31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 10 – Salvation through His death

watchman

Harper Lee is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of the famous book, To Kill a Mockingbird, written in the 1950’s. In recent years, another novel of hers was discovered and released, called Go Set a Watchman. I didn’t understand the meaning of the title at first until I learned the phrase actually comes from the book of Isaiah.

For thus has the Lord said to me: “Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he sees.” Isaiah 21:6

Much of our literature, art, and culture has Biblical references. A watchman was to be a moral compass, one to keep you on the right path and to guide you in the right direction when things go wrong.  Chapters 52 and 53 of the book of Isaiah contain some of my favorite references and literature in the Bible.  I hope you enjoy reading these amazing and undeniable prophecies from Isaiah about the Messiah’s death, written several hundred years before Jesus was born and while the nation of Israel was still in captivity.

Isaiah 52-53
“Wake up, wake up;
put on your strength, Zion!
Put on your beautiful garments,
Jerusalem, the Holy City!”

For this is what the Lord says:
“You were sold for nothing,
and you will be redeemed without silver.
At first My people went down to Egypt to live there,
then Assyria oppressed them without cause.
My name is continually blasphemed all day long.
Therefore My people will know My name;
therefore they will know on that day
that I am He who says:
Here I am.”

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of the herald,
who proclaims peace,
who brings news of good things,
who proclaims salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”
The voices of your watchmen—
they lift up their voices,
shouting for joy together;
for every eye will see
when the Lord returns to Zion.

See, My Servant will act wisely;
He will be raised and lifted up and greatly exalted.
His appearance was so disfigured
that He did not look like a man,
and His form did not resemble a human being.
Kings will shut their mouths because of Him,

For they will see what had not been told them,
and they will understand what they had not heard.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
Y
et He Himself bore our sicknesses,

and He carried our pains;
He was pierced because of our transgressions,

crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on Him,
and we are healed by His wounds.

He was oppressed and afflicted,
yet He did not open His mouth.
They made His grave with the wicked and with a rich man
at His death,
although He had done no violence
and had not spoken deceitfully.

My righteous Servant will justify many,
and He will carry their iniquities.
B
ecause He submitted Himself to death,

and was counted among the rebels;
yet He bore the sin of many
and interceded for the rebels.

May you listen to the watchman’s words and let your life be guided by the truth. Jesus came as the messenger of truth, and He is the true “Peace on Earth.” 

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 9 – Jesus is fully human and fully God

servant-songs

There are four servant songs in the book of Isaiah, which describe the coming Messiah as a servant, a savior, one who will suffer, and one who will be exalted. This second servant song from the prophet Isaiah gives us a glimpse of God’s purpose from the beginning to the end. Jesus was with God from the beginning, and came to earth as a man to serve, suffer, and offer salvation through his death. God’s message is this: salvation for all people, made possible through his servant, Jesus. All four of the servant songs can be found in Isaiah 42:1-9, Isaiah 49:1-13, Isaiah 50:4-11 and Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

The song of the servant, the Messiah.

Isaiah 49:1-6
Coastlands, listen to me;
distant peoples, pay attention.  (for all people)
The Lord called me before I was born.  (Jesus was with God from the beginning)
He named me while I was in my mother’s womb.  (virgin Mary)
He made my words like a sharp sword;
He hid me in the shadow of His hand.  (not to be revealed until the right time)
He made me like a sharpened arrow;
He hid me in His quiver.
He said to me, “You are My Servant, Israel;
I will be glorified in him.”  (Jesus will come through Israel)

But I myself said: I have labored in vain,  (Jesus will suffer)
I have spent my strength for nothing and futility;  (Jesus will be rejected by some)
yet my vindication is with the Lord,
and my reward is with my God.
And now, says the Lord,
who formed me from the womb to be His Servant,
to bring Jacob back to Him  (God’s purpose is to restore His people to Him)
so that Israel might be gathered to Him;  
for I am honored in the sight of the Lord,
and my God is my strength—
He says,
“It is not enough for you to be My Servant
raising up the tribes of Jacob  (in the Tribulation, the 12 tribes will be witnesses)
and restoring the protected ones of Israel.
I will also make you a light for the nations,
to be My salvation to the ends of the earth.”  (through Jesus, salvation is for all)

The Apostle Paul wrote these beautiful words in the first chapter of his letter to the Colossians: “We have redemption, the forgiveness of sins, in our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” It is a simple but powerful message to all, from the Creator.

May you seek the God of Israel, the God of salvation, your Creator, this Christmas season. 

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 8 – Coming as a Servant

jesus-resting

The prophet Isaiah gives a vivid description of the coming Messiah as a servant – one with a gentle manner, who brings comfort and encouragement to the oppressed, and is a light to all. In our world today, this is exactly what we need, and it is exactly how Jesus lived. This beautiful Hebrew prose from the prophecy of Isaiah, woven in with the teachings of Jesus, says it well.

Isaiah 42:1-4
“This is My Servant; I strengthen Him,
this is My Chosen One; I delight in Him.
I have put My Spirit on Him;
He will bring justice to the nations.
He will not cry out or shout
or make His voice heard in the streets.
He will not break a bruised reed,
and He will not put out a smoldering wick;
He will faithfully bring justice.
He will not grow weak or be discouraged
until He has established justice on earth.
The islands will wait for His instruction.”

