Monday, March 31, 2014

My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?

As Jesus hung dying on the cross, he cried out to His father God in heaven:

"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?'—which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?' " (Matthew 27:46).

Did you know Jesus was actually quoting the words King David wrote in Psalm 22:1 around 1,000 years earlier? Here are the words of Psalm22:1:

"My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?"

It is hard—no, it is impossible—for us to imagine or comprehend how the all-knowing, omnipresent God could abandon God the Son. (Tweet that!) The only way I can comprehend it is like this:

We know that God cannot or will not allow sin in his presence.

When Jesus died on the cross, he became sin as he took on the penalty of all the sin of all the people of all time who will accept him.

God the Father could not look upon this in that eternity and eternal moment when Jesus died. (Tweet that!)

"For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God," (2Corinthians 5:21, ESV). (Tweet that!)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Jesus' Life was Poured Out Like a Drink Offering

Part of the offerings God instructed the Israelites to giving during their worship and sacrifices was the drink offering. One of the first mentions of the drink offering that was to be poured out before the LORD is in Exodus 29:38-41:

"Now this is what you shall offer on the altar: two lambs a year old day by day regularly. One lamb you shall offer in the morning, and the other lamb you shall offer at twilight. And with the first lamb a tenth measure of fine flour mingled with a fourth of a hin* of beaten oil, and a fourth of a hin* of wine for a drink offering. The other lamb you shall offer at twilight, and shall offer with it a grain offering and its drink offering, as in the morning, for a pleasing aroma, a food offering to the Lord" (ESV).

A drink offering that is poured out is gone forever. It cannot be recovered. It is a sacrifice, an offering to the LORD.

Jesus' life was poured out like a drink offering to pay for the sins of everyone who will accept it. (Tweet that!) During the Last Supper, Jesus said:

"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins" (Matthew 26:28, NIV 1984).

Yesterday as we looked at how Jesus was numbered among the transgressors, we looked at Isaiah 53:12. Take another look at this verse and notice how it predicts his life is “poured out,” as if a drink offering:

"Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12).

We looked at Psalm 22 on Day 21, "He was Crucified." Take another look at verse 14:

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me," (Psalm 22:14).

Jesus' life was "poured out" for you and for me. He is the sin offering for us, to make atonement for us. He is our Scapegoat and the LORD’s goat. And he became our drink offering, poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. (Tweet that!)

Have you accepted Jesus’ offering, his payment on your behalf for your sins? If not, do so today.

*A hin is about 1 quart or 1 liter.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jesus, Though Sinless, was Numbered As One of the Sinners

Jesus lived a completely sinless life. And yet he was counted as a sinner. This is because he took on himself the sin of all the world.

Even yours. And mine.

We've talked about prophetic passages Isaiah wrote in previous posts, including:

In verse 12 of Isaiah 53, the prophet Isaiah wrote:

"Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors" (Isaiah 53:12, NIV 1984).

We can know with certainty that the "him" Isaiah wrote about approximately 700 years earlier was Jesus the Messiah because Jesus directly applied this prophecy to himself as he talked with his disciples during the Last Supper. (Tweet that!)

Jesus quotes Isaiah 53:12 in Luke 22:37 when he said:

"It is written: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors'; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment" (Luke 22:37, NIV). (Tweet that!)

Jesus, the perfect sinless One, was counted among sinners like you and me. He became one of us, yet without sin. This is beyond-belief love and mercy! (Tweet that!)

How does the fact that Jesus was counted among the sinner-transgressors like us make you feel? How does the fact that he was willing to step down from glory and step into human flesh make you feel?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

He was Crucified

In the post on Saturday March 8, Day 37, in the article "Jesus Prophesied He Would Go Just As It Was Written About Him," we looked at Isaiah 53 and the many prophecies in that chapter that were fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus. This included verse 5:

"But he was pierced for our transgressions,
    he was crushed for our iniquities; 
the punishment that brought us peace was on him, 
    and by his wounds we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5, NIV 1984).

Another passage in the Old Testament that is very prophetic is Psalm 22:14-17, which was written by King David who lived about a thousand years before Jesus was born. David lived from about 1040 to 970 B.C.

Here is Psalm 22:14-17. How many details do you see in these verses that describe a crucifixion and were fulfilled in the crucifixion of Jesus? (Tweet that!)

"I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint. 
"My heart has turned to wax; it has melted away within me. 
"My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death. 
"Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. 
"I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me" (Psalm 22:14-17, NIV 1984).

Jesus' words, and God's Word in the Old Testament, spoke of the crucifixion of the Messiah. When Jesus died on the cross, he fulfilled all these prophecies.

