Kingdom of God – We are in this world, but not of it.

kingdom-of-god

There is nothing in this world to which we can point to and say that is like the kingdom of God. All we can do is offer analogies of what it looks like saying the kingdom is like this… while it isn’t this… it’s like this… That’s why Jesus preferred to talk about the kingdom in parables in a way talking about another world, which is what the kingdom is, by referring to ordinary things in this world. George MacDonald’s illustration is a wonderful tool to help in this endeavor:

Imagine for a moment that the room in which you currently reside is the only room in the whole world and the people with whom you occupy that room are the only people in the world; there are no windows or doors in your room, hence you have no concept of anything outside your little world. Indeed, the word outside doesn’t even exist in your language. You will of course be forgiven in such a situation for believing that your room and the people with whom you occupy it were the entire universe and we learn those of us who occupy this room that there are certain rules which govern life in our room: rules like only the strong survive and look out for number one.

Throughout life, we’ve learned in this room that people only have worth if they have value to us; therefore, the sick and the old and the disabled have no worth. This room has taught us we only need to keep promises as long as they’re convenient to do so; these are the rules that govern life in this room. However, unbeknown to us, there is another floor above our room with other people living other lives by a very different set of rules. We’re not aware of them because we have never been outside our little world but they are there nonetheless.
the-kingdom-come-sermon-slideNow, suppose a hole was torn in the ceiling of our room so that for the first time you were to become aware of this other world just above. And suppose some in our world began to call up to the people in the other room interacting with them learning all sorts of strange and wondrous things. Things, which are utterly inconceivable in our room and indeed you, discover to your amazement that people in the room above live their lives according to a very different set of rules. In the room above, the poor are not regarded as a drain on the system, but are precious and prized; the old and the sick are honored and valued rather than warehoused or discarded. In this world if one makes a promise, one keeps it, even when it’s inconvenient or difficult and in this world it’s OK to suffer for doing the right thing.

Imagine then some in the world below begin to find themselves strangely drawn towards the world above. Indeed, a few were so captured by that world and its new way of living that even though they are still in the world below they start to think of themselves as really belonging to the world above. Though they are still in your world, they are no longer of your world. The knowledge of the room above having broken through into their world has changed them forever. To be sure, the whole ceiling has not yet been torn away, but already we’ve started to see a whole new world with a whole new way of living life. That’s what Jesus meant when He described an in breaking of the kingdom of God in His life and ministry creating a new community of people still in the old room, but living as though they already belong to the room above. He called that community the church: the community of the called, the community of those who have seen it and have been captured by it, and can never again be the same. The love of God changes us and after that supernatural encounter we should never be the same. That’s why we are in this world, but not of it. The kingdom of God awaits those who are called by His name and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord; while also remembering what we do for the least of them, we do for the Master.

Advertisements

Foundation to a Healthy Marriage by Larry Stockstill

healthy-marriage-450x300
Never doubt God’s wisdom in putting you together

Your spouse is the exact person you need. The qualities you are missing God has supplied in them. Through every difficulty we have faced, I have never doubted that God sovereignly put us together as a team.

Marriage is the school of character

If I will let Him, God will work through my spouse to change me into a far better person. If I get defensive, I will never change and will go from one marriage to the next.

Jesus said divorce is because of the “hardness of your heart.” A hard head is not far behind! You have to be flexible, pliable, and changeable.

Sex is the “mirror” of your relationship

Sex is the “last domino” in your relationship. You don’t “fix” your sex life; you “fix” your relationship and sex will take care of itself.

If you are tired, sex will be tired. If you are frustrated, sex will be frustrating. If you are angry, sex will be non-existent.

Men are motivated by the “eye” gate; women are motivated by the “ear” gate. Ladies, don’t go to bed looking like an astronaut! Men, you cannot expect to have great sex if you never speak to her (women like to speak 25,000 words a day!)

