Posted tagged ‘New Testament’

The Mount of Transfiguration: What Was It Really All About?

May 26, 2010

There is some additional corroborative evidence that Jesus Christ should be the primary focus of every Christian’s Bible study.  It has already been shown in the previous paper, “Unveiling the Mystery of the Bible“, that it is the purpose of God, working through the ministration of His Holy Spirit, that He, alone, is the One Who must remove the veil from a person’s heart to allow him to see Jesus in the Old Testament scriptures.  God explains that it is by this means (and for His glory) that God revealed the New Testament of Jesus Christ (whereby salvation is possible, to both Jew and Gentile, only through Jesus Christ’s work of perfectly keeping the law and applying His work to us by His Spirit and not through our keeping the law apart from Him).  We see this in II Corinthians chapter 3, verse 4: “And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  But if the ministration of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away:  How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?

God also underscores that the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ was not some last-minute addition to God’s original plan, but all along was central to it.  This is found in Romans 1.  There we read, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,  (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)  Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;  And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:”  To underscore that the term “gospel” does not just relate to the New Testament, God speaks of the Jews in Moses’ day as having heard the same gospel as we read beginning with Hebrews 3:12: “Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.  But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;  While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.  For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.  But with whom was he grieved forty years? [was it] not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?  And to whom sware he that they (the unbelieving Jews in Moses’ day) should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?  So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.  Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left [us] of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.  For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard [it].”

Again, in Colossians chapter 1, we read, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus [our] brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.  We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,  Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love [which ye have] to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word (they heard it before only out of the Old Testament in those days) of the truth (Jesus is the “Truth” [John 14:6]) of the gospel (God’s covenant of grace through the person and work of Jesus Christ);”.

The Mount of Transfiguration Accounts:

The transfiguration of Jesus is a rather surprising account that we read about in Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  The following verses review that account in its entirety:

Matthew 17:1-8, “And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,  And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.  And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.  Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.  While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.  And when the disciples heard [it], they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.  And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.  And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.  And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.

Mark 9:2-10, “And after six days Jesus taketh [with him] Peter, and James, and John, and leadeth them up into an high mountain apart by themselves: and he was transfigured before them.  And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.  And there appeared unto them Elias with Moses: and they were talking with Jesus.  And Peter answered and said to Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.  For he wist not what to say; for they were sore afraid.  And there was a cloud that overshadowed them: and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.  And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.  And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.  And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

Luke 9:28-36, “ And it came to pass about an eight days* after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.  And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering.  And, behold, there talked with him two men, which were Moses and Elias:  Who appeared in glory, and spake of his decease which he should accomplish at Jerusalem.  But Peter and they that were with him were heavy with sleep: and when they were awake, they saw his glory, and the two men that stood with him.  And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.  While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.  And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.  And when the voice was past, Jesus was found alone. And they kept [it] close, and told no man in those days any of those things which they had seen.

*NOTE: There is one “apparent” contradiction between the Luke account and that found in Matthew and Mark (i.e. eight days versus six days).  Please note that the Luke account says “about an eight days after” while the Matthew and Mark accounts state unequivocally “after six days.”  Although God’s purpose in providing this variation in the timing description is not immediately clear, it is not inconsistent with a parallel account in Exodus 24:16, where we read, “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”  We are also reminded of the fact that on that same mount Moses was told in Exodus 34:21  Six days thou shalt work, but on the seventh day thou shalt rest: in earing time and in harvest thou shalt rest.

When we review and combine (or synthesize) these three accounts of the transfiguration into one, cohesive, whole, we find that the disciples (Peter, James, and John) first saw Jesus transfigured to a glorified state, and, furthermore, Moses and Elijah (who were also in a glorified state) were speaking with Jesus (concerning Jesus’s death).  Setting aside for a moment the issue of Peter’s offer to build “three tabernacles,” we next learn that a cloud overshadowed them, and God the Father speaks to the disciples concerning Jesus, “this is my beloved son:” and commands, “hear him.”  They “fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”  “Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise and be not afraid.”  Immediately afterwards, the only other person they see is Jesus (Moses and Elijah are gone).  Finally we read of Jesus’s reference to His death and resurrection, and His command to the disciples to keep secret what they had seen until after that time.

A number of questions come to mind.  What was the purpose for Jesus having been “transfigured”, and why did it happen before His death and resurrection?  Why did only Moses and Elijah appear with Jesus?  Why did they talk of Jesus’s coming death?  Why did they vanish after God the Father spoke from the cloud?  What was the significance of Jesus’s coming, His touching the disciples, and saying arise, be not afraid?  What about the three tabernacles that Peter offered to build?  Why did the disciples not understand the coming death and subsequent resurrection of Jesus Christ?

The Transfiguration: A Witness and Testimony of Jesus’s Majesty, Honor, and Glory That is Linked to His Resurrection* 

The most obviously significant aspect of the Transfiguration account is the Transfiguration of Jesus itself.  The Bible tells us in Matthew 17:2 that Jesus “was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.“; and in Mark 9:2&3 “was transfigured before them.  And his raiment became shining, exceeding white as snow; so as no fuller on earth can white them.“; and in Luke 9:29, “And as he prayed, the fashion of his countenance was altered, and his raiment [was] white [and] glistering.”  The big question we are immediately faced with is, “What is the purpose of this phenomenon?”   In seeking to answer this question, rather than just speculate, let’s look to God’s own commentary as spoken through an eyewitness to the original event.  Peter, as one of those witnesses states emphatically in II Peter 1:16-18, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majestyFor he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  And this voice which came from heaven we (Peter, James, and John) heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

We are told that Jesus received honor and glory from God the Father in His excellent glory in Heaven.  This reaffirmation of the transfiguration account emphasizes that Jesus was indeed “glorified.”  The word translated as “majesty” that was used first by Peter is from a seldom used word, “megaleiotes” (Strong’s #3168).  It is a reference to more than Christ’s beauty of holiness and royal splendor.  In Luke 9:43, the same word is used to refer to Jesus’ “mighty power” over physical things.  Therefore, Peter is saying in effect that the prophets (both of the Old Testament as represented by Moses and Elijah, and the New Testament represented by Peter, James, and John (because, like Moses and Elijah, they too heard God speak directly to them)) were witnesses to the glory and mighty power of Jesus in the universe.

*  Thanks to the late Thomas Schaff, for his significant contributions to this section.

Certainly Jesus performed many amazing works to which Peter was a witness, but Peter had particular work in mind, that was Jesus’s resurrection and therefore His power over death and hell.  We can conclude this because Jesus tied His transfiguration to His resurrection in Mark 9:9, “And as they came down from the mountain, he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.”  Jesus knew that His apostles would not fully understand the meaning of what they had seen on the mountain until He arose from the dead.  Therefore He told them to say nothing until then.  The resurrection would make the meaning of all that happened on the mountain clear to them so that they could tell it to others.

The Transfiguration was a revelation, or “preview,” of Who Jesus is, and, in a way, the resurrection was proof that the revelation was true.  If they understood the resurrection they would understand the meaning of what happened on the mountain.  Also, if they understood the events on the mountain, they would understand the meaning of the resurrection.  However, until Jesus rose from the dead, the apostles wondered about the meaning of the resurrection as we see in Mark 9:10, “And they kept that saying with themselves, questioning one with another what the rising from the dead should mean.

At the time that Peter wrote the letter of II Peter, Peter understood the meaning for the events on the mountain and the meaning of the resurrection.  One other thing that stood out according to Peter, was the statement by the Father repeated in II Peter 1:17, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  Therefore, there is a close correlation between the resurrection and the words of the Father.  The resurrection was proof that Jesus was indeed the “beloved Son,” the Person whose glory Peter caught a glimpse when he was on the mountain.  (incidently, this another corollary can be found at the time of Jesus’s baptism.  We read in Matthew 3:16&17, “And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:  And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.  In that account Jesus’s coming out of the water was a another preview of the Jesus’ resurrection after having come under the judgment of God [the river Jordan is a type of Hell] at the hands of John the Baptist [a type for the law of God that demands “…the wages of sin [is] death;” [Romans 6:23].  Please refer to the paper, The Role of Baptism in the Life of the Believer)

Jesus was declared “beloved”.   He perfectly obeyed the Will of the Father in that Jesus voluntarily laid down His life.  Jesus showed that He completely paid for the sins of His sheep when He raised Himself from the dead and prove that His sacrifice was acceptable as a holy and complete payment for sin as we read in Romans 1:4, “And declared [to be] the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:” and Hebrews 5:8&9, “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;“.

Moses: An Allegory for the Law of God that Spoke of Jesus Christ (In a Veiled Fashion)

But what of Moses and Elijah?  Where do they fit in?  We know that Moses is so intimately identified in the Bible with the Law of God that we often read of the “law of Moses” as we read in I Kings 2:2&3 where David’s last words to his son Solomon were, “I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew thyself a man; And keep the charge of the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and whithersoever thou turnest thyself:.”  We also read in John 5:45 where Jesus said to the Jews, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye trust.  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.  But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?”  Furthermore, in II Corinthians, Chapter 3 beginning at verse 11, we find that the emphasis is on the fact that Jesus was concealed by God as if by a “veil” in the Old Testament (represented allegorically by Moses with “a veil over his face”), but revealed with “great plainness of speech” in the New testament as follows, “For if that which is done away [was] glorious, much more that which remaineth [is] glorious.  Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:  And not as Moses, [which] put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [veil] is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.

Elijah: An Allegory for the Old Testament Prophets that Spoke of Jesus Christ and His Sufferings and the Glory that Should Follow

The Bible also makes it clear that the prophets of God in the Old Testament spoke of the Person and Atoning Work of Jesus Christ (i.e. His suffering and death) as we read in IPeter 1:7-11, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:  Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:  Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.  Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”  Again, in Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Mark 14:21, “The Son of man indeed goeth, as it is written of him: but woe to that man by whom the Son of man is betrayed! good were it for that man if he had never been born.

The Law and the Prophets

When we look at how God uses the law (represented here by Moses) and the prophets (represented here by Elijah) we find some additional corroboration to underscore that indeed we are on the right track.  To begin, we find that God describes “the law and the prophets” as being essentially equivalent to the Old Testament as we read in Matthew 11:13, “For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (referring to John the Baptist who we read about in the New Testament).”  We also know that God distills the essence of the whole Old Testament into just two commandments (one of which is commonly referred to as the “golden rule”, as we find both in Matthew 22:37-40, “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second [is] like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.“) and in Matthew 7:12, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”  In John 1:45, we also find the account where, “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Furthermore, in Acts 28:23 we read about the preaching of Paul from “the law and the prophets”, “And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into [his] lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and [out of] the prophets, from morning till evening.”  Finally, in Luke 24:44, we read of Jesus speaking to the disciples after His resurrection, “And he (Jesus) said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.”  The law and the prophets (as well as “the psalms”) spoke concerning the person and work of Jesus Christ! (And only Jesus was able to perfectly keep “the law and the prophets” and therefore also “the two great commandments.”)

Please note that the last quoted verse, Luke 24:44, is in perfect harmony with what can be found earlier in Luke (in verses 18:31-33) regarding what Jesus told the disciples just before his death and resurrection, “Then he (Jesus) took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.  For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:  And they shall scourge [him], and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again.”  Please also note that when Jesus originally told the disciples these facts, they did not understand them because it was “hid” from them, as we read in the next verse, Luke 18:34, “And they understood none of these things: and this saying was hid from them, neither knew they the things which were spoken.”  However, when Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection, we then read in Luke 24:45-47 that Jesus gave them the understanding, “Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,  And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:  And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”  This is just one more example of everyone’s need for God to open his spiritual eyes to spiritual truth even when something is plainly stated in the scriptures.

Before we leave this section, we should also consider one more aspect about the Mount of transfiguration and its relationship to “the law and the prophets.”  In Matthew 5:17 Jesus says, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”  Jesus fulfilled all that the law commanded and demanded, and prophets spoke concerning.  

The Overshadowing Cloud Points to the Glory of God in the Presence of His Saints 

There are numerous references to a “cloud” in the Bible, but the ones that appear to best express the its biblical meaning are found as follows: Exodus 19:16, “And it came to pass on the third day in the morning, that there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud; so that all the people that [was] in the camp trembled.”  Exodus 24:15, “And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.   Exodus 24:16, “And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.”  Exodus 33:21&22, “And the LORD said, Behold, [there is] a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock:  And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by:,” and a little later referring to the same account in Exodus 34:5, “And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him (Moses) there, and proclaimed the name of the LORD.”  Exodus 40:34, “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.”  Numbers 14:14, “And they will tell [it] to the inhabitants of this land: [for] they have heard that thou LORD [art] among this people, that thou LORD art seen face to face, and [that] thy cloud standeth over them, and [that] thou goest before them, by day time in a pillar of a cloud, and in a pillar of fire by night.”  Deuteronomy 31:15, “And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.”  There are also these verses, in the Book of Hebrews that follow immediately after the recountng of the great heros of faith (The Believers/the Saints) that glorified God, we read in Hebrews 12:1&2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset [us], and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  Then compare with these verses: Joh 17:10  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I (Jesus Christ) am glorified in them (the saints).  2Th 1:10  When he (Jesus Christ) shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day.

The Three Tabernacles?

Notice also the numerous references to “the tabernacle”.  Remember that in John 1:14 we read, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt (tabernacled) among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  The word translated “dwelt” is from the Greek word “skenno” which means “to tabernacle” which is the same as we find in Revelation 21:3, “And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God [is] with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, [and be] their God.”  Can you see why it was erroneous for Peter to want to build “three” separate tabernacles for Jesus, Moses, and Elijah?  In the historical setting it was unnecessary because Moses’ and Elijah’s habitation was a heavenly one, and more importantly, there is only one tabernacle, or abode, for the people of God.  As Jesus states in John 14:2, “In my Father’s house (singular) are many mansions: if [it were] not [so], I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”  Furthermore, in the spiritual context, the Door of the Tabernacle, and the Tabernacle Itself, is Jesus Christ.  Most importantly, it was Jesus alone, Who prepared that tabernacle, not the disciples.

The Disciples’ Fearful Falling to the Ground, and Jesus’s Raising Them Up

We read in Matthew 17:6 that the disciples, when they heard the voice of God, “fell on their face.”  That action is representative of what anyone will do when he hears the voice of Almighty God.  It is a sign of worship, reverence, and obeisance.  We see examples of such action in Genesis 17:3, “And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,…”; in II Samuel 9:6, “Now when Mephibosheth (an allegorical type of every believer), the son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, was come unto David (an allegorical type of Jesus Christ), he fell on his face, and did reverence. And David said, Mephibosheth. And he answered, Behold thy servant!“; in II Chronicles 20:18, “And Jehoshaphat bowed his head with [his] face to the ground: and all Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem fell before the LORD, worshipping the LORD.“; and in Luke 5:12, “And it came to pass, when he was in a certain city, behold a man full of leprosy: who seeing Jesus fell on [his] face, and besought him, saying, Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean.”   Please also note the similarity of the obedient nature exhibited by Joshua in Joshua 5:14, “And he said, Nay; but [as] captain of the host of the LORD am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant?” and the obedient nature of Jesus in Matthew 26:39, “And he (Jesus) went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou [wilt].

In the Matthew account of the Transfiguration, we read in Matthew 17:7, “And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.”  Immediately, we see a number of features in this verse that pertain to the gospel message (regarding the Person and work of Jesus Christ) that are found everywhere else in the Bible.  The essence of salvation is predicated on the coming of Jesus Christ.  He, alone, is the means of that salvation.  Salvation is dependent on His Work.  That is also why we next read that He touched them, and He said to arise, and He said to be not afraid.

Touch:

There are quite a number of verses in the Bible that pertain to Jesus’s “touching” or being “touched” by someone.  In every case the result is symbolic of what happens to someone who becomes saved.  We see this in the case of Jesus’s healing the leper in Matthew 8:3 (and Mark 1:41 and Luke 5:13), “And Jesus put forth [his] hand, and touched him, saying, I will; be thou clean. And immediately his leprosy was cleansed.”  In the cure of the Peter’s mother-in-law from a fever in Matthew 8:15, “And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.”  In the cleansing of the woman from her issue of blood as we read in Matthew 9:20 (and Mark 5:27-34), “And, behold, a woman, which was diseased with an issue of blood twelve years, came behind [him], and touched the hem of his garment:  For she said within herself, If I may but touch his garment, I shall be whole.  But Jesus turned him about, and when he saw her, he said, Daughter, be of good comfort; thy faith hath made thee whole. And the woman was made whole from that hour.” and Matthew 14:35 (and Mark 6:56), “And when the men of that place had knowledge of him, they sent out into all that country round about, and brought unto him all that were diseased;  And besought him that they might only touch the hem of his garment: and as many as touched were made perfectly whole.”  In Matthew 9:27-30, “And when Jesus departed thence, two blind men followed him, crying, and saying, [Thou] son of David, have mercy on us.  And when he was come into the house, the blind men came to him: and Jesus saith unto them, Believe ye that I am able to do this? They said unto him, Yea, Lord.  Then touched he their eyes, saying, According to your faith be it unto you.  And their eyes were opened; and Jesus straitly charged them, saying, See [that] no man know [it].”  In Mark 7:32, we read of the deaf and dumb man being healed by Jesus, “And they bring unto him one that was deaf, and had an impediment in his speech; and they beseech him to put his hand upon him.  And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue;  And looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.  And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain.”  Finally, in Luke 7:12-16, “Now when he came nigh to the gate of the city, behold, there was a dead man carried out, the only son of his mother, and she was a widow: and much people of the city was with her.  And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said unto her, Weep not.  And he came and touched the bier: and they that bare [him] stood still. And he said, Young man, I say unto thee, Arise.  And he that was dead sat up, and began to speak. And he delivered him to his mother.  And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.

