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Archive for Jesus

A True Miracle of Christmas

One of the most amazing miracles of Christmas, proving without doubt that the Bible is truly the Word of God, is the curse that God placed on a king named Coniah. The One to rule over Israel had to come through the biological line of King David from the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).  He had to be the firstborn son of his line, giving him the royal right to the throne.  Something strange happened that disqualified Solomon’s physical seed (King David’s firstborn) from reigning in Israel. God pronounced a curse on a certain king and all his descendants. God had sent his prophet Jeremiah with a written indictment against the nation of Israel to King Jehoiakim. This document spelled out the nation’s sin against God. King Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, rather than repenting and turning to God, destroyed the document by shredding it and throwing it into the fire. Because of this act, God said that no seed of Jehoiakim would ever rule in Israel again (Jer. 36:23–31).

 

One just does not tamper with the Word of the living God. God declared that neither Jehoiakim’s son, Coniah, nor any of his descendants would ever rule on the throne of Israel (Jer. 22:28–30). Coniah is also called “Jeconiah” (1 Chron. 3:16).  Just before Jeconiah’s descendants were to come to the throne, the Babylonians took Judah into a captivity lasting seventy years. None of his descendants ever ruled. The Romans destroyed all the official birth records in Israel in 70 A.D.

 

The only official record we have to document the genealogical right to the throne of Israel is the Bible. The curse on Jeconiah appears seemingly benign until we read Christ’s kingly genealogy in the Gospel of Matthew and discover that Jeconiah’s name is there. The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers… Josiah begot Jeconiah and his brothers about the time they were carried away to Babylon (Matt. 1:2, 11). How can it be? The cursed king is in the line of King Jesus. During Israel’s stay in Babylon, sons were born to Jeconiah, but none ever ruled in Israel.

 

The royal line ended with a firstborn son named Joseph, a carpenter from Nazareth (Matthew 1:16). Joseph had the royal right to the throne of Israel as the firstborn son in the line of Judah, but he had become ineligible from ruling because of the curse of Coniah. None of Joseph’s biological sons could rule. Was God caught by His own judgmental decision? No! He had a Christmas miracle under His mighty sleeve. Another genealogical record to the Messiah’s line is found in Luke 3:29-31.  This line came through David’s son, Nathan. Nathan carried the proper bloodline to the throne. His line bypassed Jeconiah and ended in a young virgin named Mary. Mary carried the legal, incorrupt bloodline to the throne.  She just happened to fall in love with a carpenter named Joseph who just happeded to have the royal right to the throne. But his bloodline had been disqualified.

 

Note God’s genius and the real miracle of Christmas. God slipped into the world through the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15).  This moment happened when the Holy Spirit supernaturally etched a tiny embryo in the womb of the Virgin Mary. The moment that deity touched humanity was a miracle equal only to the resurrection.  Nine months later, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son, the God-man. He was perfectly human and yet perfectly God. Since the sin nature is passed seminally through the paternal parent, the new babe did not inherit the Adamic sin nature because his mother was a virgin. And since Mary came through the incorrupt line of Nathan, she carried the right bloodline but bypassed Jechoniah’s curse. Absolutely amazing! Joseph adopted Jesus, giving Jesus the firstborn royal right to the throne. King Jesus received both the royal and legal right to the throne.

 

God brought His Son into the world right under the noses of the world’s elite. Bethlehem was way out in the Judean hill country. Not much ever happened there, but the birth of that child that day was the single most important historical event ever. It took place without any fanfare and not only in the lowliest place possible, Bethlehem, but also in a stable. Mary was surrounded by all the critters that would normally inhabit a stable. There were probably cows, sheep, goats, geese, ducks, and chickens. It is quite amazing that the true and living God would make His appearance in such a lowly place, yet God had His way of making this moment in history special.

 

Bethlehem means “house of bread.” The bread of life was born there! There was the star shining more brightly over that place highlighting the Light of the world! There were the lowly shepherds, patiently watching their flocks of sheep on the surrounding hillside – waiting for their Good Shepherd’s arrival.  There were the angels whose voices contributed to this astronomical event that could never be forgotten. God’s Lamb was being born. He was born where one would think a lamb should be born, in a stable. And most important, born there was the only person in this entire universe with both the legal and royal right to the throne of Israel to this very day – the  Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Blessings!

 

Amazing Grace!

What happened to the curse of the law?  “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, he has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, having blotted out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, and contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross” (Col. 2:13-14). The curse imposed by God’s Holy Law was erased at Calvary!

