The Messiah’s Mock and Illegal Trials

The Religious Leaders Plot To Kill Jesus

 

Jesus about to be struck in front of Caiaphas by Madrazo cir 1803

 

Mark 14:1-2

1After two days was the feast of the passover, and of unleavened bread: and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take him by craft, and put him to death. 2 But they said, Not on the feast day, lest there be an uproar of the people (KJV).

The events of Passover week had transpired to the point where Jesus was preparing for His sacrifice on the Passover thereby giving His life for the world’s people. While His sacrifice would be available to the entire population of the earth it would only be effective to those who would accept His gift of eternal life. Chapter’s 14 and 15 of the book of Mark describe the betrayal, arrest, trial and crucifixion of Jesus. This has come to be known as the Passion from come the Latin word for “suffer.” There is an overriding theme of abandonment that comes out in chapter 14. The prophet Isaiah foretold this seven centuries before the actual Passion of Jesus when he said

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way.”

Isaiah 53:4-6

4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and Jehovah hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (ASV, 1901).

The Good Shepherd (Asia Minor, c. 390; Cleveland Museum of Art)

The events in Mark’s narration let us know that this point in time was two days prior to the feast of Passover. One point of differentiation that is important to understand is the two systems of counting time. Roman and Jewish reckoning started the day at different times. The Jews began the day at sunset and the Romans at midnight, which is what is in use throughout most of the world today. This difference in starting the day is somewhat complicating in evaluating the principle events of Passover week linking them one to another. Mark’s use of time is observing the Jewish reckoning. Modern precision of reckoning the time of day make it difficult to read back into the gospel accounts, written at a time when no standardization of timepieces, or exactness in recording of hours and minutes was available. The difference between Roman and Jewish days as well as modern time precision render the slight difference between time calculation of the events of Passion week understandable.

 

The Passover was a festival of the Lord ordained in Egypt about 1445 B.C. when Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt. The Passover meal is eaten on the evening of the 15th of Nisan (March/April) and is referred to as Abib. It celebrated the event where unprotected first born of all humans and animals were killed. God promised Moses that He would not harm any of the Israelites, but in order for them to be protected they had to follow a very specific process during the tenth plague in which all the first-born of animals and people would be put to death. If the Jews followed the Lord’s instruction explicitly they would delivered from the death that all the first-born would experience. The Children of Israel were “saved” from the death of the destroyer when he would “pass over” their homes. They were told to “observe this thing for an ordinance to thee and to thy sons for ever.” Further they were told “when your children shall say unto you, What mean ye by this service? That ye shall say, It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses (from Exodus 12:21-28, 42-49; Numbers 9:1-14; Deuteronomy 16:1-8).”

The Last Passover by James E Seward Cir. Unknown

In accordance with this the Jews celebrated the Passover, which was one of the three pilgrim festivals wherein all Jewish males were required to attend. As a result there were thousands of Jews in Jerusalem at this time from all over the Roman Empire to comply with the Law. The normal population of Jerusalem was about 50,000 and during Passover week it would swell to more that 250,000. The unblemished lamb or goat to be eaten was killed on the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan and would be eaten after sundown, which began the Jewish new day of the 15th of Nisan. No work was to be done on either the 14th or the 15th. The day that Mark refers to is probably Monday or Tuesday of Passion week.

The Scribes and Pharisees of the Sanhedrin had decided to kill Jesus.

 

John 11:47-53

 

47The chief priests therefore and the Pharisees gathered a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many signs. 48If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation. 49But a certain one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50nor do ye take account that it is expedient for you that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51Now this he said not of himself: but, being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for the nation; 52and not for the nation only, but that he might also gather together into one the children of God that are scattered abroad. 53So from that day forth they took counsel that they might put him to death (ASV, 1901).

 

They were fearful that all people who believed on Jesus and followed Him would riot if He were unjustly killed. This then would cause them to lose their powerful political position with the Romans perhaps even losing their meager remnants of their sovereignty. They met in an emergency session to plot Jesus’ death. Their political position with Rome was precarious at best. Their present course of action had been to disapprove of Jesus, seek to excommunicate Him and engage in blasphemous teaching countering Jesus truthful exposition of the Scriptures. It was simply not working as thousands of people continued to follow Him and sought His miraculous healing and clear teaching. Not only did they fear Rome taking away their Temple and their nation but also they knew the people would riot if they openly killed Him without a just cause. This would also bring the wrath of Rome quickly upon them as soldiers came to quell the rioting citizens.

Caiaphas the High Priest had been appointed by the Romans and was in the office from A.D 18 to 36. It was his decision to sacrifice Jesus had to take place in order to preserve Rome’s favor. He viewed the other Sanhedrin members as ignorant. In offering his direction in killing Jesus he was arguing that the ends justified the means. He stated that if a person were regarded as worthless then that person could be sacrificed for the common good and even handed over to the hostile Gentiles. Otherwise such an act should have been contrary to Jewish principles. This was the crafty manner they decided to utilize in defending their plan to kill Him. So Caiaphas authorized the killing of Jesus not realizing that it was God the Father directing him to sacrifice Jesus for the sins of the world.

The Pharisees, Artist Unknown

Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus

Mark 14:10-11

10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him (KJV).

Mark reports with remarkable restraint the unspeakable treason that Judas showed toward Jesus. As Judas approached the chief priests they were delighted to find an accomplice within Jesus circle of followers to betray Him. This was an answer to their question of how to charge Him. Determining the motive behind Judas’ betrayal of Jesus is an age-old question. It is quite likely that Judas expected Jesus to establish the Messianic Kingdom during His lifetime. When Mary broke the bottle of perfume and anointed Jesus for His death he realized that this would not occur. He might have been looking for a position in the new government and now realized that the Kingdom Jesus spoke of was Spiritual not physical at that time. In his greed and love for money he decided that the best course of action was to sell the opportunity to the chief priests so they could capture Jesus. One way to detect evil in any matter is to ask who profits from it financially, and Judas profited from the betrayal. So if we follow the money we can see Judas’ motive.

The Sanhedrin were only too pleased to provide him with some money for the opportunity to capture Him. It is important to note that Judas was the only non-Galilean member of the apostles. He may have actually been a spy for the Sanhedrin all along. This would give him some additional reason to believe that he remained an outsider. In actuality God was orchestrating the events using the sins of Judas as well as the religious authorities to accomplish His goal of providing the perfect sacrifice to cleanse the heavenly tabernacle and provide for the salvation of all of the human beings on this earth. The plan of God does not excuse the perpetrators sins even though God used them to accomplish His goal.

Merrill Unger has observed a unique fusion of divine sovereignty and human free will in Judas as he carried out his own greed and animosity as well as God’s plan in the execution of Jesus. It is important to note that it was Judas who went to the Sanhedrin not the other way around. Nevertheless is it quite apparent that the divine grace of God uses even human evil for His saving purposes.

The plan was set to capture Jesus at the perfect time. Until now Jesus was leaving the city of Jerusalem each night and spending the night in Bethany presumable with Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Now with Jesus staying in the city the authorities could capture Him at night without arousing the ire of the general population and thereby preserving the peace.

While Jesus was addressing Peter, James, and John for sleeping and then asking them to continue to sleep Judas appeared with an armed mob of Romans as well as the chief priests, scribes and the elders. Consider who is arriving beside the betrayer Judas. The Romans, chief priests, scribes and the Sanhedrin (elders). Even though the Romans had occupied Israel since the siege in 63 B.C. they allowed the standing government to conduct the affairs of state. The only activities for which the Romans sought to be involved were the collection of taxes and capital punishment. They maintained oversight in the death sentences so as to control potential riots, which would impair the Pax Romana (Peace of Rome) they sought to preserve.

The Sanhedrin (elders) was the High Court of Justice, the Supreme tribunal of the Jews, and was known to number seventy-one members. They sat as judges in Israelite trials having legislative, executive and judicial powers. They constituted the national parliament as well as the other branches of government known to modern western governmental bodies. Their principle laws came from the Torah (first five books of the Bible), the rabbinic law known as the Talmud and the Mishnah. This group violated all their laws to arrest, charge, try and execute Jesus. It is important to see how people driven by envy and threatened will embrace hatred so strong that it surpasses their own stated values. These men clearly embraced the fleshly activities described in Galatians chapter five.

Galatians 5:17-21

17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. 18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God (KJV).

Violation One

The Judgment of the Sanhedrin He is guilty. Artist unknown

Even before Jesus’ trial began the law was broken because His arrest was illegal. The Jewish law prohibited any part of a legal proceeding in capital offenses to take place at night, and Jesus was arrested at night.

A capital offense must be tried during the day and suspended at night” (Mishnah in “Sanhedrin” Vol.1

The Sign or Token

Mark 14:44-45

44 And he that betrayed him had given them a token, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he; take him, and lead him away safely. 45 And as soon as he was come, he goeth straightway to him, and saith, Master, master; and kissed him (KJV).

The token or sign that the Jews needed to signalize the moment to arrest Jesus would be a kiss. Judas had told the crowd to arrest the man to whom he would greet with a kiss. After they saw this they would lead Him away under guard. This was a Sanhedrin arrest not a Roman arrest. Jesus had not violated any Roman laws. Roman soldiers were there in case there was a riot. Judas pointed Jesus out through the common mid-eastern greeting of a kiss. This was not to identify Jesus but to certify that the one he kissed was Jesus as Judas had agreed to be His formal accuser in the trial and this was the legal process of certifying the relationship between the accuser and defendant for trial purposes.

The Apprehension

Mark 14:46-49

46 And they laid their hands on him, and took him. 47 And one of them that stood by drew a sword, and smote a servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. 48 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with |clubs| to take me 49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and ye took me not: but the scriptures must be fulfilled. (KJV)?

They did not arrest Jesus in the Temple all week as He was teaching, healing, and confronting the Jewish authorities and to a lesser extent the Herodians. Even though they wanted to apprehend Him they feared the people and a riot during the day (Mark 14:19).

They instead in violation of their own laws came at night under the influence of the prince of darkness Satan himself. Jesus is then seized and it is anything but an orderly arrest based upon proper legal authorization. Mark does not identify the sword bearer but John’s gospel does (John 18:10-11). It was Peter who drew the sword and smote a servant (Malchus) of the high priest, and cut off his ear. Peter was probably trying to cut off Malchus’ head and missed displaying the fidelity to Jesus he stressed earlier that night. Luke records that Jesus miraculously healed the ear (Luke 22:51). John further goes on to describe Jesus’ words to Peter, “Put up thy sword into the sheath: the cup which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?” In other words Jesus declares these events as foreordained and must proceed.

Then Jesus said to them, “Are ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and with |clubs| to take me?” Jesus did not resist them but offered a protest for the excessive display of armed force they brought against Him. He said they acted as though they came out against an armed robber. He was not an insurrectionist who acted in hiding but a recognized religious teacher. Every day that week He appeared openly among them in Jerusalem teaching (Mark 11:17) in the temple courts (Mark 11:11) but they did not arrest Him (Mark 12:12; 14:1–2). Arresting Him like a criminal at night in a secluded place showed their cowardice and uncaring attitude toward their own law. More importantly it clearly demonstrated that they did now know who He really was. But this happened because the scriptures must be fulfilled (Psalms 22:7-8, 14, 16-17; Isaiah 50:6, 53:3, 7–9, 12).

The Eleven Flee in Fear

Mark 14:50

50 And they all forsook him, and fled (KJV).

Just hours earlier they all swore to never deny Him led by Peter’s affirmation of willingness to die with Him. Now in the heat of the moment they all leave Him. Judas betrays Jesus and the eleven desert Him.

The Young Man Flees

Mark 14:51-52

51 And there followed him a certain young man, having a linen cloth cast about his naked body; and the young men laid hold on him: 52 and he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked (KJV).

Only Mark’s gospel offers this event, which gave, rise to the tradition that it probably was Mark himself that he described. Mark is the young man who also abandoned his mission work when the going got tough (Acts 13:13; 15:38). Later Barnabas brought him back into the mission (Acts 15:39), and Paul finally accepted him again (2 Timothy 4:11). Mark seems to be saying, “I ran away, too!” John Mark the author, Simon Peter the primary source shows a strong emphasis in this Gospel on discipleship failure and renewal. Peter and Mark both were involved in this. So it seems that this young man was about to be seized by the authorities too until they tried to grab him and only managed to get his nightshirt while he fled away naked. Therefore all of Jesus’ followers left Him to the men who hated Him.

Caiaphas Questions Jesus

Mark 14:53

53 And they led Jesus away to the high priest: and with him were assembled all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes (KJV). 

Violation Two

Jesus before Caiaphas was illegal because the Law stated, “Be not a sole judge, for there is no sole judge but One.” (Mishnah, in “Pirke Aboth” IV 8)

An accused man must never be subjected to private or secret examination, let in his perplexity, he furnish damaging testimony against himself.” (Salvado in, “Institutions de Moise” pp. 365-366). The high priest’s private examination of Jesus was illegal even though the others.

Jesus trial before the Jewish authorities included a preliminary hearing before Annas (John 18:12–14, 19–24) the former high priest (high priest AD 6-15) then an arraignment before Caiaphas (high priest AD 18-37) and the Sanhedrin at night (Matthew 26:57–68; Mark 14:53–65). Caiaphas was the first to recommend Jesus’ death to “save the nation (John 11:49-50).” John alone records the private interrogation, testifying: “The high priest then asked Jesus of His disciples and of His doctrine (John 18:12-24).” This interrogation, first by Annas the former high priest and then Caiaphas was illegal because it took place at night and was by a sole judge even though the chief priests and the elders and the scribes were there with Caiaphas. After Annas’ preliminary hearing Jesus was then taken to Caiaphas the current high priest’s home.

Peter Stays Nearby

Mark 14:54

54 And Peter followed him afar off, even into the palace of the high priest: and he sat with the servants, and warmed himself at the fire (KJV).

Although all had fled Peter and perhaps John too returned to the place where Jesus was taken (John 18:15). The high priest’s home was walled and gated with a courtyard. Here someone had lit a fire to warm themselves. Around it were guards and servants. Peter was warning his hands too.

At The High Priests Palace

Mark 14:55-56

55 And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. 56 For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together (KJV).

Violation Three

The indictment against Jesus was illegal because the Law stated, “The entire criminal procedure of the Mosaic Code rest upon four rules: certainty in the indictment; publicity in the discussion; full freedom granted to the accused; and assurance against all danger of errors of testimony” (Salvador in, “Institutions de Moise” p.365) “The Sanhedrin could not originate charges; it could only investigate those brought before it” (Edersheim in, “Life and times of Jesus the Messiah” Vol. I. p.309)

The only prosecutors were the witnesses in the crime. The witnesses constituted the charge. There was no formal indictment until these witnesses spoke in the public assembly. When they spoke, and the evidence of two agreed together, it formed the legal charge, libel, or indictment.” (Mendelsohn in “The Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews,” p.110)

The form of the indictment was illegal. Under Hebrew justice there was no grand jury. Leading witnesses presented charges. In addition to naming a specific crime, the indictment must allege the precise acts of the accused, which constitute the specific crime. Nearly every detail of Jesus’ trial violates the rules for capital cases prescribed in the Mishnah. The Sanhedrin short-circuited procedures and violated the law, in order to expedite Jesus’ execution. Josephus, in fact, records a similar trial in a.d. 62 when the high priest Ananus convened a rump (a meeting held after a larger meeting) session of the Sanhedrin in order to secure the death of James, brother of the Lord. [1]

The Sanhedrin was “looking for” evidence against Jesus (v. 55); the Greek word “looking for” is zētein and it always implies negative intent. Here the intent to condemn Jesus. The prisoner’s record, however, provides no grounds for accusation (v. 55), and the Sanhedrin must resort to false testimony. The “many” false witnesses were coerced to testify to the determination of the Sanhedrin to dispatch Jesus. Jewish law demanded at least two corroborating witnesses in capital cases (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15). They brought many witnesses but they are contradicted each other.

Witnesses are Found

Mark 14:57-59

57 And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, 58 We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. 59 But neither so did their witness agree together (KJV)

Finally they found some witnesses to testify against Jesus with a lie regarding what Jesus had said about the Temple. They twisted what Jesus had said about His death and resurrection. If He had truly said anything about the material Jewish Temple the Romans would have charged Him with a capital crime. These witnesses could also not agree amongst themselves.

Caiaphas Intervenes

Mark 14:60-62

60 And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? 61 But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? 62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (KJV).

Caiaphas was getting frustrated with the whole process which although highly illegal wasnot getting to any usable charge against Jesus. So he they now tries to coerce Jesus to incriminate Himself. They had tried and failed on many occasions to trap Jesus but were unable to do so with their trick questions. Caiaphas demands that Jesus answer His accusers and explain the accusations made against Him, but Jesus held his peace, and answered nothing. Jesus simply would not respond to nonsense (Isaiah 53:7). Now the proceedings came to a halt. Caiaphas seemed to switch tactics looking for a chargeable offense. He point blank asked Jesus, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”

Even though the authorities were violating the Law Jesus would not. He did not answer the first question but He will answer the second one. Jesus was put under oath (Matthew 26:63), which forced Jesus to answer under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 5:1). Jesus would be forced to incriminate Himself by answering question two which was related to the Law.

Violation Four 

The condemnation sentence was pronounced against Jesus by the Sanhedrin and was founded upon His uncorroborated confession.

The Law stated, “No one can bring an accusation against himself. Should a man make confession of guilt before a legally constituted tribunal, such confession is not to be said against him unless properly attested by two witnesses.” (Maimonides in “Sanhedrin” IV p 2)

No attempt can be made to lead a man on to self-incrimination. Moreover, a voluntary confession on his part is not admitted in evidence, and therefore, not competent to convict him, unless a legal number of witnesses minutely corroborate his self-accusation.” (Mendelsohn in “Criminal Jurisprudence of the Ancient Hebrews” p.133).

Jesus was convicted and condemned to death on legally inadmissible evidence. It was at first sought to condemn Him to death on legally inadmissible evidence, on the charge of sedition, “but their witness agreed not altogether” (Mark 14:56). But, instead of releasing Jesus, the judges, in total disregard of the law, turned to the accused and asked, “Answereth thou nothing? what is it these witness against thee? But He held His peace and said nothing” (Mark14:60). By remaining silent Jesus was invoking the right against self-incrimination. Caiaphas insisted that Jesus incriminate Himself. So Jesus in accordance with the Law in Leviticus 5:1 Jesus responded to Caiaphas’s question as Jesus’ deity. Jesus said, “And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Jesus simply tells them who He is affirming Psalm 110:1 as the Son of Man sitting at God’s right hand and coming on clouds refers to Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 1:9-11; Revelation 19:11.

Caiaphas Hears Enough

Mark 14:63-65

63 Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? 64 Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. 65 And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands (KJV).

By tearing his clothes, Caiaphas showed that he regarded Jesus’ admission as blasphemy. To him, Jesus’ words dishonored God by claiming rights and powers belonging exclusively to God along (Mark 2:7). His expression of horror and indignation was all symbolism, which was required of the high priest whenever he heard blasphemy. Since Jesus’ self-incriminated Himself there was no need for more witnesses. The Mosaic Law prescribed death by stoning for blasphemy (Leviticus 24:15–16). Without further investigation the high priest called for a verdict from the Sanhedrin. Since there were no objections they all condemned Him (Mark 10:33) as worthy of death. With this admission and faked expression of indignation by Caiaphas some members began to hit Him after they blindfolded Him. They spit on Him, struck Him with the palms of their hands and challenged Him to prophesy since He claimed to be the Messiah.

Religious Leader’s Condemnation

Mark 15:1

1 And straightway in the morning the chief priests held a consultation with the elders and scribes and the whole council, and bound Jesus, and carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate (KJV).

The Sanhedrin issued their verdict at dawn (Mark 15:1; Matthew 27:1; Luke 22:66-71). The entire group of seventy men plus the high priest issued their guilty verdict and the charge was blasphemy. Since they tried Him illegally at night they sought to provide some semblance of legality by having the decision affirmed during the daylight and get the Romans approval for an execution. They knew that they had to take Him to Pontius Pilate. From him they would petition the approval to have the Romans execute Jesus so they carried him away, and delivered him to Pilate. The Romans required approval for all capital crimes so as to maintain the Pax Romana. Pilate was woken up to the sounds of an angry mob outside him home.

A Roman governor could either affirm or rescind the Sanhedrin’s death sentence (John 19:10). If the Jewish verdict was rescinded, a new trial before a Roman court was ordered and scheduled. In that trial the Sanhedrin would have to prove that the defendant had committed a capital crime under Roman law not Jewish Law. The Sanhedrin conviction of blasphemy (Mark 14:64) was not a punishable charge according to Roman law. Because of that the Sanhedrin substituted a charge of treason, using Jesus’ acknowledgment that He was the Messiah into a traitorous political charge that He is “the King of the Jews” (Mark 15:2; Luke 23:2). They tired to convince the Romans that Jesus was a traitor who was stating that He was a “King” and therefore a potential insurrectionist and a threat to Rome and the Pax Romana.

