Sunday, December 17, 2017

Who is He?

Light causes a shadow to be cast when it shines from behind an object. The shadow is our clue to a greater reality. There are numerous shadows cast our way in the Old Testament which Jesus said pointed to Him. The New Testament letters further explain those shadows which we call types. The letter of Hebrews is masterly in its explanation things surrounding the Jewish Tabernacle.
Every aspect of that construction points to some feature relating to Jesus. We understand the Sacrificial system as the 'substance' of the cross. The furnishings inside the tent speak of certain aspects of Christ's ministry. Even the curtains which comprise the ceiling and roof point to Christ and how two groups of people perceive Him
The roof was comprised of skins from badgers (A.V.) or sea-cows (NIV), Exodus 36:19.On the inside however was another covering which only those who entered could see and appreciate. It was made of rams' skin and dyed red. Those who officiated within the tabernacle served in a beautiful and impressive setting. It comprised gold fittings and colourful and embroidered  curtains enhanced by candlelight and incense.
What does the roof and ceiling tell us about people's views of Jesus? The plain uninspiring roof of skin is how the World sees Jesus. There is little to excite their interest. The Gentile world sees Him and the cross as foolishness. The Jewish people find Him and His claims a stumbling block. However, when anyone puts their trust in Him as Saviour and Lord they look at Jesus with new appreciation. 1 Peter 2:7 explains it this way: 'He is precious.' 
When we live, worship, serve under Him we understand the significance of the rams' skin dyed red. We are under the crucified life of Jesus, covered by His poured out life, His blood. At the same time we are overwhelmed by the glory and fragrance of Him who has saved, transformed and kept us. 
So much more we could elaborate upon and bear testimony too. That must wait for another day.

Who is He?

Who is He in Bethlehem’s manger?
The one promised, no stranger!
Who is He who trod this earth?
The Nazarene! A man of worth.
Who is He whom they crucified
When under oath He testified
To being the Rock of Destiny
Foretold in Daniel’s prophecy?
Who is He who rose from the grave?
The Lord of Glory, with grace to save!
Who is He who broke Death’s reign?
The Saviour, Jesus is His name!

Who is He, we contemplate?
He is the Bible’s story!
He is the disciple’s glory.
His person vindicated.
His mission consummated.
His name is Jesus!

Who is He, please elaborate?
He is the Lord of hosts,
He is the king of glory!
His throne awaits,
His rule to dictate.
His name is Jesus!

Who is He we celebrate?
He is the Creator.
He is the Redeemer!
His kingdom awaits
His reign to initiate.
His name is Jesus!

©Ray Hawkins 2016.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

More than a name - Immanuel

Do you know the meaning of your name? There is something fascinating about why you were given your name and what it means. Those I know who have done family history, especially with family links to England, are constantly amazed at who it includes. Of course, Biblically we are not surprised at the importance attached to being given a name, or having it changed. We see that in such cases as Abram into Abraham, Jacob into Israel, Cephas into Peter. There is also the prophetic aspect inherent in names.

As Christmas creeps up on us one name will emerge and linger for a time. Immanuel! However, is this merely a name or is it a prophetic description defining the person? Both! Isaiah 7:14  is where the name emerges and points beyond that moment to a future event. That was fulfilled with the announcement by Gabriel to Mary that the child she was to bear would be Jesus, and also be Immanuel.

In the Old Testament  the Creator is seen as being keen to share in the life of His chosen people. When the tabernacle furnishings were complete the ark of the covenant became the symbol of His presence. When the Nation was on its marches the ark was carried in the midst of the tribes who travelled under their respective banners. That underlies the meaning of Immanuel. It is 'God with us' God in our midst.'

At Christmas time when we apply the name to Jesus it arouses certain strong feelings. Is it merely a name or is it descriptive of the very nature of the Man? "Who do you say I am" was the challenge of Jesus to His disciples. Peter's response showed his growing awareness "You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of the Living God!" (Matthew 16:16). That would be challenged repeatedly until after the resurrection from the tomb Thomas reaffirmed it most emphatically. He said ""My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). From that moment on the awareness grew about the babe of Bethlehem, the man of Galilee, the Rabbi of Nazareth and the crucified one. He was Immanuel in the flesh. The mystery of the Godhead revealed in the one designated as 'The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world' (John 1:29).

