Pointing To the Cross
I pray all is well with you and yours. Sorry, this is a day late. I was actually off yesterday with my family. Thank you Jim for covering. I pray that at some point yesterday you reflected upon those who have died protecting our freedoms. I praise God that I was born in this country. That said, all we do, all we read, all we teach, and all we live and testify to is contained in two words, Jesus Christ.
Today we will finish up our look at the Old Testament as seen through the teachings that I believe were used by Jesus Christ as he taught the disciples and “opened their minds” to the scriptures. Last week we finished up by describing how the mindset of the Israelites, with their focus upon the Law of Moses and the culturally ingrained rituals of sacrifice related to that Law, made it very difficult for the Jewish people to see or recognize Jesus. This created a blind spot for the Israelites when it came to Jesus Christ. It still does to this day.
Because of this blind spot, even the disciples, who were with Jesus on a day-to-day basis, listening to his teachings, even these disciples were “slow of heart to believe all that the prophets had spoken” about Christ (Luke 24:25).
With Christ the Messiah, the Old Covenant of Law and sacrifice was done away with, and the New Covenant of Love was now in place.
By Christ’s single death on the cross, this one act alone, eliminated the necessity of the Law and sacrifices for forgiveness of sins. This is because forgiveness through Christ’s death, administered by God’s Holy Spirit is sufficient to cover all of our sins. Micah 7:19,
“You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot (as with crushing the head of Satan) and hurl all our iniquities into the sea.”
Through our forgiveness in Christ, our sins are dealt with in a terminal manner. The image here is to throw them in their entirety, all of our sins, tossed into the depths of the sea. Not the shore, not thrown into the waves, but taken to the deepest part of the sea and thrown away. Our sins will not be remembered by God. We are forgiven, and encouraged to “go, and sin no more”.
Naturally, we remember our sins and our sinfulness. Sin is our problem, not God’s. God is sinless. Jesus was sinless. We are not sinless. We are sinful. Sin is our problem and has been, since the garden with Adam and Eve.
But just because it’s our problem does not mean that God does not care. In fact, he cares about our sin problem very much. This is why he sent Jesus in the first place. Malachi 2:17-3:1,
“You have wearied the Lord with your words. ‘How have we wearied him?’ you ask. By saying, ‘All who do evil are good in the eyes of the Lord, and he is pleased with them’ or ‘Where is the God of justice?’ ‘See, I will send my messenger (John the Baptist), who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord (Jesus) you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come.’ says the Lord Almighty.”
God understands our sin problem. He also is well acquainted with Satan, and through Christ’s work on the cross, denied Satan his victory. Instead, that victory goes to our Redeemer and Savior Jesus. The glory for this victory goes to God.
This is just the message that Jesus was imparting to the disciples in Luke 24:44-45, back where we started five weeks ago. Jesus, appearing to the disciples in the upper room, with the door locked because they were afraid that they were next to be crucified. Luke 24:44-45,
“He said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you (over and over again): Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’ Then he opened their minds so that they could understand the Scriptures.’”
In a very real way, the Jewish people had to unlearn what they had learned (Yoda said this to Luke In Star Wars). No longer was the Law of Moses the key to understanding. Now the key to understanding was Jesus Christ. Low and behold, Jesus had been right there in the Old Testament all along. You just needed to have your mind opened to see him revealed.
The very real point of all of this is that the Bible is Truth and very much a living document. Humanity is to carefully consider all of its contents. Ignore it at your own peril.
Here is my final series of Old Testament scriptures reflecting on this revelation of God revealed to us through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. The veil has been lifted, Christ is now revealed as the Deliverer, Redeemer, Savior, Lord and King. Isaiah 29:18-19,
“In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll (book), and out of the gloom and darkness the eyes of the blind will see. Once more the humble will rejoice in the Lord; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”
Contextually, this verse is promising that beyond Assyria’s destruction lies Israel’s restoration. But, after what we’ve read over the last few weeks, does not the promise of God’s Holy one resonate in many different ways over this Old Testament period? Do you feel the promise that is contained in each reference to Jesus, no matter how remote it may seem? The blind disciples will now see. They will share this vision with others, and this movement will become the Church of Acts.
The deaf will hear, the blind will see, and they will all, ultimately understand. Another title for Christ, one that the disciples would have used is that of Teacher. Jesus is not coming for the powerful and wealthy Pharisee, or the ever so pious Teachers of the law. Jesus is coming for the humble and the needy, and he is going to die for them. Through Christ’s death comes eternal life for all who believe in the name of Jesus. 1 John 5:20,
“We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true–even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life. Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.”
That last sentence, all of verse 21, would have been easy to leave out. But this is what makes this Word of God alive. In the context of John’s time, false idols would have been Baal, Molech, Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Artemis, and others. These false idols are still worshiped today. But, thanks to modern advancements in technology we have a whole new list of false idols that contain things. Phones, tablets, computers, TVs, and other things, even vaccines, people were and are still worshiping the Covid-19 vaccine. We, as a people, are worshiping things. We worship the climate, the earth, as well as people. We are big into hero worship. Our modern-day list of false idols is huge. We can easily be blinded, just as blinded as the believers in the early church.
John’s message, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.” is very much a pertinent message for all of us today.
But as a lesson, compare the message from Isaiah and then the message from John. Do you notice how the message from Isaiah points forward to Jesus’ work on the cross? Then, the message from 1 John, is pointing back to Jesus. I believe most would understand this lesson of the New Testament focus pointing back to Jesus. But the Old Testament is alive and well in its testimony to Jesus, just as much as the New Testament. Only the Old Testament points forward.
Here is the apostle Paul, explaining how Satan deceives the lost and how to overcome that deception. At the same time, he is proving how the NT looks back to Christ. Also, how important it is for all believers to have their “minds opened to understand the scriptures”. 2 Corinthians 4:4-6,
“The god of this age (Satan) has blinded the minds of un-believers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not preach ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.’”
The light of knowledge is our knowledge of Christ. Whether in the Old Testament or through New Testament scriptures, both point only to one figure, one forward through time, the other backward, but both point to the scarred and bloody figure of Jesus Christ dying on a cross. To truly understand the Bible, look for Jesus.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC