Genesis 4:10 – Abel’s Blood Spoke, but Jesus’ Blood Spoke Better

In this scripture, we hear God speaking to Cain just after he had killed his brother Abel:

Genesis 4:10 [The Lord] said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to Me from the ground.”

It was comforting to know that God did not forget justice just because Abel died.  After all, it is the lot of all humans to die.  Yet God was provoked by the memory of Abel to do justice with regard to Cain.  And thus, although Cain could remove Abel from the earth, Abel’s voice was still crying out to God from the ground.

Something even greater (Matthew 12:6, 41, 42; Luke 11:31-32) was at work with Jesus, for the New Testament speaks of Him in this way:

Hebrews 12:24 …to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.

Thus the blood of Jesus crying from the ground brought God to the point of raising Jesus from the ground – a point He had never come to with Abel.  And, through Jesus, all the dead would rise – including Abel.  This is why the writer to the Hebrews could say that the blood of Jesus “spoke better” than the blood of Abel.

The murders of Abel and Jesus both brought earthly judgment on the murderers, but the murder of Jesus also brought eternal redemption through the spirit with all the dead going to heaven.  Mercy would get them all to heaven, and judgment would determine what sort of status in heaven each would deserve.

Thus the blood of Jesus speaks very, very well.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

Exodus 7:1-2 An Illustrated Definition of a Prophet

Exodus 7:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet.
Exodus 7:2 “You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.

Here God gives us a simple analogy for understanding what a prophet is.  A prophet is someone who speaks on behalf of God to men.  That’s the definition.

The apostle Paul said as much when he wrote:

1 Corinthians 14:3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.

Thus Paul shows that prophets speak to men.  As for their speaking on behalf of God, Paul gets to that a few lines later:

1 Corinthians 14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;
1 Corinthians 14:25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.

Therefore, to repeat: a prophet is one who speaks for God to men.  It’s that simple.  Sometimes it’s for edification.  Sometimes it’s for exhortation (as it was to Egypt’s pharaoh).  And sometimes it’s for consolation.  But it’s always from God to men.  The prophet is just a messenger.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Exodus 8:1 – Jesus Overcame the Pharaoh of Death

Exodus 8:1 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

This is the pattern God followed with Jesus.  That is, Jesus came to deliver the dead.  (Death was the curse that afflicted all mankind.)  Therefore, Jesus died and descended where they were.  That is, He became one of them and therefore one with them.  From there, He spoke on behalf of God to Satan, who had the power of death (Hebrew 2:14), saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.”  And thus God led out the dead from Sheol (Hades) as He had led out the children of Israel from Egypt.

Jesus thus led capivity captive.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Psalm 105:40 Prophesied Jesus

Psalm 105:40 …He…satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

This verse speaks of Jesus our Lord.  For He Himself said:

John 6:51 “I am the living bread that came down out of heaven…

When the apostles preached Jesus, they would invoke verses like Psalm 105:40.  For what we call the Old Testament was the only assembled Scripture in apostolic times.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

1 Samuel 14:6 – The Lord Is Not Restrained to Save by Many or by Few

1 Samuel 14:6 Then Jonathan said to the young man who was carrying his armor, “Come and let us cross over to the garrison of these uncircumcised; perhaps the LORD will work for us, for the LORD is not restrained to save by many or by few.

Jonathan knew from the Hebrew Scriptures that the Lord’s ability to save was by no means constrained by the number of human beings who put themselves at His disposal.  In fact, to make precisely that point, God had told Gideon to reduce the number of Israelite warriors (See Judges 7:1-8 for the story of that reduction in force).  And just think about the fact that long before either of these situations, God needed only one elderly couple, past the time of childbearing at that, to produce a nation over half a million men strong by the time of the Exodus from Egypt.  The Hebrew Scriptures thus made abundantly clear that God did not need any certain number of human beings in order to achieve His purposes.

Jonathan knew his Scriptures.  And, because of it, he knew his God.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Psalm 97:9 – Seeing Jesus as the Lord Most High

Psalm 97:9 For You are the LORD Most High over all the earth;
You are exalted far above all gods.

As we have seen, Jesus fits this sort of Scripture to a T!

Regarding this exaltation, consider also:

Philippians 2:9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
Philippians 2:10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
Philippians 2:11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This description applies to Jesus our Lord and no other!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.  In the case of Philippians 2:10, it’s Isaiah 45:23.)

Psalm 95:3 – Seeing Jesus as a King Above All Gods

Psalm 95:3 For the LORD is a great God
And a great King above all gods,

Isn’t the Lord Jesus a great God?  Isn’t He a great King above all gods?

When He was raised from the dead, Jesus was given all authority in heaven and on earth:

Ephesians 1:22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet…

If everything is “under His feet” doesn’t that mean He is “above all gods”…and everything else, too?

Truly, Psalm 95:3 prophesied of the resurrection of Messiah!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Jeremiah 2:8 – Those Who Handle the Law Did Not Know Him

The prophet Jeremiah lamented that:

Jeremiah 2:8 “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the LORD?’
And those who handle the law did not know Me…

That is, the very people charged with presenting the Scriptures to the people of Israel were not aware of, conscious of, or thoughtful towards the Lord who gave those Scriptures.  How were people going to hear the truth if those ministering the word to them were not intimately acquainted with its subject and author?

Jesus recognized this same pattern with the religious leaders in His day:

John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me;
John 5:40 and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Old Testament Was Not Written by Historians; It Was Written by Prophets

The Old Testament was not written by professional historians from accredited universities.  These documents were written by holy men moved by the Spirit of God.

Thus the apostles could say of the prophets and their writings:

2 Peter 1:20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation,
2 Peter 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.

The apostles also said of the prophets and their writings:

1 Peter 1:10 As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries,
1 Peter 1:11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.
1 Peter 1:12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven–things into which angels long to look.

For this reason, the Old Testament is not some dry or sterile history.  It is written by men who loved God and had a passion for Him.  It doesn’t make their words less reliable than a historian’s – it makes them more reliable.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Jesus Inherited His Names from the Old Testament

The New Testament begins with the following verse:

Matthew 1:1 The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham:

This verse is laden with references to the Old Testament.  And there is much more to them than just establishing Jesus’ earthly lineage.

What we read as “Jesus” was “Joshua” in Hebrew.  The word means “The Lord saves.”  It was the name that Moses gave to Hoshea the son of Nun (Numbers 11:36) – the man who would be heir to Moses’ authority, and therefore the foreshadowing of the fulfillment of Deuteronomy 18:15-19.  Thus the very name by which this Nazarene carpenter would most commonly be called would provide a constant reminder of Moses and the promises he made on behalf of God.

What we read as “Messiah” was in Hebrew “Anointed” – a term referring to the king of Israel, and especially to the great king who God promised would one day come from the descendants of David.

What we read as “the son of David” would have evoked in first-century Jews a great set of expectations associated with the promises God made to David.  These would center on what the prophet Nathan spoke to David in 1 Samuel 7:8-17, perhaps most notably, at least in hindsight, the words God spoke in verse 14, “I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me.”  These words were to ring with dramatic new clarity in the resurrection of Christ (Acts13:33, which is a quotation of Psalm 2:7; and Romans 1:1-4, which echoes this same theme).

What we read as “the son of Abraham” would similarly have evoked the great promises God gave to a very old man at the inception of the Jewish race.  The miracle of a hundred-year-old man and his ninety-year-old wife becoming the progenitors of what would be God’s own nation, was an amazing beginning to remember – and an indicator of just how special this Nazarene’s life might be.

