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Archive for Resurrection

Abraham’s Sacrifice

It was God’s will that Abraham learn to trust totally in the Giver of the covenant rather than the covenant itself.  Twenty-five years after the original promise, God finally gave Abraham and Sarah their miraculously-born son (Gen. 21:1–2). No child could have been more welcomed and loved than Isaac. Through the process of giving Isaac, God had taught Abraham that He was a God who could be trusted. God is always faithful to keep His word. He had told Abraham, “In Isaac your seed will be called” (Gen. 21:12). But did Abraham really believe God?

God gave Abraham an illustration that he could not miss. He asked him to make an offering, not of an animal, but of his most precious possession, his only son, Isaac (Gen. 22:1–2). Only son in Hebrew literally means “your uniquely born son.” Why was Isaac uniquely born? He was a miracle given to Abraham and Sarah long after they were capable of producing a child. Abraham’s uniquely born son reminds us of another uniquely born son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He was God’s virgin-born Son, a tremendous parallel!

God instructed him to take his human treasure, the object of God’s grace, and kill him. Moriah was chosen for the place of the sacrifice. Moriah means “chosen of the Lord.” God’s command to Abraham to sacrifice his son appears on the surface to be completely irrational. It had taken years for God to fulfill His promise to give Abraham a son. Would God now command Abraham to kill him? Abraham never once questioned God’s integrity. He was strong in faith. He loved his son more than anything else in life, and to obey without blinking an eye was absolutely astounding.

Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey. He took two of his young servants with him along with his son. He split the wood for the burnt offering and set out (Gen. 22:3). No delay, no reluctance, and no stress. No attempt to receive clarification of the command. There was no reference to Abraham seeking counsel from others. He simply obeyed God. Abraham was completely occupied with the presence of God. How do we know? When Abraham saw the place from a distance, he asked the young men who accompanied him to stay with the donkeys. He said, “The lad and I will go yonder and worship and we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:5). He did not say “I” will come back to you but “we.”  Isaac was still a bachelor. He had no wife and no children. Abraham reasoned that until Isaac had children, there was no way he was going to die permanently. Why? Because the Giver said, “In Isaac shall your seed be called.”

Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on his son and off they went. He also took the fire and the knife for sacrifice. Isaac asked the question that no doubt Abraham had expected. “Look, Dad, the fire and the wood are here, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?” (Gen. 22:7). Isaac’s question would have torn the heart right out of an ordinary man. But Abraham’s faith never wavered. Abraham’s response was evidently given with perfect peace and grace. He said, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son” (Gen. 22:8).

Sometimes it is the little words that have the greatest effect. Notice Abraham did not say that God would provide a sacrifice for “you and me, son,” but that He would provide a sacrifice for Himself. Abraham kept the issue where it belonged. The sacrifice was God’s business. It was God’s character that was at stake. Abraham was simply saying to Isaac, “Son, we are going to put our confidence in God.” Whatever happens, we must trust the Giver. Abraham also did not say “a lamb” but rather “the lamb.” Speaking of Jesus Christ, John said, “Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29).

Abraham built the altar, placed the wood on the altar, bound Isaac, and laid him on the altar (Gen. 22:9). His security was solely in the Giver at this point. The Giver does not lie. As long as he had the Giver, he had the gift. Why? It was the Giver who had given him the gift in the first place. Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son (Gen. 22:10).  Stretched out his hand is a Hebrew completed action. In Abraham’s mind, he actually did it. He fully intended to take the life of his son. Isaac had been slain. It was with complete faith and tranquility that Abraham carried out the divine orders. He loved his son deeply, but his trust was in the Giver. It was his love and trust in the Giver that motivated this action. He was caught up in the fact that, though he may not understand, the Giver knew exactly what He was doing.

But just in time, the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven and told him not to lay his hand on the boy or do anything to him. He knew that Abraham trusted totally in God, because he had not withheld his most treasured possession from Him (Gen. 22:12). But what about the sacrifice? Abraham looked up and saw a ram caught in the bushes by its horns. Just at that time and in just that place, God had prepared that ram to be caught and sacrificed. Abraham killed the ram and sacrificed it in the place of his son, and then he named the place Jehovah Jireh, which means “God will provide.” God will provide the once-and-for-all sacrifice of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Abraham and his son, Isaac, walked down that hill together that day. God spared Isaac’s life, but in Abraham’s mind, Isaac had been killed and raised again. The writer of Hebrews said, “By faith Abraham when he was tested offered up Isaac.” Abraham had received the promise from God that his descendants would come from Isaac. He reasoned that if God wanted him to kill Isaac, He would have to raise him from the dead. When they walked down the hill that day, in Abraham’s mind that is exactly what had occurred (Heb. 11:17–19).

