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Friday, January 27, 2023

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: Jesus In All 66 Books Of The Bible - How He is Predicted in Isaiah to Malachi



Introduction:

    As we round out our survey of the Old Testament in regards to how Jesus Christ was patterned (the Torah); anticipated (historical books); and personified (the poetic books); we now arrive at the final seventeen books of the Bible - the prophets. It is extraordinary the amount of prophetic predictions we find in the prophets (over 100 prophecies of Christ's first coming and over 200 regarding His second coming - not to mention prophecies related to His Messianic Kingdom and the end of the age). As I briefly summarize the prophetic books, I'll mention at least one prophecy about Jesus (what are termed "Messianic prophecies") from each. 

Isaiah = Jesus our holiness.

    Isaiah 6 gives us a picture of the True King in His temple, whom Jesus claimed as He Himself that Isaiah saw in John 12. Isaiah is the most quoted prophet in the New Testament, with virtually all those quotations referring to the Lord Jesus. Isaiah 53, for instance, is cited roughly a dozen times, with every very quoted or alluded to by the Apostles.

Jeremiah = Jesus our weeping prophet.

    Jeremiah would serve the Lord for over fifty years as a prophet called to Jerusalem to warn of pending judgment. He wept over Jerusalem, knowing of her pending doom. Despite his pleas, the inhabitants ignored him. Jeremiah 23 promised a time when God would send a true shepherd. Jesus is that weeping prophet in Matthew 23, weeping over Jerusalem in much the same manner as Jeremiah had done.

Lamentations = Jesus is in the pit with me.

    This book, composed by Jeremiah upon the death of King Josiah, came to be used by the Jews to recall the razing of the temple in Jersualem by the Babylonians in 586 b.c. Lamentations records the maltreatment of Jeremiah being lowered down into a pit to die. Although he was left for dead, he was not alone. God was with him. The Lord Jesus Christ came to have our sins credited to Himself on the cross, even though He never personally sinned in thought, word, or deed (2 Corinthians 5:21). As our resurrected Lord, Jesus understands what it is like to undergo temptation, since He Himself experienced it (Hebrews 2:11-15). He will never leave us nor forsake us, just as He never foresook Jeremiah.

Ezekiel = Jesus, the glory of God.

    Ezekiel 1 opens up with one of the most dramatic depictions of God's glory. We know from 2 Corinthians 4:1-6 that Jesus Christ is the visible manifestation of God's glory. When Ezekiel saw the glory of God depart from the Temple in chapters 9 and 10 of his prophecy, He witnessed one of the saddest scenes in all the Old Testament. Jesus' actions in the temple was His effort to enter as the glory of God incarnate. Sadly, the nation rejected Him. In Jesus' final address from the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24-25, we see Him as God incarnate warning of Israel's pending attack by the Romans in 70 A.D., as well as the ultimate sequence of events prior to His second coming. That same mount was whence the glory of God departed in Ezekiel's vision.

Daniel = Jesus is the Son of Man

    Whenever you read Daniel 7, you will find the striking description of the pre-incarnate Son of God (called "The Son of Man") approaching His Father on His Throne ("The Ancient of Days"), with both being treated as worthy of worship, and thus one God. Jesus used this title "Son of Man" more than 80 times to refer to Himself in the four Gospels. The Apostle John's vision of Jesus in Revelation 1 reads similarly to what we find in Daniel 7.

Hosea = Jesus the beloved spouse.

    Hosea 2 depicts God promising to restore an underserving people by being the spouse who pursues them to rescue them from their own destruction. Jesus did this for His people by coming to die for their sins (Acts 20:28).

Joel = Jesus the Promiser of the Holy Spirit

    Joel 2:28-32 is the predicted promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had promised His disciples in John 14:26; 15:26; and 16:8-12 that He would send the Holy Spirit to aid them and His church to accomplish her mission, to convert sinners, and to forward the Christian movement. The coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2, fulfilling Joel's prophecy, was a sign that Jesus Christ was enthroned over His church.

Amos = Jesus the Plumbline of truth

    Amos contains the striking imagery of God dropping a plumbline among his people. My late father had worked for a block layer. I recall watching my father and the block layers use a plumbline to check the vertical uprightness of whatever wall they were building. The plumbline was the standard by which they followed. If they had ignored the plumline, the wall or building would had collapsed. The plumbline illustrates the truth of God, and how oftentimes apart from His grace, we fall short. This is why Christ came, since He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6).

Obadiah = Jesus the humbler of my pride.

    In Obadiah we find a prophecy made against Edom, the nation descended from Esau, the twin brother of Jacob. The Edomites had become a proud people, warring against the Jewish people, the descendants of Jacob. As Jacob and Esau warred in their mother's womb and would oppose one another throughout their childhood in Genesis, God nonetheless had already planned to choose Jacob over Esau, and thus have Israel to be the chosen people of God (see Romans 9). The Edomites would oppose Israel in her history, incurring the judgment of God against it. Obadiah's prophecy showcases God's opposition of human pride. When Jesus came to this world, He came in humility, the total opposite of pride. He chips away at the pride of the Christian as they grow in their sanctification. Obadiah's prophecy is repeated almost verbatim by Jeremiah in Jeremiah 49, a book which we already showed to portray Jesus as our weeping prophet.

Jonah = Jesus, the Lord of salvation.

    It is in Jonah 2:9 we find a most important truth "salvation is of the Lord". Jesus came to be Lord of our salvation. Some 400 times we find Jesus referred to as Lord in the New Testament. Jonah's horrowing experience inside the belly of the great fish for three days, followed by his sudden expulsion from the fish, gives a death to life pattern Jesus would use as an analogy to His pending death and resurrection from the grave (see Matthew 12:40).

Micah = Jesus our incarnate God.

    Micah 5:2-3 gives us a most striking prophecy of the eternal Son of God being born in Bethlehem. This prophecy describes the Savior as having His origins from "the days of eternity", that is, without beginning. Then, in the same two verses, the Savior is also depicted as having a birth as a human being in Bethlehem. We have prophecies that hint at Messiah's Deity and others that describe Him as a man. However, Micah brings these two realities together in One prophecy about one individual. The Lord Jesus Christ would come, having fulfilled this prophecy as recorded in Matthew 2:6.

Nahum = Jesus the Lord in our storms.

    Nahum 1:3-7 gives us one of the most remarkable descriptions of God as having His way in the whirlwind, and the clouds being the dust of His feet. We also find too how God is shown as the one who comforts His people. Whenever we read Mark 6, we find the Lord Jesus Christ telling a storm chuned Sea of Galilee: "peace be still". Jesus calms our storm, and is Sovereign Lord over them and in them.

Habakkuk = Jesus hears our complaints.

    I call Habakkuk "The Job of the Prophets", since he seems to suffer much and cry out to God in complaint. Habakkuk 2:4 reminds us that: "the just shall live by faith", a truth Habakkuk himself would learn and praise God for by the final chapter of his prophecy. 1 John 5:14-15 promises us that Jesus hears our prayers when we ask anything according to His will.

Zephaniah = Jesus, quieter of my soul.

    In Zephaniah 3:17, we read of how God: "Rejoices over us with singing, and quiets us with His love". Zephaniah wrote His prophecy to a people who were getting ready to face God's judgment from the Babylonians. The phrase "Day of the Lord" appears repeatedly. As often in the prophets, overtures of God's mercy triumphs over the trumpets of judgment. God promises restoration. Jesus truly is the only one who can satisfy and quiet our soul.

Haggai = Jesus, the treasure of my heart.

    In Haggai 2:7 we are given the following prophecy: "I will shake all the nations; and they will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts." Many see this reference pointing to when Jesus will bring about His Kingdom here on earth. As we await His return, he urges us to "seek first His Kingdom, and His righteousness". Do we treasure Christ above all things? Haggai's message is all about the people needing to get their priorties straight and returning to their calling of treasuring their God.

