LORD’S DAY 42, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 42 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses The Ten Commandments.

Q. What does God forbid in the eighth commandment?

A. God forbids not only outright theft and robbery, punishable by law.1 But in God’s sight theft also includes all scheming and swindling in order to get our neighbor’s goods for ourselves, whether by force or means that appear legitimate,2 such as inaccurate measurements of weight, size, or volume; fraudulent merchandising; counterfeit money;
excessive interest; or any other means forbidden by God.3 In addition God forbids all greed4 and pointless squandering of his gifts.5

1 Ex. 22:11 Cor. 5:9-106:9-10.
2 Mic. 6:9-11Luke 3:14James 5:1-6.
3 Deut. 25:13-16Ps. 15:5Prov. 11:112:22Ezek. 45:9-12Luke 6:35.
4 Luke 12:15Eph. 5:5.
5 Prov. 21:2023:20-21Luke 16:10-13.

Q. What does God require of you in this commandment?

A. That I do whatever I can for my neighbor’s good, that I treat others as I would like them to treat me, and that I work faithfully so that I may share with those in need.1

1 Isa. 58:5-10Matt. 7:12Gal. 6:9-10Eph. 4:28.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

Advent: Surprise!

“5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” (Luke 1:5-7)

Has God ever taken you by surprise? Pastor Chuck Swindoll several years ago penned a devotional entitled, appropriately enough, Surprises. Here is a brief excerpt.

The feelings are familiar. Mouth open. Eyes like saucers. Chill up the spine. Heart pounding in the throat. Momentary disbelief. We frown and attempt to piece the story together without a script or narrator. Sometimes alone, occasionally with others . . . then boom! “The flash of a mighty surprise” boggles the mind, leaving us somewhere between stunned and dumb with wonder. “Am I dreaming or is a miracle happening?” So it is with surprises.

O. Henry did it with his endings. World War II, with its beginning. Surprises start parties and they stop partnerships. They solve murders, they enhance birthdays and anniversaries, and they embellish friendships. Kids at Christmas love ’em. Parents expect ’em. Coaches use ’em. Politicians diffuse ’em.

Ever stop to trace the surprises in the Bible? The Scriptures are full of them when you look at certain events through the eyes of the people in that day.

  • When Adam and Eve stumbled upon Abel’s fresh grave.
  • When Enoch’s footsteps suddenly stopped.
  • When Noah’s neighbors first felt sprinkling.
  • When Moses heard words from a burning bush that wouldn’t stop burning.
  • When manna first fell from the sky.
  • When water first came from the rock.
  • When Jericho’s walls came a tumblin’ down: from the inside out.
  • When a ruddy runt by the name of David took down a seasoned warrior named Goliath.
  • And so on, and so on.

Today we look at another scene found in Scripture in which God scripted a surprise. Be careful! It would be easy to view these scenes as purely historical in nature and theme. However, God still surprises us. The question is whether we are aware when He does, and how do we respond when He does?

What do we know about Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth? To begin with, they were a righteous couple.

Today’s text informs us that Zachariah was a Jewish Priest. He lived during the days of Herod the Great, King of Judea. Herod ruled over Judea from 37 B.C. – 4 B.C. Herod was capable, crafty, and cruel. He was a diabolical monster. This is the same Herod who is mentioned in Matthew 2.

Zachariah was the exact opposite of Herod. His name means, “Yahweh has remembered.” Zechariah belonged to the priestly division of Abijah (I Chronicles 24:4-19). He also belonged to the 8th Division of 24. During David’s reign, the priests were divided into 24 divisions. (I Chronicles 24:1-6). Solomon reaffirmed these divisions (2 Chronicles 8:14). Twice a year each division was on duty in the temple, and each time the period of service was one week.

Zechariah had a wife named Elizabeth. A Wife name Elizabeth. Her name means devoted One or an absolutely reliable one. She was one of the descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. She too, along with her husband, belonged to the Tribe of Levi.

What a blessing for a priest from the Tribe of Levi to marry a woman from the same tribe. One gets the sense they were equally called to the ministry of serving the LORD. They were mutually compatible.

Additionally, the Bible tells us that both righteous before God. They were walking blamelessly in all the commandments of the Lord. In other words, they both possessed an imputed righteousness from God. Though it is true that good works never saved anybody, it is also true that the person who is conscious of having been saved by grace through faith will put forth every effort to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). The forgiven trespasser and the true heart are twins. Their righteous walk was evidenced by their behavior. They were conscious of the Ten Commandments. They were obedient to the Word of God.

What more can be said of such a couple? Well, today’s text adds one more thing about Zechariah and Elizabeth. “But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years.” (Luke 1:7).

What a burden to bear. Remember Rachel’s words to Jacob: “Give me children or I die” (Genesis 30:1). What about Sarah (Genesis 15:1)? Or Hannah (I Samuel 1:1-6)? Barrenness was about the worst thing which could happen to a woman. Because Elizabeth was barren, people believed that it was a sign of God’s disfavor. She would be shunned, and despised.

Could it be possible that she could become pregnant? No, unfortunately not. For you see the text also says that they were both well advanced in years. With each passing year the hope that their situation would change began to dim. At last it was extinguished altogether, for by now both were beyond the age of child bearing.

However, Zechariah and Elizabeth were in for a big surprise from God. When next we meet, we’ll see what God has in store for this righteous couple. Be careful to not read ahead in the Gospel of Luke. That would spoil the surprise.

