Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62

Isaiah 58:6-12 Your Salvation Will Come Like the Dawn

Isaiah 58:6-12 NLTse “No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. (7) Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. (8) “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (9) Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply. “Remove the heavy yoke of oppression. Stop pointing your finger and spreading vicious rumors! (10) Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. (11) The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring. (12) Some of you will rebuild the deserted ruins of your cities. Then you will be known as a rebuilder of walls and a restorer of homes.

Luke 6:20-38 NLTse Then Jesus turned to his disciples and said, “God blesses you who are poor, for the Kingdom of God is yours. (21) God blesses you who are hungry now, for you will be satisfied. God blesses you who weep now, for in due time you will laugh. (22) What blessings await you when people hate you and exclude you and mock you and curse you as evil because you follow the Son of Man. (23) When that happens, be happy! Yes, leap for joy! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, their ancestors treated the ancient prophets that same way. (24) “What sorrow awaits you who are rich, for you have your only happiness now. (25) What sorrow awaits you who are fat and prosperous now, for a time of awful hunger awaits you. What sorrow awaits you who laugh now, for your laughing will turn to mourning and sorrow. (26) What sorrow awaits you who are praised by the crowds, for their ancestors also praised false prophets. (27) “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. (28) Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. (29) If someone slaps you on one cheek, offer the other cheek also. If someone demands your coat, offer your shirt also. (30) Give to anyone who asks; and when things are taken away from you, don’t try to get them back. (31) Do to others as you would like them to do to you. (32) “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! (33) And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! (34) And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. (35) “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. (36) You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. (37) “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn others, or it will all come back against you. Forgive others, and you will be forgiven. (38) Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Okay, I can see your all thinking – if this prophecy about helping the poor and depressed, which is a major part of our commission was fulfilled or taught by Jesus on His sermon on the mountain, than why not use Matthew? Well Matthew is spread out over three chapters and we need to follow the general rule of Bible Study — the introductions and summations have to agree. As we can see, Isaiah sets the tone for the prophecy and Jesus explained details. I would suggest you read Isaiah 58 and Matthew’s detailed account together. This will give God’s Spirit the time He needs with you to explain more details than found in this study. And of course, the goal is to get you to a point of learning to work on your own with God’s Spirit to understand His Word.

I have to admit, I had a bit of trouble locating parallel chapters to this prophecy. Looking at the key words, the first word I used to search was oppressed. That didn’t lead to any parallel chapters with matching introductions and summations. I went onto the next choice, hungry, which led to a number of interesting chapters. Luke 6 was the best match when comparing the introduction and summation.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62 Download the eBook here

Isaiah introduces a concept not exactly new to the Bible. Moses told Israel a set of concepts to live by known as the Law of Moses. Maybe that’s why that list of common sense guides showing how to live peacefully in this world has always been difficult to follow. Man has never been known for following laws viewed more like suggestions. Before God gave Moses that set of laws, Israel was of course freed from bondage in Egypt. Now do you see why this sequence of studies follows a particular pattern? One thing Israel’s release from bondage represented is found in their attitude towards the law. Living in an environment where every moment of their lives, following rules and regulations, they left a bad taste in their mouths. The last thing any of those Israelites wanted was a new set of rules. Isaiah did nothing more than repeat those concepts of how to live together. Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Do any of those laws seem too difficult to live by?

Although those seem like simple guidelines to follow, this world has a difficult time living by them. Is it so hard to treat people with justice, lighten burdens of people who work for you, and share what you have with those in need? It must be a difficult thing to do because Moses laid down the law, Isaiah reminded them, and Jesus repeated it with details so plain no one had an excuse to ignore them. Jesus told us, God will bless those who follow His command and help others. Isaiah tells us a part of the blessing. “Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” Why does Isaiah link helping others, treating them with justice and dignity with salvation? Doesn’t most of the world think all you have to do is claim Jesus’ sacrifice as your own to receive forgiveness for all your sins? If that’s true, than what about the learning process mentioned throughout the Bible? What about Jesus telling His disciples to take up their cross? Why did His disciples have to suffer and die for God’s Word if all they had to do was claim Jesus’ death to be saved? Let’s admit it, nothing but Jesus’ sacrifice can provide forgiveness for all the sins we committed. Without His sacrifice we would be lost. But as Paul tells us, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. (Romans 6:6 NLTse). Dear friends, if we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgment and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. (Hebrews 10:26-27 NLTse).

Maybe this is why the world has so much trouble listening to God’s voice. Isaiah tells us if we follow God’s simple instructions, “Then when you call, the LORD will answer. ‘Yes, I am here,’ he will quickly reply.” What is the connection? Does the Bible explain the answer or is the explanation basically common sense like those laws Moses recorded?

The main theme in Isaiah’s prophecy, although explained in detail by Jesus, seems to escape many Christians. I remember years ago in a study class with about 30 adults capable of repeating every interpretation to their coveted future prophecies could not answer a simple question that came up in the preprinted class study guide. The question was, “how do you share the love of Jesus?” The teacher read and skipped over the question. I raised my hand and asked, “how do you share Jesus’ love?” The teacher answered, “you share the love of Jesus by teaching about Jesus.” I asked, “what do we teach about Jesus?” The teacher answered, “the love of Jesus.” I asked, “what are we supposed to teach about Jesus’ love?” Not one person in that class had an answer. None of them had any type of relationship with Jesus. They were like those Pharisees who thought they knew all the prophecies but didn’t know a thing. So they rejected any type of relationship with Jesus who stood in front of them. Since that time I’ve asked that same question in many churches when the opportunity came up. No one was able to answer the question. No one seems to have studied Isaiah 58 or any of the New Testament chapters adding more details on the subject of Jesus’ love or how we are supposed to act towards one another.

What kind of end time church are they in when they don’t know anything about Jesus’ love, but claim to be the chosen church based on their doctrine? Pride tells them they are the only church able to accurately interpret future prophecy. To them, those interpretations and doctrines out weight common sense, the ability to love, and the ability to communicate with Jesus.

Isaiah was pretty vague. What does it mean to lighten burdens, let the oppressed go free, and remove chains binding people? My guess is people’s minds become confused because they drift back into Isaiah’s time, then convince themselves we don’t have those problems any more. They relate Isaiah’s theme to slavery, and since not many Christians today are involved in slavery, consider this message obsolete. Well they’re wrong. Don’t you feel oppressed at work some times? Don’t you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again at work then suddenly one day you have an idea how to ease your burden? When you take your idea to management, what was the reply? If your a manager, do you allow pride to shoot down every idea from the people your in charge of? Do you think Satan stopped using oppression to distract people? What do you think Satan is trying to achieve with oppression? Are you hearing sermons with a shallow view on oppression, summing it up with a vague explanation? Let’s look at what Satan plans on accomplishing with oppression. For one the oppressor is drawn away from God by power, prestige, and wealth. What about people who are oppressed? It forces them to take a new look at God. Some people may draw closer to God while other people will question Him and His existence.

What about big business? They oppress just about everyone with high energy prices and other costs like health care. Then there’s taxes. The Bible tells us about high taxes Solomon imposed that were increased by his son. Taxes continued as kings collected more money from everyone, especially the poor. They collected taxes for all their projects. Solomon built houses for his wives, the women he was in bed with. Today we pay taxes to support businesses government officials are in bed with. Those kings claimed high taxes were necessary for a proper military. But when invading armies posed a threat, everyone important person was called into the city and those gates locked out the majority of people paying those high taxes. Has anything changed?

It’s one thing to identify oppression, quite another to learn how to alleviate it. How well would you score? Do you talk to people in line at the store and comfort them when God’s Spirit puts you in position to bless others? When the cashier just faced the customer from hell, do you pray to find a way to cheer her up and remind her the whole world is not like the customer no one can never please? What about the parking lot? Do you help the old woman load her bags into the car? Do you let rude drivers pass you so they can pester the next driver, or recognize your act as a blessing? How does helping one another work at home? Do you assign tasks then help? Do you plan little surprises for your spouse? Do you email or text them little messages during the day to let them know you care? When you hear someone request prayer, do you stop everything and pray for them so they can see love and concern in action? Most people only promise to pray. It’s been said so many times, the words, “I’ll pray for you,” have become only a cliché. How many chances do you have to change the world around you? How many of those chances do you let slip by? In a way neglecting those opportunities puts a burden upon you. Those missed opportunities are either softening your heart or hardened it. You know there is a reason people share bad news with you. Admit it, there is a reason you share your burdens with people. Now that you know these secrets, learn how to treat people the way you want to be treated.

There’s a reason Jesus reworded Isaiah the way He did. Jesus wanted to make it personal. God blesses those who are poor, hungry, and weep. How do you think God blesses them? Did you ever hear of God making money, food, or a tender word suddenly appear out of thin air to help people? Come on you know the answer. God uses His people to reach out and help those people. That’s the way the world is supposed to work. But too often people calling themselves Christians are too scared to leave their fox holes. They want to remain as secluded as they can. They are afraid to reach out to help people with the gifts and blessings God gave them to share. For a great reward awaits you in heaven.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62 Order the paperback from Amazon

Most Christians heard this line, but how many actually know what it means? “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked.” Why do most sermons stop at the first sentence but don’t dwell on the rest of what Jesus said? Is it because He provided the answer and preachers like to impress you with their stories? Is it because they don’t understand the answer? Or is it because they think those people listening to them aren’t ready to understand or accept the simple answer? “Do good to them.” Ask that question about how to love Jesus and see what answer you receive, if any. People aren’t sure how to do good. Why not? There are two types of love. One is from Heaven while the other is an earthly fabrication. You guessed it. Love from this world is a compromise. Loving like the world teaches is not showing your a child of Heaven.

Every once in a while I see people breaking up in what they call a love affair by posting updates on Facebook. They post all those worldly concepts about love, something like, “deceptions are easy but truth is hard to find. Trust is easily broken. Lies are soon revealed. You never know what you had until its gone.” You can see the pattern. People speak from emotions inherited from the world. None of those sayings will ever accomplish anything. Wisdom from this world will never show you what true love is. All it will do is provide a moment of comfort followed be a deeper need to seek real love. But few will ever find true love. They search with their eyes but they are blind. They listen with their ears but they’re deaf. “Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.”

Let’s face it, people get involved in relationships based on what they can get out of them. Relationships seeded in greed can only sprout thistles and thorns that will eventually sting. I’ve seen the effects. I think we’ve all seen the effects of those thorns. So where do we learn about the love that only comes from Heaven? The key word is learn. Did you miss it? Did it slip by? Here it is again. Now pay attention. “If you love only those who love you, why should you get credit for that? Even sinners love those who love them! And if you do good only to those who do good to you, why should you get credit? Even sinners do that much! And if you lend money only to those who can repay you, why should you get credit? Even sinners will lend to other sinners for a full return. “Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid.” “Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon. The LORD will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength.”

Now do you get it? Love doesn’t drop out of the sky when the right person comes along. Love has to be learned before it can be experienced. You have to learn to add, subtract, multiply, and divide before you can do algebra or calculus which reveals the wonders of mathematics. You have to work on love like working out. Body building takes time. No one walks into a gym, does a few bench presses and walks out built like an athlete. Why would love be any different? You have to build up everything else in this world – your vocabulary, the ability to write, a knowledge of science, geography, stamina, muscles, everything. Why should love be any different? Our problem is we want to fall in love when everything else in the world has to be built up and conditioned. So we convince ourselves all we need to do is wait for the right person who we think will make us whole and for a while everything seems so much better. That’s the concept of love in this world. Like the toxic weeds Satan developed, that kind of love is like a drug. It’ll give you a great high for a while but coming down is a pain. Yep – love from this world is like a drug. It’ll cost you some money. It’s easy to take. Then it lets you down and leaves you looking for more of the same.

Now look at Jesus’ solution. He is saying your not ready until you’ve learned to love your enemies. Jesus doesn’t want to send you out into this cruel world until you’re ready. God is like a Father. He doesn’t want to see you hurt. His advise is to be ready. Work out your love until it is so muscle bound the world can’t help but take notice. Develop your intellect to a degree you are ready to solve any problem the world can throw at you. If that sounds impossible it is. You’ll never be prepared for every problem, but God is. Before your ready for love you have to first learn to love God who will show you how to love your enemies. Then you’ll be ready for the one love God has prepared for you. You don’t want God to send them a product half assembled? Think about it. Two lives with missing pieces will not make a whole. But that’s exactly what the world wants you to believe.

Sure there will be learning curves. Satan doesn’t want you learning how to leave this world behind. He feels safe when you rely on him. He feels threatened when he sees you going to God. Satan feels like he lost and he is a sore looser. But trials make us stronger. But watch out. Don’t dwell on set backs. As we’ve seen, oppression leads to distraction, which leads to wasting time, which leads to spending less time with God. If we dwell on set backs it delays our learning process. It’s the same with any relationship. If only one person dwells on negative aspects it will rob you of time together and what you can accomplish. When it comes to a relationship with God, He is never the one that dwells on problems. You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate. Together these two chapters teach us about the love coming only from Heaven. Time to begin the lesson.

Isaiah 58:1-5 NLTse “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins! (2) Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. (3) ‘We have fasted before you!’ they say. ‘Why aren’t you impressed? We have been very hard on ourselves, and you don’t even notice it!’ “I will tell you why!” I respond. “It’s because you are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. (4) What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarreling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. (5) You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD?

Isaiah’s introduction reminds me why I had to leave the organized church. All I saw was people bragging about what they knew. Everything was centered about their interpretations on future prophecies and those doctrines and traditions they coveted and defended so vehemently — as if their salvation depended on it. Jesus said, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God. For the hearts of these people are hardened, and their ears cannot hear, and they have closed their eyes– so their eyes cannot see, and their ears cannot hear, and their hearts cannot understand, and they cannot turn to me and let me heal them.’ But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. I tell you the truth, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, but they didn’t see it. And they longed to hear what you hear, but they didn’t hear it.”

(Matthew 15:8-9, 13:15-17 NLTse). Isn’t it time to listen?

Preachers today have given up on love, substituting man made knowledge for one of the greatest gifts from Heaven. Piety has taken the place of God’s voice. Obedience is given to a stone church and its leaders – while it is being withheld from God our Creator. They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me. Like the Pharisees, preachers today place knowledge of the law in place of knowing its Author. Generations separated Isaiah from Jesus but nothing separated that attitude from those religious leaders.

Luke 6:1-12 NLTse One Sabbath day as Jesus was walking through some grainfields, his disciples broke off heads of grain, rubbed off the husks in their hands, and ate the grain. (2) But some Pharisees said, “Why are you breaking the law by harvesting grain on the Sabbath?” (3) Jesus replied, “Haven’t you read in the Scriptures what David did when he and his companions were hungry? (4) He went into the house of God and broke the law by eating the sacred loaves of bread that only the priests can eat. He also gave some to his companions.” (5) And Jesus added, “The Son of Man is Lord, even over the Sabbath.” (6) On another Sabbath day, a man with a deformed right hand was in the synagogue while Jesus was teaching. (7) The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath. (8) But Jesus knew their thoughts. He said to the man with the deformed hand, “Come and stand in front of everyone.” So the man came forward. (9) Then Jesus said to his critics, “I have a question for you. Does the law permit good deeds on the Sabbath, or is it a day for doing evil? Is this a day to save life or to destroy it?” (10) He looked around at them one by one and then said to the man, “Hold out your hand.” So the man held out his hand, and it was restored! (11) At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him. (12) One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.

Jesus pointed those religious leaders back to David and of course scripture. We’ve already looked at this text in a number of studies. But general Bible Study rules tell us to look at texts and the chapter to see a far deeper lesson Jesus is pointing to.

1 Samuel 21:1-6 NLTse David went to the town of Nob to see Ahimelech the priest. Ahimelech trembled when he saw him. “Why are you alone?” he asked. “Why is no one with you?” (2) “The king has sent me on a private matter,” David said. “He told me not to tell anyone why I am here. I have told my men where to meet me later. (3) Now, what is there to eat? Give me five loaves of bread or anything else you have.” (4) “We don’t have any regular bread,” the priest replied. “But there is the holy bread, which you can have if your young men have not slept with any women recently.” (5) “Don’t worry,” David replied. “I never allow my men to be with women when they are on a campaign. And since they stay clean even on ordinary trips, how much more on this one!” (6) Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread–the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the LORD in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

Because the texts Jesus is pointing to is located in the introduction of a chapter, we also have to look at the summary and look for the related theme.

1 Samuel 21:10-15 NLTse (10) So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. (11) But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing, ‘Saul has killed his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?” (12) David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. (13) So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard. (14) Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? (15) We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

Notice the theme? David lied to a priest than a king. See the spiritual lesson hidden in the texts? Why did David lie? David was running away from Saul who wanted to kill him. What’s your first reaction to a problem? You try to solve it yourself. In David’s case he resorted to lies in an instant. Jesus sent us back to scripture to gather more knowledge, so let’s take a look back to see how the author led into the story. At last Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the LORD’s name. The LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Then David left, and Jonathan returned to the town. (1 Samuel 20:42 NLTse). Notice the important point, “the LORD is the witness of a bond between us and our children forever.” Now we look ahead to see what those events led to. So David left Gath and escaped to the cave of Adullam. Soon his brothers and all his other relatives joined him there. Then others began coming–men who were in trouble or in debt or who were just discontented–until David was the captain of about 400 men. (1 Samuel 22:1-2 NLTse). See the connection and progression? David’s responsibility is growing. As a boy he only had to worry about his father’s flocks and a giant. Working for Saul, David was in command of a company of soldiers. God was teaching David lessons about leadership. Remember how lessons about love have to be learned? Here is an example containing lessons related to love and leadership. Jesus’ disciples had a problem with both those subjects. They wanted leadership roles before they learned how to love like Jesus. They didn’t see how love and leadership had to intertwine and grow together.

When we look ahead we see those events led to another serious point to consider. A point we would miss if we weren’t looking at the progression in the story and of course praying. One day the prophet Gad told David, “Leave the stronghold and return to the land of Judah.” So David went to the forest of Hereth. (1 Samuel 22:5 NLTse). See what happened? David was relying on himself so God sent a prophet. Why? David forgot to pray. Don’t you think David prayed before he ran off after a that lion or that bear? Don’t you think David prayed before he went after that giant? What about those battles he fought for Saul? When we look at David’s progression we see two things. His increased reliance on God and increased knowledge. The two are connected. David’s responsibilities increased parallel to his communication with God. That’s what people saw in David and trusted in. People trusted more in David’s relationship with God than they trusted in David the man. They believed David was God’s anointed king because they could see David’s relationship with God. Think about how that relates to the lesson on love.

David’s life teaches us positive aspects of following God, but like all of us, David had a history of drawing close to God then drifting away. When times look good we all have the tendency of making decisions on our own. Like children who only call their parents when they need help, we only pray from the heart when we’re in trouble. When David become comfortable, things changed. One time he sent his army out to fight without him. While the people he was supposed to be serving, protecting, and teaching were off fighting a war, David stayed behind to run the country. One night he looked across the street and saw a woman. David already had more wives than any of us care to count, but to David, this one was different. While his men were off fighting a battle, David pursued a conquest of his own. David knew the woman was married. Having drawn away from God and making his own decisions it didn’t seem to matter to David. He invited her over for a fling. After all, who would know? Once wasn’t enough for the king. After a while the woman gets pregnant, so David does what he got used to doing. David comes up with a new sure fire plan. After all, when he lied to a priest and king God still protected him?

David’s momentary lack of communication with God destroyed his common sense. David had that woman’s husband killed and married her. David made her the queen of Israel. God had enough. David refused to listen so God sent the prophet in. So the LORD sent Nathan the prophet to tell David this story: “There were two men in a certain town. One was rich, and one was poor. The rich man owned a great many sheep and cattle. The poor man owned nothing but one little lamb he had bought. He raised that little lamb, and it grew up with his children. It ate from the man’s own plate and drank from his cup. He cuddled it in his arms like a baby daughter. One day a guest arrived at the home of the rich man. But instead of killing an animal from his own flock or herd, he took the poor man’s lamb and killed it and prepared it for his guest.” David was furious. “As surely as the LORD lives,” he vowed, “any man who would do such a thing deserves to die! He must repay four lambs to the poor man for the one he stole and for having no pity.” Then Nathan said to David, “You are that man! The LORD, the God of Israel, says: I anointed you king of Israel and saved you from the power of Saul. I gave you your master’s house and his wives and the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. And if that had not been enough, I would have given you much, much more. Why, then, have you despised the word of the LORD and done this horrible deed? For you have murdered Uriah the Hittite with the sword of the Ammonites and stolen his wife. From this time on, your family will live by the sword because you have despised me by taking Uriah’s wife to be your own. (2 Samuel 12:1-10 NLTse).

You might ask why after so many sins, God still loved David and called him a man after His own heart. It’s because David repented after seeing his sins. David repented of his sins as well as his lack of communication with God. As soon as David saw how far he drifted away from God, he prayed to restore that connection. David fell to the ground and prayed for the child as well as the mother and himself. David re-connection with God was so deep, his advisers could not understand it. That’s another point David missed. He neglected to explain that connection to people, not even his closest friends. After the child died, David got up to eat. After talking with God and listening… David knew he had a son waiting for him in Heaven. David knew when we get there he would receive the little child and raise him in the perfect environment of Heaven. David also knew God was concerned about him and wanted him to take care of himself. So David got up to eat. There is one detail we have to learn from David’s prayers. David remained focused on the subject at hand. David’s Psalms are an example of prayer. Notice how he always concentrated on one subject?

Psalms 11:1-7 NLTse

(1) I trust in the LORD for protection. So why do you say to me, “Fly like a bird to the mountains for safety!

(2) The wicked are stringing their bows and fitting their arrows on the bowstrings. They shoot from the shadows at those whose hearts are right.

(3) The foundations of law and order have collapsed. What can the righteous do?”

(4) But the LORD is in his holy Temple; the LORD still rules from heaven. He watches everyone closely, examining every person on earth.

(5) The LORD examines both the righteous and the wicked. He hates those who love violence.

(6) He will rain down blazing coals and burning sulfur on the wicked, punishing them with scorching winds.

(7) For the righteous LORD loves justice. The virtuous will see his face.

David learned to pray in order. Many of his prayers share the same structure. David praised God, told God his problem, then let God know he had confidence God knew the right answer. The only thing we don’t see in David’s prayers is how God answered them. David’s prayers should be studied. David recorded some of his conversations with God when Saul was chasing after him. But let’s stick to the details at hand. David prayed on one subject at a time. You never see David praying like we see people pray today which consists of a list of items to drop in God’s lap like we expect God to solve all those problems without any further participation on our part. When God sent a prophet to David there was a major lesson to learn. Today we see little if any listening when we pray. We may as well write out a prayer list and E-mail or text it to God. “Here God this is what we want you to do today. Let me know when you finish.” Does the pot tell the potter what to do? Then why do we give God orders then hang up the phone? Prayer has become much like ordering a pizza and waiting for it to be delivered. When David laid on that stone floor for hours, he listened to God. When David prayed to God while on the run from Saul, David listened to God. The first time God answered through a prophet. As David honed his listening skills, God personally spoke to David.

My favorite Psalms are those where David praised God, presented his petition, then praised God at the end of his prayer by telling God he knew God would do the right thing. The main point is, David stuck to one point in his prayer and didn’t jump around from subject to subject like we do today. I’ve read a number of books on prayer. Not one of them teaches people how to listen. I’ve talked to many people about how they listen to God and I hear the same answer over and overt again. When they try listening to God their minds are filled with a hundred details and they can’t concentrate. We’ve been conditioned by the world to write a prayer list then run through the whole thing in one sitting. Is there one verse of Biblical proof showing that’s how we should pray? None that I can find. All the examples in Psalms show us to concentrate on one subject at a time. A prayer list is okay, but shooting it up to God like a shotgun blast doesn’t hit the target. How are we supposed to listen when we pass on a long list to God and sever the prayer connection? Prayer was never meant to be a one sided connection. Study those Psalms and look for a prayer pattern you like and use it. Try a couple of different styles. But remember to stick to one subject at a time and spend time listening to God’s reply which is infinitely more important than your list. By the way, God already knew what was on your prayer list long before you wrote it. That is one detail you may want to praise Him for when you begin praying. “LORD I thank you for knowing what is on my prayer list and I come to you today to discuss one matter. I really want to know what you want to do about this subject. Jesus cleanse me with your blood, remove all my sins, make me pure, and especially purge me of all those worldly thoughts and preconceived ideas about you and what you are capable of. Jesus place me at the foot of your Father’s throne and let me learn from His infinite wisdom.” Then sit quietly and listen to God’s answer on that one subject of prayer.

So what do prayer skills have to do with the introductions to Isaiah 58 and Luke 6? Everything! Look at the introduction to Isaiah 58. “Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!” How are you supposed to know what to shout if the message doesn’t come from God? Prayer is everything. It is communication with God. Read between the lines. “Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” Those people didn’t listen to God so they drifted away. The only way to stay close to God is listen to Him. The trend continued past those religious leaders who questioned Jesus when His disciples ate grain on the Sabbath. “The teachers of religious law and the Pharisees watched Jesus closely. If he healed the man’s hand, they planned to accuse him of working on the Sabbath.” And who would complain about healing a suffering man on the Sabbath? If they knew how to pray and listen to God, those religious leaders never would have questioned Jesus. Notice they watched Jesus, but we can see they didn’t listen to what He taught.

We all have trouble listening to God. David had his problems. One time the king of Tyre came to David. He wanted to learn about the God David served. But David didn’t think a Pagan king would have any interest in God. And David became more and more powerful, because the LORD God of Heaven’s Armies was with him. Then King Hiram of Tyre sent messengers to David, along with cedar timber and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built David a palace. And David realized that the LORD had confirmed him as king over Israel and had blessed his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel. (2 Samuel 5:10-12 NLTse). We can see how David let the distractions of this world stop him from performing his duty to God. After moving from Hebron to Jerusalem, David married more concubines and wives, and they had more sons and daughters. (2 Samuel 5:13 NLTse). David fell victim to one of Satan’s greatest deceptions – success and power. Doesn’t that happen to all of us? Things are going well and we forget God or put our relationship with Him on the back shelf? No wonder Peter told us to welcome trials. Dear friends, don’t be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. Instead, be very glad–for these trials make you partners with Christ in his suffering, so that you will have the wonderful joy of seeing his glory when it is revealed to all the world. So be happy when you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God rests upon you. (1 Peter 4:12-14 NLTse).

What could have happened if David or Solomon witnessed to Hiram? He was the king of Tyre, the world trade center at the time. Hiram believed in staying out of religion to the extent of allowing every religion to freely practice within his kingdom. To Hiram it was the only way to increase trade through Tyre’s port, keep peace, and reduce the chance of an invasion. During his reign no one would dare attack Tyre because of its relationship with other kingdoms, both economical and religious. Having contact with all the worldly religions peaked Hiram’s search for the one true God. It’s strange to think the man anointed king and given the gifts, ability, and responsibility to tell the world about God missed the opportunity of a life time. If David had shared God with Hiram and told Hiram how God’s Spirit communicates with us, it would have opened streets and avenues within the world trade center no one could have imagined. Hiram could have reached people from all over the world from every religion. God doesn’t need more people hiding in fox holes. God needs people able to step out to face those giants, no matter what form they come in.

Keeping the gospel away from people goes way beyond David. When Jesus wanted to heal the man with that deformed hand in the synagogue those religious leaders used the Sabbath as an excuse to withhold one of God’s blessings. Don’t you think that giant David slew made an impression on the whole nation of Israel? Those religious leaders didn’t stop to think about how healing one man could have impressed all those people in the synagogue and beyond. Those religious leaders didn’t think of how one gift would glorify God. They were only thinking about themselves. “At this, the enemies of Jesus were wild with rage and began to discuss what to do with him.” What was Jesus’ reaction? “One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.” Jesus didn’t rely on what He learned in the past or felt at the moment. Jesus went back to DAD to discuss the situation. Jesus didn’t know how to explain the Sabbath to those religious leaders who thought they knew everything. Jesus knew He had to be patient and wait for God’s Spirit to set up the right circumstances to reach those people. It’s amazing to see a part of that answer is in this chapter of Isaiah.

Isaiah 58:13-14 NLTse “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your own interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your own desires or talk idly. (14) Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken!”

Those religious leaders were concerned only about their own interests. They followed their own desires and idle talk. Now you can see how Jesus answered more than their initial question. When Jesus referred to Isaiah 58, He included scripture around that lesson about helping the poor and depressed. We see the same result when we study other texts Jesus quoted. Now we can see why Jesus prayed. Answers He received were for questions before anyone asked them. Imagine the impact this had on Jesus’ faith. It could have had the same effect on other people if they spent time to look back into God’s Word. Jesus also taught lessons using parables like He did in the summation for Luke 6.

Luke 6:43-49 NLTse “A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. (44) A tree is identified by its fruit. Figs never grow on thornbushes, nor grapes on bramble bushes. (45) A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart. What you say flows from what is in your heart. (46) “So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? (47) I will show you what it’s like when someone comes to me, listens to my teaching, and then follows it. (48) It is like a person building a house who digs deep and lays the foundation on solid rock. When the floodwaters rise and break against the house, it stands firm because it is well built. (49) But anyone who hears and doesn’t obey is like a person who builds a house without a foundation. When the floods sweep down against that house, it will collapse into a heap of ruins.”

Jesus presents a choice. Good and evil are the only choices. There is no middle ground. Those priests made a carrier out of middle ground. Their religion was based on sitting in the middle trying to work their way up to God’s grace. Anyone who didn’t agree with them was deemed to far away to be saved. Unless of course you got back in line with their doctrines which takes your eyes off God placing your faith in man made doctrines. We have the same circumstances today. Of course every religion claims they got it right this time. But what about their fruit. When they produce members condemning the rest of the world are they producing good fruit or brambles? If they preach isolation are they spreading good seeds or weeds? When they make salvation a one step process, are they showing their good fruit or is their tree bear?

“So why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say? Yet they act so pious! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me.” There is a direct relationship between Isaiah 58 and Luke 6 when you compare the introduction of Isaiah with the summation in Luke 6. This may seem unusual, but God has a way of teaching through repetition. We have to be prepared to notice and contemplate. As long as we compare the same parallel chapters we know we are learning the same theme. I remember my dad would always say, “don’t complain unless you have a better idea.” I think that was the best advise a father could give a son. Jesus also gave that advise, in His own way. Jesus told us how to worship God. “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you.”

Let’s face it, it’s never easy to turn a large ship around in a storm. If your waiting for your local or national church to turn around, you’ve got a long wait ahead of you. With God change has always been and will always be an individual effort. Jesus fed masses but healed individuals. Are we feeding people or healing them? The answer is both, but face the facts. When Jesus fed people they carelessly left baskets of bread lying on the ground. You have to expect that when you begin your ministry feeding people. But healing is another matter. Like Jesus we can heal. Like Jesus we have to place people in the capable hands of God’s Spirit to let them work it out together. We really can’t expect to accomplish more than Jesus did even though He said, “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father.” (John 14:12 NLTse).

Time for you to experience some of those greater works. Matthew 27 is another chapter explaining how Isaiah 58 was fulfilled. Take your time, highlight those repeated words, give time for God’s Spirit to work with you. Look up the Old Testament scripture Jesus quoted. Look back and look ahead. Hone the skills you are learning – the most important being – draw closer to God and learn more about His Son Jesus.

Matthew 27:32-43 NLTse Along the way, they came across a man named Simon, who was from Cyrene, and the soldiers forced him to carry Jesus’ cross. (33) And they went out to a place called Golgotha (which means “Place of the Skull”). (34) The soldiers gave him wine mixed with bitter gall, but when he had tasted it, he refused to drink it. (35) After they had nailed him to the cross, the soldiers gambled for his clothes by throwing dice. (36) Then they sat around and kept guard as he hung there. (37) A sign was fastened to the cross above Jesus’ head, announcing the charge against him. It read: “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (38) Two revolutionaries were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. (39) The people passing by shouted abuse, shaking their heads in mockery. (40) “Look at you now!” they yelled at him. “You said you were going to destroy the Temple and rebuild it in three days. Well then, if you are the Son of God, save yourself and come down from the cross!” (41) The leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders also mocked Jesus. (42) “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself! So he is the King of Israel, is he? Let him come down from the cross right now, and we will believe in him! (43) He trusted God, so let God rescue him now if he wants him! For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.'”

Matthew 27:1-10 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor. (3) When Judas, who had betrayed him, realized that Jesus had been condemned to die, he was filled with remorse. So he took the thirty pieces of silver back to the leading priests and the elders. (4) “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” (5) Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (6) The leading priests picked up the coins. “It wouldn’t be right to put this money in the Temple treasury,” they said, “since it was payment for murder.” (7) After some discussion they finally decided to buy the potter’s field, and they made it into a cemetery for foreigners. (8) That is why the field is still called the Field of Blood. (9) This fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah that says, “They took the thirty pieces of silver– the price at which he was valued by the people of Israel, (10) and purchased the potter’s field, as the LORD directed.”

Matthew 27:61-66 NLTse Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (62) The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Genesis Through Numbers

Exodus 16:21 Manna

Exodus 16:21 KJV And they gathered it every morning, every man according to his eating: and when the sun waxed hot, it melted.

After a number of plagues Pharaoh finally gave up for a time, letting Israel go free. It was an answer to a question Moses asked when he first approached the man he grew up with as a brother. To me it rose the question, why couldn’t Moses reach someone he grew up with as a brother? Look at the discussion when Moses first approached Pharaoh. After his presentation to Israel’s leaders, Moses and Aaron went to meet with Pharaoh. They told him, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Let my people go so they may hold a festival in my honor in the wilderness.” “Is that so?” retorted Pharaoh. “And who is the LORD? Why should I listen to him and let Israel go? I don’t know the LORD, and I will not let Israel go.” (Exodus 5:1-2 NLTse).

What is the lesson? We all seem to experience the same problem, members of our own family do not know God. It seems this is a lesson repeated time and time again in Israel’s journey through the wilderness. With all the miracles God performed before their eyes, Israel’s faith remained small. God gave the head of the household the responsibility of performing the detailed ceremony for the Passover to show them the role of the priest in the family was not only a right, but a requirement.

After going through all of these experiences, many of the Israelites showed how much their confidence grew in God. As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the LORD, and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!'” (Exodus 14:10-12 NLTse).

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Genesis Through Numbers
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Genesis Through Numbers. Download the eBook here.

Looking back a few verses we see how some people doubted, being more concerned about themselves more than God’s plan. Not only had they failed to see God’s power, they also misunderstood the reason behind the sequence of events. “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you. I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the LORD!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told. (Exodus 14:2-4 NLTse).

Don’t we often have the same problem. Isn’t this the reason many people try to avoid God when a trial first arises? We try as hard as we can to fight and worry our way through a problem while the Creator is only a prayer away. We trust and rely more on our limited wisdom than our original manufacturer. If only we knew the plans and details God puts into solving our problems. If we did, we may never worry about, or let those situations get to us.

As Israel journeyed to the promised land it became evident they had not planned properly for the trip. After all, they had no idea where they were going or how long it would take. After a few days the little food they brought ran out. They went to Moses, complaining as usual. If one man’s faith was growing, it was Moses. He turned to God and prayed. He knew God would answer. Moses knew God had a plan.

As God looked down at the more than one million people following Moses out of Egypt, He knew exactly what He was going to do. Part of His plan was to wait a little bit to test each individual faith. Some were going to complain no matter what happened. Others waited for real trials to show up before complaining. Many of them could endure the trial for a time before eventually joining what seemed to be the majority of complainers. How many endured until God moved His hand? Did their joy and praise reflect their faith in God? In a way there is a parallel between testing of Israel’s faith and Jesus’ parable of the sower.

When the time was right, God brought bread from Heaven. We are told the Israelites had no idea what it was and called it manna, which means, what is it? Is this also a type of prophecy? John explains what this manna from Heaven represented. It was not only physical food, but also taught a spiritual lesson.

John 6:33-35 KJV For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world. (34) Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. (35) 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.

It seems the simple message about this bread is often misunderstood. Jesus had to explain exactly what this means. Today everyone claims to know what the bread represents but do they understand what it means to never hunger or thirst? This was such an important point, Jesus went on to explain it in more detail.

John 6:49-51 KJV Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. (50) This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. (51) I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.

When we look at what Jesus is explaining, we see He is referring to His sacrifice, which gives us eternal life. The flesh Jesus gave was His life. How do we eat Jesus’ flesh, His life? How many aspects and details does this cover? All of them?

We need to have Jesus living in our hearts, minds, every part of out physical body and spiritual life. We consume Him through His word, like this study. Every time we open His Word, the Spirit prepares a feast. Jesus comes to our hearts, knocks, and can’t wait to sit down and dine with us. This spiritual connection feeds our faith. He answers our prayers, solves our problems, send us blessings though nature, relationships with others, unexpected blessings, every aspect of our lives. Like Israel’s journey through the wilderness, God knows the trials we will face long before we see them.

What other ways do we take Jesus into our lives? How do we take in His spiritual bread and water? What would our lives be without His influence in our life? Are their parts of our lives we still insist we can manage better than Jesus? Why did the manna in the wilderness melt away when the sun rose.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Genesis Through Numbers
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Genesis Through Numbers, Buy the print book here.

Laws of the Prophets

So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds and placing our faith in God. You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding. For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come– and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame. (Hebrews 6:1-6 NLTse).

What have you learned from the Bible lately? Anything at all? Now be honest. Has God shown you the riches and glory embedded in His Holy Book, or did someone tell you something they thought was significant? And was it something from God’s Word with His Word explaining every detail? Or was it more along the lines of pulling out a scripture or two and making a long winded speech about what they thought it meant? Is that really Bible Study? The world seems to think so.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him. Dear friends, we are already God’s children, but he has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears. But we do know that we will be like him, for we will see him as he really is. And all who have this eager expectation will keep themselves pure, just as he is pure. Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him. Anyone who continues to live in him will not sin. But anyone who keeps on sinning does not know him or understand who he is. Dear children, don’t let anyone deceive you about this: When people do what is right, it shows that they are righteous, even as Christ is righteous. (1 John 3:1-7 NLTse).

This world has experienced battles over the Ten Commandments for generations. Have a talk with God about it. I’m sure He will tell you the same thing He told me. There is no problem with His original Ten Commandments. The problem is with the thousands of amendments people added.

What about those other laws? The KJV was translated in a very particular and accurate manner. When the original Greek referred to the Ten Commandments, they always used the word commandments. For laws Moses recorded, the KJV always used the word laws. And when the writers referred to man man versions of the laws, they always used the words doctrines or ordinances.

In this case we see John used the word laws. But which laws? How many people study the books Moses wrote to understand those laws? How many of them allow scripture to explain those laws. What about other laws recorded in the Bible? What about the laws of the prophets? Those are laws all of God’s prophets followed. Following those laws identified them as God’s prophets. Who knows anything about those laws?

When we look at what John wrote, we can see he was pointing us to those laws. As God’s children, it is His job to protect us. God doesn’t look at protecting us as a job. We can’t imagine how God feels about protecting us. We didn’t create mankind and everything in this universe. There is no way anyone can understand God’s concern. Our biggest downfall is not spending time to listen to how much God cares for us when he tries to explain it to us. He tries to reach this world in many ways. God send angels who willing offer protection. God talks to people willing to listen through dreams and visions. And God gave us His Word to show His concern. Not all of those together begin to show us what really lies within God’s heart or why He turned all His attention to one fallen planet.

One way God showed His concern is through His laws. God wrote those laws to protect us. Some people look at those as restrictions. There are more views and opinions on God’s commandments and laws then there are laws. But why waste time debating man’s opinions on those laws? It doesn’t matter where people are on the issue. God has a plan to bring them along into a better understanding.

One of the most powerful laws designed to protect us is one of the most neglected and misunderstood laws. That is the law of God’s prophets. Most people have heard about the law of the prophets. Most Christian organizations have one or another version of that law. But do they understand it?

I’ve questioned people about that law over the past few months. Most answers are pretty much the same.

To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20 KJV)

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. (1 Corinthians 14:32-33 KJV)

So we see one point made. Of course prophets have to speak according to God’s law. What do we learn from that? Over half the sermons in churches, on TV, radio, and the Interest contain one or two verses, then a long winded explanation of what they think it means. They used God’s Word. Does that make them legitimate prophets?

What about Satan. He quoted scripture. If we limited an explanation of the law God’s prophets follow to that simple explanation, we are in trouble.

Jeremiah gave us one of the best summaries for the law all of God’s prophets followed. “Suppose one of the people or one of the prophets or priests asks you, ‘What prophecy has the LORD burdened you with now?’ You must reply, ‘You are the burden! The LORD says he will abandon you!’ “If any prophet, priest, or anyone else says, ‘I have a prophecy from the LORD,’ I will punish that person along with his entire family. You should keep asking each other, ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ But stop using this phrase, ‘prophecy from the LORD.’ For people are using it to give authority to their own ideas, turning upside down the words of our God, the living God, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “This is what you should say to the prophets: ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ (Jeremiah 23:33-37 NLTse).

To the unwary eye, this may not appear to be much. But when we apply God’s laws of context, the important details stand out. Look at what the author repeated to draw attention to. ‘What is the LORD’s answer?’ or ‘What is the LORD saying?’ Now listen to God’s Spirit who is telling us to look into the original language. You should always double check. Especially when you feel that nudging from God’s Spirit when your in His Word. What does that word what actually mean?

WHAT H4100 מה מ־ מ־ מה מה mâh mah mâ ma meh

A primitive particle; properly interrogative what? (including how?, why? and when?); but also exclamations like what! (including how!), or indefinitely what (including whatever, and even relatively that which); often used with prefixes in various adverbial or conjugational senses: – how (long, oft, [-soever]), [no-] thing, what (end, good, purpose, thing), whereby (-fore, -in, -to, -with), (for) why.

It’s not by accident that little word contains a number of meanings. The first is HOW. God’s prophets have to be able to explain how God talked to them. The second is why. God’s prophets have to be able to explain why God talked to them. The third is when. God’s prophets will identify when God spoke to them.

Look at all the prophets in the Bible. Did they follow that rule? Pick one out and look.

Haggai 1:1-3 NLTse On August 29 of the second year of King Darius’s reign, the LORD gave a message through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Jeshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest. (2) “This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says: The people are saying, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the LORD.'” (3) Then the LORD sent this message through the prophet Haggai:

Hosea 1:1-2 NLTse The LORD gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. (2) When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.”

Joel 1:1-3 NLTse The LORD gave this message to Joel son of Pethuel. (2) Hear this, you leaders of the people. Listen, all who live in the land. In all your history, has anything like this happened before? (3) Tell your children about it in the years to come, and let your children tell their children. Pass the story down from generation to generation.

Daniel 4:1-5 NLTse King Nebuchadnezzar sent this message to the people of every race and nation and language throughout the world: “Peace and prosperity to you! (2) “I want you all to know about the miraculous signs and wonders the Most High God has performed for me. (3) How great are his signs, how powerful his wonders! His kingdom will last forever, his rule through all generations. (4) “I, Nebuchadnezzar, was living in my palace in comfort and prosperity. (5) But one night I had a dream that frightened me; I saw visions that terrified me as I lay in my bed.

Daniel 8:1-2 NLTse During the third year of King Belshazzar’s reign, I, Daniel, saw another vision, following the one that had already appeared to me. (2) In this vision I was at the fortress of Susa, in the province of Elam, standing beside the Ulai River.

We can see, even Nebuchadnezzar followed God’s law for His prophets. Why do we see God’s prophets consistently explaining how God communicated with them, but today it seems to be another one of those laws people claim is no longer required.

This contradicts a number of prophecies where God promised to send an outpouring of His Spirit. “Then, after doing all those things, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on servants–men and women alike. For I will pour out water to quench your thirst and to irrigate your parched fields. And I will pour out my Spirit on your descendants, and my blessing on your children. They will thrive like watered grass, like willows on a riverbank. Some will proudly claim, ‘I belong to the LORD.’ Others will say, ‘I am a descendant of Jacob.’ Some will write the LORD’s name on their hands and will take the name of Israel as their own.” “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken! (Joel 2:28-29, Isaiah 44:3-5, Isaiah 59:21 NLTse).

When God promises something, He intends to deliver, whether we are ready or not. But how many people are prepared? How many people are able to distinguish between God’s prophets, those speaking for themselves, prophets sent by the enemy, and everything in between?

Think about it. What good is a prophet if they can’t explain how God talked to them? Then look at the main role of a prophet, which is to lead people back to God. Which is to lead people into a personal relationship with God. What prophet would lack those qualities? Only prophets looking out for their own interest, or working for the enemy. They have no interest or ability to lead people to God. They won’t explain how God communicated with them, how God communicates with this world, or any other aspects about a real relationship with God.

Let’s take a second look at that answer other people gave. The problem I see is, people see one aspect of a law and think they know every detail. They fail to pray, listen to God, and search His Word like looking for hidden treasure. Let’s take a deeper look at Jeremiah 23 to see how a prophet explained God’s law. The first detail to check of course is the introduction, which establishes the main theme.

Jeremiah 23:1-2 NLTse “What sorrow awaits the leaders of my people–the shepherds of my sheep–for they have destroyed and scattered the very ones they were expected to care for,” says the LORD. (2) Therefore, this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says to these shepherds: “Instead of caring for my flock and leading them to safety, you have deserted them and driven them to destruction. Now I will pour out judgment on you for the evil you have done to them.

The first thing we notice is how Jeremiah used the symbol shepherds. Jeremiah clearly identified that symbol by defining it as leaders. Jeremiah also used a contrast. God often used contrasts to teach lessons. Which makes the use of proof texts so dangerous. Many people use the contrast and teach a lesson it was never intended to teach. In this case the contrasts are scatter and caring, or safety. Leaders will either lead people to safety or destroy them. God used such a clear contrast for a reason. People may think they are doing good, but in fact they are causing harm they can’t hope to estimate. Look at the related words Jeremiah used.

Sorrow, destroyed, scattered, deserted, destruction, and evil.

Care, caring, and safety.

The good aspects are easy to follow while the negative aspects have a tendency to grow on their own. We can learn a lot from the simple lessons in God’s Word when we follow the laws of context. Jeremiah included a prophecy about Jesus in that chapter.

Jeremiah 23:3-7 NLTse But I will gather together the remnant of my flock from the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their own sheepfold, and they will be fruitful and increase in number. (4) Then I will appoint responsible shepherds who will care for them, and they will never be afraid again. Not a single one will be lost or missing. I, the LORD have spoken! (5) “For the time is coming,” says the LORD, “when I will raise up a righteous descendant from King David’s line. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right throughout the land. (6) And this will be his name: ‘The LORD Is Our Righteousness.’ In that day Judah will be saved, and Israel will live in safety. (7) “In that day,” says the LORD, “when people are taking an oath, they will no longer say, ‘As surely as the LORD lives, who rescued the people of Israel from the land of Egypt.’

The prophecy included a promise to fix the problem. That problem was, leaders misleading people. How did Jesus fix the problem? Jeremiah listed two details. Jesus will gather His flock together. Once again, we’re given a detail, but not the step by step process Jesus will use. That’s one aspect of prophecies people have to realize. Prophecies seldom contain details showing exactly how they will be fulfilled. To find the answer, we have to follow the laws of context to locate and study the recorded fulfillment. When we look back at the one sided definition of a prophet the world leans on, we now can see how that detail can be explained.

It seems most people claim to know, God’s prophets will speak according to God’s Word. But what does that mean? What good does it do if you can’t explain what that means? How do you explain how modern day prophets need to follow God’s Word and law? Jeremiah included that law when He recorded a prophecy about Jesus. That prophecy has a recorded fulfillment found in 1 Timothy 6.

1 Timothy 6:8-16 NLTse So if we have enough food and clothing, let us be content. (9) But people who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. (10) For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows. (11) But you, Timothy, are a man of God; so run from all these evil things. Pursue righteousness and a godly life, along with faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (12) Fight the good fight for the true faith. Hold tightly to the eternal life to which God has called you, which you have confessed so well before many witnesses. (13) And I charge you before God, who gives life to all, and before Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony before Pontius Pilate, (14) that you obey this command without wavering. Then no one can find fault with you from now until our Lord Jesus Christ comes again. (15) For at just the right time Christ will be revealed from heaven by the blessed and only almighty God, the King of all kings and Lord of all lords. (16) He alone can never die, and he lives in light so brilliant that no human can approach him. No human eye has ever seen him, nor ever will. All honor and power to him forever! Amen.

Once we compare prophecies with their recorded fulfillment, we see how they react with one another like a chemical reaction that brings an unexpected result. In this case we’re shown how money plays a part in making those shepherds mislead people. We also see how Paul included a list of attributes God’s preachers and prophets must have and practice.

We find recorded fulfillments by paying attention to key words in the prophecy and its recorded fulfillment. But the laws of context don’t stop there. Introductions and summation to both chapters are compared to make sure they both address the same theme. Those are the laws of context God’s prophets will know and understand. Following those laws will prove if a prophet is speaking according to God’s Word or another source.

Jeremiah filled in a few details about false prophets. That’s what most people concentrate on. As a matter of fact, Jeremiah pointed that out. Therefore, this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says concerning the prophets: “I will feed them with bitterness and give them poison to drink. For it is because of Jerusalem’s prophets that wickedness has filled this land.” This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says to his people: “Do not listen to these prophets when they prophesy to you, filling you with futile hopes. They are making up everything they say. They do not speak for the LORD! (Jeremiah 23:15-16 NLTse).

What does it mean to be filled with bitterness and poison? Listen to some of the world’s most popular preachers. You’ll find the answer in minutes. Look at how they pull out a few little texts, then without a shred of evidence, cast insults and accusations on other religious groups. They talk about those groups as if they were once leaders in those churches, claiming to know about secret plans, and how those other groups think. They desensitize the issue by leading people to believe all those people live and think alike. They make it appear they are doing Jesus a great service by grouping all those people together, making Jesus’ job of judgment easier.

Is that what a teacher or prophet from God is supposed to be? Jeremiah called that kind of teaching, “futile hopes.” On the other hand, those preaches fill people with the attitude salvation comes from joining their club. Jeremiah called that a false promise of peace.

They keep saying to those who despise my word, ‘Don’t worry! The LORD says you will have peace!’ And to those who stubbornly follow their own desires, they say, ‘No harm will come your way!’ “Have any of these prophets been in the LORD’s presence to hear what he is really saying? Has even one of them cared enough to listen? (Jeremiah 23:17-18 NLTse).

Jeremiah described their messages in plain simple, easy to understand terms. Those people despise God’s Word. They don’t know it, nor do they have any intentions of following God’s Word. They want the freedom to pick and choose what they want to teach and when they want to teach it. What kind of Bible would we have today if God’s prophets had that attitude? God made it clear, those preachers and prophets are acting on their own. They didn’t go to God for their messages.

Since false prophets refuse to approach God’s throne, His prophets must be willing and excited to stand before God. Since it is something they experience, they should be able to explain the experience, and teach people how to meet at God’s throne. If they had stood before me and listened to me, they would have spoken my words, and they would have turned my people from their evil ways and deeds. Am I a God who is only close at hand?” says the LORD. “No, I am far away at the same time. Can anyone hide from me in a secret place? Am I not everywhere in all the heavens and earth?” says the LORD. (Jeremiah 23:22-24 NLTse). God made it plain, He is ready and available any time.

Do your preachers and prophets teach you how to comfort people asking for prayer? Do they teach you how to encourage people to approach God’s throne for the answer? Or do they tell you to say, “I’ll pray.” And break your vow quicker than it took to make it?

Nothing happens without God knowing about it. Nothing happens without God having plans to use the worst trials to increase understanding and teach a number of lessons. What are those lessons? Are you prepared to endure a major trial and waste the opportunity to learn how it fits into God’s plan of salvation by relying on human wisdom for an explanation? Or are you going to boldly approach God’s throne to learn the full story only He knows?

Going to a person for answers is like buying a product in a huge box. opening that box, looking at the last line of the instructions, and calling the 800 number to ask how to assemble the product. Wouldn’t it be a lot smarter to read and follow the instructions? Going to God’s Bible when you face a problem is another way God communicates with us and confirms His message.

This brings us right back to the popular definition of a prophet. If they speak according to God’s Word, they should be able to explain how God’s Word works in people’s lives. How God’s Word comforts as well as directs. Think of the world we might have today if preachers and prophets spent more time teaching what they should be teaching, and less time spreading their own thoughts and agenda. How long will this go on? If they are prophets, they are prophets of deceit, inventing everything they say. By telling these false dreams, they are trying to get my people to forget me, just as their ancestors did by worshiping the idols of Baal. (Jeremiah 23:26-27 NLTse).

“Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain! Does not my word burn like fire?” says the LORD. “Is it not like a mighty hammer that smashes a rock to pieces? (Jeremiah 23:28-29 NLTse). Jeremiah included some good advice. Compare your own feelings between those man made messages and your personal contact with God. There is only one that burns inside you. There is only one that will make a real difference in your life. There is only one that will draw you into a closer relationship with God. All those others are designed to draw you away from God and into chains forged by this world.

Jeremiah followed up with another list of what false prophets do. Those are the verses they like to concentrate on and use to point a finger at other people, churches, and religions. But do all their complaints and accusations ever accomplish anything in God’s plan of salvation? Jeremiah repeated those warnings about those false prophets because of what they do. Because of what they add to their negative messages. They add an imagine of a false hope. They claim to have truth. The only evidence they provide is a long list of things they claim everyone else does wrong. But that never solves a single problem. But suppose they respond, ‘This is a prophecy from the LORD!’ Then you should say, ‘This is what the LORD says: Because you have used this phrase, “prophecy from the LORD,” even though I warned you not to use it, I will forget you completely. I will expel you from my presence, along with this city that I gave to you and your ancestors. And I will make you an object of ridicule, and your name will be infamous throughout the ages.'” (Jeremiah 23:38-40 NLTse).

God doesn’t mix words in the summary in Jeremiah 23. If they don’t want to listen to God, He will expel them from His presence. If they are not getting their message from God, where are they getting it from? And where will it lead?

If your wondering how God communicates with this world, read Daniel’s book. It is a manual showing how God communicates with this world. It also serves as a test for God’s prophets. Wannabe prophets in this world love to impress people with their so called knowledge of Daniel. They constantly try to interpret Daniel, but look at how they do it, and compare the methods they use to those methods Daniel recorded. Prophets who don’t know how to approach God’s throne, or wait on God for the answers will do the only thing they know. They go to the world for answers. Pay attention to the answers they give and if your wise, you’ll see the patterns they use.

To understand Daniel, most people have to forgot everything they’ve been taught from that book. Most of the information they’ve been taught is superficial at best. To get past the messages the world wants you to see, and into the spiritual lessons Daniel recorded, you have to learn how to set the world and its beliefs aside.

When Gabriel was sent to Daniel, he was afraid. Daniel hid his face in the ground. Gabriel told Daniel to take his face off the ground, look up and learn. Gabriel then repeated a series of words involving communication. Gabriel repeated words like listen, hear, pay attention, and message.

We have the choice to either continue to listen to those self proclaimed preachers and prophets with their faces on the earth, relying on this world for their interpretations, or we can learn how God communicates with us from Daniel and some of the other reliable prophets.

Discovering the Studies of the Great Disappointment

What lessons should the disappoint have taught us? I thought it would be interesting to reverse engineer this information to find out what methods of study Ellen White and the others may have used. Maybe this will show how, or why this information was missed, and reveal the lesson God taught. First it will help to gather a little back ground information on the subject.

Mr. Miller and those who were in union with him supposed that the cleansing of the sanctuary spoken of in Daniel 8:14 meant the

1843 chart

1843 chart

purifying of the earth by fire prior to its becoming the abode of the saints. This was to take place at the second advent of Christ; therefore we looked for that event at the end of the 2300 days, or years. But after our disappointment the Scriptures were carefully searched, with prayer and earnest thought; and after a period of suspense, light poured in upon our darkness; doubt and uncertainty were swept away. {CET 56.2}

Instead of the prophecy of Daniel 8:14 referring to the purifying of the earth, it was now plain that it pointed to the closing work of our High Priest in heaven, the finishing of the atonement, and the preparing of the people to abide the day of His coming. {CET 56.3}

Our calculation of the prophetic time was so simple and plain that even children could understand it. From the date of the decree of the king of Persia, found in Ezra 7, which was given in 457 before Christ, the 2300 years of Daniel 8:14 were supposed to terminate with 1843. Accordingly we looked to the end of this year for the coming of the Lord. We were sadly disappointed when the year entirely passed away, and the Saviour had not come. {CET 49.2}

It was not at first perceived that if the decree did not go forth at the beginning of the year 457 B. C., the 2300 years would not be completed at the close of 1843. But it was ascertained that the decree was given near the close of the year 457 B. C., and therefore the prophetic period must reach to the fall of the year 1844. Therefore the vision of time did not tarry, though it had seemed to do so. We learned to rest upon the language of the prophet: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.” Habakkuk 2:3. {CET 50.1}

God tested and proved His people by the passing of the time in 1843. The mistake made in reckoning the prophetic periods was not at once discovered, even by learned men who opposed the views of those who were looking for Christ’s coming. Scholars declared that Mr. Miller was right in his calculation of the time, though they disputed him in regard to the event that would crown that period. But they, and the waiting people of God, were in a common error on the question of time. {CET 50.2}

Those who had been disappointed were not long left in darkness; for in searching the prophetic periods with earnest prayer the error was discovered, and the tracing of the prophetic pencil down through the tarrying time. In the joyful expectation of the coming of Christ, the apparent tarrying of the vision had not been taken into account, and was a sad and unlooked-for surprise. Yet this very trial was necessary to develop and strengthen the sincere believers in the truth. {CET 50.3}

As early as 1842, the direction given in this prophecy, to “write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it,” had suggested to Charles Fitch the preparation of a prophetic chart to illustrate the visions of Daniel and the Revelation. The publication of this chart was regarded as a fulfillment of the command given by Habakkuk. No one, however, then noticed that an apparent delay in the accomplishment of the vision—a tarrying time—is presented in the same prophecy. After the disappointment, this scripture appeared very significant: “The vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. . . . The just shall live by his faith.” {GC88 392.1}

Ellen White has recorded some very significant points to consider. This prophecy had been studied by people lead by God, who dedicated themselves to the work of accurately interpreting this message from God. When the time had passed they studied the scriptures to see if they had missed something. In their new studies they found an important verse in which they had overlooked a small portion. We know they had studied this verse, because we are told it had been considered as early as 1842.

We know, God held His hand over this portion of the text until the time God chose to reveal it. Which leads me to my question. Knowing how the early pioneers studied the Bible, do connections exist between these two texts?

Image result for william millerWilliam Miller recorded his 14 Rules of Interpretation in which he explains the methods of study used and taught to the early Adventists. His rules tell us, they used simple word studies, in which key words are identified and used to find related texts. Using William Millers method of simple word studies, let’s examine the texts they studied, and see if the key words should have revealed this message before the disappointment.

Daniel 8:14-19 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. (15) And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. (16) And I heard a man’s voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. (17) So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. (18) Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. (19) And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be.

Habakkuk 2:1-6 I will stand upon my watch, and set me upon the tower, and will watch to see what he will say unto me, and what I shall answer when I am reproved. (2) And the LORD answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it. (3) For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak, and not lie: though it tarry, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry. (4) Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (5) Yea also, because he transgresseth by wine, he is a proud man, neither keepeth at home, who enlargeth his desire as hell, and is as death, and cannot be satisfied, but gathereth unto him all nations, and heapeth unto him all people: (6) Shall not all these take up a parable against him, and a taunting proverb against him, and say, Woe to him that increaseth that which is not his! how long? and to him that ladeth himself with thick clay!

These two verses contain a number of common key words. The word, “vision” is used three times in Daniel. A leading indicator to pay attention. The word, “vision” is found in Habakkuk twice. The word, “end” is also found in Daniel three times. In Habakkuk it is found once.

Daniel uses the phrase, “time appointed.” Habakkuk uses, “appointed time.”

Daniel uses the term, “said unto me’ twice. Habakkuk uses the terms, “say unto me,” and “it shall speak.”

There are a number of other similarities in the two texts, but these example illustrate the point, these two texts are spiritually related, and the relationship can be easily discovered through a simple word study.

Why would God hide this information until after the time had passed? There may be many reasons. The first may be the shaking, in which the moderate believers were separated from the true believers. You will notice, only a small number of people went back to study the scriptures.

Another lesson God may have been teaching is, we should never be satisfied with the interpretations we have. We need to continue to study to find anything we may have missed.

This also shows, God is in charge, no matter what we may think. When they had studied Habakkuk in 1842, why didn’t they understand the entire text? There were other parts of the texts they did not understand at the time.

After the disappointment they noticed Daniel was sleeping while the message was given to him. When they realized this, it instantly lead them to the parable of the ten virgins. This teaches another lesson. When God reveals something, He reveals it in a number of passages. One person may discover one, another person will discover a different verse, both have the same spiritual meaning. This removes the feeling of self reliance.

This teaches us we are supposed to cooperate when studying the Bible. God does not reveal all His truth to any one individual, but a little here, and a little there. Once the whole is put together, it leads to a greater understanding. This also shows, God has used His word to separate the wheat from the tares. In other words, those who think they know everything, from God’s true followers.

This also teaches the proper method of Bible study. God’s words must be carefully compared between one verse and another. When simple words are overlooked, the message is lost. When speculation enters into a study of God’s word, the true meaning of God’s message is missed.

In His word, God has revealed saving truths. As a people we should be earnest students of prophecy; we should not rest until we become intelligent in regard to the subject of the sanctuary, which is brought out in the visions of Daniel and John. This subject sheds great light on our present position and work, and gives us unmistakable proof that God has led us in our past experience. It explains our disappointment in 1844, showing us that the sanctuary to be cleansed was not the earth, as we had supposed, but that Christ then entered into the most holy apartment of the heavenly sanctuary, and is there performing the closing work of His priestly office, in fulfillment of the words of the angel to the prophet Daniel, ‘Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.’ Daniel 8:14. {LS 278.1}

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62

Isaiah 59:1-21 Webs of Misery and Destruction

This is a short Bible study on Isaiah chapter 59 that shows how to find where the fulfillment to this prophecy is recoded and how to check to ensure you have the correct fulfillment. In other words, how to eliminate any guesswork in matching prophecies to their recorded fulfillment.

Isaiah 59:1-21 NLTse Listen! The LORD’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. (2) It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. (3) Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. (4) No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin. (5) They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever falls into their webs will die, and there’s danger even in getting near them. (6) Their webs can’t be made into clothing, and nothing they do is productive. All their activity is filled with sin, and violence is their trademark. (7) Their feet run to do evil, and they rush to commit murder. They think only about sinning. Misery and destruction always follow them. (8) They don’t know where to find peace or what it means to be just and good. They have mapped out crooked roads, and no one who follows them knows a moment’s peace. (9) So there is no justice among us, and we know nothing about right living. We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. (10) We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead. (11) We growl like hungry bears; we moan like mournful doves. We look for justice, but it never comes. We look for rescue, but it is far away from us. (12) For our sins are piled up before God and testify against us. Yes, we know what sinners we are. (13) We know we have rebelled and have denied the LORD. We have turned our backs on our God. We know how unfair and oppressive we have been, carefully planning our deceitful lies. (14) Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found. Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed. (15) Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The LORD looked and was displeased to find there was no justice. (16) He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him. (17) He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head. He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. (18) He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth. (19) In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD. (20) “The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD. (21) “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!

I don’t think we’re looked at such a one sided prophecy in Isaiah. Most of this chapter deals on negative aspects. Only the last few verses have a positive spin. It’s as if translators took out this one segment because its theme was centered on one aspect of human nature. Look at the collection of keys words.

Sins, lies, corruption, sinning, rebelled, denied, deceitful lies

murderers, murder, Misery, destruction, attacked, evil

webs

deadly, die, danger

darkness, dark, gloom

grope, stumble

unfair, oppressive, oppressed

All of those key words are related including the way web is used in the chapter. They could have been grouped together as one related list. There are other key words but this list seems to be the obvious guideline to search for parallel texts. As we’ve learned, key words will lead to scripture with the same theme. From that point it’s a matter of checking introductions and summations to make certain both chapters share the same contexts. That’s when we are certain the fulfillment explains the prophecy.

Looking at Isaiah 59 it may be questionable whether or not Isaiah is describing a condition in Judah at that time, or if he is pointing to the future. We don’t know until we check scripture. Living in this world it is not difficult to assume problems Isaiah listed describe the time he prophecised in, the era New Testament writers covered, our time, or any time in between. Let’s face it, sin has been and is a problem in this world and it is going to take a major event to solve the problem – eliminate sin.

PProphecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62. Now you can download this eBook direct from the author.

It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore. This leads most people to believe a lot of popular teaching these days. Are they true? Has God turned away from this world and left us on our own to face the enemy and his army of angels? Take a look at the timing. Has God communicated with this world since Isaiah was given this prophecy or vision? Of course. Jesus came to this world to explain how God communicates with us. If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’ “But I will send you the Advocate–the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry. (John 15:24-27 NLTse). Okay what do we get out of those four verses? Jesus’ enemies hated Him. How does what compare with Isaiah 59? “Your hands are the hands of murderers, and your fingers are filthy with sin. Your lips are full of lies, and your mouth spews corruption. No one cares about being fair and honest. The people’s lawsuits are based on lies. They conceive evil deeds and then give birth to sin. They hatch deadly snakes and weave spiders’ webs. Whoever falls into their webs will die, and there’s danger even in getting near them.” Like those priests who killed Jesus, there were people trying to discredit God and kill His followers a long time ago. It still goes on today. People claim to teach about Jesus but they carry their own message. They don’t listen to God’s Spirit. They don’t know Jesus. They don’t receive their message from Jesus. They miss details while eliminating important information. Some preachers and people may think their doing a good job but have no idea they are turning people away from God’s simple plan of salvation.

Even when God sheds light on this world most people miss it. “We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark. Among the living, we are like the dead.” I’ve seen this in the news. The US wants to build a multi-billion dollar space system to shoot down meteors just in case God forgot one. In essence a move like this is designed by the enemy to take eyes off God while placing trust in science and government. It’s sort of like those people hiding behind Jerusalem’s walls. Instead of trusting in God and obeying Him, they make plans to discredit God, His ability and concern. Isn’t that what the US is doing – hiding behind a wall of money while worshiping science over God? So what happened a few weeks later? News comes out about a giant volcano in the middle of the US. God spoke with a meteor that passed over Russia last year. Science and rulers shook their fists at God and plugged their ears. Not even religious leaders saw or heard anything. So God repeats Himself with a volcano located deep inside the country that boasted the loudest. It seems science and leaders forgot to look under the ground to see all of God’s domain. God has His way of making the wisdom of this world look foolish. This almost seems like a chapter out of Exodus using different elements for new plagues. This time God moved from what man thought he could see to something he couldn’t see, but is much closer to home. See how the threat or curse moved? Notice how the plagues in Exodus moved from the river to the field to inside homes? What’s going to happen if the world doesn’t listen to these signs and warnings?


 

Isaiah paints a dim picture showing a pattern the world has repeated a thousand times and continues to repeat. Those studying future prophecy will not argue that the trend will continue until Jesus returns. We should also know, Jesus and God’s Spirit is hard at work to change the tide. It’s not going to be easy. We may not see world changing trends, but God has always centered His efforts on individuals which is one of the most difficult concepts for us to phantom. I have no idea why. Most Christians pray to God. Most think God hears them. Most believe God works in their lives. So why would those same Christians think some worldwide event, meeting, rally, or out pouring of God’s Spirit is in the works? That’s what most people who rely on future prophecy are waiting for. They don’t plan on making a move toward God until they see the sign they’re told to wait for. It seems that sign changes from day to day or week to week. If you watch some of those modern day future prophecy gurus you can’t help but think prophecy is a moving target. But it’s not. God wrote the fulfillment of every prophecy in His book long before it happened. That’s part of being God.

As you’ve noticed, the beginning of this study included the entire chapter of Isaiah 59. Just about the whole chapter covers a single aspect, the world is evil and people in it run to do evil. They love sin more than God. In the summation Isaiah introduced a few words of hope. “He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.” How is God going to save them? “”And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!” This sounds nice. It sounds worth repeating. But what does it mean? Of course it means God’s Spirit has been with man and remains with us. What words has God’s Spirit given us? Has God’s Spirit spoken to a single person or a chosen group of church leaders to speak to? We should be thankful we don’t live in a world or time when one man claiming to be god in earth determines right from wrong, what’s to be preached and what blasphemy is. There was a time extending for generations when one man determined what was to be preached, how it was to be preached, who it was preached to, and who preached his message. Whoever didn’t follow the creed of one man was tortured, killed, burnt on a stake, or worse. God showed this world what men are capable of. Then God opened new doors to put an end to one man, or group rule in this world. Are we walking through those doors again?

Isaiah’s chapter closed by showing God’s Spirit will always be with us. Jesus came to explain how God works with us. His disciples were examples of how we fall short of that understanding as well as examples of what to preach, how to preach, who to preach to, in addition to explaining what Jesus taught them in easy to understand terms. Those disciples didn’t change anything Jesus taught. They didn’t add to it or subtract from it, but showed how those lessons are related. This study shows how Paul explained Isaiah 59 to the Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:1-10 NLTse Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. (2) You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (3) All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (4) But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, (5) that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (6) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus. (7) So God can point to us in all future ages as examples of the incredible wealth of his grace and kindness toward us, as shown in all he has done for us who are united with Christ Jesus. (8) God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. (9) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. (10) For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

The introduction to Ephesians makes it clear we, people following Christ were no different than the rest of the world. “Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil–the commander of the powers in the unseen world.” Paul didn’t pull any punches. Sure we’re all sinners and that’s an important part of our ministry, remembering where we came from. Remember Abraham was called out of the land of the Chaldeans. That was Babylon. Paul the author of this book persecuted Christians. He arrested, beat, and jailed them. We know he stood by watching Stephen stoned to death. Then there was Peter, Andrew, James, and John, all fishermen. They didn’t have many leadership skills. Not the kind you would expect to find in a small group of people starting a new church, or shall we say religion. Maybe it was just a fresh way of looking at God or returning to a way long lost, hidden under generations of sin. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else.

After we realize where we came from, how do we figure out where to go? The first step is to realize how and why we were changed. Paul explained how the prophecy in Isaiah 59 was fulfilled. “He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him. He put on righteousness as his body armor and placed the helmet of salvation on his head.” As usual, it’s always best to let God’s Word explain the fulfillment. “God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” Change is never an easy process. It is not an instant change. When you become a new Christian it is like facing a battle on two sides. One side wants you to change, to be a better person. The other side wants to pull you back by sending every kind of temptation and trial you can imagine. At times it seems you’re not going anywhere. Some days you’ll want to give up. Remember God is stronger and Jesus already won the battle. Also think of what Elisha told his servant when everything looked lost. “Don’t be afraid!” Elisha told him. “For there are more on our side than on theirs!” Then Elisha prayed, “O LORD, open his eyes and let him see!” The LORD opened the young man’s eyes, and when he looked up, he saw that the hillside around Elisha was filled with horses and chariots of fire.” (2 Kings 6:16-17 NLTse). How can we loose when we have a much larger army around us and they are on fire?

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Sure we’re saved by God’s grace and sure it’s a gift from God. Does that mean we have nothing to do? Look at the texts carefully. “We are God’s masterpiece.” What does that mean? “He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” If we’re a masterpiece, there has to be some changes before a canvas or block of marble can become a masterpiece. We become God’s new creation in Christ. And Paul tells us why, “so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Remember the study when we looked at details about the book God wrote for us long before we were born? Is all of this fitting together? Ask yourself these questions. Is God changing me or recreating me into the masterpiece He originally designed? Is God leading be back to follow the story of my life He originally wrote for me? Some people may argue this takes away our freedom of choice. Ask yourself another question. Do you want to live forever in a world like this or the perfect world God originally created? If Jesus is going to recreate a new world, don’t you think you have to undergo a few changes to fit in? It’s just not you. As Paul pointed out, “all of us used to live that way.” Paul also wanted to tell us how far this message should reach. He covers that in the summation for Ephesians 2 which we have to compare to Isaiah 59.

Ephesians 2:16-22 NLTse (16) Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. (17) He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. (18) Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. (19) So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. (20) Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. (21) We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. (22) Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

At first glance the summaries for Isaiah 59 and Ephesians 2 seem to contrast one another and they do. “He was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm, and his justice sustained him.” This could lead people to look for the avenging Messiah those priests who opposed Jesus were looking for. This shows how a parallel chapter will disclose the unexpected interpretation to a symbol. Paul filled in not only the name but details showing how the prophecy was fulfilled. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. How does this help to explain the summation of Isaiah 59? We see the prophecy pointed to Jesus who intervened to help the oppressed. We also see that by His death on the cross, “he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm.” This puts a strange twist on Jesus’ sacrifice. Did you ever look at Jesus’ death on the cross as a show of His strong arm? Think about it. Arm is a symbol. It required a lot of courage and inner strength to die on the cross. The symbolic arm doesn’t point to physical strength but character.

Isaiah used other symbols Paul revealed. “He clothed himself with a robe of vengeance and wrapped himself in a cloak of divine passion. He will repay his enemies for their evil deeds. His fury will fall on his foes. He will pay them back even to the ends of the earth.” Of course robe and cloak are symbols. Vengeance and repay are also symbols we can understand by reading Paul’s explanation. “Our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.” Look at Jesus’ enemies who opposed all of Jesus’ followers. They thrived on hostility. They created hostility. They were convinced hostility ensured their positions and income. When Jesus and His disciples brought together Jews and Gentiles, they put an end to that hostility. In essence they put an end to the hold those religious leaders had on their followers. Those religious leaders payed to have Jesus betrayed and Jesus repaid them by putting an end to their strangle hold on the Jews. This cut into their income. Jesus didn’t fight that war with any type of weapon they expected. Jesus fought with righteousness and salvation, the last thing they expected. Generations later they still can’t figure it out.

“The Redeemer will come to Jerusalem to buy back those in Israel who have turned from their sins,” says the LORD. “And this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit will not leave them, and neither will these words I have given you. They will be on your lips and on the lips of your children and your children’s children forever. I, the LORD, have spoken!” Isaiah’s prophecy tells about a message, but doesn’t tell us exactly what that message is. This is another detail Paul points us to. “He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near.” Paul used the phase Good News for a reason. One of the major misconceptions Christians have, carry, and teach is the Good News which is also translated Gospel. If nothing else we should learn one lesson from the Gospel. Jesus prayed for every person before He met them and knew exactly what to say to them, how to heal or help them, and answer questions from those who opposed Him. How did Jesus know all of that? He prayed long and hard. Most of Jesus’ prayers consisted of listening. Why bother praying if you already know the answer? Why bother praying if your not going to listen to God’s answer? The Gospel represents people who learned how to communicate with God like Jesus did. Look at how Paul explained it. “Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us.” What does it mean to come to God? It better mean listening to Him. I don’t think one of us has earned the right to go to God with demands, comments, or a better way of doing things. I don’t think God needs advice on fulfilling His plan of salvation. Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? (Isaiah 40:14 NLTse).

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.” Paul also explained another portion of Isaiah’s prophecy. “In the west, people will respect the name of the LORD; in the east, they will glorify him. For he will come like a raging flood tide driven by the breath of the LORD.” The book of Acts explains how Christianity grew at such a fast rate no one could control the tide. Jesus sent vengeance upon His enemies by creating a situation they couldn’t control. This left them with a lot of sleepless nights. It also formed divisions within their established religious order. Without God’s Spirit they were tossed and turned like a raging sea. Everyone thought they had the only solution and insisted their plans had to be followed to the letter. Methods they used to build the unity they wanted turned out to be a weapon destroying everything they dedicated their lives to. Once they took their eyes off Jesus they sunk faster than Peter on that stormy sea. Only Jesus could lift them out of the grave they dug for themselves. The faster their house fell, the quicker God’s house grew. “Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

Comparing those summaries verse by verse we’ve seen how one explains the other. God used more symbols than anyone could ever imagine. Without God’s Spirit we would have never found those simple explanations or seen how Jesus fulfilled His promise of vengeance by dying on the cross and opening up a path to God’s throne not only for Jews, but Gentiles. This pulled the floor out from under the Jewish religious order. Loosing members equated to loss of income. Breaking down those barriers between Jews and Gentiles ensured that the Jewish religious order would never regain the glory it once had.

We’ve also seen how parallel chapters explain one another. All we did was follow simple Bible Study rules or patterns but highlighting keys words, looking at the patterns, using key words to search for parallel New Testament texts, checking introductions and summations to ensure we are using chapters with the same theme and context, then study the chapters together verse by verse to unlock lessons just below the surface.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Zechariah Chapter 6 Through Malachi

Malachi 4:5-6 Sending You the Prophet Elijah

Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. (6) His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, the last study in this series of books. Not because the task is complete. I am looking forward to getting back into the gospels and begin work on Luke and then John. There is still so much work to do and so much to learn. Yes this has been a learning process for me. I have to admit, about 90% of what is in this book, I saw for the first time when I compared all those parallel chapters and prayed about the spiritual links and lessons. Then it was just a matter of writing.

His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. This explains my deepest thoughts and emotions while working on these books about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. It has been like working with a kind, gentile, loving father at my side every step of the way. But I know there are a lot of details I missed, and some I forgot to include. Other details were just too difficult to explain. But I understand there are just some things God wanted to sit down and personally explain to you. That’s just the way He works. After all, if you’re a parent, you know there are certain things you have to teach on a one on one basis. I hope you know there are things in this world only you can teach your child. And if you let those opportunities slip by, the world will jump in and take your place.

Can you image a day when fathers hearts will turn to their children and children will respond with love and understanding? The Bible of course gives us an example to learn from. And of course those lessons are often taught using contracts. Luke is the only author who mentioned Zechariah, so we will use Luke 1 as a parallel chapter.

Luke 1:13-20 NLTse But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. (14) You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, (15) for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. (16) And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. (17) He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (18) Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” (19) Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! (20) But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

The first thing the key words point out in the fulfillment recorded in Luke 1 is, an angel came to talk to Zechariah. It was the angel Gabriel. The same angel who delivered messages to Daniel. The angel didn’t bother to introduce himself until after Zechariah expressed doubt. Then it was too late. Zechariah expressed something we need to pay attention to.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Zechariah Chapter 6 Through Malachi
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Zechariah Chapter 6 Through Malachi Buy this eBook direct from the author

We see a pattern in the Bible. God sent Gabriel to deliver some important messages. We see that based on the general rule of repetition. This prophecy about the power of Elijah was also repeated. Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:3-5 NLTse).

When we pay attention to what is recorded, we see Gabriel shared this information based on scripture with Zechariah before he expressed doubt. Lesson number one. If Zechariah had studied scripture with an open mind and God’s Spirit by his side, he would have understood Isaiah’s prophecy as well as Malachi’s. Two strikes.

We can see the third strike when we understand Zechariah’s prayer for a son. We learn a great deal of details by looking back a few verses. One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. (Luke 1:8-10 NLTse).

Zechariah was a priest. A very responsible priest trusted with important tasks. Notice what he was doing. Zechariah was taking care of the incense in the temple. The texts even goes as far as mentioning prayers to point us to the spiritual meaning of incense. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:8 NLTse). There are great lessons to learn once we see how and why that incense was moved from a worldly temple to the Heavenly Sanctuary.

What was Zechariah’s prayer for a son? Since the word father is repeated a number of times, we need to consider what father’s usually pray for. There are two main prayers fathers offer for their children, especially sons. One is to pray their sons are able to accomplish much more than themselves and to live an easier, more enjoyable life. The other prayer is to have a son to carry on the family business. In this case, Zechariah was a priest. Neither one of those prayers fit into God’s plans. Zechariah’s son was not going to be a priest, like the other priests, and his father. And Zechariah’s son was not going to have an easy life.

In the eyes of a father, his son is a symbol of living on past the grave. Fathers feel a piece of themselves will live on in their son. Carrying on the same trade is one way of achieving that goal. And that tradition was not found to be stronger in any trade then the Levitical priesthood. It was almost written in stone before John was born. Zechariah was facing a trial much like Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice. For John not to become a priest after the Levitical order was like sacrificing his son.

Zechariah needed some time to think about it. There is something strange about someone who can’t talk. People tend to believe they can’t hear. But Zechariah heard everything around him. He heard what people thought and the gossip they were capable of spreading. Silence was a tool God used to lift the blinders from Zechariah’s eyes. Zechariah heard people talking about how they thought he was cursed. They assumed Zechariah did something wrong in the temple and God was punishing him. Zechariah thought, “how could I be cursed? God sent Gabriel to talk to me. God sent the same angel Daniel talked to.” Silence helped Zechariah to fine tune his connection with God’s Spirit.


 

When we see key words like birth and born repeated, we have to look for a spiritual connection. That connection is the end of the Levitical priesthood and the introduction to the form of ministry God always intended and really needed. God sent His Son to this world and Jesus needed some help. Now we learn from the contrast. Gabriel told Zechariah how his son was going to lead people back to God, lead fathers to a real relationship with their children, and prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Gabriel told Zechariah his son was going to accomplish much more than Zechariah ever dreamed about. See the connection in the contrast. John was going to be a preacher like the world has never seen. Gabriel compared him to Elijah. John was to become a man of words and Zechariah lost his ability to speak. This shows us how one form of preaching will end and another one will begin. That’s why John’s ministry is illustrated as a ministry preaching the Good News, and Zechariah, the old priesthood went silent.

Malachi warned, “Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Zechariah showed us the beginning of that curse. He wanted to pull his son one way when God needed John to move in a new direction. It was an important direction because it concerned His Son. The Son God was sending down here to teach the world how to worship and serve Him. We see a great deal of those details revealed in the introductions.

Malachi 4:1-4 NLTse The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed–roots, branches, and all. (2) “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (3) On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (4) “Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant–all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.

Sounds like Malachi’s introduction to chapter 4 is telling about the end of the world. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was the end of the world for some people. Is it? The introduction to every chapter of course establishes its theme and lesson. To understand it better, we can use the help of the five W’s.

Who?

the arrogant and the wicked

What?

judgment is coming

will be burned up like straw

When?

We have to look into the rest of the chapter, or the previous chapters to find that answer.

Where?

Once again, we have to search for an answer.

Why?

Since we already have two unanswered questions, it’s time to look at the previous chapter to see how the author led into this introduction.

Malachi 3:14-18 NLTse “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? (15) From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'” (16) Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. (17) “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. (18) Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

The summary in chapter 3 shows two opposing groups. One thinks they have a way around serving God, while the other group, God listens to. We see that theme carried forward to chapter 4 and into Luke 1. There is another group mentioned in the introduction to chapter 4.

Who?

you who fear my name

What?

the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.

And you will go free

you will tread upon the wicked

obey the Law of Moses

When?

There is only one time mentioned: all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.

Where?

Location is not given.

Why?

Is answered in the what.

We can see time and location are universal, beginning when Moses received God’s law at Mount Sinai. Since we can see John’s birth, and of course Jesus’ birth marked a new understanding of that law. The new beginning must also mark the end of an era. Which of course was one of the main themes of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

Luke’s introduction here is the introduction to his book where we see details we need to pay attention to throughout his book. When we read Luke chapter 1, we have to ask, why this story is so important and how it relates throughout his entire book?

Luke 1:1-13 NLTse Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. (2) They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. (3) Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, (4) so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (5) When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. (6) Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. (7) They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. (8) One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. (9) As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. (10) While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. (11) While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. (12) Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. (13) But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.

First of all, Luke wanted his friend to know the accounts he recorded are accurate. After all, Luke was there to see them. Luke also tells us there are other reports he used from some of the early disciples. Luke carefully investigated every detail before writing.

Luke begins with a date. A date we saw missing in Malachi chapter 4. Luke quickly introduced Zechariah, pointing out he was a priest. Because Luke repeated the word priest, we have to consider the reason why.

Luke also pointed out, Zechariah was an important priest and he was old. He’d been around for a while. Like all priests in his day, Zechariah would have began instructions for his position at a very early age. Zechariah endured rigorous training under the care of Israel’s most honored and trusted priests. In short, Zechariah read the scriptures. But he was taught the accepted interpretations and was not allowed to question, add to, or subtract from those interpretations. Zechariah was, for lack of a better term, brainwashed from birth.

The first new lesson we see God introducing to Zechariah is His timing. Elizabeth was well past child bearing years. They waited together in the twilight of their years for what was to come. Because they didn’t have a son to care for them, they had to put more trust and dependence in the established priestly order to care for them in their old age. Which made it impossible for Zechariah to stray away from the accepted order in any way, shape, or form. Zechariah was stuck – bound to his job and beliefs by dedication and financial concerns.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. It was important for God to find a married couple who both followed His commands. But there was more than just following commands. There had to be more than a search for self righteousness through works. God had to find a couple willing to understand His plan of salvation and teach their son, or allow God to teach their son how to prepare the world for Jesus’ ministry.

What are the connecting factors between the introduction for Malachi 4 and Luke 1? Malachi told us to, “remember o obey the Law of Moses, my servant.” Luke told us, “Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.” The connection goes beyond God’s law. Malachi talks about a day of judgment. Luke tells us about the day final preparations were made to announce Jesus’ arrival here in earth. This was not only a renewal of the original form of worship, but the beginning of Jesus’ life, ministry, test, and trial to prove He is worthy to judge this world. Jesus had to first prove He could take the worst this world was prepared to throw at Him and pass every test and trial. God’s standards are not lax. They are especially rigid for His Son. You see, God wanted His Son to be just like Him in all ways. Jesus explained that. No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (John 1:18, 14:9 NLTse).

No one knows what day Jesus will return to fulfill that portion of His ministry. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. (Matthew 24:35-36 NLTse). But there are certain steps we have to know before we can understand circumstances related to Jesus’ return. Don’t be concerned about the date. Don’t worry about it and certainly, don’t listen to anyone who claims to know the day and hour. But that does not mean we are supposed to ignore the event and all the details and lessons associated with Jesus’ return. We find a recorded fulfillment in one portion of this prophecy. Part of the prophecy is a lesson. A very important lesson we can understand. Many people preach about that one detail, the power of Elijah. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.” How can we tell which details are correct and which are man made fabrications if we don’t understand the extent of the event?