Jesus Before Pontius Pilate

Ecce Homo by Tintoretto cir 1546

Pontius Pilate was a Roman Governor in Samaria and Judea (West Bank today) from A.D. 26-36 and Jerusalem was located within Judea. His normal residence was in Caesarea on the Mediterranean Sea but he was in Jerusalem for the Passover. At that time there were thousands of Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem. With the influx of worshippers there was a stronger chance of rioting that during other times of the year. Pilate stayed in a place called the Praetorium, which was his Jerusalem headquarters. He had no love of the Jews and the attitude was mutual. Consider the tension of this meeting as Jesus an innocent man is brought by Jews who hated Jesus as well as the Romans to the Roman governor who disliked the Jews for a decision to execute Jesus.

Mark 15:2-3

2 And Pilate asked him, Art thou the King of the Jews? And he answering said unto him, Thou sayest it. 3 And the chief priests accused him of many things: but he answered nothing (KJV).

Now before Pilate with the new charge of traitor to Rome as the King of the Jews, And Pilate asked him, “Art thou the King of the Jews”? Pilate had complete and sole authority to render a decision. The trial would normally be held outdoors in public. It opened with a magistrate’s indictment and then interrogation and testimony from the witnesses and the defendant as well. As soon as the magistrate heard all the evidence he would render the verdict and immediately follow with a sentence, which would be carried out quickly. There was no appeal. The Sanhedrin had issued a death sentence for blasphemy but changed it to treason for Pilate. Pilate did not take the Sanhedrin’s sentence. He wanted to hear the testimonies himself. He asked Jesus directly if He was the King of the Jews. If this was true then this was a traitorous action that was underway against Caesar and had to be punished by death. Jesus answered in a rather cryptic way. Instead of saying yes He implied it. However His implication was that of the Spiritual King of a realm unknown to Pilate and the Sanhedrin as well (John 18:33-38). Pilate did not immediately see any criminal activity in this silent Jewish Rabbi in front of him. He could see that the Sanhedrin had a weak case and there was hardly any threat of this man inciting a rebellion against Rome. Now the chief priests accused him of many things to try and bolster their case against Him with Rome. Pilate knew the charges were weak and even false and he expected Jesus to say something in His own defense but he answered nothing as prophecied (Isaiah 53:7). Luke records their false charges.

Luke 23:2

2 And they began to accuse him, saying, We found this fellow perverting the nation, and forbidding to give tribute to Cesar, saying that he himself is Christ a King (KJV).

Their charges were:

  1. Perverting the nation
  2. Forbidding others to give tribute (taxes) to Caesar
  3. Making Himself out to the King

Jesus had no reason to delay the execution given that it was the reason He came to earth to die for the sins of mankind. There was another short trial that only Luke records. Pilate found out that Jesus was a Galilean so he sent Him to Herod Antipas the tetrarch of Galilee who was also in Jerusalem for Passover. Herod had Jesus dressed as a false king and demanded that He perform some miracle. He only mocked Jesus and returned Him to Pilate

Mark 15:4-5

4 And Pilate asked him again, saying, Answerest thou nothing? behold how many things they witness against thee. 5 But Jesus yet answered nothing; so that Pilate marvelled (KJV).

The religious leaders bring various charges against Jesus, which are not made clear here. Pilate quickly figures out that this accusation and trial is not about Jesus’ guilt or innocence. It is about the jealousy and hatred of the priestly rulers, because Jesus is much more popular with the crowds than they are (v. 10). The charges themselves impress Pilate much less than Jesus’ confident silence in the face of his accusers (v. 5). Pilate continued to be amazed at Jesus remaining silent with so much envy and hatred directed toward Him.

Pilate Wants to Release Jesus

Mark 15:6-9

6 Now at that feast he released unto them one prisoner, whomsoever they desired. 7 And here was one named Barabbas, which lay bound with them that had made insurrection with him, who had committed murder in the insurrection. 8 And the multitude crying aloud began to desire him to do as he had ever done unto them. 9 But Pilate answered them, saying, Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews (KJV)?

Each of the gospels tells how hard Pilate tried to avoid condemning Jesus. Pilate sent Jesus to Herod as a courtesy, which he appreciated, and they became close friends as a result of this (Luke 23:12). Coupled with the fact that Pilate’s wife warned him not to harm Him because He is innocent Pilate was very uncomfortable about having Jesus executed. She had a dream, which frightened her. As a result she sent a message to Pilate while he was in the Praetorium with Jesus and the angry crowd

Matthew 27:19

19 When he was set down on the judgment seat, his wife sent unto him, saying, Have thou nothing to do with that just man: for I have suffered many things this day in a dream because of him (KJV).

In order to try and please the Jews somewhat the Romans had a practice of releasing one prisoner at Passover. The Jews had come to expect this and thought of it as “their custom” (John 18:39). This was no more than a goodwill custom of the Roman governor of Judea in furtherance of the Pax Romana over a conquered and occupied nation. Instead of granting Jesus an acquittal, Pilate chose to grant the customary Passover amnesty, thinking the people would request the release of Jesus. Together with Jesus in the Pretorium was a criminal named Barabbas (Hebrew from Bar Abba, “son of the father”). He was a known freedom fighter and murderer. He had stirred up much opposition toward Rome and was know as an insurrectionist. He was awaiting the order of execution from Pilate. While he was a criminal to Rome many of the Jews regarded him as a hero trying to throw off the yoke of enslavement of Rome over the Jews.

The crowd that had assembled at his palace though was the group of Jewish religious leaders that were not favorable toward Jesus and wanted to be rid of Him. He exposed their chicanery and the spiritual enslavement they put the common Jews under with their rabbinic law. They ignored the Mosaic Law and didn’t know God who they professed to represent in Israel. They also did not recognize the Messiah He sent (John 5:39-47). The crowd being incited by the chief priests was chanting for Pilate to release to them one criminal. They had come to see Jesus executed. Pilate wanting to not execute Jesus said, “Will ye that I release unto you the King of the Jews?” He did not expect or appreciate their response.

The Chief Priests Orchestrate Jesus

Mark 15:10-11

10 For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy. 11 But the chief priests moved the people, that he should rather release Barabbas unto them (KJV).

Pilate was well aware of the envy the chief priests had toward Jesus. Envy a strong motivator is grief or anger caused by another’s success. He took this opportunity to show his contempt for them by offering to release the King of the Jews but they chose Barabbas instead. The powerful chief priests had incited the crowd to approach his judgment seat with their request to release Barabbas. In the trial before Pilate opposition to Jesus came largely from the Sanhedrin. The actual arrest and trial of Jesus, however, as this text explains, were the responsibility of the high priest. Mark is very specific and objective: the prime mover in Jesus’ trial and arrest is the high priest, who “stirred up” or incited the crowd to demand the release of Barabbas.

The Jews Demand Jesus’ Crucifixion

Johann Rottenhammer Pilatus

Mark 15:12-14

 

12 And Pilate answered and said again unto them, What will ye then that I shall do unto him whom ye call the King of the Jews? 13 And they cried out again, Crucify him. 14 Then Pilate said unto them, Why, what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him. (KJV).

Pilate was now in a quandary. He had the warning of his wife. He knew Jesus was innocent but did not understand why He chose not to defend Himself. In a sort of mocking to them he refers to Jesus as “him whom ye call the King of the Jews.” These verses show how Mark focused on the culpability of the religious leaders in Jesus’ execution. When their efforts to have Jesus killed appeared to be stopped by Pilate, the religious leaders persuaded the crowd to cry out loudly to crucify Him. This plot would never have worked with the huge crowds that loved and followed Jesus. It was only because He had been so popular that the religious leaders were prevented from moving against Him earlier. They had to conduct an illegal trial at night so that His supporters were unaware of what was transpiring (Mark 11:18; 12:12; 14:2). Their plot against Jesus was also aimed at placing the blame on the Romans. Pilate ruled as governor in an out of the way region, which according to Rome was of minor importance. They only provided him with a small army that put him at a disadvantage if the Jews actually rebelled. He had to do what ever he could to maintain the peace or incur the wrath of the emperor in Rome. Although he did not see any reason to kill Jesus he went along with them because they threatened to report him to Tiberius Caesar (John 19:12). If they did that and rioted his career would be severely limited or ended. Pilate did not need a riot at Passover with thousands of additional Jews in Jerusalem to add to his grief. In his frustration he asked them, “what evil hath he done? And they cried out the more exceedingly, Crucify him.” The irony of all of this is that Jesus will hang on a cross between two genuine insurrectionists and die as a substitute for one more, Barabbas. The only reason Jesus is there is because he is not one of them. Barabbas is one of them and this is the first person for which Jesus died as the substitionary Lamb that takes away the sins of the world. Matthew adds the fact of Pilate washing his hands in symbolic gesture of having no responsibility over this execution (Matthew 27:24-25). In fact the Jewish religious leaders take full responsibility for His death and affirm to pass it on to successive generations; then answered all the people, and said, “His blood be on us, and on our children.” In fact when Pilate asked the crowd if he should crucify their king they said, “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15).

Pilate Releases Barabbas and Sentences Jesus

Mark 15:15

15 And so Pilate, willing to content the people, released Barabbas unto them, and delivered Jesus, when he had scourged him, to be crucified (KJV).

Jesus’ last of six trials ends with Pilate wanting to appease the angry crowds more than administer justice. If Pilate wanted to release Jesus it was not going to happen without causing a riot. He knew they had no sustainable charge against Jesus but he was wiling to satisfy them and crucify Jesus. So he washed his hands of the matter but would remain guilt ridden over this. As a true magistrate he had no good reason to crucify Jesus other than political appeasement of the crowd in avoidance of a riot and angering Caesar. So he released the criminal Barabbas and had Jesus flogged. Pilate had Jesus flogged in hope that the people would take pity and be satisfied. The flogging did not move them at all; they still insisted He be crucified (John 19:1–7). Flogging was done as a measure to accelerate the prisoner’s death on the cross. It was done with a multi-stranded whip. Into the ends were fastened pieces of metal or sharp bones or pottery. Typically several soldiers carried out the flogging and there was no limit on the length of the flogging. The person scheduled for execution seldom survived the flogging. In Jesus case He had to go to the wooden cross in fulfillment of a prophecy. Paul explains in Galatians.

Galatians 3:13

13 Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree (KJV).

Paul is referencing the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy 21:23

23his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt surely bury him the same day; for he that is hanged is accursed of God; that thou defile not thy land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee for an inheritance (ASV, 1901)

[1] Josephus, Ant. 20.200–203. Likewise D. Flusser, Jesus (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1997), 146–47,

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The Crucified Messiah Of the Old Testament Fulfilled in the New

John the Baptist and the Crucified Messiah Foretold in the Old Testament, Fulfilled in the New.