Of course there are those who disagree. That is their privilege. It should be treated with respect. It is also their danger. That should make us sad on their behalf. Why? Because of what Peter talked about from the day of Pentecost. There is no other Name under heaven given amongst men whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12). This is reaffirming what Jesus said about Himself prior to the cross (John 14:6). That salvation embraces numerous factors and most would be expresses of His Christmas name and designation, Immanuel. For it is His desire to turn our lives from 'slum city' into the 'Temple of God' by His indwelling presence. It is His promise that where two or more are gathered in His name, He is in their midst. It is the declaration of Scripture at a future point in God's purposes Jesus will reign in the midst of the Nations  - that will be from Jerusalem!

Jesus is Immanuel in both name and person. The question all will face again at Christmas time is 'do I believe it?' If so how do I live out that relationship in my life?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

The 'Body prepared required the Virgin Birth

Did Jesus go to physical workout at the local gymnasium? Unlikely. Not a very acceptable place for a young Rabbi to attend. Be that as it was, the physical strength of the body of Christ should astound us all. More than that, there was the moral tone to his physic. In John 8:46 Jesus challenged the crowd to level and short-coming evident in His life. Was there any commandment, statute or judgement damaged by His behaviour or voice? But there was one other facet of His nature, housed within His body, no one could see but was essential for Jesus’ physical health and strength. Did He possess a sin nature?

The importance of this lies at the very heart of the person, prophesy about and work of Jesus. In Hebrews there is much written about Jesus as the fulfilment of the Jewish sacrificial system! In chapter 10:5 ‘Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.’ What was the purpose of this ‘body prepared?’ To fulfil the shadow cast by the sacrifices. When you read about the qualifications for the ‘shadow sacrifices’ each of them had to be without spot or blemish. Therefore, if Jesus was to be the real sacrifice He too must be without blemish or spot.

Impossible. That is, if He was sired by Joseph (or any other person.) Why? Because when the first Adam betrayed God’s commission to him certain things entered the human lineage. One of course is death and decay. The other is described by Paul in Romans 6:6 as ‘the body of sin.’ If this resided in Jesus He was automatically disqualified as the fulfilment of Isaiah 53, and other shadow sacrifices. Who then could sit in judgement upon the inner life of this Man of Galilee? God! How could the Lord God Almighty do that and get the information out to us?

Through a severe, intensive, thorough test upon His body! The word ‘prepared for me’ ‘Katartizo’ speaks about being free of eternal blemish. In 1 Peter 1:19 the writer says Jesus was without internal defect (amomos) and (aspilos) external spot. This was proven through great trial and testing. From the time the Devil was let loose on Him for forty days in the wilderness to the barbarity of Roman soldiers’ torture and crucifixion. However that might simply reveal Jesus as a brave, unflinching martyr. What is the undeniable evidence according to Scripture, to the early disciples and the fledgling Church?

The most wonderful words spoken by an Angel, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen!” Luke 24:5.

How was it possible for Jesus to escape the curse of the first Adam? By becoming the 2nd Adam. That is, by passing the birth process of male and female union. He needed a ‘body prepared.’ That was the promise to Eve and the threat to the Serpent (Genesis 3:15.) Hundreds of years later this promise was again foreshadowed in Isaiah 7:14. The wonder of the Christmas event is the fulfilment of this promise through Mary. Luke 1:26-38. Only in this manner could the body prepared be unblemished by the indwelling sin nature.

Then too, this is often overlooked. The human lineage of Joseph, Mary’s betrothed, was under a curse. Jeremiah 22:24-30. Joseph or any of his descendants could sit upon the throne of David in Israel, ever! This is another factor in the virgin birth and ‘the body prepared.’ Mary’s line came through David’s son, Nathan. (Luke 3:23-33.)

Christmas cannot be separated from Calvary. The virgin birth cannot be dismissed as a non-essential. The resurrection cannot be spiritualised.

The ‘body prepared’ bore our sin and judgement. The Body of Jesus surely was physically, morally and spiritually strong and unique. When Jesus arose from the tomb He had a glorified body. The old one was consumed. No remains were seen in the tomb only the grave cloths and napkin.

What a privilege Christians have of celebrating this ‘body prepared’ and its achievements in the sacrament of Communion. However, there is a warning attached. Do not treat the symbol of the bread, His body, with dishonour. (1 Corinthians 11:23-32.)

Romans 1:1-4 expressed the wonder associated with Christ Jesus and His ‘body prepared.’ [God] promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning His son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

©Ray Hawkins December 3rd 2017.