Although God revealed a great deal to the Jews, especially in the case of their coming Messiah, they still had no idea who He could be. They certainly had no idea of God’s intentions through out the years A.D. The Apostle Paul reveals in Colossians Ch 1. v 26-27 something of this great mystery, hidden since before the world was made. Paul sums it up in these words. ‘‘Christ in you the Hope of Glory’’
It is a fourfold mystery;
1. The mystery of His PERSON. - Christ. 2. The mystery of His PROMISES. - In you... 3. The mystery of His POWER. - The Hope... 4. The mystery of His PURPOSES. - of Glory.
The Mystery of His Person - Christ.
There are many New Testament mysteries. Some say there are nine others say thirteen, depending on how you assess repeats. All such mysteries prove one thing at least, and that is that God has not freely made available as common knowledge, all things concerning himself, or his plans and purposes for this age or the age to come. Both Ephesians and Colossians tell us of the great mystery that God kept secret since before the foundation of the earth. Note the phrase, “the mystery of God’’. It is His mystery; it is His secret, as to what is His will for man and this earth. Deuteronomy ch 29 v 29 says; ‘‘The secret things belong unto the Lord our God.” Amos tells us that God reveals his secrets to his servants the prophets. In the book of Job it says; ‘‘Can a man find God by searching for him?’’ The implicate answer is negative. Unless God reveals Himself, no man finds Him. We live in the days when the Spirit of God operates. It is His prerogative to open our eyes of understanding. The natural man does not and cannot and never will understand the things of the Spirit. Paul recognised the privilege given to Him to understand things that had never been revealed before. The disciples and those in the Kingdom are privileged to be in line to learn the mysteries of the Kingdom. We thus begin the main body of our study in the life of Christ, by seeing how God kept his Intentions a mystery. As Paul puts it- ‘‘The mystery of His will”. That the great Eternal Almighty God would become as one of His creatures is surely beyond conception in the human mind. When God decided to make creation as we know it, He committed Himself to it. He made an oath concerning the sustenance of creation, and even the redemption of it if necessary. For it was not God’s perfect will that things should go wrong, but just in case they did, He made predetermined plans. Very much like a mother would keep medicines in a cupboard. She does not want her children to become sick, but her love makes her prepare for any unwanted eventuality. In the more fuller notes written later, you will read of Satan’s vital part in all this, but here in brief we will consider only the wonderful well kept secret, that God Himself was to come into this world and take upon Himself a human body and endure all the temptations and trials which Sin has brought about in the body. At Christmas time, when the presents for the family are wrapped and placed around the Christmas tree, it is not unusual for curious children to ponder about the mystery of their contents. They finger their shape and contours and weigh them on their palms. They may hold them up to the light, and anything else, short of taking the wrapper off, in order to find out the secret of the mysterious contents. There is also a certain amount of joy in the anticipation of the giver. Especially if they know it’s ‘‘just what they needed’’. Sometimes parents will provide a parcel with many wrappers, just to enlarge the joy of eventually seeing. Or even in some cases they may set up a treasure hunt all round the local area, just to discover a brand new bike or similar, hidden in the next door neighbour’s greenhouse. Illustrations about God are always insufficient and the above is no exception, but if you see the hints and suggestions in the Old Testament about the coming Messiah for God’s people, you will perhaps be able to liken them to the wrappers being taken off a present. Who is to be this wonderful Saviour and deliverer of mankind, that God is to provide? The clues are many. We begin in the very beginning, for immediately after the fall God gave the first clue concerning His plans for counteracting and defeating the sin which had come into His creation.
Clue 1. It was to be ‘‘the seed of a woman’’. It was not going to be an angel, a bird, nor a monkey, but a man would bring about deliverance and retribution on the head of the perpetrator of the evil in the world. Clue 2. It was to be of ‘‘the seed of Abraham’’. So that narrows it down. It could have been one of trillions and trillions. but now we know all the gentiles are excluded. It was to be a Jew. Clue 3. He would be a prophet like Moses Clue 4. He would be a priest like Melchisedec Clue 5. He would be a king like David Clue 6. He would be of the tribe of Judah. So that narrows it down even further. Clue 7. He would be born in Bethlehem Clue 8. But he would ‘‘come from Nazareth’’ He would also be ‘‘called out of Egypt’’ etc & etc.
When the Messiah arrived, many Jews discounted him as the Messiah. We know the concept of his humanity and divinity existing together is difficult for the human mind to accept or contain, but that is exactly why it is called “the mystery of Godliness...that God is come in a human body’’ So the heretics reject the scriptures that clearly say that he was God, because they have only human reasoning with which to realise the truth. This leaves room then for the Holy Spirit to make Christ known to whom He will. After the religious rulers had grilled Jesus with hard questions one day, and Jesus had answered them to silence, He turned the tables by asking them a question. ( Matthew ch 22 v 41-45 ) ‘‘What think you of Christ?’’ or in our context ‘‘What are your views on the messiah?’’ ‘‘Whose son is he? They replied ‘‘The Son of David’’. So then Jesus quotes from Psalm 110 v 1 and asks ‘‘How is it then, that David, speaking by the Spirit says, “The Lord said to my Lord....” If David calls his Messiah, ‘‘Lord’’ ( for they all accepted it to be a messianic reference) how could the Messiah be David’s son. Jesus affirms certain truths here.
1. That a son is less than a father, but David seems to be calling his son “Lord”. 2. That David was speaking by the Spirit. He was inspired.
Ps. 110 verse 1. is arguably the most amazing of all the inspired scriptures in the bible. Time and space do not make a full explanation possible here, but anyone having a problem in accepting Jesus as God himself come in the flesh, simply have to ask themselves “Who was David calling “ my Lord”? It is obviously the promised Messiah, and he could only be calling One Person his Lord. Also even more amazing is his knowledge of the "conversation" between these two persons in the Godhead way before time began? Truly a mystery, even unto this present day. The mystery of His person, - who was the Messiah? who was Christ? The argument has raged as much since he came, as before He came. The Jews missed Him regardless of all their religion, and since he came man has missed . because he came from Nazareth. They had missed the hint in Isaiah ch 9 v 1-7. Some thought he would come from Judea, or as Micah ch 5 v 2 hints, from Bethlehem. Yet Hosiah tells us that he would be called from Egypt. So there was plenty of room for controversy and disagreement among the “messiah seekers”. But only wise men and shepherds came,- under the guidance of God. It was left to Matthew incidentally, to reveal how all three prophesies concerning the geographical origin of the Messiah were fulfilled. Even with the scriptures it was a mystery. So you can see how it becomes so intriguing, not to say a little confusing - ‘‘curiouser and curiouser’’ as they say. But the clues are all there in the Old Testament. Isaiah ch. 9 v 6. and Isaiah chapter 53, clearly spell out His humanity and divinity, but no-one ever suspected that God Himself would come. It was, and is too wonderful for a Human mind to contain even the thought. To come to know it truly, is like the final wrapper being taken off by the Holy Spirit Himself. Remember when Jesus asked the Disciples ‘‘Who do people say I am?’’ What a strange question to ask. But as is often the case, it’s usually the second one which is the real question. For then Jesus asked, after they had replied to the first, ‘‘But who do you say I am?’’ I am sure some of them did not understand the question, let alone have the answer. To many the answer seemed obvious. “Jesus of Nazareth, son of Joseph, Miracle worker, prophet of God,’’ etc. But then Peter gave His answer. “I believe you are the Christ (promised Messiah), the Son of the living God’’ The comment of Jesus upon this reply reveals most emphatically the mystery that Paul speaks about in Colossians and Ephesians. ‘‘Peter’’ he says, “ you did not get that knowledge from a man, but it has been revealed to you by my Father in Heaven’’.
The mystery had been revealed to Peter. A mystery which the Jews failed to uncover, even though He lived amongst them for thirty three years. Even today the veil is on the faces of the Jews and most of the world for that matter. Sadly it is even hidden from some who go into theological colleges and understand all about the bible and it’s doctrines. It is not a mystery unveiled by academic study or intellectual ability. For God has hidden it from every unrepentant mind. Some may even confess to believe in their minds that Jesus was who He said He was, but only, yes only, the Holy Spirit can shine the true light into a person’s heart. For it is in the heart we believe, not in the head. Then, and not till then does a person ‘‘see the mystery’’. But no-one who asks for the secret to be revealed is turned away or frustrated. It is made known in the preaching of the gospel, yet it will ever remain a wonderful mystery which still brings abundant joy to those who have the final wrapper removed. As Paul says in his epistle, ‘‘Thanks be unto God, for His unspeakable gift’’ . and C.H. Spurgeon's comment on that text was "It could only be a gift"- How true!
Heresies and false teachings abound through those who refuse to believe in his Divinity because they cannot understand the concept in their natural mind.. To truly see Christ for who He really was, and is, one needs the Holy Spirit. That is why every heresy will see Christ through the natural eye and the human mind. Some cannot understand how Jesus could be God and still pray to his father. So they relegate Christ to be less than God, and demote him to sonship. But they cannot understand either, why Isaiah ch. 9. says his name will be ‘‘mighty God’’ and ’’ Everlasting Father’’. Nor can they grasp the significance of Jesus saying ‘‘he that hath seen me hath seen the father’’.
Those who believe that Jesus was less than God, have more difficulty in realising the full significance of Jesus saying ’’ Before Abraham was, I AM.’’ The Jews knew exactly what he was saying and said he was blaspheming. If He was not God then He was blaspheming. He was called “Emmanuel” which means ‘‘God with us’’ It is truly one of God’s secrets, which he reveals to those of repentant hearts and humble minds. ‘‘He hides such things from the wise and reveals them unto babes,’’ said Jesus. The wise are those in the natural, the babes are those in the spiritual, those born again of the Spirit into the kingdom of God.
O.T. Prophesies concerning the coming Messiah:
Gen ch 3. v. 15; The seed of a woman. -A man. Gen ch. 18 v. 18; The seed of Abraham- A Jew. Gen ch 49 v. 10; From the tribe of Judah. Isaiah ch 9 v. 7; Heir to David’s throne Micah ch 5. v.2; Born in Bethlehem Daniel ch 9 v 25; Born 483 years after commandment to rebuild Jerusalem Isaiah ch 7 v. 14; Born of a virgin Jeremiah 31 v 15; Infants massacred Hosea ch 11 v 1; From Egypt Isaiah ch 9 v 1-2; Lived in Galilee Zechariah ch 9 v 9; Entry into Jerusalem Psalms ch 41 v. 9; His betrayal Zechariah ch 11. v 12; For thirty pieces of silver Zech ch 11. v 13; Bought the potters field Isaiah ch 53: v 1-5 His earthly life 6-12. His death burial and resurrection verses Psalm 22. His crucifixion Psalm 69 v 4. Hated without reason
Following are a few slides covering the above. Can copy into Powerpoint
THE ANNUNCIATION; Angel Gabriel.
We can speak easily, even glibly about the faith of Mary at this time, but a little meditation upon it can only cause one to wonder at its greatness. Of all the many millions of people in the world, the God of the universe had sent his greatest messenger to a humble lass in Palestine. Had the angel come to any one of a million others, you would have found a far different reaction. Panic, fluster, feinting, crying, or nervous breakdown would have been common reactions for many women. ‘‘Oh no, I can’t have a baby. I’m not married! What will Joseph’s parents think? What will Joseph think? How am I going to tell my mother? What will I say to the press??.... However, when God chooses a vessel, it is a prepared vessel. What a vessel, what preparation! Truly she was favoured by God above any other woman ever to have given birth to a child, but her faith in God caused her to rejoice in what might seem to be impossible. But Mary knew a God of great and mighty acts. Her song of rejoicing was an expression of her faith, humility, and gratitude to God for His goodness to her. Mary’s Song expressed many things, but here are a few; She had a spiritual experience which made her rejoice; ‘‘My spirit rejoices’’ she said. God was the source of her rejoicing. - ’’ My spirit rejoices in God’’
She was mindful of God’s promises in the Old Testament, to bring salvation through the Messiah, ‘‘Salvation is of the Lord’’ is the cry she had heard from the pages of her bible. ‘‘My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour’’ Notice the personal pronoun, God was her Saviour. She was indeed a blessed woman, but it is folly to believe as some do, that she was sinless. Only sinners require a Saviour, and this is a confession of her need, just as it is the confession of every one who has found salvation through Jesus Christ. The name Jesus means ‘‘Saviour God’’. Gabriel said ‘‘His name shall be called Jesus, for He shall save his people from their sins.’’ Mary was the first to appreciate this salvation. She rejoiced in her spirit, and she rejoiced in her soul. ‘‘My soul magnifies the Lord.’’ She was amazed that God should regard one such as her of so low estate. Yet she recognised without becoming proud that she would no longer be an insignificant unknown maiden from Galilee. ‘‘From now on all generations will call me blessed’’. Every one would count her to have been special. Her heart was so full, it permeated through her whole soul, to cause her to magnify the Lord. When you magnify something, you enlarge it. In this case she was not enlarging something out of all proportion, rather was the Lord becoming magnified so that she could see more clearly those things concerning Him which before had seemed somewhat smaller. The Lord filled her eyes, filled her heart, and praise poured forth from her lips. ‘‘My soul magnifies the Lord... for he has done mighty things.’’ She rejoices that the Lord has put down the mighty and the proud, simply by exalting her as the chosen vessel to bring the saviour of the world into the world. Ponder again on these verses; Luke 1:46-48 46 And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, 47 And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. 48 For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Luke 1:51-52 51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. 52 He has put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.
There is great significance in the words of Mary in saying her "spirit" rejoiced in "God", and her "soul" magnified the "Lord". Would that all men and women had such spiritual eyesight. The word ‘‘spiritual’’ is often attributed to people, probably more often than is merited, but if there was only one person to have been deserving of such an attribute, then Mary is surely that person. She is the embodiment of spiritual living. That is not said so that she might be exalted beyond her station, and worshipped as some might be inclined to do. For we well remember, the Lord’s references to Mary, during his ministry and He implied no such thing. On the contrary, he said ‘‘Who is my mother or my brothers and sisters, but they that do the will of my Father in heaven’’. Her blessedness and spiritual being were totally of grace. She was a chosen vessel, but having fulfilled her purpose, she ranks with all those blessed servants of God whom He has taken up and used to accomplish certain parts of his plan. Nevertheless they all remain, but human channels, sinners saved by grace, and privileged to have been used..
Simeon & Anna:
I suppose it would be a worthwhile study to note the ordinary people who for some reason stand out in the scriptures. Such two people were Simeon and Anna. They were not part of Joseph or Mary's family. They were not priests or kings. But they both had something in common which made these ordinary everyday folk stand out. These two were seen regularly in the temple. They were consistently devout worshippers and keepers of the Law. And remarkably (though it should not be) they were both filled with the Holy Ghost. These were people who day by day walked with their Lord, and who communed with him through the scriptures and prayer. Their lives were centred around the Jewish religion in the best sense of the word. For they both were avid believers in the coming Messiah. Though he had been promised for some 4000 yet they kept their hope alive. Simeon had been told by the Lord that he would not die until he saw the Messiah. Then one day this young couple come in to fulfil their obligations under the law, and when Simeon spotted them he saw also the Baby. In that moment his heart must have leapt as the Holy Ghost within him told him that this was the promised Messiah. I would have to confess that until recently I thought Simeon was a priest. But there is no indication of this in Luke's gospel- He was just a man. But nevertheless, being led of the Holy ghost he took the baby in his arms and said; " Luke 2:29-32 Lord, now let thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. He obviously knew the promises and prophecies in the Old Testament. So remarkable and unexpected was this intrusion that Mary & Joseph marvelled at the things spoken and the discernment of the "old man in the temple." Luke 2:34-38 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.
Then we have Anna. She had been married for 7 years and her husband had died and she was left a widow. She would be left no doubt in a quandary as to which path to take. Should she seek earnestly another husband or should she follow the leadings of the Lord, whom she had obviously come to know and to trust. She also was filled with the Holy Ghost, under the old dispensation and long before the outpouring on all flesh at Pentecost. We can see now another glimpse of the promised remnant. There had always been Israelites who had continued to believe and in that believing, the Holy Ghost had come into them. Once again we must point to our study on the Names of God in the Old Testament, linked with our "pattern of threes" study. For of the three names of God that we have studied, Elohim. Jehovah and Adonai, the Holy Spirit is equated with the Lord God- Jehovah who walked and communed with those who believed. Paul points out in Galatians that from day one, the real Israelite has been the Israelite with Faith in the promised seed which was Christ. God has always looked for faith in counting or choosing those to be his children. (checkout John ch 1 v 12-13 and Hebrews 11.) Anna chose the path of faith. and walked it for 67 years. The testimony of her is remarkable- worthy of note. Luke 2:36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. Yes just ordinary people, but no doubt found their names in Luke's gospel as he presents the Humanity of Jesus, and here we have two ordinary human beings, one of either sex, that together God called "Man" when he created them. (Gen ch 1) In Matthew we have the lineage of Kings pointing to the identity of Jesus. In Mark's gospel we have renowned prophets pointing to the identity of Jesus, and here we have two common folk, pointing indelibly by the Holy Ghost, to the fact that this baby was the Mighty God, Emmanuel, Prince of Peace as promised in Isaiah ch 9. Let us strive to be among those who are ready and waiting for the Lord when he comes a second time, undaunted by the fact that we have been waiting for over 2000 years since the promise. But every day is one more and one less towards that certain day. Keep believing- be ready!
The Annunciation in this first circle of His life was given to the Angel Gabriel. Such was the importance of the message, the secret was not trusted to any man. The bible says quite a bit about angels, and ‘‘messengers of God’’ Though Gabriel was a particular angel. There are approximately 50 different references to angels in Old Testament, and 69 in the New Testament, plus 69 more in the book of Revelation. The word for angel in Hebrew is ‘‘Malak’’. It is the word for ‘‘messenger’’ and refers also to prophets. Malachi ch 2. ‘‘I will send my messenger before thy face’’ and also in Malachi, the priests are ‘‘my messengers’’ In the O.T. angels are often synonymous with divine presence. Such an appearance we term as "theophany". Here are a few instances of such. If you read, Exodus ch 3 v 2 you will read that an Angel appeared unto Moses. Yet in verse six it says that ‘‘Moses would not look upon the face of God’’ and v 14 the messenger having told Moses to go to Pharaoh, tells him to tell Pharaoh that ‘‘I am has sent you’’ Gen. ch 22; When Abraham was tested by God, by telling him to sacrifice Isaac his son, an Angel appeared to Abraham, and told him to stop in the act of slaying his son. Abraham called the place ‘‘Jehovah- Jireh’’ and in verse 16, the Angel said ‘‘By myself I have sworn..’’ (speaking not only on behalf of God but also apparently speaking as God.) In Genesis ch 18, Abraham on the plains of Mamre, is visited by divine beings. Verse 13 says ‘‘And the Lord said ‘‘why did Sarah laugh?’’ Yet it was apparently an angel. Similar divine appearances are recorded in; Genesis ch 32 v 24 -30 Jacob at Penial Joshua 5 v 13. 15 Joshua at Gilgal. Angels are also depicted as servants of God, obeying his commands Hebrews ch 1 v 14. Are not angels serving spirits sent to serve those who will inherit Salvation. Matt. ch 13. v. 39. The harvest is the end of the world and the harvesters are the angels. Matt ch 16. v 27 For the son of man is going to come in his father’s glory with his angels, then he will reward every man according to his deeds. Matt. ch 25 v. 31.(Sheep and the goats) When the son of man comes in His glory with all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne.
The Devil, Satan and his angels.
Man has God-given sovereignty, which God has always honoured. Man’s liberty to exercise his free will has never been taken from him, even though he chose to go in a way contrary to God’s will. But such freedom is something not invested in angels, When angels acted against the will of God they were cast out of heaven into hell. God made no plans to redeem angels. In contrast, such was God’s value of Man that He gave Himself in exchange for man. God has placed the next world in the hands of men and not angels, for men have had the unique experience of free will, and now have an experimental knowledge of sin and its consequences. Man has been perfected through suffering. We know the cost of sin. Those redeemed who will reign with Christ in that next age will be those who have identified themselves with Him in suffering, fully cognisant of the fact that the suffering in the world is a result of sin. Such people will not want the next world to run under any other authority than the will of God. The new race of God’s children are therefore an advanced edition of Adam. Adam was created perfect, in the sense that he was sinless, but Christ who was sinless was made ‘‘perfect’’ through suffering, the consequence of sin. Notice that the book of Hebrews infers that holiness and sinfulness have a lot to do with man’s comparison with angels. It was necessary in God’s plan to redeem fallen man, to become a man himself. Having identified himself with man he took the sins of man and paid the penalty on man’s behalf. In this way there came a possibility that the great ‘‘Holy One,’’ might provide a means whereby a sinful man could become a ‘‘holy one’’. That would lift man to a state “above” angels. Higher in fact than he was originally created, where he was made “a little lower than the angels.’’ In their redeemed glorified state, men are Holy by nature. While maintaining their free will, they desire to be holy. This will be the true mark, of the offspring of God. A perfect proof that they have a new nature. Ready and able to ‘‘reign with Christ in glory’’ The glory that man will experience because of Christ, is a greater glory than that of Adam, even before he fell. Those who are misled into thinking that the NIV is the inspired word of God should take a look at how the NIV describes the Devil. Were you to be asked who is the Morning Star? would probably say Jesus. But not if you only had the NIV. Check out this verse in Isaiah ch 14 describing Satan, Isa 14:12 12 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations!
But the NIV version says Satan is the Morning Star; [So please do not try to tell me tht the NIV is the Word of God. At the end of 2012 the NIV as we know it will cease to be published and a new version will be printed. Which is a clear confession that the earlier translators "got it wrong". The new version will pander to the popular feminist philosophy which condemns the Authorised version as wrong in its orientation to the male of the species. Such spiritual ignorance as to why the Scriptures are written so, is an insult to the Holy Spirit of TRUTH who inspired the writers of the books. No doubt the next version will say "Our Mother who art in heaven". We will expand this diversion in another place, so for now let's get back to who is the Morning Star?
Here's the NIV blasphemy: Isa 14:12 How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! (NIV). But in Revelation it clearly says that Jesus is the Morning Star. Rev 22:16 16 I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright andmorning star. (KJV) Little wonder the Jehovah's witness prefer the NIV. As do a number of sects and false teachers of scripture. NIV was written to sell to as many people as possible. Should you have a sincere preference for the will of God then may I suggest you google "NIV errors" or start with this easy to read testimony of someone who nearly lost his faith. http://www.jesus-is-lord.com/nivmusli.htm
I quite understand the desire for an easy read, and agree that some translation is better than none, but if you are a genuine seeker after the amazing inspired truths of the Word of God, then study from the King James Authorised version. My particular prejudice concerns my lifelong study of the pattern of Threes in scripture. The NIV and other translations do not offer the same proof of inspiration. I also think that those who say the "thees" and "thous" put them off and difficult to understand are surely rubbishing Shakespeare, and if you told your IT tutor that you couldn't read or understand the computer manual because of the funny words, you would get a very clear unwelcome response . The thees and thous in the AV at least make it clear whether the words are addressed in the singular or plural. "Thee and Thou" are singular "ye and you" are plural. The NIV says "you" for everyone whether singular or plural.
HE CONFLICT. Herod.
Although God had kept the great enemy in the dark concerning His plan, there came inevitably a time when it had to be made known. The news however was kept from the enemy camp until the very last minute. Had God sent a man with the message, Satan would have had early warning, but a holy being, conveyed this news out of spiritual earshot of any enemy. Even her pregnancy, Mary kept secretly all the things told her, in her heart and pondered them. But inevitably there came a time when the news had to be broken. The news aroused the hordes in hell. Hell awoke and attacked. The gossipers of Nazareth no doubt were unaware that they were in the devil’s employ as they gossiped about this pure maid from their town. One can imagine the agitation in the enemy camp when they began to get the first vibes that something great was happening among the heavenly hosts. They must have been more than curious, when shepherds and kings were roused to bring their worship and gifts to a baby born in a manger. Imagine if you can the surprise, and perhaps the anticipated glee, as Satan rubbed his hands when he discovered that the Son of God had become the Son of Man. Had he known the nursery rhyme, doubtless he would have quoted it; “ Will you walk into my parlour said the spider to the fly’’. It must have seemed too good to be true, that the very Son of God should step foot on his domain, and become accessible to his evil work of temptation, suffering and destruction. Within a very short space of time after the annunciation was made of God’s intentions, Satan had organised His forces to stamp out as soon as possible the life of this tiny babe. His aim was to destroy the work of God on his domain. He had the power of death and immediately sought to exercise it. He had his prepared vessels, full to the brim with constant deliveries of pride, jealousy and hatred. He delivered his wares into high places. Through Herod, who became the very personification of the devil himself, he seeks out this life to destroy it.
The prophet Isaiah said ‘‘He shall grow up before him as a tender plant.’’ There never was a more tender plant than this tiny babe, as Satan stamped his giant feet through the “nurseries” of Bethlehem. Here Satan showed his real colours, as in desperation, he frantically lashed out to kill the babe of Bethlehem; even at the terrible cost of thousands of priceless newborn babies. Homes were turned from places of joy to places of great grief and mourning. The cry of the anguished mothers of Jerusalem, as they saw the light of their lives snuffed out, had been heard hundreds of years before by the prophet Jeremiah. In ch 31 v 15 he writes; ‘‘A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning. Rachel weeping for her children, and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.’’
It is part of the significance of Matthew’s gospel that he alone of all the Gospel writers, records this evil deed of Herod. For Matthew presents Jesus as a King. In Matthew chapter one we have the true king, in chapter two we have the false king, the usurper. Jesus came to set up a rival kingdom. Satan would leave no stone unturned in an attempt to stop this happening. However, Satan was outwitted and through the angel and Joseph’s obedience, Jesus was unharmed in this diabolical attack. Satan would have to wait another time but in the battle for his human life he had failed. Satan’s attempt to stop the purposes of God being fulfilled was unavailing. The circle moved on, the progress of God’s intention came to a successful birth and survival.
Herod the Great:
There are so many Herod’s in the bible that perhaps a look at the family tree might illuminate things a little. Most readers of the New Testament are inclined to get a bit confused in trying to decipher which Herod is being referred to in any particular passage. Herod the Great lived before Jesus and was born and died about the time of Jesus’ birth. He was the brute of a man that had all the babies killed when he heard that a king had been born. He regarded himself as king of the Jews and had worked knowingly in that direction. Their Jewish history boasted of such great kings as David and Solomon who between them built what was known as Solomon’s Temple. This Herod rebuilt the temple, and called it Herod’s temple. The building began some twenty years before Jesus was born and wasn’t completely finished until some forty or fifty years after his birth. This was the temple of which Jesus prophesied, saying that not one stone would stand upon another. On another occasion when Jesus said ‘‘Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.’’ To this the people responded ‘‘This temple has taken forty six years to build, will you raise it up in three days?’’ It is easy to see how Herod killed two birds with one stone in building this temple. On one hand his ego was boosted by the magnificent building, and on the other he was almost bribing the Jews to accept him as King, even competing with the legendary glory of Solomon. The later destruction of the temple, (A.D. 70.) ensuring that the memorial of this wicked man was rubbed from the face of the earth, reveals the sure hand of God against such presumptuous pride. Herod himself died in great agonies of body and spirit. After his death the kingdom was divided between his three sons Antipas, Archeleus and Philip 11. Philip took the land east of the Jordan, Antipas governed Galilee and Perea, And Archeleus governed Judea and Samaria. Herod Philip 1. lived as a private person and married Herodias. They had a daughter called Salome. However, she left him to set up house with Philip’s brother, Antipas. It was this king, (Herod Antipas) that John the baptist denounced, and who had John beheaded to please Herodias. Herodias was the sister of Agrippa 1, and daughter of Aristobolus. Herod Philip 11 married Salome. Herod Agrippa 1, was the Herod that put James to death in the Acts of the Apostles. He also cast Peter into Prison. He became as powerful as his grandfather, Herod the Great. He ruled over the same area. This was the Herod of whom we read in Acts ch. 12. He died suddenly at the height of his pride and magnificence. He was being hailed as a ‘‘god’’. It seems that he died of the same disease as his grandfather. Significantly we read in Acts that; “Herod died and was eaten by worms, but the word of God grew and multiplied.’’ So much for the kingdoms of men and those who rule over them. Finally, Herod Agrippa 11 was the one that Paul made his defence before, and who said those oft repeated words. ‘‘Almost you persuade me to be a Christian’’.
BIRTH: In Bethlehem.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the city of David just as the prophet Micah foretold it. ‘‘Out of thee O Bethlehem will come a leader who will rule my people Israel’’. One of the great pillars which endorse the divine inspiration of the bible is its prophecies. This is such a clear sign of divine inspiration. Amazingly, had not Caesar Augustus ordered a taxing of the people, which necessitated that Mary & Joseph go to Bethlehem, this would never have been fulfilled; likewise the prophesies of Him coming from Egypt, and living in Galilee. You would wonder what more evidence does the unbeliever need to be convinced. Even some so-called "christians" seem happy to confess that they don't believe some parts of the Bible. Bethlehem was a happy place. A place of festivity and joy. The inns were full. Friends and families were all uniting. Some reunited no doubt, after many years in other places. The pub was full of jollity but the stable would be full of joy. For "in his presence there is fullness of joy." But spare a thought for Joseph at this time. Think how he must have felt, knowing his responsibility, to Mary and to God. Perhaps he felt guilty that he had failed to book a better place to stay. May be others hearing of their predicament would accuse Joseph of lacking a bit of forethought, perhaps even of intelligence. The unkind might say he was young and irresponsible. Perhaps another young man in the same position might have thought that God had failed to provide, supposing that having been given this commission from God, that God would do something to help in such circumstances. But it was no accident that Jesus was born in such a humble place. By choice, our God Incarnate was born in a stable. ‘‘This is our God.’’ However, soon there were those who heard the glad tidings and came to worship. The Wise men got lost, being guided by their education and knowledge they sought for Him in palaces, but the "poor, humble uneducated shepherds" had to depend upon divine guidance, to find their God. (So what's new?) Human reasoning caused them from being guided from above. They stopped following the star, but the star had not stopped. When leaving Herod, we read that they continued following the star until it stopped over where the young child lay. No doubt Mary & Joseph were soon housed, for when the wise men came they were in fact in a house, and not still in the stable as all too often the nativity plays suggest. This is as common as the assumption that Mary rode on a donkey from Nazareth to Bethlehem, but nowhere in the bible do we read such a thing. The wise men came with gifts of Gold, to mark His Kingship, Frankincense to mark his priesthood, and Myrrh to denote His prophetship. The latter because the one identifiable similarity between all prophets was that they suffered. The myrrh was a balm for suffering. When their stay in Egypt was over, Joseph took his family back to Nazareth. The city of the poor, the place where the gossipers were ready and waiting, the place of much sin and suffering. This is where the Son of God was to grow. Not in Bethlehem the place of celebration, but in Nazareth, where trials and hardships abounded. If we sent our child to a foreign country, would we prefer him raised in a poor or rich household? We would no doubt justify our choice by claiming that we would only want what is "best" for our child. Naturally inferring that it is better to be rich than poor. Obviously in God’s economy riches do not mean money. Bethlehem means "house of bread" Jesus said John 6: "I am the bread that came down from heaven" The whole of creation is sourced at Jesus. ; - Basic need- Food. Basic Food- Bread and water. Hence the reason why the Bible is rife with references to seed, wheat, corn, farming, and more especially UN-leavened bread, celebrated as a "feast". For the UN-leavened bread is a specific parable to illustrate His Humanity. We have written of this elsewhere. We are told that a quarter of the world is starving because of lack of bread, but a good 90% of the world is starving spiritually because of the lack of Jesus, the bread sent from heaven. And a good percentage of the other 10% are distinctly undernourished. Sad!
GROWTH ; Nazareth.
The specific location where Jesus was to grow, was in no way a matter of chance or accident. If one considers the alternatives, it is not difficult to imagine that there would be better places for such an important process to take place. Having escaped to Egypt, one would suppose that Heaven’s Planning Department could easily have arranged permanent housing and schooling for him, in that country which was renowned for its education and culture. Romans ch 5. clearly tells us that it is in the soil of adversity that our faith, and therefore our christian life, grows productively. Nazareth was the exact soil for the growth of the Son of Man. After the short exile in Egypt, Joseph took his family back to this impoverished, under-developed part of Palestine. We have already made mention of the social and geographical aspects of this place. However we can add three reasons at least why Jesus went back to Nazareth.
1. To learn a trade: (Body) 2. To relate himself to social life: (Soul) 3. To read his bible. (Spirit)
1. Learning a trade.
To those who seldom see any purpose in their daily routine employment or trade, it should come as a sobering thought that God himself worked manually, sawing wood, fixing doors, making furniture etc. as a paid servant. He earned his bread under the curse put on Adam with "the sweat of his brow". He did not take the road of education and cultural sophistication that was paved in Egypt. Nor did His father predestine Him to be brought up among the wealthy, and religiously educated people in Jerusalem. Our human reasoning would no doubt reason that to be brought up in the temple like Samuel would have been the ideal situation for man's great High Priest.
Jesus spent ten times more time planing timber than preaching truth. But He grew, physically, mentally and spiritually. There is no evidence to add credence to the belief that one is more spiritual as a result of being ‘‘full-time’’ as being ‘spare time’ in the service of the King. The hymn-writer saw great truth to declare; ‘‘The trivial round, the common task Would furnish all we ought to ask; Room to deny ourselves and a road That brings us daily nearer God.’’
Note the amazement of those who had grown up alongside him. when they heard his ministry some years later. Matt ch 3 v 54 says; ‘‘When Jesus came to his own country to teach them, the people were astonished and said ‘‘Where has this man, received such wisdom ?’’ Had he been brought up in Judea, the place of religious and political hierarchy, some might have expected some reflection of his theological training, but no, he was a product of another university, situated in the wood yards of Nazareth. His fellow Nazarenes, his neighbours and even family saw nothing special about him. They were amazed at his education when he preached his first sermon and his brothers and sisters did not believe on him when he started out on his ministry as the Servant of Jehovah. Jesus himself commented upon the attitude of his fellow Nazarenes, when He could not do any mighty work among them because of their unbelief, "No prophet is without honour except in his own country". This explodes the apocryphal stories of him doing marvellous miracles even as a child as myth and nonsense
2. Relating to social life:
One of the consequences of the fall, (to sin) was that man was then destined to ‘‘eat bread from the sweat of the brow.’’ We have seen that the Son of God entered fully into this part of his identification with man, within the consequences of ‘‘the fall’’. He earned his crust with sweated labour. However, the problems of life are not all due to the physical strain of every day work. There is a “soul” level as well as a ‘‘body’’ level. This level upon which the soul suffers and has to endure trials, temptations and disappointments, is within the social framework of man’s existence. Such is the very nature of life. We all exist as individuals, we feel entitled to our own space and we all have a will of our own. We all have our favourite programmes but quite often, only one T.V. We all have an eye for the possessions of others. Sisters eye their sister’s clothes, and sometimes feel free to borrow them without asking. Brothers play with another’s hi-fi or computer and sometimes scratch a record or ruin a disk in the process. Minor scuffles and major skirmishes take place within the family social circle. To survive as a family we must learn how to relate. Then the outer social circle, sometimes is even more of a jungle. The tree of human nature produces more than babies. Friends betray friends, relatives disown relatives, and jealousy envy, hatred, and unfaithfullness are rife. There is nothing to suppose that Jesus did not also endure such family and social contradictions. Though the Catholic church teaches that Mary had only one child, which was Jesus, the scriptures say differently. In Matt. ch 13 v 55. we have his brothers identified as James, Joses, Simon and Judas. (see also Luke ch 8 v. 19.) The next verse tells us that Jesus also had sisters. So Jesus certainly knew what family life was all about. Tradition tells us that Joseph, the husband of Mary died when Jesus was quite young so being the eldest of the breed, greater family responsibility would fall upon his young shoulders. Being poor with a small family would be bad enough, but obviously this was a large family. They were certainly not housed in a six bed-roomed mansion or palace as some of his so-called representatives on this earth have been throughout the centuries. When Jesus went about healing, preaching and teaching, we read in John ch 7 v. 5 that his brothers and sisters did not believe in Him. Furthermore, if you take into consideration the attitude of his own townsfolk in Matt ch 13, mentioned above you will see that Jesus identified himself totally with them. He was not regarded as anyone special during these years of natural life in Nazareth. His inner being was kept hidden.
3. Reading his bible:
It was not the bible we have today, of course, but one that consisted of The Law, The Psalms and The Prophets. May be or may be not, his family had their own copy of the scriptures to read. If Heaven could have granted one concession to this poor family, it would have been to see that it had a copy of the scriptures available for Jesus to read. (not even a website) However, it is more than likely that such was not the case. We read in Luke ch 4, that it was the custom of Jesus to read the scriptures in the synagogue each Sabbath. So not only had he been taught to read but he had obviously spent much time in the realms of the synagogue, learning as much as he could.
The Silent Years
This is the title often given to the 18 years from when Jesus was twelve to when he emerged on to the public arena at the age of thirty. We have already said something of these gaps in scripture in our chapter on the Limitations. However, we can imagine perhaps, what would have happened if we knew all about the daily routine and practices of Jesus during these years. For, considering the tendency or aptitude of men to imitate their religious leaders or heroes, would it not have become the practice for so many of those who make religions, to devour and imitate as much about Jesus as possible. What a wealth of information these years would provide for such human acts of piety. Some would grow their hair to exactly the same length and style. Some would no doubt imitate his human mannerisms, and we might even have had a religious order based upon his eating habits, e.g. ‘ how to eat your breakfast flakes.’ From Hell’s point of view, you can be sure that He was a constant target. As in the case of any child of God (believer), the target is always one’s faith. We shall see that Jesus was no exception to this diabolical modus operandi. Some people have a very mistaken idea that being the Son of God, Jesus floated through life surrounded by a wall of fire and forewarned and forearmed of every attack from the enemy. He would also have wonderful supernatural powers to enable him to escape any adverse circumstance. All too often it seems rational to suppose that the perfect christian life, and a right relationship with God must ensure that all one’s prayers would be answered. In an attempt to identify with Jesus, we imagine Him to deal with life’s daily problems, as we do. For we have an inbred ability to cry for help immediately trouble arrives, and having a strong aversion to adversity of any kind, we are thus inclined to believe that if God answered all our prayers, life would be wonderful and bad times would have hardly appeared before God would dispel them immediately. Furthermore we might mistakenly suppose that such idyllic fantasies are not our experience, because of our sin and God’s displeasure. Surely then, we surmise, with Jesus it would have been different. He would have his premiums paid in full and up to date, so His Heavenly Insurer would pay out immediately. So to understand what really happened during those ‘‘silent years’’ could give us a much clearer understanding of prayer. It should also enable us to see how our own Sonship grows in knowledge, understanding and wisdom (experience). For just as we grow by faith, so did the Lord Jesus himself grow in awareness of who he really was, by FAITH, believing the Word he read and the witness within. For Jesus had no more help available to him than we have available to us, to enable us to walk with God. Jesus was connected to God, purely by the same faith that is available to us. Faith is the spiritual power that connects us to God. Sin brought about unbelief, i.e. ‘‘Has God said?’’. Unbelief dispels faith and brings about the severance of God’s presence. His knowledge grew through the same three ‘‘helps’’ that we have, and his faith grew by testing and obedience. The three things that Jesus had to enable him to grow spiritually were, 1. His mother; She would tell him of his birth, and teach him the scriptures. 2. The Holy Spirit within him, would guide, convict, and encourage him with assurances through the scriptures. 3. His "Bible"; There is no reason to believe that Jesus had any extra special power before the Holy Spirit came upon Him at his baptism. Even if he did, then we can be sure that he never used such powers for his own gratification. He certainly never did so in his public ministry. Some weird tales can be found in so-called Christian literature of Jesus as a boy, making birds out of plasticine and bringing them to life. This is but human fantasy, not to say total foolishness. Jesus had no advantage over any of us. He had, and depended upon the same three provisions that we have, to cause Him to grow by Faith, which we have just mentioned. He was born of the Holy Spirit. So are we, born not “ of the flesh, or of blood, nor of the will of man, but of God’’.
Like us, He had someone older to teach Him about what had happened. If we have been born again then we have been born into the fellowship of a church body of fellow believers. It is the church that has mothered us and given us the word by which we were born again. The church sowed the ‘‘‘incorruptible seed," we accepted it and God fertilised that seed by His Spirit and caused Christ to be born in us. Jesus would have been told of His miraculous birth, and who He was. The Holy Spirit within Him would confirm this and thus He would believe those first statements from His mother. Similarly, when we are born again we may not understand how it has all come about, nor exactly what has happened to us. So other older believers and teachers who understand such things are there to help us to understand. If your mother had told you at six years of age that you were the Son of God, you would think your mother was mentally ill, unless you had a real assurance from within. Jesus had that assurance. He spoke assuredly at the age of twelve about his spiritual life, but when we think of the problems of teenage years alone, then we can perhaps realise that there were plenty of experiences which might make him consider whether or not the things he had been told were true. All he believed concerning himself, was severely tested. Likewise, we may be told by our pastor or minister that having believed, we are now children of God, but if we genuinely are, we will know the assurance of the Holy Spirit within us. However, as we progress in this study we will see that this faith was severely tested. Thankfully, it is also true to say that this new birth experience is not all faith. There are feelings which follow faith. When we believe, the scripture says that God gives to us the “earnest” of his Spirit. If and when such feelings disappear it is a sure sign that we need to exercise more or fresh faith, if we want fresh feelings. There is nothing wrong with expecting feelings as long as you know when to expect them. We should expect them after we have exercised our faith through word or deed. Jesus would have been no different. Indeed he may have had less “feelings” than us. If you understand the import of Romans ch 8 v 36 you will know that the Christian life does include times of feeling “God-forsaken”. If it is true for us then it would have certainly been true for Jesus. Then of course, Jesus would have been taught the Word of God from his earliest years. Probably his earliest memories would be of Mother telling him the scriptures, or talking to him about the readings in the synagogue that day or week. Whatever the time lapse you can be sure that Mary made every effort to enable Jesus to learn. It became His custom to read in the synagogue, as He grew up. (Luke ch 4). From those scriptures He would learn about who he was, and why He had been sent to this earth. Line upon line, precept upon precept, bit by bit the picture would come together. It is natural to suppose that Jesus would have had a direct line to God who would talk to Him every day and therefore he always knew what to say, or do. Such would be a clear advantage over us mere mortals, who find it very difficult to know when and what God is telling us to do. However that is not the case, for almost everything Jesus said and did, had its source in His bible. They were acts of faith and obedience; the word became flesh in his experience, and that is exactly how our own christian lives should be. 1. He preached the bible. ‘‘I have given them thy word’’ 2. He met his critics with the bible. ‘‘You make errors because you do not know the scriptures’’ 3. He overcome temptation with the bible. ‘‘It is written..’’ 4. He was guided by the bible. To endorse just how much Jesus was guided by his bible we have a remarkable verse in the gospel of Luke ch 22 verses 36-38. In which Jesus exhorts his disciples to buy swords. This seems a very strange thing for the Prince of Peace to say, does it not? Especially as later on, when Peter pulled out his sword to use it in defence of Jesus, the Lord rebuked him and told him to put it away. Why then did He tell them to buy swords. Well surprise, surprise, it tells you in the same scripture. This he told them to do, ‘‘that the scripture might be fulfilled ‘He was numbered with the transgressors’’. How strange, for we would have thought that he fulfilled such scripture the day he was baptised, if not then, he was certainly numbered with them on the cross. Why then the reason for wanting his disciples to give the appearance of transgressors. Just as we might see a gang of ruffians or hooligans from a football match, armed with bicycle chains and knuckledusters, so also Jesus’ ‘‘gang’’, armed with swords would surely give cause for some to number Christ among the transgressors of his day. Although we can be almost sure that this is the only interpretation, it does not tell us why he felt it necessary to do it. It is more than likely that Jesus had read such a scripture that very day. Jesus lived as we should, reading the word each day and each day seeking out opportunities to obey and put it into practice: so Jesus responded to this reading in Isaiah and did all that was in his power to see it fulfilled. There were many things he could not fulfil himself, they were passive things, but if it was actively possible, then Jesus fulfilled the word day by day as it was revealed to Him. So these ‘‘silent years’’ were important years of growing up in the knowledge of who he was and by faith getting to know and trust His heavenly Father, in the same way as we grow as children of God.. Isaiah ch 53 says that he grew “as a tender plant”. Amongst other things which we will discuss later, it reminds us of the silence and the hidden growth underground, characteristic of plants. It has already been said that during these years he was tested and tried in all points, just like we are. It is worth remembering that the oak tree which does not bow to the strong winds, would feel the full force of the wind much more than a reed or blade of grass that bends whichever way the wind blows. So it is with temptation. Those who fall easily never know its real power, as do those who stand firmly against it. As we have said it is quite a well accepted fact of tradition that Joseph died when Jesus was quite young. It is a fact not easily authenticated but from scripture we know he was certainly not around when Jesus was thirty years of age. However, being bereaved is such a common and strong test of one’s faith that it would very likely be among those testing experiences which are ‘‘common to man’’. To list all the various human sadnesses and sorrows that beset mankind, and then tick them off if Jesus experienced them, is not possible, because God has not blazoned such things for all the world to know. We can be certain of one thing, that Hell threw everything it had at Jesus in an attempt to stop the progress of God’s intentions. You have only to study the book of Job to see that if the Devil is given a yard, he does not take only 35 inches However, we can discover a great deal from the inspired prophecies in the Old Testament. To see these things we must digress into certain Bible Studies which provide a gap in the hedge of Christ’s life in Nazareth, through which we see a great deal of the whole field. The studies come under the following headings ;
1, Christ in Isaiah ch 53. 2. Christ typified by the writers of The Books of Experience. 3. Christ in the book of Job.
1. Isaiah ch 53. If you are familiar with the ‘‘pattern of threes’’ in the bible you will not be surprised to note the three divisions into which this chapter falls. 1. Behold the Man. verses 1-4. 2. Behold the Lamb. verses 5- 10. 3. Behold your King. verses 11 -12. Isa 53:2-4 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Note if you would, that the suffering of the Man is different from the suffering of the Lamb. Jesus knew suffering and sorrow long before Calvary. Indeed if you remember His first sermon in Luke ch 4. where he said He had come to help the poor, broken-hearted, blind, bound and bruised. The people who listened, knew Him well, and Jesus suggested to them that they could well be justified in saying to Him, ‘‘Physician, heal thyself’’ for anyone who knew Him would have known him already as a Man of Sorrows and very well acquainted with grief. 1. Behold the Man: The first four verses here acquaint us with the man. The reference to the fact that he would come as “a root out of dry ground,” emphasises it further. For it is surely a reference to His virgin birth. For anything to grow in dry ground is a sheer impossibility. Water, no matter how little, is essential for all human and earthly life. But Jesus came supernaturally, as would be a root from dry ground. ‘‘He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant’’. This surely confirms that the prophet is thinking of those years before he came to maturity. It is certain that heaven never took its eyes off this son of man. We shall see later that Job testified to a similar experience. "there is no beauty that we sould desire him" Nothing of his outward appearance is revealed in the gospels, but reference here could be shedding a little light upon this very speculative area. We are told that he had no extra beauty to make him a pop or film idol of his day. Indeed in the previous chapter we read that his visage was marred more than that of any man. Taking that literally, gives us a very different perception of his looks than is usually accepted. Indeed, it could be argued that Jesus, entered into almost every realm of human suffering, especially in the areas where some would claim that they have had a raw deal from life, say in the area of disfigurement or in a personal loss of a father, at an early age. He certainly “aged” early.
When Jesus said to the Jews “Before Abraham was I AM” they retorted that he was not yet fifty. That seems to infer that he looked a lot older than he was, having but just turned thirty years of age.
Also we see that to those on the road to Emmaus Jesus made himself known to them by the breaking of the bread. He took, he blessed, he broke , he gave. Hopefully we have learnt that this is symbolic of his incarnation, when he took a body. For it was through taking a body that he revealed himself most clearly to mankind, and each of the acts (took, blessed, broke, gave) show us something of his person and character.] verse 3. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. This verse refers to his social life, among the people of Nazareth. They observed his acquaintance with grief and sorrows. The Jews believed firmly that when such things happen to a person or family, there was a reason behind such bad circumstances. Based on the Law of Moses then they would interpret his sorrows with breaking the moral law, and knowing and remembering his dubious birth, outside of marriage they would be anticipating such misfortune to come upon Jesus and the family. ‘‘Smitten of God and afflicted’’; One can easily imagine the gossiping neighbours who watched him grow up in their village. These would be Jews who believed that if you lived a good and holy life you would be blessed, but if not, then you would reap the consequences in adversity. Their expectations would be fulfilled before their eyes as they saw the life of Jesus enjoined with every kind of difficulty and human trial. Heaven would know that it was a force from beneath attacking his faith, but earthly wisdom would conclude that ‘‘he was smitten of God and afflicted.’’ Hell would hold nothing back now that the Son of God was identifiable on earth. Hardship and suffering are sometimes far easier to bear, if one thinks one deserves it. The greatest test comes to most people when beset by trials and disasters which they feel they do not deserve. Our faith in an All knowing and All- loving and All-powerful God will waver a little, if we reason that if He knew such was to happen He would have had the power and the desire to stop such adversity occurring. However, such tests of faith are allowed in the divine wisdom. For God is a spirit of wisdom, love and power. Note all three, not just the latter two. If we are the targets of Satan, who comes to sift us as wheat to cause our faith to fail, how much more would Jesus be sifted in the Satanic sieve of like temptations. But through it all, like Job, He maintained his faith and trust. A good understanding of the book of Job will shed great light upon those silent years and provide deeper understanding as to why and how he is such a ‘‘Great High priest’’. Truly he became one of us, and is “not ashamed to call us brethren,’’ tested in all points like we are, yet he sinned not. Very often we are the targets of Satan because of our own foolish-ness and disobedience. The commandments are like a protective hedge around man, and when we break them, we leave ourselves available and open to the works of the devil and the consequences of our own sin. But Jesus (like Job) was the target of Satan, not because of his sinfulness but because of his SINLESSNESS. "A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" Though some might think that the reference to Him being a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief and being smitten of God and afflicted, refers to Calvary, these studies suggest that it really refers to the hidden years, of which the gospels make no mention. (Because they are in the first section Behold the man”) We shall see later that the temptation recorded in Luke ch.4. is not the same kind of temptation that we all endure, but is specifically designed to undermine his service for God, upon which He was about to embark. So we would be mistaken if we thought that the record of the temptation in Luke ch 4, is there to prove that He was ‘‘tested in all points like as we are’’. Those testings took place in Nazareth where he grew up before God as a white lily in a very muddy pond. "And we hid, as it were our faces from him" So he wasn't ever flavour of the month, as he was passed in the street. Being socially rejected, especially because of some facial deformity, is often an added injustice experienced by folk with similar misfortune today. Truly Jesus entered into all mam's tests and trials. In Hebrews we are told that this is the vey reason that as our High priest he can console and strengthen those who are similarly tested today. [Turning aside somewhat from this context, let's check a note from our studies in Luke's gospel If you read Luke ch 24, or any record of the first day of His resurrection, what you notice is that none of those who knew Jesus recognised Him. The only way that Jesus could convince them was for them to see his hands and his feet; Luke 24:39-40 39 Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have. 40 And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. The next verse tells us that they still could not believe because it was too good to be true. The hands and feet were very convincing. So we must conclude surely that His face had changed dramatically. For we recognise people by their faces. ] So this remarkable, unrecognisable change in the face of Jesus, endorses the belief that the prophecy in Isaiah 52, that his visage(face) was marred more than that of any man, can be accepted literally. Certainly, his pre-resurrection face was as different from his resurrection face as to be able to say his face was disfigured more than that of any man, taking that the resurrection face was his original face. His earthly suffering showed on his face. Which promotes the thought, will we recognise people from earth when we get to heaven? Perhaps if that happens to you, you will realise you were not as beautiful on earth as you thought you were, maybe you were really ugly!! Jesus was in a resurrection body, he speaks of "flesh and bone" but no mention of blood. Maybe there will be no blood in heaven, for scripture tells us that "Life is in the blood"- But just as there will be no candles and no sun in heaven because God is LIGHT, and there will be no temple in the New Jerusalem because God is our dwelling place, so there could very well be no blood because God is Life. He will be the source of our existence [One could make an interesting list from Revelation of all the things that will not be found in the new heaven and earth. Type in "No" in your bible search facility). Behold the Lamb. verses 5-9. Here we have the references to his atoning suffering on the cross. He did not suffer this because of His Holiness, but because of our sin. The suffering referred to previously was forced upon Him. This part he willingly took upon Himself. He was both an offering and a sacrifice. The sacrifice is what God demanded, the offering was his own willingness in the plan. It was not an act of Satan to put Christ on the cross and cause Him suffering but it was the Lord who put him to grief and bruised Him. The cross was primarily an agreement between Father and Son, as it was written of Abraham and Isaac, ‘‘they went both of them together” up the mount. Then we have, what is one of the most amazing statements in scripture, ‘‘It pleased the Lord to bruise him, He has put Him to grief’’ (Authorised Version.) Could God love man so much as to find pleasure in the cross? What kind of love is this? His delight was in the fact that at last a worthy sacrifice could be offered for sin. He needed a lamb - a spotless lamb, one that had never gone astray. So from among the millions of sheep, there was one spotless unerring lamb, who deserved not to die. The Lord laid on that one precious lamb, the iniquity of the rest of the sheep. He took all the sins of Adam, to the sins of the last person ever going to sin before the Lord returns, and laid them upon Jesus. - God's lamb, for God's family. We often say that "Jesus died for me" or "Jesus died for you", but a clear understanding of the Gospel of righteousness in Romans will reveal that essentially Jesus died for God. Sin is God's problem. His righteousness demanded a just offering for sin. Jesus provided nothing less. So we see the Man, a target of Satan and we see the Lamb, a target of God himself. Much and much more could be written here about the cross and the suffering of our Saviour, but whether we write little or much, there comes but one cry from the soul- ‘‘Hallelujah, what a Saviour’’
In reading the following verses it should be noted that in verse 9 the word "because" can be translated as "Although". If you read it that way,it will make more sense. Behold your King. v 11-12 In the last few verses we see the mighty Victor. Risen ascended glorified, sharing the spoils of His victory with those who will believe in the power of His name over every power in earth or heaven. Such people live in the heavenlies with him. Blessed with all spiritual blessings and knowing what it is to have dominion over the forces of hell, and all other powers of the air. (Ephesians ch.1.) Isa 53:11-12 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Behold your King: Resurrection spoil: 1 The veil of the temple was rent in two: a, The Old Testament is revealed. What was it all about. The glory of God is revealed. Moses put a veil over his face Moses: 2 Cor 3:13 "And not as Moses, which put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:" Life and immortality we see full on. b, The annual atonement day ceremony was abolished: The sacrifice was accepted; The entry fee for all was paid in full. Heb 10:14-20; " For by one offering he has perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, By a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;" c, We have access to the throne of Grace Heb 4:14-16 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. d, Eternal Life; Heaven’s access Heb 5:8-10 "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec." e, His deity endorsed; Rom 1:4: "And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:" Had he not risen we would have reason to doubt. f, His Sovereignty established: Rom 14:9 "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living." “All power is given unto me in Heaven and earth" g, Our Justification Rom 4:25: "Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification." The penalty for our sin- death- paid in full. Freedom from the Law. h. Our regeneration and purpose for living. and i, Eternal inheritance 1 Pet 1:3-4: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4. To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fades not away, reserved in heaven for you," J, Resurrection experience now Rom 8:11-17:" But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwells in you." 12.Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God........Children of God and joint heirs with Christ. .....For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. 16. The Spirit itself bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."
We take our inheritance as the children of Israel took the promised land; or rather as David took the promised land. It was David who fought against all his enemies and took the spoil at ‘‘great pains’’ to himself. With these riches he provided for the building of the temple. Through Christ’s victory in battle, achieved at great pains to himself, He has provided all the ‘‘materials’’ for the building of the church as a temple of praise. (see our notes on Ephesians.)
Speaking of David, provides a link, to lead us into another study on the three writers of the poetical books, or as they are sometimes known, the Books of Experience. However, lest we lose the point of these mini studies, let’s remind ourselves that we are merely trying to show something of the hidden years in Nazareth. These are only a part of the many hidden patterns in the Old Testament and they all point to these same divisions of time and experiences. Christ revealed in Job, David & Solomon If all the ‘‘fullness’’ of the Godhead was to be seen in Jesus, then it is not unreasonable to suggest or believe that if the Old Testament characters are to tell us anything about God, then they must reflect something of the Lord Jesus which is not revealed in the New Testament. Furthermore, if, as it says in Psalm 40. v 7; ‘‘In the volume of the book it is written of me’’- then we must expect to find something of Christ in all the Old Testament, not just in Ps 22 or Isaiah ch 53. etc. The only genuine significance of any character or story in the Old Testament is in relation to how much of Christ is revealed. If Christ is the “Light of the World” then men such as Adam, Moses Abraham, Job, surely can only shine in so far as they reflect the Lord Jesus. If all scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, then the inspiration must be for a purpose. It would surely be a waste of good inspiration to exalt a few great men of history. The bible is not a book about great men, but about a great man. Therefore, we can confidently expect to see something of the Lord Jesus as we briefly study the three writers of the Books of Experience; Job, David & Solomon.
These three as types of Christ, can be seen to illustrate the same three divisions of His life as the three divisions we have discussed in Isaiah ch. 53.
[ Note that Adam, Abraham, Moses, Job, are all characters which illustrate the fundamental doctrines of our faith- Adam- The doctrine of Man & sin: Abraham - the doctrine of Justification: Moses - the doctrine of Sanctification: Job/Solomon - the doctrine of Glorification.]
Therefore within the context of his GROWTH in Nazareth we must “Behold the man” through the experience of Job, “ Behold the Lamb” through David, and “Behold our King” through Solomon
We note that; Job, a man of INTEGRITY:- God counted him “Perfect.” Job was a man of the will: Though He slay me yet will I trust..
David, a man of INTENSITY: David was a man of the heart: ‘‘After God’s own heart’’- ‘‘My heart is fixed on Thee’’.
Solomon, a man of INSIGHT: Solomon was a man of the mind: Given wisdom as a gift from God, his wisdom came not from experience, (perhaps as David) but from observation.
Firstly let us consider; Job a man of Integrity:
1. God’s testimonial of Job should be sufficient to convince us. The Authorised version calls him ‘‘perfect.’’ God said there wasn’t another like him in all the earth. ‘‘Perfect’’- None like him? This could only be an expression to typify Christ. Job like Jesus, challenged his friends- ‘‘Which of you can convince me of sin.?’’ "This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased"
2. Target of Satan: Usually man makes himself available for attacks from Satan. God’s law is designed to protect us. We break down the ‘‘hedge’’ and evil finds it’s way in, usually with painful consequences. However Job became the target of Satan, not because of his sin, but because of his perfectness. Satan argued that God had a hedge round him. God did not take the hedge away but merely brought it in by degrees making certain things outside available for Satan to remove;- family, home, health etc. Job glorified God and God boasted of him. Satan sought to rob God of such glory by making Job sin like other men. With Job there was a reservation on his life, (God limited Satan’s power) but with Christ there was no such reservation. ‘‘In all this Job sinned not.’’
3. A Man of Sorrows: Unrecognisable (why not check out our study on Job. chs 30-31) Job suffered in Body, Soul and Spirit. Sores, scabs, broken skin, blisters and boils in his Body. He confessed to “bitterness of Soul”. His family life and human relationships all broke down. He complained of “anguish of the spirit”. He lost contact with God. The God who had always been a light to him in dark experiences before, was nowhere to be found in his greatest trial. He came forth as gold tried in the fire. God was vindicated and glorified, because Job proved that one of his creatures could withstand the forces of Satan’s powers, and still trust in the love and wisdom of God. He did not serve God, nor live a righteous life, for personal profit. ( i.e because of it’s usual rewards of peace, health and prosperity.) For even when they were taken away he still maintained his relationship towards God. This is true integrity. A similar test was given to Hezekiah. He was a good king over Judah. God delivered him from many difficulties, because he trusted in Him. However, significantly we read that on one occasion God did not help him, just to see how he would react. Was he just trusting in God for his own personal gain? 2 Chr 32:31 God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. If Job and Hezekiah were tested in this fashion it is beyond question that Jesus would have been tested similarly. Our true motives for living righteously are not always obvious, sometimes we need such a test to make us realise what our heart is truly like. Also, Job told his friends that his righteousness or otherwise had nothing to do with them, for he was not righteous because of social pressures, nor for personal profit, but for God’s sake, and for God’s name’s sake. He was rewarded with twice the glory he had before; Refer again to studies in Isaiah 53, and previous notes of growth in Nazareth to see Christ in similar suffering.
4. Watched by heaven; He grew up ‘‘before Him,’’ says Isaiah of Christ. Job also was conscious that God had watched him every day, and every step of his life. He even asked why had God watched him continually all his life? He asked if God had put marks under his feet and followed him.
5. Prayed for His friends: Job’s problems began to diminish when he began to pray for his friends. He had been very disappointed in them previously, to say the least, and had upbraided them very sarcastically more than once because they could not see what was going on. Similarly the disciples were totally unaware of the mighty battle being waged in the spiritual world when Jesus was in Gethsemane. (John ch 17.) They were only conscious of their flesh and the lateness of the hour. They fell asleep, when they should have been fighting with the spiritual weapons of prayer and faith, as Jesus was. However, typically Jesus understood; ‘‘the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak:’’ Jesus prayed for them in his hour of great personal. In Job we behold the Man- Jesus and now in David , we can behold the Lamb
David: A man of INTENSITY.
Everything that David did, was done with all his heart. There were no half measures. Even when he sinned, he went to the depths of adultery and murder, but his repentance was of equal, if not greater intensity. Seldom will one hear a preacher mention King David, without them making some reference to what a terrible sinner he was....just like us! If only! David was a magnificent character. He was a man after God’s own heart. so much so that God set him as the standard by which all the other kings were judged by God. The Messiah was to take his name. It is recorded in the book of Chronicles, that David kept all the law of God, all his life, except for the sin with Bathsheba. Many seem to forget this, if they know it at all. The good shepherd, giant killer, musician, soldier, leader, outcast, king, lover, saint and sinner,- almost every human experience is tabulated in David’s psalms.
David’s suffering. Most psalms are set in troubles closely linked with sin. He typifies the Sinbearer There is more of the heart and inner life of Jesus in the Psalms than in the gospels. e.g.. Psalm 40.v 7. ‘In the volume of the book it is written of me’.
His Experiences: (in Psalm 40) 1. Poverty: v 17 Poor and needy. When we see Jesus in poverty, poverty will never frighten us. 2. Peril: v 13 & 14. Men plotting against him. 3. Patience: v. 1. I waited patiently. God was not at his beck and call. 4. Penitence: v 12. mine iniquities have taken hold upon me. If Jesus has not confessed your sins then they are not forgiven. He is a true high priest. 5. Praise: v 3. A new song in my mouth. Jesus ‘‘rejoiced in spirit.’’ Note the two songs in Revelation, one to the Creator and a new song to The Lamb. 6. Prayer: v. 1 ‘‘He heard my cry’’. Luke’s gospel is the gospel of prayer. Luke emphasises the human side of Jesus. Prayer is a human thing, an act of dependence, as well as devotion. Jesus was a man of prayer. He depended upon heaven. 7. Imprecatory prayers: v 14 & 15. These were Prayers asking God to avenge his enemies for him. Ps 109 v 4. Man of prayer when faced with adversaries. Luke 18 refers to the continued prayers of the saints crying out for justice. So also Revelation speaks of the martyred saints praying for retribution on their enemies. (Spiritual evil forces). David was a warrior King - typifying Christ our captain of an army in a spiritual battle, which must end with the enemy being vanquished. Other references say ‘‘Shall not God avenge his elect?’’ and ‘‘vengeance is mine, says the Lord.’’
Solomon: A Man of INSIGHT. Behold the King: Solomon reigned in peace over all his enemies. His wisdom was expressed in writings of Proverbs, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon. Jesus also was renowned for his wisdom. His neighbours and townsfolk asked ‘‘Whence has this man such wisdom?’’ But furthermore it is the wisdom of God that is and shall be manifested in Jesus, who now reigns, King of Kings and Lord of Lords Solomon typifies the risen ascended glorified Lord. His enthronement and glory were all due to David’s warfare and victories. He built the temple from the materials that David provided by defeating every enemy around Israel. David brought them all under subjection and thus acquired great wealth. Solomon was able to reign in peace
Just in case you had not noticed the pattern of Prophet Priest and King can be seen in these studies in the Old Testament.
When Jesus eventually embarked upon His ministry, he came not as a boy preacher, or an untried ox. The life he offered for service was fully matured and had been tried in the fires of every human experience. Any future tests were to be of a different nature. The individual personal battles of faith and consecration were over. The proud Father thundered from Heaven. ‘‘This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’’. For only heaven knew what he had been through. I trust that with the help of the Holy Spirit you also will see something more of your great older brother who has truly walked this way before you and understands every temptation hell can throw at you. Therefore He is surely well able to succour those who are tempted. So we see the first circle completed. The initial intention has come to fruition, but at what cost? The obedient son whom God sent, has 1. Identified himself totally with man in a world troubled by sin. 2. Lived under the curse and under the law. He fulfilled the requirements of the law. 3. Offered himself to God, ready for service as the Servant of Jehovah, and the lamb of God. The Perfect Sacrifice. Within the study of the offerings in the Old Testament we have the second offering called the ‘‘Meal offering’’. This typifies the human bodily sacrifice of Christ. We notice that the meal offering was to be of ‘‘pure, finely ground flour,” mixed with oil and with oil poured upon it. The grinding between the millstones is symbolic of the suffering endured in the body. Having been mixed with oil, (born of the Holy Spirit at birth) the meal was ready for the oil to be poured upon Him, ready for Service.