Thus this beginning verse of Matthew carries all sorts of meaning that is lost on anyone not familiar with the history of Israel as recorded by its prophets (i.e. the Old Testament or, as it is sometimes called, the Hebrew Bible).  Therefore, if we are to understand and properly appreciate the name of Jesus Christ in the New Testament, we must study the Old Testament.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Formerly God Spoke Loudly; Now He Speaks Quietly

1 Kings 19:12 After the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of a gentle blowing.

*****

1 Kings 19:12 (King James Version) And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.

In Biblical times it was as if God spoke in loud ways (e.g. earthquakes, fires, etc.), but in the days of the kingdom of God He speaks by His Holy Spirit in “a gentle blowing” or “a still small voice.”

As Zephaniah prophesied, He is “quiet in His love” toward us:

Zephaniah 3:17 “The LORD your God is in your midst,
A victorious warrior.
He will exult over you with joy,
He will be quiet in His love,
He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy.

Listen for the God who speaks in quietness.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Before His Resurrection, Jesus Spoke as a Man; Afterwards, He Spoke Through the Holy Spirit

We know that God became flesh and lived as a human being – Jesus of Nazareth.  The disciples of Jesus could talk with Him face to face about any issue they desired to discuss.  Once Jesus ascended into heaven, however, He inherited the Holy Spirit who became His instrument for speaking to His disciples from that point forward.

Even today, Jesus speaks through the Holy Spirit.  “For the kingdom of God is righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

Thus the letter to the Hebrews reads:

Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking.

The writer was referring to the utterances of the Spirit which were the essence of New Testament church services (see 1 Corinthians 12-14).

Hence he who does not welcome the Holy Spirit does not welcome the utterances of Jesus.  Let us therefore receive the Holy Spirit  at all times and in all places.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

That Messiah Was a Prophet Meant He Had to Die; That He Was a King Meant He Had to Live

That the Messiah was to be a prophet meant that he had to die, because, as Jesus said, it seemed impossible that a prophet should perish outside of Jerusalem (Luke 13:33).  It was the typical fate of the prophets to be persecuted and killed (Matthew 5:12; Luke 11:49; Acts 7:52).

However, Messiah was also to be a great king for Israel.  How could a king reign if he was dead?  Or how could his kingdom be glorious if it was to end in violent death?

This was a riddle, a conundrum.  In the Scriptures such puzzles are called “mysteries” or “hidden things.”

The answer to the riddle is, of course, apparent to us who live on this side of the resurrection of Christ.  Jesus served as a prophet until He was murdered and then, resuming His prophetic ministry at His resurrection, began to reign as King also.  Never to die again, this would be the most glorious kingdom of all, for it would never end!

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Deuteronomy 18:15 – The Prophet Like Moses in the New Testament

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

This verse is alluded to in the following four New Testament verses, all from the Gospel of John:

John 1:21 They asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” And he *said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”

*****

John 1:25 They asked him, and said to him, “Why then are you baptizing, if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?”

*****

John 6:14 Therefore when the people saw the sign which He had performed, they said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world.”

*****

John 7:40 Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.”

*****

This idea also seems to be what the woman at the well of Sychar in Samaria has in mind during her conversation with Jesus (see especially John 4:19-26).

This prophecy by Moses is also quoted outright in Acts 3:22 and 7:27.

Some 1st-century Jews saw “the Prophet” as someone separate from “the Messiah,” while others considered both scriptural ideas to apply to the same person.  Of course, they did.  Jesus made this clear to the disciples in the wake of His resurrection from the dead.  Jesus of Nazareth is the prophet who is raised up and the Messiah who became king.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Psalm 119:99 – Jesus Had More Insight Than All His Teachers

Psalm 119:99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
For Your testimonies are my meditation.

I’m sure these words were true when they were written, but how much more importantly and profoundly they were true when fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth.

When Jesus was twelve years old, he went with his parents to Jerusalem for Passover.  Through some confusion, his parents lost track of him.

Luke 2:46 Then, after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions.
Luke 2:47 And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers.