By Dr. Todd Baker

Traveling to the probable location where Yeshua Ha Adon (the Lord Jesus) was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River at Bethabara in the Judean Desert (John 1:28; Matthew 3:13-17), God opened a Gospel witness. After arriving there, the Lord opened a door for me to witness to Shlomo about what Bible prophecy predicted about the Messiah’s forerunner John the Baptist prophesied in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1.This prompted me to exhort the receptive Israeli Shlomo to read the Jewish New Testament to learn that these prophecies of the Messiah’s forerunner were fulfilled in John the Baptist who prepared the way for Yeshua the Messiah by calling on Israel to repent and believe in this King of the Jews so that His Messianic kingdom could be established in Israel. I then asked Shlomo if he ever had the opportunity to read the Brit Hadashah (the New Testament) to learn these theological truths. He responded, “No, I have not, but I have always wanted to a copy so I could read it.” The Holy Spirit beautifully set this up so I could facilitate this very thing! Pulling out a complete Hebrew Bible that, of course, including the New Testament, I joyfully offered God’s Word to Shlomo. He was visibly surprised I just happened to have the Scriptures to give him!

The young man was very open about the fact that Messianic prophecy points directly to Yeshua being the one and only Messiah of Israel. In Jerusalem, there was Isaac a former Orthodox Jew of the strict Harideem sect. The extreme legalism and pervasive hypocrisy of this group so disillusioned Isaac that he left the religious group to become a secularist. Going over some of the detailed Messianic prophecies that Yeshua of Nazareth fulfilled from the Tenach (the Old Testament), Isaac found it hard to believe Yeshua’s atoning death by crucifixion was foretold 1,000 years before by King David. So I showed Isaac the Hebrew text of Psalm 22:16 where it is written of the crucified Messiah, “They have pierced My hands and feet.” I then showed the former Harideem the great prophecy and promise of Jeremiah 31:31-34 where God promised the New Covenant to Israel and how the death of Yeshua in Matthew 26:28 fulfills this very prophecy. After hearing this, Isaac attempted to say this covenant spoken of in Jeremiah 31 was talking about the giving of the Torah to Israel at Mt. Sinai. But I quickly pointed out that Jeremiah 31:32 clearly shows that this New Covenant mentioned in verse 31is different and unlike the Old Covenant when God brought Israel out of Egypt.

It is the New Covenant where Yeshua offered His perfect life as the final sacrifice for sin so that those who believe in Him have all their sins removed. Isaac at this point thought I was talking about Joshua son of Nun who succeeded Moses. Patiently, I told Isaac that I was talking about Yeshua the Son of God born of a virgin according to Isaiah 7:14. Isaac was compelled enough to take a copy of a complete Hebrew Bible and Messianic prophecy list fulfilled by Yeshua of Nazareth from me so that he could study and see for himself that what I was telling him was truly what the Jewish Bibles teaches. Due to financial constraints we can only go for nine days on this outreach.

 

We need You Help To Fund the Next Gospel Outreach to Israel, Coming up of September this Year!

God willing, I will return to Israel the first week of September this year. We need your financial help. Each time God has raised up the redeemed elect that has helped us carry this Gospel outreach to the Jewish people. Having taken the Gospel to Israel for 18 years now, I can safely say very few ministries are doing what we are doing to obey God’s Word in Romans 1:16 of taking the Gospel to the Jew first. Partner with us to make a difference for time and eternity in the lives of the precious Jewish people who desperately need to know that Yeshua is their Messiah, King of the Jews. Don’t let them perish without having the Scriptures we freely give them that believing on Yeshua they have eternal life. Its up to you. Help us in this Holy Spirit ordained enterprise. To donate online, you can go to the following secure link on our ministry web site: https://www.brit-hadashah.org/wp/donate/

You can also donate by mail to:

 

Brit Hadashah Ministries

P.O. Box 796127

Dallas, Texas 75379-6127

 

Brit Hadashah Ministries is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit ministry, so your donation is tax deductible in the United States. Now is the accepted time, today is the day and year for the Gospel of salvation to be preached in Israel (2Corinthians 6:2) Partner with us in this exciting End-Time effort.

 

Your servant in Messiah Jesus,

Dr. Todd Baker.

 

 

 

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SALVATION AND THE PLACE OF THE DEAD

Salvation and The Place of the Dead

by Daniel E. Woodhead, Ph. D.

Ron DiCianni Simeon’s Moment

Salvation

Salvation as revealed in the Bible can be defined in two ways. First, it is deliverance from physical danger, and second, it is deliverance by God from His eternal punishment for sin. This article will focus primarily on the second instance, the salvation God provides to mankind that saves them from His penalty of allowing the power and practice of sin to control the lives and destiny of human beings on this earth. It is quite clear that this salvation is only of God, and we receive it according to His grace:

Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (MEV)

God is completely holy, and He punishes sin (Romans 1:18). Furthermore, mankind is sinful and has broken God’s Laws (Romans 1:19-3:18). There is nothing that mankind can do to earn God’s favor (Romans 3:19-20). The way of salvation is a free gift from God through the atonement of Jesus Christ (Romans 6:23). It is offered to all who would believe on Christ (Romans 1:16-17; 3:22-30; 4:2-8:24). The only people who experience salvation are those who have actually accepted Jesus’ atonement by belief in the Gospel of Jesus.

Acts 4:10-12

10 be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (KJV)

 Sin and Its Origin

Sin has plagued mankind since Satan introduced it into the world. As “the anointed cherub” who covered God’s throne, Satan was originally named Hallal that may mean “day-star” in Hebrew, before he fell from God’s Grace. Ezekiel states he was set over God’s throne until unrighteousness (sin) was found in him. This is the only verse in the Bible mentioning the origin of sin:

Ezekiel 28:14-15

14Thou wast the anointed cherub that covereth: and I set thee, so that thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. 15Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till unrighteousness [sin] was found in thee. (ASV, 1901, brackets added)

Isaiah describes his “fall” from heaven:

Isaiah 14:12-14

12How art thou fallen from heaven, O day-star, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, that didst lay low the nations! 13And thou saidst in thy heart, I will ascend into heaven (ASV, 1901), I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; and I will sit upon the mount of congregation, in the uttermost parts of the north; 14I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. (ASV, 1901)

Because of his sin, Hallal was thrown out of his exclusive Heavenly reign, and then was “cut down to the ground”, where he continued his sinful activities as the one who “didst lay low the nations!” We do not exactly when His name was changed from Hallal to Satan, which is a Hebrew word meaning “adversary”. He is God’s adversary. As a result of his Fall, He polluted the Heavenly Tabernacle of God when sin was found in him, and that needed cleansing that is only provided by the blood of Jesus Christ. Then he indwelt a serpent in the Garden of Eden, beguiling our first parents Adam and Eve, causing them to disobey God. This act then caused sin to enter the sphere of time and space, as it was already in Heaven.

The result of the Fall in the Garden of Eden was that death entered the pristine earth through Adam and Eve’s sin, and more specifically the Garden of Eden where Jehovah God has placed Adam and his wife. Even though the earth became corrupt as sin entered it and caused death to reign over the creation, the more serious result was spiritual death (Romans 5: 14, 17, 21). All physical matter became a prisoner to the Laws of Entropy. Decay began at the point of the Fall, immediately after eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the “eyes of both of them were opened.” This means that Adam and Eve’s awareness expanded, but not to what the Devil had led them to believe it would be. Acting on the prompting of the Devil did not lead to divine enlightenment as he promised it would, but instead it led to a sense of shame. Satan promised them wisdom, which he cannot provide. Only the fear of God can bring wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). The world seeks Satan’s promises, and they always fail to receive them. Disobedience of God’s Word will never bring any benefits, only grief and lack of spiritual blessings. God immediately set up a Redeemer, Himself.

Genesis 3: 14

14And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life:” (ASV, 1901)

The serpent, which allowed itself to be used by Satan and caused the downfall of mankind, is now held responsible for its actions. It is cursed “above all cattle and above every beast of the field”. Following this, the Lord said that the serpent would be destined to “crawl upon thy belly”. This means that it was at one point it stood upright, but there is no mention of any legs. Finally, the Lord states that the serpent would eat “dust” all the days of its life. Since the serpent does not have an actual diet of dust, we see a Hebrew idiomatic phrase “eat dust” used here as used by a conqueror over his enemies. In a contemporary setting we see this in automobile races where the winner states that the loser has “eaten his dust.” The Old Testament uses this term in much the same way (Micah 7: 17; Psalm 72: 9 and Isaiah 49: 23).

Genesis 3: 15

 15and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” (ASV, 1901)

 In theology this verse is called “the Proto-Evangelium because it is the first appearance of the Gospel. Conversely, it is also the first prophecy the Lord gave us of the Antichrist.

The fifteenth verse, which is directed at Satan, has four provisions:

  • Hostility between Satan and women.
  • Hostility between Satan’s seed, the Antichrist, and woman’s seed, who is Christ the Savior.
  • Christ bruising the head of Satan.
  • Satan bruising the heel of Christ.

The first provision is that God will “put enmity between thee and the woman”. This state of hostility between Satan and women is persistent, and is brought about because of women’s special redemptive role of bringing the Messiah into the world. The first satanic attack on women is described in Genesis chapter six where demons intermarry with human women in an attempt to stop the coming of the Messiah by corrupting the quality of the human race. A worldwide flood stopped this attempt.

The second provision states that a hostile relationship will continue as the text states “between your seed and her seed.” The seed of the woman is the Messiah Himself, the Lord Jesus. In the Bible, genealogies are traced through the male’s lines, but it is not until we read in Isaiah 7: 14 does the Bible explain the Messiah coming from the womb of a virgin. The Lord Jesus had no human father, Mary’s husband Joseph was his stepfather. It is important to note women do not have the seed for procreation, men do. However, since Jesus was born of a virgin, the expression “her seed” represents a miraculous conception (Isaiah 7:14). The reference in this verse to Satan’s “seed” implies a supernatural, miraculous conception too. From this passage, and also in Daniel 9: 26-27, it can be deduced that Satan will someday impregnate a Roman woman who will give birth to Satan’s “seed” who is going to be the Antichrist. That woman might not be a virgin because Scripture does not affirm this, but he will be conceived through supernatural means. Consider II Thessalonians 2:8-9:

2 Thessalonians 2:8-9 

8And then shall be revealed the lawless one, whom the Lord Jesus shall slay with the breath of his mouth, and bring to nought by the manifestation of his coming; 9[even he], whose coming is according to the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (ASV, 1901) 

In verse 9 of II Thessalonians chapter 2 above, the word “working” is the Greek word energeo, which means, “to energize”. So then the coming of Antichrist will originate by the “energizing that comes from Satan. This counterfeit Son of the unholy Trinity will be brought about by a counterfeit virgin conception. A time is coming when the events of Genesis chapter six will be repeated, namely that the fallen, anointed Cherub, Satan (in the Latin Hallal is called Lucifer) will impregnate a Roman woman to give birth to Satan’s son. The product of this conception will be a counterfeit “god-man”.