Three months of savings is the best financial plan

When you have three months of salary in the bank, you always have the money for an emergency. Sell whatever you need to accumulate that amount of cash. It may take you a couple of years to do it.

Don’t touch it unless both of you agree it is a dire emergency. Quickly replenish it before you spend any more money. You can choose to live off the top of the barrel or bottom of the barrel.

A wife wants a husband to be strong for her

Your wife married you to have someone who could protect her, lead her, and help her in the areas she could not help herself: a “covering.”

A couch potato recluse around the house who wears headphones all evening is not what she married. Your emotional stability, clear direction, and raw courage is what attracts her. That is why some of the ugliest men marry some of the most beautiful women!

Your husband wants to be respected

In a survey, 70% of men said they would rather live alone than be disrespected!

Ladies, you have plenty of opportunities to disrespect your husband (like when he forgets the garbage night or to pay a utility bill). The secret of all honor is to look past the person to the position they occupy.

You have to work to stay connected

The honeymoon is not real life. The honeymoon is an automatic connection (conversation, walks, meals, laughter, and spontaneity). Real lifetime connection takes constant work on both partner’s part.

Work, kids, career, emotions, health issues, can all pull you apart. You can still be living together but disconnected. You can be living two separate lives: no communication, no intimacy, no sharing of deeper thought and truth.

See if these seven principles won’t bring your marriage back into “alignment.” What is the one principle you needed the most?

Making Sense of Bible Translations

types-of-bible-translations
Romans 8:1-8 Translation Comparison

(NKJV) New King James Version – Formal Equivalent

There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God. (190)

(NLT) New Living Translation – Functional Equivalent

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. The Law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins. He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit. Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God. (216)

(MSG) The Message – Paraphrased Version

With the arrival of Jesus, the Messiah, that fateful dilemma is resolved. Those who enter into Christ’s being-here-for-us no longer have to live under a continuous, low-lying black cloud. A new power is in operation. The Spirit of life in Christ, like a strong wind, has magnificently cleared the air, freeing you from a fated lifetime of brutal tyranny at the hands of sin and death. God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, he personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all. The law code, weakened as it always was by fractured human nature, could never have done that. The law always ended up being used as a Band-Aid on sin instead of a deep healing of it. And now what the law code asked for but we couldn’t deliver is accomplished as we, instead of redoubling our own efforts, simply embrace what the Spirit is doing in us. Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God! Obsession with self in these matters is a dead end; attention to God leads us out into the open, into a spacious, free life. Focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God. Anyone completely absorbed in self ignores God, ends up thinking more about self than God. That person ignores who God is and what he is doing. And God isn’t pleased at being ignored. (298)

Question #1: What are the most obvious differences between these translations?

At first glance, one of the most obvious differences is found in the word count for each translation. The NKJV has one hundred and ninety words, the NLT has two hundred and sixteen words, and the Message has two hundred and ninety-eight words. While there was not a huge difference between the formal and functional equivalents, with a difference of twenty-six more words in the NLT, there were over one hundred additional words found in the MSG translation.

The formal equivalent version reads like a Shakespearean play, using beauty and elegance; the functional equivalent speaks to the heart of the matter, with clear, concise, and understandable vocabulary; and the paraphrased version reads like a narrated novel, with descriptive words and added insight to make the pages come alive. Each of the translations has advantages and disadvantages. The only translations, which cannot be used on their own, are the paraphrased translations as these versions are only meant to be a companion translation to a more literal one. Craig Blomberg stresses paraphrased translations, “Should never be presented as if they give insights into the authorial meaning of the biblical writers… [And] no theology, ethics, or any other didactic point should be based on the distinctive form of the paraphrase.”

Blomberg asserts, “Serious Bible students who have not learned to use the original languages should consult a formally equivalent translation when they want the most ‘literal’ translation, that is, when they want to see what most closely corresponds word for word to the Greek New Testament.” He also emphasizes, when key doctrinal issues or controversial text are being investigated, the formal equivalent translation will be the most useful in research. However, when it comes to preaching and teaching, Blomberg believes, “Either the NIV or TNIV is probably most useful for capturing the best balance between accuracy and normal contemporary English.”