One more thought from Pastor Swindoll. “Jesus’s return will be the absolute greatest surprise. Well, maybe I had better not say that. The greatest surprise is that people like us will be included in the group, stunned and dumb with wonder. Let’s face it, that won’t be just a surprise or a dream. That’ll be a flat-out miracle.”

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

Advent: The King.

Not only was the Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the family of David, to be born in Bethlehem, but also the Jewish Messiah was to have a threefold mission: He was to be the Prophet, a Priest and a King. Today, we will look at the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role and ministry as a King.

The Jewish Messiah was to be a king like David. He would be a ruler of the Kingdom of God consisting of God’s people. The Kingdom of God is also known as the Kingdom of Heaven.

We have thus far seen several Old Testament texts pointing to the kingship of the Messiah is His relationship to the family of the Patriarch Jacob and also King David (Genesis 49:10; Numbers 24:17; Samuel 7:12-16). There are two other Old Testament prophecies pertaining to the Jewish Messiah being King.

The first is Psalm 2. Its theme is the Reign of the LORD’s Anointed. It says,

Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.  Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying, “As for me, I have set my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you.   Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.” 10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.”

The other kingly prophetic text is found in Psalm 110. It is a Psalm of David.

“1 The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours. The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” The Lord is at your right hand; he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath. He will execute judgment among the nations, filling them with corpses; he will shatter chiefs over the wide earth. He will drink from the brook by the way; therefore he will lift up his head.”

Two New Testament texts directly related to the Christmas story are pertinent to our discussion. They are Matthew 2:2, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him,” and Luke 1:31-33, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes, This psalm contains one of the most exalted prophetic portions of Scripture presenting Jesus Christ as both a holy king and a royal high priest—something that no human monarch of Israel ever experienced. It, along with Ps. 118, is by far the most quoted psalm in the NT (Matt. 22:44; 26:64Mark 12:36; 14:62Luke 20:42–43; 22:69Acts 2:34–35Heb. 1:13; 5:6; 7:17, 21; 10:13). While portraying the perfect king, the perfect high priest, and the perfect government, Ps. 110  declares Christ’s current role in heaven as the resurrected Savior (v. 1) and his future role on earth as the reigning Monarch (vv. 2–7). This psalm is decidedly messianic and millennial in content. Jesus Christ (Matt. 22:43–44) verifies the Davidic authorship.”

It is clear that the Scriptures not only prophecy that the Messiah will be King, but also that Jesus is that Messiah King. Is He your King?

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Advent: The Priest.

Not only was the Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the family of David, to be born in Bethlehem, but also the Jewish Messiah was to have a threefold mission: He was to be the Prophet, a Priest and a King. Today, we will look at the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role and ministry as a Priest.

There is much to intellectually comprehend concerning the ministry of the Old Testament priesthood. The priestly role was associated with the tabernacle and then the Jewish Temple. The priesthood emphasized sacrifice, site maintenance, and education. Priests were the primary religious leadership in the ancient Near East. Their duties varied according to the region and religion. All priests were defined primarily by their intercessory role. Priests acted as representatives of the divine to the people, and representatives of people to the divine. Priests of Yahweh performed sacrifices, maintained the holy sites and implements, and provided counsel and instruction.

Additionally, priests were responsible for the ministry of intercession—the altar, tabernacle or temple. Their instructional role accorded with their intercessory role: they provided the instructions for holy living that would satisfy Yahweh’s holy expectations of the people.

Priests were a major power throughout Israel’s history as keepers of the covenant site and instructors in the Scriptures. Their relationships with kings, prophets, and sages fluctuated throughout this time. The priests may have been in accord with formal power structures such as the monarchy. There was tension between the priests and the prophets.

With respect to Jesus Christ as a priest, I submit the following biblical texts for your consideration regarding the priesthood of Jesus.

  1. Appointed and called by God. Heb. 3:1, 2; 5:4, 5.
  2. After the order of Melchizedek. Ps 110:4; Heb. 5:6; 6:20; 7:15, 17.
  3. Superior to Aaron and the Levitical priests. Heb. 7:11, 16, 22; 8:1, 2, 6.
  4. Consecrated with an oath. Heb. 7:20, 21.
  5. Has an unchangeable priesthood. Heb. 7:23, 28.
  6. Unblemished purity. Heb. 7:26, 28.
  7. Faithful. Heb. 3:2.
  8. Needed no sacrifice for himself. Heb. 7:27.
  9. Offered himself a sacrifice. Heb. 9:14, 26.
  10. His sacrifice superior to all others. Heb. 9:13, 14, 23.
  11. Offered sacrifice but once. Heb. 7:27; 9:25, 26.
  12. Made reconciliation. Heb. 2:17.
  13. Obtained redemption for us. Heb. 9:12.
  14. Entered into heaven. Heb. 4:14; 10:12.
  15. Sympathizes with those who are tempted. Heb 2:18; 4:15.
  16. Intercedes. Heb. 7:25; 9:24.
  17. Blesses. Num. 6:23–26; Acts 3:26.
  18. On his throne. Zech. 6:13.
  19. Appointment of, and encouragement to steadfastness. Heb. 4:14.
  20. Typified by –
  21. Melchizedek. Gen. 14:18–20.
  22. Aaron, Ex, 40:12–15.

The key Old Testament text regarding the priestly ministry of the Messiah is Psalm, 110:1-4. King David, the psalmist, writes, “The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” The Lord sends forth from Zion your mighty scepter. Rule in the midst of your enemies! Your people will offer themselves freely on the day of your power, in holy garments; from the womb of the morning, the dew of your youth will be yours, The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

 I highlight four New Testament texts from the Book of Hebrews explaining the Great High Priestly ministry of Jesus Christ.

  • Hebrews 2:14-18 – 14 “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.”
  • Hebrews 4:14-15 – “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and fine grace to help in time of need.”
  • Hebrews 5:1-6 – “For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was. So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, “You are my Son, today I have begotten you”; as he says also in another place, “You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.”
  • Hebrews 7:22-27 – “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.”

It is apparent that the New Testament clearly identifies Jesus Christ as a great high priest fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Jewish Messiah.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

Advent: The Prophet.

15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen—(Deuteronomy 18:15)

Not only was the Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, the family of David, to be born in Bethlehem, but also the Jewish Messiah was to have a threefold mission: He was to be the Prophet, a Priest and a King. Today, we will look at the prophecy concerning the Messiah’s role and ministry as The Prophet.

To begin with, the Messiah was to fulfill the prophecy spoken by God to Moses in Deuteronomy 18 concerning a God ordained Prophet. The Messiah would be a herald of God’s truth just like Moses. He would disclose God’s revelation to God’s people.

Deuteronomy 18:15-19 says, 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16 just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17 And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19 And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

 From this text, we make the following observations concerning the ministry of this Prophet. First, God will raise Him up for the people of God. Two, He would be like Moses. Three, He will be Jewish or from your brothers. Fourth, the people are to listen to Him. Fifth, God will put His words in the Prophets mouth. Sixth, the Prophet will be obedient to God. Seventh, people who refuse to listen to the Prophet will be judged.

This text from Deuteronomy lends an underlying context to what the Apostle John records in John 7:40-42 concerning the people’s reaction and response to the identity of Jesus Christ. The texts says, Therefore many from the crowd…said, Truly, this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ! But some said, Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”

It is obvious that some people actually thought and speculated that Jesus Christ might be the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18. Aside from John’s Gospel, does the New Testament affirm that Jesus was the Prophet spoken of by Moses in Deuteronomy 18?

Acts 3:23-26 says, “22 Moses said, The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you.

 23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

 The Apostle Peter, who is the one speaking in Acts 3, clearly identified Jesus Christ (His Servant) as the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy of God’s Messianic Prophet.

Dr. John MacArthur, in commenting on Deuteronomy 18, explains that, “The singular pronoun emphasizes the ultimate Prophet who was to come. Both the OT (Deuteronomy 34:10) and the NT (Acts 3:22–23; 7:37) interpret this passage as a reference to the coming Messiah, who like Moses would receive and preach divine revelation and lead his people (cf. John 1:21, 25, 43–45; 6:14; 7:40).”

I encourage you to study further the following verses related to Jesus Christ being the Prophet of God.

  1. Foretold. De 18:15, 18; Isa 52:7; Na 1:15.
  2. Anointed with the Holy Spirit. Isa 42:1; 61:1; Lu 4:18; Joh 3:34.
  3. Alone knows and reveals God. Mt 11:27; Joh 3:2, 13, 34; 17:6, 14, 26; Heb 1:1, 2.
  4. Declared his doctrine to be that of the Father. John 8:26, 28; 12:49, 50; 14:10, 24; 15:15; 17:8, 16.
  5. Preached the gospel, and worked miracles. Matt 4:23; 11:5; Lu 4:43.
  6. Foretold things to come. Matt. 24:3–35; Luke 19:41, 44.
  7. Faithful to his trust. Lu 4:43; John 17:8; Heb. 3:2; Rev. 1:5; 3:14.
  8. Abounded in wisdom. Luke 2:40, 47, 52; Col. 2:3.
  9. Mighty in deed and word. Matt. 13:54; Mark 1:27; Lu 4:32; John 7:46.
  10. Meek and un-ostentatious in his teaching. Isaiah 42:2; Mt 12:17–20.
  11. God commands us to hear. Deut. 18:15; Matt. 17:25; Acts 3:22; 7:37.
  12. God will severely visit our neglect of. Deut. 18:19; Ac 3:23; Heb. 2:3.
  13. Typified by Moses. Deut. 18:15.

Both the Old and the New Testament clearly affirms that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18 and is therefore The Prophet.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

Advent: The Little Town of Bethlehem.

“Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.”
(Micah 5:1-2)

We have thus far seen that the Old Testament not only prophesied that the Jewish Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, the tribe of Judah, and the family of David. The Old Testament also prophesied that the Messiah would be born in the town of Bethlehem. What do we know about Bethlehem?

There are actually two towns mentioned in Scripture which have the name Bethlehem. The first is a town located in the Galilean region about six miles W. of Nazareth, Josh. 19:15. Israel judged at, Judg. 12:10. It is often referred to as Bethlehem of the Tribe of Zebulun.

The second town of Bethlehem is a city S.W. of Jerusalem (Judg. 17:7; 19:18) also referred to as Ephratah and Ephrath, meaning “House of Bread.” Rachel, Jacob’s wife, died and was buried at Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16, 19; 48:7). It was also known as the city of Boaz (Ruth 1:1, 19; 2:4; 4). Bethlehem was taken and held by the Philistines (2 Sam. 23:14–16). King Jeroboam converted the city into a military stronghold (2 Chr. 11:6). Bethlehem was known as the city of Joseph (Matt. 2:5, 6; Luke 2:4).