The main question is, will you be afraid when God pours out a dramatic amount of new information and understanding during those last days? I think most religions preach their own version of the later rain, power of Elijah, a last day Pentecost, a time where people will once again have the gift of prophecy and dreams. The only thing is, I can’t find a verse in the Bible where God told us, He is going to be silent for a time, or withhold His voice until some future time. When I hear people believe God doesn’t talk to this world now, I tell them to tear every page out of their Bible where they find something about God speaking to someone and see how much is left. There may be time that passed when people didn’t listen to God, but that doesn’t mean He wasn’t trying to be heard.

We talked about this study during our meeting today and some important details came out. That’s another way God speaks to us, through His faithful followers. Did you notice, Elizabeth couldn’t get pregnant until Zechariah lost his voice? Look at the texts someone pointed out to me. “Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days in which he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” (Luke 1:25 KJ2000). As soon as Zechariah fell silent, he finally entered into a world where he could understand his wife. Elizabeth had to endure her pain and reproach alone in silence. Zechariah had to share that silence to know his wife. Once he knew and shared her pain, she was ready to conceive.

That’s one thing about God’s Word. Once you learn to study with God’s Spirit, there is always more to see and learn. There is no doubt about it. But it is not always easy to share. Having been involved in an institutional church for some time, I know how difficult it is to share. Malachi provided an important detail that will help us understand why. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Like God wanted Jesus to be exactly like Himself, fathers want their children, especially sons to grow up exactly like themselves. As we’ve seen in this story about Zechariah, God needed that chain broken. The last thing God wanted was to see was John to grow up like his father. When we see how God teaches with contrasts we can see that lesson. I’ve heard dozens of people tell me, “I am second generation this, or third generation that.” It’s their way of saying, “I already know everything.” They learned from their parents and if their religion was good enough for their parents and grandparents, it is good enough for them. It is the rut Gabriel told Zechariah he had to get out of. Everything Gabriel told Zechariah went against what he had drilled into his head by his father. That’s been a major problem in Christianity for generations. People refuse to move on. That’s why they reject anything and everything new with no additional thought. They have been drilled into thinking their parents and grandparents are lost if they didn’t know everything. It’s sad, but that’s the way people think. It’s really nothing more than an excuse not to move on. The best reason they can come up with not to listen to God’s voice.

Jesus didn’t have His legs broken at the cross because He had places to go and things to do. God knew Jesus was going to move forward. On the other hand, those guilty people on their crosses had their legs broken. They weren’t going anywhere. They died at the cross. They represent a lot of Christian religions stuck at the cross. They want to keep it easy to understand. They use excuses like, “new people may come in.” Don’t they think God is able to get new people up to speed before they walk through that door? There is no excuse to consistently reject new details God is trying to share. No matter how great or small they may be. God always confirms His Word. There is no danger in learning something new. We were created in God’s image and He is our loving Father, who lives to take us as far as we are willing to go and learn as much as we decide to learn. Which brings us to the perfect time to look at and compare the summaries.

Luke 1:56-80 NLTse Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. (57) When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. (58) And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. (59) When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. (60) But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” (61) “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” (62) So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. (63) He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” (64) Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. (65) Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. (66) Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way. (67) Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: (68) “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. (69) He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, (70) just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. (71) Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. (72) He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant– (73) the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. (74) We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, (75) in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. (76) “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. (77) You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. (78) Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, (79) to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (80) John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

This summary is what I couldn’t wait to get to. Here is where we see one of the most important lessons in this prophecy and its fulfillment. Did you notice something missing? An angel talked to Zechariah. The angel also spoke to Mary. When we check, we see, Joseph had dreams. It seems the only one who didn’t have an angel appearing to them or had a dream was Elizabeth. Look at what she said to praise God. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, “Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days in which he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” (Luke 1:24-25 KJ2000).

Elizabeth returned to seclusion, to share the pain her husband was experiencing. Being childless, Elizabeth was not looked upon in a positive way by society. Especially in a circle of priests and their wives who were all experts in the law. Being alone opened up a channel to God’s Spirit to alleviate her lonely feeling. Elizabeth didn’t need a miraculous meeting or dream to learn and understand what was happening. She had a direct connection with God she relied on, because she was using it for years. This is the connection fathers need with their sons and with God. The same connection Elizabeth had with God.

I’ve been trying to sell my house for more than a year. I have it priced way below market value and below tax assessed value. People come over, look at the house, but the answer is always the same. They think the yard is too much work. It is a full acre with flower gardens all over. It also has vegetable gardens and fruit trees as well as a wild flower garden. And of course plenty of grass. They say there is too much work for them. To me it is paradise. A place to walk a few steps and meet God in nature. There are a lot of birds, deer, and even a pair of cranes that mate every years. Ducks are in the pond and geese visit, eat, and rest in the corn field up the block. I watch squirrels dodging hawks and falcons. Every year rabbits are all over the yard for a few weeks. Until those baby hawks leave the nest. I look out everyday and watch the balance of life in a sinful world and learn lessons.

All the people who look at the house have kids. I can see, this world is not ready for this study, or the message in Malachi 4. Fathers have no interest in teaching their kids or spending time with them. There is no connection between them. Fathers have no heart to share. All they know is give their children everything they want, then let television, the Internet, and the school system raise their kids. The world has gone from one extreme to the other. This world is not ready for God’s simple message. God is love.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapter 63 Through Zechariah Chapter 3

Jeremiah 11:15-19 Lamb to Slaughter

Jeremiah 11:15-19 NLTse (15) “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things? Can their vows and sacrifices prevent their destruction? They actually rejoice in doing evil! (16) I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken. (17) “I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. For the people of Israel and Judah have done evil, arousing my anger by burning incense to Baal.” (18) Then the LORD told me about the plots my enemies were making against me. (19) I was like a lamb being led to the slaughter. I had no idea that they were planning to kill me! “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.”

Jeremiah began this series of prophecies much like our last study by asking how and why the Jews relied on the stone temple to save them. Once again this makes me think about what I’ve missed in the last study. But this time my attention is focused on a new trend God’s Spirit introduced. The first prophecy used the symbol of an olive tree. The second prophecy used the symbol of lamb being led to slaughter. You would think those two prophecies would make it easier to locate the New Testament parallel texts for this prophecy, but I have to admit, it wasn’t easy for me. I looked at those key words and searched using words like destruction, broken, and destroyed. Because the prophecy tells us the lamb is led to slaughter to destroy that man and all his words, I of course focused on Jesus’ trial where He remained silent. But none of them seemed to cover the olive tree. It took me two days of praying and searching before I received the familiar knock on the head and heard the voice asking me, “are you listening?” I saw the first hints, and then it hit me like a ton of bricks. The key is the olive tree. I was trying to associate the olive tree with the fig tree Jesus withered. That turned out to be a bad idea but a valuable lesson to discuss.

Remember how God showed Jeremiah a symbol than asked him what it meant? Jeremiah’s answer was always, “I don’t know, you tell me.” And God explained it. The olive and fig tree are related but on different levels. This shows how God is in control of those symbols He used, and the ONLY way we can understand their proper meaning is to listen to HIM and keep all His symbols within the context of His Word.

John 18:1-9 NLTse After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. (2) Judas, the betrayer, knew this place, because Jesus had often gone there with his disciples. (3) The leading priests and Pharisees had given Judas a contingent of Roman soldiers and Temple guards to accompany him. Now with blazing torches, lanterns, and weapons, they arrived at the olive grove. (4) Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. (5) “Jesus the Nazarene,” they replied. “I AM he,” Jesus said. (Judas, who betrayed him, was standing with them.) (6) As Jesus said “I AM he,” they all drew back and fell to the ground! (7) Once more he asked them, “Who are you looking for?” And again they replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” (8) “I told you that I AM he,” Jesus said. “And since I am the one you want, let these others go.” (9) He did this to fulfill his own statement: “I did not lose a single one of those you have given me.”

In the prophecy, Jeremiah told us; “I, the LORD, once called them a thriving olive tree, beautiful to see and full of good fruit. But now I have sent the fury of their enemies to burn them with fire, leaving them charred and broken. “I, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, who planted this olive tree, have ordered it destroyed. In simple terms, that olive tree will be destroyed. In contrast look how that symbols appeared in John’s Gospel. After saying these things, Jesus crossed the Kidron Valley with his disciples and entered a grove of olive trees. Standing alone this text does not appear to have much levity on Jeremiah. We clearly see the relationship and message when we compare other gospels. Then Jesus went with them to the olive grove called Gethsemane, and he said, “Sit here while I go over there to pray.” (Matthew 26:36 NLTse). Jesus prayed in that olive groove just before Judas betrayed Him and He was arrested by a group made up of Roman and temple guards. Once we examine the details we begin to see how far the Jews slipped away from God. In Jeremiah’s time his warning went out to the Jews. In Jesus’ time those Jews were joined by the government. In this case Rome. We can see a little more light shed upon the symbols in Daniel representing the forth kingdom, Rome. It was unlike the other kingdoms. We see how the Jews joined with the forth kingdom to oppose Jesus. It was far more than opposing Jesus, they joined forces to kill Him. Daniel was a leader in the first kingdom, Babylon. Daniel was also a leader in the second kingdom, the Persians and Medes. Not much is written about the third kingdom, Greece. But we see Paul preaching in Greece and the New Testament was written in Greek. Those first three kingdoms had a relationship with God and the gospel. Rome was far different than the others based on the fact, the Roman government ordered Jesus’ execution. That wasn’t all Rome joined forces with the Jews to carry out. Together they persecuted early Christians. If that wasn’t enough, Rome finally reestablished a new order loosely based on Christianity but changing all the original forms of worship and the message given to the disciples in the name of unity. They’re form of unity resulted in some of the most violent persecution the world has seen.

Jesus fully realized all that was going to happen to him, so he stepped forward to meet them. “Who are you looking for?” he asked. We can look at this text in a number of different ways. When Jesus asked this question, He knew who they were looking for and why. John told us, Jesus knew what was about to happen. Do you think Jesus prayed only for Himself in the olive grove? If you knew Jesus you’d know He spent every minute available to pray for every person He wanted to save, and that was everyone. The prophecy and fulfillment compliment one another by showing that olive groove God planted was going to be destroyed. Taking Jesus prisoner was only one step in the process. Salvation was still a personal decision for each and everyone of those religious leaders and their followers. Of course Jesus prayed for them. The prophecy in Jeremiah told about a curse. Jesus prayed in an olive grove to show His concern for all of them present and in the future. Jesus’ question, “Who are you looking for?” Is still pertinent today. When people walk through church doors, who are they looking for? Jesus of course. How is Jesus presented to them? Today the most popular way of presenting Jesus is doctrines, traditions, and prophecies about this world. Neither one of those teach anything about Jesus. None of them are Biblical. They are man made methods of reaching out to the world showing once again how this world seems to think they can solve their own problems. This is the message we see in Jeremiah. “What right do my beloved people have to come to my Temple, when they have done so many immoral things?”

The Tabernacle build by Moses and the Israelites had a specific physical pattern which extended to its services. Priests had to follow specific steps to wash and dress. They had to follow a specific path inside the Tabernacle court. Every item in the Tabernacle and all its associated services pointed to Jesus, His life and ministry. That is a pattern lost in today’s religious world. Ask a preacher to explain those details and you may receive an explanation of two or maybe three items. Worse yet, they most likely will mix items in the Tabernacle with items in the stone temple designed and build by a man from Tyre using taxes and slave labor. Can you see the pattern showing how this world mixes religion and government? Satan’s promise to Eve was to be like gods. This world is still reaching out to fulfill that promise. It seems as if this world forgot who made that promise. Only Jesus is both King and Priest. No one has the right to copy or attempt to duplicate that title or system.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapter 63 Through Zechariah Chapter 3
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapter 63 Through Zechariah Chapter 3 Download the eBook direct from the author

We’ve seen how Jeremiah was very dedicated to following orders from God. Look at how He worded this prophecy. “Let’s destroy this man and all his words,” they said. “Let’s cut him down, so his name will be forgotten forever.” Many people will confuse this prophecy with another. He was oppressed and treated harshly, yet he never said a word. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter. And as a sheep is silent before the shearers, he did not open his mouth. (Isaiah 53:7 NLTse). The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in other gospels. Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Well, aren’t you going to answer these charges? What do you have to say for yourself?” But Jesus remained silent. Then the high priest said to him, “I demand in the name of the living God–tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.” (Matthew 26:62-63 NLTse). In John’s book Jesus provided a few simple answers. Jeremiah’s prophecy did not say Jesus would remain silent. It says they will silence Him.

Why did they want to silence Jesus? What did He say during His trials those religious leaders didn’t want the world to hear? It’s easy to quickly find the words Jesus spoke by looking at a red letter Bible where Jesus’ words are in red.

Jesus answered him, “I spoke openly to the world; I always taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, where the Jews always met; and in secret have I said nothing. Why do you ask me? Ask them who heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said. Say you this thing of yourself, or did others tell it to you of me? My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from here.” Pilate therefore said unto him, “Are you a king then?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth hears my voice.” (John 18:20-21, 34, 36-37 KJ2000).

What words were worth killing Jesus over and why? Jesus began by telling them to talk to the people who were His witnesses. We can see how Jesus was denied witnesses. Do you understand how that relates to Satan’s plans today? How many people are capable of witnessing for Jesus? If you had to tell someone about your relationship with Jesus would it be convincing? How long would your testimony last? Would your witnessing be an individual testimony needed at that particular time? Think about this for a moment. If you had to rely on your testimony about Jesus to save you, would it? Is that what those religious leaders feared? It’s easy to see how those religious leaders were controlled by Satan. It’s not as easy to admit giving into Satan when your personal testimony of Jesus is not real, sincere, and real.

Jesus also told them His Kingdom is not of this world. Neither is His Word. Neither should our testimony be about this world. There are too many complaints and not enough answers. Most of the answers we hear are from this world and not from Heaven. Those religious leaders feared Jesus as much as they feared loosing control. It’s a fear that still runs a lot of the churches and organizations in this world. It’s a fear that can only be overcome by the real message from Heaven, from Jesus’ Kingdom. Jesus said more than the world will ever imagine … those who work so hard to silence Him do not understand. Caiaphas didn’t understand the prophecy he spoke. First they took him to Annas, the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest at that time. Caiaphas was the one who had told the other Jewish leaders, “It’s better that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:13-14 NLTse). Jesus had to endure two trails at the hands of the priests and religious leaders. That has a spiritual significance you can pray about and investigate on your own. It’s not by chance there are two prophecies in Jeremiah 11 and the fulfillment of both is found in John 18.

John 18:19-24 NLTse Inside, the high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. (20) Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret. (21) Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” (22) Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. (23) Jesus replied, “If I said anything wrong, you must prove it. But if I’m speaking the truth, why are you beating me?” (24) Then Annas bound Jesus and sent him to Caiaphas, the high priest.

Jesus was hauled into the high priest’s home bound in chains and ropes. A pole was inserted below Jesus’ arm with His hands tied behind His back. Guards used that pole to control prisoners. Lifting on the pole exerted a great deal of pain by pulling their shoulders from the sockets. For guards it made turning and directing prisoners much easier. The guards who arrested Jesus used it for sport. Although Jesus freely gave Himself up and followed instructions, those guards lifted up on that pole to see Him suffer. In Jesus’ case a long chain hung from His neck trailing behind Him. In the olive grove and along the road that chain often snagged on bushes and weeds along the path choking the Savior. A guard following behind some times stepped in that chain to see Jesus jerked back and fall to the ground. Jesus had the choice of falling straight back where His head would strike the ground or to one side where the pole between His back and arms would tear His arms from His body. Most of those guards laughed at His suffering. Demons pushed them to inflict the maximum amount of pain on God’s Son as they marched Him to the high priest.


 

There was no reason to question Jesus in the high priest’s home. Nothing like this was ever done. The high priest neglected to wear the breastplate God designed to consult in matters of life and death. Seeing this, Jesus knew what the verdict would be before the first question was asked. That is why Jesus answered them by telling them to ask the people who listened to Him. It was a nice way of telling them, Jesus knew He would not be allowed witnesses in His trial. It was also a way of telling them, His witness would continue after His trial and execution.

Jesus’ trail was well planned and every step rehearsed down to the last witness the priests gathered against Jesus. But at the trial the thoughts and words from those witnesses was scrambled by an unseen force. Unknown and unseen by the religious leaders because they didn’t know God or His voice. But the voice and instructions from demons was loud and clear to them.

The high priest began asking Jesus about his followers and what he had been teaching them. Jesus looked around the room at each face. He saw many of them when He preached. Jesus knew those people heard what He said. Jesus also knew few words touched their hearts. Jesus knew how their preconceived ideas and doctrines hid truth from their ears and eyes. Jesus knew they witnessed the miracles He performed. Jesus replied, “Everyone knows what I teach. I have preached regularly in the synagogues and the Temple, where the people gather. I have not spoken in secret.” For many of those priests this was a last call to salvation they would hear. Jesus had been praying for them before they arrested Him in that olive grove. Jesus had no choice but to request witnesses on His behalf. “Why are you asking me this question? Ask those who heard me. They know what I said.” Jesus followed court procedures which were not part of the high priest’s plans. Then one of the Temple guards standing nearby slapped Jesus across the face. “Is that the way to answer the high priest?” he demanded. This was nothing new. We see Jeremiah went through the same process when he delivered God’s messages. By now we should know, we have to compare the introduces from both chapters to see more details about this lesson being taught in scripture.

Jeremiah 11:1-8 NLTse The LORD gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, (2) “Remind the people of Judah and Jerusalem about the terms of my covenant with them. (3) Say to them, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Cursed is anyone who does not obey the terms of my covenant! (4) For I said to your ancestors when I brought them out of the iron-smelting furnace of Egypt, “If you obey me and do whatever I command you, then you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (5) I said this so I could keep my promise to your ancestors to give you a land flowing with milk and honey–the land you live in today.'” Then I replied, “Amen, LORD! May it be so.” (6) Then the LORD said, “Broadcast this message in the streets of Jerusalem. Go from town to town throughout the land and say, ‘Remember the ancient covenant, and do everything it requires. (7) For I solemnly warned your ancestors when I brought them out of Egypt, “Obey me!” I have repeated this warning over and over to this day, (8) but your ancestors did not listen or even pay attention. Instead, they stubbornly followed their own evil desires. And because they refused to obey, I brought upon them all the curses described in this covenant.'”

We have to compare the introduction of Jeremiah 11 to the introduction to John 18 which contains the fulfillment of one of the prophecies. What does the covenant have to do with Jesus praying in that olive grove and being arrested? Jesus followed God’s covenant and all His laws to prepare for that moment. On the other hand, Judas followed his own course, ideas, and concepts. Hence we see the result from each course. Jesus received God’s promise and more. What did Judas get? Judas continued to follow his own course by making his own decisions, and believed his way was the only way. “I have sinned,” he declared, “for I have betrayed an innocent man.” “What do we care?” they retorted. “That’s your problem.” Then Judas threw the silver coins down in the Temple and went out and hanged himself. (Matthew 27:4-5 NLTse). Those priests were as guilty as Judas was when it came to doing things their own way. They arrested Jesus and tried Him their own way. They ignored God’s method for trying a man. Then of course one thing led to another when they tried to cover up Jesus’ resurrection. One mistake after another was made. Nothing worked out for them. A lesson we need to look at whenever we feel we are wise enough to plot our own course.

Jeremiah 11:20-23 NLTse (20) O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, you make righteous judgments, and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets. Let me see your vengeance against them, for I have committed my cause to you. (21) This is what the LORD says about the men of Anathoth who wanted me dead. They had said, “We will kill you if you do not stop prophesying in the LORD’s name.” (22) So this is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies says about them: “I will punish them! Their young men will die in battle, and their boys and girls will starve to death. (23) Not one of these plotters from Anathoth will survive, for I will bring disaster upon them when their time of punishment comes.”

You can see how comparing prophecies with their fulfillment brings out more details than ever imagined. Jeremiah lived through this prophecy which also pointed to the future event of Jesus’ trial and how God was going to deal with those religious leaders. Why couldn’t those religions leaders who condemned Jesus look back and see those simple lessons? This was a lesson God’s Spirit was trying to reach those religious leaders with. But they wouldn’t listen. Instead they continued their plans to silence Jesus. John provided a detailed account.

John 18:28-40 NLTse Jesus’ trial before Caiaphas ended in the early hours of the morning. Then he was taken to the headquarters of the Roman governor. His accusers didn’t go inside because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. (29) So Pilate, the governor, went out to them and asked, “What is your charge against this man?” (30) “We wouldn’t have handed him over to you if he weren’t a criminal!” they retorted. (31) “Then take him away and judge him by your own law,” Pilate told them. “Only the Romans are permitted to execute someone,” the Jewish leaders replied. (32) (This fulfilled Jesus’ prediction about the way he would die.) (33) Then Pilate went back into his headquarters and called for Jesus to be brought to him. “Are you the king of the Jews?” he asked him. (34) Jesus replied, “Is this your own question, or did others tell you about me?” (35) “Am I a Jew?” Pilate retorted. “Your own people and their leading priests brought you to me for trial. Why? What have you done?” (36) Jesus answered, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” (37) Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” (38) “What is truth?” Pilate asked. Then he went out again to the people and told them, “He is not guilty of any crime. (39) But you have a custom of asking me to release one prisoner each year at Passover. Would you like me to release this ‘King of the Jews’?” (40) But they shouted back, “No! Not this man. We want Barabbas!” (Barabbas was a revolutionary.)

If those religious leaders had reviewed the price Jerusalem had to pay for not listening to God or His prophet Jeremiah, maybe they would have listened to Jesus. John tells us those Jewish leaders knew something about God’s law. His accusers didn’t go inside of Pilates palace because it would defile them, and they wouldn’t be allowed to celebrate the Passover. I’m not sure where they got that from. John is pointing us to the fact priests and Pharisees wrote a kind of commentary on scripture. In their minds that commentary explained everything in scripture in terms people could understand. In essence that commentary turned out to be another idol placed between themselves and God. Don’t be too surprised. Most denominations follow the same course. The biggest mistake those priests made was not referring to scripture which is the same mistake committed today. People refer to books, commentaries, web sites, anything and everything except the Bible. Then they consider themselves experts without consult the universe’s one source of infinite wisdom. All they are doing is denying time with God’s Spirit in His Word.

Preparations for Jesus’ trial didn’t seem out work well for those priests. They hoped the tide would turn in their favor and they could once gain control of the situation. The next phase was to present Jesus to Pilate. Jesus was presented to Pilate with the visual effect of a condemned prisoner. He was bound in chains and beaten. All of this was planned to give Pilate the visual effect of a guilty criminal. That didn’t work either. Pilate saw trough their scheme and personally questioned Jesus. Pilate knew those priests staged the whole scene and he knew why. For years Pilate received reports about Jesus from his guard who he trusted, and continuous complaints from the priests and Pharisees, he didn’t trust. Pilate saw how those reports did not agree. Scripture explains how Jesus requested witnesses. The priests denied Jesus that right, but God already provided Pilate with a list of his own witnesses. Jesus told Pilate, “My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world.” This was something the priests did not want to hear. It was a detail they could not accept. It was one of the reasons they wanted to kill Him. Jesus told about this in a parable. “Finally, the owner sent his son, thinking, ‘Surely they will respect my son.’ “But when the tenant farmers saw his son coming, they said to one another, ‘Here comes the heir to this estate. Come on, let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!’” (Matthew 21:37-38 NLTse). Pilate said, “So you are a king?” Jesus responded, “You say I am a king. Actually, I was born and came into the world to testify to the truth. All who love the truth recognize that what I say is true.” There were two reasons those priests could not understand Jesus’ messages and ministry. They did not love Jesus or the truth. They loved their customs and traditions more than God’s Savior.

As we’ve seen in this study, God’s time line is crossed by many events. Jeremiah’s prophecy contains two events, the olive tree and Jesus being silenced. The two are related. Jesus’ rejection and execution led to the final destruction of Jerusalem’s temple, a prophecy Jeremiah and other prophets repeated. Jesus’ arrest was preceded by His prayers in the olive grove. In both prophecies God used symbols. Jeremiah showed us how we rely on God to tell us what symbols represent. I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people. (Psalms 52:8-9 NLTse). David told us what an olive tree is supposed to represent. Some one who trusts in God. But there is another side of the story. Paul tells us about a change that olive tree will undergo. And since Abraham and the other patriarchs were holy, their descendants will also be holy–just as the entire batch of dough is holy because the portion given as an offering is holy. For if the roots of the tree are holy, the branches will be, too. But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree–some of the people of Israel–have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. But you must not brag about being grafted in to replace the branches that were broken off. You are just a branch, not the root. “Well,” you may say, “those branches were broken off to make room for me.” Yes, but remember–those branches were broken off because they didn’t believe in Christ, and you are there because you do believe. So don’t think highly of yourself, but fear what could happen. For if God did not spare the original branches, he won’t spare you either. (Romans 11:16-21 NLTse).

We can see the olive tree was not completely destroyed. God broke off those branches that wouldn’t produce and replaced them with new branched that will produce. As a whole the Levitical priesthood failed. To remove all doubt, God chose the line of David of Judah to bring His Son into this world. That last Passover when Jesus died marked the death of a spiritual first born son, the end of the Levitical priesthood. “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the LORD.” “Of all the people of Israel, the Levites are reserved for me. I have claimed them for myself in place of all the firstborn sons of the Israelites; I have taken the Levites as their substitutes. For all the firstborn males among the people of Israel are mine, both of people and of animals. I set them apart for myself on the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians. Yes, I have claimed the Levites in place of all the firstborn sons of Israel. And of all the Israelites, I have assigned the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They will serve in the Tabernacle on behalf of the Israelites and make sacrifices to purify the people so no plague will strike them when they approach the sanctuary.” (Numbers 3:12-13, 8:16-19 NLTse). So there won’t be any mistake, Paul used Gentiles as a symbol so we would see those new branches included us. Are you a productive branch or a broken branch on that olive tree?

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62

Isaiah 40:1-15 God the Designer

Isaiah 40:1-15 NLTse “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. (2) “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” (3) Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! (4) Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. (5) Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (6) A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. (7) The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. (8) The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” (9) O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” (10) Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in power. He will rule with a powerful arm. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. (11) He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young. (12) Who else has held the oceans in his hand? Who has measured off the heavens with his fingers? Who else knows the weight of the earth or has weighed the mountains and hills on a scale? (13) Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? (14) Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? (15) No, for all the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales. He picks up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand.

You have to love the way Isaiah begins the message in Isaiah 40. “Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” It’s easy to understand the first part of the introduction, “comfort my people.” The second part should be just as easy to understand but is often misunderstood. “ “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.” The third past ties in the second and the forth. “Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.” The forth part of Isaiah’s introduction is what people have problems understanding. “Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.”

How does God comfort His people? There are many ways. In this example God is using His prophet Isaiah as an instrument to deliver a message of comfort. What God really wants is to give everyone personal comfort. God wants each individual to come to Him and listen to His words of comfort. No second guessing, no details or points missed in communication that often happen when a message is passed from one person to the next. Which is what happens when people expect religious leaders to approach God’s throne get a message and rely it to them. No mass message from religious leaders that’s supposed to solved everyone’s problems. No, God doesn’t want that. God wants to deliver His message to you on a one on one level, the Creator to the created being. God wants you to find comfort in the fact He knows about you, your problems and he cares. That is real comfort.

I have to admit, Isaiah 40 has been my favorite chapter for over 10 years. While working as a design engineer I opened some modern translation I was reading at the time and they translated a verse in Isaiah 40 using the word designer. This was getting real personal. I was reading it in the morning as I was preparing for the work day. I think it may have been the NET translation. From whom does he receive directions? Who teaches him the correct technique, or imparts knowledge to him, or instructs him in skillful design? (Isaiah 40:14 NET). Strange as it may seem, I never thought of God as a designer until that day. Then God took on a whole new meaning for me and so did my life.

I had been working a number of years doing what only a few people in this world were able to do, designing industrial paint finishing systems. This was basically designing and installing entire factories which had to be specifically designed, well balanced systems. Ever hear of human error? Ever hear the old saying, ”whatever can go wrong will go wrong?” Such was the the life as an engineer, a human designer.

PProphecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Isaiah Chapters 40 Through 62 Now you can download the eBook direct from the Author.

I began every project with prayer asking God to give me the skill to complete the perfect project. Those projects were so large something was bound to go wrong. And it did. Mistakes took time to correct and added pressure to the job. When I saw God described as a designer it told me I had something in common with God. I looked at the whole world and how God created it with not a single error or mistake. No engineering changes, no redesigning, no wasted time. God created this world perfect the first time. I felt so humbled to think of what God has done and how I seem to create minor errors in everything I do.

There was one project I remember. I used and modified portions of a number of systems previously installed and working. Every detail had been checked and all the previous mistakes corrected. This was like a second chance to get it right. After weeks of designing, shipping, and installation we reached the last week of installation and most of the systems was test started and spot checked. There was one final component to be installed and it was a relatively simple, although huge part of the system. It was an environmentally controlled room erected inside the shop that contained the heart of the system, the paint booths. I figured what can go wrong now? The room and paint booths were provided by our best supplier. The same hour I was praising God for giving me the perfect error free project I received a phone call from our supplier in Florida. He said, “your not going to believe this. I am standing out in the parking lot looking at the box of hardware for your room. Some how it fell off the truck.” How can a box weighing close to 100 pounds fall off an enclosed trailer with the door closed? In all places, the factory parking lot? It’s impossible. But it was God’s way of reminding me to be humble. It was God’s way of reminding me, perfection is reserved only for Him. Although I thought I was doing the right thing by praising God and giving all the glory to Him, people didn’t see it that way. People would have viewed my claim to a perfect job as bragging. God saw how other people would have perceived a perfect job and He would not allow it. After all, God designed them and He knew what was in their hearts.

God did the same thing with Isaiah 40. For years I looked at this chapter as God the designer of the whole world with all those flowers, birds, animals, water, sky, sin, stars, air, and man. Every physical detail is perfect. The shape and function of the hand. The delicate pedal of the iris able to withstand heat, rain, high winds, and hail storms and retain all its beauty. But that pedal can be torn with the fingers of a child. Look deep into God’s design and see how He designs beauty into every detail. The shape of the pedal, scent, how God blended colors. Lift your eyes to the horizon during a sunset to see a combination of colors no artist can reproduce or camera capture. Blink at a sunset and the scene changes. Look along the horizon and see how one color blends with the next. See how God makes a feast of colors for our eyes with air we breath and clouds that bring rain. Everyday and moment is different. “Pay attention to this, Job. Stop and consider the wonderful miracles of God!” (Job 37:14 NLTse).


 

One of the lessons this study has taught me is to be ready for the unexpected when listening to God’s Spirit who showed me something in Isaiah 40 I never saw until I looked at the parallel chapter the prophecy led me to. God is more than a designer of physical things. God is a designer of life itself. “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in all four gospels. It must be important. One book contains the parallel chapter while the others contain lessons to consider.

Mark 1:1-8 NLTse This is the Good News about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. It began (2) just as the prophet Isaiah had written: “Look, I am sending my messenger ahead of you, and he will prepare your way. (3) He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him!'” (4) This messenger was John the Baptist. He was in the wilderness and preached that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins. (5) All of Judea, including all the people of Jerusalem, went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. (6) His clothes were woven from coarse camel hair, and he wore a leather belt around his waist. For food he ate locusts and wild honey. (7) John announced: “Someone is coming soon who is greater than I am–so much greater that I’m not even worthy to stoop down like a slave and untie the straps of his sandals. (8) I baptize you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit!”

We can see Isaiah 40 leads us directly to John the Baptist. John easily fits the mold of speaking comfortable to God’s people. Although John’s preaching was direct and to the point, it often cut at people the same way John said the ax is going to cut out the roots of the tree. John did tell the people their sins will be forgiven once they repent. Which explains the forth part of the introduction in Isaiah 40. “Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” The first punishment is the trials and lessons sin brings. The second is confession which may not be so easy for some people who have a difficult time dealing with God’s convicting Spirit.

Filling in valleys and leveling mountains and hills has a spiritual meaning explained by the Bible when we compare the prophecy to its fulfillment. Isaiah provided one of the key details. A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” Obstacles are created when people preach their own message. We see this lesson taught when we see contrasts between the philosophy, doctrines, and traditions of those religious leaders compared to the way Jesus taught and what He taught. One of the questions in this prophecy comes up in the next verse. “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” Notice the contrast in the message comparing people to God’s Word which stands forever. The question is, what people are represented by withering grass? It’s too easy to say the symbol applied to those Pharisees. It’s also too easy to say it applies to people who don’t believe like you. Neither one takes into account being punished twice for your sins.

Since withering grass is compared to God’s Word, would those people have God’s Word or a message of their own? Now we begin to see what valleys need to be filled, and which hills and mountains need to be leveled. Sure people may claim to have God’s Word, but think about it. They’re taking a little here and there to build up their own hills and mountains. God is saying He needs to level it all out so, “the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together.” Think of what’s presented here in physical terms. Material hills and mountains are being used to fill in the low spots. God is leveling the field so people can see the full view.

Someone takes a tiny portion of scripture which leaves people in a hole they can’t see out of. Then those people take that portion of scripture and build a whole new idea or concept out of it. They not only place people in a hole but build up hills and mountains making certain people can see only what they want them to see. Today we call this modern religion. Then one day when Jesus returns and He tells those people they never knew Him nor does He know them, they go to cry to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of the one who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb.” (Revelation 6:16 NLTse). Revelation uses the word rocks. People need to realize there is a big difference between building on a Rock and using rocks to build a wall around you. Building on a Rock you can see around you. People piling rocks around you restricts your view. The only time in their lives they’ll see Jesus is when the look up to see Him coming in the clouds. That’s when they’ll try leveling out everything around them but it’ll be too late.

John didn’t want to attract people to himself. His role was to turn people to Jesus. There is a lot of speculation on Elijah’s power we’re supposed to see in the last days. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” (Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse). But most of what you hear misses a major point in that prophecy. He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLTse). To operate within Elijah’s power in the last day you’ll have to decrease while Jesus increases. Only Jesus knows what’s in people’s hearts and on their minds. Only God saw all their worries and trials long before they occurred. It has never been our role to solve problems and give advice unless we’re specifically directed by God.

After leaving Egypt God told Israel He wanted to make them a nation of priests. God wanted to work with every individual in Israel. God wanted to train those slaves from Egypt to be priests to the world. God needed each and every one of them. But they turned down God’s offer and told Moses to stand between them and God. How did that work out? How many people made it into the promised land? The Bible is filled with evidence those two people who made it to the promised land talked to God and God talked with them. So why in the world are preachers trying to copy a game plan from Israel that didn’t work?

Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” That’s it. There’s the simple message. Tell the world God is coming. Now we’re waiting for Jesus to return. In Isaiah’s time the message pointed to Jesus’ birth. How much of the world got the message the first time? Not many. What went wrong? Did God make a mistake? Did God forget something??? The world got the message wrong because the world thought it was safe to leave communication with God in the hands of a few religious leaders. Once Jesus began preaching what did those religious leaders do? They planned to kill Jesus. What makes the world think they can follow a failed plan with different results? You can’t place a hedge of people around and expect them to see Jesus.

We know John’s role was to point people to Jesus. That’s what the prophecy pointed us to. Isaiah filled in a few details. “He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.” Isn’t Jesus our shepherd as well as the Lamb of God? Now we get into my favorite part of Isaiah 40, God the Creator and designer. God held the oceans in His hand before placing them in this world. God placed them underground before sin called for a reconstruction of this world. Now comes the important part. Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice?

People have been trying to physically redesign this world. They dig deep into the earth and move mountains looking for gold. They’ve been pumping high pressure water into the ground to push oil to the surface. Both those actions have been poisoning water supplies by causing more pollution than anything ever before. Some countries overlook human slavery to extract precious metals and gem stones from the earth. The world God measured in His hands. Other nations in this world support or cast a blind eye at human slavery to support their sex trade, not to mention body parts for medical use. Some people are forced to sell parts of their bodies to survive. Governments hold long meetings to create laws about human trafficking but do nothing to alleviate the real cause of suffering. Our modern day definition of a politician is a person who’ll spend billions of dollars on lies before they will help feed a single family. How are any of those world leaders going to give God advice on the design of His world and teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? No one can. That would be insanity. We already have one contrast in the form of a renegade angel named Satan insisting a few changes will make this world a better place to live. Look around to see how Satan’s plans have worked to far. Now imagine where we would be if Satan was not restrained.

When we look at other gospels we see another side of God’s design which goes way beyond physical attributes. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God. 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. John testified about him when he shouted to the crowds, “This is the one I was talking about when I said, ‘Someone is coming after me who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before me.'” From his abundance we have all received one gracious blessing after another. (John 1:1-16 NLTse).

Notice how John repeated word and light? John calls attention to a few details in the introduction of his book that link back to Isaiah 40. “They are reborn–not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.” Once sin entered the scene, God’s physical design changed in this world. After God deals with sin He will change it back. It’s safe to assume God will handle that task Himself. The same is true with a spiritual rebirth. A human plan ain’t going to work. Along with a spiritual rebirth, John also tells us a little bit about another birth. John filled in a few details about Jesus’ birth, another aspect of God’s perfect design.

I can tell you a little about a successful design. It takes a great deal of planning. Don’t you think God gave His creation a great deal of planning before He spoke things into existence? John tells us, “God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.” Don’t you think God and Jesus had long talks about how everything in this world is designed? John’s introduction brings out another facet of God’s design, the birth and ministry of His Son Jesus.

Take a moment to think about the planning and detail God went through to plan Jesus’ birth. The prophecy in Isaiah 40 is also found in Luke 3. Luke tells us some interesting details God had to plan.

Luke 3:1-6 NLTse It was now the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius, the Roman emperor. Pontius Pilate was governor over Judea; Herod Antipas was ruler over Galilee; his brother Philip was ruler over Iturea and Traconitis; Lysanias was ruler over Abilene. (2) Annas and Caiaphas were the high priests. At this time a message from God came to John son of Zechariah, who was living in the wilderness. (3) Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned to God to receive forgiveness for their sins. (4) Isaiah had spoken of John when he said, “He is a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the LORD’s coming! Clear the road for him! (5) The valleys will be filled, and the mountains and hills made level. The curves will be straightened, and the rough places made smooth. (6) And then all people will see the salvation sent from God.'”

Luke provided us with the date showing God’s perfect timing while introducing a few of the characters. Then God placed Isaiah’s prophecy in this chapter to lead us to other details in His design of Jesus’ birth and ministry. Jesus was about thirty years old when he began his public ministry. Jesus was known as the son of Joseph. Joseph was the son of Heli. (Luke 3:23 NLTse). Luke also shows us it took Jesus about thirty years to prepare for His ministry. How many people spend thirty years preparing for their ministries before they begin preaching? They may spend 4-6 years in school before getting a degree to teach. Quite a difference between God’s plan and this world’s idea of preparation. Luke goes back in time as he continues in his book.

David was the son of Jesse. Jesse was the son of Obed. Obed was the son of Boaz. Boaz was the son of Salmon. Salmon was the son of Nahshon. (Luke 3:32 NLTse). Here we’ll highlight a few points but imagine the stories awaiting us in Heaven when we get to meet all of Jesus’ relatives and hear their stories. Boaz has an interesting story. He married Ruth who had a history worth looking at. The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband. (Ruth 1:4-5 NLTse). Jesus had a bit of Moab in Him. From some of the earlier studies in this book we’ve seen Moab was one of Lot’s sons who grew up with little or no spiritual guidance. So Moabites seemed to always be a bit of trouble for Israel even though they were distant relatives.

Judah was the son of Jacob. Jacob was the son of Isaac. Isaac was the son of Abraham. Abraham was the son of Terah. Terah was the son of Nahor. (Luke 3:34 NLTse). Abraham has another interesting history. God told him, ‘Leave your native land and your relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’ So Abraham left the land of the Chaldeans and lived in Haran until his father died. Then God brought him here to the land where you now live. (Acts 7:3-4 NLTse). It’s really interesting when you understand exactly where Abraham came from. And it came to pass in the ninth year of his reign, in the tenth month, in the tenth day of the month, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came, he, and all his army, against Jerusalem, and encamped against it; and they built a siege wall against it round about. And the city was besieged unto the eleventh year of king Zedekiah. And on the ninth day of the fourth month the famine prevailed in the city, and there was no food for the people of the land. And the city was broken up, and all the men of war fled by night by the way of the gate between two walls, which is by the king’s garden: (now the Chaldeans were against the city round about:) and the king went the way toward the plain. (2 Kings 25:1-4 KJ2000). Abraham came from what was later known as Babylon. In other words, when Judah was sent to Babylon, they were sent back to where it all began. This is another part of Jesus’ ancestors we have to consider.

Luke went all the way back to Adam. Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah. Noah was the son of Lamech. Lamech was the son of Methuselah. Methuselah was the son of Enoch. Enoch was the son of Jared. Jared was the son of Mahalalel. Mahalalel was the son of Kenan. Kenan was the son of Enosh. Enosh was the son of Seth. Seth was the son of Adam. Adam was the son of God. (Luke 3:36-38 NLTse). Luke wanted us to see how Jesus’ birth was planned since the beginning of this world.

What does that history have to do with the design of Jesus’ birth and ministry? These are all lessons pointing to God’s design. Jesus often ministered to Gentiles and pagans as well as Jews. Jesus made sure everyone understood His message, the Good News was for the world to hear. Every one of those details was important in God’s design. We see other details on God’s design when we look at the summations of the prophecy and compare it to the fulfillment.

Isaiah 40:21-31 NLTse Haven’t you heard? Don’t you understand? Are you deaf to the words of God— the words he gave before the world began? Are you so ignorant? (22) God sits above the circle of the earth. The people below seem like grasshoppers to him! He spreads out the heavens like a curtain and makes his tent from them. (23) He judges the great people of the world and brings them all to nothing. (24) They hardly get started, barely taking root, when he blows on them and they wither. The wind carries them off like chaff. (25) “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. (26) Look up into the heavens. Who created all the stars? He brings them out like an army, one after another, calling each by its name. Because of his great power and incomparable strength, not a single one is missing. (27) O Jacob, how can you say the LORD does not see your troubles? O Israel, how can you say God ignores your rights? (28) Have you never heard? Have you never understood? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. (29) He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. (30) Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. (31) But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Are we beginning to understand God’s design? If not, these two chapters will help provide more details. Isaiah points us back to, “the words he gave before the world began.” Another reference to Luke’s account of Jesus’ genealogy. “To whom will you compare me? Who is my equal?” asks the Holy One. We can look at this in two ways. No one is like God the Creator and designer but when we look at Jesus’ birth line we see we have something in common with our Savior. We all physically came from Adam and all share spiritually with Abraham. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. Jesus shares a bloodline with some of those tribes we consider far from God and difficult to reach. Which shows how well God planned as well as how far the Good News is to spread. When we look at Mark 1 we see how Jesus followed God’s plan of salvation.

Mark 1:35-45 NLTse Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray. (36) Later Simon and the others went out to find him. (37) When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” (38) But Jesus replied, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” (39) So he traveled throughout the region of Galilee, preaching in the synagogues and casting out demons. (40) A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed. “If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said. (41) Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him. “I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!” (42) Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed. (43) Then Jesus sent him on his way with a stern warning: (44) “Don’t tell anyone about this. Instead, go to the priest and let him examine you. Take along the offering required in the law of Moses for those who have been healed of leprosy. This will be a public testimony that you have been cleansed.” (45) But the man went and spread the word, proclaiming to everyone what had happened. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. He had to stay out in the secluded places, but people from everywhere kept coming to him.

Isaiah repeated key words understanding and strength combining them with weak, powerless, tired, exhaustion, and faint. We often forget Jesus felt those emotions and physical burdens when He walked this world. Jesus grew tired as He worked endless hours healing, ministering, and teaching crowds that gathered around Him. Jesus worked three jobs for no worldly pay at all. I know what Jesus felt like having to work two major jobs from 8 AM to 10 PM for little or no pay while finding time to minister to people, read and study the Bible then finally sitting down to write. Jesus found His rest in prayer – communion with His Father. Have you had days like that? Nothing seemed to go right. Opposition lurked at every corner as it seemed some unseen force planned every little trial. Do you have days when you can’t wait to have a long talk with God asking Him why it all happened and waiting for His answer? Jesus faced opposition from religious leaders. People in His hometown doubted Him. The brothers Jesus grew up with wondered why He didn’t come to them for advice. There was the occasional confrontation with demons. At times groups of them. Day in and day out Jesus witnessed pain and suffering caused by Satan, his agents, and people claiming to follow God. Jesus heard all their excuses, “they’re different, they’re poor, they’re sick, she’s a widow, he’s and orphan, they’re suffering God’s curse, they don’t follow God in the right way like us.” Jesus suffered through an endless list of man made concepts, ideals, and beliefs. Like Isaiah, Jesus wandered through a battle field with enemies on all sides and every side taking full advantage of less fortunate people. How do you feel when you are passionate about a job while people all around you are flooding you with unnecessary paperwork, details, questions, procedures, requests, accusations, rumors, and threats? You can only account for feelings on such matters to the degree related to your income. Jesus had His life at stake as well as the future of this world.

As we can see, Jesus received instructions from His Father while in prayer. When His disciples found Him, Jesus told them what God told Him, “We must go on to other towns as well, and I will preach to them, too. That is why I came.” God told Jesus what He had to do next and why He had to do it. Don’t you think God also told Jesus what to preach, who to talk to, how to reach them, and assured Him, God’s Spirit would be with Him to heal? I just took a break to check my Facebook account and saw a very common request. This was a request from a National Director from a major church asking for prayer. She didn’t know what to preach so asked people to pray for her. To most people this may seem normal because we often hear people making prayer requests like this. I work with a number of local pastors from all denominations. When I hear them preach, they never have notes. We talk about preparing sermons. A wise pastor once told me, “if an evangelist cannot see the what a church needs in ten minutes, they are on the wrong business.” A man of God is just that. He has to be led by God 24/7. I suddenly noticed a difference between some of the pastors on my Facebook account and those I work with in the area. Local pastors I know have full time jobs and minister full time. They don’t ask for prayer about what to say, they spend the entire week in communion with God and get the right message from God at the right time. I’ve been asked to speak at services a number of times. I don’t have time to prepare notes or a collection of scripture. Each and every time I found myself studying the same subject the preacher shared. All I could do is add to or confirm His testimony and maybe add a few details from other texts I studied during the week that came to mind at that moment. Preaching has to be a natural occurrence when it is from God’s Spirit. God confirms His messages. Jesus knew God’s messages and instructions were confirmed as He traveled about preaching. Jesus saw that confirmation on the expressions on peoples faces, when they asked questions God’s Spirit gave them. Jesus also saw confirmation by paying attention to reactions whenever He answered questions. Jesus promised to give this world God’s Spirit. Why not accept Jesus’ promises, if you have faith He can keep them.

I saw one major difference between local pastors working full time to support their families and ministries, and those pastors on Facebook drawing a salary, and calling ministry a job. Those Facebook pastors rely on others for financial support, so naturally rely on them for spiritual support. Strange as it may seem, that is the difference I see.

Working pastors share more faith and reliance on Jesus because they experience more of the trials and opposition Jesus lived through. Sure there are all kinds of degrees of faith, and we all have different strong as well as weak points. There is no hard and fast way to measure the faith of a man or woman. After all, each of us has the same access to God’s Spirit. It all depends on how hard and long we listen, how we listen, and how we cooperate with God’s Spirit. God doesn’t measure us by our education, or how much money we spent on that education, the name of the college, grades, or lack of any formal education in religion. Those can be tools to build on but none of them can ever be a substitute for a personal relationship with God’s Spirit.

Prayer is part of God’s design. We have to face facts. We can remember only so much for so long. Another point is, how can we recall what we haven’t learned? People say God works with people where they are and that’s true. But how much can God teach someone who acknowledges Him only an hour or two a week? We learn a lot from Jesus and the way He prayed. Jesus got away by Himself to pray. Jesus got away from distractions. That is the most difficult part for me when I pray and stop to listen to God’s voice. It can be a battle to keep distractions out. It’s best to pray and listen when there are no distractions. Waves of thoughts can enter your head. When that happens, I concentrate on what I’ve read or what I am studying in God’s Word that day. Then the still small voice can be heard when your mind settles in on one subject like Jesus’ ministry and how it relates to Isaiah 40. But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Jesus needed a super human effort to accomplish what He came to do in three years. Look at Jesus’ answer to His disciples. “That is why I came.” God cheered Jesus on to keep Him going. Not a day or moment could be wasted. God went over details in scripture with Jesus. Details Jesus had to fulfill in a specific way at a specific time. Our lives are the same. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! (Psalms 139:16-17 NLTse). God knows your life as well as He knew Jesus’ life. God recorded your life like He recorded Jesus’ life in scripture. The only difference is, we don’t have the record of our life to read like Jesus did. Which is another reason we have to learn to listen.

One detail in Mark we should pay attention to is Jesus preaching in synagogues and casting out demons. The first demon Jesus cast out was in a synagogue. No one in the synagogue knew the man was possessed by a demon. It’s a little detail Jesus wants us to consider.

There is another detail to consider. People in Jerusalem didn’t listen to God. They also ignored God’s prophets. Without a spiritual connection with God and doubts about His prophets, Jerusalem was lost. They had no intentions of turning away from their own concepts on religion. The same was true in Jesus’ time. With no direct relationship with God’s Spirit, people couldn’t recognize a demon worshiping next to them. Other stories in the Bible tell us how people in synagogues rejected Jesus. They tried to throw Him over a cliff. They questioned Jesus’ ability to heal. They question His healing on the Sabbath. They also questioned His authority to forgive sins. All of those inside synagogues.

How much do people question Jesus in churches today? What do people do in churches? How do people choose a church? People develop their own ideas about religion then search for a church that agrees with their concept of God. It happens all the time. People want to surround themselves with people who think alike. Then they create rules in the church to keep out people who might make waves. They convince themselves their form of worship is advanced and the only correct way to worship. They build a hedge around themselves calling it a form of protection, blocking outside influences from the world. Convincing themselves all that is for their protection, they can’t see their rules, regulations, doctrines, and traditions block out God’s Spirit. They cannot see demons walking among them.

Jerusalem locked themselves inside city walls with people having the same interests which in their case was love of money and power. They had the belief the world outside could die and they would be the chosen race to repopulate the promised land. After all they were God’s chosen people – what could go wrong? Satan uses the same deception inside churches – while demons walk among them.

Isaiah told us that would happen. Who is able to advise the Spirit of the LORD? Who knows enough to give him advice or teach him? Has the LORD ever needed anyone’s advice? Does he need instruction about what is good? Did someone teach him what is right or show him the path of justice? Religious leaders have no problem telling God they have a better way to worship. Some want to wave their hands in the air while praising Jesus because He forgives everyone for everything all the time. Some people get into nothing but music. So they find a church concentrating on the same type of music they appreciate. Some hymns, others gospel, then there is what they call soft Christian rock and of course hard rock Christian music. Some people get into it so deep it becomes the center of religion while Jesus takes a backseat. Some people just like control so they find a church they can control which is usually a church made up of sheep that follow without question. Most Christians want to follow and it is not hard to find a church with a preacher who wants to make all the decisions. Too many churches want to be in control. They’ve forgotten what it means to let God’s Spirit led with Jesus as the head. Like the pastor asking for prayer on what to preach, they forgot how to listen to God’s Spirit. They forgot they have a direct path to God’s throne.

Pastors who like control are like Herod. They think they have control. They may receive a good income. But what happens when membership shrinks and funds dry up? They ask the church what to preach. That’s when pastors are controlled by members. Those pastors stagger like drunks tossed like a reed in the wind going in whatever direction their pointed to protect their income. Some are more like Herod. They like to show off their riches. But how rich are they spiritually? Did you notice how rich preachers showing off their wealth attract the same type of people? If you look at their hand chosen TV audience that’s the image they want to portray. In all likelihood those preachers prey on poor in the back ground. Who do you think their get rich sermons are really pointed to? Their TV programs are marketed using tinsel and glitter. Were you expecting to see a man dressed in expensive clothes? No, people with expensive clothes live in palaces. (Matthew 11:8 NLTse).

Why did Jesus tell the leper not to tell about the miraculous healing performed? This is an important Bible Study lesson. God always provides the answer before raising a question. Looking back we see the obvious answer. But first we’ll look at the result. As a result, large crowds soon surrounded Jesus, and he couldn’t publicly enter a town anywhere. Crowds became so thick, Jesus was not able to work effectively. Now how can God’s Son be over worked and over extended? Shouldn’t God be able to control the situation? Sure, God could have done anything. In this case He is teaching a lesson. Our first lesson is learning how to look back for the answer. While Jesus was alone praying Simon and the others went out to find Jesus. When they found him, they said, “Everyone is looking for you.” What stopped the disciples from praying? Why couldn’t they hear the same message Jesus did? Obviously Jesus’ disciples weren’t ready for those large crowds. They were unprepared to assist Jesus. The disciples could have been a great aid to Jesus if they had learned to listen to God when they prayed. They exhibited the same form of prayer still popular in churches today. It’s seen in a lot of churches. Set aside a little time to pray thinking that’s what the church needs to do. What does that teach people about prayer? Popular prayers are far from teaching people the proper way to pray because prayer is 20% talking and 80% listening. Instead, churches teach people prayer is 100% talking and 0% listening. Does anyone have enough faith to pray in the proper way or do they practice the proper way to pray by waiting for God’s answer, share it with the church, and let people verify God’s answer? Do people have enough faith to pray that way in church or are they afraid God won’t answer? Some churches pray and share God’s message. Most other churches don’t have that ability or connection with God to pray in public and listen for His message. So those other churches point fingers at the few who do, and make up all kinds of stories and rumors to make it appear to be something totally different. I’ve heard people preach about other denominations like they are some kind of experts. Some times I ask the preacher if they were a member of the church they criticized. In almost every case the answer was, “no.” So much for being an expert.

Jesus needs people who know how to pray today as much as He needed them when He worked on His personal ministry here. Would you want other people who don’t know how to pray working on your personal ministry? Jesus worked long hard hours for no pay at all. Jesus was very serious about His job. Jesus received instructions directly from God. Jesus wanted His disciples to receive instructions in the same way. Jesus knew one day He was not going to be there to give them step by step instructions. Jesus was trying to teach His disciples how to communicate with God’s Spirit, but it takes much more than knowing it can be done. Communication with God takes time and effort. Fact of the matter is, those disciples not only disappointed Jesus but failed to reach out and spiritually support those people who went to see Jesus. Those people walked for hours and days to see Jesus while the disciples failed to spend proper time in prayer. How does all this apply to some churches today? People put a lot of time into work, getting ready for church, going to church, paying what they call tithe. Their money represents time, and what do preachers have to offer? Do preachers spend time praying? Are they getting their messages directly from God? If preachers today worked with Jesus, would He feel they were ready for the crowds Jesus faced? Would today’s preachers be prepared to assist Jesus?

Strange how someone can be a leper one day and one of the worlds greatest evangelists the next. The leper knew how to lead people to Jesus. The leper was no expert. Far from it. For years the leper was separated from society forced to associate with only people of his kind. Did the leper go tell only people he associated with? No! He went to everyone. The leper represented people who associate worship with only people of their own kind then finally see the light when they personally meet Jesus . The sad part is the leper was forced from society. Other people make their own life to resemble a disassociated leper by choice. Jesus physically healed that leper and also set him free from the restriction of associating only with people of his kind. That’s one of the lessons Jesus was trying to teach His disciples.

God the designer has patterns and formulas He wants us to follow. God not only wants us to learn those lessons, He needs us to follow those patterns. When the disciples didn’t follow God’s simple pattern of prayer, they couldn’t help Jesus when He needed them. God never changed His patterns no matter how hard men tried to come up with a better plan. God never needed anyone to tell Him what to do. God doesn’t need people constantly insisting they have a better or easier way. God just can’t work with people who insist on following their own rules to fulfill God’s plan of salvation. God’s seen more people try to help Him along with His plan of salvation than we can number. We have some examples. Some of the most prominent are Sarah’s plan to help God by giving her Egyptian slave to Abraham. There were a few more along Jesus’ family line. Then there was the early Christian church that traveled many roads God never wanted them to take. Some of the converted Jews wanted new Christians to be circumcised. Others wanted to bring in a few gods and idols to increase membership. Then of course the belief God had one choice race turned into one chosen church. The list goes on and on. The Old Testament shows us signs and explains a lot about Jesus’ ministry. The gospels recorded details of Jesus’ ministry. The New Testament explains some of those details showing Jesus’ ministry in action then copied by His disciples and other followers. Both the Old Testament and New Testament are filled with examples showing what happens when people follow God’s pattern and what happens when they don’t.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Proverbs Through Isaiah Chapter 32

Isaiah 9:6-7 A Child is Born

This is a short study on the prophecy Isaiah recorded about Jesus’ birth. The main theme behind this type of study is to hone basic Bible Study skills. Of course the fulfillment of this prophecy was also recorded in the Bible. Now all we have to do is compare the prophecy to the recorded fulfillment. When we compare the two chapters we find one way God communicates with us through the Bible, as well as patterns that are consistent throughout the Bible. In fact, we find how information is multiplied at levels we could not imagine. 

Isaiah 9:6-7 NLTse For a child is born to us, a son is given to us. The government will rest on his shoulders. And he will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (7) His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. The passionate commitment of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will make this happen!

Isaiah is proving to contain a number of prophecies difficult to locate parallel chapters for. What was your first thought on New Testament scripture explaining the fulfillment of a child being born with the government resting on His shoulders? I have to admit my first impression was scripture about Jesus being born. Then I thought the key word government would lead to the answer. I was wrong again. This time it was the third word, peace which led to a matching chapter.

John 20:19-23 NLTse That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. (20) As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! (21) Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” (22) Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

After two failed attempts this study reminds us it takes a lot of prayer and patience to wait for the right answer. Isaiah seems to be a difficult book to work with. But how can you hope to understand prophecy if you don’t understand Isaiah? And how can you hope to understand Isaiah if you don’t understand the prophecies about Jesus?

Isaiah provided a brief description of Jesus. He will be called: Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. His government and its peace will never end. He will rule with fairness and justice from the throne of his ancestor David for all eternity. Peace is obviously one of the most important promises. It’s a promise no other government can give or keep. The government will rest on his shoulders. Jesus can keep His promise because He cares for those entrusted in His care. It’s no wonder the prophecy points to John’s Gospel. “I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe.” (John 14:27-29 NLTse).

As I prayed about this study I was reminded of the description Isaiah recorded. Then I wondered. How well do we really know Jesus? Is this why some of these studies seem difficult? Is it because we really know little about Jesus, or is it because we have trouble listening to Him? Jesus told us: “I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative–that is, the Holy Spirit–he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:25-26 NLTse). Jesus said the Advocate will teach us everything and remind of everything Jesus told us. Are we too busy dealing with the cares of the world, our own message, or some strange message someone gave you to preach? Are you too wrapped up in future prophecies trying to figure out something Jesus wasn’t or isn’t ready to tell us yet? When you look at the Bible Study rules taught by the prophecies Jesus fulfilled you can’t help but see how inadequate popular interpretations are today. They lack the time and depth of communication with Jesus and His Advocate required to understand simple prophecies already fulfilled.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Proverbs Through Isaiah Chapter 32
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Proverbs Through Isaiah Chapter 32 Purchase the eBook direct from the author and save.

The question lingered on my mind. How well do we really know Jesus? Most Christians know Jesus died on the cross to forgive our sins. But that’s not all. Jesus also died to save His Father’s Kingdom because God and His law was accused of being too restrictive by Satan. We still have Christians today who claim the law is too restrictive. Jesus also died to provide indisputable evidence showing the effects of sin. Satan was allowed to carry out his full plan with few restrictions. Satan showed he was ready, willing, and able to kill God’s Son to secure a higher position. Heaven had to know God’s judgment is just and true. Jesus also died to open up a direct path to God’s throne for all of us and to send His Advocate, God’s Holy Spirit. Jesus’ sacrifice also proved the Levites were unfit to represent God and finish the duties of proclaiming His message. Jesus closed the door on the Levites and opened the door for all of Jesus’ followers to take over the role of priest in homes as well as the community.

Most people know Jesus is God’s Son and was born to a virgin. Joseph and Mary were His parents on earth. Then Herod tried to kill Jesus so the family fled to Egypt. Jesus was in Egypt to prove God’s Spirit is able to protect everyone from the worst influences the world can throw at them. Jeroboam fled to Egypt to escape Solomon. After Jeroboam returned, he was given ten Israelite tribes to rule. Jeroboam introduced a list of pagan forms of worship to his new kingdom. Satan found a new way in. Jesus’ parents faced the same influence that ruined Jeroboam, but with God’s guidance none of it was transferred to Jesus.

Many people know some details about Jesus’ ministry. He preached for about three and a half years. During that period, Jesus ministered to Jews as well as Samaritans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, and of course made an extra effort to reach out the religious leaders. Jesus taught with parables and taught His disciples how to understand all scripture. Most people don’t know how to read scripture close enough or how to listen during prayer to see those details.

Some of the things most often taught about Jesus’ ministry include His baptism, the sermon on the mountain, the leper he healed, the religious leader’s daughter and Lazarus He raised from the dead, the paralyzed man lowered through the roof by four friends and the man at the pool Jesus gave the power to walk, the man He put clay on his eyes to restore his sight, the woman who touched the hem of His garment and what Jesus taught the woman at the well.


 

When we look at the gospels we can’t help but see there were a lot Jesus’ disciples didn’t know much about Him. We see how the disciples were unprepared for His sacrifice on the cross. They lived, ate, slept, walked, and talked with Jesus for over three years and still didn’t know Jesus. People listen to a few half hour sermons about Jesus and think that’s enough. Some people think reading through the Bible or reading a few prepared studies may be enough to learn about Jesus. A movie or two may be the the majority of contact some people have with Jesus. What do we get when we look deeper into scripture to see Jesus’ personality?

A close examination of scripture will show how Jesus repeated lessons. This shows what a patient teacher Jesus is. Jesus feed a large crowd twice, healed a number of blind, raised a few from death, healed a leper then a group of them, as well as thousands of others we don’t have details about. Jesus also reached out for a real relationship, but his disciples didn’t understand. Neither do a lot of people catch onto Jesus’ quest for a close personal relationship recorded in scripture.

Looking back at the Old Testament we see Jesus the Creator. Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. And now in these final days, he has spoken to us through his Son. God promised everything to the Son as an inheritance, and through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven. (Hebrews 1:1-3 NLTse). Jesus is shown as the deliverer and giver of life when He took the form of a Rock that followed Israel to the promised land. We see Jesus as a warrior when He spoke with Joshua. We see Jesus in many forms. Some we know well. Some we hardly know, and some may be new to us. Do you know about Jesus’ ministry in the Heavenly Sanctuary He is administering in now? Have you talked with Jesus today? Do you treat your relationship with Him as a real relationship or is it based on basic historical data you’ve heard? Maybe your relationship goes no deeper than to have a savior just in case there is a God and the world does end. The deeper we look the more we learn about Jesus. The Old Testament is full of prophecies about Jesus. The New Testament is loaded with details showing how He fulfilled each prophecy as well as stories about His life and ministry. The Book of Hebrews explains what Jesus is doing in Heaven now. How much do you love to study? How much do you study about the One you say you love? Its time we took a deeper look at these two chapters to see what details they reveal.

Isaiah 9:1-5 NLTse Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. (2) The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine. (3) You will enlarge the nation of Israel, and its people will rejoice. They will rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest and like warriors dividing the plunder. (4) For you will break the yoke of their slavery and lift the heavy burden from their shoulders. You will break the oppressor’s rod, just as you did when you destroyed the army of Midian. (5) The boots of the warrior and the uniforms bloodstained by war will all be burned. They will be fuel for the fire.

John 20:1-10 NLTse Early on Sunday morning, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (2) She ran and found Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved. She said, “They have taken the Lord’s body out of the tomb, and we don’t know where they have put him!” (3) Peter and the other disciple started out for the tomb. (4) They were both running, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. (5) He stooped and looked in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he didn’t go in. (6) Then Simon Peter arrived and went inside. He also noticed the linen wrappings lying there, (7) while the cloth that had covered Jesus‘ head was folded up and lying apart from the other wrappings. (8) Then the disciple who had reached the tomb first also went in, and he saw and believed— (9) for until then they still hadn’t understood the Scriptures that said Jesus must rise from the dead. (10) Then they went home.

The new light for this world is Jesus rising from the tomb symbolizing His victory over death. After Jesus rose from the grave the disciples began to understand who Jesus is and what He has to offer. They began to understand more about this world than they ever expected to see. Their ministry was to tell the world about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. That was the evidence the disciples were given. Satan, who is the god of this world, has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. They are unable to see the glorious light of the Good News. They don’t understand this message about the glory of Christ, who is the exact likeness of God. You see, we don’t go around preaching about ourselves. We preach that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we ourselves are your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (2 Corinthians 4:4-7 NLTse). Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. (Romans 6:16 NLTse).

One of the details we see repeated is the disciples saw the linen wrappings lying there. Because it’s repeated it becomes one of the main considerations in the story. This points to the fact Jesus came out of the tomb naked which leads us to other texts. “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.” “What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again?” Jesus replied, “I assure you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God without being born of water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5 NLTse). Jesus’ resurrection was a symbol of a new birth.

Not only did the disciples begin to understand when they saw the empty tomb, it marked the moment the world would begin to understand. Jesus came from the tomb to shed new light on the world and break the yoke of bondage of not only sin but death and the grave. The introductions tie in these two chapters better than any parallel chapters with a prophecy and its fulfillment. Now it’s time to study the summations.

Isaiah 9:14-21 NLTse Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed. (15) The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail. (16) For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction. (17) That is why the Lord takes no pleasure in the young men and shows no mercy even to the widows and orphans. For they are all wicked hypocrites, and they all speak foolishness. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike. (18) This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. (19) The land will be blackened by the fury of the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. The people will be fuel for the fire, and no one will spare even his own brother. (20) They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. (21) Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.

John 20:24-31 NLTse One of the disciples, Thomas (nicknamed the Twin), was not with the others when Jesus came. (25) They told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “I won’t believe it unless I see the nail wounds in his hands, put my fingers into them, and place my hand into the wound in his side.” (26) Eight days later the disciples were together again, and this time Thomas was with them. The doors were locked; but suddenly, as before, Jesus was standing among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. (27) Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands. Put your hand into the wound in my side. Don’t be faithless any longer. Believe!” (28) “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed. (29) Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.” (30) The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. (31) But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

We see the key words in the summation for Isaiah 9 are devour, eat, and feed. This seems to have little in common with the key word peace written in the main prophecy as well as the introduction’s key words light and shine. The introduction also has key words break and destroyed as well as burden and slavery which shows a connection between the introduction and summation in Isaiah 9.

Isaiah’s introduction tells about a time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. One day the people who walk in darkness will see a great light. Using basic Bible Study rules we’ve been shown Jesus is that light. Hardly anyone understood that light until after Jesus rose from the tomb. John’s summation shows some details on that light as well as explaining the spiritual meaning the other key words devour, destroy, burden, and slavery lead to.

In John’s summation in chapter 20, the key words disciple, believe, and wounds tell a story all their own. As often as the word believe is repeated, one of the main themes in the summation to John 20 deals with a disciple who refused to believe unless it was done their way. It seems people like Thomas had to make their own set of rules.

We also see another term shared by the introduction and summation in John 20. Why would John open this chapter in his book with the term closed doors and repeat it near the end? One important aspect of good solid Bible Study is to put yourself in place of the characters as well as the author by praying and carefully listening. In this case you have to ask what lesson was John trying to convey? More often than not, the author will quote scripture at a point like this. When you look at the scripture quoted it will provide the explanation. Does John quote scripture here? Not directly. John closed this chapter by writing: The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name.

We have to remember and apply another Bible Study rule here. The end of a chapter is arranged to lead into the next chapter. In other words there is a distinct relationship between the end of one chapter and the beginning of the next. This is a transition from one thought to another. Also remember the introduction and summation of each chapter relate to the same theme which is the context of the chapter. In this case we see a close relationship between the end of chapter 20 and the end of John’s Gospel. The disciples saw Jesus do many other miraculous signs in addition to the ones recorded in this book. But these are written so that you may continue to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing in him you will have life by the power of his name. (John 20:30-31 NLTse). This disciple is the one who testifies to these events and has recorded them here. And we know that his account of these things is accurate. Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 NLTse).

John did refer to scripture. Once John saw the light which was revealed when Jesus explained all the prophecies that He fulfilled to all the disciples, he couldn’t help but share the good news at the beginning and end of his book. John did what Jesus set out to do, point people back to scripture.

We also see another set of related texts in the summations for Isaiah 9 and John 20. Thomas didn’t believe Jesus was alive. Some people say Thomas doubted. That’s a nice way of saying Thomas challenged Jesus, God, and His Spirit. Thomas also stood apart from the other disciples. Keep in mind the locked door and how it applies to both the disciples and Christianity today. Notice how the word wounds is repeated. Look at where the wounds recorded by John are located. Did you notice wounds that are missing? What happened to Jesus’ wounded feet? Were they healed? Does Jesus now have scares or are His wounds still open? What about the wounds on His back? Is Jesus’ back still ripped open or are they now scares He has to bear for all eternity?

John left off Jesus’ feet because of his personal contact with Jesus. Who is worthy to wash Jesus’ feet and see the wounds where the nail was driven to hold Him to that cross? John loved Jesus so much he wanted to save that privilege for himself. Thomas didn’t really know Jesus, otherwise he would have never doubted. Jesus had to tone down His own wounds to meet Thomas where he was. Jesus didn’t want to loose Thomas. Jesus doesn’t want to loose anyone. But Jesus wants people to find Him by looking deeper into all the stories about Him.

By combining the summation for Isaiah 9 and John 20, we see another spiritual lesson, one that has an important bearing on Christianity today. Thomas’ unbelief has a deeper more personal meaning people want to avoid like looking at the feet that were wounded for us. Have you ever thought about Thomas’ unbelief on a personal level? Why didn’t Thomas want to believe? Jesus’ resurrection should have been the happiest moment in his life. A moment Thomas should have been happy and willing to share. Instead Thomas held a sense of mistrust towards the other disciples. No one could deny the joy and excitement exhibited by the other disciples, but Thomas decided to hang onto feelings that just didn’t fit the situation at all. Why? We see Isaiah provided the answer hundreds of years before the event. Therefore, in a single day the LORD will destroy both the head and the tail, the noble palm branch and the lowly reed. The leaders of Israel are the head, and the lying prophets are the tail. For the leaders of the people have misled them. They have led them down the path of destruction.

In a single day Jesus revealed the truth about all the prophecies the religious leaders misinterpreted. They held their traditions and reputations to a higher degree than the Son of God. Even after Jesus’ resurrection the religious leaders continued to plot and maneuver to save their coveted reputations, traditions, and doctrines which meant more to them than truth. Isaiah’s summation only tells a small part of the prophecy. The lies, mistrust and disbelief did not end with Thomas who was only a symbol. They will attack their neighbor on the right but will still be hungry. They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. Manasseh will feed on Ephraim, Ephraim will feed on Manasseh, and both will devour Judah. But even then the LORD’s anger will not be satisfied. His fist is still poised to strike.

When we follow basic Bible Study rules we focus on the key words the author repeated, so we concentrate on the words devour, eat, and feed. Those are actions words describing what will happen. Asking who it will happen to is another question. In this case Isaiah provided another list of symbols. There is also a spiritual relationship between the words neighbor, children, Ephraim and Manasseh who were brothers. We can see how personal Isaiah is getting by using the symbols of neighbor, children, and brothers. Who do we see fitting those descriptions when we apply them to Thomas?

Isaiah’s summation also tells us how fast disbelief will spread. This wickedness is like a brushfire. It burns not only briers and thorns but also sets the forests ablaze. Its burning sends up clouds of smoke. Disbelief not only spreads but smoke blocks out light. Evilness also works with a double edged sword. How many people can really see the wounds Jesus carries? How many people talk about the wounds John intentionally didn’t mention? How many people look beyond the printed word into the emotions of the characters and authors? If they did, many Christians would not act the way they do or preach some of the messages they think are true.

I get upset every time I hear messages pointed at separating denominations. Thomas didn’t have the same beliefs the other disciples shared, but Jesus still reached out to him. I see a world where Christians spend long hours looking for faults in other denominations and writing long drawn out sermons about their differences because it makes them popular. Is this really what Jesus placed Himself under a Roman whip for? Too much of the world preaches separation. Is that what Jesus walked to the cross for? Too many Christians focus on minor details and differences to try and prove themselves better then brothers and sisters in Christ. Is this what Jesus hung on the cross for? They will devour their neighbor on the left but will not be satisfied. In the end they will even eat their own children. If people really knew Jesus, how would they act? How would they reach out to other Christians? How could they learn to work together to finish the work we’ve been given?

How well do you know Jesus and the wounds He carries? If the world knew, there would be no more killing, no more taking advantage of the poor and needy. If the churches who claimed to follow Jesus knew Him and the scars on His body, they would not be fighting among one another claiming to be the best, the remnant, the only church with the truth. If they really knew Jesus, they would know the truth. They would have answers on how to reach out to others, to everyone, no matter what their denomination or religion. Jesus did.

If people knew Jesus and what held Him on that cross, they would not bicker about little matters inside the church. They would not lie and gossip about members in the church or discourage them from seeking personal ministries.

People write songs about Jesus’ arms, His hands, and the crown of thorns upon His head. But no one seems to write or sing about His feet. The feet covered with dust from the road to Golgotha. The prophecy here says the government will rest on his shoulders. What held up those shoulders on the cross? The nails in His feet. On the cross His feet were the closet part of Jesus to this world. His disciples looked straight at His feet nailed to that cross and wondered why. Those were the feet that were covered by the apron around His waist as He bend down to wash His disciples feet. Now Jesus’ feet were covered in blood and dirt. Who sings about washing the feet of their King?

Psalms 143:1-7 Hear My Plea

Psalms 143:1-7 NLTse Hear my prayer, O LORD; listen to my plea! Answer me because you are faithful and righteous. (2) Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. (3) My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. (4) I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. (5) I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. (6) I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. (7) Come quickly, LORD, and answer me, for my depression deepens. Don’t turn away from me, or I will die.

As I think about this last prophecy I am going to write about in this book, I can’t help but wonder if the main theme of this book is coming through. It would be wrong to claim this book or any other contains all the answers. The Infinite God we serve will never run out of details to share with us. That’s why the main theme of this book, sharing the little I know about studying God’s Word has to come through. That reflects David’s theme in this prayer when he prays and pleads with God.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Psalms Chapters 91 Through 143
Prophecies Revealing the Messiah Psalms Chapters 91 Through 143 Buy the eBook direct from the author at great savings.

This was one of the most difficult prophecies to find a parallel chapter for. Which word would you use to search? Chased, knocked, and forces seemed to be the obvious choice, but didn’t come up with any results. The next choice was hear, listen, and answer. Still no results. This led me to prayer and plea which offered a number of choices. The result also follows the theme we’ve been following as the series of prophecies David recorded lead into prophecies about Jesus’ disciples. The parallel chapter to the prophecy in Psalm 143 is another story of God saving a disciple in need.

Acts 12:1-6 NLTse About that time King Herod Agrippa began to persecute some believers in the church. (2) He had the apostle James (John’s brother) killed with a sword. (3) When Herod saw how much this pleased the Jewish people, he also arrested Peter. (This took place during the Passover celebration.) (4) Then he imprisoned him, placing him under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after the Passover. (5) But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. (6) The night before Peter was to be placed on trial, he was asleep, fastened with two chains between two soldiers. Others stood guard at the prison gate.


 

The months and years after Jesus’ resurrection was not a good time for His disciples. Priests persecuted them. Herod joined in the persecution and later Rome developed the own form of persecution. Of course Rome had to out do the others. It wasn’t safe to walk down the streets and less safe to meet in homes. Meeting in public was out of the question. How was the Good News going to spread under such conditions? Its a shame people ignore the trials and sacrifices Jesus’ early disciples had to endure which should be examined today for the lessons that still apply. For one thing, most of us have it easy compared to the original disciples. We also see one of the effects of preaching the right message. People are pleased to see us imprisoned and killed.

These two chapters are linked by the single word pray. Once we compare the two chapters we see how chased, knocked, and forces are related to persecute, killed, arrested, imprisoned, prison, and fastened. We can see which future enemy David was referring in his prophecy.

There is a questionable translation in Psalm 143 verse 2. Don’t put your servant on trial, for no one is innocent before you. The words, “before you,” were added in this translation. If you take time to look at the original Hebrew, you’ll see how some of the words can be translated in a variety of ways. Comparing this verse to Acts 12, a better translation may read: Don’t let your servant see a verdict, for no one is innocent. This would explain how Peter felt at the time. We can see what’s going through his mind at the time. Peter and the other disciples know Herod had James executed and the people supported Herod’s evil methods. Peter was a step away from death. We can hear Peter’s prayer from the prison cell. My enemy has chased me. He has knocked me to the ground and forces me to live in darkness like those in the grave. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. We also see what gave Peter hope in that prison cell. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done. I lift my hands to you in prayer. I thirst for you as parched land thirsts for rain. Peter went over the prophecies Jesus taught the disciples while he laid there chained to two guards. Do you think Peter preached to those guards? Do you think the guards gave their lives to Jesus before Herod had them executed?

So we’ve learned another Bible Study method. How to look at a questionable verse. You need to look at the original Hebrew to see the lesson. The Bible Study method shows how proper translations can be derived by comparing the prophecy to the fulfillment. How many more of those verses do you think the Bible contains? Only one or two may be enough to change the way we look at the unfolding history of this world.

That may be what churches fear the most. There are some churches that don’t openly claim, but base their future on being infallible. If one of their members was to find something in the Bible questioning any of their doctrines or sacred interpretations to prophecy and they found it hard to defend their views, what do you think will happen? That member would find themselves in the same position Peter did — condemned without a trial. That’s why it’s important to follow the Bible Study rules revealed in God’s Word, stick to them and let God’s Spirit build up the evidence He wants to give you and when.

When Jesus revealed Himself to His disciples He didn’t stop at the physical evidence He presented to them. He spent forty days training them by teaching them all the scriptures about Himself. Think of those forty days and about Pentecost which means fifty days after offering the first fruit. Pentecost refers to the harvest in the Old Testament. See Leviticus chapter 23. Seven Sabbaths were counted off from the first fruits which represented the disciples who learned from Jesus. On the fiftieth day Israel began the celebration of of the harvest. This pointed to the people the disciples reached in those days. Put yourself in Peter’s shoes. What do you think the seven Sabbaths or seven times seven reminded him of?

When Peter laid down in that cell and began remembering the days of old and all the great works He saw Jesus do, did Peter remember what Jesus said about forgiving people? “Lord, how often should I forgive someone who sins against me? Seven times?” “No, not seven times,” Jesus replied, “but seventy times seven! (Matthew 18:21-22 NLTse).

While Peter laid on the cold stones trying to get comfortable, his mind wandered back over his life. Peter knew he was a condemned man. All hope was lost. Now all he could do is think back over his life and repent for his sins while there was still time. Peter remembered the three times he denied Jesus and how Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter thought of all the times he competed with James and John for leadership of the small group. Peter thought of how he told Jesus he would follow him no matter what. Even if it meant his life. Now Peter faced the answer. Now it was going to cost Peter his life.

If Pilate and the priests guarded Jesus’ tomb with eight or ten soldiers, you can bet Herod placed twenty or thirty guards in charge of guarding Peter. Herod spent his life in competition with Pilate and the priests. He mistrusted them and looked for every opportunity to out do them. Everything looked bleak for Peter as he laid in his cell in the dim light of a distant torch. Peter thought about the doubts he had when he heard Jesus rose from the tomb and how he didn’t listen to Jesus when He tried to explain what was about to happen to Him. Peter let out a long sigh then took a deep breath. Was this how it was all going to end? Sitting in a dark, cold cell smelling of rotten hay and urine. Peter thought this was worse than a grave.

Acts 12:7-16 NLTse Suddenly, there was a bright light in the cell, and an angel of the Lord stood before Peter. The angel struck him on the side to awaken him and said, “Quick! Get up!” And the chains fell off his wrists. (8) Then the angel told him, “Get dressed and put on your sandals.” And he did. “Now put on your coat and follow me,” the angel ordered. (9) So Peter left the cell, following the angel. But all the time he thought it was a vision. He didn’t realize it was actually happening. (10) They passed the first and second guard posts and came to the iron gate leading to the city, and this opened for them all by itself. So they passed through and started walking down the street, and then the angel suddenly left him. (11) Peter finally came to his senses. “It’s really true!” he said. “The Lord has sent his angel and saved me from Herod and from what the Jewish leaders had planned to do to me!” (12) When he realized this, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many were gathered for prayer. (13) He knocked at the door in the gate, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to open it. (14) When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed that, instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and told everyone, “Peter is standing at the door!” (15) “You’re out of your mind!” they said. When she insisted, they decided, “It must be his angel.” (16) Meanwhile, Peter continued knocking. When they finally opened the door and saw him, they were amazed.

Luke really wanted to emphasize the word angel in this part of the story. We really can’t be sure what part angels play in God’s plan of salvation. Scripture tells us about angels delivering messages and saving entire cities. In this case the angel God sent broke the chains holding Peter, opened doors and barred gates. It seemed to Peter like he was in a dream. Once out of the cell Peter looked around to discover he’d never been in that place before. He had no way of knowing the way out. With guards posted all around him, Peter wasn’t sure he should get his hopes up or not. In his sleepy state fear gripped Peter’s heart. He felt the weight of uncertainly and fear mixed with the grief he fell asleep with. All of this confused Peter, making him feel like all of this was a dream until he reached the relative safety of the street where Peter felt over joyed. He was free!

Rhonda didn’t close the door and leave Peter standing outside for no reason at all. Standing on the street taught Peter other lessons. Once again Peter felt alone and vulnerable. This gave Peter time to think. He didn’t like the feeling of being alone in the dark. Once the door opened and his friends greeted him, told Peter how they’ve been praying for him, and took him inside the house to share food and light, Peter saw how important it is to reply on not only God, His angels, but also the people he shared struggles with.

Everyday we see and feel the effects of friends, family, business associates, and people we meet. Some times they effect us for good. Other times they place trials on us without being aware of what their doing. The fact of the matter is, Peter’s friends prayed for him and the effect was good beyond imagination. People may be trying to help us without praying. Often the effects are much like those seen when Sara tried helping Abraham and Rachel tried helping Jacob. It took a long time to see the effects, but we are still living with them today. Were those women helping their husbands or trying to help themselves? The problem they shared was, they didn’t pray before acting.

How often people act without praying and seldom do they see the effects until its too late. Some times they fail to see the effects or make excuses to keep from accepting responsibility. Too often we forget to pray. Too little do we consider the true effects of prayer and too soon do we forget the miracles God performed at our request. When miracles do occur, we never give enough praise and glory to God. It seems the least we can do is cling to God’s Word and listen to Him for the messages He has for us. And of course this study would not be complete without examining the summations.

Psalms 143:8-12 NLTse Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning, for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk, for I give myself to you. (9) Rescue me from my enemies, LORD; I run to you to hide me. (10) Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing. (11) For the glory of your name, O LORD, preserve my life. Because of your faithfulness, bring me out of this distress. (12) In your unfailing love, silence all my enemies and destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.

Acts 12:18-25 NLTse At dawn there was a great commotion among the soldiers about what had happened to Peter. (19) Herod Agrippa ordered a thorough search for him. When he couldn’t be found, Herod interrogated the guards and sentenced them to death. Afterward Herod left Judea to stay in Caesarea for a while. (20) Now Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they sent a delegation to make peace with him because their cities were dependent upon Herod’s country for food. The delegates won the support of Blastus, Herod’s personal assistant, (21) and an appointment with Herod was granted. When the day arrived, Herod put on his royal robes, sat on his throne, and made a speech to them. (22) The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” (23) Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died. (24) Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers. (25) When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission to Jerusalem, they returned, taking John Mark with them.

The summation to Psalm 143 appears to be a continuation of Acts 12:7-16. It may have been close to Peter’s prayer when he ate dinner with the other disciples the night God’s angel delivered him from Herod’s prison and sure death. The last few lines lead us right into the summation in Acts 12. The introduction to Psalm 143 began with a plead for God to listen to prayer. Acts 12 began with a description on the persecution the disciples faced at the hands of Herod and Peter’s arrest. One of the rules of Bible Study tells us the introduction and summation cover the same theme. In this case we see the beginning and end of a story showing how God saw the affliction His people were suffering and acted to save them. God sent an angel to free Peter. Then God dwelt with Herod. When we consider the entire chapter we see Herod was struck with sickness for more than accepting the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. This shows the mistake people make when separating a few particular verses to make a point. By restricting or holding back information, teachers take the glory from God as sure as Herod did. God’s glory is expanded through His Word. In Acts chapter 2 we’ve seen how important it is to deliver the message God provides without adding to it or subtracting from it. We’ve also see what is revealed in God’s Word when the right chapters are compared. The question is, how do we use this power? There are a million answers to that question. Not everyone will receive the same message to deliver. Some messages will concentrate more on some points while other points will be emphasized in other messages. Herod’s death is not a major consideration here because the message is tailored to a broad audience where each individual must consider the trials they faced, the personal prisons they need delivery from, the personal way God delivers them, and the people around them who they share the experience and joy. Part of that individual experience is how they give glory to God which we see taught in the contrast presented in Acts 12. Peter and his friends prayed. God answered their prayer and they glorified God. In Herod’s distorted view, he was serving God. We also see the same attitude with the priests. One of the warning signs we can’t ignore is the competitive nature they shared. God’s never competes. Jesus never competed with anyone in His ministry. The competitive nature comes from the enemy and he knows how to introduce it without people being aware of what they’re actually doing, what the out come will be, or who is leading them. Herod didn’t pray. He let his pride and competitive nature lead him. In the end Herod paid for the crimes he committed.