The third provision promises a curse, which is: “he shall bruise your head.” The woman’s “seed”, Jesus, gives the bruising to Satan by His death and resurrection (Hebrews 2: 14-18). The word “bruise” implies it is a harmful condition, but not fatal especially since its target is the “head”. Satan is still alive, but will eventually become placed in a terminal condition due to Christ’s finished work. Because of Romans 16: 20 and Revelation 20:10 we know that Satan’s final demise will be in the Lake of Fire. This will be a “crushing” of the head of the serpent, and his demise will be eternal.

The fourth provision in Genesis 3: 15 is: “You shall bruise his heel.” Satan will bruise the heel of the Woman’s Seed, and this represents the crucifixion. The bruising of the heel, while painful, is not terminal. The bruising and crushing can be best understood with imagery regarding the  method of dispensing of poisonous snakes in Israel. They must crush its head in order to completely eliminate its threat. As the heel of Messiah comes down on the serpent (Satan), the serpent rises up to bite His heel causing pain but not pain leading to an eternal pain (death). As the heel of Messiah continues to descend on Satan even though it has been bitten (the crucifixion), He is not dead so the heel continues down to finally crush the serpent’s head ending in his demise.

The Messiah is Prophecied

The fact that the Messiah had to come is well attested to in Scripture which starts with this foundational verse, Genesis 3: 15. One unique aspect of the Scriptures of Christianity is the prophecies and validated fulfillment at later times in the long chronology of the Bible’s story. These alone attest to the Scripture’s validity. Christ, after He was risen, explained many of the prophecies in the Bible and the fact that He had to die in order to accomplish the task He was to sent to do (Luke 24: 25-27). Jesus accused the Pharisees of not knowing who He was. In fact, He said that Moses knew He was coming and wrote of Him.

John 5:43-47

43 I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive. 44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only? 45 Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust (Luke 24:27; Numbers 21. 9. & 24. 17. Deuteronomy18. 15, 18, 19). 46 For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me [Luke 24:27)]. 47 But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? (KJV, brackets added)

 

 

 

Following His resurrection, He explained to some of His disciples the Old Testament text relating to Himself to certify that He was indeed the Messiah who was clearly prophecied:

Luke 24:25-27

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: 26 ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? 27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (KJV).

Christ’s first advent is well prophesied in Scripture. Some of those are:

 

He would be born in Bethlehem in the region of Ephrathah.

Introduced in Micah 5: 2 and fulfilled in Matthew 2: 1-5.

 

He would be the Son of God

Introduced in Psalm 2: 7 and fulfilled in John 3: 16-17.

 

He would be born into the Hebrew tribe of Judah

Genesis 49: 10 and fulfilled in Hebrews 7: 14.

 

He would be born of a virgin

Introduced in Isaiah 7: 14 and fulfilled in Matthew 1: 18-22.

 

He would be a prophet like Moses

Introduced in Deuteronomy 18: 15 and fulfilled in John 7: 15-17.

 

He would be the king of Israel

Introduced in Zechariah 9: 9 and fulfilled in John 12: 12-15.

 

He would be rejected

Introduced in Isaiah 53: 3 and fulfilled in John 1: 11

 

He would be beaten

Introduced In Micah 5: 1 and fulfilled in Mark 15: 19.

 

He would be silent during his interrogation

Introduced in Isaiah 53: 7 and fulfilled in Matthew 27: 12-14.

 

He would be betrayed

Introduced in Psalm 41: 9 and fulfilled in Mark 14: 17-20.

 

He would be tried and condemned

Introduced in Isaiah 53: 8 and fulfilled Matthew 27: 1-2

 

He would be crucified

Introduced in Psalm 22: 16 and fulfilled in John 19: 17-18.

 

His garments would be divided

Introduced in Psalm 22: 18 and fulfilled in John 19: 23-24.

 

He would be given gall and vinegar

Introduced in Psalm 69: 21 and fulfilled in John 19: 28-29.

 

His bones would not be broken

Introduced in Exodus 12: 46 and fulfilled in John 19: 31-36.

 

He is our sacrifice

Introduced in Isaiah 53: 5-6 and fulfilled in I Peter 2: 24-25.

 

He was raised from the dead

Introduced in Psalm 16: 10 and fulfilled in Luke 24: 1-7 and 47.

The resurrection of Christ is the most significant event in all of world history. It provides a remedy for the Fall,cleansed the heavenly tabernacle as well as a remedy for the sin of our first family, Adam and his wife. If one truly believes in the historical facts of the Gospel and is regenerated, one is granted eternal life through the finished work of Jesus of Nazareth (Romans 6:23; Titus 3: 5). The gospel is clearly presented in several places in Scripture, and none are clearer than I Corinthians 15:

1 Corinthians 15: 1-4

1Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; 2By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; 4And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures,” (KJV)

The Faithful Jews Awaited Jesus Arrival

The Jews were given a lot of evidence for the coming one who would take away the sins of the world. We see Simeon and Anna waiting in anticipation at the Temple for the baby Messiah to be brought there for His circumcision on the eighth day of His life.

Luke 2:25

25 And behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. 26 And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. 27 And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, 28 then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, 29 Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart In peace, according to thy word: 30 For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.31 Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; 32 A light to lighten the Gentiles and the glory of thy people Israel. 33 And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. 34 And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; 35 (yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. 

36 And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. 38 And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem. 39 And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. (KJV)

The observant Jews of the Old Testament knew that the Messiah was going to arrive to provide salvation as Simeon cried had out, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation.“ It is also quite clear it is the sacrifice of Jesus that provides our salvation from sin. Even though many knew He was coming (and would in the future be sacrificed), how was salvation guaranteed to the faithful in the Old Testament before Jesus’ sacrifice? First it is important to consider what the Bible teaches on the place of the dead. The Hebrew name for the place of the dead is Sheol, and the Greek word is Hades. Frequently our English translations will simply states these words as “Hell”. This is not accurate. The Old Testament declares in many places that people, both the faithful and unfaithful, went to Sheol when they died.

Old Testament Place of the Dead

One phrase that refers to death in the Old Testament is being “gathered unto His people.” A dead person is seen as joining the company of people that preceded him in death. The physical death takes place, then after that the individual is described as entering the company of those who had passed on before him (“gathered unto his people”). We read this regarding the death of Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, and Jacob:

Genesis 25:8

8Then Abraham gave up the ghost, and died in a good old age, an old man, and full [of years]; and was gathered to his people (KJV).

Genesis 25:17

17And these [are] the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years: and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. (KJV)

Genesis 35:29a:

29And Isaac gave up the ghost, and died and was gathered unto his people…. (KJV)

Genesis 49:33:

33And when Jacob had made an end of commanding his sons, he gathered up his feet into the bed, and yielded up the ghost, and was gathered unto his people. (KJV)

So, we see in the first book of the Bible that after people die physically, they are “gathered unto their people.” They are joining the company of people who preceded them in death, and are consciously aware of them. Due to his righteousness, the destination of Abraham in the good side of Sheol is described in the Bible: “And he believed in Jehovah; and he reckoned it to him for righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). The following examples discuss this.

Psalm 17:15

15As for me, I will behold thy face in righteousness: I shall be satisfied, when I awake, with thy likeness. (KJV)

Here David expressed a real faith that the soul will still be conscious in the fellowship with God even after death. This is also taught in the following verse:

Psalm 73:23-25

23Nevertheless I [am] continually with thee: thou hast holden [me] by my right hand 24Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me [to] glory. 25Whom have I in heaven [but thee]? and [there is] none upon earth [that] I desire beside thee. (KJV)

In this Psalm, the author Asaph expressed a real faith in immortality. Even upon his death he saw himself as being conscious and with God.

 Ecclesiastics 12:7

 7Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (KJV)

 Here Solomon expresses the truth that the body returns to the earth to decay, and finally become dust, but the spirit goes to be with God our creator.

The New Testament expresses this same concept in at least four verses. They are found in: II Corinthians 5:1-8; Luke 23:43; John 14:3; Philippians 1:22-23.

The Consciousness of the Souls in Sheol

 Souls in “Sheol” are seen as having continuous consciousness. One good example of this is found in Isaiah:

Isaiah 14:9-11

 9Sheol from beneath is moved for thee to meet [thee] at thy coming: it stirreth up the dead for thee, [even] all the chief ones of the earth; it hath raised up from their thrones all the kings of the nations. 10All they shall speak and say unto thee, Art thou also become weak as we? art thou become like unto us? 11Thy pomp is brought down to the Sheol, [and] the noise of thy viols: the worm is spread under thee, and the worms cover thee. (KJV)

In this passage, the soul of the king of Babylon enters into “Sheol”, and into a particular section of Hell, where all the souls that preceded him in Hell suddenly rise in astonishment as they see this one also entering the domains of Hell. They are able to ask questions and carry on a conversation. It should not be missed that these dead ones are portrayed as being conscious. Here, in the “bad side” of Sheol, there is punishment for the king of Babylon.

The same concept is taught in the New Testament in Luke 16:19-31. This is the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Here the distinction is made by Jesus of the two sides of Sheo,l or as it is called in the Greek, Hades since this is a New Testament story:

Luke 16:19-31

19Now there was a certain rich man, and he was clothed in purple and fine linen, faring sumptuously every day: 20and a certain beggar named Lazarus was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21and desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table; yea, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and that he was carried away by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: and the rich man also died, and was buried. 23And in Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things: but now here he is comforted, and thou art in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, that they that would pass from hence to you may not be able, and that none may cross over from thence to us. 27And he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house; 28for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29But Abraham saith, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one go to them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead. (ASV, 1901)

So, there is clearly a good side and a bad side to the place of the dead. At the time of Jesus telling this story, He was essentially referring to Old Testament people. Abraham is in a location within “Hades” Jesus calls “Abraham’s bosom”. He also made reference to it as “Paradise” to the thief on the cross that expressed belief in Jesus as his savior (Luke 23:43). The rich man is in a place of torment also in Hades. There are then multiple compartments to Sheol or Hades. The Old Testament saints had to wait until Jesus was sacrificed in order to go to Heaven. When He died, He went to the “good side” of Hades to release them, and took them to Heaven. Most of the Old Testament verses using the word “Heaven” refer to the atmospheric Heaven, not the place of the dead. The New Testament does refer to “Heaven” as a place where the dead go as well as “Hell”. “Heaven” in the New Testament is the equalivant of “Paradise” in the Old Testament place of the dead. The folks who die in the New Testament era either go to “Hell”, the place for the unsaved, or “Heaven”, the place for the saved. After Jesus was complete with His resurrection body, the implication was that He descended again to Hades to gather the Old Testament saints and transport them from Hades to Heaven.