According to the Prophet Micah, Bethlehem of Judea would be the birthplace of the Messiah, also referred to as the ruler of Israel. Does the New Testament confirm that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? The obvious answer is yes.

Luke 2:1-7 says, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

Matthew 2:1 says, Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king…”

Finally, John 7:40-42 says, “Therefore many from the crowd…said, truly this is the Prophet. Others said, this is the Christ! But some said, Will the Christ come out of Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was?”

One of the most familiar facts of the Christmas story is that Jesus was born in the little town of Bethlehem. It was here that angels announced His birth to the shepherds (Luke 2:8-14). It was in Bethlehem that the shepherds visited the manger scene and found Mary, Joseph and the Baby (Luke 2:15-20). It was also in Bethlehem that the Magi, or Wise Men, searched and found Jesus and presented Him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh (Matthew 2:1-12).

Indeed, the New Testament clearly presents the birth place of Jesus as Bethlehem thereby qualifying once again to be the long, awaited Messiah.

I encourage you to meditate upon the lyrics of the familiar Christmas carol entitled O Little Town of Bethlehem by 19th century hymn writer Phillip Brooks.

O little town of Bethlehem
How still we see thee lie
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep
The silent stars go by
Yet in thy dark streets shineth
The everlasting Light
The hopes and fears of all the years
Are met in thee tonight.

For Christ is born of Mary
And gathered all above
While mortals sleep, the angels keep
Their watch of wondering love
O morning stars together
Proclaim the holy birth
And praises sing to God the King
And Peace to men on earth.

O holy Child of Bethlehem
Descend to us, we pray
Cast out our sin and enter in
Be born to us today
We hear the Christmas angels
The great glad tidings tell
O come to us, abide with us
Our Lord Emmanuel.

 May the Lord’s truth and grace be found her.

 Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent: The Family of David.

“And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:31-33)

Not only was Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, the seed of Abraham, and the tribe of Judah, but also the Messiah was to belong to the family of David.

Psalm 89 is a Psalm of David. In vs. 26-27 David writes, “He will call out to me, “You are my Father, my God, the Rock my Savior. I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.”

God had promised to regard David’s son as his own “firstborn.” “Firstborn” is itself a messianic term, for it indicates not the child who is  born first in chronological order, but the one who is first in preeminence, first in rank, and first in privilege.

Note how Jacob (i.e., Israel) is called God’s “firstborn” (Ex 4:22), even though Esau came out of his mother’s womb as the first of the twins.  Likewise, Ephraim is called the “firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9), even though Manasseh, his brother, was older.  That  is  also  why  Christ  is  called  the  “firstborn  of  all creation” in Colossians 1:15, and why Hebrews 1:6 uses this same term to designate Jesus in his comment that God brought forth his firstborn Christ into the world.

At the same time, the idea of the collective singular is not far away for Hebrews 12:23 addresses the whole church of believers as the “firstborn.”  Just as the “seed” includes all who believe as well as the one who represents them all, so the “firstborn” heads up the whole body of the “firstborn.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes, The firstborn child was given a place of special honor and a double portion of the inheritance (Gen. 272 Kings 2:9). However, in a royal grant covenant, a chosen person could be elevated to the level of firstborn sonship and thus have title to a perpetual gift involving dynastic succession (cf. Ps. 2:7). Though not actually the first, Israel was considered the firstborn among nations (Ex. 4:22); Ephraim the younger was treated as the firstborn (Gen. 48:13–20); and David was the firstborn among kings. In this latter sense of prominent favor, Christ can be called the firstborn over all creation (Col. 1:15), in that he is given the preeminence over all created beings.”

Additionally, Psalm 132:11 says, The LORD has sworn in truth to David; He will not turn from it: I will set upon your throne the fruit of your body.”

2 Samuel 7:12-16 says, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his Father, and he shall be My son. If he commits iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men and with the blows of the sons of men. 15But My mercy shall not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.” 17According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.”

 The messianic character of the Davidic promise. Nathan’s prophecy, then, predicts several important new features about the coming Messiah: (1) The Messiah will come from David’s flesh and seed; (2) he will be David’s heir; (3) he will also be God’s natural son, (4) he will have a kingdom, rule, and reign that will never end; and (5) he will surely come one day in the future.

The Prophet Isaiah writes in Isaiah 1:1-10, “There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.”

A shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse means that the branch (i.e. Messiah) will bear fruit; He will prosper and benefit others. He will come directly from the lineage of David and will fulfill God’s promises in the Davidic Covenant.

Finally, the Prophet Jeremiah writes in Jeremiah 23:5-6 that, “Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Jeremiah’s reference to a Branch of Righteousness refers to the righteous branch of the Davidic Line.

Does the New Testament teach that Jesus Christ is a descendant of King David and therefore in the kingly family? Is Jesus of Nazareth a “son” of David?

Matthew 1:1 says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, and the Son of Abraham.”

Luke 1:31-33 says, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the LORD God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Luke 3:31 says , in reference to Jesus Christ, that He was “the son of Melea, the son of Menna, the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David.”

It is clear from the New Testament record that it proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of David. Thus we move from the “seed of the woman,” who will be victorious over Satan, to the “seed of Abraham,” who will be a blessing to all the earth, to the kingly tribe of Judah, to the “seed of David,” who will have a rule that will never end.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

LORD’S DAY 41, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 41 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses The Ten Commandments.

