Monday, May 31, 2010

Wise Words that Goad

Oxen are used to pull the plows in the fields and the way they are kept in line is to use a goad- a long sharpened stick that sometimes had a metal point attached. When the ox would stray or pause, the plowman would prick the ox with the goad.

If the ox kicked back the plowman would have the goad ready and the ox would kick against the goad, or prick. The ox quickly learned the virtue of compliance with the owner's will. Acts 9:5 reads:

And he [Saul] said,
Who art thou, Lord?
And the Lord said,
I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:
it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

The ox kicking against the goad is what is referred to when Jesus was talking to Saul on the road to Damascas.

Additionally, Ecclesiastes 12:11 says

The words of the wise are as goads,...

Perhaps the words and testimonies of all those Christians who had tried to convince Paul that Jesus was the Messiah finally took effect.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Israel Doth Not Know

"The culture in the bible times was largely agricultural, consequently there are many orientalisms and figures of speech that refer to farming and living off the land. It benefits our study of the Bible to understand the scriptures that make references to eastern culture and agricultural terms.

Isaiah 1:3

The ox knoweth his owner,
and the ass his master's crib:
but Israel doth not know,
my people doth not consider.

In the morning the animals in the village are gathered up by boys in charge of them and taken to pastures and water nearby. In the evening they are herded back into the village and the animals know where their own cribs, stalls and sheepfolds are. The animals never make a mistake, they know exactly where to go.

God is stating that His chosen people, the children of Israel, are not as smart as their dumb animals who know where to return to for safety and protection. The animals know where to go at night without being led, they just return to their master's enclosures for them. But Israel has so strayed from God and His Word that they don't have sense enough to return to Him."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

How Good and How Pleasant

"According to Bishop K. C. Pillai the high caste people in the east bathe daily, but on Saturday for men and Friday for women they have a special ceremonial bath using linseed oil and coconut oil.

They take very good care of the body, teeth, and hair because they believe that they are stewards of their bodies and God dwells within. During the oil bath the head is messaged first with oil and then the neck, shoulders, and body; the oil drips down upon the beards and skirts of the garments (towels around their waists).

After the oil bath they find a place with flowing water like a waterfall or shower to bathe using soap made from ground soap nuts. Afterwards they eat and rest. This is very refreshing and peaceful, all their cares are washed away. Consider the state of mind and body after this treatment, take a moment and think about it." Now read this with new appreciation . . .

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious ointment upon the head,
that ran down upon the beard,
even Aaron’s beard:
that went down to the skirts of his garments;

Psalm 133:1-2

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Sitting At the Feet

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city

at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day. Acts 22:3

I’d like to discuss a phrase used in the scripture above. Paul uses this same phrase in an argument to defend his standing in the Jewish community as not only a good Jew, but a brilliant and zealous one as well.

Gamaliel was an extremely influential rabbi. And since so many young men (ages 13-14) wanted to be accepted as one of his few close disciples, a grueling audition had to be passed even to get a chance at applying to him in person. The audition required that, over a four-day period, the applicant would have to recite – word perfect – every syllable of the Torah from memory while standing in front of a panel of rabbis. They were allowed two short breaks during each of those four days just to go to the bathroom and to eat a quick lunch. The tiniest mistake would eliminate them from the competition.

The handful who passed this audition formed the pool from which Gamaliel would choose his new disciple. Just being in that pool did not guarantee acceptance. It was necessary to pass an intensive personal interview with Gamaliel to be admitted.

Discipleship was a lifetime commitment. The disciple was the vehicle for the long-term continuation of his rabbi’s teachings. For this reason, it was the custom to place the most promising and dedicated pupil closest to the teacher so that he wouldn’t miss any of the choicest teachings. This special student would also receive private whispered insights from time to time. This position was called “being at the feet.”

That being said, and remembering the generally hostile attitude toward teaching women the Law and the prophets, we can see an additional dimension in Luke’s description that Mary “also sat at Jesus’ feet” – implying equality with Peter, James, John, and the other disciples.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Tongues of Men and Angels

Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 1 Corinthians 13:1

This relates to an expression taken from the theater. Actors spoke into a brass jar for an echoing effect, using it as a microphone to represent the “gods speaking.

The tinkling cymbal actually refers to crashing copper sheets which were shaken like a rug to
represent thunder. In other words, if I don’t have love, I’m like an actor or an imposter.