Through Abraham’s offering of Isaac, God gave us the perfect illustration that His Son would come to die and that He would be raised again. God gave this illustration hundreds of years before the actual event. What a glimpse of God’s grace!

 

The Resurrection

Pondering from the Ponderosa. I am thinking today along with Christians all over the world about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every event surrounding Christ’s death and resurrection had to fall into place perfectly. Every detail of His crucifixion was foreordained by God. Peter, speaking to the Jews following His resurrection, said this concerning the crucifixion:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know—Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up.” (Acts 2:22-24)

God orchestrated every detail of the crucifixion, yet the executioners were still held responsible. That is sovereignty. Jesus had to die at exactly three o’clock in the afternoon on Passover because that is when the Passover lamb died. Moses killed the lamb at three o’clock (Exodus 12:6).  The Passover lamb had to be without spot or blemish. Jesus Christ had no sin and yet He became sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21). He became our Passover Lamb. “Christ our Passover was sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Jesus had to bear the sin of the first Adam who died twice. Upon eating the fruit, Adam died first spiritually. He was separated from God, indicated by the fact that he knew he was naked. He then died physically at the age of 930 (Genesis 5:5). We all are born dead in trespasses and sins and are destined to die physically.  

When Jesus was hanging from the cross from the sixth hour (12:00 noon), there was darkness over the land. At about the ninth hour (3:00), He shouted from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.” God the Father separated Himself from God the Son for the first time ever. “Death” means separation. Jesus first died spiritually. At that precise moment, our sin was placed upon Him (Matthew 27:45-46).

John records another statement of Christ at that moment: “It is finished.” The deed was done. Our sin debt was paid in full, and bowing His head, Jesus gave up His spirit. He died physically (John 19:30). Matthew said that Jesus cried with a loud voice and yielded up the spirit (Matthew 27:50).

He was taken down from the cross and buried in a rich man’s tomb – probably belonging to Nicodemus. A large rock was placed at the opening, weighing from one-and-a-half to two tons. Passover ended at 6 p.m. It was over. Now anticipating the beginning of the Feast of First Fruits (John 19:42), the women (including Mary Magdaline and the other Mary) went to the tomb looking for the body of Christ so they could anoint it with spices (Matthew 28:1).  

Instead, they met an angel asking them why they were looking for the living among the dead. The angel said that Jesus was not there, He had risen just as He said He would, and the angel invited them to “come see the place where the Lord lay” (Matthew 28:6). These words have echoed down through the corridors of history, giving hope to all trapped in the slave market of sin. The women found the stone moved away from the opening. The stone had not been moved to let Jesus out, but to let the people in.

There are many solid, indisputable proofs that Jesus has indeed risen from the dead. The overwhelming proof to this writer is Satan’s failure to produce the body – all hell definitely wanted it. All the sinister minister of evil had to do was empower human beings to find it and so many people were looking for it. The Jews wanted to find it, so they could prove once and for all that His claims to be God were not true. The Romans wanted it, so they could also shut up the rumors that this King was alive.  And the disciples wanted it, so they could grieve and close this chapter in their lives.  Most of all, Satan wanted that body because he could once and forever nail the lid on the coffin of Christianity before it ever started.

But no one, not even the powers of hell, could produce that body. The obvious reason is that it was not there. Jesus Christ is alive!  He is a living Savior, and He alone has all the credentials to be the King of His coming kingdom. He has the legal right because He has the right blood line through Mary in the line of David’s son, Nathan (Luke 3: 23-38). He also has the royal right as the adopted son of Joseph, the firstborn heir in the line of David’s firstborn, Solomon (Matthew 1:1-20). There is only One in this entire universe with the legal and royal right to the throne of King David, the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s coming again, and I think soon.  Halleluiah! What a Savior!  Stay safe and stay tuned. 

Easter

by Mike Moore

We call it Easter. The word appears only once in the Bible and it is not referring to the event we celebrate this Sunday. It is one of my most favorite days of the year.

