The Gospel From Genesis to Revelation #1: What is the Gospel?

This is a diagram that I’ve made in order to give a simple understanding of the framework of Scripture. This post is a broad-stroke article of what I plan to cover in detailed multiple-blog-posts at a later time–– though the Scriptures under the pillars will not be referenced much in this post, they will be discussed in detail in the posts that follow. Don’t be deterred by the length of this, but do feel the freedom to read at will over a period of time if necessary.

(For a brief summary of what is described within this post scroll down to the conclusion of five short paragraphs.)

What is the Biblical Gospel?

It is critical to understand what is meant in our Bible by the word Gospel. Clearly, it is what John the Baptist, Jesus, and Paul preached, and it embodies the very substance of the faith we as Christians profess. But… what is it? Gospel is a greek word that means “good news.” Therefore, whenever the word Gospel is heard, it should immediately register the phrase good news in one’s mind. Thus, when approaching the question of “What is the Biblical Gospel?” we are actually approaching the question of “What is the good news in the Bible?”. With the diagram linked above I hope to articulate a simple version of what this good news actually is through the “five pillars of theology” the Bible emphasizes. I hope to show the gospel which the apostles held firmly to and which we must also preach in order to disciple people in the true apostolic gospel.

Note: From here on we will often interchange gospel with good news in order to produce the simple understanding we are trying to achieve.

Approaching the Good News

First it is necessary to state a few points regarding the nature of the Bible. We must perceive the Bible to be God’s story. It has a beginning, a body, and an end. It has characters, a plot, a climax, and a conclusion. It is always so odd to me to find believers that approach the Bible in an entirely different manner than they do any other story. When we pick up a book, we begin reading and develop a simple understanding of the details which lead to our conclusion of what happens. We do not doubt whether the author existed, nor do we ever separate the book into an old account and new account tricking ourselves into believing that what the author meant in the first part of the book, he doesn’t mean anymore. Yet, consistently this is the case with the Bible. We divide it into old and new testaments creating division between the two as if they don’t relate. Many even believe the Old Testament is no longer relevant. This is detrimental to the story! What is promised in the beginning must be fulfilled in the end or God lied. This is the simple truth we must face and it honestly is a simple truth if we take a deep breath, exhale, and let it be as such.

So, stressing this point is not redundant for me, and I pray it isn’t for you either. Genesis to Revelation is a progressional revelation of God’s story. What He says in the beginning, He does not later contradict, nor change. This is GOD we’re talking about! Rather, He confidently states the same truths over and over, confirming the things He has previously said and slowly revealing more of the story until the final climax––when man is redeemed to live with God on the earth again forever. I beg you friends to read the Bible in this format rather than as a large conglomeration of spiritual sayings that ambiguously apply to you at various points in your life. The story has a context – we must find it, accept it, find ourselves in it, and thank God that He is the same yesterday, today and forever. We can trust His story from beginning to end to do what He said it would do from the beginning.

The Good News is Creational

The good news in our Bible is Creational because the God in our Bible literally created the heavens and the earth in Genesis 1. He also created man and then breathed His own breath into his nostrils. This is the first major point we must emphasize in understanding the foundation of the good news in the Bible. Its importance cannot be overemphasized. Because God created everything in existence, He exercises sovereign authority over this existence to do as He wishes. In turn, this absolute control over creation proves Him to be the sole and only Creator.

His proof of this creational identity is represented in events in Scripture such as the global flood, the divine acts of the Exodus, and many others including the future events that unfold at His second coming. In these events we see God exercising sovereign control over the heavens, the earth, and humanity. We also witness His perfect plan and will being played out and achieved within the field of sinful men (mind blown). These things inevitably prove Him to be the one and only Creator.

The sum-total of reality as we know it was created by God and is therefore the place in which God interacts with His creation. The flood account is a primary example of this when God causes the earth to break open and causes the heavens to release rain, resulting in the cataclysmic event we recognize as the global flood. God caused this event, and I emphasize caused. In this account we behold the sovereignty of God over the heavens, the earth, and the life of man. Although we might find it hard to accept, the Bible is firm that there is no other place happening out there somewhere, and this planet we live on is the only place God has chosen to interact with His creation.

Because the totality of what God creates in Scripture is physical in nature, we must understand that there is only one dimension propagated in the Bible. In other words, there is not a separate spiritual dimension. There are indeed angels, demons, and heavens, but because these things exist as invisible to the human eye does not make them another dimension, or “realm.” To think this way, which is typical of modern thinking, lends itself to a worldview that is not formed by the bible. We do not ever have a place in Scripture that says God is in a different realm. Rather, we have a creation account that puts everything in one existence and that existence has differing characteristics. It might be an odd idea to consider that even God dwells within His creation, yet this is exactly what the bible says.

Psalm 11:4 The LORD is in His holy temple; the LORD’S throne is in heaven.”

Now immediately, what we normally picture with a passage like this is a golden cloud fantasy land that we perceive to be another realm. Yet, we want to challenge this perspective with the Bible. The word heaven in the bible simply means expanseIt is actually never used in Scripture to mean anything other than expanse. Expanse is most commonly used to define the space between the earth and where God is seated, even though God is always Himself said to be sitting within this same expanse. We do well to pay attention to this. God is not living outside of what He has created – He is actually within His creation in an active and personal way. If you could walk through the air, you could literally walk from where you are now directly to the throne of God. The heavens in the Bible are always continuous – meaning, from the space just above the earth that is no longer dirt, to the outer space area where God is (the heights of the heavens Job 22:12) there is traversable space––it is possible to go there. Hence we see Jesus rise into the air in Acts 1 and continue upwards until He actually reached His Father’s throne. He did not simply disappear into another reality. We also see Elijah get taken up in a fiery chariot, and he also must have gone up until he arrived at God’s temple. If the horses and chariot that picked up Elijah weren’t real, then what was the point of him getting into such a contraption? Now this brings us to our next point – the physical nature of heavenly things.

Isaiah 6 is one of the best passages to help us. As in the verse above, we see in this chapter God sitting in a temple on top of a throne, wearing a robe. These are three clear physical components. Isaiah could have seen a spirit-like figure hovering amidst the clouds enshrouded in wispiness. But, this is not what Isaiah sees. Moreover, the angel goes to the altar before the throne and picks up pair of tongs and then takes a coal from the fire… again here we find descriptions we are all very familiar with––we relate to them well. The angel’s hand does not pass through the tongs, and the fire was not a sub-reality of a different existence. He goes to a real altar in the physical temple before the tangible throne of God who is wearing a robe made of material and takes a coal from a burning fire with a pair of tongs made from something that can be dipped into a fire, probably bronze or something similar. The point is this: God is living within and surrounded by physical reality. It is not disembodied, it is not the normal propagated idea of “spiritual” and it is not another realm. It is currently invisible to the human eye simply because this is how God created it.

So, God’s creation is physical and the heavens are tangible and physical. Heaven as normally perceived is not another realm but a physical place where God’s temple and throne are, and you could in theory travel there by moving through the space we call the sky. The knowledge of God dwelling within His creation instead of outside of it or in another realm should produce in us a great joy that He is closer than we might have perceived. To borrow my good friend’s analogy: If I’m a father and I live in a different house than my kids’, it’d be entirely different to if I were to live in the same house with them. Their perception of me as their father can only be warped with the former condition.

All of this is really good news!

The Good News is Covenant

After God created the heavens, the earth, and man, He planted a garden in the east of Eden and gave man a command of obedience. Man listened to satan and disobeyed this command being expelled from the garden and subjected to the discipline God chose: Man would now be sinful, he would no longer be immortal, and the effects of this disobedience would be reminded to him in the curse which was placed upon him and the earth. Yet in the wake of such tragedy, hope was given––this disciplinary time would come to an end! As God established a covenant with the earth, God established a covenant with man in Genesis 3:15: There would come forth a Seed that would crush the head of the serpent thus removing the effects of sin from the earth and man. This future deliverance from the divine discipline became the very GOSPEL (good news) which man put hope in from then onward. The covenant in Gen. 3:15 points to the final eschatological (end-time) deliverance when God accomplishes the fullness of His original plan, ending this age of wickedness ruled by satan and beginning the age of righteousness ruled by Him, when man and God are finally reconciled and able to live together on the earth again as it was in the garden – the restoration of all things (Acts 3:21). As we are coming to find, gospel is usually what God does and says, as opposed to the infamy of what man does and says. This ironic interplay truly shows God’s humility time and time again. Man brings forth bad news, God encourages him with good news! This is our Gospel!

The good news in our Bible is Covenantal because of the nature of Who God is as Creator. God has created existence as we know it within a covenantal framework to testify to the surety of everything God said after He created. To say it simply, what God says cannot be broken––it stands firm untouched and as plain as the day He first said it. We could see this covenantal dynamic as a magnificent limitation that God has placed upon Himself in order that humans may have something to hope in knowing it cannot change. It is an incredible thing that God has divinely entrapped Himself with His covenantal words keeping His word to His own hurt (Ps. 15).

We see this in the heavenly dignitaries. In the sun, moon, and stars we behold a sign––a testimony that God’s covenants hold firm and are trustworthy. Why? Because from the day He told them to do what they are doing right now––they have not stopped! Creation and covenant are inherently tied together in this grand scheme of good news serving as a living, shining witness to humans living within God’s created reality. Thus, in Genesis 15, when God calls Abraham out of the nations in order to consecrate to Himself a people for His own possession (Deut. 7:6), He makes a covenant that stands as firm as the sunrise we beheld this very morning.

With Abraham, the covenantal dynamic takes on a personalized dimension as God is bringing the promise of Genesis 3:15 to fruition. His covenant with Abraham is for a land and a people. He makes good on this covenant by delivering Abraham’s descendants from Egyptian captivity and furthering the covenant with them at Mt. Sinai with the giving of a law and a temple. God delivers the people into the land He promised to Abraham and then establishes His covenant with David, promising him a throne of government. In these three covenants we behold the simple promise of the Kingdom. A kingdom as we would define it today simply consists of a piece of land with people in it operating under a law with a ruler (King) reigning on a throne over them. For many generations all kingdoms contained a temple where the God of that culture was worshipped. This is the Kingdom God promised in Scripture and the Kingdom we await Him to establish on the earth at His second coming. We will deal exclusively with this in detail in a latter post as well, but here it suffices to say that the Bible never presents an immaterial kingdom, that is spiritual in nature. The Kingdom is as described above continually in the Bible: A land with a law and a people, a temple with a King seated in it reigning over the land and the people.

We do good to pay attention to the details of the people God chose. Relaying back to our first principle of good news, Creational––Israel is the only other thing in Scripture that God directly gives a creational title to. He created Israel, and He did so on purpose. The Kingdom just mentioned was promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob––the first Jews. It was confirmed by Moses who was a descendant of Jacob, who was Israel. David himself was of this Jewish lineage, and the promised One to reign upon David’s throne forever was to be David’s direct descendant, making Him inevitably Jewish. We boldly affirm that this is what God has chosen to bring about the redemption of man and it is really good news. Many compromise this point today although it sits as a crucial pillar in the biblical gospel. As a fellow Gentile I warn us––let us not be arrogant against the olive tree (cf. Rom 11), but fear God and humble ourselves before His ordained plan of redemption!

The Good News is the Cross/Atonement

The chosen Jewish descendant of David that would reign upon a throne in Jerusalem forever as promised in 2 Sam. 7 was born from the flesh of Jewish parents, yet from the Seed of the Holy Spirit. He grew up a Jewish man, a descendant of David and of the lineage of Abraham, fulfilling the very covenantal words of God. His life was lived within the covenantal context that His Father had set up right there in the midst of the land, people, law, and temple that had been promised. He was the One promised to fulfill the only promise left remaining––The King who was to reign on David’s throne––yet, oddly He did not take that throne in His first coming. He instead lived as a prophet to bear witness against the people that they had been unfaithful to the covenant His Father had made and that the curses prophesied as a result of covenantal unfaithfulness were still upon them (Deut. 28; Lev. 26).  The good news of the Kingdom that He preached was clearly an event in the future when He would come a second time, not as baby in a manger or as a rejected teacher and prophet, but as the Son of Man spoken of in Daniel 7 to finally set up the true Kingdom on earth He had always desired. His preaching neither inaugurated or began this kingdom during the first coming, but rather, it related only to man in that it created a window of repentance and mercy in which we currently live before He establishes this kingdom at His second coming at which point the time of mercy and repentance will end. This is commonly called The Day of the Lord in Scripture – the time when the Lord finally calls all men to give account of their lives lived on the earth. It is the great apocalyptic hope prophesied in Genesis 3:15 fulfilled! However, Jesus first had a baptism to undergo in order to become the atonement for the righteous God to be able to forgive sinful man and allow them into His kingdom.

It was then that we saw the all powerful Creator God do the most antithetical thing according to His grand previous revealed identity––He laid down His life and died upon the Cross. The promised Deliverer of Genesis 3:15 that would crush the head of the serpent hanging dead on the Cross could be the pinnacle mark of the biblical good news (indeed the arguable elusive center of theology) and in fact the only thing that truly makes the Bible’s good news entirely different than any other religion’s. His body hung there as the substitution for those who had sinned from Adam until the present, bearing their deserved punishment of death in Himself, so that their transgression might be forgiven in the spilling of His own blood. His resurrection testified that He was indeed the acceptable sacrifice to accomplish such a task! First and foremost this atonemental sacrifice, confirmed by the resurrection, was a confirmation of the covenant established with Abraham’s lineage, the Jews, the covenant people, as Peter says in Acts 3,

“It is you who are sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth will be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Paul later confirms this principle of Israel’s ethnic priority regarding the promises concerning the good news in Romans 1:16, …“the gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”  

The families of the earth, the Greeks, the gentiles begin receiving their blessing in the Jewish Messiah in Acts 10 with the household of Cornelius––the first gentile converts to the distinctly jewish faith according to the Scriptures. The Holy Spirit comes upon them as a testimony that indeed God was now extending the blessing promised to Israel to Gentiles also – which was the inheritance of eternal life i.e. entrance into the Kingdom. This cross-centered theology must be seen in its context relating to the other two pillars we have established––The Cross happens because God is the Creator of the Heavens, the earth, and man. Man sinned and was banished from the garden and God promised to restore him and the earth through the Seed that would come through Eve. God did this by means of His covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (Israel), Moses and David, and the Messiah came in this lineage passed down for millennia and died on the Cross to be the vindicated Savior of Jews and Gentiles––a true one new man reality.

Yet in all of this, we should not (and cannot biblically) have the idea that these promises were fulfilled in Jesus during His life on earth in the first coming! His death on the Cross is the means by which men will enter the kingdom that is coming. Paul confirms that this is how the apostles thought about Christ’s death, saying, “…I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the Fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy,” (Rom. 15:8). Paul’s hope of the promises given to the Fathers remains here a future event––Christ has confirmed that they are valid, and exist in their covenantal stature pure and impossible to obstruct. Jesus’ life on the earth therefore served the covenants previously made to Israel – He did not replace or realize them within Himself. His life and death served as the final solution which is yet entirely future.

Also here we must acknowledge what Paul says Gentiles should do: glorify God for His mercy. Here is a blanket gentile calling as represented in Scripture, for it is true as Paul says in Eph. 2:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Eph. 2:11-13

I love this passage because Paul tells gentiles straightforwardly and undeniably what we were and why we should actually be glorifying God for His mercy! Our history is filled with pagan rituals that hated the God of Israel and persecuted His chosen people, and yet because of God’s mercy we have been brought near by the blood of Christ. It is best to emphasize this point in a simple sentence: Gentiles are not the focal point of Scripture – the Jews are, while we gentiles exist in the footnotes and praise God for this merciful inclusion through His blessed Son Christ Jesus! Now, although we are not the point, God has given us a grand calling of provoking His people to jealousy (Rom. 11) which we will discuss at a latter time.

Practically, the good news in our Bible is also cruciform because it was necessary “for the Messiah to suffer before entering into His glory,” (Lk. 24:26). In the same way, those who have been “called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps,” (1 Pt. 2:21) embrace the suffering of this age as necessary for proving our faith. Therefore, the nature of our lives as Christians is to embody this same principle of suffering before glory as we “always carry about in our bodies the dying of the Lord Jesus,” (2 Cor. 4:10). The forsaking of our lives and laying down of our own reputation and fleshly boasting, truly becoming the last and least of all, should be the apostolic model we follow based on 1 Corinthians 4 among many other passages. This is embodied in the apostles’ declaration in Acts 14, “Through many tribulations we must enter the Kingdom of God.” It was very clear in their minds that suffering as Jesus did for the sake of the Gospel was necessary to enter the coming kingdom of God.

“He also presented Himself alive after His sufferings, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking to them of the things concerning the Kingdom of God,” (Acts 1:3). After Jesus’ resurrection He had a 40 day intensive seminar with His disciples teaching them about the Kingdom of God. Their question to Him after this was, “Lord, is it at this time that You are going to restore the Kingdom to Israel?” This is not the wrong question as many say! This question is based distinctly upon the promises (covenants) made to the Fathers and what Jesus had taught them. Now that He was resurrected, their hope was that it was time for the promise of the Kingdom found in the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and David covenants to be fulfilled. Jesus’ declaration to them is not that they are wrong, or that they have asked the wrong question, but that, “It is not for you to know the times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority, but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you; and you shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest parts of the earth.”

In these passages Jesus affirms our previous established “pillars.” In effect, He says, “God is the sovereign creator who has a fixed time for the restoration of the Kingdom spoken of in the covenants. The Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will make firm what I have taught you over the last forty days. Disciple people in this!” If the disciples had asked the wrong question, surely Jesus would have corrected them, but that’s not what we see. Rather, we see the apostles being endued with the Holy Spirit and their teaching that follows being in perfect accord with what Jesus taught them. It is here that we must make a simple point. If the kingdom had been changed in any sort of way from what the expectation of the kingdom was previously, it would be vibrantly clear in the apostles’ teaching in the book of Acts- meaning, if the Kingdom had become a spiritually inaugurated kingdomthe apostles would have made sure that everyone understood this MASSIVE change! However, in the book of Acts we do not see any mention of such things. Rather, what we continually see is the affirmation that nothing had changed concerning the promises, rather, they had only been further confirmed. In Peter’s second sermon we see this future hope emphasized with vibrant clarity:

“But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”

Thus, Christ suffered, and this is the part God had fulfilled. The hope of the promises being fulfilled remained the future event when He sends Jesus Christ the appointed and the time of the restoration of all things begins. The death, resurrection and ascension of the Messiah into heaven were the events unforeseen regarding the establishment of the Kingdom. These events, however, confirmed the previous promises and now the expectation of the fulfillment of the covenants––the land, people, law, and temple, which the Messiah reigned over on the throne of David in Jerusalem, the Kingdom––was still understood in its proper context of truly being an apocalyptic event. Never is there any sort of reimagined kingdom, or reimagined Israel – only confirmation of what had been previously spoken by God. This is a superb reality to instill our faith in! God did not change anything in His story mid-way! If He did, His word was simply not true and He would be found a liar. Rather, everything God had spoken previously came to pass just as He said it would. He operates humbly underneath this covenantal confinement of His power. This is all incredibly good news!

The Good News is Confirmed by the Giving of the Holy Spirit

The good news in our bible was and is confirmed by the Holy Spirit being endowed by the God of Israel into the bodies of humans who believe His good news and repent of their sins in order to receive His forgiveness and inherit eternal life. Therefore, “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit,” (Eph. 1:13-14) which summarizes the function of Holy Spirit inside a person. “In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation– having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” The Holy Spirit enters the man who believes the Gospel and repents of his sins, serving as a seal upon the man and given to him as a pledge according to his faith in the gospel that he will inherit and enter the kingdom that has been promised in Israel’s covenants. The Holy Spirit testifies within the person that this man has become God’s own possession and will actually inherit eternal life.

The Holy Spirit also serves a person in conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8) as Jesus said. The man is convicted of sin because this is what prohibits him from entering eternal life and is the very reason the Messiah was crucified. The Holy Spirit convicts of righteousness, because this sin must be repented of, and the man must take on the righteousness of Christ rather than his own so that no man may boast. The man is convicted of judgment, because there is a fixed day when “we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds done in the body, according to what He has done, whether good or bad.”

Jesus also says that the Helper will “teach us all things, and bring to remembrance all that Jesus said,” (c.f. Jn. 14:26). He says this in lieu of His repeated saying, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments,” (Jn. 14:15). Thus, “walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh,” (Gal. 5:16) which are the evident deeds of any sort of self seeking and anything that does not serve your neighbor. Hence, Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount is a good template of what we should be reminded of continually by the Holy Spirit.

Here is where the now is vitally important in Scripture because how we live according to the Spirit now determines whether or not we enter into the coming kingdom. The Sermon on the Mount exists as the instructions of Jesus for believers in Him who are seeking to become His disciples, striving to enter through the narrow gate and take up their cross and follow Him to their own deaths. This sermon is what those filled with the Spirit fulfill as their act of faith in His Cross and this future kingdom. If we do not do what is there in those three chapters, we simply do not have true faith in what is to come. James clearly tells us that faith without works is dead, meaning, faith without action is not faith that takes a man into eternal life. Do not misunderstand me here. I AM NOT SAYING WE INHERIT SALVATION THROUGH OUR OWN WORKS. I am saying that the works we do in the body prove the truth and substance of our faith in the Cross and the righteousness of Christ Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is clear on this point. For example, a good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit, the way is narrow and the gate is small that leads to life, and “he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” Jesus immediately follows these stories with “everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them…” will be like the wise man with a house on the rock, meaning, his inheritance is secure and the man will enter the kingdom. The warning in Matthew 7 of doing things but not actually doing the will of the Father is one of the sternest most terrifying warnings in all of Scripture. It tells us a man can cast out demons, perform miracles, and call Jesus Lord and still not enter the kingdom of God. In Jesus’ analogies and parables we see His ingenious ability to say the same thing a hundred times and not be repetitive––one man inherits the kingdom, the man who not only hears the words, but takes action and does them, proving his faith in the words to be true.

If the current inheritance of the Holy Spirit within us is defined by Paul as a seal, pledge, downpayment (deposit), and first-fruits, what are these qualifying words in relation to? The point in a downpayment is that it is unto something else. It is the same with a pledge and seal. Very clearly, it is not the fullness but merely a portion. In Scripture, God defines the first-fruits in an offering as a tenth of the whole. If I make a downpayment on a house, I have given a portion of the sum owed to the owner. I might live in the house at that point and receive the benefits of the home, but the fullness of the home is not mine in ownership until I pay the final dollar owed. It is the same with a pledge. A pledge is given unto something to be received at a later time. Likewise, Scripture presents that the Holy Spirit is within men now as God’s downpayment and pledge, teaching us to look towards the Day of the Lord when we receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit as promised by the prophets. That fullness will indeed be the resurrection from the dead.

It is critical that we as believers in Jesus understand that the Holy Spirit has a very clear purpose as represented in the covenants with Israel. If we do not understand what the Old Testament says about the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand why He is inside of us. The Holy Spirit was promised to Israel, and He does not come without context!

It is here that we must briefly talk about the New Covenant, as it is inherently related to the promised Spirit. This might be different to what you’ve previously believed, but we always turn to the Bible to challenge what we believe:

31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more,” (Jer. 31:31-34).

And,

18“When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19“And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God,” (Ez. 11:18-20). 

In these two passages, among many others, God sets before us a clear future expectation relating to a New Covenant He makes with the house of Israel. This New Covenant is synonymous with God putting His Spirit into them. We also read that this enables them to walk in God’s statutes and ordinances, meaning that they are enabled to fulfill God’s law perfectly.

This is an incredible promise! Jesus indeed presented the New Covenant of His blood, by which those who believe in Him are a part of. However, yet again we have the principle of the covenant Jesus made in His blood being an event fulfilled in the future, since what is mentioned above has not yet happened in full. Thus, the promise of God is that He will make a New Covenant with Israel, a covenant which will inevitably be unable for them to break, due to the enabling of the Holy Spirit inside of them to keep His law. Beloved, this is the covenantal promise of the entrance into the kingdom on the day of the resurrection from the dead when we are made “like Him,” meaning, like Him in His sinless obedience to the Father.

Just to be clear about the New Covenant, Hebrews chapters 8-10 makes clear that the New Covenant has been inaugurated by the blood of Jesus. Also, specifically Romans 2:15 clearly tells us that when gentiles do instinctively the things of the law in shows that the work of the law has been written on their hearts. These few passages express that through the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus blood the measure of the Holy Spirit currently inside of us gives us the conviction of sin, righteousness, and judgment Jesus promises in John 16. In this we rejoice! However, because of many Old Testament passages we understand that the complete enablement of sinless nature, when the law is written on our hearts by the Spirit in the resurrection happens when the New Covenant is established with reconciled Israel after Jesus second coming. It is important to understand and distinguish the parallels and differences between the two. In doing so we are able to see the greater hope of deliverance in the future and that the full establishment of the New Covenant is what we are waiting and hoping for in the future!

What a firm hope and what truly good news this is.

The Good News is a final Consummation

The Gospel’s hope is centered on this final consummation, because in its simplest form there is foretold in Scripture a certain end to this current age when “the kingdoms of this world become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ,” (cf. Rev. 11:15). This end is the driving force of the events in the Bible from the fall of Adam to Jesus’ descent from the sky. Even from Genesis 3:15, as we’ve seen, there is a general thrust towards this final hope being accomplished when the head of the serpent is crushed, and the earth and man are delivered form the effects of sin and the curse. It stands so vibrantly clear even from Genesis 3 that the orientation of the Bible is focused on this final event. This final event is the very subject of eschatology Do not be put off by the term eschatology – it is truly a helpful term when approaching the subject. We don’t have to overcomplicate the simplicity of this so let us be extremely pragmatic here. When we say the good news is consummation, we simply mean that the entirety of the Christian hope is set in the events of the future (soon to take place) that bring about the final deliverance which God has promised. It means that this current age in which we live is broken, sinful, wicked, and dark because man sinned but that there is a future day when God will end this age and transition us into the age of perfection, sinlessness, righteousness, and light-filled glory. It is the culmination and bringing to fruition of everything God has said. It is the fulfillment of the promises to Israel and their extension to the Gentiles. It is indeed everything we have described within this article finally coming to pass.

Now, let us briefly overview the chief dynamics that make our Gospel centered upon this consummation.

Since we have covered four pillars now, we should naturally understand that within the apocalyptic end we should see the point of each of the previous four pillars come to summation in the grand climax of our good news being achieved. It could almost suffice to say that everything we’ve summed up thus far in this article is simply played out in a consummational dynamic, and just leave it there. However, let us evaluate the details of this finality in order to see the end results. In doing this we can finally see why the pillars we’ve highlighted actually function as the catalysts to bring about God’s redemptive plan for man and the earth.

First off, it is important to understand that the bible presents a very clear dichotomy between this age in which we live, and the next age when this one ends. In essence, the age to comeand the events that lead to this grand transition are what we are studying in this pillar. So, just mark this in our minds as a finality- We are simply discussing the final events that transition this age into the next age. I am saying that many of the promises in Scripture actually find their fulfillment after Jesus returns, rather than before as is very often presented. Let’s look at the Scriptures to see if this is true.

Firstly, the Creational existence that we know, which God created good has been subjected to futility and is currently groaning for its own deliverance,

“…For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God…” (Rom. 8:20-21). 

When man was cursed after breaking God’s command in Eden, the earth received the repercussions of his actions–it was cursed with thorns and was no longer able to yield fruit (possibly in size and quantity) as it did before. We must learn from this passage that the earth was very different before Adam sinned. It is such a graphic description of Paul to say that creation is under the bondage of decay. But, isn’t that what we hear all the time? The earth is in trouble! Whether it’s the ozone, polar caps, population density, food, drought––the earth is decaying! We are running out of oil, we are running out of water, and popular belief is that within 100 years this earth could be decimated unless man finds a miraculous solution to the problems. So even scientists have an apocalyptic expectation albeit very liberal and godless. According to their ‘faith’, man will solve the problems of the earth. In our creational pillar, the apocalyptic expectation for the earth is a total deliverance from decay into a perpetual regeneration that continues for ages to come. This is orchestrated by Jesus sitting on the throne in Jerusalem. It is delivered from this curse by the one who subjected it to futility: The Sovereign Creator God. Logically, since God is the one who subjected it to decay, man can do nothing to stop this and only God the Father, and Jesus as the Messiah, in tandem with the Holy Spirit can bring this grand transition to the earth to stop the decay and begin the regeneration of creation.

As we’ve discussed, man was also subjected to this godly discipline and thus,

“We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved,” (Rom. 8:22-24). 

and,

“…we groan, longing to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed instead with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now the one who has fashioned us for this very purpose is God, who has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come,” (2 Cor. 5:2-5).

This glorious redemption of the earth and man is seen as one grand event in the future and the Holy Spirit has been given to us as a guarantee that this redemption will take place! Let’s move on to the Covenantal pillar and its purpose in the apocalyptic end.

God promised Abraham a land and a lineage that would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth, and he, as well as the others mentioned in Hebrews 11,

“…were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them,” (v. 13-16).

Abraham and the other people of faith believing in God’s promise to Abraham died having not received the promise. And here is such a glorious truth for us all to adhere to–– that when we die, we die living by faith that God will in fact fulfill this promise to Abraham! This is the qualification of becoming a part of the great cloud of witnesses: looking towards the future. The people of faith and hope have set these in God achieving the final end of His promises. In effect, apocalypticism is faith that God will act upon His promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David and fulfill them in totality according to the words He spoke. As we saw previously, Jesus plainly tells us in Acts 1 that the Father has fixed a day for the promises to be fulfilled. Faith in God and His divine day to do what He said is the very substance of true apostolic faith and hope.

The good news of this land and lineage promised to Abraham that was to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth was further developed at Mt. Sinai with the giving of the law when God spoke to Abraham’s lineage. His choice of this lineage was then reconfirmed to David in 2 Samuel 7 when the promised deliverer spoken of in Genesis 3:15 would reign over the land and lineage promised to Abraham and govern them upon a throne of righteousness in Jerusalem. God promised that this would happen directly through David’s lineage, who was Abraham’s great (many times over) nephew. This promise found its divine agent in Christ Jesus (Yeshua the Messiah) who is the Son of God, truly God Himself in the flesh, who was crucified, dead, buried, and resurrected from the dead as a confirmation of the promises we are discussing. This is where things can get off-track for some people (by off-track I mean: reimagined, replaced, and changed at Christ’s first coming). We must maintain a covenantal hope that keeps the promise of the lineage itself (Israel) having apocalyptic destiny––not having everything fulfilled in Christ at His first coming (We will appropriately deal with Galatians 3 at a later time, but to put it simply, Galatians 3 is not about an erasing of Israel’s ethnic calling). The covenants to Abraham, Moses and David have not yet been fulfilled, and were not fulfilled when Jesus died on the Cross––and Jesus doesn’t feel degraded when we say this! He has established it this way!

Now, we will tie together the covenant and the cross pillar so that we can understand Jesus, His short life on earth, and His own expectation of consummation. Hebrews tells us expressly the meaning of Jesus’ first coming and the expectation of the second:

“…but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him,” (Hebrews 9:26-28).

Also,

“but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, SAT DOWN AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD, waiting from that time onward UNTIL HIS ENEMIES BE MADE A FOOTSTOOL FOR HIS FEET,” (Hebrews 10:28).

So, Jesus was manifested (born in the flesh) to put away sins by the sacrifice of Himself, and He is currently seated at the right hand of the Father awaiting the time when His enemies are put under His feet. Jesus confirms His own expectation of the end in Matthew 25,

“But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. “All the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and He will put the sheep on His right, and the goats on the left. “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world,” (v. 31-34).

We are using a few examples here just to make a simple point. Jesus’ first coming was atonemental in purpose, meaning He lived to die as a sacrifice to make reconciliation between God and Israel by His blood (we will discuss His prophetic calling in relation to Israel, which is of equal importance, at a later time). He became the atoning sacrifice that covered sins, expressly, Israel’s sins––extended to gentiles.

“For you (Israel) first, God raised up His servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways,” (Acts 3:26). 

As Peter is preaching directly to the Men of Israel as stated in the beginning of his sermon in vs. 12, we see that the apostles viewed Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as being related to Israel first. Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is so profound I highly recommend you study it!

Since Jesus rose from the dead, we read that He is now awaiting the time that His enemies are made His footstool. 1 Corinthians 15 in plain language tells us that this takes place after His second coming and after the resurrection of the saints,

“For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet, (v. 21-25). 

So, even our Lord Jesus is not content with the way things are on the earth now! Have you ever considered that Jesus, our resurrected King of glory, is waiting for a day in the future? The day when He is finally hallowed among the nations of the earth, seated on the throne in Jerusalem, while His and His Father’s enemies are being made their footstool! All this while surrounded by resurrected Jews and Gentiles––one new man. The point is this- Jesus is also longing for the next age. 

So, we can now ascertain just how future-oriented the apostles and Jesus Himself were, and hopefully this gives us the freedom to clear away many of the clouds of confusion surrounding various interpretations of the reality we live in. We are simply living in this broken age, hoping for this future event!

Within this glorious plan there remains the context of how Jesus will achieve this final end: enter the people Israel. We as gentiles must fasten all of our hope to the redemption of Israel because without them, no one inherits the resurrection. Let us start with a verse everyone is familiar with in Romans 9 and work out what it means for our good news. 

“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed,separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh, who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises, whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen,” (Rom. 9:1-5). 

Here Paul emphatically declares that six things belong to Israel: adoption, glory, covenants, law, temple service, and promises. He then emphasizes that the Messiah has come from them, making it the final point of his statement. Now, in Romans 8 Paul has already told us that the adoption is simply the resurrection from the dead (as defined in 1 Corinthians 15 also). But what about the remainder of these things?

Often, these things are perceived to be mere past things Israel had and did, but why would Paul make a point about what Israel did in the past, in the same sentence with the future resurrection? No, we should assume that Paul is consistent in his line of thought here and that he is thinking about the promises spoken of by God that remain yet unfulfilled. This is Paul’s grief: God has promised them so much, and they are currently blinded to their own Messiah crucified as the means by which they obtain these promises! He even goes as far to sum up his entire calling and soon to be martyrdom with an incredible statement in the last chapter of Acts:

“I am wearing this chain for the sake of the hope of Israel,” (28:20).

Why does this matter for us? Simply, Israel’s hope has become the gentiles’ hope through our inclusion to the promises God made to Abraham, Moses and David. The Christian hope is not to die and go away to heaven in a disembodied state! Paul’s grief is twofold. Without Israel being saved, no person can be saved. If Israel does not inherit these things, neither do gentiles, as Paul states to us in Romans 2:9-10, “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil, of the Jew first and also of the Greek, but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. In the chapter before he prefaced this by saying that, “I am not ashamed of the gospel (good news), for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.”

Here is the reason we are defining the good news in such depth within this post and the very reason we must understand it. The good news of our Bible is for the Jew first. Meaning, they have priority to all of the promises of God because they are the chosen people. Therefore, God has ordained them to be the conduit by which He accomplishes ALL, and I emphasize ALL, of His purposes through. It is Jesus the Messiah, and it is the people of Israel. It is Jesus the Jewish man at the right hand of the Father, governing the Jewish remnant in righteousness on the earth, enabling them to walk in their irrevocable calling of the temple service, law, and glory. It is both Jesus and Jews together! The merciful part is that gentiles get to reap the glorious benefits of their relationship through the blood Jesus shed on the Cross (Eph. 2:13), so “the Gentiles (should) glorify God for His mercy!” (cf. Rom. 15:9, emphasis always mine).

Now, as we turn to look at the passages in the prophets that explain in detail what we are talking about, we will start with Peter’s exhortation:

“This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles. Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.” (2 Pt. 3:1-5). 

We are exhorted by the beloved apostle Peter to pay attention to the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets, and this is in the context of Jesus’ return to the earth and the mockery it will receive in the last days. We go to the prophets because we are exhorted to, and we are exhorted to because within them lies an incredible amount of information regarding Israel’s hope––which has become gentile hope. Our brother Paul also commands us in this principle in Romans 15:4, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” So, Peter and Paul both confirm the hope that they are holding to was defined early in the Bible. This is helpful to us as students of the Bible.

Thus, we begin this concluding part by highlighting Isaiah 40-66 because the hope they are referring to is so vividly articulated here. I frequently tell people to fall in fatal love with these chapters, reading them through and through, again and again. You want to know them, study them, understand them, and get lost in making them your hope. Within them is the right context for understanding what was in the apostles’ minds regarding the hope of Israel and why Paul was willing to wear a chain and have his head chopped off for it. The very defining substance of consummation is revealed in depth in Isaiah 40-66. You could also say that to obtain good end-time theology it cannot be done apart from this huge portion of Scripture.

The reason that almost all of the apostles were tragically, yet gloriously, martyred was because something was very real to them. We should assume that it could only be an incredible hope that can drive a man to give his only life for. The men who walked and talked with Jesus had been taught something and they understood His life to have confirmed something. We find this something in Romans 15:

“For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers,” (v.8). 

This is an immaculate verse pointing to how the apostles interpreted Jesus’ life. As we’ve seen, they interpreted it as a sacrifice that made atonement for sins, and here we see that they also understood His life to serve as a confirmation of the words God had promised to the fathers (i.e. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David). Because of this confirmation within the life and death of Jesus, the apostles knew that Israel’s hope of this final salvation, deliverance and restoration was actually true––solid and anchored in the Man they had seen bleed and die on a Cross and then raise up into the sky. They had perfect assurance that the promises God made in the prophets would be fulfilled and that the resurrection of life would be given unto them in accord with those promises. This is truly an unshakable hope. In their minds, while being “stoned, sawn in two, tempted, and put to death with the sword,” (cf. Hb. 11:37) was the driving hope of the passages we now look to.

Isaiah 60:1-6 “”Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. See, darkness covers the earth and thick darkness is over the peoples, but the LORD rises upon you and his glory appears over you. Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice…The sons of those who afflicted you will come bowing to you, And all those who despised you will bow themselves at the soles of your feet; And they will call you the city of the LORD, The Zion of the Holy One of Israel. “Whereas you have been forsaken and hated With no one passing through, I will make you an everlasting pride, A joy from generation to generation. Then all your people will be righteous; They will possess the land forever, The branch of My planting, The work of My hands, That I may be glorified.”

This is one of my favorite passages, and I wish I could post the whole chapter here. Instead I beg you to read it on your own. What is clear in this passage is that, the glory of the Lord has not yet risen upon Israel. We also behold in the second verse that preceding this will be a time of darkness covering the land and the people. This also is the yet future event known as Jacob’s Trouble that we will deal extensively with in several other posts in the future. It is in this one two-word event that the whole of eschatology is played out. It is critical to understand, and although it may seem complex, understanding the why of it can be fairly simple. It suffices to say that Revelation, Zechariah, Daniel, and Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21 are all describing this one event called Jacob’s Trouble found in Jeremiah 30:7 and that it is the 3 and a half years directly preceding Jesus’ return.

As we focus on the great hope of consummation, it can sometimes seem somewhat dark and disheartening because things like judgement, trouble, and distress are mentioned. But we do well to consider God’s merciful tarrying with men for about 6000 years. He has stayed His judgment, and kept it from breaking out against men, and this is the final time when He will finally restrain no longer. Consider, how much hard work is sown into the garden before it bears fruit? Does the seed not die before it comes to life? Did not our own Lord Jesus have to suffer before entering into His glory (Lk. 24:26)? The crucifixion is always before the resurrection. This is our divine template for understanding the toil that produces everlasting fruit and the suffering that produces an eternal weight of glory. Though hard to stare at and accept at times, we “prepare our minds for action, keeping sober in spirit, and fixing our hope completely on the grace to be brought to us at the revelation of Jesus Christ,” (cf. 1 Pt. 1:13).

For now we are focusing on the what of consummation, rather than the why. The what is this incredible hope that Jesus will return on the clouds of heaven and fulfill the promises to the Fathers by making Israel a blessing to all the nations of the earth. Let us look to the other passages.

Lev. 26:9-11 “‘I will look on you with favor and make you fruitful and increase your numbers, and I will keep my covenant with you. You will still be eating last year’s harvest when you will have to move it out to make room for the new. I will put my dwelling place among you, and I will not abhor you. I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be my people.”

Jer. 31:31-34 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

“In that day the Branch of the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth will be the pride and the adornment of the survivors of Israel. 3It will come about that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded for life in Jerusalem. 4When the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, 5then the LORD will create over the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will be a canopy. 6There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and the rain,” (Is. 4:2-6).

“And many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; That He may teach us concerning His ways And that we may walk in His paths.” For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem,” (Is. 2:3).

We should take heed that gentiles are the side note in these passages and that these promises were made directly to Israel. This is not favoritism by God, this is just Him being faithful to what He originally said. As Gentiles, we humbly accept that we are the nations in the above passage (Is. 60:2; 2:3) that are coming to see the Lord make Israel the light He has promised her to be, and to learn the law in Zion. Fellow gentiles––we hope in this great restoration of Israel! We join ourselves to her and God’s plan for her!

It is proper to highlight that this final achievement by God is actually accomplished through the fullness of His Spirit being put inside of Israel. As we have discussed, currently, it is biblically logical to presume that we have a tithe of firstfruits, or 1/10, of the Holy Spirit given to us as the guarantee, and pledge of what is to come. However, in the day of restoration God puts His Spirit into Israel (and this is extended to gentiles) in FULLNESS.

Ez. 36:27 “I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. 

Ez. 11:19-20 “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”

Ez. 37:14 “I will put My Spirit within you and you will come to life, and I will place you on your own land. Then you will know that I, the LORD, have spoken and done it,” declares the LORD.’”

Jer. 31:31-34  31“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 32not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. 33“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 34“They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Here we see that the future hope of the Spirit being put within Israel in fullness is the final deliverance from sin and the entrance into the New Covenant. It is by enactment of this new covenant that God’s Spirit is put within them in full, and they are enabled to never again transgress His law. This applies to gentiles also who have attached themselves to this hope for Israel. We await that complete filling of the Spirit, when our hearts become tender and we are able to obey God flawlessly! Truly, we find the entire purpose of the resurrection here in Israel’s final apocalyptic deliverance and as gentiles we can become like Paul and be willing to wear a chain until He brings this to pass!

“You who remind the Lord, take no rest for yourselves; and give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth,” (Is. 62:7).

Conclusion

Although we honed in on many specific parts of the Gospel in our Bible let us now provide a brief summation of these five points. The hope is that the reader would now have a much firmer grasp in reading this summation than previously.

The good news in our Bible is creational because the God of our Bible created the heavens and the earth and therefore exercises sovereignty over them to do as He wills. In the beginning, it was clear that He willed man to live in relationship with Him in a garden but man disobeyed God’s command and was expelled from the garden. At that time the effects of sin and death came upon man and the earth in the form of a curse––a disciplinary measure God took to produce hope in the promise. In the midst of the tragedy, God made the promise of hope in Genesis 3:15 that He would bring about a person through the Seed of man which would end the curse and bring man back into relationship with God in the garden. This began the covenantal promise towards restoration which is the whole subject of everything thereafter in Scripture. Next, God confirmed this covenant with Abraham by bringing the promised Seed through his lineage and that this lineage would be a blessing to all the nations of the earth. The covenant with this lineage was reconfirmed in the miraculous deliverance from Egypt, at Mt. Sinai, and then again with David in promising the One who would rule on the throne of David in Jerusalem forever.

Before that ruler came, we behold in Scripture the same pattern of covenantal discipline within the microcosm of the people Israel. God gives them the covenantal terms of His dwelling among them, and they are unfaithful to that covenant, resulting in a discipline aligned with the Edenic expulsion. The Messiah is then born as the ultimate reconfirmation that God has in fact deliberately established this Jewish lineage to be what He promised Abraham. However, we behold the nature of our Gospel being cruciform in that the Messiah suffered in His first coming to take away sin, but will appear a second time for salvation (Hb. 9:28). After His crucifixion we understand from Paul that the discipline spoken of in Deuteronomy 28-32 upon this people has resulted in their eyes becoming blinded and their hearts hardened so that gentiles can also inherit salvation at His second coming.

Jesus was confirmed to be the agent promised in Genesis 3:15 and to David in 2 Sam. 7 through His resurrection from the dead. In this resurrection, He gave His Spirit to the Jews first and then to the gentiles as a guarantee of this promised inheritance spoken of in the covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and David. This firstfruits (Rom 8:23) helps us groan for that great and final deliverance from this age of sin and unrighteousness and put to death the works of the flesh (Gal. 5) in order to walk in a manner worthy of His Gospel (Phil. 1:27) in order that we might inherit eternal life. This salvation, redemption, blessing, and life eternal is promised as the enactment of the new covenant to Israel in the second coming of the Messiah when God finally puts the fullness of His Holy Spirit in their hearts and gentiles’ hearts realizing the one new man reality (Jer. 31:31).

Before this happens there is a certain time of trouble prophesied in the Scriptures which is the ultimate climax of the covenantal discipline mentioned in Scripture upon the house of Israel (Jer. 30:7). However, she will be delivered out of it by the return of Jesus to the earth and will live in peace once again shining as a light to all the nations of the earth (Is. 60). In Jesus fulfilling this promise He is most glorified, and the earth will sing of His glory in fulfilling what He previously foretold. The day of His return is what transitions this age of wickedness into the age of righteousness which is prophesied to last for 1000 years, for Christ will reign from Jerusalem until all of His enemies are made His footstool(1 Cor. 15) and Satan will be bound in prison while Christ reestablishes His own rule on earth. During this time the nations will come to Zion to learn righteousness from Him and the law will go forth from Zion returning the earth back to the righteousness of God as formerly revealed. At the end of this millennial reign, Satan will be thrown into the Lake of Fire and each man will give account at the final judgment before the throne of the Father. Then comes the end when He delivers the kingdom to the Father that God may be all in all!

As for now, as Christians we are seeking to live in relation to these glorious promises in the very near future. Since God is relating to man in mercy during this age, allowing time to repent before this age ends and judgement against sin is performed, we also live as a witness to these 5 pillars of the Gospel, so that men can repent and turn from their sin to inherit the promises God has made because God has appointed for men to live once and then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27). How we live now in regards to obedience to Jesus, which is more appropriately defined by Jesus as laying down our lives and Paul calls being baptized into His death (Rom. 6:3), affects the outcome of that day since salvation should not ever be assumed when we are “working out our salvation with fear and trembling, (Phil. 2:12). In the fear of the Lord we understand His mercy and justice and that both attributes will be revealed clearly on the Day of Christ Jesus. We long for this glorious appearing and rejoice with joy inexpressible until He comes and establishes His kingdom on this earth.

Even so, Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus and make Jerusalem a praise in the earth so that we might partake in this eternal plan of salvation You have so brilliantly orchestrated! Amen!

The Faithfulness of Futurism

When I was a boy I was unsure of the future. Our family had their issues and there were many times that I would lay in bed at night and wonder if my parents would ever get a divorce as many of my friends parents had. That concern in my childhood mind would’ve been allowed to fester, always remaining a hopeless outcome, except for one thing: My parents would speak to me at various times and say, “Son, no matter how bad of a fight we have, we will never get a divorce. We will always stay married” This gave great comfort to my small, innocent mind. It gave me a handle to grab ahold of, a handle by which I knew something of security in my future: My parents would stay married.

My parents celebrated their 42 anniversary this year. They have been faithful to their words and for this I am thankful and very proud.

But imagine a different scenario where words don’t mean what they seem to mean. What if my parents had divorced, and upon me reminding them of the words they had told me their response was: “Oh son, we’re sorry, we didn’t really mean we’d never get a divorce. We just told you that to comfort you. Things have changed…”

I don’t use this analogy tritely knowing that many of had this experience as reality.

However, in this scenario the hope of the future has been shattered by a simple unfaithfulness to what was previously spoken. The hearer, in this case a small boy who trusted his parents words has had his future obliterated and must now pick up the pieces of a broken family to rebuild a new future. Anyone looking on they would say this is wrong for the boy because––

Words mean something.

Or maybe I should clarify in a generation such as this:

Words should mean something!

This is not a complicated concept, however, I am continually amazed at how simple life principles that we all abide by on a daily basis are not maintained when reading the Scriptures; or in how we think about God and the words He says. This post is a pragmatic plea for us to allow the future God has spoken of to remain the hope of what He said it would, and will be.

The hope of the biblical future being fulfilled remains the steadfast anchor by which the chains of our heart are mored to in desperate hope that God might be found true, and every other man a liar.

Hebrews 6: 11-12, 18-19 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises… in the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.

19This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast

The Two Camps

There is currently a growing number of Bible students who have been trained to disbelieve that a literal future fulfillment of the words spoken in Scripture, will happen as prophesied in the future. The position that believes the opposite is called futurism, believing firmly that from Genesis to Revelation the nature of biblical prophecy is to find its true end apocalyptically. Apocalypticism is the same, in that we believe the things spoken about the end-times in the Law, Prophets, Writings, Gospels, and Letters will have a true, literal fulfillment in a climactic end.

Simply put, exactly what God said will be fulfilled in real time and space and since many events come together to begin this great end and see it through, it is as a crescendo in nature, where many biblical prophecies come together in a sort of grand finale.

To give an illustration, when Jesus says in Matthew 24 that “this generation will by no means pass away until all is fulfilled,” futurists take this to mean that Jesus meant the generation that sees ALL of the things He mentions take place. Simply, everything He mentioned did not happen in the generation proceeding 70 AD, therefore He likely means the generation of His coming because His coming is the pinnacle event of His prophecy (see Luke 21, and Mark 13 also).

What orchestral piece have you heard that does not contain it’s crescendo? What fireworks show have you witnessed that does not have a grand finale? Futurists see the Bible in this light, that the God of Israel’s beautiful song, or His firework show, or whatever analogy you would employ in the place of biblical narrative, has a climactic end. Not because He is into putting on a dramatic show, but because the Scriptures teach us that He is really into putting on a dramatic show (misnomer intentional).

The opposing view to futurism is called Preterism, in which all things that are prophetic in nature are said to have been fulfilled on or by 70 AD. In one sense, Preterist’s say they are more literal than Futurist’s in their interpretation because they keep the “original context” in which things were written. They would say that Ezekiel was only speaking to those hearing him, his immediate generation, and that it has no application to thing in the future. They say the same about Daniel and his words and maintain that the fulfillment is immediate, not in the distant future. Many Preterist’s are honorable, bible loving people, who are truly seeking to interpret the Scriptures to the best of their ability. This is respectable, and something worthy of praise. To their credit they truly are seeking to understand the Scriptures and they see this as the best way.

For instance, they take the very same words of Matthew 24 that a futurist is clinging to in hopes of occurring, and say that Jesus exclusively meant the generation He was speaking to in that moment, and that he was not speaking to future generations. They say that even though only some of the events took place as Jesus said, he was mainly speaking about the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem in 70 AD which sealed up biblical prophecy for good. The slippery slope of this interpretation leads many to the conclusion that Jesus was just plain wrong because He did not come again as He said to the generation He was speaking to, and caused others to suffer shipwreck in their faith, leaving the faith entirely. I say this with sobriety, love, and an ache in my heart for these brothers and sisters. 

Unfortunately, with this interpretation, the larger sweeping nature of biblical prophecy is often ignored. I need to firmly say that I believe the view of preterism is detrimental to the Bible, how we understand it, and that it very simply does not honor the words that the Father has spoken, but rather takes away from what He has said in a very harsh, but disguised, format. It is my hope that this post might paint the larger picture of biblical prophecy and that the entire biblical narrative holds to a distinct futurist method of interpretation, beginning in Genesis and climaxing in Revelation.

The First Futurist

From the first biblical prophecy in Genesis 3:15 that a seed would crush the head of the serpent it is established that the nature of biblical prophecy is to say something that will have a latter fulfillment, and that the fulfillment is not immediate by any sense of the word. Genesis 3:15 is called the protoevangelium, or first Gospel. Just after Adam and Eve sin by their disobedience of God’s command in the garden to not eat the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil, God gives this incredible promise of hope, this good news––that the serpent who deceived them would one day be crushed by the promised Seed. It is interesting that God began biblical prophecy setting the hope of restoration in the very distant future, and it is extremely significant and instructional that the first Biblical prophecy is as such.

Although hindsight tells us this now, Adam and Eve would have seen this promise very differently. Adam and Eve had no context for the future. They had only lived in perfection in the presence of God from the time of their first breaths until that moment. Time, and its devastating longevity would not have been something they had any context for. Therefore, when Adam and Eve heard this promise we must ask the question, “What was their expectation of fulfillment?” How did they perceive the future? Based very simply on what God spoke, it seems that they would’ve believed that Eve would somehow bring forth another man immediately that would bring them back to the garden they were driven out of. At this stage Adam and Eve might have been Preterists.

For analogies sake, I like to picture Adam and Eve most likely living just outside the gate that led into the garden. Why else would God have had to protect it with the swords of fiery cherubim? They were close, and the promise that they had received from God they believed to be equally close. They thought that when this man came forth from her Seed he would crush that serpent imminently, the cherubim’s swords would cease their paths of crescent fire, and they would go back into the garden to be with God. If we can put ourselves in their shoes, this scenario is very plausible given their context since they did not yet understand time.

They couldn’t have been more naive however! We don’t know whether Abel or Cain were born first but their names give us a little hint. Abel in Hebrew means breath; son; breathing spirit; while Cain means acquired.  With Cain’s given name, is it possible they believed they had acquired the Seed that was promised? However, when Abel is murdered, Adam and Eve would’ve instantly realized that neither of the boys were the promised Seed of which God had spoken.

Imagine the devastation. What they had hoped for, and likely thought close, was now an ambiguous time frame… 

Who would this seed be? When would he come forth? Had they done something wrong? Had they misunderstood the Lord? Was God Himself wrong about what He promised? BY no means.

With the promise that God had made crystallized in their minds they conceive again, and bring forth Seth.  It would seem that they’re hope of the promised Seed was forefront in their minds as Seth means appointed. I wonder at what stage they realized it wasn’t Seth either? When Seth gives birth to Enosh, which means mortal, his name is telling of what they clearly think––He is not the one. It is then that the Bible tells us, “then men began calling on the name of the Lord.”

What were they crying out for? The promised Seed who would come to crush the head of the serpent and restore them to the garden! Adam must’ve waited and waited with eager hope and expectation that this promised one would arise in his lifetime to no avail. In his 930th year, death creeps upon his tired lungs and when his eyes close for the last time they were most undoubtedly filled with tears of confusion and yet hope that the God he had personally walked with and spoken to would fulfill what He said with His own mouth. We can rest assured that on that day Adam died a futurist, knowing that the prophecy spoken to him would have a literal future fulfillment after his death. Thank you Adam for keeping the faith!

Often times, Preterist’s tell us that biblical prophecy must not be taken out of its original context. Futurist’s heartily agree with this. However, the problem with the preterist hermeneutic is that they do not allow any room for fulfillment beyond the original context. There is a glaring flaw with this method. As we have just witnessed, the very first biblical prophecy pointedly communicates a future hope that was not fulfilled within Adam’s life or context. Yet, I have never seen a preterist making the case that this prophecy never came to pass–– the entire biblical story hinges upon it! It is the very substance of redemptive history, the quintessential gospel that points to our Savior Christ Jesus.

It is here that we must ask a very reasonable question. Since the first prophecy God spoke had a distinct future context to its fulfillment, is it not also logical to conclude that other prophecies in the bible will possess a similar nature? Is it reasonable to use the first biblical prophecy as the interpretive key to the rest? Is it good sense to assume that prophecy simply contains this future component in its very fabric? As good students learning from experience, it would be a disservice to the Scriptures to not do so.

Still, this is exactly what the preterist position asks you to do to the ultimate demise of faith in what God has said.

Yes, Israel will be restored as Isaiah 60 says. Yes, Babylon will be decimated and judged as Jeremiah 51 exclaims. Indeed, Jesus will descend on the clouds of heaven and the tribes of Israel will mourn over Him, as one weeps for an only son. Truly, His feet will stand on the mount of olives and it will literally split in two as Zechariah 12 and 14 state and as Jesus Himself proclaims in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. All Israel will be saved on that day like Paul tells us in Romans 11, and as Revelation 20 declares Jesus will reign on this earth for 1000 years sitting upon a throne in a literal temple as Ezekiel described in chapters 40-48. Jerusalem will be elevated upon a glorious mountain as Isiah 2 emphatically declares, and the nations of the earth will come up to Jerusalem to learn from the God of Jacob, lay down their weapons and forsake war, and be healed by the waters that flow from His throne until He delivers the kingdom to the Father as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 15. These words are the weight in the anchor of which our faith is joyfully roped to.

We must not overcomplicate the matter of futurist versus preterist interpretation. And here is the old horse that is belarboingly kicked: we are simply discussing a matter of faith.

From the beginning of the Bible men are asked to put their faith in what God says. The whole trajectory of the biblical hope is founded upon God saying things, and men believing that what He said will happen. If we do not do this we have no hope! If we do not do this we have no gospel! Therefore, it is my plea to suggest that we believe what has been spoken, and that we have faith that what was spoken will come to pass.

The glaring issue with the preterist interpretation is that it takes what God has spoken and discounts it by a scheme of thought that basically says God is like the parents getting the divorce, “Well, I didn’t really mean EVERYTHING I said.” This is harmful to faith. This effectively cuts the rope attached to the anchor allowing it to slip off into the bottom of the theological seas. It may never be recovered again.

This view is truly pessimistic towards the very promises God spoke with His own mouth. It is encouraging many to not believe that the things spoken in the Bible will happen as they have been spoken. If this be the case, then where is the plumbline? If Adam had believed this way, would he not have died an unbeliever? Rather, Noah’s father Lamech would’ve most likely sat with Adam, hearing from him the promise of the coming Seed and he also would have believed it would come to pass. He would have put his faith in that promise and then discipled His son Noah in righteousness with faith in drastic contrast to the landslide of wickedness taking root in his day. Thus when God said to Noah “build an ark because it’s going to rain,” the faith instilled in him from his father to trust God would’ve driven him to complete the task. Many looked on in Noah’s day mocking, marrying, laughing, drinking, and although the witness of an enormous ship was before them, they were blind to its significance.

Conculsion

Likewise brothers and sisters we are approaching a time in which “all things written will be fulfilled,” (Lk. 21:22). We desire to be those who heed Jesus words, cling to them faithfully, and not write them off by the words of men. He will be the only One found worthy on that day, His words entirely justified, upheld, and completed just as He said. He will remain faithful, He will not change what He has said. We can trust what He said:

“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, without accomplishing what I desire, and without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it,” (Is. 55:11).

The amazing thing is that Genesis 3:15 still remains unfulfilled. Satan is prowling around like a roaring lion (1 Pt. 5:8), he is the prince and the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), thw ruler of this world (Jn. 14:30) and Paul confirms that “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet,” (Rm. 16:20). Yes, Jesus sacrifice effectively “crushed” satan, however there remains a very literal crushing ahead. Rev. 12:9 and 20:10 tells us,

“And the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him… And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”

This one prophecy from Genesis 3:15 encompasses the last 6000 years of history unfolding. We take great joy in this future event when Jesus, the promised Seed finally triumphs over the Serpent, and squishes His head beneath His glorious heel consummating this spectacular sentence.

The vivid hope in what God has spoken, and the faith in His words remain as the only anchor for my broken soul.

And this is why I am still a futurist.

Determining to Know Christ and Him Crucified

A couple years ago we had a season in South Korea. Upon our arrival my children immediately noticed that their Grandpa had hung this beautiful transparent poster of Christ crucified upon a glass door. What took place after this was the most remarkable thing to me. In the morning, just upon waking, my children go over to it and without a word just stare for minutes at a time. It was as if they would fall into the great abyss of the crucifixion speechless and in awe. Throughout the day, without explanation they would return and look. Dumbstruck, I would watch on with tears in my eyes and ask for the same intrigue… the same wonder to overtake me that was so consuming to them.

For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

-The Apostle Paul

This scripture has been paramount in my life for a little over ten years. I return to it often in order to reset my own system with the system of the apostle. Something of a simultaneous reckoning takes place and I rewire my mind back to this specific purpose to know only Christ and him crucified. In order to do so, I often need to cut some wires that have begun crowding the electrical box of my mind and heart. I yank them out and I throw them away. Then I pray… I pray that this one wire of Christ and Him crucified would again be plugged into the mainframe of my mind and heart and carried out in my own will and emotions. I determine within myself, by the power of the Holy Spirit, that this would be the consuming flood of purpose carrying my life along on its waters until we reach that glorious beach of resurrection. As a fencing champion relinquishing his sword in the midst of the battle I surrender.

When a man determines to do something he is set on the goal until it is accomplished. Paul does not mistakenly use this language here. For him this is exactly what has taken place within him as he testifies, “I have been crucified with Christ and it is no longer I who live…” (Gal. 2:20). We cannot all say that the same is true for us.

The determination we see within the apostle can actually be quite unfamiliar to the daily routine of our lives. And yet this is not something we can just add to our routine – no, it is far more consuming than that, far more detrimental to our pretty little worlds. Quite the opposite, we must die to our routine, and it, and us, must also become crucified with Christ so that the life we live in the flesh we live in the Son of God. It is all consuming and all encompassing and requires our certain crucifixion. It is as if you are standing on the brink of a sinkhole and wondering how deep it is when all you see is black. 

Yet this tunnel is the tunnel with the most glorious light at its end.

The light at the end of that abyss is the hope of becoming lost in Christ alone, while being yet found. There is only Christ, and Him crucified there. As His followers we must all jump in!

In jumping we do not allow this determination to remain a vague spiritualized idea. This determination must pass from idea to form as the clay was transformed into man by the hand of God in the garden. We must allow the breath of His Spirit to breathe into us again and raise us up from the dirt, that we might be pushed down into it again…. and again, just as He was. To know Christ and Him crucified is to allow Him to reciprocate our own crucifixion.

But no one likes to die!

This is certain. Dying is not something that is nostalgic. It happens once and you do not experience it again… unless of course you are the wicked who die a second death, or the apostle who dies every single day. “I die daily.” Paul’s words resound from 1 Corinthians 15, a reverberating echo, having ridden the shockwave through the chapters stemming from where we have started in chapter 2.

For Paul, death was nostalgic.

Every day he relived his death that was bound up inside the body of Christ on the Cross. When his flesh began to live again, then death was nostalgic, as he crucified Paul’s motives to the crossbeam and allowed Christ’s to live. We peer into the coffin of the apostle often as he tells the truth of his state: God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. 10We are fools for Christ’s sake… we are weak… we are without honor. 11To this present hour we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless; 12and we toil, working with our own hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; 13when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now.

Here is death… and yet here is life.

Indeed the funeral dirge is sounding in this genuine list of apostolic accolades. Each title is dressed in black as the spiritual morgue continues filling with true apostles. Before any man can claim to be apostolic, I have to see proof of this resume in his life––not his PhDs or MBAs. The apostle is living as one who is dead and this is equally how he perceives himself and the world perceives him. His life is lived calling out from the coffin of who he was, as he re-buries himself daily allowing the resurrected power of Christ to keep his body of death in the ground while the testimony of Christ walks on before him.

There is an odd requital at work in determining to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified, in that, when you determine to only know only this, you are actually determining to know many other things. Namely, meekness, humility, kindness, servility, mercy – and the list goes on. It is in fact these very things that are pre-filling Messiah and driving Him to so willingly to lay down His life on the cross––to become crucified. If He was not these very things, our Gospel story would be avidly different, most likely having its termination point in a radical zealot Jesus who overthrew the Roman armies, instead of a man crucified by them. When a man then determines to know only Him and His crucifixion, the man is determining to know and become the attributes that gave Jesus the humility to be led as a Lamb to the slaughter. And rest assured, the Lamb will again come as the Lion King (and I don’t mean Sinba).

There is also theology to consider when we determine to know Christ. A commonly used phrase that drives me wild is, “Just Jesus man!” What people typically mean by this is: You don’t need a bunch of theology, Jesus is enough. This is interesting because theology simply means “What man knows about God.” The person who says, “Just Jesus brother!” has a belief system about the Jesus he speaks of, and it is his own theology. Being introduced to Jesus without theology is one thing, and it happens often, but worshipping Jesus in Spirit and truth without theology is not possible. We all have a theology, it’s simply what we think we know about God. It is actually irresponsible to leave vague definition to what we believe about God. It does Him and His Son a disservice. It equally does the person a disservice because they can remain in this odd state of immaturity for years thinking, “Just Jesus man!” However, as a large ship with a small rudder, the right theology directs our ship to Messiah–– Who He is, and what He is going to do, and instructs us to be like Him. 

Jesus is perfect theology, and in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge… (Col. 2:3).

Our New Testament starts with the sentence: The genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, son of Abraham. This is one of the most incredible statements in the entire New Testament and one that strangely often means hardly anything to “Christians.” On a couple occasions, that one verse has been read to orthodox Jews and the response is outrage. Impossible! They shout. Because this phrase is one of the most powerful things the Bible can say about a person. This one verse speaks volumes about the person it is addressing. This great alarm sounds the warning for the reader to return to the 39 books prior and understand what it means to be the Son of David and Abraham. It provokes us to understand Jesus through a theology found in the Old Testament.

To determine to know Christ is undoubtedly determining to know the Scriptures that tell us the most about Him. This Man’s story begins in Genesis, not Matthew, and to understand what Paul means by knowing Christ, we must know the same words Paul knew because the New Testament did not exist was not something Paul read to learn about Jesus, it was what Paul wrote in regards to what the Old Testament had taught Him about Jesus. The glorious abyss of finding Christ in the TaNaKh, is to behold the heirloom of Jesus beauty, the embryo of His person. It is actually very interesting that Matthew doesn’t start his gospel by saying Jesus was the Son of God. His point is being based from the Scriptures of Genesis 12-22, and 2 Samuel 7 which are God’s covenant words regarding the promised one of Genesis 3:15 who will crush the serpents head.

The other process taking place in 1 Cor. 2:2 is that the apostle has also determined to know nothing else. This is a hard one to swallow. I have often knelt in prayer and asked the Lord to help me know nothing else except Christ and Him crucified. Then, within fifteen minutes I am often determining to know something else… usually something worldly like the news or social media. I don’t have the answer for this I blatantly confess! It remains an odd mystery to me that Paul could use such a blanket statement. It gives me hope to know that “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness,” (2 Tim. 3:16). Paul was telling the truth because He was writing inspired of God. Therefore I let this resolve, this overwhelming determination, consume me, teach me, reprove me, correct me, and train me in righteousness––I am ok with knowing nothing else.

When I was a boy I was determined to fly jet-fighters. There was a peace that would overtake my childhood mind as I pondered what the earth would look like from up there. I imagined the quiet amidst the roaring engines of that metal bird. I longed to rest in-flight between heaven and earth. This dream, albeit concocted from youthful naivety, was a pillar of determination in my mind. I am now 35 and have never seen the inside of a jet-fighter. You know why? Because determining to fly jet-fighters meant determining to learn many other things for many years. The idea of flying was fantastic and yet I have never flown because I was not determined enough to undergo the many challenges this determination would produce.

Determining to know Christ and Him crucified is similar. It is one thing to read the crucifixion accounts in the Gospels and think I determine to know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. It is another thing altogether to relate to Him in His sufferings… to undergo a crucifixion of your own… to actually lay down your life and relate to Him there befuddled of knowledge unrelated to Him. Many times, a meek response can be a level of suffering. Other times suffering can be serving undeserving people or your enemies. At times, suffering can be having your life and actions completely overlooked or disregarded. Rest assured, many of us who choose to determine this will experience these things and more as preparation for the glorious day we meet Him there in the place of enduring physical pain and possibly torture and death as we become like Him in His death…

…and so somehow attaining to the resurrection from the dead (Phil 3:10-11).

My dad, who was a pilot, once told me that flying an airplane is like flying an iron dinosaur through the air. “It’s loud and clunky,” he said. “The birds… they are the ones that really fly!” He then talked about “heaven” and with glossed-over eyes would imagine the day he would spread out his own arms and fly. I am long past the age of being able to fly that jet-fighter but I am young in the hope of flying in the resurrection of the righteous! I am connecting new wires that support who Christ is, and still cutting old ones that divert attention to other things. I am resolving that my determination remain steadfastly fixed upon Messiah and Him crucified. As scary as it is, I want to draw near to Him in the fellowship of His sufferings and be conformed to His death. I want to stumble through the darkness of that pit, bleeding, weeping, and following in His footsteps only emerge into that light at the end of the tunnel and hear, “Well done…”

The joy that will be ours on that day will pale in comparison to the sufferings we endured in this life. Take hold of that hope and plow on!

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” -The Apostle Paul

Audio

How Deep The Fathers Love (Hessed): Why the Gospel is “First to the Jew” and How Gentiles Should Respond

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Tears Like Glory

old-man-wept

(What provoked this blog from within the depths of me, came during a morning of prayer and meditation while listening to the instrumental song above on repeat. It is a close friend of mine’s music and carries the emotional weight of the words in this post within the borders of its musical arrangement. I would love for you to listen to it while you read this post for a more dramatic experience.)

Weeping is not something that can be conjured up. It strikes a person as a bolt of lightning, unpredictable, from a course not of ourselves. Bound up in the endless depths of the human heart is restricted emotion from years of wounding, hurts, pains, and wrongs… and when the dam holding back those floodwaters bursts its torrent is an uncontrollable flood… a deluge of something divine. Tears trace paths down our cheeks like streams through a parched desert devoid of rain for seasons past. Truly, who can explain what it is that makes one cry? Who can declare from where it is conceived? Born in that stored-away place that is rarely seen by many, the fetus of emotion grows and grows until the event that causes its birth. With heaving and groaning the baby is born and the tears on one’s face are like the wet newborn baby that has just entered the world. Is it overly allegorical to observe why we have at times returned to that fetal position in times of weeping?

There is no time or pattern to the rhythm of weeping, and it knows no metronome. It follows no clap, or tapping foot, and albeit random, its heaves produce a song of its own. The wise listen and add to their learning, the discerning get guidance.

The eyes of those who empathize become moist as well, because the chord struck deep within the person upon whom the dam has just broken can oddly cause other dams to break. By relation of experience, and of proximity to the dam, others are suddenly swept away in its forceful waters. As though the one drowning in the beauty of release should not be left alone, another swims down to join them in a sea of their own tears. Behold the power of weeping and the strength of such weakness! Behold the beauty of the broken.

No one knows the bounds or depths of sobbing uncontrollably… the untethered chorus of a crowd in mourning is staggering to behold.

Some cheeks are more desperate to savor those moments than others and like droplets of rain dripping from the leaves of forests in a downpour their tears fall to the ground where the earth desperately drinks them up. Or, they fall into the very hands of God, where they are stored until the day He wipes every single one of them away and replaces them with the oil of joy.

Lest we become overly sentimental towards the idea of simple sentiment, let us progress to the biblical thrust of weeping and the object of our attention––weeping with God. The valuable lesson we learn from the Scriptures regarding the God of Israel is that He is the divine Creator who possesses weeping as an attribute. We should think that when the Alpha and Omega weeps it is due to the most profound of circumstances. His divine heart of unchanging love and sacred refuge bursts and the longsuffering tears of deep emotional pain regarding His creation are expended, an uncontrollable geyser that sinks the arrogance of man into the deep ocean of His humility. Indeed, in Noah’s flood the wicked could have been drowning in the very tears the Godhead was shedding from their heavenly temple. As the warm droplets touched the faces of those under His judgment as they peered wide-eyed towards the heavens, they would’ve recognized His everlasting mercy before they sank down immersed in the waters of His unwavering justice.

When I was small my father would leave the room as soon as he spanked me. I never understood why until I got older and mentioned it once to him. He explained that the pain he had to inflict upon my brother and I was too much for him to bear and he would leave the room only to immediately burst into tears of his own. It was never long before he would enter the room again with wet cheeks and cradle us in his arms, sorry that his love had to manifest as judgment. I distinctly remember my young boy cheeks rubbing against his and pondering their wetness as I sat loved in his lap. In that experience I have beheld one of the most accurate pictures of our heavenly Father and I still marvel today at the revelation it holds. (My prayer for you dad is that as you read this you would be able to finally let your own dam burst and be drowned there in the waters of your heavenly Father’s love.)

To take the liberty of this example and look upon the Scriptures we look in Revelation chapter 15. You don’t have to agree with my theological perspective on this chapter to glean from what I am about to present. The example is simple. In Revelation 15:1;7-8 judgment is taking place and something called the bowls of wrath are about to be poured out. The text reads:

“Then I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels who had seven plagues, which are the last, because in them the wrath of God is finished… Then one of the four living creatures gave to the seven angels seven golden bowls full of the wrath of God, who lives forever and ever. And the temple was filled with smoke from the glory of God and from His power; and no one was able to enter the temple until the seven plagues of the seven angels were finished.”

At the pinnacle of wrath and the precipice of His judgment being unleashed full-force we see God desiring to be alone. I wonder if this is similar to my earthly father’s discipline, in that, He is “leaving the room” to weep His own tears that His great love must now be manifested in judgment. Thus, He makes everyone leave His room as He deeply grieves and travails over the fierceness of His wrath being manifested towards those who hate Him. But, those who love Him will very shortly thereafter be taken into His arms and received forever!

Uniquely, we find in the God-breathed Scriptures a blessing for those who mourn in this life bound to the promise that they will be comforted. We find Paul excavating the principle of mourning, enjoining us to fellowship with those who are currently engulfed in their own tears (Rom. 12:15). Do we find there true relationship? And what if mourning with those who mourn has implicit suggestion concerning those with understanding who will mourn with God––since He is in fact the one weeping!?

The mysterious abyss from which tears arise has hardly been considered in relation to God in the flesh. That is to say, Jesus wept, but because of our own lack of weeping our interpretation of what is happening within Him is most likely misunderstood. I doubt that any one of us has ever sobbed until sweat like great drops of blood pushed from underneath our skin and fell from the pores of our epidermis. Again, our lack of weeping might normally write this off as an odd event––just as something that possesses its own mystique, unable to be described by the faculties of men. But, is that true? Or have we just not wept enough?

Is it possible that Jesus, as the second person of the Godhead had waited since the beginning of time to release those tears from distinct human eyes on the night before His crucifixion? And there, as He heaves and wipes the tears from his face they mix with the atoning blood that is seeping from his skin. His mourning over the sin that has brought about His fateful crucifixion merges with the deep pain of bearing the sin of the world. How often have we seen tears and blood mix? His bound-up effort of longsuffering with humans and His pent-up rage against the sin and wickedness of His creation inverts and is there becoming the cup of wrath and long-suffering which the Father is dumping out upon His Son as Calvary is only a sunrise away.

How is it that the God of Israel has chosen such vulnerability to be one of the most personal manifestations of His nature? We deduce this through simplicity in the equation: When one weeps they are vulnerable, they are weak, they are exposed. No one has ever looked at a person weeping and said “What great strength!” Yet, we have the God of the Bible continually make this odd disposition true in verses like,

“…we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, 24but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are,29so that no man may boast before God (1 Cor. 1:23-29),

and also God’s response to Paul,

And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness,” (2 Cor. 12:9).

In these passages we find a direct definition from God concerning strength that is contingent upon manifest weakness. This is entirely opposed to the wisdom of the world! In fact, it is so entirely different than the way the world sees things it is actually confounding their wisdom to behold the beautiful weakness of Christ crucified

For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE.” Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe,” (1 Cor. 1:20-21).

There on the Cross, the story of great weakness prevails triumphantly over the strength of man. Now, to us being saved we behold the power of God! But to those who are perishing––weakness. But, it is not as though one party sees something different than the other, rather it is how the party interprets what they are seeing. For the Christian, he looks upon the weakness of God being flogged, pressed with a crown of thorns, nails thrust through His flesh, and hanging in the air seemingly helpless and he says, “What great strength!” The others behold the same elements and wag their heads saying, “Physician, heal yourself!”  To one it is wisdom, and to the other foolishness. And in this great mystery the Messiah of humankind is being perfected through the weakness and vulnerability of suffering,

“Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered,” (Heb. 5:8).

I wish to join in on the grief our Lord shared with the Father that night in the garden of Gethsemane. I want to touch that emotion and have it be real. I want to feel what God feels at this hour of history and let it manifest in warm streams on my face, where the spring’s head is centered in the overflow of God’s heart connecting to my heart, and I want it to run its torrential course out through the tear ducts of my eyes and fall to the earth or into the very Hands of God Himself.

I want that weakness… that vulnerability. I want to weep. I want to cry. May we be led by the Spirit into those uncontrollable times and cultivate a heart that is open to the infinite bounds of weeping with God. It’s ok to cry! Feel the freedom of weeping! Let it all out and see the fruit it might bear in your life with God.

Let Love Abound

“And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ…” Phil 1:9

From the musty prison cell where Paul sits comes a prayer for the church in Philippi. When the apostle starts something with, “And this I pray” it is best we tune our ears to those intimate words. Paul felt the need to pray for the small church of Philippi, most likely under 50 members, that their love would abound (overflow) still more and more. When dealing with people inside of a church I don’t think that any of us needs to ask why Paul might have prayed such a thing. We can be very unloving and selfish people! To understand however the love Paul is speaking of we need to revisit the place of where his definition of love would have been conceived––the Old Testament.

The love in Paul’s mind is not ambiguous and certainly not generalized sentiment, but it is a strong and well-defined love derived from his understanding of Who YHWH was in the Old Testament (Tanakh) Scriptures. The prayer that love would abound comes from the idea that YHWH had done and was currently doing this very same thing, and simply mandated for His followers also. For the Christian this might be the hardest process for the Holy Spirit to enact within us. I am rarely found letting love overflow to the people surrounding me.

The most powerful form of love found in the Old Testament is YHWH’s covenant love which in Hebrew is checed חָ֫סֶד . This word appears around 250 times in the Tanakh, always referring to the very specific promises God has made to Abraham and by relation to Israel. In our bibles it is normally translated as lovingkindness but this doesn’t quite emphasize the depth of its true meaning. It literally means covenant loyalty which to YHWH is His bond of love to Israel. When employed, it communicates the idea that His love is so strong and so faithful that the covenant He has made will never be broken on His end.

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love (checed) shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.” (Is. 54:10)

This is an amazing concept, and furthermore, the premier definition of how we as believers in YHWH and His Son Yeshua ought to understand love. YHWH defines His love in simple faithfulness to the covenant He made with Abraham. Furthermore, it gives the clearest context to the meaning of agape love, which is the strongest form of love found in the Greek New Testament. Agape love, in how Jesus and the apostles perceive agape to be when they use it, is most likely directly connected to the idea of the Hebrew word checed since this was the strongest context they would have had to define this type of love. Stemming from this idea comes the exhortation Paul makes above, as well as Jesus’ very simple words that the entire Law and Prophets are summed up in Love (agape) the Lord Your God with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself (Matt. 22:40; Gal. 5:14). 

When Jesus hangs all the Law and Prophets upon something, we take care to notice the hook upon what He is hanging. It is love – and it is actually the strongest type of love – a tenacious love that is forgiving seventy times seven (Matt. 18:22), turning the other cheek when hit (Matt. 5:39), blessing when reviled (1 Cor. 4:12), leaping for joy when persecuted (Lk. 6:23) and covering a multitude of sins (1 Pt. 4:8). This is why the greatest of these is love – because love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8).

Recently I found myself in a major situation with a close friend whom I love. Over a period of several months however, because of our conflict, I became very unloving. In the midst of the conflict which began to seem unbearably irreconcilable, another friend exhorted me to, “let love abound.” Though I persisted that I felt wronged and that my friend was in the wrong, this was the only exhortation that my friend had left me with – “Let love abound.”

It was the most simple thing he could’ve said but it was the “word of God, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hb. 4:12)… and that is exactly what it did! My heart was revealed and judged before that Scripture and the solution to the problem was simpler than I had ever perceived: Let love abound. The very problem was that I was not letting love abound––I was letting my own will, flesh, and rights abound.

As this verse continued to judge my heart’s intent I became increasingly grieved to the point where I had to write this post. And here is my public confession: I have not lived as a man that has allowed love to abound! To anyone that I have harmed with my intense personality, to every person that I have wronged with my “words of truth” that have cut you, and to every person that I have slandered or back-bitten, I repent. With tears before the Father in heaven I repent! 

I want to be a man who loves like YHWH loves lest I never become a man.

YHWH picked the hardest people to love. Just after crossing the red sea, they grumble against Him. While He is there still making the covenant with them at Sinai, they make an idol before His eyes and worship it. After He delivers them into the promised land, they turn away from Him unto other idols. He expels them from the land in discipline and yet He brings back a remnant. He draws near to them in the flesh and they crucify Him. He destroys their temple and casts them from the land again, and yet God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! (Rom 11:1)Simply, For a brief moment I forsook you, but with great compassion I will gather you. In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, but with everlasting lovingkindness I will have compassion on you,” Says the LORD your Redeemer. (Is. 54:7-8) Yes, it is true, “Who is a God like You, who pardons iniquity and passes over the rebellious act of the remnant of His possession? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in unchanging love. He will again have compassion on us (Israel); He will tread our iniquities under foot. Yes, You will cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. You will give truth to Jacob and unchanging love to Abraham, which You swore to our forefathers from the days of old (Mic. 7:18-20).

In the fashion of YHWH we are to “be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.”

I want to love like YHWH. I want to imitate the God of Israel in my love. I want a love that passes over sins committed against me. I want a love that is compassionate in the face of betrayal, and merciful in the presence of judgment. This is YHWH’s checed, His strong covenant love, a fixed love that “shall not be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you” (Is. 54:10). Seeing how YHWH loves Israel in the Bible gives me hope that by His Spirit I can love in this same way. I can be wronged and forgive. I can be hit and not strike back. I can be reviled and pray blessing. This is what is bound up in the death of our great God and Saviour as He “suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Pt. 2:21).

I want to follow Him and therefore I will love as He has loved.

“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35

“…may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another, and for all people, just as we also do for you so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” 1 Thess. 3:11

Love is not an option that is presented to the Christian, rather it is the very object which makes us disciples of Christ. It is also the standard by which we are judged on the Day of the Lord as both apostolic prayers directly connect (Phil 1:9; 1 Thess. 3:11). I have felt His burning eyes lately staring into my heart to see what’s there. I have heard Him saying to me very gently, “Son, I am not going to ask you about your biblical theology on the day you appear before me.” At this I weep and come back to the simplicity of the new commandment Jesus gave us. I want my heart to be established without blame in holiness before God our Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints! I want to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ! Paul hinges both of these things upon LOVE abounding in our lives. This is our response to His Cross, this is not salvation by works! Therefore, let us continue fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart (Hb. 12:1-3).

The Lamb to the slaughter is leading the way of love and Paul was following Him all the way to his own head being lopped off. This is apostolic––the life laid down in love––as Stephen the martyr mimics His Lord, falling to the ground and uttering the same words as His savior, “Forgive them!”

But love is so hard! Yes, so let love abound. But, that person has sinned against me in the most horrible way! Indeed, let love abound. But it’s all their fault! You might be right, let love abound! We cannot do it by our own strength, so let us not deceive ourselves with such vanity. Rather, let us turn to the Holy Spirit in prayer and cry out for the Helper’s help that we might imitate YHWH and His Son, and abound in love towards each other. This is His command and the highest honor we can give Jesus is by simply following it as best we can.

Rather than my words, let us end with Paul’s exhortation from Galatians 5-6:

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. 14For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.” 15But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. 18But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law. 19Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, 21envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. 22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. 26Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another. Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. 2Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ. 3For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. 4But each one must examine his own work, and then he will have reason for boasting in regard to himself alone, and not in regard to another. 5For each one will bear his own load.

The Lamb to the slaughter is leading the way of love! Let us follow Him though it cost us everything.

 

#10 Between the Lines of Exodus 20-The Deuteronomy 18 Prophet Like Moses

Diagram Position

We are chronologically working through the diagram pictured above, having started with the far left Earth icon, and are now in the second pillar titled covenantal. On the third line down we identify Exodus 20-24. We have now taken several posts to carefully meditate upon Exodus 20-24 and we are still not done. Before moving on we must dive into Deuteronomy as the Exodus is expounded upon with far greater detail.

Introduction

A couple years ago I began to reevaluate my theology regarding the first coming of Jesus. After all, I thought I had it down: Jesus, who was God, came as a man and lived and died as the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind. In His death humanity finds forgiveness before the Father when they repent, and in His resurrection we have hope of the reward that is in store for us if we stand firm in the faith until the end. Surely this is true and magnificent! However, as I began to ponder the details of the life of Jesus, particularly in the gospel of John, I began to realize some very important things of which I was previously unaware. One of these things namely was that Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees and Sadducees had a specific context. His words seemed very well thought out and pointed, as that of a sniper taking aim at targets. His acts, such as his cleansing the temple, healing on the sabbath, and many others seemed to point to a greater purpose. I had generally just swept everything under the rug of, “Jesus was displeased with the Jewish authorities and their view of the law and He was making that clear.” This again is true, but it is only scraping the surface of what He viewed as the purpose of His first coming.

I now believe that the large majority of the church including some Messianic Jewish brothers are missing a vital component of Jesus’ identity. This identity is revealed in Deuteronomy 18 as a person who would be The Prophet Like Moses. This person, as we will see, was to come to the nation of Israel in the prophetic fashion of Moses, speaking words to the nation with which they would be held accountable for.

I recently read a book by a messianic brother that was a biblical theology of Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures. Within none of its pages did I discover a single paragraph regarding what we are about to discuss. This concerned and saddened me, and although it is a topic I am fairly new to as well, I am hopeful as we look into this together. Therefore, it is the aim of this post to pointedly show how Jesus emphatically sees Himself as fulfilling the role of the Prophet from Deuteronomy 18 as well as to pinpoint the importance of teaching this part of His identity today. It is critical as the text will reveal to understand how primary the identity of the Prophet like Moses is to Jesus Himself as well as the apostles, the Jewish people of the first century, and even the Father in Heaven.

 

Here is a link to the notes for this subject, yet they end incomplete as the apocalyptic identity of Jesus will be handled later. The two other links are audio sessions of teaching I recently did regarding this subject.

PDF Notes           Audio Session 1          Audio Session 2

The Context of the Prophet from Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 5 and 18

One of the most significant messianic foreshadowings in the Old Testament is found in Deuteronomy 18 even though the exchange takes place at Mt. Sinai within the very chapters we have been looking at. Although a very short segment of Scripture, it is one of the most important things to see, behold, meditate upon, and let affect how we interpret the remainder of Scripture and our premier definition (as far as expectation is concerned) of the Messiah. In Deuteronomy 18 Moses gives a snippet of previously unheard information regarding what happened that day at the mountain in Exodus 20. To produce a thorough and cohesive picture of this event we need to look at many portions of Scripture.

In Exodus 20,

All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. 19Then they said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.” 20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin.” 21So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.

Now, let’s read how Moses recaps this same event in Deut. 5.

These words the LORD spoke to all your assembly at the mountain from the midst of the fire, of the cloud and of the thick gloom, with a great voice, and He added no more. He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me. 23“And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. 24“You said, ‘Behold, the LORD our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. 25‘Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any longer, then we will die. 26‘For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27‘Go near and hear all that the LORD our God says; then speak to us all that the LORD our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.’ 

It is here that something very unique occurs. After the people say this to Moses, God responds to their statement with His own declaration:

 28“The LORD heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me, and the LORD said to me, ‘I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you. They have done well in all that they have spoken.29Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!

Wow. God is overflowing with the truth of His emotions here! He is longing for Israel to be able to keep what they’ve committed to although He already knows that they cannot. Still, in all of His foreknowledge He does not respond harshly but rather optimistically.

30‘Go, say to them, “Return to your tents.” 31‘But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you all the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I give them to possess.’ 32“So you shall observe to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left. 33“You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Deuteronomy 18 gives us an even clearer picture as Moses gives the last detail in this story that isn’t mentioned previously.

The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him. 16This is according to all that you asked of the LORD your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’17“The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well. 18I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.  

In my entire life I have never heard a teaching on Jesus being the prophet spoken of and prophesied by God in Deuteronomy 18. Does that not occur to you as odd?

Let me explain why this information is so vital. Firstly, it is one of the clearest pieces of information we have regarding the Messianic figure in the Old Testament. At this stage of our story we have been given some amazing foreshadowing concerning the Messiah. In Genesis 3:15 we have been told what He will inevitably do. In Genesis 15 we behold a priest/king who foreshadows Messiah. In Genesis 22 we see Abraham willing to sacrifice Isaac, for “He considered that God is able to raise people even from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type,” (Hb. 11:19). In Joseph we see a man thrown in a pit by His brothers, sold into slavery, wrongfully accused and imprisoned, and then vindicated and seated at the right hand of Pharaoh while his brothers come to Him in need. Yes, we have seen many pictures that are glorious and that instruct us in the nature of the Messiah that will come to fulfill Genesis 3:15. However in Deuteronomy 18, we have very concrete information which is in fact a direct pronouncement of the Messiah’s identity. Let’s break these few verses down to further discuss the scope of what is being revealed.