 

By bearing in His body the curse of the law, Jesus Christ fulfilled completely what He said He had come to do. “Do not think that I have come to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy, but to fulfill” (Matt. 5:17). Because of His sinless life, He met the righteous demands of the law because He kept it perfectly. By His death on the cross, He filled-full the just demands of the Law in that He bore its curse, satisfying forever the divine justice of the judgment of death demanded by God. He did not leave one ounce of God’s divine judgment against our sin unsatisfied. This is the very basis for the teaching of the grace of God. There is absolutely nothing we can add or remove. To think we can add to it is satanic to the core.

 

I was attempting to repair a ceiling fan at my mother-in-law’s home. It is an old home, and the wiring is antiquated. I really thought the power had been turned off, so I reached down and connected two hot wires. I saw the most beautiful blue flash and heard a distinct ringing in my ears. All the power in the house went off. Needless to say, there was a violent electrical reaction. There was, likewise, a violent spiritual reaction on Calvary’s tree when the Son of God bore the curse of the law for me. God spiritually touched His law to my sin which had been placed on Christ. God’s holy law immediately judged me in the death of His Son.  When this happened, the curse of the law, like the lights in my mother-in-law’s home, went out. The curse of the law was completely done away with because it had done all that it could do. “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom. 10:4).

 

The law serves as tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:24). At that point, the law has done what the law was designed by God to do – to convict of sin and point to Christ. What then? After faith comes, there is no longer the need for a tutor.  The necessity for the schoolmaster had passed (Gal. 3:25). The law was never designed to make anyone a son. So how do we become sons? “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:26). We could never become sons of God by keeping a list of statutes or religious instructions, rules or regulations, orders or ordinances, codes or commands. Laws cannot give life.

 

By faith in Jesus Christ we become sons of God, not slaves. There are a number of differences between a son and a slave. A son has a father, but a slave has a master. A son has the same nature as the father, but a slave does not have the nature of his master. The son is connected by blood to the father, but the slave is not related to the master. A son obeys out of love, but the slave obeys out of fear. “Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all, but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so, we were children of the world in bondage under the elements of the world” (Gal. 4:1-3).

 

But there was a point in time when we became who we always were – children of God by faith in Jesus Christ. God always knew His children – even when we were lost and undone. The Christian life becomes a father/child relationship. As a Christian, we have the wonderful privilege of referring to God as our Father. We can come to Him crying, “Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6). We do not live our Christian life by rules but by relationship. When faith in Jesus Christ comes, we are no more children under the watch-care of a slave, but we become a part of God’s family through adoption as His children with all the rights and privileges which that relationship brings. The child who is a son, unlike the slave, owns the whole estate. Those of us who have believed in Christ are no longer under the dominion of the law. We are saved and disciplined by grace. “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:11-14). Amazing grace, how sweet the sound That saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, Was blind but now I see. Blessings!  

The Seven “I Am’s” of Jesus

YHWH shall be King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). We are searching out the identity of this King. In a recent blog, I said that the Jews grew to understand the mysterious YHWH by adding His name to the ways that He interacted with them. For instance, YHWH (I AM) Jireh, provision; YHWH (I AM) Shalom, peace, etc. Let’s do the very same thing with the Lord Jesus Christ. Since Jesus is YHWH manifest in human flesh, one would expect Him to reveal His ministry to us exactly as YHWH did in the Old Testament. The Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word YHWH (I AM) in the Old Testament are the words Ego Eimi (I AM) in the New Testament. Jesus Christ unveils His ministry to us with seven manifestations as the great “Ego Eimi.”

Ego eimi, I am the door of the sheep (Jn. 10:7-9). He is the only door that opens into the sheepfold – which must be symbolic of God’s Kingdom. To get in, one must come through the door, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ego eimi, I am the light of the world (Jn. 8:12). A strange characteristic of light is that it is invisible. Light rays cannot be seen, yet when no invisible light rays are present, nothing can be seen. What we see is a reflection of the light. Jesus Christ as the light of the world makes the invisible God visible. Jesus is the reflection of the light of God. Light is the starting place of all life. Without light, nothing lives. Jesus Christ as the light of the world is the source of life, real life, eternal life. He is the only means of removing the spiritual blindness of the soul. To know Him is to have the light of life (1 Jn.1:4).

Ego eimi, I am the bread of life (Jn. 6:35). Recall the manna that God fed the Jews as they wandered in the wilderness for forty years (Ex. 16:4). This mysterious bread met their need and sustained them physically. The psalmist called it “the bread of heaven” (Psalm 78:4). The Lord Jesus Christ unveiled the fact that the manna actually spoke of Him. He is the bread that came down from heaven. The one who comes to Him will never hunger nor thirst.

Ego eimi, I am the vine, you are the branches (Jn. 15:5). The vine gives its life through the branches. And the branches must be connected to the vine. Life and fruit will not come unless the branches are connected. Jesus said, “He who abides in me (the vine) will bear much fruit. For without Me, you can do nothing.”