Character is important, not just words. And Christ modeled true character and love by his actions.

Lash, Neil & Jamie., “Jewels From the Journey,” Jewish Jewels, Ft.Lauderdale, FL., pg 11

Monday, May 24, 2010

They Might Be Lying

"The Bible records the speech of many people, and not everything they say is true. What they said was not true, but that they said it is true. Some people quoted in Scripture believed they were right, but were in error. That was the case with Job’s friends. Other people recorded in the Bible intentionally lie, such as the false witnesses at Jesus’ trial.

People lie to hide their sin, or to deceive others, or to get their way. Not everyone who lied was a bad person. It often takes a careful reading of the context, as well as a knowledge of the scope of Scripture, to discern if what a person says is correct or incorrect.

Cain lied. In Genesis 4:9 God asked Cain where his brother, Abel, was. Cain answered, “I don’t know.” Of course he did know, because he had killed him, but he lied to hide his sin.

Rahab lied. When the Israelite spies entered Jericho, Rahab hid them, but she lied to the men of Jericho and said they had left the city (Josh. 2:4, 5).

Eliphaz was wrong. In Job 22:5, Job’s “friend” Eliphaz said to him, “Is not your wickedness great? Are not your sins endless?” Eliphaz really thought God would not afflict Job unless Job had sinned, therefore he assumed Job had many secret sins. Someone who did not read the book of Job carefully might not realize that Eliphaz was wrong.

We learn from the narrative in Chapter 1 that Job was “blameless,” “upright,” and one who “feared God and shunned evil(Job 1:1). The book of Job correctly records what Eliphaz said, even though what he said was in error.

Amaziah misrepresented Amos. Amaziah was a priest in Bethel who withstood the prophet Amos. Often, in conflicts between people, one person tries to make what the other one said seem worse than it really was in order to gather support against the person. Amaziah told Jeroboam the king that Amos said “Jeroboam will die by the sword(Amos 7:11).

In fact what Amos said was that God’s sword would rise against the house of Jeroboam (Amos 7:10). Amaziah lied to get his way and stop Amos. Jeroboam died naturally (2 Kings 14:29) but his son, Zechariah, was assassinated (2 Kings 15:10), so Amos’ prophecy was accurate, and the “house” of Jeroboam was smitten by the sword.

Herod lied. When the Magi came to Jerusalem, Herod the king told them to report back to him when they found the baby Jesus, “so that I too may go and worship him(Matt. 2:8b). Herod had no intention of worshipping Jesus, but wanted to kill him.

The religious leaders lied. In Luke 23:2b religious leaders in Jerusalem brought Jesus before Pontius Pilate and said, “We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar...” The scope of Scripture reveals the lies of the religious leaders. Jesus told the people to give to Caesar that which was Caesar’s (Matt. 22:17-21), and even gave money to Peter to pay the taxes (Matt. 17:24-27)."

Friday, May 21, 2010

There's Hope For Almost Everyone

“Nebuchadnezzar is commonly vilified as one of the worst characters in the Bible, and it is true that he was a despot and did some very wicked things.

However, God accepts the repentance of all men, and Nebuchadnezzar, like Paul, had a transforming experience. His last words recorded in the Bible are:

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble” (Dan. 4:37).”

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Through a Glass Darkly

1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “For now we see through a glass, darkly…”.

At the time the KJV was written, “glass( or looking glass) meant mirror . The Greek word that the KJV translates “glass” means “mirror,” and that is the way all modern translations read.

However, the literal translation “mirror” can give the wrong impression. Today’s mirrors are so clear that we see a very good image in them, so saying we see a poor reflection, or a dim reflection, does not seem to make sense.

To understand the verse properly we must realize that at the time of Paul, the glass mirrors we have today had not been invented. In Paul’s day, and for centuries later, mirrors were generally bronze or brass that had been pounded flat and polished. The best reflection a person could get from a bronze mirror was dark and distorted, and that is the point the Bible is making: the best knowledge we have today is unclear and distorted—not crisp and clear like in today’s glass mirrors.

We could translate the verse something like, “now we see in a bronze mirror, darkly,” but many people may never have heard of a bronze mirror. It seems best to use the word “mirror,” and explain the verse more fully in study notes.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sure Glad It's Different Now

"The original text of the Bible was written on scrolls, not in books, and the writing in the scrolls did not have chapter divisions, verses, punctuation, paragraph or section headings.