Zechariah = Jesus, the pierced Savior.

    Zechariah 12:10 predicts how the Mesiaah will come, being looked upon as "One who was pierced". This prophecy would come to have a double fulfillment in the New Testament. The Apostle John would assign its initial fulfillment to Jesus being viewed upon the cross in John 19:37 and then a second, future fulfillment pertaining to Jesus physical return in Revelation 1:7.

Malachi = Jesus is the Sun of Righteousness.

    As Malachi close the Old Testament Canon, we find the promise in Malachi 3-4 of days forthcoming that would feature John the Baptist's ministry and the first coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Old Testament closes with the anticipation of the coming of the Messiah as shining forth light upon a people bound in darkness. Jesus would describe Himself in John 8-9 as the "Light of the world". Because of the Lord Jesus Christ, anyone who comes by grace through faith, will come to walk in the light as He is in the light.

Closing thoughts:

    We have surveyed the 39 books of the Old Testament, observing how Jesus is found in every book. In our next several posts, we shall see how Jesus Christ is spoken of in the books of the New Testament.


Friday, January 20, 2023

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: Jesus In All 66 Books Of The Bible - How He Is Personified In Job Through Song of Solomon



Introduction:

    Over the last several posts, we have explored how we see Jesus Christ illustrated, mentioned, or appearing in the 66 books of the Bible. We noted how He is patterned in the Torah or Books of the Law. We also observed how He was anticipated in the historical books (Joshua through Esther). For those who want to review these previous posts, you may click on the following links:

1. To see Jesus patterned in the Books of the Law, click here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus.html.

2. To see Jesus anticipated in the historical books of the Old Testament, click here for how we see Him in Joshua to 2 Chronicles http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus_7.html. To note how we see Jesus in Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, readers may click on that link here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus_13.html.

    In today's post we will explore what are referred to as "the poetic books" or "wisdom books". In the Hebrew Bible, these five books (Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) appear in a slightly different ordering (Psalms, Job, Proverbs), with Ecclesiastes and Song of Songs placed also in a different ordering with other canonical books of the Old Testament that the Jews call "The Writings" (or "Ketiviim").

Different names for the same five books

    It is worth understanding why Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon are referred to, as a collection, by different names. Most today refer to these five as "poetic books", due to their high content of poetry. Hebrew poetry, and poetry in the ancient world, differed from what we English readers may think of as poetry. 

    Hebrew poetry wasn't so much about rhyming words as it was in placing certain ideas in parallel lines to one another. Such "parallelism" served to either reinforce an idea, called synonymous parallelism (Psalm 23:1-2) or to contrast to ideas, referred to as antithetical parallelism (compare Ecclesiastes 3, with its contrasting ideas). Poetry in the Old Testament could also include painting word pictures (Isaiah 5), use of metaphor (implied comparison, Psalm 23), or speeches of judgment or blessing utilizing various figures of speech (the nine speeches given by "Job's friends" are put into this poetic form, mostly accusastory speeches). The purpose of Hebrew Poetry in the Old Testament was to evoke the imagination of the listener to connect with the truth of the text.
    
As for referring to Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon as "wisdom books", this designation refers to how wisdom was understood by the ancient Jews. "Wisdom" or "Chachma" (the "ch's" pronounced like "k's:) had to do with the skill of godly living or carrying out life as one applied God's truth to everyday situations. 

    In the wisdom literature, the emphasis tends to be more on the practical rather than the philosophical. With that said, there is no denying that books such as Ecclesiastes do indeed handle certain themes one would encounter in asking the "big questions of life", particular the area of life's meaning. Job tackles the problem of evil and God's Sovereignty. At times, the various Psalms will explore how sometimes the godly life is fraught with hardship (see Psalm 73). Still, even in probing such big topics often encountered in philosophical circles, the wisdom literature always drives at taking what is learned and applying it in life, to faith, and to relationships.

    Then as a final introductory note on these books, we come of course to that title of "writings" or "ketiviim" given by Jews as they recognized the inspired, canonical Old Testament in its Hebrew and Aramaic form. Jesus taught that He was mentioned in Old Testament through what He termed "The Law, the Prophets, and the Writings" (Luke 24:44). The Jews had Hebrew names for each division. The Law was the "Torah", meaning "that which guides, teaches". Then, they spoke of the prophets or "Neviim", using the Hebrew term for "prophet", ordering this section of the Hebrew Bible as "former prophets" (Joshua-Nehemiah) and "latter prophets" (Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and then the minor prophets, or what they called "the twelve". 

    The third section, "the writings" or "ketiviim", began with Psalms, Job, and Proverbs. Then would follow Ruth, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, corresponding to those books of the writings that referenced King David or his son Solomon. The next part of the writings, following Ecclesiastes, are read in Jewish festivals, are called "The Megilloth", meaning "scrolls" - namely Lamentations, Esther (the other aforemention books, Ruth, Lamentations, and Esther, are often put in along with Lamentations and Esther as part of the festival readings). Then rounding out the list of "the writings" are Daniel, 1 and 2 Chronicles.

    Whenever you consider how Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs are ordered in our English Bibles, they personify the Lord Jesus in the three titles we explored. He is personified as our Wisdom from above (compare 1 Corinthians 1:30-31), who came as the way, the truth, and the life for obtaining eternal life by faith and living the Christian life by His strength. He is also personified in the poetic content of these five books to bring to our attention the reality of His personality as foreshadowed, speaking, and acting in the history of his people and the future to come. Lastly, He is the fulfillment of these five as "writings", as "the Word", since He Himself is unfolded in every book of the Bible. What follows below is a quick summary of how we find Jesus in these poetic books.

Job = Jesus our man of sorrow.

    As we arrive at this third section of the Old Testament, we find further pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Job, we find Job as a man acquainted with sorrows and heavy with grief. At one point, Job pleads in Job 9 for an intercessor between himself and God. For Job, I find Jesus our sufferer, since He too is described in Isaiah 53 as acquainted with sorrows.

Psalms = Jesus our praise.

    Psalms is composed in five installments or "books", cycling through the process of God's promise to sustain his people, restore Israel, and preserve His promises to David. Book one of Psalm is composed of Psalms 1-41, all written by David as he was getting established as King over Jerusalem. Book 2 of Psalms covers Psalm 42-72, detailing the times in David's reign when he would triumph, experience betrayal, and at times fail. Now of course, Jesus never failed at anything, however, like David, He did experience betrayal by his friends, attacks from his enemies, and ultimate triumph by achieving salvation for our sakes. In Book 3 of Psalms, Psalm 73-89, we find the David throne seen towards the end and after David's reign. Would the throne of David persist? Would God keep His promises to David and his descendants which He made in 2 Samuel 7:13-16? Jesus of course came as the final end and fulfillment of the Davidic line, coming as The Son of David to inaugurate his reign in heaven upon His ascension and completing the promises to David upon His soon return to earth.

    Books 4 and 5 of Psalms (Psalm 90-106 and 107-150) were mainly written in the time of Israel's remaining history in the Old Testament (Psalm 90 being composed by Moses as the exception). Here we see how God's people are portrayed in poetic form, with God promising to walk with them and restore them. Jesus came as the Savior and sustainer of His people. This is why Jesus is the praise of the entire Psalter. Finally, many, many Psalms are quoted in the New Testament as pointing to Jesus (Psalm 2; Psalm 16; Psalm 110, just to name a few.

Proverbs = Jesus our wisdom.

    When we arrive at Proverbs, here we find wisdom for living the godly life before the presence of the Lord. Wisdom is that skill to live for God in daily life. I find here that Jesus Christ is our wisdom, as stated plainly in 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Ecclesiastes = Jesus, the meaning of life.