Q. What does the seventh commandment teach us?

A. That God condemns all unchastity and that therefore we should thoroughly detest it2 and live decent and chaste lives, 3 within or outside of the holy state of marriage.

1 Lev. 18:30Eph. 5:3-5
2 Jude 22-23
3 1 Cor. 7:1-91 Thess. 4:3-8Heb. 13:4.

Q. Does God, in this commandment, forbid only such scandalous sins as adultery?

A. We are temples of the Holy Spirit, body and soul, and God wants both to be kept clean and holy. That is why God forbids all unchaste actions, looks, talk, thoughts, or desires,1 and whatever may incite someone to them.2

1 Matt. 5:27-291 Cor. 6:18-20Eph. 5:3-4.
2 1 Cor. 15:33Eph. 5:18.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Advent: The Tribe of Judah.

“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.” (Genesis 49:10).

As we continue our study of Messianic Old Testament Prophecy, the description of the Messiah and His qualifications continue to be narrowed. He was not only be from the seed of a woman, and the seed of Abraham, but also He would be from the Tribe of Judah. In other words, the kingly tribe of the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

There are two primary texts pertinent to this discussion. The first is taken from Jacob’s blessings upon his twelve sons as he neared death. He pronounced specific blessings and curses upon each one of his sons. Regarding Judah, Jacob said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”

A scepter refers to a rod, staff or a club used for smiting and beating. It metaphorically refers to a symbol or mark of authority. The association of smiting and ruling is evident. The kingly authority of Israel would not depart from the Tribe of Judah.

The word Shiloh is best understood as a cryptic but shorthand form of a personal name for the Messiah. The one to whom belongs the true kingship of Israel. It is this One to whom belongs the obedience and servanthood of the people of God: True Israel.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, Many sources, including the Targum (Aram. paraphrase of the OT), see “Shiloh” as a title of the Messiah. However, the Hebrew word šîlōh should be rendered “whose it is,” that is, the scepter will not depart from Judah … until He comes whose it (i.e., the scepter) is (or as the niv puts it, to whom it belongs).”

One scholar explains that, “As strong as a young lion and entrenched as an old lion, to Judah’s line belonged national prominence and kingship, including David, Solomon, and their dynasty (640 years after this), as well as the one to whom “the scepter shall not depart,” i.e., Shiloh, the cryptogram for the Messiah, the one also called the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). On the march through the wilderness, Judah went first (Num. 10:14) and had the largest population in Moses’ census (cf. Num. 1:27; 26:22).”

A second Messianic prophecy concerning Messiah’s kinship to the Tribe of Judah is contained in Numbers 24:17. I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; A Star shall come out of Jacob; A Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.”  

Star and scepter speak of royalty. The ruler of Israel will come from the family of Jacob, and more specifically, Judah. The terms “star” and “scepter” certainly speak of the promise of a king like David, Israel’s greatest king in the historical period. But ultimately these words reach beyond him. The setting of the text is “in the days to come”. It reaches all the way to the Savior.

Dr. John Walvoord explains that, “The truth (the prophet) Balaam saw concerned primarily a star and a scepter that would originate in Israel in the future. Since poetically the star is parallel to the scepter, the star must also refer to royalty. This has now been strikingly confirmed in prophetic texts from Mari which describe various kings by the epithet “star.” The connection of this prophecy to that of Jacob, in which he predicted that a ruler over Israel would come from Judah (Gen. 49:10), is unmistakable.”

Another scholar states, “The theme of this verse is Israel has a coming deliverer. This keenly debated verse has been debased by some, devalued by others, and allegorized by still others. We believe this text speaks unmistakably of the coming of the Messiah. That this prophecy should come from one who was unworthy (Balaam) makes the prophecy all the more dramatic and startling.”

Does the New Testament proclaim that Jesus Christ met the qualification of being from the Tribe of Judah? The following texts are set forth for consideration in which each one focuses upon the identity of Jesus Christ.

  • Matthew 1:3 – “…the son of Judah.”
  • Matthew 2:2, 6 – “Where is He who has born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
  • Luke 3:33 – “…the son of Judah.”
  • Revelation 5:5 – “Behold, the Lion from the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.”

The New Testament clearly sets forth that Jesus Christ is not only a descendent of Jacob, but also from the specific Tribe of Judah. He is qualified to be the King of the Jews.

Is Jesus Christ your King?

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

Advent: The Seed of Abraham.

“Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people that they had acquired in Haran, and they set out to go to the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, Abram passed through the land to the place at Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your offspring I will give this land.” So he built there an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:1-7).

Not only was the Messiah to be from the seed of a woman, (i.e. virgin born), but also the Messiah was to be from the Seed of Abraham. God made eight promises to Abraham, which are located in today’s text.

First, God would make Abraham into a great nation. Second, God would bless Abraham. Third, He would make Abraham’s name great. Fourth, Abraham and his seed would be a blessing to others. Fifth, God would bless those who blessed Abraham. Sixth, God would also curse those who cursed Abraham. Seventh, through Abraham and his “seed” (or “offspring”) Abraham would be the channel of blessing to all the peoples on earth. Finally, God would give to Abraham’s “seed” the land he had entered after leaving Ur of the Chaldeans. The first seven promises from God to Abraham appeared in his “call” in Genesis 12:2-3, while the eighth was added when he arrived at Shechem in Palestine (v. 7).