Even when Jesus became an adult, people would still be asking “Where did he get this wisdom?

Jesus had more insight than all his teachers because the Scriptures had been his meditation.  In doing this, Jesus was doing nothing more than what the Scriptures themselves prescribed.  (See Joshua 1:8; Psalm 1; and don’t forget that Jesus would have grown up knowing about Psalm 119 – and therefore the verse we quoted from it above.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Isaiah 44:4 – The Poplars Springing Up by Streams of Water

Isaiah 44:4 And they will spring up among the grass
Like poplars by streams of water.’

Who are these who will spring up “like poplars by streams of water” but those who follow in the steps of their Lord Jesus (1 Peter 2:21).  For He is the righteous man of Psalm 1, and His followers are conformed to His image (Romans 8:29) through  process of perfecting orchestrated by God Himself (Philippians 1:6).

As for the streams of water:

John 7:37 Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink.
John 7:38 “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'”
John 7:39 But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

This effect of the Holy Spirit is spoken of as well in the verse just before Isaiah 44:4.  He works like the rains from above and like the springs from beneath:

Isaiah 44:3 ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;

Jeremiah 17:5-8 supplies similar imagery.  It will reinforce and amplify the insight.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

When You Say to Jesus in the Morning, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” You Are Staking Out a Path for the Day

As Jesus took up His cross, so you take up your cross daily and follow Him.

Luke 9:23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

Jesus also said:

Matthew 6:34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Thus, a one-day-at-a-time approach to following Jesus is best.

Trinitarians get no direction at all from praying “Our Father who art in heaven” because the Father of Jesus is someone that have never seen and can therefore never imitate.  Jesus Himself said:

John 5:19 …the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

How can a son imitate a father he has never seen doing anything?

Trinitarians actually can receive direction from God, but they receive in spite of the trinitarian concept – not because of it.  Trinitarianism put a believer in a confused mental state before God.  God is not a God of confusion.

As Jesus was perfected through what He suffered (Hebrews 2:10), so we are perfected through the sufferings we endure for His sake (Romans 8:17).

Thus it is through the path of the cross, cut for us by Jesus Himself, that we can reach heavenly glory.  Without Him as our Father in heaven, we have no vision of how to live this earthly life.  And “without a vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18 King James Version).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Bless the Nations – Don’t Curse Them

Here is an instance of God’s promise to Abraham:

Genesis 26:4 “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed;

Thus it is said that “in the seed of Abraham all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Acts 3:25-26).  Of course, we know that this promise applies first and foremost to Jesus of Nazareth, descendant of David, who was raised from the dead and installed as King of Israel and, subsequently, King of the Universe.  However, it also applies through Him to those who are His spiritual descendants.  Thus the apostles and the disciples they led in the New Testament church have been an untold blessing to the all nations and all generations.

How then can we be a blessing to the nations in our own generation?

Certainly not by telling those who don’t believe that they are going to hell.  That would be to curse them, not bless them.  We should bless them with the good news that everyone is going to heaven.

Let the seed of Abraham be a blessing – not a cursing – to all the nations.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

When You Say, “Our Father Who Art in Heaven” You Are Addressing Jesus

Jesus is our father – our progenitor, the one from whom we come (spiritually speaking).  He died and has been raised to heaven.  Thus He is “our father who is in heaven.”

If you keep this in mind whenever you pray or call to heaven, you will be filling your mind with true and helpful thoughts…like these:

You will be remembering that your father walked your path before you.  Your father is therefore your forerunner (Hebrews 6:20) that you may run with endurance the race set before you (Hebrews 12:1-2).

You will be remembering that you, too, have a destination before you.  One day you will be in heaven where you will give an account of the decisions you made here.  And you will be giving this account to Jesus – the one who made human decisions here before you were born.

You will be remembering that you share Jesus as father with others, for it is “our” father whom you address.