    The general author of most of the Proverbs (Solomon), is the same author of Ecclesiastes. Proverbs is written by Solomon, advising his son, or what we could say from the stand point of middle age. Ecclesiastes represents a Solomon who is near the end of his life - full of regret. Whenever you read Solomon's life in 2 Kings, you find the tragedy of a man who started well for God, compromised, and nearly lost his soul. Only the preserving grace of God saved Solomon. It is here I find Jesus as the one who provides meaning, since He Himself is the meaning of life. Solomon repeatedly sought for meaning, crying out the refrain: "meaningless, meaningless". It is only that the end of the book that we find the source of meaning - God Himself.

Song of Solomon = Jesus, love of my soul

    Song of Solomon is literally love poetry between a husband and his wife. It begins with a young Solomon in love with perhaps his original wife. Psalm 45 aids greatly in interpreting this book, since there we see a young Solomon, presumably at the beginning of his reign as king in Israel and on his wedding day. Remarkably, Psalm 45 is quoted in Hebrews 1 as referring to the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read Song of Solomon, you find Solomon and his soon-to-be-wife pining for one another. We read in Ephesians 5:22-33 "husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church". Christ is the lover of His people, and calls us to love Him.

Closing thoughts:

    In the next post, we will see how we find Jesus in the prophetic books of Isaiah to Malachi.

Friday, January 13, 2023

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Jesus In All 66 Books Of The Bible - Faithful, The Rebuilder, The Preserver (Ezra-Esther)



Introduction:

    As we continue in our journey through seeing Jesus in the 66 books of the Bible, let us first review where we have journeyed. In the Books of the Law, we see Jesus Christ patterned. As we saw in Genesis through Deuteronomy, Jesus is found in the following patterns.

1. In Genesis, He is my Creator and Sustainer.

2. In Exodus, Jesus is my Redeemer, as seen 
    in the patterns of the Exodus and 
    Tabernacle.

3. In Leviticus, Jesus is my High Priest, as 
   patterned in the Levitical preisthood.

4. In Numbers, Jesus is that Great Shepherd 
   that leads His people through the dry 
   times.

5. 
In Deuteronomy, Jesus is the source of
    life, physically and spiritually.

You can read the post associated with Jesus in the Books of the Law here: http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus.html.

    We then witnessed how Jesus Christ was anticipated in the historical books, looking last post at Joshua through 2 Chronicles.

1. In Joshua, Jesus is the Captain of my 
   salvation.

2. In Judges, He is the deliverer of my soul.

3. In Ruth, Jesus is anticipated as that 
   kinsmen-redeemer who took on my debts 
   and liabilities so I could be espoused to     
   Him, being credited with His riches and 
   benefits.

4. In 1 and 2 Samuel, we saw Jesus
anticipated as the King of Kings. We also
observed by the contrasts of King Saul in
1 Samuel and King David in 2 Samuel the
foreshadowing of the original Adam and
second Adam. Saul failed like first Adam.
David would be a man after God's own
heart, forecasting Jesus (the "seed of
David", Romans 1:1-3) who would come to
be the "Second Adam" (Romans 5:12-21).

5. In 1 and 2 Kings, we saw Jesus as our 
   Sovereign, exercising Providence in the    
    course of the kinglines of the Northern 
    and Southern Kingdoms of Israel and 
    Judah respectively.

6. In 1 &2 Chronicles, we identified the same 
    theme of "Sovereign Lord" we saw in the 
    books of Kings. The books of Chronicles 
    cover from the beginning of creation to 
    the particular history of the Southern 
    Kingdom of Judah. This anticipated the 
    bloodline that would bring about the Lord 
   Jesus' humanity, stretching from Adam to 
    Noah to Abraham to David to Jesus (see 
    Matthew 1:1-17 and Luke 3).

Readers may review the post associated with our observations about Jesus in Joshua through 2 Chronicles here: http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus_7.html

    In today's post, we will observe Jesus in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther.

Ezra = Jesus is faithful

    Ezra depicts for us the first two returns of the Jewish people of Judah from their seventy year sojourn in Babylon. In reality, it is likely Ezra himself compiled 1 & 2 Chronicles, with Ezra and Nehemiah being the sequels. Ezra and Nehemiah operate in relationship to 1 & 2 Chronicles like Luke's Gospel in the New Testament, providing "volume one" and the follow up sequel of the book of Acts supplying "volume 2". The book of Ezra is divisible into two halves, with each providing an anticipation of Jesus Christ as our Faithful One.

    Ezra 1-6 captures how the first group of Jews returned from their seventy year exile in Babylon under the leadership of Zerubabbel. Zerubbabel was a direct descendant of the Davidic bloodline, being a legal heir to the throne of Jerusalem. The prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah would feature God restablishing the continuance of David's throne through Zerubbabel (see especially Haggai 2:23). 

    Zerubbabel was faithful in the discharge of his duties. Those duties included governing the people as they heeded the prophetic calls from Haggai and Zechariah to begin rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem. It proved difficult. Zerubbabel needed encouragement, but he saw them through the first twenty years after their return to a ruined city. Jesus Christ presides over His church. He is called "Faithful and True"in Revelation 19:11.

    Ezra 7-10 records the second group of Jewish returnees from Babylon, some 57 years later, under the leadership of the faithful scribe and priest called "Ezra". Ezra 7:10 records the following description about Ezra:

"For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel."

    Ezra would come to be the first great expositor of God's Word. His diligence to study the Scriptures and to expound them give us a pattern for Biblical preaching. Jewish history would record how Ezra established the so-called "great Synagogue", the precursor to the Jewish Synagogues that would dot the Mediterranean world in the centuries between the Old and New Testaments. 

    We know the Lord Jesus Christ came to preach the Scriptures and to fulfill them. The faithfulness of Jesus going to the cross and rising from the dead would result in the sending of the Holy Spirit and the formation of the church. No doubt, Ezra's activities were used by God to point the way to Jesus Christ in later centuries.

Nehemiah = Jesus is the rebuilder of lives.

    Nehemiah gives us the details of the third and final return of the Jews back to Jerusalem. Between the end of the Book of Ezra to Nehemiah's actions would span a twelve-year gap. It was likely that Nehemiah and Ezra's efforts overlapped. 

    Under the first return led by Zerubbabel in 536 b.c., the people came to rebuild the temple. During the second return under Ezra in 458 b.c., the people needed to rebuild their spiritual lives and finish the temple. In the book of Nehemiah (444-432 b.c.), we find the people rebuilding the wall and needing to reinforce the spiritual ground lost in the course of time.

    Walls provided protection and stability for ancient cities. As you read the book of Nehemiah, you find Nehemiah's faith, prayer-life, and leadership used by God to finish the rebuilding of the city walls in less than two months. The Book of Nehemiah provides a wonderful picture of how Jesus Christ rebuilds what the enemy had torn asunder. Jesus Christ is the Author and Finished of faith. It is He who teaches us that His project of sanctification is meant to rebuild what the enemy tore apart, thus making us into a people of God. As Nehemiah 8:10 reminds us: "the joy of the Lord is my strength".

Esther = Jesus our Preserver

    Esther was used by God to save her people from destruction. Although Esther does not directly contain the name of God or Yahweh, it nonetheless portrays His providential actions in undoing the wicked schemes of the wicked Haman. Hebrew scholarship has identified a potential acrostic in the Hebrew text of Esther that hints at the name of the Lord. Although He is hidden in Esther, God is nonetheless guiding the scenes by His Providence. 

    The setting of Esther occurs in the days following the Babylonian empire. The Persians are in power as the world's leading empire. God had his hand on His people. We read in Esther 7:3 the following actions of Esther on behalf of her people:

"Then Queen Esther replied, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it pleases the king, let my life be given me as my petition, and my people as my request."

    Queen Esther risked her life. Her entry into the King's court without announcement was grounds for execution, since Persian law forbade anyone from entering before the king without invitation. Nevertheless, Esther came before King Ahasuerus. He extended his scepter toward her for her to touch, indicating He found her favorable in His sight. She pleaded for her people. Haman was condemned. The Jewish people were saved.

    Truly the Lord Jesus Christ undergirds the believer in seasons where it seems He is absent. He preserves the believer in their faith, interceding in the heavenly realms (Hebrews 7:24-25). Jesus is the Mediator and Intercessor for His people. He is ever acceptable before the Father. As man, the Lord Jesus Christ lived a sinless life and earned by His life, death, and resurrection the salvation which the sinner must receive by grace through faith. As eternal God, Jesus the Son has ever been the Beloved One, ever pleasing in the Father's sight, with Whom He, the Son, and the Holy Spirit share in that blessed union as the One Triune God. As eternal God and man, Jesus is the Word made flesh, peerless and alone qualified to be our Advocate (John 1:14; 1 John 2:1-2). 
    
    Just as Esther pled for her people before the King, Christ ever intercedes for His people before the Father. He is the One who preserves His people.

Closing thought:

    In our next post, we will explore how Jesus Christ is personified in the poetical books of Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.

Saturday, January 7, 2023

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: Jesus In The 66 Books of the Bible - Joshua through 2 Chronicles

Introduction:

    In our last post here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2023/01/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-jesus.html, we began to consider how we find Jesus in the sixty-six books of the Bible. We looked at the first five books, assigning them the overall purpose of showing us the pattern of Christ. In our explorations of Genesis through Deuteronomy, we noted the following:

1. In Genesis, we see Jesus as the Creator       
   and Sustainer.

2. In Exodus, He is the Redeemer.

3. In Leviticus, He is foreshadowed as our 
    High Priest.

4. In Numbers, we Find Him as our Guiding 
    Shepherd.

5. In Deuteronomy, we discover Jesus as the 
    life giver.

    It is truly exciting when exploring Christology (the study of Jesus Christ in the Bible, including His Person, natures, work and offices). It is the preincarnate Christ whom Adam and Eve would come to know as that voice and Christophany in the Garden. It was He who would appear to Abram in Ur of the Chaldees (see Acts 7:3). He was that mysterious man that wrestled Jacob in Genesis 32 ( compare Hosea 12:4). 

    The patterns revealed by the Books of the Law would persist. Genesis 22 would give us a picture of the Son and the Father enacting the Son going to the cross, as seen with Abraham's offering of Isaac. Joseph in Genesis 37-50 gives us the fullest pattern of Christ in the life of Joseph. We see in Exodus the pillar of cloud by day and the fire by night. The God who appeared on the mountain to Moses (perhaps a Theophany of the Father) is by nature the Redeeming God that guided the people of God day and night in a Christophany pattern. God's revelation of the Tabernacle in Exodus, which we didn't even mention, has dozens of foreshadowings of Christ's person and work. 

    Then in Leviticus we see not only the priestly ministries of Aaron and his sons, but the sacrifices presenting a pattern of Jesus as our substitutionary atonement. Numbers, which we noted was titled in the Hebrew "in the desert", gives us a pattern of Christ as that Shepherd. One pattern we note in Numbers is the number forty. It was forty years of time in which the Jews wandered in that dry land. The number "forty" would signify a time of testing or a period for growth and development. Moses himself had three such forty year periods in his life. Jesus of course would be tempted of the Devil in the wilderness for forty days. Then we saw Deuteronomy, and how in that book, Jesus is that life giver, both physically and spiritually.

    In today's post we want to now look at what are called the "historical books". These books stretch from the conquest of Canaan in 1400 b.c. to the time of Queen Esther in 380 b.c. History truly is "His-story", meaning that God's providence guides the wills of men, the course of nations, the physical creation, and flow of time in bringing forth His glorious purposes. It is for this reason I assigned the general theme of the historical books as anticipating the Lord Jesus Christ. Due to the size of this section of the Old Testament, today's post will look at how we see Jesus from Joshua to 2 Chronicles.

The Historical Books (Joshua-Esther) = Christ is Anticipated.

Joshua = Jesus, the Captain of Salvation.


    We find that the author of this sixth book of the Bible, Joshua, has the same meaning in his name as Jesus. Joshua and Jesus both mean "Jehovah" or "Yahweh is salvation". Joshua would lead God's people through a 13 year conquest of the Canaanite nations to lay claim on the promised land pledged by God to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Book of Joshua historically speaks of the settling of God's people into their land. Exodus portrays the Christian's salvation, with Leviticus and Numbers giving ussome illustrations of what can be the fits and starts that come with the early days of Christian growth.

    When we come to Hebrews 3-4, we dicsover that Joshua's spiritual emphasis portrays the Christian taking responsibility and living out the Christian life and fighting the good fight of faith. The Christian life is not only about my position before God in saving faith, but also about me taking possession of the "land" of my Christian walk in continuing faith. 

    Certainly, Joshua shows how God would initially fulfill the land grant He pledged to Abraham, with its full realization yet to be accomplished in Christ's future earthly reign. Jesus Christ is that Captain of the Lord of hosts met by Joshua in Joshua 5. He leads God's people in their pilgrimage through this world to their heavenly home (see 1 Peter 2:9-12).

Judges = Jesus is our Deliverer.

    If the book of Joshua pictures the Christian life lived out before God in obedience and dependance, then Judges gives the mirror opposite of what occurs when the Christian backslides. We encounter a specially called people designated "judges", tasked by God to deliver the Jewish people from nations that subjugated them. Throughout Judges, we find the refrain: "the people did what was pleasing in their eyes". Despite the unfaithfulness of the nation of Israel, God kept His Word. The deliverance wrought by God through the imperfect judges points ahead to the Perfect Deliverer, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ruth = Jesus is our Kinsmen Redeemer

    Ruth would become the maternal ancestor of King David, who in turn would figure prominently in the genealogy of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Matthew 1:1-17). Ruth's story centers around God's providential leading of her (a Moabitess) to become the wife of Boaz (a prominent Jewish man and ancestor of King David). The pivot point of the plot of Ruth would involve a certain law that required a near relative or "kinsman" to marry a woman whose husband had died to carry on the family bloodline. 

    The nearest relative of Ruth's first husband refused to perform his role, thus leaving Boaz as the next kinsmen. So much could be said, but suffice it to say, Ruth pictures the bride that none wanted, an outsider. Boaz portrays to us a kinsmen willing to redeem this unwanted bride. Boaz would take on Ruth's debts, the scorn she would undoubtedly had retained as a Moabitess, and the reputation of having been an outsider. Boaz redeemed Ruth for His own, much as Christ would redeem His church for His own - the Kinsmen Redeemer.

1 & 2 Samuel = Jesus our King

    As we move onward through the historical books, we come to meet two important kings: Saul in 1 Samuel and David in 2 Samuel. David is God's choice man, a man afater God's own heart. Saul and David are contrasts of one another, setting up a wonderful example of how the historical books anticipated Christ. Saul in many respects was like the first Adam, failing in his duties before God who had called him. 

    What was needed as a better King, a "second Adam-like figure". God told Samuel the prophet that in rejecting Saul, he had chosen David (see 1 Samuel 15-16). The covenant God would make later with David in 2 Samuel 7:13-16 would provide a key covenant promising the eternal kingship and throne for the Lord Jesus Christ (see also Psalm 110).

1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles = Jesus our Sovereign Lord.

    Although these four books may seem upon first glance to cover the same ground, they present the history of God's people in different respects. 1 & 2 Kings gives the sequel of what occured following the death of David. Solomon his son would become the final king of the United Kingdom. Eventually, Israel would divide into two kingdoms (Israel to the North, Judah to the South). By the time it was all said and done, each kingdom would experience 20 kings, mostly evil, and with only the Southern Kingdom of Judah having a handful of Godly Kings. By 722 b.c. the Northern Kingdom would be sacked by the Assyrians. Later, in 586 b.c., the forces of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon would destroy Jersualem in Judah and carry of the people to exile.

    It is in 1 & 2 Chronicles that we find the entire history of mankind rehearsed, with the narrative quickly getting us to King David and what would follow in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. I define these four books as having to do with the Sovereignty of Christ, since the winding paths of God's Providence guided the bloodline of the kings of Judah, as well as the destinies of the Jews who went into exile, to become the cradle that would bring about the humanity of our Lord through the virgin Mary. In the Hebrew Bible, 1 and 2 Chronicles are the final books. They help us to see how all of history flows in one ultimate direction towards what would be the incarnation and arrival of the Son of God into our world.

More next time....

Thursday, January 5, 2023

The Doctrine of Scripture Series: Jesus In The 66 Books of the Bible - The First Five Books Of The Law



Introduction:

    Today we will begin to close out our series on the doctrine of Scripture. It is appropriate to conclude this series on the written Word of God by drawing attention to the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. Why so? Jesus Himself as the post-resurrected Christ, explains His relationship to the Scriptures in Luke 24:37-45 - 

"But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38 And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? 39 See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” 40 And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. 41 While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” 42 They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; 43 and He took it and ate it before them.44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures."

    Over the last several months, we have explored the major truths associated with the doctrine of Scripture. We have touched upon the Bible's sufficiency, clarity, authority, necessity, inerrancy, and infallibility. We considered the tests or marks of canonicity, as well as grasping what is meant by "canon", its boundaries, and why only the inspired books, upon recognition and use, came to be known as the "Old Testament canon" and "New Testament canon". In today's post, we will begin to observe how we see Jesus in every book of the Bible. To aid our journey, I'll provide headings for each major section of Bible. We shall begin by noting how Jesus is found in the Books of the Law, also known as "The Pentateuch". 

Old Testament

    Perhaps a more appopriate title for that collection of 39 books we call "Old Testament" would be that of "Old Covenant". A testament refers to a document that becomes active upon the death of the one who drafted it. In the Old Covenant (also known as the Hebrew Bible, due to it having been composed originally in Hebrew, with portions of Daniel and Ezra written in Aramaic), we find the living God, the Creator, calling forth a people to be His own. 

    A covenant is made by one who is alive, and typically involves at least one other party, with both parties pledging oaths to one another. As our Bibles were translated, the Latin translation of the Vulgate would use the word "testamentum" to translate the Hebrew and Greek terms used for "covenant". I only bring out this point to remind all of us that the God of the Bible is living and the source of life itself - whether physical or spiritual. 

    In God's case, He made what are called "unconditional covenants" with men like Noah, Abraham, and David, pledging that He would be responsible for bringing about the fulfillment of those covenants. He pledged Himself to not give up on Israel, even though He knew she would fail Him many times. 

    It was the famous fifth century Christian Bishop of North Africa, Augustine, who famously said: "The New Testament in the Old is concealed, and the Old Testament in the New is revealed". Central to the revelation of Old or New Covenant Scriptures is the Person of Jesus Christ. What follows below is a sketch of how one finds Jesus in the books of the Bible.  

1. The Books of the Law (Genesis-Deuteronomy) = Christ is the Pattern.

Genesis = Jesus is Creator and Sustainer
    
    Genesis begins our exploration of seeing Jesus in the books of the Bible. We find Him as the Creator and sustainer in Genesis 1-11, providing structure for the created order and the covenant of grace in salvation to our fallen parents and race. One dominate theme we find in Scripture is that of "covenant". We find the pre-incarnate Christ calling out to Adam and Eve in Genesis 3. No doubt it was He whom Noah preached about (albeit as God's promise of deliverance, not yet knowing the fulness of the revelation of Christ we find in the New Testament, see 1 Peter 3:18-20). God through Christ would verbalize his Covenant to Noah to never again destroy the world with a flood. No doubt Jesus would compare the last days prior to His return in Matthew 24 to the days of Noah.

    Genesis 12-50 continues this theme of Christ as creator and preserver by how He called Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees to go to the promised land, beginning in Genesis 12. Stephen preached in Acts 7:2 that "the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham". One thing we learn about throughout the Old Testament is that God would often appear in what are called "theophanies", that is, manifestations of the invisible God to His people. Old Testament theology tells us that in most instances, such "theophanies" were "Christophanies", meaning that the Pre-incarnate Christ made Himself visible in and through the media of created things, whether fire (Exodus 3), a rock (1 Corinthians 10:1-6), a pillar of cloud that led the people (Numbers 9), or the Shekinah glory that suffused the Temple (1 Kings 8). God, presumably in the Person of the pre-incarnate Christ, would speak to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the remainder of Genesis.

Exodus = Jesus is the Redeemer.
    
    As we arrive at Exodus, we are 400 years removed from the days of Joseph, the last patriarch in Genesis. Exodus carries the theme of "redemption", since it records the greatest act of deliverance in the Old Testament - the crossing of the Red Sea by the Jewish people. Exodus 1-15 would detail the call of God to Moses and the Exodus of the people from Egypt. 

    It is in Exodus 12 that the rite of Passover is introduced, with the Passover Lamb playing the main part. The Jews had to take a first born lamb, kill it, and spread its blood upon the doorposts and gates of their homes. The sight of blood by the Death Angel, who would passover Egypt in the final plague, would exempt Jewish households from the death of the firstborn. Preachers of old would often use this to urge their listeners to believe on Christ and repent of their sins, stating how important it was to "have the blood of Christ applied over the doorposts of the heart". 

    The imagery of "the Lamb of God" is picked up in Isaiah 53 and is described of Jesus in John 3:29. Paul writes of Jesus as "The Passover" in 1 Corinthians 5:7, further reinforcing Him as the Redeemer. 

    Exodus 16-40 then describes the first year of the Jews journeys into the Desert following their Exodus. When we speak of "redemption"or "salvation"in the Bible, we talk of not only what Jesus came to "save us from" (God's wrath, our sin), but also what He came to "save us to" (life more abundantly, life as an adopted son or daughter of God, our heavenly destiny). Jesus is the Redeemer of Exodus. 

Leviticus = Jesus is our High Priest.
    
    The Book of Leviticus records the first 30 days of the lives of God's people following their Exodus. The institution of the Levitical priesthood was meant to provide representation of the people before the Holy God of Israel. The construction and consecration of the mobile worship center called the tabernacle offers many pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ (compare Hebrews 8-10). 

    The writer of Hebrews compares and then demonstrates how Jesus Christ's role as the believer's high preist excedes that of the Levitical priestly roles. We could comment more on the meanings of the sacrifices, the details of the tabernacle, and further comments on the priesthood, but we must move onward.

Numbers = Jesus is our Guiding Shepherd.
    
    In the Hebrew Bible, many of the books of the Old Testament are named by whatever the first word is in the text. Our Book called "Numbers" got its name from the Greek translation of the Old Testament known as the "Septuagint". When Jerome did his translation of the Latin Vulgate, he simply took the Septuagint's title and transposed it into the Latin Bible. 

    Although the book does speak of the numbering of the tribes of Israel, that is not its main point. The book we know as "Numbers" has as its Hebrew name what is translated "in the desert". I prefer this original name for the book because it describes life lived before the Lord in this dry and thirsty world. We find God people wandering in the wilderness for forty years. Despite their unfaithfulness, God as the Visible Yahweh, the pre-incarnate Christ, leads them as a pillar of cloud, as a rock, and as a pillar of fire. 

    In Numbers 21:6-9, we find the people in such a state of unbelief that God disciplines them with biting serpents. He then tells Moses to fabricate a bronze serpent that is to be raised upon a pole. Those that look upon the "brazen serpent" will be healed and saved from certain death. The Apostle John in John 3:14-15 used that episode to highlight how Jesus Christ came to be the Savior. Christ would be placed upon the cross. Those who look to Him by faith will be saved. No doubt we see Jesus Christ in Numbers (or as we learned today, "in the desert") as the Guiding Shepherd who gives life to His sheep (see John 10). He guides His church in this dry old world toward their Heavenly promised land. 

Deuteronomy = Jesus the Life Giver.
    
    Whenever we survey the three final sermons preached by Moses at the end of his forty year trek with the Jews, we find him making the appeal to "choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:15-19). Deuteronomy is called such because of the repetition of the Mosaic Law (The term "deuteronomy" means "second law"). 

    Moses rehearses the Ten Commandments and the law given to him in Exodus. However, we discover that the Law of God was never intended to impart salvation, since the generation prior to the generation in Deuteronomy had shown themselves lawbreakers (as we all are born into this world). What was needed then, and now, is a new heart, a "circumcised heart", a new birth (see Deuteronomy 10; John 3:1-6). The Law of God points beyond itself to the Christ of God. 

Closing thoughts:

    Next time we will look at how Jesus is revealed in the historical books of the Old Testament - Joshua through Esther. 

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Principles For Living A More Solid Christian Life In The Upcoming New Year



Introduction:

How you and I can get ready for the upcoming year.

    Maybe for some of us, facing a New Year is a welcome relief. For others, fear enters our minds when we look at the future. We need the eternal perspective that has Christ as the center. What do I mean when I say: "having an eternal perspective in Jesus Christ"? Think with me for a moment about four horizons that (should) comprise the daily life of any Christ-follower.

    There is that first horizon of personal life-experience. Then, there are the lives of the people he or she knows, the local church, and the community in which they live – the second horizon. Thirdly, there is that horizon of the Scriptures that ought to govern the first two horizons and point to a fourth horizon, eternity. It is this last horizon that presses us to have an eternal perspective. To summarize. The first horizon is my life. The second horizon deals with other people’s lives. The third involves what regulates my life – the Bible. The fourth is that eternal horizon, which deals with the life to come. We get so caught up in the first two that we neglect the third and rarely think of the fourth.

    We know what happens when we’re driving along toward, say, a mountain off in the distance. The mountain gives us a horizon line, a perspective. Then a fog rolls in. Suddenly, we feel disoriented, not fully aware of our surroundings. It takes the sun's light and warmth to pierce the fog. Once the fog has rolled away, only then can we see everything in its proper perspective. This is what the light of the glory of Jesus Christ does for us in reference to giving the proper perspective for what lies ahead.

    As we enter a New Year, how can we practically take what we know of Jesus Christ and have a solid Christian life? It is the principles of solid Christian living that interest me in today's post.

Christian people need of reminders.

    We turn in this post to Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae. Colossae was an ancient city, second only to Ephesus in ancient influence. It located in the fertile Lycas Valley of what is now Modern Day Turkey. If you were to take a world map and find Ukraine, this region of Turkey would be due south of it, connecting Southern Europe to Asia and the Middle East. When I read about this city of Colossae, its description reminded me somewhat of our current American. This city, at the time of Paul's letter, was on decline. It was once opulent, influential in the region. It was formerly at the crossroads where the powerful visited.

    At the time of Paul’s letter, Colossae may very well had experienced earthquake damage. It was a city in ruins. It seemed the once great Colossae had come to decline and decay. Various philosophies promoting mysticism, materialism, or legalism preyed on the minds of the people. If we had more time, we could see how this sort of heresy was trying to seep into the little church in that city which Paul had planted. The Colossians were tempted to become preoccupied with this world, and their world had collapsed. They could only look ahead. As a new church, and new believers (perhaps less than a few years into their faith), the Colossians needed reminders of where to look.

    So, what about the author Paul? Paul’s situation was also dire. He was in prison. He was chained between two Roman guards (Acts 28). Though he was in chains, yet his proclamation of the Gospel was unchained. Paul was practicing the principles of solid Godly living that he would write in Colossians 3:1-17. So why this letter? Scholar Michael Harbin notes of Paul’s letter to the Colossians:


“Rather than focusing on the things of this world, like jobs, wealth, and so forth, the believers should be maintaining an eternal perspective.”

Theme of Colossians and the point of our post.

    We are living in a day where our culture has collapsed. We have witnessed political, moral, and spiritual earthquakes. Life is shifting sand. Paul wrote Colossians to focus attention on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The theme of this letter is about: “Finding fulfillment in Christ’s fulness”. The key verse is Colossians 1:16-17


“For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” 

    As for this post, I'm drawn to Colossians 3, most noteably Colossians 3:1-2, since it speaks appropriately to the point of my post today: 

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth." A quick outline of the Colossian's four chapters yields the following summary.


Chapter 1 = Salvation’s beginnings in Christ.
Chapter 2 = Seek to walk in Christ.
Chapters 3-4 = Solid living for Christ (principles & practice).

    Below is a brief exposition on six principles I find in Colossians 3:1-17 that lay out a plan for solid Christian living in the upcoming New Year. As I go through them, I will provide minimal commentary, mainly directing us to the text of Colossians 3 and appropriate cross-references.

Six principles for Solid Christian Living For The New Year

1. Look up in prayer. Colossians 3:1-4

    It was Evangelist Leonard Ravenhill that once noted: “before you get with it, get with Him”.

    We begin our study in Colossians 3:1-4,

"Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3 For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory."

    At the near-end of the New Testament, Jude, Jesus'half-brother according to the flesh, writes in 1:20-21 of his letter:

"But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life."

    Such words remind us that prayer ought to be the thermostat, not just a barometer in our planning. So we begin by "looking up in prayer". Notice the second principle for solid Christian living....

2. Look in your heart. Colossians 3:5-7

    When I say "look at your heart", I refer to how the priority of the mind in prayer, witnessed in our previous principle, is a prerequisite to searching our hearts. Paul writes in Colossians 3:5-7,

"Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them."

As Proverbs 4:23 reminds us: "Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life."  So in "looking up in prayer" and "looking at our hearts", we come to the third principle for solid Christian living....

3. Look at your speech. Colossians 3:8-11

    Jesus noted in Matthew 15:34 “….For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart.” As we turn back to Paul's argument thus far in Colossians 3:1-7, we see a progression in Paul’s argument: Prayer-->The mind-->The heart-->Our speech. Paul then writes in Colossians 3:8-11,

“But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him— a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all."

Jesus'other half-brother according to the flesh, James, remarks about the importance of "looking at our speech" in James 3:8-10,

"But no one can tame the tongue; it is a restless evil and full of deadly poison. 9 With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way."

4. Look around to others. Colossians 3:12-14

    So far, we've seen the need to "look up in prayer", "look at your heart", and the need to "look at one's speech" to cultivate a more solid life for Jesus Christ in the upcoming New Year. Paul's words in Colossians 3:1-11 have emphasized the need for self-examination. The point of examining ourselves before God is to be more useful for Him in encouraging others in God. It is here where we see Paul transition from evaluating oneself to evaluating how we are used of God in other's lives. We read in
Colossians 3:12-14,

"So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13 bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity."

    Am I taking the time to consider other people around me? Do I pray for others? Encourage others? Are my conversations prayerfully conducted in such a way as to lead in a positive, spiritual direction that points to Jesus? Do I look for ways to serve others? Are there those whom I need to forgive? This is the tenure of what is meant by this fourth principle of "looking around to others".

5. Look into your Bible, everyday. Colossians 3:15-16

    A favorite preacher of mine, the leate Adrian Rogers, once noted: “These two things go together, let no man part, dust on the Bible, drought in the heart”. I have always found when I commit Scripture verses to memory, my thinking is most clear. God's words, the Bible, give power to the Christian to live the Christian life (Hebrews 4:12). The Holy Spirit is the Agent behind their composition and the Applier of their meaning to anyone willing to receive them by faith (see 1 Corinthians 2:11-13). Note what Paul writes in Colossians 3:15-16,

"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God."

    One of my favorite Bible passages that urge memorizations and mediation on the Bible everyday is found in Joshua 1:8 "This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success."

6. Look to give thanks. Colossians 3:17.

    In today's post we have considered thus far five principles for solid, Christian living in the upcoming New Year:

1. Look up in prayer. Colossians 3:1-4
2. Look in your heart. Colossians 3:5-7
3. Look at your speech. Colossians 3:8-11
4. Look around to others. Colossians 3:12-14
5. Look into your Bible, everyday. Colossians 3:15-16

    As we draw today's post to a close, let me remind us of the need to look for ways to give thanks to God. If Christian people in particular (I having the foremost need) were more thankful to the Lord, we would have less complaining, backsliding, and general discontent. I find that when I have not practiced thankfulness to God, that is where I mutter and sputter in my daily Christian walk. Consider the following words written by Paul in Colossians 3:17,

"Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

Whenever you look at the life of Jesus, you find out how thankful He was. Even on the eve of His crucifixion, He instituted a meal for his church that is called by the Greek word "Eucharist", meaning "to give thanks". Note for instance what we read in Luke 22:17-19,

"And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, ‘Take this and share it among yourselves; 18 for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.’ 19 And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, ‘This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”’

We all learned in school that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. When it comes to understanding "what God's will is for my life", the quickest route to discovering that, next to consulting the Bible, is that of giving thanks. Paul writes in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 "in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus."

    For anyone who reads this who is not a follower of Jesus Christ, the Bible makes it plain as to how you experience the life-changing power of Jesus Christ. It is this simple: confess of your sins by placing your faith and trust in Jesus Christ's death and resurrection that He accomplished on your behalf (Romans 10:9-10; Ephesians 2:8-9; 1 Corinthians 15:1-6). That is the best way to begin any new year. As you follow the Lord Jesus Christ, take the principles we looked at today and apply them daily to your own life. As we take these six principles to heart, my hope would be that for followers of Jesus Christ, they would find a more consistent way of solid Christian living in the upcoming New Year.


1. Look up in prayer. Colossians 3:1-4
2. Look in your heart. Colossians 3:5-7
3. Look at your speech. Colossians 3:8-11
4. Look around to others. Colossians 3:12-14
5. Look into your Bible, everyday. Colossians 3:15-16
6. Look to give thanks. Colossians 3:17.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

The Doctrine Of Scripture Series: Why 1 Enoch Fails The Tests For Divine Inspiration And Canonicity



Introduction:

In our last post http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2022/12/the-doctrine-of-scripture-series-marks.html, we mentioned five "tests" or criteria gleaned from Jewish and early Christian authors that pertained to how the books of the Old and New Testament canons were recognized as being inspired from God. For sake of review, I'll list those tests below.

*Miraculous Test. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? 

*Salvation Test. Can the book bring someone to saving faith? 

*Prophetic or Apostolic Test (Apostolicity). Was the book written by a prophet or Apostle of God, or an associate?

*Recognition Test. (Catholicity). When I use the term "catholicity", I mean not the Roman Catholic church. Instead, "catholicity" refers to "what was believed upon by all Christians, everywhere and at all times" (the term "catholic" derives from a Greek term meaning "universal"). In this test, we ask: was it recognized by the people of God?

*Truth Test (Orthodoxy). Did the message tell the truth about God, the human condition, and the world?

    We know from our previous studies that there were certain other books written by the Jews in the 400 years between Malachi and Matthew that contained historical information and which reflected what they believed. When we study this sort of Jewish literature (sometimes referred to as "Second Temple Literature" or "Intertestamental books"), we can subdivide these writings into two broad groupings. 

    The first involve a group of fifteen writings called "Apocrypha" by Protestants, and "Deuterocanonical" by Roman Catholics. The term "Apocrypha" itself means "hidden". We have explored the Apocrypha at length, showing that they did not belong in the canon, and thus cannot be deemed inspired by God. Readers may review here http://www.growingchristianresources.com/2022/10/the-doctrine-of-scripture-identifying.html. 

    A second group of "Second Temple Jewish literature", written between the close of the Old Testament and into the days of Jesus are what are termed "pseudepigrapha". Below I'll introduce these books and focus on one in particular, 1 Enoch. 

Introducing the Pseudepigraphical book of Enoch.

    In addition to the Apocrypha, there were nearly seventy or so books written between the Old and New Testaments that became known as “pseudepigrapha” (falsely ascribed writings). They are designated by this word because they are passed off as having been composed by a famous Biblical character. The Pseudepigrapha, much like their Apocrypha counterparts, mimicked the Old Testament canon. There are examples of Pseudepigrapha that read like Genesis and Exodus (the Book of Jubiliees). There are other Pseudepigrapha that are "apocalyptic" or prophetic, such as the Apocalypse of Baruch. There are pseudepigrapha that imitate the style of the Biblical Psalms (such as the Pseudepigrphical "Psalms 151"). 

    Popular level publishers will mistakenly call these books "the lost books of the Bible". However, as we have learned in our studies of the canonization of the Biblical books, no books were "lost". The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha were well known in their day, however they were never recognized as "inspired" or "canonical". One only need read the writings of the Jewish philosopher Philo or the Jewish historian Josephus to see this point. Philo quoted extensively from the book of Genesis, yet never once did he quote the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha. Josephus' writings will quote the canonical Old Testament books, yet we never see a citation of the Apocrypha or Pseudepigrapha. 

    To be fair, they make for interesting reading, and do tell us about what the Jews talked about prior to the days of Jesus. Mostly, the Pseudepigrapha will speculate on details not mentioned in the canonical Old Testament. 

    The most prominent example of this type of literature is the book of “1 Enoch” (sometimes called simply "The Book of Enoch). As we assess whether the Book of 1 Enoch was inspired or not, we need to realize that the relevance of this question lies in how the book of Jude utilized it. 

    As one considers Jude’s citation of Enoch in Jude 1:14-15, the prophecy itself is not recorded within the book of Genesis or anywhere else in the canonical Old Testament. In my studies of the Book of Enoch, I found that Jude was likely alluding the opening chapter of 1 Enoch in 1 Enoch 1:9. Jude's choice to use 1 Enoch in making his point ought not be taken as his endorsing it as inspired and thus canonical. Paul for instance quoted pagan poets in his sermon on Mars Hill in Acts 17, yet he clearly did not conceive of those writings as inspired.

    The man Enoch in the Bible must be compared and included in how we assess the proported book of Enoch. Though there is no formal prophecy by Enoch in the Old Testament, we do find the man himself in Genesis 5:21-24 – 

“Enoch lived sixty-five years, and became the father of Methuselah.  22 Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters.  23 So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years.  24 Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”

    Enoch, along with another prophetic figure, Elijah, were the only men in redemptive history who never tasted death. Enoch had been taken directly to heaven by God. 

    This fascinating fact prompted the Jews over the centuries to speculate and develop traditions around Enoch, especially in the period of time between the Old and New Testaments. As mentioned already, during this 400 year period of time, the Jews produced roughly seventy volumes of devotional, theological and apocalyptic literature (these being distinguished from the "Apocrypha") in an attempt to express their faith and anticipate their increasing desire for the coming Messiah.

    One of the traits of this literature era was to attach the name of a well-known biblical figure (such as Enoch) and claim the text to had derived from that author’s words, writing or actions. As mentioned above, such literary works are deemed by scholars as “pseudepigrapha”. 1 

     Peter J. Gentry, in a journal article: "Reassessing Jude’s Use Of Enochic Traditions (With Notes On Their Later Reception History)" appearing in the Tyndale Bulletin, Volume 68, Issue 2, evaluates the Book of Enoch in its contents and overall question of its canonicity. Readers can peer at his outline in the endnotes.2  In my own reading of 1 Enoch, I used an online version of the book found at https://book-ofenoch.com/. As I read through 1 Enoch, I utilized Gentry's outline in navigating its contents, which proved mighty helpful. What follows from here is testing 1 Enoch for marks of Divine inspiration by way of the five tests mentioned above in the beginning of this post.

Testing 1 Enoch for marks of Divine inspiration

1. Miraculous Test. Was the writer confirmed by acts of God? 

    The Biblical Enoch in Genesis 5:21-26 was no doubt a prophet. He is explained as possessing prophectic abilities in Jude 1:14-15. The Bible nowhere claims that Enoch ever performed any miracles that attested his prophethood. One of the attributes of the Biblical authors was that some sort of miraculous activity confirmed their identity and message. Moreover, in my reading of 1 Enoch, I see no evidence of fulfilled prophecy (with the exception of 1 Enoch 1:9, cited by Jude 1:14-15, which as explained already, was used because it contained a grain of truth, without endorsement of the book). As will be seen in the "Prophetic Test", the Enoch of 1 Enoch, which we could term "a literary Enoch", is not the author he claims to be, the "Biblical Enoch". 1 Enoch fails this first test, lacking the miraculous.

*Salvation Test. Can the book bring someone to saving faith? 

    In order for a book of the Bible to perform this act, it would have to teach the constant message of the Bible that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, apart from works - known as "the doctrine of justification by faith" (see Genesis 15:6; Romans 3:24-26; 4:1-3 Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:4-5). In my reading of 1 Enoch 97 and 103, I found that 1 Enoch taught works salvation. Readers can read a citation of 1 Enoch 97:9-10 in the endnotes below to see my point.3 

    1 Enoch reflects what had become a growing trend in intertestamental Judaism's growing body of traditions - the possibility of attaining favor with God by the way of faith plus works. Jesus had to deal with hypocrites that thought they could attain salvation by way of lawkeeping. As one studies either the Apocryphal books or pseudepigrpha, it becomes apparent what religious traditions had developed prior to our Lord's coming. Jesus only ever quoted the canonical Old Testament books (thus never anything from the Apocrypha nor Pseudepigrapha, including the Book of Enoch). Hence, 1 Enoch fails the salvation test. 

*Prophetic or Apostolic Test (Apostolicity). Was the book written by a prophet or Apostle of God, or an associate?

    As we evaluate the Book of 1 Enoch through this third test, we can confidently confirm that 1 Enoch was not written by its namesake. According to the late Biblical Scholar R.H Charles in his edited work “The Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha of the Old Testament in English – Volume II”, page 164, 1 Enoch was composed by a variety of authors from the pre-Maccabean period (pre-168 b.c) with the final portion being completed in (105-64b.c). Thus, the authenticity of the book is in doubt, due to it not being written by the Biblical Enoch. 

    As a final note on this test, scholars have shown that the production of pseudepigrapha in the intertestamental period was a sign that the Spirit of prophecy was not producing new inspired books. Books such as 1 Enoch relied on "namedropping" a famous Biblical character to produce its version of Enoch, whom I called earlier a "literary Enoch". This technique employed by pseudepigraphical writers bypassed making any explicit claims of Divine inspiration, and actually showed the lack of the Spirit's prophetic activity in that era.  As I read through 1 Enoch, I did not see the well known phrase "thus says the Lord". 

*Recognition Test. (Catholicity). In this test, we ask: was it recognized by the people of God?

       The only group that ever decided to recognize the Book of Enoch as Scripture was the Ethiopic Church. The otherwise universal rejection of 1 Enoch as part of the Old Testament canon demonstrates that early Jews and Christians believed it did not convey the words of God. 

*Truth Test (Orthodoxy). Did the message tell the truth about God, the human condition, and the world?

    In this final test, we can note that when reading through 1 Enoch, it develops a rather speculative and detailed doctrine of angels (i.e. angelology). In the first 36 chapters of Enoch, as section known as "the book of the Watchers", several places indicate that the fall came about because of certain fallen angels bringing sin into the world. Although Satan and a third of the angelic host did rebel against God shortly after the completion of our physical world (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28; Revelation 12), yet it is not they who were credited with direct causation of the fall.  1 Enoch bypasses and conflicts with the Biblical teaching that Adam and Eve were the ones responsible for sin befalling the human race and the creation (Genesis 3 and Romans 5:11-21). This point shows that 1 Enoch cannot be inspired, due to its failure to express accurately such an important truth as the Fall. 

Conclusion:

    In today's post we subjected the book of 1 Enoch to the five tests of inspiration and canonicity we explored in previous posts. We conluded that 1 Enoch did not pass any of the tests, and hence ought not be considered as part of the canon. If one were to read the other pseudepigrpha, they would reach similar conclusions. This post only shows that there are really no so called "Lost Books of the Bible". All the books that were inspired by God belonged in the canon. 

    As God's people would recognize and use the inspired books, the process of canonization would simply affirm the books already belonging in the canon. 1 Enoch never would enjoy the universal reognition among early Jews or even the later Christian church. Nevertheless, 1 Enoch is valuable in showing us what the Jews believed in the days leading up to Jesus. 

Endnotes:

Endnote 1. Dr. Craig Evans, Payzant Distinguished Professor of New Testament at Acadia Divinity College, quotes literary scholar James Charlesworth’s definition of pseudepigraphical literature in his book: “Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies”, page 28: 

“The present description of the Pseudepigrapha is as follows: Those writings 

1). that….are Jewish or Christian.
2). that are often attributed to ideal figures of Israel’s past.
3). that customarily claim to contain God’s word or message.
4). that frequently build upon ideas and narratives present in the OT.
5). and that almost always were composed either or during the period 200 B.C. to A.D. 200 or, though late, aparently preserve. albeit an edited form, Jewish traditions that date from that period.”

Endnote 2. In his article, on page 263, Gentry gives a helpful outline of the Book of Enoch, noting its portions in the chronological order of their composition.

1. Book of Heavenly Luminaries (chaps 72–82)
2. The Book of the Watchers (chaps 1–36)
3. Enoch’s Two Dream Visions (chaps 83–90)
4. Two Pieces of Testamentary Narrative (81:2–82:3; 91)
5. The Epistle of Enoch (chaps 92–105)
6. An Account of Noah’s Birth (chaps 106–107)
7. Another Book by Enoch (chap. 108)
8. The Book of Parable (chaps 37–71)
9. The Book of the Giants (not in Ethiopic book of Enoch)

Endnote 3: 1 Enoch 97:9-10 "But in those days blessed shall they be, to whom the word of wisdom is delivered; who point out and pursue the path of the Most High; who walk in the way of righteousness, and who act not impiously with the impious. 10. They shall be saved."

    As already noted, the Jews were fond of producing literature that claimed a famous biblical figure as it’s author. With regards to "The Book of Enoch", one influential example of this type of literature is entitled “1 Enoch”.  

    The Jews living in the days of Jude’s Epistle would had been familiar with 1 Enoch. Much like our modern day Christian novels and books, “1 Enoch” or sometimes simply called “Enoch”, shaped the thinking of many Jews living in the regions around Israel.