The early manuscripts of the Hebrew Bible were written in Hebrew, which is a language that has only capital letters, and there were not even spaces dividing the words. All the letters were one long line that broke at the edge of the scroll and started again on the next line down. Early Greek texts were written in uncial script, which, like Hebrew, has all capital letters and no breaks between the words.

Until around the 700’s A.D., with the exception of some chapter breaks, texts of the Bible had all the words running together, letter after letter. There were no spaces between the words and no punctuation. Spaces between words, and punctuation in the text, did not begin to appear until around the 700s A.D. Thus, the early texts of Romans 10:9 and 10 would read:


The oldest chapter divisions date from about 350 A.D., but they were not standardized. Today’s standardized chapter divisions date from around 1227 A.D. The first standardized verse divisions came into use in the 10th century."

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Discerning and Applying Scriptural Principles pt.2

Drunk on wine. Ephesians 5:18 (NIV), says not to get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. The “interpretation” is very narrow, simply forbidding getting drunk on wine.

However, the “application” (with help from the scope of Scripture-including D&C 89) would include getting drunk on any alcoholic beverage, and would even go beyond that to include anything that compromises us mentally or physically, such as recreational drugs, which also lead to “debauchery” (the Greek word means reckless abandon, dissipation, profligacy).

Interestingly, the Old Testament also connects alcohol to reduced sexual inhibition (Hab. 2:15). Thus a proper conclusion to draw from this verse is that Christians should not be drunk on wine or other alcoholic beverages, or use recreational drugs or other such things that lead away from God to a lifestyle of dissipation.

Praying Before Sunrise. Determining the proper “application” of a passage of Scripture is not an exact science by any means. For example, Jesus got up before daybreak and prayed (Mark 1:35). The interpretation is very narrow, and refers to a day in Jesus’ life and what Jesus did that day. The application of this verse is certainly not that everyone should get up each day before daylight and pray.

On the other hand, the verse certainly emphasizes the importance of prayer. Furthermore, we should learn from the example of Jesus Christ, so it is a proper application to say that there will be times when we should get up extra early and pray, just as Jesus did.

The “application” of Scripture is determined from its scope, as well as our reason, logic, and wisdom. It is also important for us to realize that just as there is both a proper interpretation of Scripture and an erroneous interpretation, so there is both the proper application of Scripture and the improper application. Just as much good comes from the proper application of Scripture, so much harm has come from the misapplication of Scripture.

We must be diligent not only to properly understand the interpretation of a text, but to properly apply it as well."

Monday, May 17, 2010

Discerning and Applying Scriptural Principles pt.1

"We must understand the difference between interpretation and application, and properly derive applications from correct interpretation. The “interpretation” of a Scripture is what the verse actually means in its context. However, verses often have a much broader “application” than simply their interpretation.

Treatment of others. For example, Colossians 4:1 has a narrow interpretation, but a much broader application.

“Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.” Colossians 4:1 (ESV)

The “interpretation” of this verse is very narrow: slave owners should treat their slaves justly and fairly. However, the verse is not meaningless to those people who do not own slaves, it has a broad “application” in the world, which is that people should treat those they are in charge of justly and fairly.

That “application” is fitting for bosses, guards, parents, military commanders, etc. We have already seen the difference between interpretation and application in Colossians 4:1, about slave owners, and there are many other examples in Scripture.

Building Codes. A good example of the difference between interpretation and application can be seen in Deuteronomy.

When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it." Deuteronomy 22:8 (ESV)

The houses in biblical Israel had flat roofs, so God made a law that flat roofs had to have some kind of railing so people would not fall off. The “interpretation,” of this verse is very narrow, and applies only to people who own houses with flat roofs.

But the “application,” the instruction we get from this example, is very broad, that it is not right or godly to build things that are unsafe and can cause injury to others, so we should provide some kind of safety measure.

Bringing joy. Proverbs 10:1 has a narrow interpretation but broad application:

A wise son brings joy to his father, but a foolish son grief to his mother."

The “interpretation” is narrow, referring only to sons and the joy they bring to fathers or the grief they bring to mothers. However, the “application” is much broader. Wise children bring joy to the whole family, extended family, and many interested parties, while foolish children bring grief to people.


Friday, May 14, 2010

Wisdom, Reason, and Logic

"The evidence that God expects us to use reason and logic is throughout Scripture. For example,: “Come now, let us reason together(Isa. 1:18). The word “wisdom” occurs more than 50 times in Proverbs alone, and Proverbs 4:7 says, “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom.” Without wisdom, which includes reason and logic, we would read the Bible and not know what to believe or have faith in.

One of the Hebrew words sometimes translated “law” is torah. However, in Hebrew, torah is better translated “instruction,” than “law.” A “law” is a single statute, a regulation, like a speed limit sign on a highway. That sign, that “law,” governs only that stretch of road.

On the other hand, the “instruction” that says,Drivers must travel at speeds that are reasonable and prudent for the driving conditions they are experiencing” is like torah, an instruction from which we make a broad application for all driving.

God’s torah gives us basic instruction in how to live. Every situation we encounter in life cannot be specifically mentioned in the Bible, so God has done several things to help us.

First, He has given us some specific regulations to follow in specific situations.

Second, those specific regulations fall into the category of torah, that is, they are examples that we can use as instruction to understand the concepts of just laws and justice and build and govern a just society.

Third, He has given us the capacity for reason, logic, and wisdom, so we can properly generalize from the specific examples God gives us to a broader application.

Thus it was right for Jesus to command us, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment(John 7:24). People who do not use reason and logic to interpret the circumstances around them and make good judgments are called "fools." (Ps.14:1; Prov.1:7; Jer.5:21; Luke 24:25; Gal.3:1-3)"

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Day the Lord Has Made

This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalms 118:24

I am very interested in how language and forms of expressions in the scriptures are used…and this verse has an alternate meaning that can be read into it. Hebrew defines words as being either masculine or feminine. Grammatically speaking, there is a pronoun here in the original Hebrew that does not have a clear antecedent.

This text can legitimately be translated as “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it—that is, the day. The Hebrew here has a masculine pronoun and the word “day” is a masculine gender noun, so the antecedent for the pronoun is day. Each day is gift from God. We are to be glad in it. We can enjoy God’s gift of time.

However, this masculine gender pronoun might have a different antecedent and thus a different translation:, “This is day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in him”—not in some “it” but in “him,” that is, in Christ. Lord is the antecedent.

Which is the preferred translation? Both of this translations ring true. Both are helpful. There are some days that are so perfect that I am glad to be alive. Time is a gift.

Then there are days where I may have a hard time finding something for which to rejoice and be glad. However, there is still the absolute certainty that I can always be glad in Christ. "In all things," as the apostle Paul, would say, “Be thankful,”-- not just when you have a “nice day.”

Jewish prisoners in death camps used this verse as a way to keep their spirits up and their attitudes positive. If the day was hard to rejoice in, there was always the Giver of the day to bring solace during trials.

Because of our Savior, no matter what our day is like, there is always cause for rejoicing. Let us celebrate our relationship with Him who moves in, through, and among us. Our gladness is not just in God’s gift of time but in the very being of the Lord.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Paying Attention to the Context

"The word “context” means the parts of a text that surround a word or phrase and add meaning or shed light on the word or phrase.Every text, that is, every word, phrase, and verse in Scripture, has a context that surrounds it. The context is often the essential key to understanding the meaning of the verse as well as avoiding false conclusions about it

What is referred to as “Proof-texting” occurs when a person takes a phrase or verse out of context and tries to prove his point with it. When people “proof-text,” or quote things out of context, they arrive at erroneous doctrines and conclusions, even though they are quoting Scripture. Below are several examples of taking verses out of context:

A curse, not a blessing.
People who have to be separated from each other for a long period of time sometimes quote the last part of Genesis 31:49 as if it were a blessing:

“…May the LORD keep watch between you and me when we are away from each other.” However, reading the context of that verse shows that the speaker was Laban, who was angry with Jacob, the one leaving. Jacob had married Laban’s daughters, and Laban did not trust that Jacob would take care of them, so he spoke a curse over Jacob so that the LORD would watch Jacob, and if he did wrong then the LORD would repay him. Far from being a blessing, the context shows the statement is a curse.

My thoughts are not your thoughts.

Isaiah 55:8 is often quoted to show that we cannot really know God:

‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.

However, the context shows that the “your” in the verse are not believers, but “the wicked” and “the evil man” (v. 7). Furthermore, the context reveals that God can be “found” and “is near” (v. 6). Also, from the surrounding verses of Scripture we discover many verses showing that we can know God, including Jeremiah 4:22:
My people are fools; they do not know me….

Judge not.
The phrase “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matt. 7:1) is often taken out of context. It is referring to evil judgments, not judgments in general. It is not a stand-alone verse that is universally applicable. Although it is true that Christians must remove any“beams” they have in their eyes before they can judge others, that can be done. The more universal truth about judging people is John 7:24, when Jesus said, “Stop judging by mere appearances, and make a right judgment.” This is the way men and women of God have lived through the ages.

We could make a very large list of the “judgments” of the heroes of the Bible,including Abraham calling the men of Sodom “wicked(Gen. 18:23), Esther calling Haman “vile,” (Esther 7:6), and John the Baptist calling the religious leaders a brood of vipers (Matt. 3:7). There are many verses that tell us to recognize the difference between good and evil in people (Rom. 16:17) and in teachings (1 John 4:1)."

The JST translation of this verse is more accurate to the sense of the way 'judgment' is used in scripture:

"Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment." Matt. 7:2 JST

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Bread of Life

And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. John 6:35

No matter how abundantly other food is offered, bread is the main food and essential to an eastern meal. While a family having other food but no bread is considered poor, the men of other families become famous and are spoken of highly because of their plentiful bread. Very little is known about the raising of vegetables and when the wheat crops fail, the people face starvation.

To Easterners bread is sacred. They take oaths by touching and kissing it. Bread is a sacred bond between friends and the sign of an intimate relationship. It is often said "I have eaten his bread. I will die for him" Enemies are reconciled by breaking bread together. Bread is also the bond of protection. When a man takes refuge in another’s house and eats his bread, the owner of that house must defend his guest at any cost, even with his life.

Jesus was the sacred bond between God and man. He was the true bread, the bread of the spirit, because he offered his life as spiritual food and for an everlasting covenant. No bond is sacred without him. No earthly bread is holier than his body. He is the bread of life and the truth and those who eat never hunger nor lack in understanding.

(Lamsa, George M. 1936. Gospel Light. San Francisco: Harper Collins., pg 352)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Castaway Cloths

Then you will defile your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!”
Isaiah 30:22 [NIV]

According to Old Testament law, a woman was considered ceremonially unclean during her period, and anyone who touched her was also unclean until evening that day . Menstrual cloths were, naturally, also unclean, and women threw them away.

When God’s people return to him, they will throw away their idols, much like abandoned menstrual cloths. Their idols will be as repugnant to them as soiled menstrual rags. Everything about these idols and everyone associated with them is unacceptable to the Lord. God wants a pure and holy people to walk with him.

(General Editor Jean E. Syswerda, NIV Women of Faith Study Bible, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Mischigan, 2001, pg 1155)

Friday, May 7, 2010

Four Titles of the Messiah part 5

Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor [ruler] together. Zechariah 10:4

Fourthly, He is called "every ruler." This is not to say that Jesus Christ is Jintao, Obama, Putin and Netanyahu. But He is in control of the rulers of the earth – even those who blatantly reject Him. The Bible says, ...there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore he who resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. Rom. 13:1-2

Remember that Jesus created all things, ...whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created by Him and for Him. Col. 1:16 But He is also destined to one day be every ruler on the earth. When He first arrived, He foretold that the citizens of His kingdom would hate Him and would say, “...We do not want this man to reign over us." (Luke 19:14) Indeed, this happened. When “...Pilate said to them, ‘Shall I crucify your King?’ The chief priests answered, ‘We have no king but Caesar.’ (John 19:15)” They did not want Jesus to be their ruler. But one day, He “is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron...” (Rev. 12:5)

It is interesting to me to read that years before Jesus came to this earth as a man, Zechariah's prophecies were not only so accurate, but also chronological. He came to us from the tribe of Judah, born of the Virgin Mary. He entered Jerusalem as the Chief Cornerstone, but was rejected by those who were supposed to be the builders of God's kingdom. He became the peg, the nail, on which everything was hung before being cut off. When He next comes to earth, it will be as the bow of battle, delivering God's judgment upon a Christ-rejecting world. And ultimately, He will become every ruler, as He rules and reigns over the earth for a thousand years, and over all creation for eternity after that. What a great God we serve!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Four Titles of the Messiah part 4

Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.
Zechariah 10:4

The third Messianic title here is "the Bow of Battle." This phrase describes a bow bent in time of war, a launcher of arrows at the enemy. This title then speaks of Christ as the deliverer of judgment.

David wrote in Psalm 7, God is a righteous judge, and a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready. Ps. 7:11-12 Even today, the bow is bent, ready to judge mankind if he does not repent. One day Jesus Christ will return to earth as the battle bow, rendering judgment upon mankind who rejected Him.

John saw that day, writing, And I saw heaven opened; and behold, a white horse, and He who sat upon it is called Faithful and True; and in righteousness He judges and wages war. And His eyes are a flame of fire, and upon His head are many diadems; and He has a name written upon Him which no one knows except Himself. And He is clothed with a robe dipped in blood; and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies which are in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, were following Him on white horses. And from His mouth comes a sharp sword, so that with it He may smite the nations; and He will rule them with a rod of iron; and He treads the wine press of the fierce wrath of God, the Almighty. Rev. 19:11-15

Our Messiah will be God's battle bow.


Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Four Titles of the Messiah part 3

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together. Zechariah 10:3-4

"The second title of the Messiah here is strange: "the Tent Peg." Now, if you look for the word "tent peg" in the NIV Bible, you will only find it here and in the book of Judges. There, we read the gross story of Yael using a hammer to drive a tent peg through the temple of Sisera as he slept. But if you look a bit deeper, you find that the Hebrew word "yathed" is translated as more than just "tent peg." It has also been rendered, "stake, peg, pin, and nail." Thus, as we look for the Hebrew word "yathed" in the Old Testament, we find that there are several Messianic references using this word.

One of the most fascinating ones does not at first appear to be Messianic at all. Turn with me to Isaiah 22. There was once a steward named "Shebna" who was in charge of King Hezekiah's household. He was the manager – the only one that could allow admittance in to see the king.

But his authority had corrupted him, making him proud and arrogant. He had a majestic tomb carved out for himself on a high hill, wore expensive clothing, and traveled in fancily-ornamented chariots. His pride prompted the Lord to bring the following prophecy through Isaiah to Shebna:
Then it will come about in that day, that I will summon My servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah and I will clothe him with your tunic, and tie your sash securely about him, I will entrust him with your authority, and he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Then I will set the key of the house of David on his shoulder, when he opens no one will shut, when he shuts no one will open.
Isa. 22:20-22

While the prophecy seems to be fulfilled in the man Eliakim, there is a deeper mystery, a prophetic tie-in to the ministry of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. In Revelation, Jesus is called, "...He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens..." Rev. 3:7

I believe the true fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy is in Christ. This is especially intriguing when we discover that "Eliakim ben Hilkiah" literally means "God raises His Son as Yahweh's share."

With that knowledge, it is even more fascinating to read the rest of God's statement through Isaiah: “And I will drive him like a peg in a firm place, and He will become a throne of glory to His Father’s house. So they will hang on Him all the glory of His Father’s house, offspring and issue, all the least of vessels, from bowls to all the jars. In that day,” (Isa. 22:23-25) declares the LORD of hosts, “the peg driven in a firm place will give way; it will even break off and fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut off, for the LORD has spoken.

What a strange picture to paint! This Man would be a peg, driven firmly in place, and on Him would be placed everything – things both glorious and commonplace, both honorable and dishonorable. On the same day that happened, the peg would give way, and the load hanging on it would be cut off.

What an amazing picture of Jesus on the cross! As Jesus was pinned, nailed, pegged to the tree, everything was put on Him. Not only the glory of His Father's house, but also the most despicable and dishonorable things. The Bible says that God... ...made Him who knew no sin {to be} sin on our behalf... 2Cor. 5:21 Christ's very body became sin judged for us! On Him was put everything: and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross... 1Pet. 2:24 ...the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. Isa. 53:6

Ultimately, the peg, the nail, the tent stake gave way and the load was cut off entirely. Jesus' body died, and our sin disappeared! Many of us have wall hangings which say, "It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross, but His love for you and I." I believe it is much more Biblical to say that, spiritually-speaking, Jesus WAS the nails which held sin to the cross to be judged – all because of His love for you and I. This view helps us even to interpret the picture given to us in Judges chapter four. With the hammer of God's Word (Jer. 23:29) and our Messiah the Tent Peg, we can pierce the mind of our sinful man, putting him to death, and incapacitating him!"


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Four Titles of the Messiah part 2

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor together.
Zechariah 10:3-4

The first of the four Messianic titles listed in verse four is the most familiar of them: the Cornerstone. A cornerstone was used by builders as a firmly-placed basis for the squareness and level of the foundation – it was the stone that all measurements were referenced from. It was the key part of the foundation, and the most important stone in the building – everything stemmed from it.

Throughout the Old Testament Scriptures, there are numerous spiritual references to this Cornerstone. Isaiah wrote that the Lord said, ...Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a tested stone, a costly cornerstone the foundation, firmly placed. He who believes will not be disturbed. Isa. 28:16 And the psalmist wrote, The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner {stone.} Ps. 118:22 What cornerstone was rejected? The New Testament clearly tells us that it was Jesus.

Paul the apostle told the Ephesians that Jesus was the Cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-22). Peter said, ...Jesus Christ the Nazarene ... is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, {but} WHICH BECAME THE VERY CORNER {stone.} Acts 4:10-11 And in his first epistle he called Jesus... ...a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God ... A PRECIOUS CORNER {stone} ... THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER {stone,}1Pet. 2:4-7

Those who were supposed to be the builders of the kingdom – the Jewish leaders – rejected Jesus as their Messiah. He did not live up to their expectations. He did not meet their qualifications. He was supposed to be the key to their entire foundation, but was completely rejected by them. He was to them a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense (Isa 8:14-15; Luke 20:17-18).


Monday, May 3, 2010

Four Titles of the Messiah part 1

Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the goats: for the LORD of hosts hath visited his flock the house of Judah, and hath made them as his goodly horse in the battle. Out of him came forth the corner, out of him the nail, out of him the battle bow, out of him every oppressor [ruler] together. Zechariah 10:3-4

"[This post] is focused in on the vast riches contained in just a small portion of Zechariah's writings. Remember that in the last part of verse three, Zechariah wrote, ...For the LORD of hosts has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His majestic horse in battle. Zech. 10:3 Such strange symbolism contained in that phrase! It is as if God was going to use the tribe of Judah as His vehicle of entry.

First, the Lord had said that Judah would be like God's majestic war horse in battle – that He would somehow ride them as He entered a war. Next, we read that from Judah would come four things which were one: the Cornerstone, the Tent Peg, the Bow of Battle, and Every Ruler. What could be described with four such diverse things, yet be one?

As the first probably indicated to you, these are Messianic titles – four descriptions of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now, before we examine these four titles, notice that these will come "from them." Remember, the context tells us that the "them" is the tribe of Judah. From them would come this Messiah of these four titles.

We know that Jesus Christ came from the tribe of Judah, being a direct descendant of King David. That is why one of His titles is, ...the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah... Rev. 5:5 You may be aware that this is not the only Messianic prophecy to be centered around the tribe of Judah. In Genesis 49, Jacob was speaking prophetic blessings over each of his twelve sons.

Of Judah he said, The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to Him {shall be} the obedience of the peoples. Gen. 49:10

Judah was described as holding the scepter. The scepter was the symbol of dominion and authority, specifically tied to capital punishment. You may remember that in the book of Esther, it was said, ...any man or woman who comes to the king to the inner court who is not summoned, he has but one law, that he be put to death, unless the king holds out to him the golden scepter so that he may live... Esth. 4:11 The scepter was the symbol of the power of life and death in the hands of the government.

Jacob prophesied that this scepter would not depart from Judah until Shiloh came. Shiloh, meaning "one who brings peace," was the Messiah. So Messiah, according to this Scripture, had to come before the right to administer capital punishment was taken away from Judah. Well, at one point in history, this prophecy was thought by the Jews to have failed.

In 30 AD, the Roman Empire took the right of capital punishment away from the Jewish Supreme court, which had remained in Judah. "The high priest that year went through Jerusalem in sackcloth and ashes bewailing that the Word of God had been broken, that the scepter had departed from Judah, but Shiloh had not yet come" (Missler).

Less than three years later, a man arrested by the Jews for blasphemy as brought to Pilate, (John 18:31-32) Pilate therefore said to them, “Take Him yourselves, and judge Him according to your law.” The Jews said to him, “We are not permitted to put anyone to death...” This was obviously a sore point for them. They thought that Shiloh hadn't come. Of course, we know that the man in their custody was Jesus. Shiloh had in fact come before the scepter departed from Judah! And so Judah was the horse on which Jesus rode into His earthly ministry.