Was Jesus Christ the seed, or offspring, of Abraham by which the Patriarch would be a channel of blessing to all the peoples on earth? Does the New Testament teach that Jesus Christ was related to Abraham? Does Jesus meet this qualification? There are three New Testament text which demand our attention regarding Jesus Christ’s relationship to the Patriarch Abraham?

The first NT text is found in Matthew 1:1. The verse is contained within the context of the genealogy of Jesus Christ through the lineage of His adopted, human father Joseph. The text, which serves as an introductory statement for the Gospel of Matthew, says, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham.” Matthew takes Jesus’ lineage all the way back to Israel’s conception contained in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:1-3).

The second text is found in Luke 3:23-38, which contains Jesus Christ’s genealogy through the lineage of His human mother Mary. The extended paragraph beings in 3:23 which says, 23 Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,” Of particular interest is vs. 34 which says, 34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor…”

The third NT text in question is Galatians 3:16 which says, “Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He (God) does not say, and to seeds, as of many but as of one, and to your Seed, who is Christ.” The context concentrates on the doctrine of justification by grace alone, through faith alone in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone.

Dr. William Hendrickson comments that, “God promised salvation, not to Abraham’s physical descendants but to true believers, to them all, whether Jews or Gentiles and to them alone, he is saying that this great blessing is concentrated in one person, Jesus Christ. It is in Him, in Him alone, that all these multitudes of believing Jews and Gentiles are blessed. It is in this sense that the “Seed” is singular, definitely not plural.”

Dr. John MacArthur, in commenting on Galatians 3:16, adds that, “The quote is from Gen. 12:7. The singular form of the Hebrew word, like its English and Greek counterparts, can be used in a collective sense. Paul’s point is that in some OT passages (e.g., Gen. 3:15; 22:18), “offspring” refers to the greatest of Abraham’s descendants, Jesus Christ.”

We can conclude that not only does the New Testament teach that Jesus Christ is virgin born, but also that he belongs to and was a physical descendant of Abraham fulfilling Old Testament prophecy concerning the identity of Israel’s Messiah.

Is Jesus Christ your Messiah? He is the only One.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

Advent: Protoevangelium (The First Gospel). Part Three.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:14-15)

The Messiah was to be born from the seed of a woman. That is to say, He was to be virgin born! The first biblical text to proclaim this is admittedly rather cryptic. It is found in Genesis 3:14-15 which says, “So the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on you belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

 Two key Messianic Prophecies from the Prophet Isaiah which parallel Genesis 3:14-15. They are as follows.

  • Isaiah 7:13-14 – “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
  • Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 The question remains as to whether the New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ met the qualification of being born of a virgin? What does the New Testament account of Jesus Christ’s birth have to say? We’ve already looked at Matthew 1:18-25. Today, we’ll examine Luke 1:26-38.

The text says, 26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary.28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. 30 And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”

 34 And Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?”35 And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God. 36 And behold, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38 And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.”

Dr. John MacArthur writes, The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overstated. A right view of the incarnation hinges on the truth that Jesus was virgin-born. Both Luke and Matthew expressly state that Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived (Matt. 1:23). The Holy Spirit wrought the conception through supernatural means (Luke 1:35Matt. 1:18). The nature of Christ’s conception testifies of both his deity and his sinlessness.”

The prophecy from Genesis 3:14-15 is reiterated in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Both accounts teach that the prophecy of the virgin birth was fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The Bible clearly sets forth that He is the Seed of the Woman born to crush the head of the serpent.

In light of this prophecy, do you identify yourself as belonging to the Seed of the Woman, Jesus Christ? If not, then you belong to the seed of the serpent. There is no middle ground and no other alternatives. Think about it.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advent: Protoevangelium (The First Gospel). Part Two.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:14-15)

The Messiah was to be born from the seed of a woman. That is to say, He was to be virgin born! The first biblical text to proclaim this is admittedly rather cryptic. It is found in Genesis 3:14-15 which says, “So the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on you belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

Two key Messianic Prophecies from the Prophet Isaiah which parallel Genesis 3:14-15. They are as follows.

  • Isaiah 7:13-14 – “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
  • Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 The question remains as to whether the New Testament teaches that Jesus Christ met the qualification of being born of a virgin? What does the New Testament account of Jesus Christ’s birth have to say? Today, we’ll look at the first NT text which is Matthew 1:18-25.

The text says, 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20  But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.”22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”24 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, 25 and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name Jesus.  

One theologian writes, “Scholars sometimes dispute whether the Hebrew term in Isaiah 7:14 means “virgin” or “maiden.” Matthew is quoting here from the Greek Septuagint (LXX), which uses the unambiguous Greek term for “virgin.”  Thus Matthew, writing under the Spirit’s inspiration, ends all doubt about the meaning of the word in Isaiah 7:14.”

 Dr. John Walvoord writes, The Child Mary carried in her womb was a unique Child, for He would be a Son whom Joseph should name Jesus for He would save His people from their sins. These words must have brought to Joseph’s mind the promises of God to provide salvation through the New Covenant (Jer. 31:31–37). The unnamed angel also told Joseph that this was in keeping with God’s eternal plan, for the Prophet Isaiah had declared 700 years before that the virgin will be with Child (Matt. 1:23; Isa. 7:14). While Old Testament scholars dispute whether the Hebrew ‘almâh should be rendered “young woman” or “virgin,” God clearly intended it here to mean virgin (as implied by the Gr. word parthenos). Mary’s miraculous conception fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy, and her Son would truly be Immanuel … God with us. In light of this declaration Joseph was not to be afraid to take Mary into his home (Matt. 1:20). There would be misunderstanding in the community and much gossip at the well, but Joseph knew the true story of Mary’s pregnancy and God’s will for his life.”

Dr. J. Gresham Machen, in his book entitled The Virgin Birth of Christ, explains that, “According to a universal belief of the historic Christian Church, Jesus of Nazareth was born without a human father, being conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary. It may be held that the Church came to believe in the virgin birth for the simple reason that the virgin birth was a fact; the reason why the creed came to say that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Ghost and born of the virgin Mary is that He was actually so conceived and born.”

When next we meet, we will examine the second significant NT text regarding the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!    

Advent: Protoevangelium (The First Gospel).

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”
(Genesis 3:14-15)

What does the Bible say about who the Messiah would be, His credentials, and how He would come to earth and how we would recognize Him? Most significantly, does Jesus Christ fulfill the qualifications of the Messiah? If He does not, then He is not the Messiah no matter how much we revere Him. However, if He does fulfill these qualifications concerning the Jewish Messiah, then the believer is to share this truth and the unbeliever is challenged to consider this truth.

What are the biblical qualifications, through Old Testament prophecy, surrounding the birth of the Messiah, and does Jesus Christ fulfill them?

To begin with, the Messiah was to be born from the seed of a woman. That is to say, He was to be virgin born. The first biblical text to proclaim this is admittedly rather cryptic. It is found in Genesis 3:14-15 which says, “So the LORD God said to the serpent: Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all cattle, and more than every beast of the field; on your belly you shall go, and you shall eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.”

 The “seed/offspring” mentioned in this verse became the root from which the tree of the OT promise of a Messiah grew. This, then, was the “mother prophecy” that gave birth to all the rest of the promises. Theologian Charles Briggs agreed. He said, “Genesis 3:15 was the germ of promise which unfolds in the history of redemption.”

Strange as it may seem, the history of the human race begins with the sin of our first parents and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. But that is not where it ended, for in the middle of the bleakness and the dark tragedy of God’s curse on the serpent, the woman, and the man came the first rays of light and hope embodied as the gospel of the grace of our God.

Dr. John MacArthur explains that, The cattle and all the rest of creation were cursed (see Rom. 8:20–23; cf. Jer. 12:4) as a result of Adam and Eve’s eating, but the serpent was uniquely cursed by being made to slither on its belly. It probably had legs before this curse. Now snakes represent all that is odious, disgusting, and low. They are branded with infamy and avoided with fear. Cf. Isaiah 65:25 and Micah 7:17.”

Dr. MacArthur continues by adding, “After cursing the physical serpent, God turned to the spiritual serpent, the lying seducer, Satan, and cursed him. This “first gospel” is prophetic of the struggle and its outcome between “your offspring” (Satan and unbelievers, who are called the devil’s children in John 8:44) and her offspring (Christ, a descendant of Eve, and those in him), which began in the garden. In the midst of the curse passage, a message of hope shone forth—the woman’s offspring called “he” is Christ, who will one day defeat the Serpent. Satan could only “bruise” Christ’s heel (cause him to suffer), while Christ will bruise Satan’s head (destroy him with a fatal blow). Paul, in a passage strongly reminiscent of Gen. 3, encouraged the believers in Rome, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Rom. 16:20). Believers should recognize that they participate in the crushing of Satan because, along with their savior and because of his finished work on the cross, they also are of the woman’s seed.”

There are two key Messianic Prophecies from the Prophet Isaiah which parallel Genesis 3:14-15. They are as follows.

  • Isaiah 7:13-14 – “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”
  • Isaiah 9:6 – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

 The question remains as to whether the New Testament proclaims that Jesus Christ met the qualification of being born of a virgin? When next we meet, we will examine the New Testament account of Jesus Christ’s birth to see what the biblical record has to say.

Until then, may the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

 

Advent: Miscellaneous Misunderstandings.

14 The Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field;
on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.
15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” (Genesis 3:14-15)

A little girl came home from Sunday school triumphantly waving a paper, “Mommy,” she said, “My teacher says I drew the most unusual Christmas picture she has ever seen!”

The mother studied the picture for a moment and concluded it was indeed a very peculiar Christmas picture. “This is wonderfully drawn, but why have you made all these people riding on the back of an airplane,” the mother gently asked.

“It’s the flight into Egypt,” the little girl said, with a hint of disappointment that the picture’s meaning was not immediately obvious.

“Oh,” the mother said cautiously. “Well, who is this mean looking man at the front?”

“That’s Pontius, the Pilot,” the girl said now visibly impatient.

“I see. And here you have Mary and Joseph and the baby,” the mother volunteered. Studying the picture silently for a moment, she summoned the courage to ask, “But who is this fat man sitting behind Mary?”

The little girl sighed, “Can’t you tell? That’s Round John Virgin!”

How humorous, how sad, but how true that many within our world, culture, neighborhoods, schools, places of employment and even churches have similar mistaken notions and ideas as to the characters, scenes, settings, and incidents which occurred that first Christmas. Many in our world would rather focus their attention on a variety of other sights, sounds, and characters. Others would even regulate Jesus Christ to the status of myth and attempt to banish and ban the very word “Christmas” from the holiday season.

Among religious people, and I use this term loosely to define those who call themselves people of faith regardless of whatever object their faith may be centered in, there is rarely little debate that Jesus Christ was born. The debate centers on who Jesus Christ is? Is He the Messiah? Some say that He is just a man. Others would acknowledge that He is at least a prophet, and perhaps a good, moral teacher.