Question #2: What are the most theologically or exegetically significant differences between these translations?

Romans 8, considered by many to be the greatest book and chapter in the Bible, deserves immense scrutiny in order to provide the proper translation of the text, while also making its message understandable. I am drawn towards the NLT because it is what I grew up with, while many of my mentors would prefer the rendering of the NKJV because it is what they are most familiar with.
Douglas Moo illustrates how:

Paul’s focus is not so much on the Spirit as such, but on what the Spirit does. And perhaps this is the best way to learn about the Spirit. For, as important as it may be to define the nature of the Holy Spirit and His relation to Christ and the Father, the Spirit is best known in His ministry on behalf of Christians. It is those blessings and privileges conferred on believers by the Spirit that are the theme of this chapter. If we were to sum up these blessings is a single word, that word would be assurance.

With this information, we will analyze the three different translations in search of this common theme because it was Christ’s death and resurrection, which secured eternal life for all who would believe in Him. “For those who are in Christ Jesus,” proclaimed “there is no condemnation.” Moo highlights how, “Many interpreters, noting that Paul focuses in this context on the new life in Christ, think that ‘no condemnation’ includes the breaking of sin’s power in all its aspects. It is, of course, important that we not separate the destruction of sin’s power from the removal of its penalty.”

In verse one, the NKJV reads, “There is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,” the NLT reads, “There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus,” and the MSG reads, “Those who enter into Christ’s being.”

In the second verse, the NKJV speaks of the law of the Spirit overcoming the law of sin and death, the NLT phrases it, “The life-giving Spirit” freeing us from the power of sin that leads to death, and the MSG eludes to the Spirit of life being like a strong wind freeing us from tyranny at the hands of sin and death.

In the third verse, the NKJV speaks of God sending His Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, the NLT says, [God] sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have, and the MSG phrases it, “God went for the jugular when he sent his own Son. He didn’t deal with the problem as something remote and unimportant. In his Son, Jesus, He personally took on the human condition, entered the disordered mess of struggling humanity in order to set it right once and for all.”

In verse four, the NKJV says the righteousness of the law means; we must walk by the Spirit and not the flesh, the NLT says, Christ’s sacrifice was the just requirement of the law and would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit, and the MSG says, we must embrace what the Spirit is doing in us.

In verse five, the NKJV and NLT are fairly close in their translations. The NKJV says, “those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” and the NLT says, “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.” Even the MSG sums up the general message of this verse stating, “Those who think they can do it on their own end up obsessed with measuring their own moral muscle but never get around to exercising it in real life. Those who trust God’s action in them find that God’s Spirit is in them—living and breathing God!”

In verse six, the NKJV reads, “For to be carnally minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace,” while the NLT speaks of, “Letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. The MSG translates this to mean any obsession with self, leads to a dead end.

In verse seven, the NKJV continues to speak of carnality declaring, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be,” and the NLT does a better and more concise job displaying how, “The sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.” The MSG translates this, as focusing on the self is the opposite of focusing on God.

In verse eight, the NKJV concludes by declaring, “Those who are in the flesh cannot please God,” while the NLT says, “Those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” The MSG paraphrases this to mean, “God isn’t pleased at being ignored.” Interestingly, this is the only occurrence where the MSG uses fewer words to convey what the NKJV and NLT did.

Question #3: What are some advantages and disadvantages of each translation in this particular passage?

One of the major disadvantages for the majority Americans is the country’s average reading level is barely at a seventh-grade level and that is only becoming worse over time as now the average college freshman can only read at the seventh grade level. For translations like the NKJV, Craig Blomberg indicates, “A twelfth-grade reading level is needed to understand the scripture, [as well as] an acquaintance with a fair number of archaic English words and forms.” Blomberg goes on to state even the NASB requires a tenth-grade reading level and the NIV requires a seventh-grade level. According to Paul Wegner, “The average American adult reading level is between sixth and ninth grade,” so less translations available today are academically accessible to the general population. In this passage of scripture, there are several instances where the meaning would be lost due to not understanding the vocabulary used.

Blomberg emphasizes functional equivalent translations, like the NLT, “Prove to be ideal for those at lower levels of English comprehension, such as children and young teens, people for whom English is a second language, or adults whose literary skills are below average. [In addition,] they render expressions more freely, to ensure understanding of the meaning rather than merely preserving the form.” This statement is verified through the rendering of this passage’s meaning; each verse is clear, concise, and to the point.

Of the formal equivalent translations, Blomberg cites the NKJV as being the most popular due to its beauty and elegance despite those attributes not being present in the original Hebrew and Greek text. Chadwick Thornhill illustrates, “The language of the New Testament is common Greek – ‘Koine’ and as the language spread across the world as a result of Alexander’s conquests, the language encountered other dialects and went through various metamorphoses. [This means,] language itself is never static, [it is] always evolving through usage.” Blomberg concludes saying, “For readers using the functional equivalent translations, Blomberg encourages them to, “Aim to progress in their understanding of English so that they can eventually handle intermediate and perhaps even formally equivalent translations.”


Bibliography

Blomberg, Craig L. with Jennifer Foutz Markley. A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2010.

Moo, Douglas J. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Thornhill, A. Chadwick. From Alpha to Application: Grasping Greek to Study Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2016.

Wegner, Paul D. The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999.

The Jewishness of Jesus – Case Study of Luke 2:41-52

INTRODUCTION

A critical error many people make when trying to interpret scripture happens when they do not have a proper understanding of the context and culture of the time in which it was written, so in order to understand how a particular passage may speak to a Christian in the twenty-first century, one must first establish: who wrote it, why it was written, and who it was written for before they can extrapolate any potential significance to the modern day believer. As Dr. R. Wayne Stacy emphasizes, “Understanding the Jewishness of the New Testament is essential to the interpretive process… [And to be sure how] the New Testament is the Word of God for us today, we must first answer: what did it mean to those it was written for? [Only after answering that can we begin to understand:] what does it mean for us today?”

In this case study, the teacher should be commended on his or her attempt to provide as much background and explanatory information as possible in order to help the class understand the proper historical context and cultural setting. However, because of the wide range of diversity in the maturity and knowledge of believers, it is imperative that culture and context do not overshadow the meaning of the passage and how it can be applied today. The sad reality is the complexity of historical facts and vastly different customs and traditions have a way of causing people to lose perspective or interest and as Dr. Stacy suggests, “because of modern misconceptions the end result is often misinterpretation.”

At the conclusion of the lesson, one of the attendees challenged the teacher with several argumentative statements and questions, which ranged from saying Jesus was not a Jew, but a Christian to while Jesus may have been born a Jew, He rejected all that “law stuff” along with the rest of Judaism as a false religion. Ultimately, the individual was arguing as to why the teacher was trying to make Jesus out to be a Jew and why it was so important to know all this Jewish stuff to interpret the New Testament since they were in church and not a synagogue. Proper responses to both of those pivotal questions are as follows:

WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO MAKE JESUS OUT TO BE A JEW?

After proper examination of Luke 2:41-52 and according to Stacy’s assertion: “to know the Jesus of the Gospels, you must study a particular people, living in a particular place, at a particular time, speaking a particular language, sharing a particular culture, and worshipping a specific God.” In doing so, it is hard not to address the scandal of particularity, as God did not just reveal Himself to His people; instead He became one of them, lived among them, and ultimately gave His life for them.

