Patterns in Isaiah 25 The LORD’S Banquet

Patterns in the Bible may be a little difficult to spot. When you find a pattern in scripture, how do you use that pattern? What do you learn from those patterns you find? In a sense, patterns open up a new view on scripture. When you begin to see how patterns were added to the Bible, you will see another portion of God’s literary skills. God has unlimited ways of teaching lessons. Patterns are one method with limitless ways to open new views of information that was in the Bible all that time, but you skipped over it a number of times.

Isaiah 25:6-9 NLTse In Jerusalem, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies will spread a wonderful feast for all the people of the world. It will be a delicious banquet with clear, well-aged wine and choice meat. (7) There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. (8) He will swallow up death forever! The Sovereign LORD will wipe away all tears. He will remove forever all insults and mockery against his land and people. The LORD has spoken! (9) In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!”

What crosses your mind when you think of God’s banquet? Do you think of the banquet Jesus is preparing in Heaven? Do you think about the emotions you’ll feel when you see Him serving? What impression will that make on you? Do you think about the food laid out on the table? How many varieties of nuts will there be? Almonds, pecans, cashew, pistachio, Brazil, Hazelnuts, and more. Fruits of all varieties. Apples, bananas, pineapples, mangoes, pears, peaches, apricots, persimmons, figs, dates, papaya, and many more we never heard of. They are all different. Eat all you want! God will make more. We haven’t even mentioned vegetables. What a feast. How will grains be prepared? How many varieties of fresh bread will there be?

Is that the only feast you think about? Is that the only feast you want to attend? Is the feast in Heaven the only banquet your concerned about? What about the last supper Jesus shared with His disciplines before He was taken to the cross? Do you think about those lessons or do you wait for someone to explain the details? Don’t you think about your reaction when Jesus bends over to wash your feet? Would you have listened when He tried to tell the small group about what was about to happen? Do you listen now when Jesus tries to explain the prophecies He fulfilled? Are you listening or are you numbered with the majority of Christians claiming God doesn’t talk to us anymore?

What about the banquet Jesus invites you to everyday? Do you ever think about the table set in the Tabernacle? The small personal table Jesus sets to invite you to diner and a chat. Do you accept His invitation or are you like people in the parable? They were too busy to attend a wedding banquet the king planned for his son. What happened to those people? It seems everyone is concerned with one person wearing the wrong clothes. No one wants to think about those people who decided not to attend. That lesson is too personal. The point cuts too close to the heart to pray about or preach.

People say bread on that small table in the Tabernacle represents God’s Word. Do they think Jesus only offers one type of bread day after day? Is that why people want to turn down the invitation? Did the god they serve run out of lessons to teach, experiences to share, and love to give? Or is life too busy with too many other more important matters to think about, too many issues Jesus won’t understand because He grew up in another time and age, too many problems in life you want to solve yourself, or maybe it’s a lack of interest, or a lack of love. Maybe it’s a lack of, faith, or knowledge about Jesus. Why do people turn down His invitation day after day leaving Jesus to dine alone, waiting for your company?

When we examine the key words it’s not difficult to see banquet and feast stand out. The difficult part is finding a chapter with the same theme in the introduction and summation. In other words the same context and lesson. The New Testament has a number of stories about banquets. A quick search of banquet and feast will show a number of parables about banquets as well as accounts recording details of the last dinner Jesus shared with His disciples before the cross. There is also a description of the banquet prepared in Heaven after Jesus’ return. Most of the parables point to that banquet in Heaven. They all use a number of spiritual symbols. One of those chapters with a parable about that feast prepared in Heaven contains an introduction and summation with spiritual ties to Isaiah 25.

Luke 14:16-24 NLTse Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. (17) When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ (18) But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ (19) Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ (20) Another said, ‘I now have a wife, so I can’t come.’ (21) “The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ (22) After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ (23) So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. (24) For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.'”

This is the simplest parable in the gospels explaining the banquet Jesus taught about. Some writers say a king prepared a wedding feast for his son. Luke kept the details simple, repeating only a few key words, banquet, excuse, and servant. In this translation servant is singular which placed a different view on the story. Many people will agree the man represents God, the banquet here shares the theme of the wedding feast, which points to Jesus’ return. Now look at the excuses and symbols which are not repeated, but related on spiritual terms. The first man wants to work in his own field. What is that telling you? On the spiritual level the field represents the world. The field is the world, and the good seed represents the people of the Kingdom. The weeds are the people who belong to the evil one. (Matthew 13:38 NLTse).

Isaiah is leading us into an unexpected study once we investigate the impact those banquets have on our lives. Where are you at on your Christian walk? Are you still into the milk of the word? When I challenge people to step up, they often use the excuse they are not at a level to share the word. They are only qualified to share information given to them by their preacher or conference to share. They don’t know how to talk with God. Most people have no idea the pathway to God’s throne is open to them. Either that or they don’t like to face the severe honesty it takes to face God.

Approaching God’s throne is an easy process. All you need to do is follow simple instructions in Hebrews 10 and other parts of the Bible. Plead for and accept the cleansing of Jesus’ blood. Ask Him to cover you and wash your sins away. Ask Jesus to make you clean so you can approach God’s throne to sit at His feet and learn. Then LISTEN.

When you approach God’s throne, Satan will cast all his seeds at you – all the cares of the world. Satan will tell you – “you deserve an answer on this or that.” Satan will fill your mind with a thousand distractions and do anything to keep you from hearing God’s voice. “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” (Luke 16:13 NLTse). What are your thoughts on? Satan wants you to fail. He wants you to ask God for a hundred favors. Satan wants your prayers to focus on what God can do for you and neglect asking what you can do for God. Satan does not want you to see or hear the knowledge He is holding out for you. God is your Father. For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering. (Romans 8:16-17 NLTse). God wants to do more than solve your problems. He wants you to understand everything about those problems and learn from them so you don’t repeat mistakes. That way you’ll be equipped to help teach others. It’s such a simple process. If you are not hearing God and He is not taking you into visions to show you stories in the Bible related to problems you face and the studies you are working on, you need to begin right away. You can’t delay. You’ve already wasted too much time, wasted too much of your life, and missed too many opportunities to serve God. That was the main reason Judah was sent to Babylon. They had to learn how to serve. They also had to learn how to look for the Messiah when He arrived. That’s why Daniel was given a vision. It contained a message to the Jews in Babylon. It showed them not only what to look for in the Messiah, but when to look for Him. How much more could God have done? People we’re just not listening. You can decide to either repeat those mistakes or learn from them. All of this is so simple I can’t see why the world doesn’t understand. Sometimes I feel the world does not want to listen. Like the parable says, people were too busy making excuses.

Pray to Jesus in the evening and the morning and throughout the day.

Pray out loud whenever you can.

Night time is time to rest and get away from this world.

Take this time to reconnect with God.

God can reach you through His Word.

Read scripture in the evening and in the morning.

Keep in contact with God like a friend.

God communicates through a series of events.

Look for patterns in His Word, your life, and world events.

Pay attention to conversations with people. God also communicates through people.

Approach God’s throne by praying to Jesus to cleanse you with His blood.

Lay your sins in front of Jesus.

Listen to what He has to say.

Ask Jesus to purify you and place you at the foot of God’s throne.

Ask about a few subjects one at a time and wait for an answer.

Ask God about scripture you are studying.

Listen to scripture that comes to mind.

Pay attention to parallel themes.

Pay attention to parallel events in your life and the world related to the subject your studying.

Learn to identify and suppress distractions while in prayer.

Don’t let your mind wonder.

Repeat the details you learned.

Write to keep a record.

Other details will come out while writing.

Learn to share.

With a little practice you’ll be able to listen to God’s voice in ways you never imagined. While praying about scripture your studying, pay attention to scenes in your mind. Look at people, their reactions to events, the scene they are in, clothes they are wearing, how they are considering choices their facing. Soon you’ll be seeing details in single scenes as well as how they relate to other stories in the Bible. And as always, consider context. Once you begin seeing how God’s Spirit is able to relate stories from different books and time periods, you’ll understand God’s timing and develop skills to see repeated patterns you never saw before, as well as gain a respect for God’s Spirit few people are brave enough to experience.

When you dine with Jesus are you going to stay with milk or are you ready for meat? In the Bible meat refers to anything solid. You can read the details in Leviticus and Deuteronomy. Two of the major offerings for the Tabernacle consisted of the first fruits and a second offering before the final harvest. There is one thing about milk you have to realize. Milk will do nothing to produce more milk, cattle, or anything. If you are stuck on milk you will never be able to produce anything. Look at the first fruits. A cherry has one seed to produce another tree which will make more cherries. Other fruits have many seeds. Consider the pomegranate. If you’ve ever eaten one you know it’s filled with seeds. This is the reason Jesus used pomegranates in the Tabernacle. Pomegranates have very little flesh. They hardly seem worth the trouble to eat. Jesus used this as a symbol of His humility. Jesus takes very little for Himself because He placed the majority of His attention on the seeds He planted.

This translation shows the servant as singular. Luke wanted to emphasize the point Jesus is the one who came to invite us all to the banquet in Heaven. Even when Jesus invited people like the priests and Pharisees, they looked for excuses not to believe, not to accept the invitation He extended to them. After everyone was invited there was still more room. God will always make more room like the food He has prepared for the banquet. Eat all you want, God will make more. This also shows the invitations have to continue. Jesus pointed to our work and cooperation in His ministry. The most important thing about the invitation is what people will see and experience. There he will remove the cloud of gloom, the shadow of death that hangs over the earth. He will swallow up death forever!

What does it take on our part? Isaiah tells us God only requires a little trust from us. In that day the people will proclaim, “This is our God! We trusted in him, and he saved us! This is the LORD, in whom we trusted. Let us rejoice in the salvation he brings!” Remaining on milk and refusing solid food with seeds to spread is doubting God and His ability. It’s not our works that changes people, it is God’s. All we need to do is become a living example and deliver messages God designed. One more detail we need to review is shown in Isaiah’s introduction to chapter 25.

Isaiah 25:1-5 NLTse O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them. (2) You turn mighty cities into heaps of ruins. Cities with strong walls are turned to rubble. Beautiful palaces in distant lands disappear and will never be rebuilt. (3) Therefore, strong nations will declare your glory; ruthless nations will fear you. (4) But you are a tower of refuge to the poor, O LORD, a tower of refuge to the needy in distress. You are a refuge from the storm and a shelter from the heat. For the oppressive acts of ruthless people are like a storm beating against a wall, (5) or like the relentless heat of the desert. But you silence the roar of foreign nations. As the shade of a cloud cools relentless heat, so the boastful songs of ruthless people are stilled.

Isaiah opened this chapter like no other in his book. This introduction mirrors many of David’s prayers in Psalms. It may seem strange to find an introduction explaining important aspects of prayer in a chapter containing a prophecy about the banquet God is preparing a banquet. But how do you plan on making it to that banquet? What steps are you going to take? We know Jesus is the bread of life. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. Yes, I am the bread of life! Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is my flesh.” (John 6:47-51 NLTse). It goes a lot deeper than believing Jesus is the bread of life. Jesus’ life represented much more than salvation. “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4 NLTse). Jesus meant more than physical bread… we need much more than a casual knowledge of Jesus and a prayer for the salvation He offers. We have to know His Word. We have to commit ourselves to preparing our heart, mind, and soul to be His servant.

Praise to God has to be personal. It has to come from the heart. It has to be real and tangible. It takes practice. Soon you will see a direct relationship between your praise for God and the answers He gives you. Praise God for everything. Praise Him for your house you live in. Praise Him for all the times He came trough for you when everything looked hopeless. Review the details and how God arranged a sequence of events to teach a lesson as well as see you through those rough times. Praise God for your family and friends. Praise Him for the moments you spent alone with Him. Praise God for the message and beauty He sent through a sunset. Praise God for the messages He gave you and the people He sent you to. Review little details in your praise. The more you praise God the more you will see His protection and tender loving care – the easier you will hear His voice. Notice how God always seems to do the unexpected? Notice how problems are solved in ways you never imagined? Notice how God sends you to people you never expected? God reaches out to more people in more ways than anyone can imagine. It is like the generous variety of food He prepares for His banquet. God not only loves diversity, He also loves, cares for, and reaches out to all individuals as we see in the Introduction to Luke 14.

Luke 14:1-6 NLTse One Sabbath day Jesus went to eat dinner in the home of a leader of the Pharisees, and the people were watching him closely. (2) There was a man there whose arms and legs were swollen. (3) Jesus asked the Pharisees and experts in religious law, “Is it permitted in the law to heal people on the Sabbath day, or not?” (4) When they refused to answer, Jesus touched the sick man and healed him and sent him away. (5) Then he turned to them and said, “Which of you doesn’t work on the Sabbath? If your son or your cow falls into a pit, don’t you rush to get him out?” (6) Again they could not answer.

There are two questions that instantly come to mind. What does the introduction to prayer in Isaiah have to do with Jesus eating dinner with a Pharisee? The other question is what dinner is Luke referring to? Luke’s simplicity brings to mind a number of dinners recorded in the gospels. One day Jesus met Matthew and told him, “follow me.” Matthew got up and not only followed Jesus, he was so excited he invited Jesus to dinner and invited all his friends. Being a tax collector the only people who associated with Matthew were other tax collectors. This was early in Jesus’ ministry when priests and Pharisees only started to gather information on the man who healed a leper and send him to the priests to administer the offering. Eating with tax collectors was a mark on the negative side as far as the religious leaders were concerned.

Near the end of his ministry Jesus had dinner with Simon, a man Jesus cured of the leprosy. During that dinner Mary came in to anoint Jesus for burial and wash His feet. Some people at that dinner were not happy with a sinner like Mary being around while they were eating.

At another dinner four men lowered their paralyzed friend through the roof of the build, placing him right in front of Jesus. Seeing their faith, Jesus said to the paralyzed man, “My child, your sins are forgiven.” But some of the teachers of religious law who were sitting there thought to themselves, “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!” Jesus knew immediately what they were thinking, so he asked them, “Why do you question this in your hearts? Is it easier to say to the paralyzed man ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or ‘Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk’? So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” Then Jesus turned to the paralyzed man and said, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and go home!” (Mark 2:5-11 NLTse).

What do those dinners have in common? Religious leaders opposing Jesus were present. Here is a very important point you need to learn before you understand Isaiah or any of the other books of the Bible. Isaiah is a lesson book unlike other books in the Bible. Isaiah communicated with God in many ways. Isaiah teaches us how God communicates with us. God spoke to Isaiah. God also gave Isaiah visions. God also communicates in dreams. Isaiah also shows us how to see common threads in the Bible. Isaiah also teaches us how God’s Spirit leads us to other common threads. Here we see common threads in dinners Jesus attended. Jesus healed people at each of those dinners physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Those were points religious leaders couldn’t see. Now ask yourself why. The answer is plainer than you think. Those religious leaders did not communicate with God. What would God’s Spirit tell them about Jesus if they knew how to listen? How much do people miss today if they don’t know how to communicate with God? If they don’t know how to listen to His voice?

Those religious leaders forgot how to pray. Compare yourself to them. We all make the same mistakes. We all think it’s no use talking to God about what He already knows, or details we think we have figured out. The most important aspect they forgot about prayer, and we forget, is confessing our sins then listening – really listening. God’s Spirit can be brutally honest. People know that. That’s why people avoid that aspect of pray. It’s called confession.

Let’s look at the mistakes those religious made to see if we can learn a few lessons about ourselves. Put yourself in their place. Be honest about what those religious leaders thought and how they justified things they did. The sacrificial system was a big item. Their system consisted of inspecting lambs, rejecting them, paying a small price to take the animal off the hands of the sinner, then charging a high price for an animal they deemed perfect. Of course the lamb purchased from the sinner was taken around the back of the court to a waiting bin. Then transferred to the bin holding perfect sacrifices for sale the next day. Those religious leaders convinced themselves it was a way of serving God by raising money for God. How much money did God get? How much of that money was used to alleviate pain and suffering of poor people, orphans, and widows? That was a second sin those religious leaders neglected to confess. They justified their neglect by convincing themselves widows, orphans and poor people were suffering vengeance from God based on past sins. Those religious leaders convinced themselves they served God by inflicting more pain and suffering on widows, orphans, and poor people, as well as lame, blind,.and sick people. Religious leaders created their own little world where they lived lives of luxury with additional privileges, while people they were supposed to serve suffered under heavy burdens. Another piece of their plan was convincing themselves part of their role in serving God was to go to extremes showing how God blessed them. Those religious leaders led a life masquerading like priests, while no one with as much authority and responsibility was farther from God then themselves.