Matthew 11:28-30
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.  For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

Isaiah 42:5-7
This is what God, Yahweh, says—
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and life to those who walk on it—
“I, Yahweh, have called You
for a righteous purpose,
and I will hold You by Your hand.
I will keep You and appoint You
to be a covenant for the people
and a light to the nations,
in order to open blind eyes,
to bring out prisoners from the dungeon,
and those sitting in darkness from the prison house.”

Matthew 4:13-16
Jesus left Nazareth behind and went to live in Capernaum by the sea, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali.  This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah:
Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali,

along the sea road, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles!
The people who live in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those living in the shadowland of death,
light has dawned.

Gentle. Comfort. Encouragement. Light. This is Jesus.
For all who are weary and burdened, may you seek Jesus where you will find the gentle rest that only He can give.
It is His promise to you – “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

 * Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 7 – A child is prophesied

isaiah-and-jesus

One-third of the Bible is prophecy, and it has not been wrong yet.

300 prophecies point to the Messiah’s first coming and 400 point to his second coming.

In 1947, a scroll of the book of Isaiah, which had been copied 2000 years ago, was found near the Dead Sea. Many of the prophecies about the baby to be born come from Isaiah.

The book of Isaiah has 66 chapters, just like the Bible has 66 books.
The first 39 chapters, which are the same number of books as the Old Testament, tell of a need for a Savior.
The second 27 chapters, the same number of books as the New Testament, tell of a Savior to come.
There are 66 references to Isaiah in the New Testament.

(referenced from The Amazing Collection: The Major Prophets, by Big Dream Ministries)

Isaiah was one of the most famous prophets, and lived from 760-690 BC. This is what he said:

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this.

Approximately 700 years later, it came true.

Luke 2:8-11
And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

May you celebrate the joy and peace of the Christmas season, knowing that it comes from Jesus Christ the Lord who was sent to us over 2000 years ago.

* Merry Christmas *

31 Days of the Christmas Story from Genesis to John: Day 6 – Daniel’s prophecy

the-book-of-daniel

Daniel is still a well-known figure today, almost 2600 years after he lived. He was a contemporary of Confucius’ day. Though we mostly only know Daniel by his first name, we associate him with such incredible life stories as Daniel in the Lion’s Den (when he was 83 years old!), Daniel in the Fiery Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, and his interpretation of dreams. He predicted the coming of the Messiah and the exact date of Jesus’ death – 600 years before it happened!

Daniel was a Jewish prophet and known to be a good man. Even his enemies regarded him as a man of integrity and faith. Though he was in captivity in Babylonia, King Nebuchadnezzar elevated him to a high rank in his kingdom. Nothing negative has ever been written about Daniel. Jesus quoted him in Matthew 24:15 when talking about current and end times prophecies. Daniel has proven to be one we can trust. And when you add up the math of his predictions about Jesus, it cannot be easily dismissed.

When reading Daniel’s prophecy below, a “week” represents a 7-year period instead of 7 days, so it is to be multiplied by 7 to get the number of years. I have added the explanations in parenthesis.

Daniel 9:20-27
While I was speaking, praying, confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my petition before Yahweh my God concerning the holy mountain of my God— while I was praying, Gabriel, the man I had seen in the first vision, came to me in my extreme weariness, about the time of the evening offering.  He gave me this explanation:

Seventy weeks are decreed (70 x 7=490 years)
about your people and your holy city—
to bring the rebellion to an end,  
to put a stop to sin,

to wipe away iniquity,
to bring in everlasting righteousness,
to seal up vision and prophecy,
and to anoint the most holy place.
Know and understand this:

From the issuing of the decree
to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (rebuild the temple)
until Messiah the Prince

will be seven weeks and 62 weeks. (7 x 7=49 years, 62 x 7=434 years)
It will be rebuilt with a plaza and a moat,
but in difficult times.
(the temple was rebuilt from 445-396 BC in 49 years)
(434 years later, Jesus has the triumphal entry into Jerusalem before His death)

After those 62 weeks
the Messiah will be cut off (put to death)

and will have nothing.
The people of the coming prince (anti-Christ)
will destroy the city and the sanctuary.
The end will come with a flood,
and until the end there will be war;
desolations are decreed.
He will make a firm covenant
with many for one week, (1 x 7=7 years of tribulation in the future)
but in the middle of the week
he will put a stop to sacrifice and offering. (anti-Christ will turn on the people)
And the abomination of desolation
will be on a wing of the temple
until the decreed destruction
is poured out on the desolator.

The entire decree is 70 weeks or 490 years. It begins with 49 years to rebuild the temple after the exile, then 434 years until the Messiah is killed, and the remaining 7 years is to happen in the future end times with the anti-Christ. Daniel predicted the rebuilding of the temple, the coming Messiah, and the end-times with the anti-Christ. But Daniel isn’t the only one to talk of these things. The validity of the Bible is found in many sources, over many years. Jesus talked about it and often referred to the Old Testament. Paul mentioned it in the book of 2 Thessalonians and John in the book of Revelation.

I pray that you will not be fearful of the times still to come, but rejoice in the assurance we can have now in knowing the Messiah who has already come! Jesus came not to judge the world but to save it. It is a free gift of salvation available to everyone, but it is up to each of us to accept it and believe.

* Merry Christmas *