You will be remembering the resurrection which is so utterly essential to the faith bequeathed to us (1 Corinthians 15:12-19).

There is something blessed about filling your mind with thoughts of your resurrected Lord whenever you think or say “Our Father who art in heaven.”

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Psalm 108:5 – Seeing Jesus Raised from the Dead

Psalm 108:5 Be exalted, O God, above the heavens,
And Your glory above all the earth.

By the Holy Spirit, we see in this verse a prophecy of Jesus being raised from the dead.  He was indeed “exalted above the heavens” to the right hand of the throne of God.  His “glory” was thus “above all the earth.”

For this reason, Paul could write:

Ephesians 1:19 …These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might
Ephesians 1:20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,
Ephesians 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Psalms Are Reflections upon the Law of Moses

The book of Psalms is a part of Scripture – inspired by the Holy Spirit as much as any other portion of Scripture.  However, it is also a result of meditation and reflection upon all Scripture written to that point.  This would include the Law of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), Joshua, Judges, and Ruth (and perhaps Job).

The point to see here is that each book of Scripture is building on the books that came before.  A Bible author did not write in a vacuum. “To him who had, more was given.”

The very first psalm recalls the beginning of the book of Joshua wherein the book of the Law of Moses was commended as worthy of meditation day and night.  (Compare especially Psalm 1:2 with Joshua 1:7-8.)  Consider also Psalm 119 – the longest psalm and chapter of the Bible at 176 verses – as a call to meditation upon the law that God gave through Moses.

Psalm 37:3 instructs “Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.”  What land would that be except the land of Canaan which Joshua led the children of Israel to settle.

Jesus identified for His fellow Jews the greatest commandment in the Law:  Deuteronomy 6:4-5 (Mark 12:28:28-34).  We see the importance of loving God reflected throughout the psalms:  see, for example, 18:1; 31:23; 91:14; 97:10; 116:1; and 145:20.

More broadly, there are many references in the Psalms to God’s activity in the lives of Israel up to that point.  Thus the psalmists meditated upon the Scriptures they had and wrote out the reflections that this sort of meditation produced.  See, for example, Psalm 78 which is an extended reflection upon Israel’s history.  There are also many references to Israel’s ancestors sprinkled throughout the psalms: 20:1; 29:10; 99:6; 105:5-6, 9; 115:10.

As David himself writes:

Psalm 145:4 One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:5 On the glorious splendor of Your majesty
And on Your wonderful works, I will meditate.

I have identified here but a few of the many connections between the book of Psalms and the books of Scripture that preceded them.  You will be able to find many more.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Holy Spirit Is the Blessing of God Par Excellence

Isaiah 44:3 ‘For I will pour out water on the thirsty land
And streams on the dry ground;
I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring
And My blessing on your descendants;

By the parallelism that is inherent in Hebrew poetry, we see in this verse the connection Isaiah is drawing between God’s Holy Spirit and the blessing of God.

The greatest blessing in this life is the Spirit of the Lord in our hearts.  For then, God is with us (“Immanuel”).  No other blessing Christ could bestow on us measures up to the value of having His Spirit dwell in us.  Thus the Holy Spirit is the blessing of God par excellence.

When Paul was struggling with the Galatians to get them back on spiritual track, he asked, “Where then is that sense of blessing you had?” in Galatians 4:15.  He went on to say that he was “again in labor until Christ was formed” in  them.  If they lacked the blessing, it could only mean that they had lost the formation of Christ in their hearts.  To have the Spirit of Christ formed in us is to have the blessing of God upon us.

David knew value of the Holy Spirit, which is why, when caught in his sin, he pleaded that the Holy Spirit remain with him (Psalm 51:11).  By contrast, when King Saul was reprimanded for sin, he sought to retain the earthly honor of his office (1 Samuel 15:30).  Saul, though older than David, was not as wise as David.  Saul did not value the presence of the Holy Spirit…just as Esau did not value his birthright (Hebrews 12:15-16).

Knowing the value of the Holy Spirit, David prays to the Lord:

Psalm 3:8 Salvation belongs to the LORD;
Your blessing be upon Your people!

Surely David was recalling Moses’ words:

Numbers 11:29 ..Would that all the LORD’S people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!”

The people of God should not be without the blessing of God.  If they find themselves in such a state, they should repent.  If they do, these words will be fulfilled:

Proverbs 1:23 “Turn to my reproof,
Behold, I will pour out my spirit on you;
I will make my words known to you.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Spiritual Jews

The spiritual Jews are those who “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Revelation 14:4).  Thus He disperses them throughout the earth like salt that they might preserve it (Matthew 5:13).  Spiritually, they are one flock who follow Him alone.  In the flesh, however, they are  scattered among the nations.

The house where they gather is the prayer closet (Matthew 6:6) – that is, the house of prayer, as Isaiah put it (Isaiah 56:7).  No human being can see them rub shoulders, but the one whom they serve always watches everything they do.

These spiritual Jews are the ones who look to the one truest Jew:  Jesus of Nazareth, Lord of heaven and earth.  According to the promises to Abraham (Genesis 26:4), they are a blessing to everyone around them.  They don’t curse the nations; they bless them.

This is the way God has established for them

Zechariah 8:23 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.””‘

The spiritual Jews are the light of the world (Matthew 5:14) because they never take their eyes off the Light of the world, Jesus Christ (John 8:12).  They “endure as seeing Him who is unseen” (Hebrews 11:27).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Acts 7:17-18

In this passage we see a foreshadowing of the time of the apostasy in which the Lord would come for His people.  That is, men of lawlessness arose in the churches (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12; Acts 20:29-30; 3 John 1:9-10), such that Jesus would come and say to them just as He had warned:

Matthew 7:23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’  [Jesus is here quoting Psalm 6:8.]

That is, these leaders did not know Jesus, just as the pharaoh Moses faced had not known Joseph.

Be sure you know Jesus.  I don’t just mean “know about” Jesus – I mean be intimately aware of Him.  He will not reject those who come to Him (John 6:37).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Onan’s Unwillingness to Raise Up Offspring to His Brother

In Genesis 38:1-11 we see that God wanted Onan to raise up offspring to his deceased brother.  Onan was unwilling to do this.

We see this same spirit today in preachers of Christ who are unwilling to raise up disciples to Christ.  That is, they are only willing to raise up disciples to themselves – disciples who will donate money, or volunteer services, or give glory to the preacher just by being a follower.

The preacher of Christ whose heart is right toward God is only interested in raising up offspring to his deceased (and yet resurrected) brother – Jesus our Lord.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

The Kingdom of God – Taken from One and Given to Another

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of all Israel:

Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it.

And He said to His disciples:

Luke 12:32 “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.

Thus Jesus took the kingdom away from one and gave it to the other.  Be sure to be among those to whom the kingdom is given and not be among those from whom the kingdom is taken away.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

How Can We Do Things Through Christ?

Paul says:

Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.  (KJV)

And how does this strengthening take place?  Paul himself answers in another of his letters:

Ephesians 3:16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man,

Therefore, we seek from Him His Holy Spirit to strengthen our inner man that we might do all things through Him.  Then comes about the saying:

Zechariah 4:6 …”Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” says the LORD of hosts.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.  

Zephaniah 3:12 – Taking Refuge in the Name of the Lord

Zephaniah 3:12 “But I will leave among you
A humble and lowly people,
And they will take refuge in the name of the LORD.

The Lord’s people today do not take refuge in each other.  Still less do they take refuge in denominations or buildings.  They take refuge in the name of the Lord:  Jesus Christ.

The name of the Lord is sufficient for them because:

Acts 4:12 “..there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

This salvation is of the soul, and not of circumstance.  This is because His grace is sufficient for them (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Therefore they call upon His name and no other.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted.