinking gospel’ preached by the most successful ‘TV evangelist’ in the USA.

It is not the ‘say this prayer after me gospel’ preached by easy fix preachers, who are only interested in counting decisions and adding to the Church membership roll.

It is not the ‘works gospel’ preached by those who control their flock by insisting church attendance and good works are sufficient for salvation.

It is not the ‘social gospel’ advocated by liberal preachers, who have substituted the Gospel of Salvation for a message of social reform. Having an insatiable appetite to champion worthy or minority causes at the expense of the spiritual needs of mankind.

It is not the ‘politically correct gospel’ preached by compromising preachers with ear tickling sermons, which are inoffensive and totally ineffective.

It is not the ‘there is no need to be born again gospel’ taught by those who believe Jesus spoke metaphorically when He told Nicodemus he must be born again.

Can you imagine the Apostles preaching any of the aforementioned ‘gospels’?

What Is the Gospel?

1Co 1:23 KJV But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

The Gospel is the good news of the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and his finished work of Salvation.

A Quote from the Summarised Bible

1 Corinthians 1:23 ‘The plain preaching of a crucified Jesus is more powerful than all the oratory and philosophy of an unbelieving world. All the boasted science of the world cannot do for souls what ‘Christ crucified’ does. All one needs, or can desire, they may have in Him (1Co 1:30-31). He is made wisdom to the foolish, righteousness to the guilty, sanctification to the corrupt, and redemption to those who are in bonds.’

Rom 5:8 KJV But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

‘Man’ not only sins; ‘man’ is a sinner! Therefore, ‘man’ needs the Saviour only God could provide.

Eph 2:8 KJV For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

If sinners could be reconciled to God by any of the false gospels mentioned above, then Christ need not have died on the Cross.

Nicodemus Was an Example of the Transforming Power of the Gospel

The lifechanging experience of Nicodemus may enlighten and encourage those seeking to know the Lord.

Nicodemus and his Discourse with Jesus by Night

Joh 3:1-2 KJV There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: 2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

Why did Nicodemus meet ‘Jesus by night’? Perhaps because crowds constantly thronged Jesus by day and Nicodemus being a member of the Sanhedrin was also occupied at that time. It was common practice for Jewish teachers to study together in the evening.

In my opinion, Nicodemus was afraid to be seen publicly in conversation with Jesus. It is interesting John mentioned Nicodemus three times in his Gospel and on each occasion he described him as the one who came to ‘Jesus by night’, thereby implying secrecy. As a religious leader, he may have feared his reputation would be diminished if found in the company of the Galilean, he would also have suffered ridicule and retribution from the Pharisees. Even today ridicule can be off-putting for those seeking to know more about Jesus. What family, friends, and associates might think, has been an obstacle for many.

Joh 3:3-7 KJV Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

Although Nicodemus was a religious leader, he did not realise his need to be spiritually reborn; in fact, he could not comprehend the concept. Jesus explained by being born again he would enter the spiritual Kingdom of God and understand spiritual matters his natural mind could not assimilate.

Joh 3:8 The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Jesus compared a natural phenomenon to a spiritual. The wind is incomprehensible, yet acceptable to the natural mind because of its effect. Likewise the spiritual birth is extraordinary, but conceivable only to those born again.

A Quote from Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

John 3:8 ‘Where it listeth – Where it wills or pleases. So is every one … – Everyone that is born of the Spirit is, in some respects, like the effects of the wind. You see it not, you cannot discern its laws, but you see its effects, and you know therefore that it does exist and operate. Nicodemus objection was, that he could not see this change, or perceive how it could be. Jesus tells him that he should not reject a doctrine merely because he could not understand it. Neither could the wind be seen, but its effects were well known, and no one doubted the existence or the power of the agent. Compare Ecc 11:5.’

The Born Again Nicodemus

Nicodemus and Evidence of Transformation

Joh 1:11-13 KJV He came unto his own, and his own received him not. 12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.

John began his Gospel by explaining that although Christ was rejected by the Jews, many received and believed in Him and were born of God, (prior to the Day of Pentecost).

Nicodemus and his Defence of Jesus

Joh 7:50-52 KJV Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) 51 Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? 52 They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

A Quote from the Popular New Testament

John 7:50-52 ‘Nicodemus has so far overcome his fear that he defends Jesus against the glaring injustice of his fellow-rulers, undeterred by the expression of their scorn just uttered. He appeals to the law, all knowledge of which they have proudly arrogated to themselves, and shows that of this very law they are themselves transgressors.’

Nicodemus displayed evidence of his conversion by being unashamed of his Lord when he defended Him before the Sanhedrin… Romans 9:33

Nicodemus and the Descent of Jesus from the Cross

Joh 19:39-40 And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight. 40 Then took they the body of Jesus, and wound it in linen clothes with the spices, as the manner of the Jews is to bury.

Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea attended to Jesus at His descent from the Cross. Joseph provided the tomb, while Nicodemus the myrrh and aloes.

Ironically, both were members of the Sanhedrin; nevertheless, they were instrumental in fulfilling Messianic prophecy:

John 19:39 KJV And there came also Nicodemus, which at the first came to Jesus by night, and brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pound weight.

Hebrews 1:8-9    But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom. 9 Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

Isaiah 53:9 KJV 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.

Matthew 27:57-60 KJV When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus’ disciple: 58 He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. 59 And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.

So What Must I Do to Become a Christian?

We need to understand that our sin separates us from fellowship with God, however, He loved us so much He gave His Son to be a sacrifice for our sin.

The crucial part of God’s great plan of redemption was that Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross for us.

If we place our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and repent (turn from our sin); He will restore us to our Heavenly Father.

By asking the Lord’s forgiveness, and repenting of our sin, the Holy Spirit resurrects and baptises us spiritually into the body of Christ. Consequently, we become a child of God. Jesus gives us the assurance we are reconciled and by faith He will lead and always be with us.

Nicodemus was never the same again. What about you?

Conclusion

Joh 20:31 YLT and these have been written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in his name.’

Considering Nicodemus was mentioned only three times in the New Testament, the outcome of his conversation with Jesus has played an essential role in the preaching of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Unbelievers often ridicule Christians because they fail to understand that faith in Christ is not mental transcendence but spiritual transformation.

What do you think?