Deuteronomy 18:15-22

  1. 15a “The Lord Your God will raise up for you a prophet like me…”
    1. God is the one choosing to raise up this prophet of His own wisdom and accord.
    2. Also, we note that the person will be a prophet. The person who was a true prophet in Scripture is someone who is actually hearing and declaring the true word of God. Also, the case is usually that this one is calling Israel to return to the covenant of God in order to, in effect, renew their vows and repent, by rehearing God’s words. We see this with Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the remainder of the biblical prophets. So we know that this is the foundation of the Deuteronomy 18 person, He will actually speak the very words of God in calling the people to repentance–– to return to the Lord their God.
    3. A Prophet like Moses has many deep implications that we can only briefly discuss here:
      1. Moses was called out of Egypt before he was the deliverer.
        1. Jesus was called out of Egypt after Joseph and Mary had fled Bethlehem from Herod.
      2. God appeared to Moses in the Wilderness
        1. Jesus fasted 40 days in the wilderness in which He is specifically meditating on Deuteronomy 6-8. In Deuteronomy 8 we read that Moses says “You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that Me might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD.”
        2. Likewise, Jesus was tempted in the desert for forty days, which is significant of Israel’s forty years in the desert. Jesus was also humbled and hungry in his human frame, being tested by God to know what’s in His heart and whether or not He would keep the commandments of God or not. He responds to the devil from this exact section of Scripture saying, “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God!”
      3. Moses stood in the direct counsel of God
        1. 33:11 “Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend.”
          1. Jesus was in the presence of the Father His whole life speaking to Him face to face.
        2. The command to Moses is: But as for you, stand here by Me, that I may speak to you all the commandments and the statutes and the judgments which you shall teach them, that they may observe them in the land which I give them to possess (Deut. 5:31).
        3. In Proverbs 8:30 we see this same language applied to Jesus “Then I was beside Him, as a master workman, and I was daily His delight.”
      4. Most profoundly though is simply that the prophet spoken of will fulfill the same duty as Moses when the people requested: “Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.”
        • This is brutally ironic in that the Prophet will come to speak the very words of God as the people requested, and yet the prophet will actually still be God the Son speaking. The mystery of God taking on a human frame and masking His glory so that He might draw near to the people and fulfill what they asked of Him on that day at Horeb, and to do it in this way, is very mysterious and awesome.
        • Whether they knew it or not the people of Israel were requesting what God had preordained before the ages in God the Son.
      5. The overarching themes to consider in Jesus being a Prophet like Moses are:
        • Moses led the Exodus
          • Jesus leads the Second Exodus at His Second Coming
        • Moses institutes the Passover
          • Jesus becomes the Passover Lamb
        • Moses was the Mediator of the Sinai Covenant
          • Jesus is the Mediator of the New Covenant in His blood
        • Moses read the law from Mt. Sinai
          • Jesus gives the Sermon on the Mount which is in effect the Law of the Spirit by grace through faith.
  2. 18:15b “…from among you, from your countrymen.”
    1. This clearly tells us that the Prophet will have an ethnic identity––the lineage of Abraham, the stock of Israel––He will be Jewish. The simple announcement of this identity of the prophet irrefutably confirms God’s choice of Abraham and his lineage. This gives us proper context of why Jesus the Prophet is born to Mary and Joseph, ethnic Jews, in the town of Bethlehem, in the physical piece of land that was called Israel. Often times we overlook these details because they are profoundly simple. Yet, in their simplicity they are actually confirming the everlasting covenant.
      1. Jesus was Jewish and Jesus didn’t arbitrarily choose his ethnicity to be Jewish. There wasn’t a conversation in the Godhead with ten different ethnicities Jesus could pick from when He came in the flesh––There was only one story, and one people that possessed a covenant with that Godhead––the lineage of Abraham. It is the very people standing at Horeb asking for the Prophet.
  3. 18:15c “…you shall listen to him.”
    1. The word hear here is exactly the same as Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema, “Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!” So YHWH is employing the same word in regards to this prophet, in that Israel should Shema the prophet.
      1. It is profound that the Lord gives the Shema twelve chapters earlier, and then links the Shema to the prophet. The Shema is that the LORD your God is ONE, and here the Lord is commanding Israel to Shema the Prophet, which foreshadows the divinity of the prophet. Since the command was initially Shema the word of the Lord, and now the command is Shema the prophet, it is completely ingenious of the Lord to frame it this way as He hides within the mystery.
      2. The command to listen to this Prophet again re-emphasizes that He will carry the direct Word of YHWH.
  4. 16 “This is according to all that you asked of the Lord Your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, let me not see this great fire anymore, or I will die.’”
    1. The words of Israel on the day at Horeb played directly into God’s foreknowledge regarding His interactions within the covenant. It is actually quite profound that God Himself cries out, “Oh that they had such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it may be well with them and with their sons forever!” Here we can see a picture of God desiring to have mercy on His people whilst knowing that He will have to bring judgment because of their unfaithfulness. And then Moses says here that with regard to all that you said at Horeb this Prophet is coming forth. So, just after God declares this to Moses, He immediately declares that the Prophet like Moses will come and speak His words. The Lord answers their request with this Prophet who will pronounthe very judgment God wishes them to avoid through obedience to His Words.
    2. It is as if God finishes what He was saying at Horeb through Jesus on the earth.
  5. 17 The LORD said to me, ‘They have spoken well.
    1. They have spoken well is God’s agreement with their response. Moses said that the Lord was testing them to put His fear within them. This has seemingly been achieved as the people in fear speak these words.
    2. I have several times heard people say that it was a mistake for Israel to do this and that it was at this stage that they forsook the closeness that God wanted to have with them. It is normally portrayed as if this was their one opportunity to have nearness to God but because they were afraid they forfeited the one chance they had. This however is not in accord with God saying, “They have spoken well.” God’s desire was not for Israel to draw as near as we might think that day, but that His fear would remain within them (Ex. 20:20). His desire was actually fulfilled that day.
  6. 18a “I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you,
    1. Since this is repeated twice within these few verses we should note that the Prophet’s ethnicity is being emphasized.
  7. 18b “…and I will put My words in his mouth…”
    1. The word used here for words in Hebrew is the same word used in Exodus 20:1 (dabar), “And God spoke all these words.” It would only be logical to assume that YHWH is saying that He will put these same words found in Exodus 20 in the mouth of the Prophet. That is not to say that He will not speak other things, but only to say that the Prophet will confirm those very words and indeed speak them from His own mouth.
  8. 18c “…and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”
    1. Here we should note the simple yet terrifying nature of the spoken word. The promise from YHWH is that the Prophet will speak all that I command Him and that the Prophet’s words will warrant a divine accountability from all those who hear.
    2. We should rightly identify the them in this verse as pertaining to the future lineage of Abraham.
    3. This is a beautiful picture of Jesus and the mystery of God coming in the flesh. His choice was to come as a person and speak these very words, His testimony, as one of their own kinsmen. The beauty of YHWH’s faithfulness to Abraham is stunning.
      1. It is helpful to consider the juxtaposition here. In the first encounter, God comes down on the mountain trembling under His glory, with fire, lightning, thunder, and trumpets and causes His fear to be within them. He instructs them in the fear of the Lord, which Proverbs tells us is the beginning of wisdom. Yet, here is the other side of the coin! In Jesus, YHWH draws near to His people––save terrifying glory––humbly coming as a servant, a prophet in human skin, to declare to them the same words He had spoken from the mountain of Sinai. This is not a contradiction in His character but the very height of His wisdom in dealing with Israel covenantally.
  9. 19 “It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I myself will require it of him.
    1. Again we have the reemphasis that this Prophet will be speaking the direct words (dabar) of YHWH––His testimony. We also have shema again, but this time in a negative sense. Whoever does not shema the dabar of the prophet will be held accountable.
      1. We will later look at how this functions throughout the Gospel of John with Jesus often saying, “You do not listen to Me, and you do not hear Me.”
    2. YHWH’s confidence in this person to be a faithful witness to His Words is astounding. YHWH shows such confidence in this Prophet revealing a great dichotomy between the Prophet and Israel. He has already shown that He knows He cannot trust Israel to fulfill His words because of their heart, which foreshadows that this Prophet will be more than a typical Israelite––He will be God Himself, since He is the only one able to fulfill His own word.
    3. YHWH also identifies His reciprocation of judgment upon those who do not listen to this Prophet. Again, we see His astounding confidence in this Prophet in that He is willing to judge every person  according to the words the Prophet speaks.
    1. The significance of spoken words in Deuteronomy.
      1. God speaks to Moses.
      2. God speaks to the people.
      3. God promises He will speak again through a Prophet.
      4. Moses speaks to God
      5. Moses speaks to the people.
      6. God will raise up a prophet like Moses who will speak to the people.
      7. The people speak to God (usually bad things)
      8. The people speak to Moses (usually bad things)
      9. The people are supposed to listen to what God spoke, what Moses speaks, and what the Prophet will speak.
      10. The origin of speaking is rarely discussed as something that finds its premier anchor in relationship to God, His Words, and that He has created words for His purposes.
        1. Gen 1:1 God speaks words to create everything.
        2. John 1 the Word was with God and was God and everything was made through Him.
        3. The Prophet, who is God in the flesh, speaks the final Words of God which every man is accountable to.
  10. The Simple Formula of Deuteronomy 18:18-19 This Prophet will be like Moses
    1. This Prophet will be one of Israel’s countrymen
    2. This Prophet will be like Moses
    3. The Prophet will speak the words of God Himself
    4. The people should listen to this Prophet
    5. Whoever does not listen to what He speaks will be held accountable.

Now that we have established what the Prophet will be like, let us look at several Scriptures in the New Testament that confirm that Jesus truly was this Prophet like Moses.

The Expectation and Confirmation of the Prophet

There is a very clear expectation for the Prophet like Moses seen in the Gospels which gives us our first clues. We turn our attention to John chapter 1, where the Pharisees send men to speak with John the Baptist,

John 1:19-22 “This is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent to him priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” And He confessed and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

The prophet in their minds finds its only context in Deuteronomy 18 as the one who would “speak all that God commanded him.” John the Baptist appeared to them to be that person but John explicitly tells them that he is not the prophet. Here we have a profound example showing that the leadership of Israel was expecting this prophet from Deuteronomy 18 to be a real person that would come to them.

The first disciples of Jesus profess their expectation as well:

John 1:45 “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote––Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.'” 

After Jesus rose from the dead it is very clear that the apostles firmly believed Him to have been the Prophet like Moses:

Acts 3:22 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you.”

Furthermore, we have in the Gospels the people of Israel confirming Jesus to be the prophet:

John 7:39 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. 38“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” 39But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 40Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.”

With these passages we can easily confirm that there was an expectation for the Prophet like Moses and that the apostles and many others believed that Jesus was that person. But how about the Heavenly Father’s voice coming from heaven?

Matt 17: 1-8 1Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.4Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!”

We may have overlooked the simplicity of what the Father is saying here, since what He is saying is simply a verbatim of what He said in Deuteronomy 18: The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him! If Moses standing on the mountain with Jesus is not ironic enough, the Father speaks to confirm from heaven that Jesus is the Prophet like Moses.

However, the nail in the coffin so to speak, is when Jesus Himself confirms by His own words that He is the Prophet like Moses. There are so many verses to quote here, but it serves us best to reveal the key to interpreting His words and then hope you continue study on your own. First we look at His direct mention of Moses speaking about Him:

John 5:39-47 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life…I have come in My Fathers name, and you don’t not receive Me… Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for He wrote about Me. But it you do not believe His writings how will you believe My words?”

John 5 is an incredible picture into our discussion where Jesus articulates that Moses wrote about Him. Many times in the gospel of John Jesus uses these references to point through the haze surrounding His identity. Those who were willing to hear His words would know that He was the Prophet like Moses sent by God. This direct line of thought by Jesus reveals how He viewed Himself and His ministry as the Prophet. Case and point is a passage like this:

“For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me a commandment as to what to say and what to speak,” (Jn. 12:49).

There is no denying that this is the quintessential fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:18:

“I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.”

It is almost like looking upon twins! In this passage, Jesus is very plainly revealing that He is the promised Prophet like Moses who has received words directly from YHWH, His Father, to speak to the people. This really is incredible. Let’s juxtapose another example with Deuteronomy 18:19,

John 5:24 “Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” 

and its sister:

Deut. 18:It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which He shall speak in My name, I myself will require it of him.

In the gospel of John Jesus continually addresses and reinforces the fact that the man who hears His words and believes His Father sent Him has eternal life and does not come into judgment, while Deuteronomy makes clear that whoever does not receive the Prophet’s words will come under judgment. The same is true in John 8:26-28

“I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but He who sent Me is true; and the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world… “So Jesus said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father has taught Me.”

The final passage that punctuates this study is Matthew 5 (thanks Yazan!). 

You have heard that the ancients were told, ‘YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT MURDER’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ 22But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court…”

In the passage above, Jesus basically says, “Moses told you this, and now I am telling you this.” There can be no question that this is again Jesus directly completing the prophecy of the Prophet like Moses. Moreover, the entire Sermon on the Mount is Jesus undoubtedly expounding upon the law of Moses, which obviously makes Him the Prophet like Moses. This premier identity of Jesus gives a pointed foundational, though often neglected, definition of how Jesus perceived His own identity, role, and purpose of His first coming.

Concluding Thoughts

All of the passages we’ve evaluated incontrovertibly reveal Jesus’ identity as the Prophet like Moses. The pertinence of how Jesus views Himself with regards to this identity is revealed in many proofs throughout the Gospels and is something that should be understood and considered by any serious student of the Bible. It is not an overstatement to say that every single word Jesus speaks while in His human frame is because of the framework of His identity stemming from Deuteronomy 18. With this understanding in place you can peer much deeper into the gospels, but also assert the covenantal context of Jesus’ life in its entirety.

Jesus very plainly saw His first coming as accomplishing this very unique purpose of being the Prophet like Moses that would speak words to His own Jewish countrymen––the very words of YHWH Himself! At Sinai, YHWH appeared in a terrifying measure of glory, splendor, and awe. His power was revealed in an awesome way that taught the people to fear Him. There in their fear they cry out, “Moses you go and speak to God so that we do not die!” God then cries out, “The people have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put my words in His mouth and hold them accountable to what He says.” Then in consistency with what was said, God the Son is born in the flesh in the small town of Bethlehem. In contrast to the power and glory of Sinai, He draws near to His own people in a humble human frame to speak the very words that YHWH began at Sinai. How drastically different than the top of the mountain of Sinai where He began His speech, yet equally terrifying! The words that He would say throughout His life would effectively seal prophecy for good and present the final standard regarding the judgment of Israel and mankind at large.

The prophetic acts of Jesus’ life are testifying to the truth that He was the final prophet given to Israel by God––He was the Prophet like Moses. He chose this identity and it is precious to Him. Jesus’ Jewishness possesses the most exemplary form of Jew, in that He not only speaks the divine words of YHWH as the Prophet like Moses but He also fulfills perfectly the Ten Words spoken at Sinai. The culmination of His life breathes the life of the covenant into our tired lungs and gives hope that He will yet fulfill His promises for Israel, Jerusalem, and gentiles too. We glory in this soon coming fulfillment and say Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!