Ego eimi, I am the resurrection and the life (Jn 11:25-26). “The one who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live – and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.” These are the words spoken by Jesus Christ to Martha at the death of her brother Lazarus.

Ego eimi, I am the way, the truth, and the life (Jn. 14:6). We live in a world that teaches that there are many ways to God. Many mistakenly believe that it does not make a difference what one believes, as long as they are sincere. This is not what Jesus Christ taught. Jesus told His followers He was going back to His Father’s house from which He had come. He was going to prepare a place for them and would return and take them there (Jn. 14:1-3). Thomas asked the question that we probably would have asked. “Where are you going and how can we know the way?” Jesus responded, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” That’s definite!

Ego eimi, I am the Good Shepherd, and I know my sheep and I am known by My own (Jn. 10:14; 25-27). The Good Shepherd said that He knew His sheep, and that they would follow Him. He said that He would give to them eternal life and they would never perish, and no one could ever take them out of His hand (Jn. 10:14, 27–28). There were some Jews in the crowd still asking the Good Shepherd for proof that He was the Christ. Many were just not convinced. The good Shepherd tells them why! John 10:25 gives us His exact words with no spin. We are still asking the question concerning the identity of the one named King over all the earth (Zech. 14:9). Stay safe and stay tuned.

 

“The LORD Jesus Christ”

“And YHWH shall be King over all the earth and His name one” (Zech. 14:9). We are searching for the identity of YHWH who is to be King over all the earth. The only way we will ever grow to truly love God is to learn truth about Him revealed from His word that we know man did not write – truth that has never entered into the mind of man, and truth prepared for those who truly love Him (1 Cor. 2:9). In yesterday’s post we searched out the many ways that the Jews grew to understand the mysterious YHWH by adding His name to the ways that He interacted with them. Let’s begin to apply this same formula to Jesus Christ and see what we come up with. If Jesus Christ is YHWH in human flesh, we would expect – like YHWH – His titles to reflect this.

Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John each emphasize different titles of the person and work of Jesus Christ. Matthew reveals Him as the King of the Jews (Matt. 2:1–2). Kings must have genealogies, so Matthew includes Christ’s royal genealogy beginning with Abraham, from whom the King was to come. Mark makes Him known as the Suffering Servant “who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). There is no genealogy in Mark, because servants did not have genealogies. Luke presents Him as the Son of Man, showing that He is connected to true humanity. For this reason, Luke takes Christ’s genealogy all the way back to Adam – the first man (Luke 3:38). The Gospel of John reveals Christ as the very Son of God (John 1:34). It is interesting that no family tree is given in John. God, who is from everlasting has no genealogy! John takes Christ back to the beginning with God (John 1:1–2). The Word of God holds tightly to truth.

What is Christ’s name? Like His titles, His name should reflect His person. His name is the Lord Jesus Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Eph. 1:3). The name “Lord” is interesting. Paul told the Jews that if they confessed with their mouth the Lord Jesus (Literally “Jesus as Lord”) and believed in their heart that God had raised Him from the dead, they would be saved (Rom. 10:9). “Lord” is the Greek word kurios. This name was used by both Greeks and Romans to refer to royalty.

The New Testament is written in Greek, so the Hebrew name YHWH does not appear. When the Greeks published their version of the Hebrew Old Testament (the Septuagint) they had a problem. The name YHWH was just as mysterious to them as it was to the Jews. They did not have a Greek word to match it. The closest they could come was the name Kurios. All through the Septuagint, Kurios was substituted for the name YHWH. Kurios in the New Testament became the equivalent to the Old Testament name YHWH. The New Testament apostles and prophets used the Septuagint. Zechariah says (in Hebrew), “YHWH shall be king over all the earth” (Zech. 14:9). But in the Septuagint, we read, “Kurios shall be king over all the earth.” Interesting! The name Kurios, Lord, in the Septuagint connected Jesus Christ to deity.

Now we understand what Paul meant in Romans 10:9: “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus [Jesus as Kurios, YHWH] and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Paul was asking the Jews to confess that Jesus Christ is God. The Jews understood perfectly what Paul was asking, and they were not willing to do that (Deut. 6:4).

What about the name “Jesus”? Mary would bring forth a Son and call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21). The name Jesus is found in the four Gospels 612 times, and in the rest of the New Testament 71 times. Jesus is the name under which our Lord was born, lived, and died. It is the name of His humiliation, His humanity. It tells us that God became a man. Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew word Joshua and means “YHWH our Savior.” When Lord and Jesus are placed together, the names mean that GOD was humiliated, taking upon Himself the form of a man in order to die for sin (Phil. 2:5–11). Amazing!

