Prophecies That Prove Christ

Day 112: Singing After the Marching of the Cross in Cedar Key
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Prophecies That Prove Christ

The Old Testament is full of prophecies of the Messiah. The religious leaders of Christ’s day were looking for a Messiah who would come in as a concurring King and save them. They were mixing up the prophecies of the first coming with the prophecies of the second coming, and this was partially due to what they felt they needed at the time, so that’s what the saw. So, let’s take a few minutes to look at the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament.

The first one we will look at is the instructions that God gave the people of Israel for the first Passover. I’m sure we all remember the story, they had been captive in Egypt for hundreds of years, and God sent Moses to bring them out. We find the instructions for the Passover in Exodus 12:1-13. Verse 7 tells us, “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” Think about what they are doing. The blood was put there so that when the angel saw it, he would pass over that household, and no harm would come to them. God told them to put blood on the two doorposts and the top. So, God is telling them to make the sign of the cross on their doorpost. The cross wouldn’t become a form of capital punishment until approximately fifteen-hundred years later.

Numbers 9:12 has this to say about the Passover, “They must not leave any of the lamb until the next morning, and they must not break any of its bones.” It specifically says that not a bone of the lamb can be broken. We also see this in Exodus 19:46 and Psalm 34:20, and these are all prophecies of Christ’s crucifixion, 32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn’t break his legs.” John 19:32-33. This is significant because death on the cross was caused by suffocation. They would have to push themselves up with their legs to take a breath, so breaking there legs to finish them off was part of the process.

The 22nd Psalm was written over a thousand years before the crucifixion of Christ, yet it starts out in verse 1 by saying, “My God, my God, why have you abandoned me? Why are you so far away when I groan for help?” I know that some may say that Christ was just quoting the psalmist, but the rest of the chapter goes on to describe what Christ went through on the cross. In fact, verses 14-18 say, 14 My life is poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart is like wax, melting within me. 15 My strength has dried up like sun-baked clay. My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth. You have laid me in the dust and left me for dead. 16 My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet. 17 I can count all my bones. My enemies stare at me and gloat. 18 They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.” It describes the water and blood coming out of His side, and His extreme thirst, even down to the parting of His garments and gambling for His cloak.

So, now let’s look at the prophet Isaiah. If we look at the book of Isaiah, starting at chapter 52 verse 13, then read all the way through chapter 53 verse 12, we see a very clear description of Jesus, proving that He is the Christ…the Messiah. In fact, people have used this passage for thousands of years to preach Jesus to the Jewish people who are still looking for there Messiah. Most of us probably know the story of Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch. Philip saw him riding in his chariot, reading from the prophet Isaiah. We see this story in Acts chapter 8, and if you read verses 30-34 it says, 30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’  31 The man replied, ‘How can I, unless someone instructs me?’ And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him. 32 The passage of Scripture he had been reading was this: ‘He was led like a sheep to the slaughter. And as a lamb is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. 33 He was humiliated and received no justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth.’ 34 The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me, was the prophet talking about himself or someone else?’ 35 So beginning with this same Scripture, Philip told him the Good News about Jesus.”

This passage is so clearly speaking of Jesus that, unless you are blinded by religion, you must admit that it could only be talking about Him. I have a friend who is very intelligent and is Catholic by religion but is one of those people who wants to pick and choose which parts of the Bible he wants to believe. Of course, I always tell him that if you can’t believe that it is all the infallible, inerrant, verbally inspired word of God, you might as well not believe any of it. But, he believes that the Old Testament is nothing more than the Jewish people making an account of their law and trying to explain their religion. The other day I read him this passage from Isaiah chapters 52 and 52. He had to admit that it is talking about Jesus, then when I showed him it was from the Old Testament, he didn’t know what to say. He wouldn’t admit that I was right about the Bible, but he is thinking. Please pray for this man, I won’t give his name, but God knows who he is. He is ninety years old and is trusting his intellect and the fact that he is a good person to get him to heaven.

This was probably just a refresher for many of you, but I just think it is important to look back at the proof of Christ. If you would like a more in-depth look, the book “A Case For Christ” by Lee Strobel is a great tool. We all know people like the gentleman I just mentioned, although they probably aren’t all ninety years old, and we can all use these prophecies to share the good news of Jesus just like Philip did.

A Lamp To My Feet?

Photo by Michelle Pearson

A Lamp To My Feet?

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path.” I have heard this verse my entire life, but I guess I never gave it a lot of thought until a couple of weeks ago.

Michelle and I go hiking every weekend, in fact, we are currently training to hike the Grand Canyon from rim to rim this summer with a friend of ours. A couple of weeks ago, we took a hike on the Goat Canyon Trestle Trail. We began this trail in Jacumba Hot Springs in Southern California and hiked over seven miles out and back, so it was a total of over fourteen miles. This trail follows abandoned train tracks the whole way, so more than three miles of it are inside tunnels. In fact, two of these tunnels were a half mile long each.

As you can imagine, these tunnels, especially the long ones and the curved ones, can get pretty dark. Also, the ground is extremely uneven, remember, we are hiking on old train tracks, tracks that were originally installed in the 1920s, so we are either hiking across the cross beams or dirt that has been filled in on them over the decades. But, not to worry, we carry our trusty headlamps.

The first of the long tunnels was a half mile long and curved. So, this one was somewhat of a double whammy. On top of that, I assume this one was a little less structurally stable than the others since the inside walls and floor had been sprayed with concrete to keep rocks and such from falling. I don’t believe that spraying the floors with the concrete was intentional, there’s was no need for it, plus it was very uneven and random.

As we had gotten a couple of hundred feet into the cave it became very clear that it wasn’t very clear anymore, so we had to get out our handy-dandy headlamps. I’ve never felt so much like a Boy Scout…I was prepared. So, we both put on our headlamps and continued. It didn’t take me very long to realize the problem with this. You see, I was hiking on an already sprained ankle, and I’m not exactly the most graceful person to begin with.

I have a high-end headlamp so I could see in front of me great. And, since Michelle was hiking in front of me, she could see where she was going with no problem. My problem was that I couldn’t see what the ground in front of me was doing. Now, I may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but it didn’t take me stumbling more than two or three times to I realized there might be a problem with this. You see, I had a light for my path, but I didn’t have a lamp to my feet. Now, Michelle, who was also wearing a headlamp, had a light for her path, plus my headlamp was a lamp to her feet. Michelle didn’t stumble, but I did…several times.

So, what exactly is this verse saying? It says that the word of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path. We must be able to see the path before us, but if we don’t have the lamp on our feet, we will stumble. The beautiful thing is that God’s word does both.

First, it provides light for our path. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” God has a plan for your life, a plan for good and not disaster, and His word will light the way. “Lead me in the right path, O Lord, or my enemies will conquer me. Make your way plain for me to follow.” Psalm 5:8. God has a plan for us, and He wants us to see the way.

Second, His word is a lamp to our feet. Psalm 119:165 tells us, “Those who love your instructions have great peace and do not stumble.” You see, it’s not enough to just read the word, it’s not even enough to just memorize verses, we must love it and love its instructions. Psalm 1 tells us in verse 2 that those who are blessed, “delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.” And, it goes on to say in verse 6, “For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.” If we delight in His law and meditate on it day and night, our path will be clear, in fact, it says that the Lord will watch our paths. We all need to ask ourselves daily whether or not we delight in His word. It is easy to let the distractions of this life keep us from the word, but if we delight in the word of God, if we long for it, we won’t let our busy lives distract us from it.

So, when you find yourself in the dark, don’t just use a flashlight for your feet, or just a headlamp for your path, use both. And, when you find yourself in spiritual darkness, and we all find ourselves in that place occasionally, if you have been delighting in the word and meditating on it, when it seems like the walls are closing in and a cloud of darkness is over your head, you can reflect on those passages you have meditated on. Those passages that you have been delighting in will light your path and show you the way out.

Let God show you His path. 28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30. He never says that His path will be easy, but He will guide us, “For that is what God is like. He is our God forever and ever, and he will guide us until we die.” Psalm 48:14. He also promises us that, “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

The Lord’s Actual Prayer – Part 2

Photo by Michelle Pearson

The Lord’s Actual Prayer – Part 2

This week we are picking up where we left off last week, looking at what Jesus prayed just before going to the cross. So, we’re back in John 17, but starting at verse 12, which says, “During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me. I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.” Jesus says here that He has protected those that the Father gave him by the name He gave Him. Remember, the name that the Father gave Jesus was Immanuel, which means, “God with us.” Then He says He saved them all, “except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold.” Peter tells us in Acts 1:20, “Peter continued, ‘This was written in the book of Psalms, where it says, ‘Let his home become desolate, with no one living in it.’ It also says, ‘Let someone else take his position.’” This is referring to Psalm 109:8.

There is a lot of talk about predestination. Many believe that God chooses who will be saved and who will not, but the Bible is extremely clear about this. In 2 Peter 3:9 we read, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” So, God doesn’t choose anyone to not be saved, the choice is ours. And, as far as the question of what the Bible says about predestination, Romans 3:29 tells us where this predestination comes from, “For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;” So, we are predestined, because God can see the future and He knows in advance who will accept him. It’s still our choice, but God knows all.

Back to John 17, verses 13-14 say, 13 “Now I am coming to you. I told them many things while I was with them in this world so they would be filled with my joy. 14 I have given them your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world.” Jesus tells the Father, “I have given them your word”. Immediately we think He’s talking about the Bible because that’s the word of God, right? What does John say in the first chapter of his book? John 1:1, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Then He goes on in verse 14 to tell us just who that word is, “So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.” So, when Jesus tells the Father that He gave us His word, what He is saying is that He gave us Himself…that’s truly awesome, isn’t it? It is the greatest gift of all! He goes on to say that the world hates us because we don’t belong to the world. That is still so true to this day. For some reason, in today’s world of “tolerance”, the only group that it’s okay to say bad things about, is Christians. I mentioned a few weeks ago about the ladies on The View referring to Christianity as “mental illness”. That’s not okay! But, Jesus warned us that they would hate us. In fact, Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Notice, he doesn’t say that we might, he says that we WILL suffer persecution.

But, here’s the thing, He says in verses 15-16, 15 I’m not asking you to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. 16 They do not belong to this world any more than I do.” You see, leaving the world isn’t the answer. It’s imperative that we stay so that we can bring the world to Christ, but we must remember that we are not part of this world. Romans 12:2 tells us, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” We must be in the world, but we can’t be of the world.

In verse 17 He says, “Make them holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.” So many times, I have heard Christians say that they can’t be holy, only God is holy, and yet in this verse, Jesus is praying that we will be holy. Here’s the thing, the word holy means “to be set apart”. As Christ followers, we are to be set apart, and that’s what Romans 12:2 is getting at. We must be transformed, we must change the way we think, we must be set apart. In fact, 1 Peter 1:16 says, “For the Scriptures say, ‘You must be holy because I am holy.’” Here, Peter is referencing Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, and 20:7. So, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t be holy…the truth is, you must be holy! And, how do we accomplish that? As we see in verse 17, by His truth. And, where does that truth come from? As it also says, “teach them your word, which is truth.” We also see this in Psalm 119:160, “The very essence of your words is truth; all your just regulations will stand forever”

Verses 18-19 tell us, 18 Just as you sent me into the world, I am sending them into the world. 19 And I give myself as a holy sacrifice for them so they can be made holy by your truth.” He is sending us into the world, and He has made us holy by God’s truth, through His sacrifice.

I love verse 20, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message.” This prayer is for me! This prayer is for you! This prayer is as much for us as it was for His disciples back then.

And, what is this prayer? Verse 21 says again, “I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me.” There are four more verses to this prayer, but I’m going to end here, you can go study the other four yourself. I want to end on this note because this is so important. I have said over and over throughout my blogs that one of the key themes of the New Testament is that of the unity of believers. Christ’s prayer really drives that home, because, in the twenty-five verses of this prayer, two of them are praying that we would be united. That’s 8% of this prayer. Of all the things He could have prayed for, and all the things He did pray for, He prayed for our unity twice!

I’ve said it before, but it’s worth repeating. If we want to impact our world for Christ, we must be united. We must put aside our petty differences and unite around the shed blood of Jesus Christ. The only doctrine that matters is that of salvation by God’s grace, through our life-changing faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. PRAY FOR UNITY!

The Lord’s Actual Prayer – Part 1

Photo by Michelle Pearson

The Lord’s Actual Prayer

Okay, so this one will be a two-part series. We’ll start today and finish it next week. We all grew up memorizing “The Lord’s Prayer”, “Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name…” I’m sure that you can finish it. Somewhere along the line, we mislabeled this, because Jesus never prayed this prayer. In fact, He never told us to repeat it in unison or say it every time we gather. The truth is that He never told us to say it at all. That passage we call “The Lord’s Prayer” was nothing more than an outline that He gave us. The disciples had asked Him how to pray, and He said in Matthew 6:9, “Pray like this…”, or in the KJV it says “in this manner…”. So, it was just an outline, He was saying to start out by praising God, then pray for His kingdom to come, and so on.

But, this isn’t a blog on Christ’s outline for prayer, this is a blog on what the Lord actually prayed. With Easter weekend rapidly approaching, I wanted to look at the prayer that Jesus prayed just before He was betrayed and arrested. We find this prayer in John chapter 17. He starts out the prayer, in the first 2 verses by saying, “After saying all these things, Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him.’” Notice He says that He has given eternal life to everyone that the Father has given Him. The phrase “have given”, in the Greek language, is a perfect indicative tense, which means that it is an action that was completed in the past but has continuing results, and the indicative mood is an assertion of fact. So, in those two little words, Christ is saying that it is a fact that the Father has given and continues to give Him souls to save. Wow, God is good!

Verse 3 very simply tells us how we can be saved, “And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” To know the one true God and Jesus, the Christ. The word He used here translated “to know”, is the Greek word ginosko. This word indicates an intimate knowledge, in fact, it is also used as an idiom for sexual intercourse between a man and woman. You see, just a head knowledge of God will never suffice, let’s face it, the devil has that. He wants us to have an intimate knowledge of Him. He wants us to be consumed by Him. When you are in love, that person is the only thing you think about, and that’s the relationship He requires from us.

In verses 4 and 5 He says, I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” So, Jesus knows that He is about to complete His work here on earth and that this has brought glory to the Father. But, did you notice what He said in verse 5? “Bring me into the glory we shared before the world began.” If anyone tries to tell you that Jesus never said He was God, you can show them this verse, and there are several others, but that is another blog.

In verses 6-8 He talks about the work that He completed here on earth when He says, “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word. Now they know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you sent me.” Jesus came to reveal the Father to the world. We were always God’s, but Christ opened a pathway directly to the Father, through Himself.

In verse 9 Jesus says, “My prayer is not for the world, but for those you have given me because they belong to you.” When He says that His prayer is not for the world, it is not saying that He doesn’t care about the world’s plight, 2 Peter 3:9 tells us, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” He said this because His focus, at that time, was on His disciples. Not just the twelve, but all of us. I like the way Campbell Morgan put it when he said, “He was praying for the instrument He was creating, through which He would reach the world.”

Christ states in verse 10 that, “All who are mine belong to you, and you have given them to me, so they bring me glory.” Again, we are created for His glory, that is our purpose.

Verse 11 is where Jesus really starts praying for us, he says, “Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are.” Christ is praying for us because He is leaving us and going to the Father. I can relate to this. In 2009 Michelle and I had to leave Los Angeles and go to Florida to help my mother. This trip was supposed to be for two months, but it soon became apparent that it was going to be more permanent. At this time, although they were still living with us, our sons were adults, Josh was twenty-three and Caleb was nineteen. But, that didn’t stop us from worrying about them and praying for them daily. Those prayers helped them through that time, which is too lengthy of a story to get into now, but God did bring us all back together six years later. We are all in Los Angeles but now they are both married, and we have six grandkids…God is good! But, what did Christ pray over us? He asked the Father to protect us by the power of His name, and why? So that we will be UNITED, as they are.

If you have been reading my blogs for any length of time, you have seen that I talk a lot about the unity of the body of Christ. The reason I talk about it so much is because this is one of the key themes of the New Testament, and sadly, the body is more divided than ever. We are divided into different denominations, and into different groups within those denominations. And, worst of all, largely we are divided over doctrine that was taken out of context, to begin with, and mostly doesn’t matter. What matters is salvation by grace, through faith in the shed blood of Jesus Christ…that’s it. If we ever want the Church to impact our world again, we must be united! We keep blaming everyone else for the state the world is in, whether it be the media, or Muslims, or liberals, but the fact is that IT IS OUR FAULT! Christ told us that a house divided will fall, and we have fallen. But, there is good news, it’s not too late. 2 Chronicles 7:14 tells us that if believers, that’s all of us, will humble ourselves, and pray if we will seek His face and turn from our wicked and divisive ways, He will hear our prayers, forgive our sin, and heal our land. Let’s come together as the body of Christ.

This is only half of this prayer, there is so much more to see, so I will be finishing it next week. Until then, pray for unity and that God will open our eyes to His will.

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