Jesus Released the Dead Old Testament Saints Who Waited For Him

When Christ ascended to the Father, He took “captivity captive”, meaning He took the righteous Old testament saints from the “Bosom of Abraham” to Heaven. This apparently was done on the Resurrection Day:

Psalm 68:18

18 Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captive Thy captives; Thou hast received gifts among men,… (NASB)

Ephesians 4:8-11

8 Therefore it says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, And He gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) 11 And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers…. (NASB)

The Old Testament saints were “captives” in the sense that they were not permitted to go to the presence of the Lord before He died on the Cross. Now, however, Christ led their souls in a great procession as a conquering general, to present them to the Father in Heaven as fully redeemed saints, awaiting their own resurrection from the dead.

When Christ went to Hades what did He say? Peter says He proclaimed a message to the spirits in prison who were disobedient before the Flood, but He probably also announced to the Old Testament saints that it was now time for them to go with Him to Heaven. The debt for sin had now been fully paid.

1 Peter 3:18-20

18 For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; 19 in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, 20 who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (NASB)

Peter says that Christ died, and preached “to the spirits in prison”. The ones he mentions were certain ones who were disobedient at the time of the Flood of Noah. However, it also seems clear that He had a great message for the Old Testament saints about their coming elevation to Heaven. However, the unrighteous souls were destined to remain in the Place of Torment in Hades until they face the Judge at the Great White Throne, and the Lake of Fire.

Conclusion

Salvation before the death of the Messiah placed Old Testament saints in one of several places in Sheol, or the place of the dead. This place was also called “Abraham’s Bosom, or “Paradise” because of the loving care they received there while awaiting the opening of heaven to them by the death of Christ on the cross. The non-believers went to a place of torment in Sheol, and from there Christ will judge them before their final destination in “the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:11-15). The following chart depicts the all the destinations of the dead, and clearly delineates the different sections:

Spirit World Destinations by Daniel Woodhead

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The Resurrection of Jesus Christ and The New Covenant

The Most important event in all of human history is the resurrection of Jesus the Christ from the dead. In the resurrection, we see that Jehovah God sent Himself, a suffering servant, in the body of a man to atone for the sins of the world (Isaiah 49-57). The New Covenant is spoken of first in the book of Jeremiah, and is found in Jeremiah 31: 33-34, Ezekiel 36: 24-28, and Hebrews 8:8. This is one of the most difficult covenants to understand because of its timing and its relationship to the Church and Israel. It is announced by the prophet Jeremiah, launched at the death of Christ on the cross, but does not become operational until a later date when the Jews accept Him as their Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation. Therefore, there are three stages to this Covenant:

  • The Announcement
  • The Launching, or Ratification
  • The Inauguration, or Enactment

Before we can fully realize the uniqueness of this Covenant, we must first review the Abrahamic Covenant.

God’s Covenant With Abraham

The New Covenant is an outcome of God’s initial covenant to Abraham, who was a Gentile, when this covenant was first made. The first reference to this contract is found in the Abrahamic promises of Genesis 12:1-3. These promises were subsequently referred to and amplified throughout the book of Genesis (Genesis 13:14-17; 17:1-8). The Abrahamic promises were codified into covenant form in Genesis 15. In the Abrahamic Covenant, God essentially promised Abraham that He would do seven items for Abraham’s physical descendants delineated in Genesis 12:2-3:

  1. And I will make of thee a great nation,
  2. and I will bless thee,
  3. and make thy name great;
  4. and thou shalt be a blessing:
  5. And I will bless them that bless thee,
  6. and curse him that curseth thee:
  7. and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.

From these seven “I Wills” flows God’s entire plan for all of mankind. All other covenants between God and man are build on this one. For example, items 5 & 6 are the basis for the “Sheep and Goat Judgment” of the nations in the valley of Jehoshaphat at the end of the Great Tribulation, which closes the “times of the Gentiles” (Matthew 25:31-46). God also foreknew Satan’s anti-Semitism, and history is patterned after Satan attempting to bring about this reality (Zechariah 2:8). The Abrahamic Covenant was affirmed to Abraham’s progeny, Isaac, Jacob, and his twelve sons.

Because the Abrahamic Covenant is the foundation of God’s further covenant promises, the New Covenant should not be understood by separating it from God’s other covenant activity. Rather, it should be viewed as the natural out working of the Abrahamic Covenant. The New Covenant expands the promise to Abraham of blessing to “all the families of the earth”, which is the seventh “I Will” statement, and reveals the means by which man can have his sins forgiven in order to enjoy eternal fellowship with God. The chart below lines up the remaining covenants with the timeline of the Nation Israel:

God’s Covenants with Israel by Randall Price

Stage 1-The Announcement of the New Covenant

The Old Testament Mosaic Law was the old covenant that God had established with His people, and it required their obedience to uphold what they had agreed to do when they accepted God’s communication with them through Moses, during their 40 years in the wilderness (Exodus20). The Mosaic Law required that the people perform rituals and sacrifices to atone for their sins. In order to please God, and remain in His grace, this was necessary because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). These sacrifices by God’s people had to be given in the spirit of earnest acknowledgement of the their sins. God also told His people there was a New Covenant coming that He would make with them, and first announced this in the book of Jeremiah:

Jeremiah 31:31-34

31Behold, the days come, saith Jehovah, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: 32not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith Jehovah. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jehovah: I will put my law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34And they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith Jehovah: for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin will I remember no more (ASV, 1901).

God through, the prophet Jeremiah, said that there would be a time when He would make a New Covenant with the nation of Israel. 
“ ‘The day will come,’ says the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and Judah . . . . But this is the new covenant I will make with the people of Israel on that day,” says the Lord. I will put my law in their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people” (Jeremiah 31:31; 33).

Although God had been faithful in keeping His terms of the conditional Mosaic Law (also called the Mosaic Covenant), Israel had not been faithful to uphold their part of the covenant, thus resulting in Israel breaking the Mosaic Covenant. While the Mosaic Covenant described the standard of righteousness, which the Mosaic Law demanded, God did not provide the power to the people to keep it. But that problem will be rectified in the New Covenant as stated in verse 33 above through regeneration of the people’s heart, and this will provide the internal power necessary to meet and keep the righteous standards of God. The result of the New Covenant will be a total national regeneration of Israel, as described in verse 34 with the New Covenant in their hearts, “they shall teach no more every man his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know Jehovah; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them.” This will not happen until the end of the Great Tribulation when the remaining Jews all become believers in Jesus the Messiah.

How the New Covenant applies the Church

It is also important to determine what this covenant means to the Church at the announcement stage, because it seems to the casual reader, that the New Covenant applies to the Church. It is quite clear that the passage God gave to Jeremiah announcing the New Covenant is strictly meant to apply to the Nation Israel in Jeremiah 31:31. For God said, “I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah.” Some commentators blur the clear distinction between Israel and the Church, and use this as the basis for applying the New Covenant to the Church. But the text here is quite clear, it is written to Israel. God is not “finished” with Israel because they rejected Jesus as their Messiah, and to those who say that He is finished with them, the apostle Paul counters their assertion saying that God has “hardened” them against the acceptance of Jesus as their Messiah for only a specific amount of time:

Romans 11:25-31

25 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, lest you be wise in your own estimation, for a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. 26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will remove ungodliness from Jacob”; 27 “for this is My covenant with them, when I shall take away their sins.” 28 As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake, but as regarding the election, they are beloved for the sake of the patriarchs. 29 For the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. 30 For just as you once were disobedient to God, but have now received mercy through their disobedience, 31 so these also have now been disobedient, that they also may receive mercy by the mercy shown to you. (MEV, underlining added)

The apostle Paul makes it clear that God has not cast off His people. In fact, in answering this rhetorical question, Paul responds with God forbid!:

Romans 11:11

11 I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid! But through their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. (MEV, brackets and underlining added)

So, one of the reasons for establishing the Church is to make the Jews jealous so that they will want what the Church has, and that will lead them to belief in their Messiah.

Stage Two- Launching the New Covenant

Jesus Christ came to fulfill the Law of Moses (Matthew 5:17) and to launch the New Covenant between God, and His people the Jews. The Old Covenant was written in stone, but the New Covenant will be written on their hearts, and that is made possible only by faith in Christ, who shed His own blood to atone for the sins of the world. Luke 22:20 says, Jesus took another cup of wine and said, “This wine is the token of God’s new covenant to save you – an agreement sealed with the blood I will pour out for you.”
 Since the Church had not yet been formed, He was speaking to His apostles, who were Jews, at the last supper.

What the Lord Himself told His Jewish disciples at the Last Supper is key to understanding what the New Covenant means to us. Christ made two statements about the New Covenant:

  • This is My blood of the new covenant (Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24).
  • This is the new covenant in My blood (Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25)

The blood of the New Covenant is not itself the New Covenant, nor is the New Covenant His blood. What Scripture teaches on this matter is to recognize that the Old Testament promise of the New Covenant contained both spiritual and material benefits. The Church indeed is enjoying the spiritual benefits, such as salvation and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but the Church is not experiencing the material benefits, which remain unfulfilled. The material benefits will remain unfulfilled until the entire nation of Israel is regenerated at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, which ends the Great Tribulation. At that time, the New Covenant will be inaugurated to provide both its spiritual and physical benefits to all believers in Christ, and these benefits will continue throughout the Messianic Kingdom (Romans 15:27). The New Testament does not violate Old Testament statements when it includes more than was revealed in the Old Testament.

Stage Three – The Inauguration of the New Covenant

The book of Hebrews was written to second, and third generation Hebrew Christian believers in the Church Age. In Hebrews 8:6-23, the author describes that the inauguration or enactment of the New Covenant for the Jews will be in the future (Hebrews 8:6–13). The writer states in Hebrews 8:13b: “Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away”, which literally means, “Now that, the Mosaic Covenant, which is growing old and aging, is near to disappearing.” For the Jews, the Old Covenant has not yet disappeared because the New Covenant has not come to them, yet. Nowhere does the Scripture say the New Covenant has already come into existence so that they benefit from its spiritual and material blessing before the acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews. The writer of Hebrews continues:

Hebrews 9:15

15 For this reason He [Jesus] is the Mediator of a new covenant, since a death has occurred for the redemption of the sins that were committed under the first covenant, so that those who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. (MEV)

Another way to understand this is illustrated in the following chart:

Title: How Christ is Launching and Inaugurating the New Covenant

Source: Daniel Woodhead

The New Covenant, prophesied in the Old Testament was made with the two segments of Israel that it had divided itself into, that is, the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Church, though not a formal partner of the New Covenant, participates in the New Covenant both as a subject of living a new life based on redemption in Christ, and as a recipient of God’s promises to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant. The promise that effects the Church has come through the Seed of Abraham who is Jesus Christ, as first presented as the seventh “I Will” of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Church does not “fulfill” the New Covenant, that is strictly for the Nation Israel in the future Messianic Kingdom.

The New Covenant was inaugurated at Christ’s death (Matthew 26:27–28; Luke 22:20), and the Church, by her union with Christ, is sharing in many of the spiritual blessings promised to Israel the New Covenant (Romans 11:11–27; Ephesians 2:11–22; II Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:6–13; 9:15; 12:22–24). For we are told:

Ephesians 1:7

7 In Him we have redemption through His blood and the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace. (MEV)

But, though the Church’s participation in the New Covenant is strictly as a participant, it is not the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise. The fact that believers today enjoy the spiritual blessings of the New Covenant, such as forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling Holy Spirit, does not mean that spiritual and physical blessings will not be realized by Israel. That still awaits the day when Israel will acknowledge her sin, and turn to the Messiah for forgiveness (Zechariah 12:10–13:1)

One way to illustrate the Church’s participation in the New Covenant is to view the New Covenant as an airplane that takes off. Let’s view the plane as the Covenant and its load of missiles as the Church. The Church (Missiles) gets dropped off in the Church Age and the plane (New Covenant) continues on until it lands in the Messianic Kingdom.

 

 

Written by: Daniel E. Woodhead

 

 

 

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False Shepherds In Israel and The Church

The Role of The shepherd

In chapter 34 of the book of Ezekiel God is using a familiar illustration of the “shepherd” and his “sheep” to describe the leaders and the people of the Nation Israel. The Bible frequently uses this terminology to refer to the spiritual leaders with responsibility over a group of people (Psalm 78:70-72; Isaiah 44:28; 63:11; Jeremiah 23:1-4; 25:34-38). Their primary role was to guard the nation like a shepherd would guard his flock. Every society needs a recognized and well-ordered leadership for its own safeguard and prosperity. God chose elders, priests, kings and prophets to connect Him to the people in ancient Israel. There are earthly “shepherds” to carry out the Lord’s will in leading the people to God, and King David recognized this:

Psalm 23:1-6

1The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters. 3He restoreth my soul: He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. 5Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup runneth over. 6Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever. (KJV)

In this Psalm David categorized the many benefits of the Lord as our “Shepherd”, and who also is a gracious host. The Lord protected David from life’s dangers, and God’s persistent living protection enabled him to enjoy a secure communion with Him all the days of his life.

The Lord also described the future, earthly appearance of the Messiah of Israel as a “shepherd” who will feed and gently carry the young of His flock (Isaiah 40:11). The same is important in New Testament times as well (Proverbs 8:15; Romans 13:1). During His appearance in time and space as the Lord Jesus, He called Himself the “Good Shepherd”, while describing the bad shepherd as a thief and a robber:

John 10:1-16

1 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me[a] are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. (NKJ)

The Good Shepherd (Asia Minor, c. 390; Cleveland Museum of Art)

The Shepherds of Israel

The kings and princes who ruled over the Nation Israel became evil and self-serving instead of doing God’s work ministering to the people. God was getting ready to take them to task for what they were not doing (Ezekiel 34:1-2).

Characteristics and Results of Evil Shepherds

Ezekiel 34:3-6

3Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill the fatlings; but ye feed not the sheep. 4The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought back that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with rigor have ye ruled over them. 5And they were scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. 6My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my sheep were scattered upon all the face of the earth; and there was none that did search or seek after them. (ASV, 1901)

Wolf in sheep’s clothing – artist unknown

These appointed leaders did not serve the flock as the Good Shepherd intended them to do. At the expense of the common people they were using the offices that they held to achieve personal gain, and become wealthy. Their view of the people as a source of wealth replaced fulfilling their obligation to the Lord who had entrusted them with the administration of His love, care and accurate promulgation of His Word in an organized and systematic manner. Instead of taking their God-given role seriously, they ruled with harshness and brutality. They did not strengthen those who were diseased, they failed to adequately heal and care for the sick, and they did not care for the lost, either physically or spiritually. Through the truth of Scripture, they should have nurtured the people, and brought them to a positive, genuine relationship with God. Another error in their flagrant disregard for the people was failing to watch over them. Instead they let the sheep wander from the safety of the flock. Their shepherding of the flock was diametrically opposed to what Jesus characterized as the appropriate action of a Good Shepherd:

Matthew 18:12

12What do you think? If any man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go and search for the one that is straying? (NASB)

 

Shepherd rescues one sheep – artist unknown

Sheep will wander. It is one of their characteristics, and when the sheep become scattered they are vulnerable to predatory wild animals. As much as he can, the caring shepherd will make sure they are not wandering off in a direction that will harm them. These leaders were so self-serving that they failed to provide any oversight, and did not notice, or care, that the people of Israel had left the flock in terms of spiritual purity and physical safety. When leaders abandon truth for personal gain of any sort they are placing their flocks in danger. When the message of truth is corrupted or is inadequately conveyed, a person will leave their acceptance of the authority of Scripture’s spiritual truth and is lost. They no longer have the safeguard of its protective doctrines, and are in danger of losing the path to eternal salvation.

Since the mid 1800’s many of the spiritual leaders of the Church have been abrogating their spiritual responsibility to care for their flocks. They cause many to leave because they began denying, or arguing over some of the fundamentals of the faith. Denominations and church after church have split over denials of the Trinity, the incarnation and the Second Coming. The roots of this began in Europe, particularly with German Rationalism where the inerrancy of the Scripture was denied with the development of Biblical Criticism and particularly with the “documentary hypothesis”. Julius Wellhausen was the principal developer of this concept. He insisted that human reason only, not the Bible, could be trusted. He presented the idea that the Bible, far from being God’s Word, was just a collection of human documents. These destructive denials of the fundamental truth of the Bible caused the church leaders to quote everything but the Bible, and preach everything but the gospel. Religious liberalism led to the calamities that came upon Europe such as Communism, Nazism, fascism, and promulgation of the occult. Other diseased ideas have been promoted by the absence of a spiritual core that makes up the divine life and spiritual blessing. Wellhausen and his liberalism destroyed the spiritual life in Europe, and nearly succeeded in the spiritual destruction of the United States. Today less than 1% of the population of Europe is made up of Evangelical Christians. [1]

If you think that men are not able to negatively influence others to keep them out of the Kingdom, listen to what the Lord Jesus had to say to the Pharisees:

Matthew 23:13

13But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. (KJV)

TRUTH MUST NEVER BE SACRIFIED FOR PEACE. IT NEVER WORKS!

In more recent times modern “false shepherds” have led many into a totally new phase of misleading the believer. The old phase, under the liberal intellectuals of the 1800’s, can be characterized as “destructive denials” of Scripture authority. This new phase claims to affirm the fundamentals of the faith, but they have made a paradigm shift away from the Bible as being the final authority in determining divine truth, and focus on experience as being equally valid, or taking priority over Scripture. If the Bible contradicts a particular practice, or “experience” promoted by the modern day church, then that practice is justified by them as a “new move of the Spirit”, and what the text of the Scripture actually says can be contradicted by this new “experience”. This represents itself as a more “spiritual” of a way of denying the truth of God, and therefore far more deceptive. The Holy Spirit will never move in a manner that is contrary to Scripture.

The New Evangelicalism or The Emerging Church

 The New Evangelicalism, also called the Emerging Church, is perhaps the most insidious of all the apostasies. It is characterized by catering to the desires of the people. Instead of being inculcated with God’s Word and having our personal world view and behavior be patterned after God’s Word, the New Evangelicalism gives the people what they want. One New Testament passage clearly predicts this reversal of worship of God to worshipping man:

Romans 1:25

 25Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (KJV)

The idea of this new wave apostasy is to “soft-sell” the Bible and salvation. This apostasy does not want to upset anybody, there is never any mention of Hell, or the outcome of an unsaved life. Instead they offer a path away from an aimless, meaningless life here on earth. They say they “believe” strongly in salvation through Jesus Christ, but their actions differ sharply from what they say. Salvation is given lip service, and evangelism with real confrontation or teaching Biblical doctrine is thought to be too “divisive”. Usually their Bible teaching is characterized by an over emphasis on application, which is the “middle of the road” approach. Our “experiences” and “quality of life” here on earth are more important than total service to God, and the blessed assurance that He will soon come to lift us out of this sinful decaying world. Paul warned us that the end times would be characterized with a departure from sound doctrine, and from the truth:

II Timothy 4:3-4

 3For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4And they shall turn away [their] ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. (KJV)

 

From an 1871 editorial in Harper’s magazine. The fanged beasts coming from the sea are false shepherds.

The New Evangelicals believe if they do not emphasize “man-pleasing”, they will lose members of their congregation, and more importantly, their funding. A total dependence on God for their resources is abandoned for “sound business” practices or “fundamental marketing techniques.” Total reliance on God by elders through prayer and patience is exchanged for parliamentary procedure, schemes for man-made self-advancement, and the development of career goals. The pastor is considered a CEO, not the teacher of God’s Word. Mission statements and strategic plans are formulated to accommodate personal plans. The Bible is subordinated to man’s desires.

The thought of prophecy is anathema to the New Evangelical for they say it causes “division”. This “division” of course is between those non-literal Bible expositors and the literal Biblical expositors. Some have characterized the New Evangelical as being seduced by the world spirit of this present age. You can see it in the leaders who are popularized. Usually they have a high degree of prominence in the government or sports, and their testimonies are sought after for paid speaking engagements and book endorsements. But you will never see a Sunday school teacher, or poor inner city pastor held up by them as pillars of the faith. Christ went to the lowest members of society to bring the truth to the world. He did not go to the popular and prominent because they had already compromised the Truth for self gain.

The New Evangelicals represent a spirit of disobedience to, and a mood of compromise of what God has asked us to do in times of confrontation. It is a rejection of many of the difficult aspects of New Testament Christianity. They promote an attitude of “positivism” where they would rather be passive diplomats, not focused fighters, and infiltrators rather than separatists. They would not be restricted by a separationist mentality as we are asked to do if God’s word is violated. The New Evangelical would rather pursue dialog, intellectualism, and appeasement than standing firm for Biblical truth.