He is alive.

And everything is different because of it.

Education is great. But no one ever educated someone to walk out of a tomb. Medical science is wonderful. But it has limits. Even the best doctors and nurses can only keep us alive for a few years. Death seems so final. We talk about final expenses and final illness and final wishes. Philosophies are often nice, but no one ever thought his way out of a grave. Diplomacy is often impressive. No one ever agreed to rise from the dead. Military power is sometimes awesome. But no army or navy ever freed a dead person. And congresses and parliaments don’t have the power to conquer death.

Did it really happen? The evidence is overwhelming. And the wild theories giving other choices are really weak alternatives. Wrong tomb? The authorities could go to the right one and produce the body. Animals stole the body? Sure, a few animals got together and rolled away a two-ton stone and overpowered the guards. Try again. The followers stole it? Hardly. They had forsaken Him in a cowardly way. And if they stole it, would they have been willing to die for a hoax?
Great legal and historical scholars have studied the facts and decided Christ did indeed rise. Lawyer Frank Morison set out to refute the evidence and ended up writing a book called,
Who Moved the Stone? supporting the resurrection. Simon Greenleaf of Harvard Law School concluded that the resurrection was one of the best-supported events in history, according to the laws of legal evidence administered in courts of justice.

When I was a youngster in school we had holidays at Easter. We had the Friday before and the Monday after off from class. Later, the holidays grew to a full week and became known as Spring Break and they were not always at Easter time. People have forgotten in many ways what the date on the calendar means.

Spring is about new beginnings and new life after the deadness of winter. Easter is about much more than new clothes and ham dinners and colored eggs. Many will not give it a second thought, just as Christmas is only presents, food, Rudolph, and the office party. Some folks will go to church, just as they do on Mother’s Day or Christmas and feel as though they are doing God a favor.

Go ahead, visit Mecca and see the tomb of Mohammed, or view the grave of some other religious founder. Honor some dead leader. If it makes sense to follow someone who cannot defeat death, go ahead. Not me. If it does not work for the founder, the leader, I don’t want it. Losing coaches don’t conduct clinics on how to win games. Losing generals don’t tell how to win battles. But the One who rolled away a stone and walked out of a tomb, can tell me about this life and the next and victory over death. He tells us to trust Him for our eternal well-being. The Bible puts it so well, “Why seek you the living among the dead?” and “He is risen, as He said.”

He is alive.

Jesus

by Mike Moore

Who was and who is Jesus Christ?

First, there is the tense. Tense means time. Time is not important or limiting to Him. Dr. Mark Cambron, a great Bible teacher of years past, always said, “Time is an island in the sea of God’s eternity.”

People have trouble deciding whether to say, “Jesus was” – past tense, or “Jesus is” – present tense, or “Jesus will” – future tense.

All are correct. But He must never be left in the past. He is not some First-Century teacher who ran contrary to Roman law and was executed. He is not some long-dead reformer or religious founder. He is not in a tomb in a Judean hillside. He is now, and He is alive. The well-known American news magazine was wrong when the cover story asked, “Who WAS Jesus?”
More has been written about Him than about anyone else. He is the center of it all.

But just who was and is Jesus Christ?

The theories and ideas are legion. Islam, that come-lately religion which swept out of Arabia in the 600s, says He is the next-to-the last prophet. The cult known as Jehovah’s Witnesses says He is a created being. Many in the pablum-sounding liberal mainline denominations say He was a good man, an example.

The Bible says He is God and He is Man.

There is no “good man” middle ground. Good men do not go around claiming to be God. He is something different.

Many, if not most people, certainly in America, may give Him no thought at all. There is not time. People must climb the business ladder and watch their favorite team and take the kids to soccer and play golf and go shopping.

It is time to stop and consider this story and the claims of this Person. Because if it is true that He is what He claimed to be and that He came back from the dead, it is worth our time.

He is different than Gandhi, or Buddha, or George Washington or another famous person of history.

Jesus Christ was born to a teenage mother in a small village about five miles from Jerusalem. He lived on earth for 33 years. He was killed. Then He came back from the dead. He said He will return.

I believe Him.

I Am the Resurrection and the Life

April 13, 2015

Many friends and I have been empty_tombgrieving the death of a college classmate recently. She and I were freshmen together. I looked forward to meeting her along with others at a local restaurant for coffee. I was aware that she was in the building because of her laugh. What a laugh it was! When she laughed, she really laughed. And it was contagious. Others seemed to catch it and laugh with her. She lived her life with eternity in mind, especially during the last couple of years when she endured much suffering. She will be missed. I could not help but think of her when I penned these words.

During His ministry on earth Jesus, the God-Man, demonstrated His amazing power over nature, angels, disease, demons, and death itself. Amazingly, He raised three people from the dead: the widow of Nain’s son (Lk. 7:14), Jarius’ daughter (Matt. 9:25), and probably his most famous resurrection was that of Lazarus (John 11:1-27).

Lazarus never said a word, but his story is still speaking around the world today. His testimony begins in the little town of Bethany. It was located about two miles from Jerusalem where Jesus was staying. Jesus received word that Lazarus, a dear friend, was sick. Lazarus’ sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word to Jesus, possibly thinking that Jesus would come right away. Instead, Jesus sent word that Lazarus was not going to die but that his sickness was to shed light upon the Son of God.

The text clearly says that Jesus loved all three of these siblings: Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. But He waited in Jerusalem two more days. Two more days! Why? It is simple. He waited for Lazarus to die. When He was at last ready to depart for Bethany, He told His disciples that Lazarus was asleep and it was time to go and wake Him up.

The disciples’ response was understandable. Sick people need rest and it’s good that he is asleep. It is obvious that they were not yet tuned in. Then Jesus rocked them by announcing that Lazarus was dead. Dead! But He quickly followed up with these incredible words. “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless, let us go to Him” (John 11:15). Lazarus is dead and the Lord is glad? I can’t begin to imagine how these men must have responded to these words. “That you may believe” was possibly lost in the moment.

When Jesus arrived on the scene, He discovered that Lazarus had been dead four days. Four days! I’ve often wondered what went through Mary and Martha’s minds during this time. Where is He? Why doesn’t He come? Does He really care for us? He did so many wonderful things for so many people, why not us? They must have had a myriad of thoughts, and some of them not good. And He was only two miles away! Then comes the majestic moment.

Jesus met Martha face to face. The air must have been ripe with emotion. Martha’s cried, “Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died.” It’s hard to know how her words came out and what she was really thinking. She followed up quickly by saying that God may yet do something.

Jesus’s words, “Your brother is going to rise again,” may have simply hung in the air as Martha tried to process them. She obviously missed the true meaning. She exhibited poise, however. She filled an awkward silence by choking out, “I know he will rise at the resurrection.”

Our Lord’s words should be indelibly emboldened upon every believer’s heart. “I am the resurrection and the Life. He who believes in Me – though he may die – yet shall he live.” And His next words reveal the most miraculous truth of all. “He who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” I imagine Him saying it softly, like this: “Martha, Martha, look at Me. Don’t you know who I am? Martha, I am the resurrection! When I am here, the resurrection is here. I am the One who gives life. When I am here, life is here.”

I am awed when I think of the truth of these words: “He who lives and believes in me will never die.” Believers that die go instantly into the presence of Jesus Christ. For us nothing comes between leaving this world and entering the next. We do not die! The very millisecond that this physical life ends, we are face to face with Christ. We are absent from the body and present with the Lord. Halleluiah!

The supernatural moment finally came. Jesus asked those around to move the stone away from the grave! Hold it! Lazarus had been dead too long! His body was already a stench. “Move it away,” Jesus commanded. They obeyed. Then Jesus spoke boldly, “Lazarus, come forth.” He wasn’t saying it loudly for Lazarus to hear. After all, He was the One who spoke all of creation into existence. He was the One who breathed life into Adam. He was the One who said, let there be, and it was. No! He wanted all those standing around to hear. He wants us now to hear. He wants those who read this who are spiritually dead in their sins to hear. Lazarus immediately obeyed His command. The one who was dead came to life and walked out of that tomb.

Our Lord’s words, Lazarus come forth, shout to us now and continue to reverberate down thought the corridors of human history. Jesus said that He was glad for “your sakes that you may believe.” Believe what! Believe that only God can give life to the dead. Jesus Christ is God, and only He can give you life. “And this is the record that God has given to us eternal life and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life” (1 John 5:11). Do you believe this?