But what does the Bible say about whom the Messiah would be, His credentials, and how He would come to earth and how we would recognize Him? Most significantly, does Jesus Christ fulfill the qualifications of the Messiah? If He does not, then He is not Messiah no matter how much we revere Him. However, if He does fulfill these qualifications concerning the Messiah, then the believer is to share this truth and the unbeliever is challenged to consider this truth.

What are the qualifications, through biblical prophecy, surrounding the birth of the Messiah, and does Jesus Christ fulfill them? For the next several days, we will examine the various and cumulative prophecies contained in the Old Testament Scriptures regarding the person and work of the Messiah. We will then compare those prophecies with the New Testament record concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ. We will see if they are in harmony with each other.

The first prophecy contained in the Scriptures regarding the Messiah is contained in Genesis 3:14-15. When next we meet we will examine this inaugural Messianic prophecy in light of its overall context. Stay tuned.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!

 

 

 

LORD’S DAY 40, 2019.

On each Lord’s Day this year, we will display the 52 devotionals taken from the Heidelberg Catechism which are structured in the form of questions posed and answers given.

The Heidelberg Catechism was originally written in 1563. It originated in one of the few pockets of Calvinistic faith in the Lutheran and Catholic territories of Germany. Conceived originally as a teaching instrument to promote religious unity, the catechism soon became a guide for preaching as well.

Along with the Belgic Confession and the Canons of Dordt, it forms what is collectively referred to as the Three Forms of Unity.

The devotional for LORD’S DAY 40 is as follows. Please take note of the biblical references given in each answer. This morning’s devotional addresses The Ten Commandments.

Q. What is God’s will for you in the sixth commandment?

A. I am not to belittle, hate, insult, or kill my neighbor—not by my thoughts, my words, my look or gesture, and certainly not by actual deeds—and I am not to be party to this in others;1 rather, I am to put away all desire for revenge.2 I am not to harm or recklessly endanger myself either.3 Prevention of murder is also why government is armed with the sword.4

1 Gen. 9:6Lev. 19:17-18Matt. 5:21-2226:52.
2 Prov. 25:21-22Matt. 18:35Rom. 12:19Eph. 4:26.
3 Matt. 4:726:52Rom. 13:11-14.
4 Gen. 9:6Ex. 21:14Rom. 13:4.

Q. Does this commandment refer only to murder?

A. By forbidding murder God teaches us that he hates the root of murder: envy, hatred, anger, vindictiveness.1 In God’s sight all such are disguised forms of murder.2

1 Prov. 14:30Rom. 1:2912:19Gal. 5:19-211 John 2:9-11.
2 1 John 3:15

Q. Is it enough then that we do not murder our neighbor in any such way?

A. No. By condemning envy, hatred, and anger God wants us to love our neighbors as ourselves,1 to be patient, peace-loving, gentle, merciful, and friendly toward them,2 to protect them from harm as much as we can, and to do good even to our enemies.3

1 Matt. 7:1222:39Rom. 12:10.
2 Matt. 5:3-12Luke 6:36Rom. 12:10, 18Gal. 6:1-2Eph. 4:2Col. 3:121 Pet. 3:8.
3 Ex. 23:4-5Matt. 5:44-45Rom. 12:20-21 (Prov. 25:21-22).

May God’s truth and grace reside here.

Soli deo Gloria!

Advent: Why did Jesus come to Earth? Part 5.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:3-5)

Thus far, we have seen four reasons from Galatians 1:3-5 as to why Jesus Christ came to earth in His incarnation. Let’s look at one more.   

First, Jesus Christ came to earth as the incarnation of God the Father’s grace and peace. “Grace to you and peace from God our Father…” (Galatians 1:3a). Grace (χάρις; charis) is defined as “unmerited favor.” It is the bestowing of pleasure, delight, or favorable regard from one to another. It is God’s loving-kindness to sinners who deserve judgment. Peace (εἰρήνη; eirene) is the resulting harmony, on the basis of grace, between God and sinful man. Peace is accomplished through the gospel and is also the rest and contentment consequentially as the result of God’s grace.

Second, Jesus Christ came to earth as to be the propitiation, or atoning sacrifice, on behalf of sinners. The text reads, “Who gave Himself for our sins” – 1:4a. The text refers to an active and personal total surrender by Jesus Christ on behalf of sinners who continually are missing the mark of acquiring the holiness and righteousness of God.

Third, Jesus Christ came to earth to deliver believing sinners from this present, evil age. “To deliver us from the present evil age” (Galatians 1:4b).

Fourth, Jesus Christ came to earth to accomplish the will of God the Father. Galatians 1:4 says, “who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

 Fifth, Jesus Christ came to earth to glorify God the Father. “to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.” (Galatians 1:5)

Glory (δόξα; doxa) means to praise, honor and glorify. This is done because of the greatness of the individual. In this instance, it is God who is to be glorified.

This glory to God is eternal. It is an unlimited duration of time.

The word “Amen” is an exclamation that indeed this is not only what Jesus Christ accomplished, but it is also to be the believer’s perspective in all we do.

In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer from John 17, mediate upon what Jesus initially prays to God the Father. “When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.”

 To God be the glory for the things He has accomplished through the person and work of Jesus Christ.

May the Lord’s truth and grace be found here.

Soli deo Gloria!