Jesus is the one all of Scripture points to. There is no other. (Tweet that!)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Lifted Up: The Type of Death He Would Die – Part 2

Jesus not only talked about the specific type of death he would die—that he would be crucified—he also talked about being "lifted up." This would imply death on a cross, but it was more than that.

Jesus was talking to Nicodemus in John 3, and he was referring to a story in the Old Testament with Moses in Numbers 21:4-9.

After Moses led the people of Israel out of slavery in Egypt in about 1446 B.C., the people often complained about God and His provision for them, including the miraculous food God provided for them every morning they called "manna."

In this story,
"...they spoke against God and against Moses, and said, 'Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the desert? There is no bread! There is no water! And we detest this miserable food! 
"Then the LORD sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died" (Number 21:5-6, NIV 1984).

The people then came to Moses, admitted their sin (which always leads to death), and asked Moses to pray that God would take the snakes away from them. In other words they repented and asked for forgiveness (which always results in forgiveness from God).

So Moses prayed. And God told him,

" 'Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.' So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, he [or she] lived," (Number 21:8-9, NIV 1984).

Do you think that sounds crazy? Simply look at a bronze snake lifted up on a pole and you’ll live? You won’t die when you’re bit by a poisonous snake? (Tweet that!)

Yeah, well, it's every bit as crazy as looking up to a Man hanging on a cross to save you from the poison of sin and certain death. (Tweet that!) But anyone who looks to Him—that is Jesus—lives.

Jesus said to Nicodemus:

" 'Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life. 
" 'For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him,' " (John 3:14-17, NIV 1984).

When have you looked to Jesus for your salvation? (Tweet that!)

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Lifted Up: The Type of Death He Would Die – Part 1

Jesus knew that he was going to be crucified. He plainly said it earlier and more than once:

"Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 'We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked an flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!' " (Matthew20:17-19).

"As you know, the Passover is two days away—and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified" (Matthew 26:2).

" 'But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself.' He said this to show the kind of death he was going to die" (John 12:32-33).

"Pilate said, 'Take him yourselves and judge him by your own law.'
" 'But we have no right to execute anyone,' the Jews objected. This happened so that the words Jesus had spoken indicating the kind of death he was going to die would be fulfilled" (John 18:31-32).

As you know, Jesus was indeed crucified – put to death the way the Romans did it: crucifixion.

Everyone took part:  the Jews. The gentiles represented by the Romans. The religious leaders. The secular leaders. The people. Me. You. (Tweet that!)

(See related article: All the people answered, "Let his blood be on us…!")

Jesus knew in advance he was not going to be put to death the Jewish way: by stoning. Jesus knew in advance he was going to be crucified.

As we have mentioned before in this series of 40 posts counting down to Easter: Only the One True God knows the future. Only God can see with perfection every future detail. Only the true God can predict what will happen. This is prophecy. And the proof that he is God is that these prophecies have been perfectly fulfilled.

Jesus knew because Jesus is God come in human flesh.

There is no other like Jesus. There is no equal to him.

Jesus died on the cross to pay for your sins. There is no other way to be free from your sins and welcomed into the sinless presence of God. Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If not, why not do so today? (Tweet that!)

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jesus was The LORD’s Goat

In the previous post last Friday, we talked about the Scapegoat, one of the two goats used in the ceremony called the "Day of Atonement." The other goat is called "the LORD's goat," and it was sacrificed as an offering for sin.

"Then he is to take the two goats and present them before the Lord at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. He is to cast lots for the two goats—one lot for the Lord and the other for the scapegoat. Aaron shall bring the goat whose lot falls to the Lord and sacrifice it for a sin offering" (Leviticus 16:7-9).

Jesus fulfilled the roles of both the goats: the scapegoat and the sin offering.

After the sin offering had been sacrificed, it was carried outside the camp (in Moses' day when the Israelites where camping in the wilderness) or outside the city (of Jerusalem in Jesus' day). This is because the camp or the city of Jerusalem is symbolic of the place where God lives, where God visits His people, where God’s presence resides. And in the presence of God, there is no sin.

This is why sinful – or sin-filled – people cannot enter God's presence. He will not allow it. (Tweet that!)

In order to enter God's presence, the sin of sinful people (which includes us all, even you) must be dealt with. This is what Jesus did. (Tweet that!) Jesus came to be both:

  • our Scapegoat, carrying our sins far away where they can never return, and
  • our sacrifice for our sins.

"Carrying his own cross, he went out [outside the city] to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). Here they crucified him…" (John 19:17-18).

Jesus was the LORD's goat, our sin offering.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Jesus Your Scapegoat

Did you know the term we use today – the "scapegoat" – came from the Bible? (Tweet that!)

When God gave Moses the whole plan for substitute stand-in sacrifices for us, one of the ceremonies He gave was for the "Day of Atonement" in Leviticus 16. This ceremony included two goats. One of those goats was the scapegoat. (We'll look at the other goat tomorrow.)

Leviticus 16:21-22 tells us about what the Priest was to do:

"He is to lay both hands on the head of the live goat and confess over it all the wickedness and rebellion of the Israelites—all their sins—and put them on the goat's head. He shall send the goat away into the desert in the care of a man appointed for the task. The goat will carry on itself all their sins to a solitary place; and the man shall release it in the desert" (NIV 1984).

This scapegoat was then banished forever from the camp of the people. It was never allowed back inside the camp (or city) where the people lived.

The ceremony of the scapegoat was a prophecy of what Messiah would do when he came. He would become the people's Scapegoat.

All the sins of the people (both Israelites/Jews* and gentiles who are willing to accept this free gift from him) can be put on the head of this Scapegoat and he will carry them on himself. He will take them to a solitary place where those sins will be banished forever, never allowed to return! (Tweet that!)

This is what Jesus, the Messiah, did when he carried our sins away. For whoever will allow him, he will carry their sins away to be banished forever, never to return. (Tweet that!)

Have you said "Yes" to Jesus, your Scapegoat? (Tweet that!)

*In general, the term "Israelite" is used in the Old Testament of the Bible (the time before Jesus) and the term "Jew" is used in the New Testament (the time after Jesus' birth).

Friday, March 21, 2014

All the people answered, “Let his blood be on us…!”

After Pontius Pilate spoke with Jesus, Pilate tried to get out of making a decision about Jesus by giving the people a chance to release him. But the person the people chose to be released was not Jesus. Instead they chose the criminal Barabbas.

So Pilate washed his hands of all responsibility in the matter – he literally washed his hands to demonstrate this symbolically.

This whole scene had to play out as it did because it was not just the Jewish leaders who conspired to bring about the death of Jesus. And it was not just the Roman leaders or Pilate or the soldiers who did it.

It was the people who crucified Jesus. (Tweet that!)

When Pilate washed his hands of the matter and declared to all the people, "I am innocent of this man's blood… It is your responsibility!" (Matthew 27:24), this is what happened next:

"All the people answered, 'Let his blood be on us and on our children!' " (Matthew 27:25).

Isn't that amazing? Do you think the crowd knew what they were saying? Was this crowd speaking prophecy...that Jesus' blood would be upon them? And upon their children?

For it is the blood of Jesus shed for us that brings us eternal life. His blood atones for our sins. (Tweet that!)

His blood shed instead of ours. His life for your life. His life for my life. (Tweet that!)

It is blood that makes atonement. That is how God set up the whole blood sacrifice system. This is what God said through Moses in Leviticus 17:11*:

"For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one's life."

It is the blood that makes atonement for us. Previously it was the blood of sacrificed animals. Until Jesus. Now it is the blood of Jesus that makes atonement for all who will accept it.

If we do not accept this, if his blood is not on us, then we are not saved.

The prophecy the people spoke has been fulfilled:

For all those people throughout the ages who refuse to accept the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, his blood is on their hands, they are guilty, and there is no forgiveness.

For all the people who have accepted the blood of Jesus to make atonement for their sin, they are saved because his blood is on them cleansing them from all sin.

Generations later, we are the children of the people who spoke those words.

Amen. Let his blood be on us! And on our children. (Tweet that!)

*Special note: on these blog posts I often quote the New International Version (1984), which is no longer available online or in stores. That is why the links go to a different version, most likely the English Standard Version, which might be my new favorite version of the Bible. I'm not sure because I haven't decided yet.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

They Hate Him Without Reason

Jesus, the perfectly loving God come in human flesh, never sinned. He never wronged anyone. Yes, he challenged many people including national leaders. But he was pointing out truth for their good. There was no reason to hate Jesus. Ever.

And yet some of the people and leaders hated Jesus. They hated him enough to kill him.

John, the close personal friend of Jesus, specifically stated this was a fulfillment of prophecy:

"But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason' " (John 15:25). (Tweet that!)

Where was this written in their Law? This prophecy of the hatred of Jesus was written in Psalm 69:4:

"Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me..."

There is another reference in Psalm 35:19:

"Let not those gloat over me who are my enemies without cause; let not those who hate me without reason maliciously wink the eye."

Even today many people carry a hatred for Jesus. They refuse to believe him. They refuse to obey him when his instructions are meant only for our good. Some hate him to such an extreme that they want to kill those who love him.

It's as true today as it was in Jesus' day: They hate him without reason. (Tweet that!)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Prophecy in the Crown of Thorns

When Adam and Eve introduced sin into the human race way back in the garden of Eden, there were many consequences that we continue to deal with to this day—although each human who has ever lived is equally as guilty of sin.

Perhaps the worst consequence of sin is death, which is what Jesus came to pay the penalty for with his own blood in order to bring each person who will accept it eternal life. (Tweet that!)

Another one of the consequences of sin is that the ground was cursed so mankind would have to work hard to make the land produce food. God told Adam the curse meant the land would produce thorns and thistles:

"To Adam he said, 'Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, "You must not eat of it,"
" 'Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return' " (Genesis3:17-19).

Jesus came to pay the consequences of sin, or possibly we could say to pay for the curse. Thorns are a symbol of the curse. So is it any wonder a stem of thorns was wound into a circle and placed upon Jesus’ head as a crown?

"They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him" (Mark 15:17).

As sinful men and woman crucified Jesus for the sins of mankind, they crowned him with the curse. (Tweet that!)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Destroy This Temple and I Will Raise It Again in Three Days

Early in his ministry, Jesus went to Jerusalem for Passover. When he visited the Temple, he found dishonest businessmen selling products needed for worship at the Temple and other goods doing their business right on the Temple grounds.

This angered Jesus not only because they were selling goods on the sacred grounds, but because their dishonesty and price gouging  on the items needed for worship hindered the ability of the people to freely worship God.

Jesus cleaned up this mess, turning over tables and chasing these businessmen off the Temple grounds.

The Jewish leaders demanded to know what authority Jesus had to do this. They wanted a miraculous sign to prove His authority. This is Jesus' response:

"Jesus answered them, 'Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days,' " John 2:19.

What the Priests and Jewish leaders did not know or grasp—although they could have if they had sought wisdom and understanding from God and His Word in the written scripture—is that Jesus was the Temple personified! (Tweet that!)

When Jesus said, "Destroy this temple," he was predicting that was exactly what they would do: destroy his person, his body.

When Jesus said he would "raise it again in three days," he meant his body, which was the personification of the Temple.*

The Jewish leaders, however, because they would not seek the truth from God, believed Jesus meant the earthly Temple would be destroyed—a horrifying thought because without the Temple, they thought they had no way of worshiping God.

This, this is the charge that convicted Jesus and won the Jewish leaders his death sentence in his trials. But the testimony that wrongly convicted him as an innocent man wasn't quite accurate.

"Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 'We heard him say, "I will destroy this man-made temple and in three days will build another, not made by man." ' Yet even then their testimony did not agree" (Mark 14:57-59).

The Jewish leaders called it blasphemy.

Yet the Jewish leaders successfully destroyed the Temple: Jesus.

But there was prophecy in Jesus' words. He predicted that after he was destroyed, he would raise on the third day. And that is exactly what he did (Tweet that!):

"Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, 'Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?'

"But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away. As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 
" 'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him' " (Mark 16:2-6).

Jesus, the personification of the Temple, was destroyed and then raised on the third day, just as he had predicted. (Tweet that!)


*You can learn more about how Jesus is the personification of the Temple in my soon-coming book, Prophecies Fulfilled in the Life of Jesus, due to be released soon from Pix-N-Pens. Check here for updates to availability: Dianne's Amazon Author Page.

Monday, March 17, 2014

It's Not Blasphemy If It's True

Isaiah worked as a prophet from 740 B.C. to at least 681 B.C. He wrote to the people of Israel rebuking their sin and warning of God's judgment that would come if they did not turn back to Him. At the same time, Isaiah encouraged the people of Israel by reminding them of and assuring them of the hope they had in God's promises.

The passage of Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12 is prophetic about the suffering and glory of the Messiah who was to come, who did come. Isaiah's prophecies were completely fulfilled in Jesus.

A few verses before that passage, in Isaiah 52:5, Isaiah wrote:

" 'And now what do I have here?' declares the Lord. 'For my people have been taken away for nothing, and those who rule them mock,' declares the Lord. 'And all day long my name is constantly blasphemed' " (NIV 1984).

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary Eleventh Edition defines "blasphemy" as:

  • the act of insulting or showing contempt or lack of reverence for God
  • the act of claiming the attributes of deity

After Jesus was arrested and while he was in their care, the Roman soldiers abused Jesus:

"Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Others slapped him and said, 'Prophesy to us, Christ. Who hit you?' " (Matthew 26:67-68).

Imagine the contempt, the irreverence for God.

Jesus was living prophecy. He was living out and fulfilling multiple prophecies right before their very eyes, but they were either blind to it or willfully ignorant of it. (Tweet that!) “Willfully ignorant” because the information to know God, and to know Jesus and Who he was, was available to them—even the Romans—just as it is available to all people today.

As for Jesus, yes he claimed to be God. It's not blasphemy if it's true. (Tweet that!)

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Caiaphas Speaks Truth: It is Better for One Man to Die Than a Whole Nation Perish

Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas whom the Romans had removed from the high priesthood in A.D. 15. Caiaphas served as the High Priest of Israel from about 18 – 36 A.D.

At some time after the Feast of Dedication, which is now known as Hanukkah (John 10:22) and after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, but before the Passover and Jesus' Triumphal entry into Jerusalem, Caiaphas spoke prophecy:

"Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, 'You know nothing at all! You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish,' " (John 11:49-50).

There are at least two meanings of the word prophecy:

  • to predict the future
  • to speak forth God's truth

Caiaphas was doing both, though I doubt he knew it at the time.

Caiaphas was instrumental in orchestrating the events that led to the arrest, trials, and crucifixion of Jesus. This was absolutely morally wrong to the highest degree.

As the High Priest, Caiaphas was supposed to lead the people in knowing God. As the High Priest, Caiaphas should have known God's power and therefore should have been more fearful of God than of the Romans. As High Priest, Caiaphas should have known all the prophecies (which we are studying right now) of the One God would send: the Messiah.

Caiaphas should have recognized Jesus as Messiah. And Caiaphas should have led the people in recognizing him. (Tweet that!)

If Caiaphas had looked at God's Word, if he had studied, if he had wanted to know, if he had sought God and asked for wisdom, Caiaphas could have known he was face to face with God.

But Caiaphas did none of those things. Instead he worked to crucify Jesus—who was the King of Israel, the LORD of Glory!

Ironically Caiaphas was right: it was better for us that one Man die for the people, all of us, to pay the death penalty for our sins and to make us right with God, than for all of us, the people, to die and be separated from God for all eternity. (Tweet that!)

"Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus. They bound him and brought him first to Annas, who was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest that year. Caiaphas was the one who had advised the Jews that it would be good if one man died for the people" (John 18:12-14).

Friday, March 14, 2014

Jesus Predicted that Peter Would Deny Him

Not all the many prophecies fulfilled in the events surrounding the arrest, trials, crucifixion, death and resurrection were ancient prophecies, spoken or written hundreds of years earlier. In the same conversation we looked at yesterday where Jesus predicted that he, the Shepherd, would be struck and his flock of followers would be scattered, Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times.

"Not me," Peter said (my paraphrase). "Never!"

But Jesus confirmed it.

" 'I tell you the truth,' Jesus answered, 'this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times,' " Matthew26:34.

This is Jesus speaking forth prophecy. Without a doubt. This was not an off-handed comment. This was details no one could know…unless one knows the future.

Jesus' prediction came true with alarming detail in the next few hours through the night.

After his third denial, when he heard the rooster crow, Peter remembered. (Tweet that!)

"The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times' " (Luke 22:61).

The Lord Jesus must have been passing between buildings from one trial to another, or in some other way was able to make eye contact with Peter. What do you think Peter felt in that moment?

What do you think filled Jesus' eyes in that look? Tears of disappointment or disgust? Never! Jesus' eyes surely held nothing but love for Peter.

When Jesus looks at you, trying to get you to look in his eyes, he is not looking at you with disappointment or disgust. Jesus looks at you—yes, even you—with nothing but pure, honest love.

When you see and firmly understand Jesus' love for you, what do you feel in that moment?

Jesus not only predicted Peter would deny him three times, the gospel-writer Luke also tells us Jesus said:

"And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers" (Luke 22:32).

Can you see the prophecy and encouragement in that? Jesus knew Peter would deny him three times. And yet Jesus looked beyond that and he gave Peter something to do afterwards. No doubt this carried Peter forward when he probably wanted to quit. Peter did indeed strengthen his brothers…and so many of us through the ages with his courageous speeches recorded in Acts, his writings, and the rest of his life through to his death.

Peter had a major failing. But he turned it around and, possibly because of that major failing, his life was triumphant.

As we look around today, we sense something is coming. Many of us know major events are just beyond the horizon, even if most the people seem unaware of it or asleep to it.

What exactly is coming? We cannot know exactly what each of us will experience in the future, but Jesus knows. And right now we can work to strengthen our brothers and sisters. We can pray right now for our own strength in future challenges so that we will not deny Jesus Christ but will stay strong for him. No matter what we face. Even if we find ourselves living in the End Times.

Here is a prayer we can pray:

LORD Jesus, you know what it coming. You know when it is coming. Help me to never deny you. Help me to strengthen others in their faith in you. Help me live strong for you to the very end. If I do fail you, help me to turn back immediately and start again. Help me not to be afraid of what I see around me, but to be awed by what I see when I look in your eyes: that you love me and you will hold me firmly throughout whatever may come. Amen. (Tweet that!)

If you are enjoying these posts, you may also enjoy the book Prophecies Fulfilled in the Death & Resurrection of Jesus. For more information, click the "Prophecies Fulfilled Books" tab above.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Strike the Shepherd and the Flock will be Scattered

After Jesus and the Eleven remaining disciples left the Last Supper, they went out to the Mount of Olives (Matthew 26:30).

"Then Jesus told them, 'This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: "I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered" ' " (Matthew 26:31).

Here Jesus quotes Zechariah, once again applying prophecy to himself. (Tweet that!)

" 'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me!' declares the Lord Almighty. 'Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones,' " (Zechariah 13:7).

Zechariah is speaking for God, so it is God saying He would turn the sword against His beloved Shepherd.

This prophecy, which Zechariah wrote and Jesus quoted and applied to himself, was fulfilled only a little while later.

"Jesus said to the crowd, 'Am I leading a rebellion, that you have come out with swords and clubs to capture me? Every day I sat in the temple courts teaching and you did not arrest me. But this has all taken place that the writing of the prophets might be fulfilled.' Then all the disciples deserted him and fled," (Matthew 26:56).

And so the sheep were scattered, and another prophecy was fulfilled. (Tweet that!)

If there comes a time when the flock you're a part of is scattered, and the human shepherd you follow is struck, have you considered where you will flee to? Always follow Jesus and you'll never be lost. (Tweet that!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jesus' Prophecy of Judas' Betrayal Comes True

Yesterday we talked about how Judas Iscariot arranged to betray Jesus to the Jewish leaders for thirty pieces of silver. Jesus, being the omniscient God, knew all this was happening even outside of his human sight and hearing.

Jesus himself predicted Judas Iscariot's betrayal.

"And while they were eating, [Jesus] said, 'I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me.' 
"…Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, 'Surely not I, Rabbi?' 
"Jesus answered, 'Yes, it is you,' " Matthew 26:21, 25 (see also John 13:10b-11, 21).

Even there, in that brief conversation, Judas lied to Jesus' face, saying "Surely not I, Rabbi?" when in fact Judas knew… he knew… what he had already arranged.

It was Jesus who sent Judas out of the presence of the Light of the World (that is Jesus' presence) into darkness to set the whole thing in motion.

"While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: 'The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.' Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed him. 
"Jesus replied, 'Friend, do what you came for.' 
"Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him," (Matthew 26:47-50).

What do you think happened with Judas Iscariot? Why did he betray Jesus?

Certainly Judas rationalized his actions. Surely Judas knew what he was doing was wrong. How many people today, even those in leadership at the highest national levels, are doing what is wrong and rationalizing their actions? True believers in Jesus Christ must always strive to do what is right in God's sight—even when it looks like that's the losing way to go, because that is Satan's lie.

Satan makes it look like doing the right thing will be worse than doing the wrong thing. Satan whispers suggestions that if we do what is right we will lose. This is a lie. (Tweet that!)

Just as Jesus knew what was going on behind the scenes when he walked the earth, he knows everything that is going on today—even in the secret rooms where deals are made that affect the daily lives of ordinary people like us. He knows.

Do not be afraid of what is going on where we cannot see. Do not be afraid of what is going on that is in plain sight! The One True God is in complete control, able to use even evil intents for His glory—just as He did in the day of Jesus' arrest.

When we see prophecies coming true today, prophecies that Jesus spoke of that point to the End Times, we do not need to be afraid. The One True God is still in complete control. (Tweet that!)

I believe we are seeing the End Times approaching. If we are not in them, then we can see them from here. Do you believe this? (Tweet that!)

Still, do not let this frighten you! We live in the most fantastic times! If any time is more fantastic than when Jesus walked the earth, this is it. (Tweet that!)

"Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid," (John 14:27).

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Prophecy in Thirty Silver Coins

Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus for thirty silver coins. This was not a random number or a coincidence. Thirty pieces of silver was significant. This is a fulfillment of prophecy. (Tweet that!)

"Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests and asked, 'What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?' So they counted out for him thirty silver coins," (Matthew 26:14-15).

Zechariah was among the exiles who returned to Israel from Babylon in 583 B.C. Zechariah wrote to the people of Israel that they were not following their shepherd, God, and this was the reason for their exile. He said, in effect, if you are not willing to follow "me," meaning God the good shepherd, then pay me my wages—thirty pieces of silver—and the relationship between shepherd and the sheep will be severed.

You can find Zechariah's words in Zechariah 11:12:

"I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver."

Furthermore, in the next verse (v. 13), Zechariah said:

"And the LORD said to me, 'Throw it to the potter'—the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter."

Judas Iscariot agreed to betray Jesus to the hands of the Romans and the leaders of Israel for thirty pieces of silver, paid by the Jewish leaders.

Afterwards, however, Judas felt remorse and wanted to the return the money. He took it back to the Jewish leaders but they would not take it back. This is what Matthew tells us happened next. Look for the prophetic parallels in these verses below to Zechariah 11:13 above:

"So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself. 
"The chief priests picked up the coins and said, 'It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.' So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners. That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah* the prophet was fulfilled: 'They took the thirty silver coins, the price set on him by the people of Israel, and they used them to buy the potter's field, as the Lord commanded me,' " (Matthew 27:5-10).

*Jeremiah also gave a prophetic object lesson in Jeremiah 19:1-13 (see also 18:2-12 and 32:6-9) which is why Matthew points to Jeremiah, the more "major" prophet in his passage, instead of Zechariah.

When God knows such details such as the prophecy in the thirty pieces of silver hundreds of years in advance, and then is able to see to it that those details play out in perfection at the proper time, what does this tell you about God? (Tweet that!)

How does this prophecy given and fulfilled give you confidence in God today?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Jesus Tells Us Before It Happens So We Will Believe He is God

Do you know why God give us prophecies? (Tweet that!)

Any idea why He tells us first what He is going to do and then does what He says?

It was just before Jesus was betrayed, during the last supper Jesus had with his twelve disciples, when Jesus said:

"I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: 'He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me' " (John 13:18, NIV 1984).

Right after that Jesus explained why he was telling them this information:

"I am telling you now before it happens so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He," (John 13:19, NIV 1984). 

What did Jesus mean by saying "I am He"? Jesus was stating in plain terms that he was the One God had promised to send. The Messiah. God come in the flesh.

This means that both Jesus and God the Father know the future. Jesus knew exactly what Judas was going to do. Jesus told the disciples—including Judas—what was going to happen only a few sentences later:

"Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, 'I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me,'" (John 13:21). 

Not only was Jesus predicting the immediate future, Jesus was quoting from a Psalm written centuries earlier by his ancestor King David, who was the second king of Israel and ruled Israel for 40 years. David lived from about 1040 to about 970 B.C. David wrote many Psalms, and in Psalm 41 he wrote the words Jesus was quoting:

"Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me," (Psalm 41:9).

So David wrote prophecy that would be fulfilled centuries later in the events surrounding the death and resurrection of Jesus. And Jesus spoke these words as prophecy that would be fulfilled in the next few hours of his life.

Jesus did this so we would know with certainty he is the One God sent, the Messiah, God come in human flesh.

Jesus is God. God knows the future…our future. Even today. He knows what is coming. And He is in complete control! (Tweet that!)

How does this bring you comfort?

As we see more and more events taking place in our world today that fulfill prophecy and signal that more of God’s prophecies are about to be fulfilled, what fear do you have that you need to replace with trust in Jesus?

Here’s a prayer you can pray:

Father God, help me to understand what You have told us in Your Word in advance so that we would believe in You. Help me to see clearly what is happening in our world and to trust You completely with my future and the future of those I love. Teach me what it means to follow You, because walking closely with You is the safest place to be.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Jesus Prophesied He Would Go Just As It Was Written About Him

Matthew, the tax collector whom Jesus had called to follow him and who became one of the twelve disciples, recorded Jesus as saying:

"The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him…" (Matthew 26:24).

When Jesus referred to what was "written about him," he may have been thinking of many passages of the Old Testament, but certainly included would have been Isaiah 53. Here is Isaiah 53 (NIV). As you read it, how many prophecies can you find that Jesus fulfilled?:

1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
4 Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering,yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities;the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way;and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth;he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested?For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death,though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life an offering for sin,he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand.
11 After he has suffered, he will see the light of life and be satisfied;by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong,because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors.For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Later that same day that Matthew was writing about, Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers. Peter grabbed his sword to fight for Jesus, but Jesus stopped him saying, "But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way? ... This has all taken place that the writings of the prophets might be fulfilled" (Matthew 26:54, 56).

Jesus himself applied the Old Testament Scriptures and prophecies to himself. Jesus said he would go just as it was written about him. And indeed he did. (Tweet that!)

What prophecies in the Bible can you think of that Jesus might have been thinking of when he said "The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him"?

What prophecies in the Bible can you think of that Jesus has yet to fulfill? (Tweet that!)

Friday, March 7, 2014

Riding into Jerusalem on a Donkey Fulfilled Prophecy

In his gospel, the eye-witness, John, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, connected the prophecy written by the prophet Zechariah of Israel's king riding a donkey to Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem. John wrote:

"Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, 'Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt' " (John 12:14-15).

As a good Jew, the apostle John was very familiar with the Jewish Scriptures—what we now know as the Old Testament of the Bible. So John knew about, and quoted, the words Zechariah had written in his book:

"Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey" Zechariah 9:9.

Zechariah was a prophet and a priest who lived centuries before Jesus was born. Zechariah was among those who returned from the exile in Babylon to Judah and Israel in 538 B.C. Bible scholars date Zechariah's chapters 9 – 14 as being written sometime after 480 B.C.