That was one example showing how people drift from God. The distance is small at first. Change a rule here, another there. Finally they forget to confess sin altogether. Pride is a dangerous cliff with a big drop. Now take this example and compare it to kings in Jerusalem Isaiah had to deal with. Didn’t those kings forget how to pray? Didn’t they forget how to listen to God? The Bible compared those kings to David for a reason. Other kings in Jerusalem were not like David. What were the differences? David spoke to God. When David didn’t want to listen, God sent a prophet. David listened to the prophets then confessed his sins. David was a man after God’s heart. David could never give up His relationship with God. It would have broken his heart – like loosing his first love. God was David’s first love. The last kings in Jerusalem forgot how to communicate with God like David did. Then God sent prophets. A lot of them. They still didn’t listen. Like those religious leaders in Jesus’ time, the kings didn’t want to confess their sins, they couldn’t see their sins, they didn’t talk to God, and they didn’t listen. The Bible says they hardened their hearts.

So what do we do now with these examples from the Bible? We’re seeing how Isaiah leads us to texts with the same theme. As we see how lessons build and expand, we learn to understand context and how God wrote the Bible. We also see how God’s Spirit brings parallel chapters together for us to see how spiritual lessons are taught using a series of examples.

It’s easy for me to see patterns because my training and experience in engineering helped tune me into looking for patterns as well as focus my mind on learning how things are constructed. I was in engineering when drawing with computers was introduced. The first computer was as big as a room. I had to lay the pattern out on paper to calculate points, angles, and distance with a hand calculator. Then I went to the computer to draw a roll cage and cab for a new tractor design. In an attempt to make things easier, I draw half the cab then asked the computer administrator how to select and flip one half , mirroring it to make up the other half. I was surprised to hear, “the computer can’t do that.” No one thought of that. As years passed computer programs grew. We worked on one advanced system with a lot of features built in to make our job easier. Unfortunately that company didn’t corner the market like one of their competitors. As you can imagine, we had a lot of problems because customers with the more popular system couldn’t read the files we sent them. Once emailing files became popular, we had to switch to the more popular program other companies were using. I was surprised to find the most popular program which became an industry standard was missing a lot of the features the system we had been using included as standard. So I found out how to write simple programs called macros. After I finished writing macros, also known as short keys to put the features I needed into the new program, I began keeping track of processes I constantly repeated. When I noticed I used the same process everyday, I would jot down the steps on a post it note. Next time I needed to repeat that process, I entered into the macro mode to create a new short cut. I went through the alphabet with the control key, also the alternate key as well as a third method added in an updated version, the shift-alternate key combination. I created more than a hundred short cut keys to draw on a computer more efficiently.

God doesn’t use short cut keys to reveal lessons in the Bible, but we can use lessons in the Bible to save us the trouble of learning lessons the long, hard way. What you need to do is develop skills to see patterns repeated in the Bible. The Bible is written like a song. Songs will teach a lesson or tell a story then go into a refrain, words that are repeated. The first and easiest part of a song to memorize and repeat is the refrain. Right? God repeated lessons in a rhythm. Learning a few simple Bible Study rules will show you how to find those rhythms. The easiest way to teach a child is with rhymes. Now we can look for the rhyme on the summations for Isaiah 25 and Luke 14.

Isaiah 25:10-12 NLTse For the LORD’s hand of blessing will rest on Jerusalem. But Moab will be crushed. It will be like straw trampled down and left to rot. (11) God will push down Moab’s people as a swimmer pushes down water with his hands. He will end their pride and all their evil works. (12) The high walls of Moab will be demolished. They will be brought down to the ground, down into the dust.

Luke 14:27-35 NLTse And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple. (28) “But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? (29) Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. (30) They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’ (31) “Or what king would go to war against another king without first sitting down with his counselors to discuss whether his army of 10,000 could defeat the 20,000 soldiers marching against him? (32) And if he can’t, he will send a delegation to discuss terms of peace while the enemy is still far away. (33) So you cannot become my disciple without giving up everything you own. (34) “Salt is good for seasoning. But if it loses its flavor, how do you make it salty again? (35) Flavorless salt is good neither for the soil nor for the manure pile. It is thrown away. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand!”

As usual, Isaiah is using symbols again. This time it is Moab. Isaiah is using Moab to send us back to scripture. Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. So that night they got him drunk with wine again, and the younger daughter went in and had intercourse with him. As before, he was unaware of her lying down or getting up again. As a result, both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their own father. When the older daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Moab. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Moabites. When the younger daughter gave birth to a son, she named him Ben-ammi. He became the ancestor of the nation now known as the Ammonites.(Genesis 19:30, 35-38 NLTse). We have to look a bit further back to understand why God is allowing Moab to be pushed around. It wasn’t only because of their birth. Their father had problems long before their time in the cave. We have to look at these types of symbols in a constructive manner. What made Moab what he was? Where did he get his influence and education from? Who brought him up? We can see Moab and his brother Ben-ammi grew up in isolation influenced by three people. We’re not told much about Lot’s daughters, but we are told a great deal about Lot.

Lot left his home when God called Abram. Lot’s cattle grew much like Abram’s showing us Lot was also blessed by God. Soon there wasn’t enough grass and water for all of Lot’s and Abram’s cattle, so they decided to separate. Lot took the best fields near Sodom. One day Abram heard Sodom and a number of other nations were over thrown by a confederation of kings. After talking to God, Abram called 318 of his faithful friends to attack the vast army that carried Lot and his family away captive. Those 318 men must have had a close personal relationship with God to face the world’s largest army at that time. Even though the odds were against them, those 318 men followed Abram to victory. Not a soul was lost. Once again God led a small number of people against a large army, who days and weeks earlier defeated an army made of number of combined nations.

