Friday, December 6, 2013

P1/11 Discovering the Identity of Jesus - a response to "Bible Secrets Revealed" Episode 4

Matthew 16:15 "He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Note to the reader: These next several posts are designed to present a cultural, historical and theological study of Jesus Christ and the facts behind the crucifixion.  I have chosen to present this material partly in response to the History Channel's recent series: "Bible Secrets Revealed" and partly to give the readers of this blog a chance to see what the Four Gospels truly say about Jesus Christ.  This particular series of blogs are more concerned with explaining the contents and validity of the four Gospel accounts.  The reader is invited to visit my other blog site to read a critique of the latest episode of "Bible Secrets Revealed" at:

Discovering the Identity of Jesus

A Cultural, Historical and Theological study of Jesus Christ and the facts behind the crucifixion & resurrection

Purpose of the study: This study aims at a two-fold purpose of properly identifying the Jesus of History as being identical to the Jesus of the Christian Faith and discerning the factuality and meaning behind the crucifixion & resurrection. 

From what we find from the lips of Jesus and His followers, it seemed clear that the Jewish Old Testament yielded forth patterns anticipating the arrival of a person such as Jesus Christ. 

By considering the Old Testament record (particularly the writings of Moses, the Psalms and prophetic writings), we will discover certain patterns that indicate that the God of the Old Testament, while being One God, does reveal a mysterious figure that not only shares the same characteristics as He, but also would accomplish the same works and accomplish the finished work of salvation. 

Lesson One: Telling the Old Testament story

One must consider for a moment the relationship between the Jewish Old Testament writings (Writings of Moses; the history of the Israelite nation; the Psalms of David and writings of Solomon and the prophetic writings) and the New Testament writings. 

In the Old Testament books, we see the following, true story of the relationship between God and the nation of Israel:

  1. God creates the Heavens and the earth, all of life and a man named Adam and his wife.  Though giving them both instructions on how they can enjoy a perfect life of constant fellowship and communion with Him, they decide to disobey Him by eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil.  A serpent named Satan, having enticed them, is cursed along with their banishment from the Garden of Eden.  It is this event that introduces sin or separation from God into the creation and humanity.
  2. In Genesis 3, God does not leave Adam and Eve in isolation, but kills two animals and provides animal skins to cover the man and woman in their shame, thus giving the reader the first picture of the need for the shedding of blood as a requirement for having fellowship and communion with God (also called atonement).
  3. In Genesis 12 God is seen later making a promise with Abraham and tells Abraham that from his lineage will come a nation that will bring blessing to the world.  God later ratifies His promise to Abraham in Genesis 15 by walking by Himself between animals cut in half by Abraham to demonstrate how He alone is going to bring about the promises of the Covenant. Later on, God gives Abraham and Sarah the promised son, Isaac in Genesis 21.  In Genesis 22 God tests Abraham by commanding him to take Isaac and offer him upon an altar, stopping the sacrifice. Thankfully, God provides a ram as a substitute in Isaac’s place, creating a picture of something or someone having to give His own life to satisfy God’s wrath.
  4. Over 400 years later, a man named Moses encounters God in the desert in  a burning bush.  God tells Moses His personal name, Yahweh (meaning “I am” or “THE LORD).  As a result of this meeting, THE LORD gives Moses the ability to lead the nation of Israel out of the slavery of Egypt through the Red Sea and into freedom.  From this event God would also become recognized as the One and True Savior who rescues His people from darkness and slavery.
  5. It was not long though until Israel began to complain about being brought into a desert.  While Moses is on top of the mountain receiving the 10 commandments, the Israelites engage in idolatry.  Under the threat of total annihilation, Moses represents the people and pleads for God to turn away His anger (Exodus 32:11-14).  God does, and thus Moses gives us another glimpse as being an example of a mediator between THE LORD and his people (or the idea of a priest). So rather than destroying them, Yahweh decides that they will need to wander in the desert of Sinai for 40 years before entering into the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob).
  6. Roughly 400 years later the nation requests for a king.  After giving them the king they deserved (King Saul), God brings David to come on the scene and becomes the king of Israel.  THE LORD makes a covenant (or agreement) with him, telling Him that from His descendants will come an ultimate King who will some day rule the world and bring about peace and righteousness.  David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, writes Psalms such as Psalm 110, where He sees the Lord talking to a then unknown figure, referring to Him as “His Son” and calling Him “Lord” as well.  Later on Proverbs 30:4 asks this question: What is God like and who is His son? (or what is the nature of God – nature being equal to son in ancient eastern culture).
  7. Another 120 years pass from the beginning of Saul's reign through David to the end of Solomon's kingship.  The nation of Israel splits into two smaller nations (Israel to the North and Judah to the South).  Because of sin and rebellion, God takes the Northern Kingdom and puts it under the control of the kingdom of Assyria.  During this time, a prophet named Isaiah writes that The LORD will send forth one like Himself who will be called The Servant.  This servant will have to suffer an awful death, shed blood and be whipped (Isaiah 53).  This Servant will bear the sins of the whole world, providing forgiveness of sin.  God at one point in Isaiah’s prophecy writes of How He will have to bring about salvation by the sending of Himself (Isaiah 59:17).
  8. Over 300 years pass from the end of Solomon's reign until the end of the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Southern Kingdom disregarded the covenant Yahweh made with her through Moses, and now she under the control of the Babylonian Empire.   Daniel, a prophet, is given visions of the remainder of human history leading up to the time when God will judge this world.  In one of those visions, Daniel sees what appears to be a vision of God judging the world and sitting on His throne in heaven.  To Daniel it is revealed that the particular name of God in this vision is called (The ancient of days, the Son of man).  For Daniel, this means that God is setting forth a series of events that will lead up to judging the world for sin and punishing those who do not embrace Him by grace through faith.
In considering the entire Old Testament witness along the lines of the above eight points, we can come to discern specific patterns leading to the development of how God is going to bring about the needed solution for bridging the infinite gulf separating human beings from Himself.  As we look at these patterns, we find out that the plan that God has will involve the coming of a particular person.  The next lesson will act as a bridge in structuring together these patterns.

More tomorrow....

No comments:

Post a Comment