As the teacher and after presenting the lesson based on this passage of scripture, I would highlight the piety of Joseph and Mary and clarify how Jesus was raised in a home focused on the purpose of God as demonstrated by their observance of Passover. Jesus was a Jew, His father was a Jew, and His mother was a Jew who could trace her bloodline back to King David. As Joel Green demonstrates, “Jesus is being raised in a pious environment, but his commitment to God’s purpose transcends that piety and that environment.” Jesus was twelve in this passage, and Thomas Lea demonstrates how Luke is the only disciple that sheds any light on the childhood of Jesus, pointing out, “At the age of thirteen Jewish boys became full participants in Judaism, [so] Jesus’ parents may have taken Him there when he was twelve… to acquaint Him with the Temple and its festivals.” Ultimately, He would in fact grow up to be a Jewish rabbi and all of His disciples would be Jewish as well. In this passage of scripture, Lea demonstrates in verse forty-nine how, “Jesus’ reply to His parents indicates a developing messianic consciousness at an early age. As an obedient son, Jesus dutifully returned to Nazareth with his parents, [but] Luke chronicled the development of Jesus intellectually (“in wisdom”), physically (“in stature”), spiritually (“favor with God”), and socially (“favor with man”).”

Regarding the Law, Jesus said, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.” As R. T. France illustrates, “It raises acutely the issue of Jesus’ Messianic authority in relation to the existing authority of the Torah and of its authorized interpreters at the time, and illustrates the tensions which were to lead to the ultimate decision of the Jewish leadership that Jesus was a dangerous influence who must be eliminated.” This is the polar opposite of the reception Jesus received from the teachers when they were astonished by Him, His answers, and His understanding. Green goes on to say, “It is a good thing to keep the Passover, but the sort of pious environment to which Jesus has become accustomed at home serves and must serve the more fundamental purpose of God. Not even familial claims take precedent over aligning oneself uncompromisingly on the side of God’s purpose.”

It is interesting to note that Paul, even after his transformation on the road to Damascus, remained a Jew and adhered to all the instructions found in the Torah. Paul’s conversion experience did not mean he became a Christian, only that he now believed Jesus Christ was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. Stacy points out; “Luke went to great lengths establishing whatever Christianity may become, it had its roots in pious Judaism and that Christianity was formed through and by a move of the Holy Spirit within Judaism.” Antioch would be the epicenter and birthplace of Christianity and base of operations for Paul. As F. F. Bruce illustrates:

No difficulty seems to have been felt at this stage about the uniting in one believing community of Jewish converts and Gentile converts. The new way was wide enough to accommodate believers of the most diverse backgrounds. Antioch was a cosmopolitan city, where Jew and Gentile, Greek and barbarian rubbed shoulders, where Mediterranean civilization met the Syrian Desert; racial and religious differences, which loomed so large in Judaea seemed much less important here. The church of Antioch from the outset had an ethos quite distinct from that of the Jerusalem church. The pagans of Antioch, too, knew all about these people, for they did not keep quiet about their faith, but proclaimed it wherever they went.

The term Christian did not come about till well after Jesus Christ’s resurrection and ascension and it simply meant followers of Christ in word and deed. Bruce demonstrates how, “Just as, in Palestine, the adherents of the Herod dynasty were called Herodians, so, says Luke, in Antioch the adherents of Jesus the Christ first came to be popularly known as Christians.” Stacy elaborates further by illustrating how in that time the issues between Christianity and Judaism were internal – that is a struggle within one religion and not two competing religions as we view them today.

WHY DO WE NEED TO KNOW ALL THIS JEWISH STUFF TO INTERPET THE NT?

Knowing and understanding Jewish culture and history is important because Christianity finds its roots within Judaism and J. Julius Scott Jr. highlights how just as the “Intertestamental Jewish writers assume the reader is familiar with the Old Testament, [he also explains,] how the primary and initial audience of the New Testament would understand the same significance of geographic locations, festivals, and ceremonies.” If readers of the Word are to have any relevant perspective, according to Stacy, “They must be able to negotiate vast distances between their world and our own by understanding the times, the languages, the culture, the geography, and the politics.” Bridging the gap starts with understanding the New Testament was written to the first century believers and early church, but also by accepting what it meant for them and why; only then can we apply it to the twenty-first century for application today.

God reveals Himself to us through His creation and through His Word, so having a proper understanding of Jewish history is crucial if we want to have closer relationship with Him and if we are to be successful in fulfilling the Great Commission. Through a deeper understanding of culture and times allows one to unlock passages and provide a more concise translation. The Word of God is timeless, so the truths found within its pages must never be discounted or forgotten simply because they are not easily comprehended and the Jewishness of Jesus and the forefathers of Christianity are fundamental in our understanding of scripture.


Bibliography

Bruce, F. F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Book of Acts. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1988. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.
France, R. T. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel of Matthew. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2007. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Green, Joel B. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel of Luke. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997. WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Lea, Thomas D. and David Alan Black. The New Testament: Its Background and Message 2nd Edition. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2003.

Scott Jr., J. Julius. Jewish Backgrounds of the New Testament. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1995.

Stacy, Dr. R. Wayne. “The Jewish Setting of Early Christianity, Negotiating the Distances Slide: Week One.” https://learn.liberty.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-10753578-dt-content-rid-84883558_1/courses/NBST515_B06_201620/Presentations/NBST515%20iSpring%20Presentations/NBST515%20Module%201%20Jewish%20Setting%20of%20Early%20Christianity%20%28LMS%29/res/index.html (accessed 1-19-16).

Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

where-is-jesus-in-the-old-testament_poster_img

Jesus is the theme of the Old Testament and the entire metanarrative of the Bible points to Him and the New Testament reveals how all prophecies either were fulfilled by Jesus or will be during His second coming. According to Iain Duguid, “when you interpret the Old Testament correctly, you find its focus is not primarily stories about moral improvement, calls for social action, or visions concerning end-time events. Rather the central message of the Old Testament is Jesus.” Today we are going to look specifically at scriptures, which foretell and point to His suffering and glory, as well as His death and resurrection.

Before we get started I must caution you in efforts to find Jesus in every chapter or verse of the Old Testament. Instead, you must understand who the original audience was and what the proper context was before you can attempt to link either Jesus to the passage or even the passage to your own lives. You cannot move to practical application without a clear understanding of who wrote it, whom it was written for, and why it was written before turning it into a timeless truth or associating it with Jesus. Each passage must be examined according to its historical and literary context.

Jesus represented the New Covenant between man and God because the problem with all the previous Covenants was the people continually sinned and as a result they were judged. The first passage we are going to look at is found in Jeremiah 31:31-34: “The time is coming, declares the LORD, “When I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” This passage is crucial in linking the Old Testament to Christ because it is the only reference in the Old Testament to a New Covenant and the writer in Hebrews quotes this passage in chapter 8:13 saying: “By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.” Duguid then states, “In the context of that history of sin, only a covenant based on God’s free gift of grace to us in Christ could actually achieve God’s purpose to make us His holy people.” Sin had drove a wedge between God and His children and Jesus was the only way for humanity to truly be saved.

Another area, which points to Jesus in the Old Testament, is found in the divisions of the books and their three distinct parts as well as how they are arranged: the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings. Each of these sections looks forward to Jesus and as Duguid concludes, “History is the story of God carrying out His grand plan in this world for the redemption of His people in Christ.” Jesus in Matthew 5:17-20 said he came not to abolish the law, but to fulfill it essentially restoring the point of the law. To obey the law is to know God and our obedience flows from our love for Him and our adherence to it is proof God is the priority in our lives. The ultimate role of the prophet was to look ahead while also predicting and proclaiming the arrival of the Messiah. In the Old Testament, there were three elevated offices: prophets, priests, and kings. God anointed the people who were appointed to these offices just as Christ was anointed to act in all these roles on our behalf.

