Thursday, 30 April 2015

VIOLENCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT


Often when Christians make comment on the present escalating violence by radical Moslems, someone sees fit to bring up 'The Crusades" and the violence in the Old Testament as if that somehow vindicates what is happening now. Concerning the Crusades; there were two sides to that story and yes wrong things were done by the Crusaders who went to recapture the Holy Land. That was over 1,000 years ago and I think that situation is well under control now. The thing to note is that when Christians do wrong things, they are disobeying their Scriptures. Jesus doesn't condone violence but taught "Love your enemy, pray for those who despitefully use you."

What about the violence in the Old Testament?  When Israel went in to possess the Promised Land, they were told to destroy the inhabitants. The Canaanites were a very depraved people. They practised bestiality among other vile sexual practices, also child sacrifice and all that went with the worship of idols. God gave them 400 years to repent, then used Israel to bring judgement. God withheld judgement for that length of time because He said, "The iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete." Genesis 15:16. God is longsuffering. As it says in 2 Peter 3:9, He is “……not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” Iniquity is rising in Planet Earth, but rest assured it is not going unnoticed.

 What is physical and natural in the Old Testament becomes spiritual in the New Testament. The enemies of God now are not people. God loves all people and Jesus died for everyone. The enemies of God are now “principalities, and powers, rulers of the darkness of this age, spiritual hosts of and wickedness in the heavenly [spiritual] places” committed to preserving Satan’s grip over the Earth and keep its inhabitants in spiritual darkness. [Ephesians 6:12]  Since the Cross Satan operates illegally, his only two powers left are to deceive and accuse. He is defeated by Truth.  Christ’s Army which He is raising up will bring down the devil’s strongholds in the Earth and make way for the Kingdom of God. As Jesus said “I will build My Church and the gates of Hell will not stand against it.” Matthew 16:18, 19 The Veil of darkness over the Earth will be destroyed [Isaiah 25:7-12] and Creation renewed. [Romans 8:19-21]Then at last there will be peace on Earth.

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb
The leopard shall lie down with the young goat….
And a little child shall lead them…..
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain
For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the sea.” Isaiah 11; 6-9
 

Thursday, 2 April 2015

PASSOVER AND THE EASTER EVENTS



It's Easter again and usually Facebook posts reflect this. Some don't think we should celebrate Easter at all because, they say, it has pagan connotations , e.g. it originated in a pagan celebration of spring and the spring goddess. Others want to debate about the day Christ actually died; some wanting exactly three days and nights in the tomb though the Scriptures don't call for this exactness, stating mostly 'the third day.' Even the quote about the sign of Jonah being 'three days and three nights' in the fish, doesn't need exactly 72 hours.

 My own thoughts on Easter are as follows:- Easter is the Christian Passover. Though the Jews and the Christians calculate the dates differently, they are both celebrating a great event - the time God delivered them from bondage to slavery under a merciless tyrant and given a whole new identity and a new life. The Last Supper was a Passover meal; the Communion cup at the institution of the Lord's supper being one of the four cups of wine consumed at the celebration.

Jesus was in Jerusalem to be the fulfilment of the sacrifice of all the little lambs which the Jews sacrificed at Passover for centuries.  The time had come for all that Passover prophesied to become a reality. A lot of Christians don't really understand the close connection between Passover and Easter. God gave the instructions for the first and subsequent Passovers knowing exactly what was going to happen all those years after, when the Lamb of God would be sacrificed for the whole world. Israel was the Priestly nation and God worked in that nation to set the stage for the Easter events which would change the destiny of multitudes. Moreover Jerusalem was the only place where sacrifices could be made and the Feasts celebrated. At the River Jordan, John announced Jesus "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world."

At the first Passover God instructed:-
The Lamb had to be chosen on the 10th of AbibExodus 12: 3. On the Sunday beginning Passover week, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed by the crowds who were there to celebrate the Feast. They waved palm branches and spread their cloaks on the ground before Him, hailing Him as a king. Though they were not aware of it, they were choosing the Passover Lamb for the world. Although the Bible doesn't say it was the 10th, we know it must be. God was very meticulous in fulfilling every requirement, and the Lamb was to be chosen on the 10th. That month was to be 'the beginning of months' for Israel - a new beginning for the nation.
The Lamb had to be without blemish - a perfect Lamb. Exodus 12:5.  In the days leading up to the sacrifice the lamb was examined to ensure it's perfection.  In the days preceding the crucifixion, Jesus presented Himself in the Temple and was questioned by the Scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees all who tried to 'trap Him in His words' to no avail. Finally He was questioned by the High Priest, King Herod and by Pilate- every authority in the Land. Lastly Pilate declared "I find no fault in Him" John 19: 4. The Lamb was declared to be perfect.
"Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things,......but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot." 1 Peter 1:18,19
The Lamb had to be slain on 14th. Exodus 12:6 This would have been Thursday.  [Sorry about that!. Hope I didn't shock you] The Temple lamb was slain at 3pm: This is the time that the Lamb of God died. I heard lately that the Temple lamb was tied to the altar at 9am, the time Jesus was nailed to the Cross.
No bone was to be broken: Exodus 12:46 The soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves who were crucified with Jesus to speed up their death before the Feast of Unleavened Bread. When they came to Jesus He was already dead. This was in fulfilment of the Scriptures. John 19:36.
The Lamb had to be roast with fire: Exodus 12:8 Fire speaks of the wrath of God. "Our God is a consuming fire" Hebrews 12:29.  Jesus took our sins on Himself and suffered the righteous wrath of God against sin. He suffered separation from God that we might be forgiven and joined to God. That's why He cried out "My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me"
 Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, 'I thirst'. A cup of sour wine was given to Him. [John19:28-30] Then He died. The cup was significant. It was the cup of the Lord's wrath "For in the hand of the Lord, there is a cup, And its wine is red; It is fully mixed and He pours it out; Surely its dregs shall all the wicked of the earth drain and drink down." Psalm 75:8
"For thus says the Lord God of Israel to me; 'Take this wine cup of fury from My hand, and cause all the nations to whom I send you, to drink it." Jeremiah 25:15.  Jesus took that cup and drank it Himself,  drinking the cup of sour wine symbolically to show that the wrath of God was now satisfied and we can now be reconciled to God. 

There is much more we could say about fulfilled prophecy at the Cross, e.g. the gambling for His clothes. All of it pointed to Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. One more thing!
The blood of the Passover lamb had to be applied. Exodus 12:7,13, 22,23 The lamb had been slain but its death was of no avail unless the blood was applied. Only then would the death angel Passover and not destroy. Jesus' blood has been slain. Have you applied the Blood over your heart and your life. Everything has been done to save us and reconcile us to God and make us His heirs and joint-heirs with Christ. All we have to do is, by faith, place ourselves under the cover of the Blood of the Lamb. Then all that God is and has, is ours. 

"Under the blood of Jesus, safe in the Shepherd's fold,
Under the blood of Jesus, safe though the ages roll,
Safe though the earth may crumble, safe though the stars grow dim,
Under the blood of Jesus, I am secure in Him."