Later Sodom’s wickedness reached levels beyond imagination and control. God had no choice but to destroy the city. God sent His angel who visited Abram before destroying Sodom. Abram pleaded with the angel who agreed to spare Sodom if five righteous people could be found. In the end, Lot left with his wife and two daughters. The angel only found four people willing to accept his word and leave the city. Of course the experience in the cave showed how righteous Lot’s daughters were. The point is, Abram knew 318 men willing to risk their lives to save Lot and his family. Lot could not convince a single person to leave the city with him. Once Lot separated from Abram, he lost something. Lot lost the ability and drive to lead people to God. Something in Lot’s life took God’s place in his heart. The inability to share God showed up in his two sons Ben-amm and Moab.

It’s not difficult to see the Lesson in Isaiah 25 repeated in Luke 14. Lot took the best for himself but never really thought ahead in spiritual terms. Lot saw fields of green grass and an abundance of water for his cattle translating into profit for himself. Lot not only took his eyes off Abram, he took his eyes off his duty to God. Once again we see God using a contrast to teach a lesson when we compare Abram’s victory to Lot’s failure. By the way, whatever happened to all of Lot’s cattle? In Sodom we find Lot living in the city. A strange place to find a shepherd. Lot left with nothing. Lot withdrew to that mountain retreat with nothing but his daughters. Everything Lot thought was important was taken away.

That’s the same lesson Jesus was trying to teach. Sure Lot did nice things. He opened his home to strangers. But he lost the ability to reach people. How? Lot lost communication with God. Remember David talked with God. The worse things got, the more David talked with God. Lot saw the city around him falling into all kinds of sin. Not much different than we see the world today. The closing moments of Sodom showed how little Lot was able to share with his family and neighbors. Other members of Lot’s family decided to stay because they didn’t believe him. A last second show of faith is not enough to change hearts. That’s why Jesus talks about building. It takes time. It takes a foundation, walls, roof, planning, hard work, dedication, and funds. All the things it takes to build a spiritual relationship with God. Of course God provides funds, but how do we use them? To glorify God or take the best for ourselves. Think about that.

Jesus draws our minds back to battle fields Isaiah walked through. Jesus knew the relationship between these chapters long before anyone discovered the spiritual connection long before they were written. Look at key words Jesus used. Construction, building, calculating, cost, complete, and finish are a process leading to carrying your cross. Jesus didn’t tell them to know about the cross. He told them to carry their cross. To know the cost of that cross they had to carry. Jesus also repeated the word discuss to draw your attention to it. Who are you going to discuss your cross with? Does your preacher know anything about the cross you carry? Only what you can tell him about it. So the information he gives back to you can only be less than the information you give him. That’s what people do. They go to someone they trust and the image and meaning of the cross diminishes. The only way it can increase is to go to the One who knows what it’s like to not only carry a cross, but die on it.

It wouldn’t be right to put the meaning of those symbols together without teaching you how to repeat the process so you can use it to properly interpret other symbols, not to mention using this pattern to see if interpretations other people teach are correct. How do we know Moab represented Lot’s relationship with God? Or shall we say lack of a relationship? People come up with a number of interpretations for Moab in Isaiah 25. How do we know which one is correct? How do we know Moab is a symbol pointing to Lot’s relationship with God? We learn to look at context. Moab is mentioned in the summary, so it has to agree with the introduction by following the same theme as well as teach the same lesson. Look back at the introduction. “O LORD, I will honor and praise your name, for you are my God. You do such wonderful things! You planned them long ago, and now you have accomplished them.” Isaiah is praying to God. The introduction is a window looking into Isaiah’s relationship with God. Remember Isaiah is teaching us how God communicates with prophets as well as how prophets communicate with God. In this case God used a contrast to teach the same lesson. As we looked back on the story of Lot’s life we found other contrasts teaching the same lesson. This is what’s known as context. Plain and simple. It is so simple no one should forget those lessons once they learn them.

There should be no doubt the prophecy and its fulfillment are related. They have to be. We also know key words in prophecies lead us to texts explaining exactly how its been fulfilled. There is no guess work. Since the prophecies and fulfillments are related, so are the chapters. Based on God’s pattern in His Word, the introductions and summaries are spiritually related. In this example Isaiah 25 began with a personal prayer to God. Isaiah recorded an example showing how he communicated with God. So the introduction to the parallel chapter must also teach a theme about relationships with God. Jesus showed His relationship with God in the introduction of Luke 14 which also contains a contrast, religious leaders showing the lack of a relationship. Isaiah used Moab as a symbol in the summary. Since the introduction in Isaiah 25 shows a relationship with God, the summary must follow the same theme. This shows us what aspect of Moab to use in Isaiah 25. As a symbol Moab represented a number of things at different times depending on the context. Now we see how the introduction in Isaiah 25 led us to the proper interpretation.

How deep does the lesson go? Isaiah 25 tells us about God pushing Moab away. Why? To answer that question we can look at the contrast in the introduction of Isaiah 25. Isaiah, God’s prophet is drawing closer to God looking for an answer. Since Moab is being pushed away, context shows a lack of communication with God. Isaiah 25’s parallel chapter Luke 14 shows more details in its summary. Moab never took up their cross. They weren’t interested in measuring the cost. They didn’t lay a foundation. Moab had a history of fighting their own wars. We see another parallel between Isaiah 25 and Luke 14 in the summaries when we compare Moab pushed away like water and salt thrown away. If you look back at the two texts you can see other related words I didn’t highlight. Once we understand the lesson we can go back to see how push is related to thrown. Now you can look back at the two related texts and see a new list of related words. This gives us a brief view of measuring the cost of our cross. Part of that cost is understanding God’s Word. Part of that cost is taking time to develop our relationship with Christ and His Spirit to see one detail after another open up, then look back time and time again to see what details were missed the first time. I can tell you for a fact, every time I study, God takes me back over what I’ve learned and shows me a list of details I missed. This always happens. It will always happen when you put time into a relationship with the Infinite God.

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.

1 Kings 8:26-30 House of Prayer

1 Kings 8:26-30 NLTse Now, O God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David, my father. (27) “But will God really live on earth? Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! (28) Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O LORD my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you today. (29) May you watch over this Temple night and day, this place where you have said, ‘My name will be there.’ May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. (30) May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.


As we’ve seen in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25, Solomon dedicated his temple by moving the Ark into it on the Festival of Shelters. While building his temple, Solomon missed the opportunity to share God with king Hiram of Tyre. It seems strange to see Solomon with all his wisdom miss such an opportunity, then at the end of his prayer indicate he wanted the world to know about God. “And may these words that I have prayed in the presence of the LORD be before him constantly, day and night, so that the LORD our God may give justice to me and to his people Israel, according to each day’s needs. Then people all over the earth will know that the LORD alone is God and there is no other.” (1 Kings 8:59-60 NLTse). The word, “then,” indicates two conditions. Solomon suggests people all over the world will hear God when certain requirements are met. It also suggests this is a future prophetic event. How can we blame Solomon? He knew little about God’s harvest and less about God’s plan of salvation. Imagine living in the dark about these details? Solomon knew God and believed His promises and had an idea life would be far greater in the future. How much better could it be for a king who had everything? It seems odd God would choose someone like Solomon to write about far greater things than he had which are waiting for us in the future. Can we blame Solomon for the way he acted? After all, aren’t we the ones who finally got the full message? And what are we doing with the message? Do you know anyone who can explain God’s FULL plan of salvation? Can you? Where are we going when we can’t explain the basic message in the Bible, but claim to have a higher degree of understanding previous generations missed? Where are people going when they claim to unlock the mysteries of God’s Word, when they have no idea how to explain the basics? Didn’t Jesus warn about this in parables, and openly when He talked to His disciples alone? Even though Solomon had a dim view of God’s plan of salvation, many of the words he wrote pointed to details of the plan Jesus fulfilled. Some of them are in this prayer. As with other prophets, Solomon did not understand many of the prophecies he recorded. Solomon delivered a message that would be understood at the right time. How do we figure out how to understand these messages? Its a simple process. All you need to do is figure out where the author placed the main focus. God makes it easy to see spiritual messages because He placed all the attention in the right areas. All we have to do is look at the words and phrases the author repeated. So simple a child can do it. I’ve seen children bring more out of texts than most adults are able to see.

Prophecies Revealing the Messiah
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The first series of repeated words we notice is prayer, prayers, and the related words, cry, plea, and requests. This of course draws us to the main concept the author is conveying. The series of words on prayer is closely related to the next series of repeated words, listen and hear. We also see the word temple and Heaven repeated. Of course, God and Lord is repeated a number of times. Now how do we use this information? If this is a prophecy with a deeper spiritual lesson, the repeated words will lead us right to the proper texts. You see there is no guessing or speculation. God’s Word is arranged to link Old Testament prophecies to New Testament texts explaining their fulfillment. That’s the easy part. Spending more time to compare texts will reveal lessons beyond imagination, bringing all the glory to God. These types of lessons are never revealed through idle study, speculation, or personal interpretations. They can only be found by following the simple rules of context.

The context of 1 Kings chapter 8 has been covered in the previous study on 1 Kings 8:25 by examining the introduction and summation of the chapter. The introduction showed Solomon celebrated the Festival of Shelters by taking God’s Ark into the stone temple. The summation verified the date and recorded the sacrifices Solomon made, 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. Was this what God wanted? Its clear something was wrong with that scene.

This is the first time I’ve seen a lesson go this deep. That is the way God teaches, one step at a time. As we progress in our studies into the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, God adds more depth, a little at a time. God’s way of teaching reminds me of Ezekiel’s vision as he walked along a river flowing away from the temple. To get deeper into this lesson we have to locate the New Testament parallel texts by using the key word prayer.

Mark 11:15-17 NLTse When they arrived back in Jerusalem, Jesus entered the Temple and began to drive out the people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. He knocked over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves, (16) and he stopped everyone from using the Temple as a marketplace. (17) He said to them, “The Scriptures declare, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves.”

In addition to, “prayer,” the word, “temple,” links Mark 11:15-17 to 1 Kings 8:26-30. Mark tells us how Jesus drove out people buying and selling animals for sacrifices. Many people refer to this as the, “cleansing of the temple.” This must be an important story. It is one of the few stories found in all four Gospels. Anyone preaching Jesus drove people out of the temple courtyard in a fit of rage failed to study the scriptures. I would question their relationship with God and how they organize their messages. John tells us how Jesus sat outside the gate weaving a whip from some ropes. (John 2:15 NLTse). A man who sat outside a gate long enough to weave a whip from ropes had adequate time to contemplate his actions. What do you think went through Jesus’ mind before He entered the courtyard, cracked His whip over His head, and across tables where the money changers sat? Do you think Jesus used His whip against people, or to herd sheep and goats through the temple gate? Why do you think Jesus drove out the sacrifices? When I think of this I can’t help but think of the 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats Solomon sacrificed in one day. So many animals were being sacrificed so fast, the bronze altar in the LORD’s presence was too small to hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings. Solomon decided to side step another of God’s commands. What was one more? Did the priest’s in Jesus day look at this and use it as an excuse to turn the temple into a den of thieves? Was Jesus thinking about all those sacrifices when He drove out the sheep and goats? To find out why Jesus drove the people and animals out of the temple, we have to check the context of of Mark chapter 11. The context will always provide valuable information.

Mark 11:7-8 NLTse Then they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their garments over it, and he sat on it. (8) Many in the crowd spread their garments on the road ahead of him, and others spread leafy branches they had cut in the fields.

The introduction of the chapter shows how Jesus displayed His humility by entering Jerusalem on a colt. Once again when we check the story in the other Gospels we collect more details which explain the entire theme behind the story. Matthew tells us the disciples would see a donkey and its colt. Jesus did not ride the donkey, but chose its colt. The disciples covered the colt with their own coats to hide their embarrassment. How often does Jesus do something for us in a way that makes us feel embarrassed? What do we do? Do we try to hide the blessing because it wasn’t what we expected? It’s true, Jesus always seemed to do things the world doesn’t agree with and it can seem difficult to follow His example. So we either hide or ignore a lot of the lessons Jesus taught. We’re afraid to take a closer look at the example Jesus set because we’re afraid to change ourselves. Taking a closer look at Jesus should not be a fearful thing. After all, if you plan on spending eternity with Jesus, you gotta learn sooner or later. Which is the wisest choice? We also see the introduction repeats the word, “garment,” and uses branches in the same context. Is this a loose reference to the Festival of Shelter? We need to look at the summation to understand the full explanation of the context.

Mark 11:27-33 NLTse Again they entered Jerusalem. As Jesus was walking through the Temple area, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to him. (28) They demanded, “By what authority are you doing all these things? Who gave you the right to do them?” (29) “I’ll tell you by what authority I do these things if you answer one question,” Jesus replied. (30) “Did John’s authority to baptize come from heaven, or was it merely human? Answer me!” (31) They talked it over among themselves. “If we say it was from heaven, he will ask why we didn’t believe John. (32) But do we dare say it was merely human?” For they were afraid of what the people would do, because everyone believed that John was a prophet. (33) So they finally replied, “We don’t know.” And Jesus responded, “Then I won’t tell you by what authority I do these things.”

When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).

The beginning of Mark 11 tells us how Jesus entered Jerusalem. The end of the chapter tells us what happened to Jesus when He reentered the temple. Once the repeated words are highlighted, we see the summation centers on authority, which is completely opposite of the humility described in the introduction. When we look at the details we see the priests are questioning Jesus’ authority. Notice Jesus does not claim any authority. This is an example of how context uses opposites to teach the same lesson. Solomon uses this form of communication in Proverbs. It is quite common in the Bible. The summation also shows us why Jesus went into the temple the day before, made a mess of things and drove the animals out. Its quite clear in verse 27. Who was in the temple questioning Jesus on the day after He drove out the people? Also note the summation of Mark 11 has certain similarities to 1 Kings 8. Both had leaders present. In 1 Kings 8 they came to see the Ark enter the temple. In Mark 8 they saw Jesus enter the temple. Which has more glory? In 1 Kings 8 they sacrificed thousands of animals. In Mark 11 Jesus freed sacrificial animals and what did the priests want to do? When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done, they began planning how to kill him. But they were afraid of him because the people were so amazed at his teaching. (Mark 11:18 NLTse).

The list of similarities goes on and on. The deeper we look, the more we learn. We also learn details from what isn’t present. Look carefully at what Mark wrote. “ When the leading priests and teachers of religious law heard what Jesus had done…” The priests were not at the temple when Jesus drove out the people and animals. Where were they? Who knows. Us common laborers can tell you, it takes a major event to get managers on the shop floor or out in the field. When Jesus stopped production, the leading priests had to go to the temple to get business back on line. Jesus created a scene to ensure they leading priests would be in the temple the next day. Jesus never acted out in rage…. He did it to save the priests. Jesus was reaching out to them.

The next day when Jesus went to the temple, the gates were locked. Guards were stationed outside as well as inside the gates. The priests were already suffering a financial set back — all efforts were focused on getting business up and running as well as avoiding additional embarrassment. Guards were ordered to let no one pass. The priests didn’t want anyone to see the mess Jesus created. Jesus already caused enough trouble and the priests didn’t want to give people the impression Jesus gained a victory over them.

Jesus showed up with his disciples and a small crowd following. More people began gathering as word quickly spread. People were expecting to find Jesus in Jerusalem, since He was in the neighborhood, but few expected Jesus to show up at the temple, especially since extra guards were on duty and the priests were furious with revenge for the previous day’s events on their mind. The guards outside didn’t know what to do. They were ordered to guard the gate, but didn’t expect such a huge crowd to gather. Although fearful, they could not see what the people would gain by harming them. The gates were locked from the inside. People waited to see what Jesus would do. He stood silent for some time, looking at the faces gathered. Jesus could tell which people wanted to learn from the curiosity seekers who wanted to see what was going to happen. Jesus knew their hearts would not understand what was about to happen. He prayed to Himself for some time, until He felt the time was right.

Jesus moved slowly forward approaching the gate. The guards were frozen as if in the presence of a king. Jesus passed by them to stand near the gate. The crowd stood in silence watching to see what would happen next. A noise was heard from the gates. As the guards turned to look, the gates slowly swung open. No one would forget the surprised looks on the guards inside the gate as Jesus walked past them. It took only a few seconds for the crowd to follow. Jesus moved across the empty courtyard, taking His place where the animals waited the day before. People looked back and forth as they compared Jesus’ simple dress to the luxurious robes of the leading priests. Some gazed in awe. It wasn’t everyday they saw the leading priests in the temple.

The contrast between Jesus and the priests in the courtyard is a direct parallel to the contrast between God’s Tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. A study of the Tabernacle shows the outer covering was black. Translations may differ on the type of animal giving up its skin to cover the Tabernacle, but they all agree it was a dark color, most likely black. And thou shalt make a covering for the tent of rams’ skins dyed red, and a covering above of badgers’ skins. (Exodus 26:14 KJV). Many people describe the Tabernacle with elaborate colors and expensive materials. The fact of the matter is, all of that was on the inside of the Tabernacle. From the outside, there was nothing to attract attention, or distract attention from the symbols inside and outside of the Tabernacle. The covering was an unassuming black. Which is another symbol pointing to Jesus. My servant grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot, like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him. (Isaiah 53:2 NLTse).

Why did Jesus return the following day to preach in the temple court and why was it so important for the priests to be there? What was so important about Jesus’ message that day? Then Jesus began teaching them with stories: “A man planted a vineyard. He built a wall around it, dug a pit for pressing out the grape juice, and built a lookout tower. Then he leased the vineyard to tenant farmers and moved to another country. At the time of the grape harvest, he sent one of his servants to collect his share of the crop. (Mark 12:1-2 NLTse). One of the first stories Jesus told was about a vineyard a man planted then leased out to tenant farmers who refused to share the harvest. The farmers over estimated the work they put into the vineyard. They thought their work earned them the right to call the vineyard their own. As time went by, they chased away and killed messengers sent to collect the landlords share of the harvest. Finally the man sent his son. The farmers thought they saw a loop hole in the law. Talking among themselves, they reasoned, “Let’s kill him and get the estate for ourselves!” (Mark 12:7 NLTse). The farmers had no respect for the landlord, the law, nor did they appreciate the hard work and preparation the landlord put into the vineyard. One more thought…. if the farmers would have prayed, what do you think God’s answer would have been?

Jesus ends His story with a direct reference to the temple. “Didn’t you ever read this in the Scriptures? ‘The stone that the builders rejected has now become the cornerstone. This is the LORD’s doing, and it is wonderful to see.” (Mark 12:10-11 NLTse). Do you see how the dedication to Solomon’s temple has direct ties to Jesus in the courtyard? Jesus was teaching a lesson Jews should have understood for generations. God never wanted a stone temple to distract people away from the Temple He was sending to teach the world. We have the same problem today. People build their temples of stone, wood, steel, and glass. They hold elaborate services to dedicate their temples. They use Solomon as an example, and refuse to look at God’s point of view. People have the same problem on an individual level we refer to as prayer. In his prayer Solomon directed God. Sure he made it sound like a request, but Solomon gave God conditions. Twice Solomon said he knew he had to tell the world about Him. Solomon knew his role, but instead of fulfilling his role, he attached conditions to its fulfillment. We all follow Solomon’s poor example. We pray. We talk to God. We tell God what to fix, who to fix, and often times tell the Creator of the universe how to fix it. We are just like Solomon directing God and setting up conditions before we will complete our end of the bargain. We fail to listen! Prayer has been taught as a one way conversation with God. That’s the problem with this world, no one listens! Did the priest listen to Jesus? No! The religious leaders wanted to arrest Jesus because they realized he was telling the story against them–they were the wicked farmers. But they were afraid of the crowd, so they left him and went away. (Mark 12:12 NLTse). After all the trouble Jesus went through to get them in the courtyard at the right time to listen to the right message, they refused to hear. Instead the Pharisees changed the subject to something they knew about —- money.

Before leaving the temple court, Jesus had to teach another lesson in humility. Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I tell you the truth, this poor widow has given more than all the others who are making contributions. For they gave a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she had to live on.” (Mark 12:43-44 NLTse). Jesus began His journey to the temple with a lesson in humility and ended His visit to the temple with a lesson in humility. Why was there only one widow? Why was there only one person giving more than they could spare? Why was the widow giving her last cent to the temple? Would the priests appreciate her gift? Did they appreciate the gift Jesus gave them? Jesus was about to give more than His life savings to the priests.

Studies and stories like this do not come around everyday. They take time. It takes time to read God’s Word and become familiar with it, to develop a personal relationship with God and His Spirit and most importantly —- LISTEN!!! I know God is not going to give me an entire story of this magnitude in one day. God never works that way. He gives me what I need, when I need it. Then sits and waits to see what I do with it. If I do nothing…. it seems that message ends. If I write about what God’s Spirit showed me, I get more. I never knew the priests were not in the temple when Jesus drove everyone out until God’s Spirit showed me. I read that chapter 100 times, but never saw the world, “then.” One word opened up a whole new understanding. That’s the way God works. That’s a display of God’s power and glory. He can change everything with one word. God can hide it or make it plain to see. He does all of this in His time. Pray —- Listen —– Learn. Then you will know what to share, when and with whom.

No, God has not rejected his own people, whom he chose from the very beginning. Do you realize what the Scriptures say about this? Elijah the prophet complained to God about the people of Israel and said, “LORD, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me, too.” And do you remember God’s reply? He said, “No, I have 7,000 others who have never bowed down to Baal!” It is the same today, for a few of the people of Israel have remained faithful because of God’s grace–his undeserved kindness in choosing them.

(Romans 11:2-5 NLTse)