Our culture has become deeply entrenched with psychology, and its teachings are rapidly becoming the norm in Christian Schools and churches to “add to” or replace the teachings of the Bible. The weakness and carnality of the church in recent decades has allowed this psychological mind-set of the world to flow into the church. Psychology offer remedies outside of God’s word in the Bible, and has brought about a redefining of many foundational matters of the Christian faith. The correct understanding is that man’s condition is sin, and God’s remedy is His saving and transforming grace (Romans 5:12, 17). Psychology teaches that man must esteem himself, affirm himself, and actualize himself. All of this new thinking is coming from psychological theory, which is primarily a man-based philosophy of life. In conclusion, we are strongly warned in the word of the Lord not to be guided by the philosophy of the world:

Colossians 2:8

 8Beware lest anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (KJV)

It is clear from the beginning passages in Chapter 34 of Ezekiel that man (who are “sheep”) tended to stray from God to follow his own self-willed path (Isaiah 53:6). We need to deny ourselves, take up His cross, and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). We need to follow the leading of our Good Shepherd, who loves us, and died so we could be eternally secure and free. The Good Shepherd is just the opposite of the bad shepherds who let the sheep die because they cannot be bothered to do their job.

The Indictment of The False Shepherds

Ezekiel 34:7-8

7Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah: 8As I live, saith the Lord Jehovah, surely forasmuch as my sheep became a prey, and my sheep became food to all the beasts of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my sheep, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my sheep; (ASV, 1901)

Our Lord here addresses the wicked shepherds directly with the command to “hear the word of Jehovah”. God begins again to stress the situation the wicked shepherds created causing the sheep to scatter, and become prey “to all the beasts of the field”. The shepherds did not look for the sheep that were scattered. God still calls the sheep His own, which obviously means that He has never relinquished His rights to sheep entrusted to the shepherd of the flock. These wicked men were given temporary custody and this is their indictment; they failed to look after the people of God to whom they were entrusted.

This should be a sober message to anyone who has responsibilities to teach the Word of God. God is very serious about the quality of the teaching of His Word, and will chastise those who cause the sheep to scatter because of poor quality teaching, including denial of essential doctrines necessary for the sheep to flourish. The false shepherds had brought Israel to ruin, and now He would intercede to rescue His chosen people. The fact that God will cause His people to hear the truth, and bring the genuine sheep out from under false shepherds cannot be missed. There also is a component of responsibility on the sheep to seek out the truth of God’s Word where it is taught clearly, and to abandon the false teachers. Only the truly saved will seek the truth.

God Will Deliver the Sheep

Ezekiel 34:9-10

9therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of Jehovah: 10Thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the sheep; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; and I will deliver my sheep from their mouth, that they may not be food for them. (ASV, 1901)

 The main objective of God in this situation was to bring about the deliverance of the sheep and their well-being. God does not desire the ruin of anyone. This text primarily rebukes Israel’s false shepherds. The sheep are meant to receive comfort, and He promises that He has not forgotten about them. The Lord God will deliver His sheep from the hand of the unfaithful shepherds, and He personally would gather His scattered sheep. Throughout the history of the Church this is also very apparent. When the shepherds have gone “bad”, and are no longer are feeding the flock of sheep, God intervenes and leads the sheep to a new shepherd who will feed them.

False Shepherds Today

Revelation chapters two and three can be seen as a chronological exposition of a broad overview of Church history. We can see the letters to the churches describe an accurate chronological depiction of the problems encountered throughout church history. The last letter to the church at Laodicea provides an clear picture of the apostasy of the visible Christian Church, also called The Church of the Apostasy, and represents Church history from A.D. 1890-to the present day:

Revelation 3:14-22

 14To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘15I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ’17Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. 19Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

“20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (NASB)

 This letter is directed to the Laodiceans, whose name means “people ruling”, and it is a church entirely ruled by men, which this is diametrically opposed to God’s ruling in the church. This is because the Holy Spirit is not present and doing His ministry of guiding, teaching, and illuminating. While this has happened throughout the history of the Nation Israel, it is far worse in the Church Age since the 1890’s. God says that in the latter times some will be led by demons away from faith in God. This is what led the Israelite shepherds away from God as they worshipped the Canaanite idols on the “high places.” The following passage clearly describes the shepherds who are given authority to bring God’s Word in the Church Age, and why they fail:

I Timothy 4:1-3

1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons , 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. (KJV)

Artist Unknown

The source of the apostasy is demons. Apostates have essentially given in to seducing spirits and are preaching a system of doctrine that is a doctrine of demons. Furthermore, they speak lies through hypocrisy, and their consciences have stopped working. We can see how the shepherds through their adherence and interest in demonic activity have been led to teach a whole host of unbiblical requirements. As they turn from clearly teaching God’s Word, they deny its authority:

II Timothy 3:1-5

1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (KJV)

This passage from II Timothy begins with a description of the general character of false shepherds of God Word. Many of these characteristics are true today. Verse five specifically identifies the false front put on by the shepherds. These men have “a form of godliness”, but deny the power of God’s Word. Consider apostate clergy who wear flowing clerical gowns and embrace church hierarchical titles or dress in a manner appearing to be “one of us”. They appear to have a form of “godliness”, but they deny “the power thereof”, for they have denied the true power of godliness. They claim to trust in God, but are actually trusting in worldly methodologies. They bring the world’s attractions into the church to lure the sheep into remaining, even when they stop affirming the authority of God’s Word. This is one aspect of the sheep scattering from the false shepherd that no longer carry’s the voice of God to the sheep. We are commanded to separate from them. Here are four important points to understand what this really means:

  1. Separation is not an optional part of Christianity; it is a commandment (Romans 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; I Timothy 6:5; II Timothy 2:16-18; 3:5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 7-11; Revelation 18:4).
  2. Separation is not mean or unloving; it is obedience to God.
  1. “Mark them . . . avoid them” (Romans 16:17)
  2. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with” (II Corinthians 6:14)
  3. “Have no fellowship with” (II Corinthians 6:14)
  4. “Come out from among” (II Corinthians 6:17)
  5. “Withdraw thyself” (I Timothy 6:5)
  6. “Shun” (II Timothy 2:16)
  7. “Purge oneself from” (II Timothy 2:21)
  8. “From such turn away” (II Timothy 3:5)
  9. “Reject” (Titus 3:10)
  10. “Receive them not into your house neither bid them Godspeed” (II John 10)
  1. Separate even from brethren who are living in disobedience, and do not follow the traditions Christ taught us (II Thessalonians 3:6).
  2. Separation is a wall of protection against spiritual danger. Failure to separate from error leaves one open to the influence of error (I Corinthians 15:33). The reason a shepherd separates the sheep from wolves is to protect them. Likewise, a faithful and godly Bible teacher will seek to separate his flock from spiritual dangers that are even more destructive than wolves. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations and seminary teachings.

Another activity of the false shepherds is mockery of the fundamentals of the faith and the creation schisms or separations:

Jude 17-19

17But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. 19These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. (KJV)

They begin denying some of the fundamentals of the faith such as the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the Virgin Birth, the Substitutionary death of Christ, and His physical resurrection from the dead. Then they attempt to convince some to their heresies, but not all will accept them. As the Lord said, many sheep will know His voice and only follow Him, and not a false shepherd (John 10:1-5). In the course of time this produces a split within the visible church. Throughout the Church age there has been schism after schism. Church after church and denominations have split over denials of the Trinity, the incarnation and the Second Coming.

Like the example we have in Ezekiel’s day, these scatterings of the sheep through heretical teachings and deeds of separations have become prevalent as church history has progressed from the time of Jesus to the present day. Liberalism, also called Modernism, and other attempts like them to keep God’s Word from clearly reaching the sheep have accelerated since the early 1900’s. The decade of the 1920’s was characterized by the great Modernist-Fundamentalist battles. There were many attempts to fight Modernism within the church. Toward the end of that decade, it was apparent that the Modernists were firmly in control of both the denominational church positions (this included all the major denominations except the Southern Baptist Convention) and their schools.

This led to the separatist movement of the 1930’s as the Fundamentalists pulled out of the denominations and started their own denominations or independent churches. Emerging from the United Presbyterian Church of the United States of America was a group led by J. Gresham Machen, which subsequently split into three separate denominations (Orthodox Presbyterians, Bible Presbyterians and the Evangelical Presbyterians) due to internal struggles. Out of the American Baptist Convention came the General Association of Regular Baptists (GARB). Out of the United Methodist Church came the Evangelical Methodists. The following chart is a partial depiction affirming these splits:

Protestant Denominations since Christ by http://protestantism.co.uk/denominations

Additionally, ecumenical movements have been prevalent during the 1940’s through to the present day. Ecumenism is a demonic attempt to tie “bad” teaching and practices to “good” ones, which only results in bad theology and doctrine. The fundamental Bible believers either cave in to the liberal apostates, or separate by breaking off in order to clearly receive God’s Word from other sources. In 1948, the World Council of Churches was organized on two principles: First, the unity of all the Churches in the basis of liberal beliefs; and second, the unity of all religions. In 1950, the old Federal Council of Churches was reorganized into the National Council of Churches, again attempting to unify all churches in the United States along liberal beliefs. Consequently, the visible church is primarily apostate today. Even among conservative denominations, the threat of apostasy is taking over of the theological and seminary schools and results in the supplying of liberal ministers for the pulpit.

God Affirms His Deliverance of His Sheep

Ezekiel 34:11-16

11For thus saith the Lord Jehovah: Behold, I myself, even I, will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. 12As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered abroad, so will I seek out my sheep; and I will deliver them out of all places whither they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. 13And I will bring them out from the peoples, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land; and I will feed them upon the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14I will feed them with good pasture; and upon the mountains of the height of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie down in a good fold; and on fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. 15I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord Jehovah. 16I will seek that which was lost, and will bring back that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but the fat and the strong I will destroy; I will feed them in justice. (ASV, 1901)

Good Shepherd rescues His lost sheep – Artist unknown

God always will take charge of His genuine sheep even though the false shepherds ignore the sheep in order to chase after their own desires and profit. He says that He “will search for my sheep, and will seek them out”. Jesus expressed this same truth in John chapter ten. In very loving text God says that He will bring the Jews out of all the places in the world where they have been scattered, and place them again in the land of Israel. He will not allow them to suffer again anything they need because He will supply it. The Lord’s treatment of His flock is diametrically opposite to that of the false shepherds. In verse 16 God states there will also be judgment on the wealthy, or “the fat and strong” of the nation who have oppressed the poor. God’s Word tells us that excessive prosperity causes people to forget God:

Proverbs 30:8-9

8Remove far from me falsehood and lies; Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is needful for me: 9Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is Jehovah? Or lest I be poor, and steal, And use profanely the name of my God. (ASV, 1901)

All these promises to Israel and the Church seen in Ezekiel 34: 11-16 will be realized in the Messianic Kingdom.

 

Daniel E. Woodhead

 

[1] Breese, Dave, 7 Men Who Rule The World From The Grave, Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 1992

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