The eyewitness John, a close friend and follower of Jesus, recognized that Jesus was fulfilling Zechariah's prophecy when Jesus came riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. (Tweet that!)

Do you know the Bible well enough to recognize prophecy and when it is being fulfilled?

If not, what steps can you start taking today to get to know it better? (Suggested answers: Read it. Pray for understanding. Study it with some friends. Find a Bible-teaching church to become a part of. Visit this blog regularly, because that is the aim of the blog.)

What might you be an eyewitness to today that you believe is a Bible prophecy being fulfilled? Anything? (Tweet that!)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Prophecy in the Song as Jesus Rode into Jerusalem

Did you know it was no coincidence that the people sang "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!" as Jesus rode into Jerusalem on what we now call Palm Sunday?

The people singing these words to Jesus actually fulfilled of the prophecy within those words…on more than one level.

These words come from Psalm 118:24-26, which is a part of what is known as the "Hallel."

We get our word "hallelujah" from two Hebrew words:
  • yah represents the name of God
  • hallel means "praise"

Combined, the word "hallelujah" means "praise the LORD."

The Hallel is what we know as Psalm 113-118.

The Feast of Passover is the first of the seven great Feasts of the LORD.

The second of these is the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which lasts for seven days.

Combined, these two Feasts last eight days, and by the time Jesus lived it had become customary for the Jewish celebrants to sing parts of the Hallel at various times throughout this eight-day celebration.

We don’t know who wrote the word of the Hallel nor when it was written, but Bible scholars believe it was most likely written after the Jewish exile to Babylon. The Israelites returned from exile beginning in 538 B.C.

So these words were written more than five centuries before the birth of Jesus. But as Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem on the first day of the last week of his life, the people sang those very words to him and they fit him perfectly.

The gospel writers record that the people sang, "Hosanna," which means "Save!" The people were singing "Save us!" to the very One God has sent to do just that: Jesus, the Savior of the world!

They also sang "Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!," which is an exact quote from Psalm 118:26.

According to Bible teacher Mark Biltz, the people sang these words when the Passover lambs, which were going to be sacrificed for Passover, were being herded onto the Temple grounds through the Sheep Gate on the north side of the Temple.

The year Jesus was crucified, he rode into town from the east.

While the people were "supposed" to be singing over the Passover sheep on the north side of the Temple, at least some of the people were on the Mount of Olives to the east singing these very words to Jesus! No wonder the Jewish leaders were upset.

Do you think the people understood they were singing these prophetic words to the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world? (Tweet that!)

At the first Passover in Moses' day, the death of the Passover lamb, when its blood was painted on the doorposts of a house, saved all those inside the house from death. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the prophetic picture in the Passover lamb: anyone who is willing to symbolically paint the blood of Jesus on the "doorposts" of her or his heart or fleshly house will be saved.

Do you understand Jesus is the ultimate Passover Lamb? (Tweet that!)

Have you accepted his blood, shed in place of yours, to save you?

Who do you know who needs to understand this information? Who can you share this with today?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Jesus Predicted His Own Death Three Times

Did you know Jesus actually predicted his death three times? Jesus knew exactly what he was walking into when he walked into Jerusalem for Passover the year he was crucified.

This is prophecy. Telling what is going to happen in the future is prophecy. Having it come true perfectly in every detail is the fulfillment of prophecy.

Here are the places in Scripture where Jesus told his disciples he was going to die three different times:

"From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life" (Matthew 16:21).

"When they came together in Galilee, he said to them, 'The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of men. They will kill him, and on the third day he will be raised to life.' And the disciples were filled with grief" (Matthew 17:22-23).

"Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, 'We are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!' " (Matthew 20:17-19).
See also records of these same incidents written by other disciples in Mark 8:31-37 and Luke 9:22-25.

Jesus' disciples had a hard time believing it. When I try to put myself in their shoes, imaging I know only what they knew at the time, I certainly can't blame them.

Look at it this way: The disciples were in training. Jesus was training them to trust him, to believe him, to listen to what he was saying and know that what he predicted would come true.

We also are in training. Jesus—who is God come in the flesh—knows what is coming. He already sees it. He has already told us everything we need to know about what's coming. Do you trust him? Do you believe him? Do you know that what he predicted will come true?

Does the fact that he already knows, and has given us everything we need to know in his Word, bring you comfort?

It should. If you are his, if you have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, you are his. If you are willing to follow him, he will lead you into his perfect will for you. And there is no safer place to be than in the center of God's will.

In what area of your life do you need to trust God?

What has Jesus said in the Bible that you need to listen to and believe?

Do you believe God/Jesus knows exactly what we are walking into in our future? (Tweet that!)

In what areas do you need to trust that Jesus has predicted exactly what is going to happen in our future, that he is in complete control of it, and that he will carry you through whatever comes? (Tweet that!