In addition, the three primary ways of receiving God’s revelation also point forward towards Jesus. While these are not mutually exclusive, they represent the embodiment of Jesus. Duguid elaborates further by classifying them as, “indirect special revelation: Israel’s history, through direct revelation: the prophetic word, and through general revelation: which is by definition indirect.” It is important to remember Jesus read and studied the Old Testament scrolls and it was here where He found His identity and purpose in life. We too, as we read the Old Testament are introduced to Jesus as well as God’s future covenant. The mission God gave Jesus has also been passed on to us in the form of the Great Commission by way of enacting the Great Commandment. The first is rooted out of the Shema found in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and the latter part was added by Jesus and was the way the world would know we were His disciples. In essence, Jesus was instructing us to love people to Him.

Some of the best examples of Jesus being foreshadowed are found in the Psalms and the wisdom books. In these books, it becomes evident the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and as Duguid points out, “From [Jesus’] earliest days, His entire existence was dominated by the fear [and admiration] of the Lord.” Ultimately, Duguid is illustrating that Jesus came to us to show us how to live our life according to God’s divine plan without sin. Duguid further elaborates by saying, “Jesus thus fulfills in Himself all three divisions of the Old Testament: He is prophet, sage, and sacred historian, as well as prophet, priest, and king.” Ultimately, without Jesus, the Old Testament is nothing but a book of unexplained rituals that do not make sense, a book of unfulfilled prophecies, and a book of impossible standards to uphold.

As a result of man and woman’s choice to rebel against God, sin entered the world. The earliest example of Jesus being foreshadowed in found in Genesis 3:15: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he: [Jesus] will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Despite human wickedness that has resulted from the fall in the Garden of Eden, God’s final word has always been grace, which has always left a remnant. Having free will made what man wanted a reality, so when man wanted a king; God gave them a king, but only after warning man of all the good and bad that would result. Even in King David, our model of worship and a man after the Lord’s heart we see wickedness and betrayal, yet God still used Him. The same way God has used fallen people throughout the Old Testament, He is using us in our redeemed state, which was only made possible through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ: the spotless Lamb who was offered up as the perfect sacrifice to wash away man’s past, present, and future iniquities and sin.

The life of Jesus is often paralleled with that of the Israelites. For example, when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years due to their lack of faith in God and grumbling, we see Jesus during His forty days and nights in the desert being presented with all the same temptations as the Israelites were, yet unlike the Israelites Jesus never lost His faith; instead He used the Old Testament scriptures as His defense against Satan. Unlike Israel, Jesus remained obedient and just as Isaiah prophesied; Jesus became the suffering servant and ultimately extended the covenant to Jews and Gentiles. Jesus was the Davidic king foretold of in the Messianic Psalms and as Duguid points out, “Jesus is not only the new Adam and the new Israel, He is also the new David: Great David’s greater Son.” God’s promise was that a son of David would always sit on the throne and this promise is only fulfilled if Jesus was the embodiment of that promise. While the Old Testament deals primarily with the suffering and resurrection of Jesus, Duguid proposes, “At its height, the Old Testament gives us a glimpse in advance of who Jesus is.”

When looking into the Old Testament scriptures for any sign of Christological significance and how they help us to understand the person of Jesus, a great tool, which helps Christian’s, understand the future Messiah is utilized through a technique called sensus plenoir or a fuller sense to similar texts. Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:14-15 are a great representation of this technique. Gordon Wenham highlights, “In the prophecy of Hosea, this is just a historical comment on the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, but Matthew, seeing Jesus as the true Israel, applies Hosea’s historical comment to the life of Jesus.”

There are several Old Testament passages, which were directly to be understood as the Messiah. Examples of these include Psalms 72:8-11; this must be true because there is a reference to a King having dominion from sea to sea and this could only pertain to the Messiah and the dominion He possesses. Another example is found in Psalms 110 where we see the future King is seated at the right hand of God. Without Jesus and His universal sovereignty over every nation, we as a people are nothing but a broken branch with no hope or meaning in life. God has revealed Himself to us through creation and His word, so as we read any passage of scripture we should remember everything has and always will point to Jesus Christ our Messiah and Savior. In closing it is imperative you know, “When Christ left the tomb, he was raised on high, and is now enthroned in glory, at God’s right hand…[and] having died with Christ we live with Him and in Him.”

Bibliography

Bruce, F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984, WORDsearch CROSS e-book.

Duguid, Iain M. Is Jesus in the Old Testament? Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing, 2013.

Wenham, Dr. Gordon. The Psalter Reclaimed. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2013.

Power of Praise

Praise precedes your victory and God is enthroned on our praises. As you lift up His name, so shall you too be lifted out of your pit of despair. God will not only set your feet on solid ground, but He will also put a new song in your mouth.

While God promises to give us a new song, it is up to us to sing and proclaim it! As you magnify His name in the midst of uncertainty, supernatural peace and joy will surround you and victory along with all the spoils of your spiritual war will be yours! The breakthrough, miracle, prayer, and closeness to God you have longed for begins with praise.

Instead of focusing on all the negative things, try to refocus on the positive things in your life and begin praising God for them. You soon will find you have far more to be thankful for than you have to worry about. When you can learn to praise and trust God, even when there seems to be no way, He will always make a way!

Living Above Your Circumstances

God vs. Satan

When things seem to continually go wrong in life, we must continue to trust God. When the reins of life slip from our fingers and we are no longer in control, we must still continue to trust God.Live a positive lifeYou see our response to adversity has the potential to lift us up above any challenge we may come across. Unfortunately, the natural human response is to turn to negativity and start complaining. This mindset only leads deeper down the rabbit hole to depression by darkening our perspective.

Instead of complaining, we should be crying out to God and we should be thanking Him in all things. I realize this can be hard to do, especially during times of great loss and suffering, but if you are already in the habit of looking to God in the good and the bad, it will be much easier for you to lean on and trust in God’s plan when disaster strikes.start next chapter in lifeRemember that Satan is waiting for the opportunity to inflict the most damage in your life to take you out and that can easily happen the longer life is grand and God gradually takes a back row seat in our priorities. However, with an attitude of praise during times of turmoil, you will experience an unfathomable peace regardless of what is going on in your life.

Many times in life, we have not because we ask not, so what we must never forget is the Spirit of God dwells inside every believer and His power is infinite. As we pray, praise, and trust God, we channel that power to move mountains and do miraculous things.lion-and-lambThe problem arises when we try to do things on our own with our own strength, which is finite, because Jesus tells us the main reason He ascended to heaven was so He could send the Holy Spirit to be our helper and ever-present help in time of need. In life, it is not by might or by power, but by the power of the His Spirit says the Lord Almighty.
CaddyshackOur joy in trials and tribulations is something we must also guard especially in seasons and chapters of life that seem to have no end. Our joy is not dependent on our circumstances; true joy is the by-product of dwelling in God’s presence. The joy of the Lord is our strength, so any adversity we face should not negate joyous living, in fact, we should consider it pure joy! When God is first in our lives, we can find joy even during the most difficult trials and circumstances. Even though we don’t know what tomorrow may bring, God does and our breakthrough or miracle may be right around the corner.

We must walk by faith and not by sight and in II Corinthians; Paul actually says we are to live by faith and not by sight. When we worry about whatever we are walking through or what may happen, we deafen the voice of God in our lives. Where does our help come from? It comes from the Lord and He is waiting for His children to call out to Him and to trust Him in all things. We must entrust God in every area of our lives because His ways are so much higher than our own.
Don't let things bring you downIn all things we should rejoice, for this is the day the Lord has made and we are to be glad in it. If you can wake up and start the day with that as your first thought, I promise your days ahead will be far better than your latter. It does not mean you will no longer face adversity, but it ensures that God is with you in whatever and whenever something or someone may attempt to steal your joy, so always remember to give thanks in all circumstances and God will never forsake you.