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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Psalms 40 & 41

English: Scroll of the Psalms
English: Scroll of the Psalms (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Psalms 40 & 41 are included in the group that are called Messianic Psalms because of their attention to the life and ministry of the Messiah. They are for that reason prophetic. Both are written by David, both record praise for God's deliverance and sustaining grace. In both psalms David switches from first person to third person in the narration and sometimes to second person. Sometimes he addresses God directly. It seems that he is overwhelmed with the magnificence of God's power and presence. 

David may not be aware of the Savior to whom the prophesy points. At the time David confesses his own sin;
I  apply that to the sin Jesus accepted from our repentance. We sinned and he took it to the cross. This is not a concept I found in other literature; it is just the way I take it.

So very much of both psalms is very personal and reveals David's love and trust in God. They also reveal his anguish over the disdain of others and heartbreak from personal attack. 40:5 testifies of David's understanding of the mercy and blessing of God. It is a lesson to us to be aware of God's hand in our lives, too numerous   count. 

In 40:7 David takes up the testimony of Jesus proclaiming in vs. 8: I delight to do you will, my God: Your instruction resides within me.

In 41:12 David says that God "supported me because of my integrity and set me in your presence forever." He ends the chapter with a benediction: May the Lord, the God of Israel be praised from everlasting to everlasting. Amen and amen.

Read these psalms for yourself and don't depend on the view or another, but learn the lessons and the assurance from them in your own experience. 

This week I have also read them and prayed them for family and friends who were dealing with betrayal and difficulty beyond their control. God is our confidant and support in difficult and trying situations.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Messianic Psalms

A lot of the Book of Psalms is devoted to the life and ministry of Jesus. Even though it was written well before he was born, many Psalms give evidence and prophesies about his life. I have not made a detailed study of biblical experts to compare their findings, but a cursory inspection convinces me that we need to read more in Psalms to understand the personality and mission of Jesus. 

Psalms 22, 23, and 24 are well-known as Messianic Psalms. Psalm 22 shows his agony on the cross from verse 1 to 21. Verse 22 begins a section of praise and reflects his message during the forty days before the ascension.

Psalm 23 is the Shepherd Psalm and details the love he shows for followers.

Psalm 24 is a song of glory and praise to God for his blessings and his providence. Many of the psalms speak of Jesus is some way. I could not find a consolidated list, but I'll keep looking. Psalms 40 and 41 also reflect elements of his life and encourage me to seek him first in times of both trial times and of praise.

Read these and find Christ in them for yourself.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists talk about events that happened before man was created based of archaeological evidence, but no one was around to record it.  Most of the biblical record was recorded by people who are known to scholars, but some things are found which we don't know how they were witnessed. Some things were viewed by a prophet or reported to a writer who was known to be a messenger of God. Sometimes they were seen in a vision. These we take on faith and trust God's provision.

Isaiah records the overthrow of Lucifer in Isaiah 14:12-19, and in Luke 10:18 Jesus testifies that he saw "Satan fall from Heaven like a flash of lightening."

God had advance notice about the assault of Satan and his Demons on mankind and the world, and he provided a remedy in the person and work of Jesus. Satan was doomed by his pride. He sought to out do God, to rise above him and destroy man, but God knew the way to deny him that opportunity. It would cost the life of Jesus in a torturous manner, but as soon as he saw the rise of Satan to challenge his authority, God saw and committed to the plan. Even before he made Adam and Eve, before the world began, God already knew that Satan would strike at Jesus' heel and Jesus would crush his head.(Gen.3:15) In the mind of God Jesus would be victorious even though it would cost his earthly life. There was no search for the One to send for this task. There was only one who would do: It was Jesus, God's only begotten son, the Lamb, sinless and righteous.

Could that have happened in Heaven before the world was created? Perhaps, but it would not have had the witness of mankind. We would not have been able to see the result. I'm glad he chose to make us witnesses of the life and victory of Jesus. I live everyday knowing what he did for me and I rejoice that he made me a participant in his life and ministry.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

The Purpose of Parables

English: "Holyland" brand matzah, ma...
English: "Holyland" brand matzah, machine-made in Jerusalem and purchased at Trader Joes in the United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
   Jesus taught using parables. The Disciples asked him why he used this method. Sometimes I wonder, too. Some parables are  hard to understand, but Jesus was insistent on using them. The story of the woman who put yeast in flour sounds simple, but their are depths here that many do not grasp. I have heard it interpreted to mean that the message of the Gospels will permeate the world, but I don't think that is what Jesus meant to say.

Yeast was considered a contaminating influence. Most of the meal offerings were required to be made without yeast. The wave offering and the thank offering were made with yeast because God accepted men with their frailties, but the bread offered at the feasts that required a blood sacrifice must not be leavened (Exodus 23:18). Since a portion of the yeast from previous batch of dough was used to leaven the new dough, it was considered common.

When I made unleavened bread, I read recipes from Jewish cooks and cookbooks. The dough was made quickly because yeast is everywhere, in the air, in the kitchen, on the utensils. From the time liquid touches the flour till it is in the oven cannot be more than 18 minutes. That is how long it takes for the yeast to become active. I had to make dough and roll it out quickly and get it into the hot oven in less than 18 minutes to have true unleavened bread. It was harder when I cooked it in a skillet on top of the stove because I couldn't cook but one of the large flat breads at a time.

Back to the original thought about the use of parables: Jesus may have chosen parables as a method because the image generated in the story is persistent and stays in the mind and heart of the hearer. He wanted his listeners to return to the message in the future, to dwell on it as they went to sleep, to consider it while they worked in the fields or in the kitchen, to uncover the deeper meanings in private moments.
A kind of unleavened bread called "Podpło...
A kind of unleavened bread called "Podpłomyk" in Poland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus quotes Isaiah describing the people as calloused of heart, neither seeing nor hearing nor understanding the teachings of Jesus or the Word of God. He teaches in parables to overcome this block in their minds. Are we still so blind and deaf? Are we missing the message as they did?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Another Parable of the Sower

Image of the Sower Parable
Image of the Sower Parable (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In the midst of the judgments against the evil God sees in the nations, there is a parable of growth and development. Isaiah 28:23 begins a lesson for God's people to learn about planting and cultivation. He prepares the soil to receive the seed. We sometimes complain about the difficulties we face, the problems that upset our plans, but God wants to use them to make us able and ready to receive seed. He envisions a crop. It may take some plowing to break up the hard soil and to remove weeds or rocks that makes the ground unfruitful. Let him plow: He proposes a crop.

There is also the need to understand the harvest. Different crops require different methods. Some seeds are threshed and some are ground. The method of harvest depends on the use of the final product. Some seeds are use for making bread, and some are added for flavor and appearance. The farmer decides which method is best for each product. We are always subject to God choice and intent. He knows what to expect from us, and he is pleased with his final product.

Isaiah 28:23-29
See also Matthew 13:3-9
Mark 4:3-12
Luke8: 5-15