Now, what is the meaning of “Christ”? Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called Christ (Matt. 1:16). The name Christ means “Anointed One.” This is the official title of the Son of God. It is the equivalent of the Old Testament name Messiah. The Lord Jesus as the God-man was equal with God in every way and also equal with man. “Christ” combines YHWH and Jesus together. The name reveals the one who could represent God to man and man to God—the mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5). When all three of His names are placed together, the gospel clearly comes into focus. The eternal God became a man to die for sin and by His resurrection and session (being seated next to the Father), He is now exalted to the position as Mediator between God and man – the perfect Mediator between us and the Father (Heb. 4:14-16). To understand Christ’s name is to know the way of salvation. When one calls upon His name, that one will be saved (Rom. 10:13). Those who know your name will put their trust in You (Psa. 9:10). Amazing!
Tomorrow we will apply the same formula that the Jews did to YHWH to Kurios and see what we come up with. Stay safe and stay tuned.

Names for YHWH

We are learning the identity of the One named YHWH who is to be king over all the earth (Zech 14:9). The name YHWH, the great I Am, is properly applied to God alone. It can never be given to another. “I am YHWH [LORD], that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, nor My praise to carved images” (Isaiah 42:8; Ex. 3:15). Throughout the Old Testament, the Jews learned God’s character because of the many ways in which He interacted with them. When God met a particular need they had, they assigned to Him a name attached to YHWH that described exactly how He had helped them. Let’s investigate.
YHWH instructed Abraham to take his only son to Mount Moriah and offer him to GOD as a sacrifice. This seemed totally irrational to a human mind, but Abraham obeyed God without flinching. He had learned that no matter how it appeared, he must trust in the Giver not in the gift. As long as he had the Giver, he could not lose the gift – never. Abraham had learned to love and trust YHWH, with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength (Deut. 6:5). To Abraham, YHWH would always provide. YHWH provided a ram in the place of His son. Abraham called Him, YHWH Jireh, the LORD will provide (Gen. 22:13-14).
As the Jews wandered toward their new home in Canaan, they faced many enemies. One of these was a tribal warrior named Amalek of the family of Esau. The Amalakites were much stronger than the Jews. Moses climbed a hill and held up in his hand a rod, the symbol of God’s power. God gave Israel an amazing victory over the Amalakites. The name they gave to GOD was YHWH Nissi— The LORD, your victory (Ex. 17:15–16).
The Jews had left Egypt and were winding their way through the wilderness. YHWH said if they would do what was right and keep His commandments, He would not bring upon them any of the diseases that He had brought upon Egypt. He identified Himself as YHWH Rapha— “The LORD who heals you” (Exodus 15:25–26).
King David was at one time, a shepherd boy. He realized that GOD was his shepherd because GOD took care of His people just as a good shepherd takes care of his sheep. David called him YHWH Ra-ah— “The LORD, my shepherd” (Psalm 23:1).
Israel’s army once again faced a much stronger enemy – the Midianites. Gideon was the general. Gideon’s stress was unbearable at times. He wisely called upon the name of the Lord. The Lord’s response was to flood Gideon’s heart with peace – real peace. Gideon called Him YHWH Shalom —“The LORD our peace” (Judges 6:24).
Speaking through the prophet Ezekiel, God gave a description of the New Jerusalem. He said that the new city would have a special name. The name reveals that GOD will dwell in the city. The name of the city will be YHWH Shammah — “The LORD is there” (Ezekiel 48:35).
One of the most memorable narratives in the Old Testament is the battle between David the shepherd boy and Goliath, the giant from Gath, the Philistine champion. What chance would a small boy have against such an enemy? Just before the battle began, David called out to GOD, using a name that revealed that he really knew who God was. He realized that God’s army was far superior to any human army that he would ever face. David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of YHWH Sabbaoth—“The LORD of hosts whom you have defied.” David killed the giant and cut off his head. GOD’s army is more powerful than any army in the entire universe (1 Samuel 17:45).
Despite all the turmoil in our nation and the world, Jeremiah prophesied a time when Judah would be saved, and Israel would dwell safely in their own land. There will be real peace on earth. It is all because of an amazing King that is coming to reign. The king’s name gives us another big clue to His identity. Jeremiah called His name YHWH Tsidkenu— “The LORD is our righteousness.”
The names for GOD teach us that God is the source of all power, He is the master over all of His creation, and that He is eternal. These names also reveal that GOD was going to provide a sin sacrifice for us, that GOD is our victory, that it is GOD who heals us of our diseases, that GOD shepherds us, that GOD is our peace, that God has an army far superior to any human army, and that GOD will one day dwell in a city called the New Jerusalem. This gives a fresh look at the meaning of “calling on the name of the LORD,” and another hint identifying the coming King over all the earth. Stay safe and stay tuned.