Not only did these miracles serve as physical proofs that Jesus was the promised Messiah (according to Luke 7:22 which, in answer to John the Baptist’s query on that subject, which states, “Then Jesus answering said unto them, Go your way, and tell John what things ye have seen and heard; how that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, to the poor the gospel is preached.“), but in each of these miracles are found clear references to the miracle of salvation so equally and graciously given by God to whomever He wills.

Arise:

The word “Arise” spoken by Jesus to the Dead man in the funeral bier in Luke 7:14 is the same word spoken by Jesus to the disciples on the Mount of transfiguration!  The word used in both accounts is from the Greek word, “egiero” (Strong’s # G1453)  It is also the same word used in Luke 8:49-56, “While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s [house], saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master.  But when Jesus heard [it], he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole.  And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden.  And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth.  And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead.  And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise.  And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.  And her parents were astonished: but he charged them that they should tell no man what was done.”  Again we see the beautiful portrait of God performing the miracle of salvation.  Note that just as was the case on the Mount of Transfiguration, we see Jesus “touching” (in this case the dead girl), Jesus”s saying both to “Arise” and “Fear not.”

Fear Not:

According to the Matthew account, after the disciples heard the voice of God the Father speaking to them from the cloud, they “fell on their face, and were sore afraid.”  This fear is reminiscent of what we find was the case back in Exodus 19:16 when the ten Commandments were given.  That Exodus account closely parallels the Mount of Transfiguration account in that it involved another “Mount” (Mount Sinai), another cloud (a thick cloud), when the people heard another “voice” (of a trumpet and thunderings) and trembled.  Furthermore, in Exodus chapter 20:18&19, immediately after Moses had finished reading the Ten Commandments (“the Law”), we read, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw [it], they removed, and stood afar off.  And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.”  Then Moses told the people to “fear not” (just as Jesus told to the disciples on the Mount of Transfiguration to “be not afraid”) as we read in the next verse, “And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

The Bible makes it clear that the “fear” of God is the beginning of Wisdom as we read in Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.”  We also know, according to Hebrews 10:31, “[It is] a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”  God tells us Matthew 10:28, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”  God is the One Who has that power, for we read in Isaiah 8:13, “Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.”  However, once someone has become saved, because, in reality, Jesus “touched” that person (to cleanse him of his sinfulness (typified by the various states of leprosy, uncleanness, disease, deafness, dumbness, blindness, and death) and commanded that He “Arise” (from the dead), while that person would have rightly “feared” God with a terrifying “Fear” at the initial “hearing” of the word of God, there is no longer any reason to continue to have that kind of “fear,” but rather an ongoing reverential “Awe” of the God of his salvation.

 

The Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ

The disciples questioned among themselves concerning the meaning of the Jesus’s being risen from the dead.”  This was because the revelation of the meaning of it was withheld from them until the appropriate time by God as we read later in the account of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus following (and on the very day of) Jesus’s resurrection in Luke 24:13-32.  Interestingly, there again we read of “Moses and all the prophets,” “And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem [about] threescore furlongs.  And they talked together of all these things which had happened.  And it came to pass, that, while they communed [together] and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.  But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.  And he said unto them, What manner of communications [are] these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?  And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?  And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:  And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.  But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.  Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;  And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.  And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found [it] even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.  Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:  Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?  And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.  And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.  But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.  And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed [it], and brake, and gave to them.  And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.  And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?”  Please also note how just a few verses later, in verse 44, Jesus reiterates to His disciples the point that all the Old Testament scriptures ultimately have their fulfillment in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, “And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.”

The Ethiopian Eunuch

A similar account is found in Acts 8:26-39 concerning the encounter between the Ethiopian eunuch and Philip, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?  Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.  And as they went on [their] way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, [here is] water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?  And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.  And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him.  And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

 

Conclusion

In all these accounts, we find the Old Testament scriptures (typified by Moses and Elijah, and in the last account, by Isaiah) are always pointing to the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Once the scriptures are expounded upon by a guide, or preacher, of the Word (in the first instance God the Father; secondly Jesus Himself; then, in the third account, the Holy Spirit led disciple, Philip) the elected hearers see and hear only Jesus.  They know Him.  But, perhaps most significantly, it is with their spiritual eyes and ears, not their physical ones.  In the transfiguration account the disciples first saw Moses and Elijah (who typified the Old Testament scriptures) but after they were told by God to “hear” Jesus, they “saw” only Jesus (Moses and Elijah had disappeared).  In the road to Emmaus account, the two disciples didn’t see the person and work of Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures, they only saw Moses (“the law”) and “the prophets” (including Elijah).  They didn’t recognize Jesus because it was witholden from them until Jesus “broke the bread” for them.  Lastly, the Ethiopian eunuch didn’t know if Isaiah spoke of himself or some other man.  However, once Jesus was expounded to him from the text (by a disciple commissioned and under the power of the Holy Spirit), then the Ethiopian believed Jesus to be the Son of God.*

Other Verses to Ponder:

II Corinthians 4:5-10, “For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.  For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to [give] the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.  But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.  [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair;  Persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed;  Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

Hebrews 1:1&2, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

Hebrews 12:2, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of [our] faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

II Peter 3:17&18, “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.  But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Colossians 2:6-9, “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:

Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.   For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.

I Corinthians 8:6, “But to us [there is but] one God, the Father, of whom [are] all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom [are] all things, and we by him.

* It is interesting to see yet another parallel with the account of Jesus and the disciples on the road to Emmaus in the account of Joseph (who typified Jesus Christ) and his brothers (typifying the disciples/believers) in Genesis 45:1-5.  In both cases, the identities of Joseph and Jesus were hidden from the others until a later time when they were alone with them.

 

Postscript: Elias (Elijah) Must First Come?

There is yet another lesson to be learned from the Mount of Transfiguration account.  Immediately after the recording of that account in both Matthew and Luke we find the following statements:

Matthew 17:9&10,  “And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.  And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?

Mark 9:11, “ And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come?

Notice that it is evident that the scribes of Jesus’ day had concluded that Elijah would have to return in a physical, bodily, form before a resurrection of the dead on Judgment Day could occur.  In all likelihood, they were drawing that conclusion from what they read in Malachi 4:5&6 where we read, “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD; And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to the fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

In Luke 1:13-17, we see that this should correctly be understood to mean that the children of Israel (the children of God) would be led back to God (the fathers) by John the Baptist as a prophet of God.  It reads, “But the angel said unto him, fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard: thy wife Elizabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John.  Thou shalt have great joy and gladness and many shall rejoice at his birth.  For he (John the Baptist) shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and he shall drink neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.  And many of the children of Israel shall he turn to the Lord their God.  And he (John the Baptist) shall go before him (Jesus Christ) in the spirit and power of Elias (Greek for Elijah), to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.

We see then, that the prophesy of Malachi 4:6 was already fulfilled during the life of John the Baptist!  Jesus Himself confirmed this, because when speaking of John the Baptist in Matthew 11:14+15, Jesus said, “And if ye will receive [it], this is Elias (Elijah in Greek), which was for to come.  He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.“!  To further underscore that this is the only way to interpret Malachi 4:5+6, we read in Matthew 17:10-13, “And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?  And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.  But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed.  Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.  Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

The disciples of Jesus “understood” that Malachi 4:5+6 had been fulfilled by John the Baptist.  They “received it.”  They “had ears to hear.”  If anyone can’t accept this, then he is exactly like those who had John the Baptist thrown into prison and beheaded, and worse, also had Jesus Christ crucified, because “they knew him not.”  Such a person would be doing what he pleased (listed) with the word of God and would be rejecting the true Jesus of the Bible.

Let’s Look back again for a moment at Malachi 4:6, to consider the meaning of “the hearts of the fathers are being turned to the children, and the hearts of the children are being turned to the fathers.”  Again, we must compare scripture with scripture (1 Cor 2:13) to see what God really has in mind.  We know that while, historically, “fathers” in the Bible refer to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (i.e. see Deut 29:13, and 30:20) we also know that they are allegorical representatives of God Himself.  Remember that in Malachi 1:6, we see that, “a son honoreth his father and a servant his master: if then I (God) be a father, where is mine honor?”  Even the plural form, fathers, is consistent with this idea (i.e., God in three persons, as in “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:,” from Genesis 1:26).  The “children” on the other hand (the disobedient in the land of Israel, the children of God), would be turned to the wisdom of the just (their hearts turned to God) and that this would be done so that God would prepare a people for Himself (through salvation through Jesus Christ, as John the Baptist preached).  Also note that in Titus 3:3 we read, “for we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived,… But after that the kindness and love of God our Savior toward man appeared.

When God warns of “smiting the earth with a curse,” from Malachi 4:6, He was teaching that if He did not prepare a people for Himself through the redemptive action of Jesus Christ (as the Lamb of God) which was required for the salvation of His people, then His justice would demand that the whole earth would remain under the curse of God, doomed to destruction on that great and dreadful day (Judgment Day), and none would be saved.

Remember that John the Baptist’s primary message was, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” as he declared when he saw Jesus Christ coming (see John 1:29 and 1:36).

 

                       The Holy Temple of God Must Be Built Before Jesus Can Come?

This reminds me of a similar misunderstanding of Scripture that faces most Christians in our day.  Many people believe that before Jesus Christ can return there must first be the rebuilding of a literal, physical, earthly holy temple of God in the earthly, physical, city of Jerusalem.  They fail to realize that the holy temple of God is a spiritual structure made up of true believing Christians (described as pillars in the temple) that will be made manifest coincident with the appearance of the new Jerusalem in Heaven.  This is what we read in 1 Peter 2:5-8, where God equates the true believers to “lively stones” that are part of the spiritual temple of God of which Jesus Christ is the “chief cornerstone.”  “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, (Found in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22) behold I lay in Si-on a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he (The Lord Jesus Christ) is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See also Isaiah 8:14, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and Romans 9:53)

So that there can be absolutely no doubt that the holy temple of God could never, ever, again be defined by physical stones and mortar, we read in Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

Finally, in 2 Corinthians 6:16, we read, “Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said (see Ezekiel 37:26&27), I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

To more clearly understand why there could never again be any need for an earthly, physical temple of God following the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, we have only to search the scriptures to review what happened at the precise moment of His death.  We read in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45 that, at that very moment, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (torn in two) from top to bottom.  The result was that the “Holiest of all,” (see Hebrews 9:3) the tabernacle altar of God (where only the high priest, alone, could venture once a year to make an atoning sacrifice of blood on the Day of Atonement) which had heretofore always been hidden from outside view by the veil, had now been fully exposed by God to show that the sign or figure that the “Holiest of all” of the temple represented had been perfectly fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; as He was both the sacrificial Lamb of God and the High Priest that offered the perfect atoning blood sacrifice.  God was showing that the function of the earthly temple had come to an end! (Read all of Hebrews chapter 9 to see that this is so)

Although the Jewish high priest (Caiaphas) no doubt rushed in to repair the torn veil so that he, and the other Jewish high priests that followed him, could continue the yearly atonement sacrificial rite until the physical temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the priestly actions would have been pure vanity and rebellion against God.  They could not have had any effect or substance so far as God’s plan of salvation was concerned.  In fact, (according to Isaiah 66:1-4) they would have only been an abomination in God’s sight (because by carrying out those rites, the Jews were continuing to deny that Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the law of sacrifice, which had all along been the sole focal point of the blood sacrifices that were carried out in the temple before Christ died).  This is the most likely reason why God finally allowed the physical temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed for the third (and last) time, and why he scattered the Jews (until our day).  Additionally, because God also subsequently allowed the Islamic Dome of the Rock to be built on the temple site in Jerusalem, the Jews have been prevented from rebuilding the temple ever again (despite the fact that the Jews have had political sovereignty over Jerusalem since 1967).

Today’s Application

When people today argue that Jesus cannot return until the Temple is first rebuilt in Jerusalem, they are in effect speaking just like the scribes in Jesus’s day who did not have the understanding that the fulfillment of the coming of Elijah would be spiritually fulfilled in John the Baptist.  They do not see that in the same way the Temple of God is a “spiritual house” (made up of the universal body of believers joined together through the witnessing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) that must be first be completed, and not a physical building.

A Christian Study of The Book of Jonah

September 19, 2009

“Can There Any Good Thing Come Out of Nazareth?”  “Search, and Look: For Out of Galilee Ariseth No Prophet”

In John 1:45 we read, “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.  And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.

Why did Nathanael ask this question?  We get the feeling that it was some kind of contemporary euphemism which indicated that Nazareth, a city in Galilee, was a place of poor reputation.  We find support for this idea in John 7:52, where we read, “They (the chief priests and Pharisees) answered and said unto him (Nicodemus*), Art thou also of Galilee?  Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.

Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that these men, being Jewish “chief priests and Pharisees,” would have had to have been thoroughly familiar with the scriptures (“Moses in the law, and the prophets”…the Old Testament in that day) to allow them to make such a bold challenge to Nicodemus?  Nonetheless, all true believing Christians know that Jesus is “Good” in answer to Nathanael’s question (for He is God, as we read in John 1:1-3 and John 1:14), and that He also was the specific fulfillment of the Prophet found in Deuteronomy 18:15 (“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;“) because Acts 3:20-26 gives us this commentary, “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:  Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.  For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.”  The New Testament also makes reference to Jesus as, “the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee” as we read in Matthew 21:11 for example, “And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.

However, we must remember that the priests and Pharisees in Jesus’ day were looking for that coming “Prophet” only on the basis of what they found in the Old Testament “scriptures.”  It is clear from the challenge to Nicodemus by the chief priests and Pharisees that, according to their understanding and knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures, there was no scriptural basis or precedent to expect that a prophet would arise out of Galilee.  How, then, are Christians (who use the New Testament to claim that Jesus is the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture) to deal with this issue?  The answer is that we must be like the Bereans of Acts 17:10&11, who “searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

          The Book of Jonah Is the Place to Search and Look!

             The Bible offers no “plain and simple” information from which to determine either 1) a rebuttal to the challenge made by the chief priests and Pharisees, or 2) whether or not Nicodemus was able to give them such a rebuttal.  However, when we look in Matthew 12:38-41, isn’t it interesting that we find the account in which “certain of the scribes and Pharisees” asked Jesus to show them a sign to validate that He was indeed the Messiah (that great Prophet) to which Jesus’s only response was to refer them to the book of Jonah.  They said, “Master, we would see a sign from thee.  But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas (Greek for “Jonah”):For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.  The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [is] here.” (please also see Matt. 16:4 and Luke 11:29-32).  Could it be that the Old Testament support we seek is found in that book?

At this point, it would be quite helpful to recall what Jesus Himself said regarding the challenge of the chief priests and Pharisees to Nicodemus to “search and look.”  First, in Matthew 23:1-3, we read, “Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,  Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat: All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, [that] observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  In other words, the scribes and Pharisees did not practice what they preached.  They didn’t search and look; but Jesus said we should do whatsoever they said to do, which in this case is to “search and look.”  Secondly, Jesus specifically told the Jews themselves to “search the scriptures,” as we read in John 5:39, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jesus).”**  So let’s do just that.  Let’s search and look in the scriptures as Nicodemus was challenged to do; particularly looking in the book of Jonah as Jesus implied, to see if we can refute the assertion that forms the title of this paper (and also to see how the book of Jonah testifies of Jesus).

               Jonah (or Jesus?)

             Let’s begin our search by focusing on the very first verse of Jonah, where we read:         Jonah 1:1, “Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,

A lot of very important information is packed into this little verse.  At the start, it is clear that Jonah’s office was that of a prophet, for the word of God came specifically to the prophet to declare unto the people (Heb 1:1, Jer 29:19, Hos 12:10, and many others).  We also learn that Jonah’s father was named Amittai.

The son of Amittai?  

Who is this Amittai?  When we “search the scriptures”, we find that the only information concerning him is found in 2 Kings 14:25, and there we find that God provides pretty much the same information.  However, when we search out the meaning of Amittai we can begin to see what God has in view.  In the Hebrew, Amittai means “faithful”, “trustworthy”, or “true”.  Who is it that is repeatedly declared to be faithful and true in the scriptures?  God!  In Deuteronomy 7:9, we read, “Know therefore that the LORD thy God, he [is] God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;”  In John 7:28 we read, “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not.”  We can see then that Amittai is a type or figure chosen by God to represent God the Father.  So who does that suggest Jonah might spiritually represent?  Remember how above in John 5:39 Jesus said the scriptures testified of Him, hence the title of the main heading, “Jonah (or Jesus?)”

But what about Gath-hepher?

If we go back for a moment to 2 Kings 14:25, we are provided additional evidence to confirm that we are on the right track.  There we learn that Jonah’s abode or home was in Gath-hepher; “He restored the coast of Israel from the entering of Hamath unto the sea of the plain, according to the word of the LORD God of Israel, which he spake by the hand of his servant Jonah, the son of Amittai, the prophet, which [was] of Gath-hepher.

Gath-hepher is a primary clue from at least two distinct vantage points.  First, if we look in the back of our Bibles at the ancient map of National Israel, we will find, to our utter amazement, that the town of Gath-hepher from the Old Testament is located no more than two miles north of Nazareth from the New Testament.  To assure ourselves that this is indeed the case, we have only to search it out in God’s word.  From Joshua 19:13, we learn that this town (also referred to as Gittah-hepher) was within the borders of the land given to the tribe of Zebulun, “And from thence passeth on along on the east to Gittah-hepher (in the original Hebrew this is the same as “Gath-hepher”), to Ittah-kazin, and goeth out to Remmon-methoar to Neah;

From Matthew 4:12-15 (and Isaiah 9:1), we learn that the land of Zebulun (Zabulon in Greek) is identified as being within the region of Galilee, “Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he (Jesus) departed into Galilee;  And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias (“Isaiah” in Greek, see Isaiah 9:1) the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles (nations);”

From this Bible study we can see that Jonah was the son of Amittai who was from Gath-Hepher which is in the land given as part of the inheritance to the tribe of Zebulun which is in the region known as Galilee.  Isn’t that astounding?  They were both Galileans!  God raised up the great prophet Jonah from the exact same neighborhood as Jesus (only Jonah lived about 800 years earlier than Jesus).  As we go on, we will see this is more than just coincidence, but for the moment it might be profitable to take a slight detour to review another aspect of this geographical information.

The Winepress of Shame?

From our geographical study of Gath-hepher we have found the unequivocal similarity between Jonah and Jesus based on the fact that both were prophets from Galilee.  However, there is one other aspect denoted by Gath-hepher that we must consider.  Gath-Hepher is a compound word that is generally thought to mean, “well of the winepress.”  In the Hebrew, Gath means “winepress.”  The word hepher, while sometimes translated dig, pit, or well, also means “shame” or “reproach.”  Amazingly, when we search the Bible, we can again see how this focuses our attention on Jesus.  Let’s look at the winepress first.

“Gath” (or gittah) is translated as “winepress” in Lamentations 1:15, “The Lord hath trodden under foot all my mighty [men] in the midst of me: he hath called an assembly against me to crush my young men: the Lord hath trodden the virgin, the daughter of Judah, [as] in a winepress (gath/gittah).”  For further insight on the role of the winepress in scripture let’s look at Isaiah 63:3, where we read, “I (Jesus) have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people [there was] none with me: for I will tread them in mine anger, and trample them in my fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon my garments, and I will stain all my raiment.”  And in Revelation 14:19, “And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast [it] into the great winepress of the wrath of God.  And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand [and] six hundred furlongs.”  In Revelation 19:13, “And he [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.

Clearly the winepress refers to God’s wrath that must be brought to bear in judgment for sin.  Jesus, as the believers’ atoning sacrifice, first had to endure that wrath and suffer the shame of God’s reproach for their sins.  Psalms 69 gives us a glimpse of the shame and reproach Jesus had to suffer.  We are also reminded how, on Judgment Day, Jesus will return as the Judge who pours out God’s wrath on the unsaved for whose sins He did not pay.  We read of this in Isaiah 47:3, “Thy nakedness shall be uncovered, yea, thy shame (hepher) shall be seen: I will take vengeance, and I will not meet [thee as] a man,” and in Daniel 12:2, “And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame (hepher) [and] everlasting contempt.

Jonah: the “Dove” or “Pigeon”

Did you know that Jonah’s name means “dove” or “pigeon”?  Do these terms relate to/prefigure Jesus?  Indeed they do.  Remember what the pigeon or dove was used for in the scriptures?  The dove or pigeon was used as a sacrifice offering for the poor and leprous.  We read this in Leviticus 5:7, “And if he be not able to bring a lamb, then he shall bring for his trespass, which he hath committed, two turtledoves, or two young pigeons, unto the LORD; one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering.”  Also in Leviticus 14:29, “And the rest of the oil that [is] in the priest’s hand he shall put upon the head of him that is to be cleansed, to make an atonement for him before the LORD.  And he shall offer the one of the turtledoves, or of the young pigeons, such as he can get;  [Even] such as he is able to get, the one [for] a sin offering, and the other [for] a burnt offering, with the meat offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for him that is to be cleansed before the LORD.  This [is] the law [of him] in whom [is] the plague of leprosy, whose hand is not able to get [that which pertaineth] to his cleansing.

We know that only Jesus is the valid atoning sacrifice which can satisfy God’s Levitical Law of Sacrifice for our spiritual destitution and the cleansing of our sin, our spiritual uncleannesses (typified by leprosy) and that it was He who was prefigured by the dove and the pigeon.  Interestingly, when we look in Jonah 1:4-16, we find that the mariners were forced to cast Jonah into the sea, because it was the only way that they could be saved from the tempest.  In essence, Jonah was “sacrificed” by the mariners to appease the wrath of God that otherwise would have destroyed the ship and all who were aboard it.  We should also remember God’s usage of the dove in the account of our LORD’s baptism, see Matt. 3:16, Mark 1:9, Luke 3:21&22, and John 1:31-34.

I trust that you have begun to see the amazing informational potential of the book of Jonah and its answer to both the question raised by Nathanael in John 1:45 and the challenge laid down by the chief priests and Pharisees to Nicodemus in Jesus’s day in John 7:52.  By way of exhortation, let’s review what we’ve learned:

Jonah was a prophet (a “Good” thing, in answer to Nathanael’s question) and, perhaps more importantly (regarding the challenge and erroneous assertion of the chief priests and Pharisees to their peer, Nicodemus), he arose from Galilee (the exact same region as Jesus!).  Furthermore, Jonah’s dwelling place was in Gath-hepher, which pointed to the judgment of God as we have seen.  That winepress was where the LORD became sin for the believers as God the Father pressed out of Him in the Garden of Gethsemane, the sweat as it were great drops of blood as one treading under foot the grapes in the vat. This was indeed the dwelling place of Jesus!  It was most necessary for Him to dwell in Gath-hepher for a time that He might become a sacrifice for the poor in spirit, the spiritually unclean.  For the believers, Jesus became poor and unclean, that they might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9) and clean before God.  Jesus was also referred to by God as the Prophet.  Jonah was also the son of Amittai, which means faithful and true.  We know that Jesus is the Son of God who is Faithful and True.  Finally, the dove again points us to the sacrifice of Christ for the sins of God’s elect and reminds us of the Holy Spirit as He came upon Jesus to validate His ministry as the Priest, Prophet, and King, and His evangelical work through His believers bringing salvation to a hostile world, yours and mine (typified by Nineveh in the book of Jonah).

     Jonah’s Sojourn in the Sea Prefigures Jesus Christ’s Eternal Sacrifice 

            Some critics might dismiss the above exposition of Jonah as simply another one of so many so-called “fanciful” or “allegorical” interpretations.  They might say that these comparisons are only curious “coincidences” and have no validation other than in the mind of the beholder.  On that, you’ll have to judge for yourself.  However, before you pass judgment, it might be helpful to look at one more key element of comparison whereby God Himself provides the unequivocal validation for the above exposition.  When we carefully look at the corollary between: 1) what we find in the book of Jonah with 2) what we know about from the Bible concerning death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ (that Jesus pointed to in Matthew 12:38-41), we will find something very interesting.  We know that Jesus was referring to the three-day and night period that began with His torment beginning in the Garden of Gethsemane on Thursday night and which was completed at His resurrection on Easter Sunday morning because of what we read in Jonah 1:17: Now the LORD had prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah. And Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.

In Hell Forever?

             However, in Jonah 2:1&2, we also read, “Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD his God out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of hell(***) cried I, [and] thou heardest my voice.”  Jonah is described here as being in “Hell”, but we know he was only in a fish/whale at the bottom of the sea, correct?  Then, later, in Jonah 2:6 we read, “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars [was] about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.”  But doesn’t it explicitly state in Jonah 1:17 that Jonah was only in the belly of the fish/whale for three days and three nights?  And why does it say “the earth with her bars,” if Jonah was only in the sea?  Please remember, I didn’t put these words here, and neither did any New Testament era theologian.  These words are in the original Hebrew texts just as they have been for over 2500 years.  They were put in the Bible by God Himself through the work of His Holy Spirit (please see 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21).  They unequivocally pre-figured Jesus’s torment, death, and resurrection; as well as the fact that Jesus, in the space of the referenced “three days and nights”, actually endured the equivalent of an eternity (forever!) in Hell for the sins of all who would ever believe on Him as their Savior.  As for “the earth with her bars,” we are given another reference to the prison house of hell, which also parallels with Jesus’s description of his atoning sacrifice in Matthew 12:40, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

(Note also the similarity with Psalm 18:4-6, where we read, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the floods of ungodly men made me afraid. The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me. In my distress I called upon the Lord, and cried unto my God: he heard my voice out of his temple, and my cry came before him, even into his ears.“)

One additional note of interest from Jonah chapter 2 is where we read in the preceding verse, Jonah verse 5, we read “The waters compassed me about, [even] to the soul: the depth closed me round about, the weeds were wrapped about my head.”  The word weeds comes from the Hebrew word for “reeds” or “red” as in Red Sea, but isn’t it true that “weeds” can also be likened to thorns and thistles.  Therefore, couldn’t it be said that the weeds that were wrapped about the head of Jonah during his torment were similar to the crown of thorns placed around the head of Jesus during his torment?

     Conclusion

             The big lesson of the book of Jonah is that God sent the prophet Jonah to the wicked city of Nineveh (typifying the world) to warn them of His impending judgment.  Although in the historical account, Jonah was acting rebelliously, he was nonetheless used by God to portray Jesus Who voluntarily left His Heavenly habitation and from the face of God the Father to come to this sin cursed earth to dwell among men, become the atoning sacrifice for the sins of God’s elect, and calm the raging sea of God’s wrath that would otherwise have destroyed them for their sins (and thereby reiterating what we read in Jonah 2:9, “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay [that] that I have vowed. Salvation [is] of the LORD.”  As a result of Jonah’s atonement and resurrection after three days (typifying that of Jesus according to Jesus’s own teaching), the people of Nineveh were able to hear the warning, repent of their evil ways, and cry out to God for mercy; and then God showed them mercy.  (Psalms 51:17, “The sacrifices of God [are] a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.“)  However, if the people of Nineveh had not repented, then God would surely have destroyed them.  Now each of us, who hear the similar warning of the impending Judgment of God from God’s Word the Bible, are in the same position before God as were the people of Nineveh.  The big difference is that the next time, on Judgment Day, while God does promise to spare (from His just wrath) all individuals who repent and cry out to Him for mercy, His judgment on the rest of world will not be stayed.  Those remaining non-believers will end up in Hell forever as the just payment for their sins.  According to the Bible, Judgment Day is inevitable!  Regardless of how soon Judgment Day is for all of this creation, for any one individual it is actually only a heartbeat away (and therefore generally much sooner than anyone might think).

Today’s Application: Are You Ready?

            The Bible makes it clear that if God was willing to put His own Son through Hell to save a people for Himself, how much more would He be willing to send the wicked who reject Him to Hell for their sins (please see Romans 8:32).  Jesus is the only Way of escape from the just penalty for our sins. All other ways that man can devise will lead only to Hell.  Have you made peace with God through Jesus Christ? Please pray to God for mercy through Jesus Christ and He will show you mercy.

POSTSCRIPT:  Yet Another Proof: A Condensed Version of God’s Salvation Program Interwoven in the Book of Jonah

Please also note how in Jonah 1:5, “the mariners were afraid, and cried every man unto his god;”.  They cried out to their false gods for salvation and found no help, but then in verse 9, Jonah witnessed to them about his God, the True God, the “LORD, the God of heaven, which hath made the sea and the dry [land].“.  Then in Jonah 1:14 we read that they “cried unto the LORD” asking for mercy; and finally, after they cast Jonah into the sea (who in effect became their atoning sacrifice), “the sea ceased from her raging” (the demands of hell, according to the Law of God, were assuaged) in verse 16, “Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and offered a sacrifice unto the LORD, and made vows.”  In effect, these men were converted and received salvation from God.  Please, dear reader, do not miss the very important and unambiguous fact that no matter how hard the mariners tried to save themselves through their own efforts (by rowing or lightening the ship), they remained doomed to a watery grave.  In the same way, mankind cannot hope for a moment to find salvation from God’s wrath and hell by doing “good works” or through faith in any other god, because “Salvation is of the Lord.”  (It should be noted here that this quote is taken verbatim  from Jonah 2:9.) Salvation can only come through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.  That ultimately is the essence of the book of Jonah.

P.S. It is also interesting to note how the whole account in Jonah chapter 1 is also quite similar to what we find in Psalms 107:23-30.  “They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;  These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.  For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.  They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.  They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wit’s end.  Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.  He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.  Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.


     * The chief scribes and Pharisees were specifically addressing Nicodemus, a fellow “man of the Pharisees,” “a ruler of the Jews,” but “who came to Jesus at night,” and who lastly gave evidence that he had become a believer in Christ.  Please see John 3:1, 7:50, and 19:39.

     ** In Luke 24:27, where we find Jesus searching out the scriptures for His disciples, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets (which would have included Jonah), he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

     *** From the Hebrew word “sheol,” which is the only word in the Old Testament that is translated as “hell” as we read in the following sample of verses: Deuteronomy 32:22, “For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Psalms 18:5, “The sorrows of hell compassed me about: the snares of death prevented me.” Psalms 116:3, “The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.”  (Incidently please note the similarities in the language of the last two verses with what we find in Jonah 2:3, “For thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the midst of the seas; and the floods compassed me about: all thy billows and thy waves passed over me.” and in Jonah 2:6, “I went down to the bottoms of the mountains; the earth with her bars [was] about me for ever: yet hast thou brought up my life from corruption, O LORD my God.“)  Finally in Psalms 86:13, “For great [is] thy mercy toward me: and thou hast delivered my soul from the lowest hell.

 

Exalting the Person and Work of Jesus Christ: The Key to Unveiling the Mystery of the Bible

September 19, 2009

 Exalting the Person and Work of Jesus Christ:

The Key to Unveiling the Mystery of the Bible

(A Typological Interpretive Guide to Biblical Understanding)

The Purpose of this “Bible Study Help”

In Proverbs 25:2 (KJV) we find this extraordinary verse, “[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter.” If we look carefully at the text as it reads in the original Hebrew using an Interlinear Bible or Online cross-reference like this: http://biblehub.com/text/proverbs/25-2.htm, we find that it can also read like this…”[It is] the glory of God to conceal a word” (because it is from the Hebrew “dabar”): but the honour of kings[is] to search out aword” (because the word that was translated into English as “matter” is also the same word found in the original Hebrew to be “dabar”).  It appears that God is glorified by the “concealing of The Word”, Jesus Christ, in the Bible, and the believers (the believers are all viewed as “kings”, see Rev 1:5&6) are “honored” by being made able to “search out The Word”, Who is Jesus Christ, when reading the Bible.  Through the use of this Bible Study Help it is hoped that the reader will, by the grace of God, come to know The Word, the Lord Jesus Christ [Remember that we read in John, Chapter 1, Verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” and in John Chapter 1, verse 14, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”]. It is also hoped that the reader might see that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the “Mystery”, and that Jesus Christ is the “Secret” and the “Hidden Wisdom” of the whole Bible that everyone so desperately needs for eternal life.

This “Bible Study Help” is intended to assist the reader (particularly the student of the Bible who is seeking truth from the Bible beyond just the historical and moral lessons) to understand a different hermeneutic than that commonly being taught in the majority of seminaries, educational institutions, and churches today.  Today, the commonly taught principles of Bible study instruct us to read the Bible almost exclusively from a perspective that emphasizes: 1) the historical cultural context, 2) the meaning of  the words and verses as they meant only to the people who were living when they were recorded, 3) the specific situation and setting (including geography) of the people to whom the verses were written at the time of the writings, and 4) how the specific passage being studied might relate to either the Old or New Testament Covenants.  That methodology is generally referred to as the “Grammatical-Historical” method of Biblical interpretation.  Moreover, addtional rules have been created that stipulate that we are not to “read into” a verse any more understanding beyond that which the people at the time would have understood the verses to mean (when those verses were first written).

Other “principles” being taught today state, “Don’t look for allegories in the Old Testament Narrative” and more dogmatically, “Only two percent of the Old Testament is Messianic.”  The problem with such humanly crafted and taught rules of Biblical interpretation, and why such rules are so insidious, is that, for the most part, they actually place mental and spiritual “blinders” on the reader, by limiting the reader to see primarily the lower order historical and moral lessons of the Bible.  While the lessons thus drawn can certainly be valid and profitable (as they can be fine, proper, and useful for “doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness”), the extra restrictions imposed by the “Grammatical-Historical” method are such that the reader might actually miss the most important key, or higher order (aka: “deeper, spiritual”), Biblical meaning and hence true understanding which shows how magnificently and perfectly the Bible was actually crafted by God to reveal the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   Humanly crafted and  taught rules effectively set limits (boundaries) to what The Infinite Creator and Supreme Omnipotent God could be saying to us in the Bible.  Such rules thus lower God to man’s earthly level, rather than exalting and glorifying God at the supernatural Heavenly/Spiritual level from which He Reigns.   Those rules prevent us from seeing that Jesus Christ is the Key, supernaturally interwoven through every portion of the Bible!

Whether or not that misdirection is a conscious or unconscious goal of those who teach the Grammatical-Historical method of Bible interpretation does not matter, as the result will still be the same.  The reader thus taught will have become biased/prejudiced, such that it will prevent the reader (e.g., spiritually blind him) from ever understanding the Bible from a higher order perspective as was eternally ordained by The Author, Who perfectly crafted God’s Word, the Bible…and that Author is God Himself through the power of His Holy Spirit/Holy Ghost.  So the question is, should we read and interpret the Bible as taught by men?… or as taught by God?  Here’s what the Bible has to say on the subject…In 1 Corinthians, Chapter 2:13-14, we read “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man (everyone in the unsaved state) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.”  In Revelation 19:10, we also read where John records: “the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  The following “Bible Study Help” will elaborate on only a portion of what God, the Author of the Bible, provides for those whom He graciously blesses with the “eyes to see”, and “the ears to hear” such that they might testify of Jesus and worship God in the spirit of prophesy.

The Key to Biblical Understanding: We Must See Jesus

Anyone earnestly seeking for truth in the Bible must ultimately come to the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, for Jesus is, according to John 14:6, “the way, the truth and the life.”  In John 5:39, we read where Jesus was admonishing the Jews and said, “Search the scriptures (only the Old Testament in that day); for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jesus Christ).  It is true that many places in the New Testament speak plainly concerning the loving Gospel of Grace through Jesus Christ: about His suffering and death on the cross as the only acceptable, and therefore perfect, sacrifice/peace offering to God for sin; about His resurrection and exaltation at the Right Hand of God The Father; about His building His church by the power of God the Holy Spirit, and about His return to Judge the unsaved of the world on the Last Day to an eternity in Hell, and to create a new heaven and a new earth for His Eternal Kingdom prepared for those whom He came to seek and to save.  However, the diligent Bible student should also be aware of the greater portion of scripture that is the Old Testament where that same message is often veiled in “a mystery” (and it is most certainly not limited to only two percent). The Bible itself uses such terms “mystery” and “parable” to explain how it has been uniquely crafted by God in a magnificent, and yes, even a mysterious supernatural way, to serve God’s purposes.  In Mark 4:11+12 we read, “And he (Jesus Christ speaking to His disciples) said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all [these] things are done in parables:  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be forgiven them.”  It is my prayer that all who God has called to read this study help, and the examples that follow, will be spiritually made alive and/or fed through the “hearing” of His Word (Romans 10:17, “So then faith [cometh] by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.“) that they might all know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord.

God commands us to both search and study the Bible (both the Old and New Testaments*) so that we might have eternal life.  In John 5:39, Jesus said, “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jesus Himself).”  In II Timothy 2:15, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

God provides some exemplar proofs for the validity of this typological hermeneutic,  which has been applied in the expositions found in these accompanying Bible studies in the Bereansearching Blog.  One proof can be found in the Book of Acts, chapter 8:26-35, “And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert.  And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship,  Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.  Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.  And Philip ran thither to [him], and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest?  And he  said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him.  The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.  And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man?   Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus

This “Bible Study Help” is primarily for the purpose of providing that exact same guidance, in that its focus is only to preach unto the reader Jesus.  It might also be viewed as “strong meat” to those who desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of the Word of God which is Jesus (See John 1:1&14).  In Hebrews 5:13+14 we read, “For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”  Of course, in so doing, it will cover many of the more basic biblical principles as well.

Beginning with one of Jesus’s parables, this Bible Study Help will establish the criteria by which a few familiar (hopefully) passages of Biblical scripture will later be reviewed to search for the higher order or “typological” meanings of those passages.   Hopefully,  in the process, the reader’s faith might be strengthened if already a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, and, if not, that the reader might be blessed with that saving faith.

May all who read this Bible Study Help be as the Greeks in John 12:20&21 that came up to the feast to worship and say, “we would see Jesus.”

*II Timothy 3:16+17, “All scripture[is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

Introduction: The Bible is “Holy Scripture”, Unlike Any Other Book!

Before we can begin to gain any wisdom, knowledge, understanding, or truth from the Bible, we must realize that the Bible, God’s Word, is as Holy as God Himself is Holy.  God intimately identifies Himself with His Word as we find in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.“, and later in John 1:14, we see, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  To quote another Christian author, in the Holy Scriptures, the Bible, that God has given, “God reveals Himself, not merely information about Himself, but HIMSELF.”

The Bible was written entirely under the inspiration of the infinite Mind of God (The Infinite God Who created the Infinite Universe… as well as created you and me out of nothing), and is not derived in any way out of the intellect of any man.  As a result, it should never be approached (as some teachers have advocated) as one would read “any other book or magazine.”  (No other book was ever written under divine inspiration and no other book has been the subject of providential preservation.)  We must, instead, try to approach the study of the Bible with the appropriate reverential awe that God HIMSELF deserves.  God describes the manner in Psalms 2:11 and Isaiah 66:2 as with “fear” and “trembling.”  Because this, in reality, is impossible for anyone to do, in and of himself (because everyone is by nature unclean, clumsy, presumptuous, and irreverent), it is only by God’s infinite grace, and longsuffering mercy, that He allows anyone to come to saving truth from the Bible.  We must, therefore, humbly, prayerfully, acknowledge our complete destitution apart from the Good Grace of the Almighty Sovereign God.  Those who are called to be the children of God, will not only do this, but will seek after the wisdom and truth of God by searching the Bible.  That is why we read in Proverbs 2:1-6, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding;  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures;  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.  For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth [cometh] knowledge and understanding.”  Proverbs 4:7 states, “Wisdom [is] the principal thing; [therefore] get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” and Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom: and the knowledge of the holy [is] understanding.

Furthermore, the Bible is not a passive or idle entity.  The Bible is the “living” Word of God, and will bring about a reaction in the life of one who reads it, for better or worse, depending on the will of God (and no “other book” is able to read the reader!).  That is why we learn in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God [is] quick (“alive”), and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  Through the hearing of the word (see Romans 10:17) a man is either saved, or more greatly condemned.  This is why II Corinthians 2:15&16 declares (of those that bring, or preach the word as found in the Bible alone), “For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one [we are] the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life”  Also in Luke 12:48, we read where Jesus states that while those who remain ignorant of the word of God (the Bible) are not excused (they will still be condemned for their sins), they will receive a lesser condemnation than those who are familiar with the word of God, but who, nonetheless, do not become saved, “But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”  Bible study is not just an intellectual exercise!

It is this teacher’s most sincere hope and prayer that the words found in Ephesians, chapter one, (every verse) will apply to whomever receives this Bible Study Help, particularly verse 17, “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him:  The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,”  (Note also the use of the word mystery again in verse 9, “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:“)

 The Bible Was Largely Written in Typological (Allegorical) Form

Contrary to what anyone may have previously told you, the Bible is, for the most part, not an easy book to read.  Of course, it is true that the Gospel of salvation through the Person and Work of the Lord Jesus Christ alone is plainly stated in a number of New Testament passages, such as John 3:16-18, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.   He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”  Nonetheless, to a very large degree, the rest of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, relies heavily on the more difficult “typology” (which, to be understood, requires Holy Spirit led comparison of scripture with scripture).  Today, many theologians dismiss the idea that most of the Bible was written in typological form.  However, the fact that God uses “allegory,” “figures,” “shadows, and “similitudes” to convey spiritual truth (albeit many times in a veiled, mysterious, or secretive manner) is, nonetheless, plainly stated in the Bible as we find in:

Galatians 4:22-31, concerning the typology of the two sons of Abraham, Ishmael (born of the bondwoman, Hagar (Agar in Greek), typifying the result of fleshly works under the law) and Isaac (born of the freewoman, Sarah, typifying the result of Heavenly promise under grace).  “(4:24) Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.  But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all.”

Romans 5:14, “Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.

Hebrews 9:8&9, “The Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:  Which [was] a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

Hebrews 8:5, “Who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, [that] thou make all things according to the pattern shewed to thee in the mount.

Hebrews 10:1, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, [and] not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.

Colossians 2:16-17, “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:  Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.

Hosea 12:10, “I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.”

 Understanding God’s Word, the Bible:

God’s Word is a Mystery!

            In Psalm 78:1&2, God calls upon all believers to, “Give ear, O my people, [to] my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth.  I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings* of old:” (yet immediately thereafter only a straightforward Biblical historical account is provided!)  In Proverbs 1:5&6, we read, “A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels: To understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings.”  (please also see Psalm 49:1-4)

In 1 Corinthians 2 (the whole chapter) we learn more of the means of understanding God’s Holy word, the Bible:

a) in verse 2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”

b) in verse 5, “that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.

c) in verse 7+8, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, [even] the hidden [wisdom], which God ordained before the world unto our glory:  Which none of the princes of this world knew:…

d) in verse 10, “But God hath revealed [them] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.

e) in verse 13, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth: comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

f) in verse 14, “But the natural man (everyone in the unsaved state) receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned.

In John 6:63 we read, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, [they] are spirit, and [they] are life.

Remember, the Bible makes it clear that Jesus spoke in “parables.”  In Matt. 13:34 we read that:

All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables;  and without a parable spake he not unto them:  That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret*** from the   foundation of the world.” (and this is a reference back to the prophetic statement we find in Psalm 78:2)

Jesus explained to His disciples why He spoke in parables to the multitudes.  In Mark 4:11&12, we read:

And he said unto them, Unto you (the elect) it is given to know the mystery** of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without (the non-elect), all [these] things are done in parables:  That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and [their] sins should be  forgiven them.“(God reiterates this explanation in Isaiah 6:9&10, John 9:39&40, and Acts 28:26-28… PLEASE Read these verses to see the perfect reinforcement that they provide)

* From the Hebrew, “chiydah or ‘gheedah,” (also used as dark sentences or speech) meaning “hard question, riddle, or puzzle,”  and is synonymous with the word “proverb” or “parable”.   But “parable” itself is derived from Hebrew word “mashal” which has the meaning of a “metaphorical adage requiring mental action.”

** Note that in the New Testament, “mystery” derives from a Greek word “musterion” that means something that imposes silence by shutting the mouth.

***The word “secret” here  derives from a Greek word (Strongs 2928) that means “to conceal or hide”.

The Unveiling of The Mystery is God’s Work Alone!

            In 2 Peter 1:20&21 and 2:1&2, we are told, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.  But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.  And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.”  These verses are saying that if anyone gives forth an interpretation out of their own intellect or from the carnal minds of others that have taught them, they are false teachers and the truth is not in them.  (Even more ominous, they will receive the greater condemnation from God for that sin.)  But how are we to know which interpretation is out of a man’s mind as opposed to what God is really saying?  God provides us the answer, out of His word, the Bible, as follows:

The Bible is a spiritual book.  Referring again back to I Corinthians 2:13, we read, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  And we know from II Samuel 23:2, “The spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word [was] in my tongue.”  Clearly the word of God, the Bible, is spiritual, as it was written under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  So if we want to learn the true meaning of any verse, then we need to compare scripture with scripture (spiritual things with spiritual things).  Furthermore, any revelation of truth from God’s word (which can only come through the use of this methodology) is solely the work of the Holy Spirit.  That is why in I John 2:27 we read, “But the anointing (of the Holy Spirit) which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.”  This is entirely consistent with what we read in John 16:13, “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, [that] shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” See also John 15:2627“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.”

The Bible requires spiritual insight to understand it.  That faculty is only obtained as a gift from God, through the indwelling (or anointing) of His Holy Spirit.  That action is God’s alone, and is synonymous with the gift of salvation (Acts 5:32, “And we are his witnesses of these things; and [so is] also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.“).  Just as salvation is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God:“) so are our spiritual eyes and ears a gift of God (because we have His Spirit in us witnessing to our spirit).  That is why we read in Proverbs 20:12, “The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.”  We must have been given the wisdom of God, by God. (James 1:5, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all [men] liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.“)  This will come when we are truly seeking Him (because He first sought us, see John 6:44) and fear (have reverential awe of) Him.  We are told in Psalms 111:10 that, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of wisdom:“, and in Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the LORD [is] the beginning of knowledge: [but] fools despise wisdom and instruction.”  The more we study God’s word, the Bible, the more, by God’s grace, our faith grows and the spiritually wiser we can become.  In Romans 10:17, we find that, “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”  Furthermore, in Isaiah 50:4, we read, “The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to [him that is] weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.

Side Note:  It is quite interesting to find in Exodus chapter 31, when God looked for a man of wisdom and understanding and knowledge, that God told Moses the following starting in verse 2:

See, I have called by name Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah: 3 and I have filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, and in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship, 4 to devise cunning works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, 5 and in cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of timber, to work in all manner of workmanship.”

God called the man and and God filled the man with His Holy Spirit in order for that man to have “wisdom” and “understanding” and “knowledge” to do the service of the Lord in the building of God’s Holy Habitation (represented by the earthly tabernacle).  It is a parable that we must heed, because, just as we are told in Psalms 127, verse 1: “Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it, except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.” That house (and city) represents the Church, as Jesus said in Matthew 16:18 , “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

BTW…Bezaleel (which means in the shadow of God; i.e., “under his protection”), the son of Uri (which means “my light”), the son of Hur (no known definition, but from the Bible (Exodus 17:10-12) we know that Hur was the only other person to accompany Moses and Aaron up the hill and helped Aaron in supporting Moses’ arms), of the tribe of Judah (meaning “Praised” and Jesus was from the tribe of Judah ).  We see therefore that Bezaleel ultimately represents the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Mystery, Kept Secret Since the World Began

            Since Proverbs 1:20-23 and 1 Corinthians 1:30 describe Jesus Christ as wisdom, then 1 Cor. 2:7 is really saying,”We speak Jesus Christ in a mystery.”  This is a repetition of 1:18, which says that those who are perishing (the unsaved) do not truly understand Jesus is the Savior they need.  Those who are saved know who He is, for they see Him in the Bible (John 5:39).  To confirm that this is not man’s interpretation but God’s, all we have to do is look at Romans 16:25, which reads, “Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,“.  Additional support is found in Colossians 2:2&3, where we read, “… to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God (God the Holy Spirit, Who reveals the mystery), and of the Father (God the Father), and of Christ (God the Son, Jesus);  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  The believers can see how God pre-figured Jesus and salvation through Him alone in all the Old Testament historical accounts (doing the Will of God the Father by the Power of the Holy Spirit).  Such examples can be found when we look at the lives of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Barak, Boaz, David, Mordecai, Nehemiah, Jonah, Job, etc.  However, for the rest (the non-elect unsaved who are spiritually blind), such wisdom is “hidden,” because God hides the truth of the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ from them (God leaves them in their blindness!).  It should also be noted that at the very end of time the mystery of God will be finished (fulfilled) as we read in Revelation 10:7, “But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets.

            It should also be noted that the Book of Revelation begins with the words, “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified [it] by his angel unto his servant John:“.  A few verses later, in Revelation 1:8, Jesus declares that, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

             The Book of Revelation is God’s revealed summary testimony of the previously veiled gospel plan to glorify Himself through Jesus Christ’s victory over Satan, sin, death, and hell.  He reviews His loving, gracious gospel plan to make ready a people (His Church) to worship Him in spirit and in truth.  It emphasizes that the consummation of this already effectuated gospel plan will take place very soon in the historical time context.

Diligently Seeking and Searching for Jesus Christ

            In the Introduction to this paper it was shown how God makes it clear that we are to seek Him, and seek Him diligently.  In Proverbs 2:1, we read where God says, “My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee;  So that thou incline thine ear unto wisdom, [and] apply thine heart to understanding;  Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, [and] liftest up thy voice for understanding;  If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as [for] hid treasures;  Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.”  We saw in the previous section that in Jesus Christ are “hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”  Therefore, to seek out wisdom is to seek out Jesus Christ.  Furthermore, I Peter 1:10 tells us that seeking out and searching for Jesus is finding salvation and vice-versa, “Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace [that should come] unto you:  Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”  In Hebrews 11:6 we read, “But without faith [it is] impossible to please [him]: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and [that] he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Additional verses that speak to the issue of diligently seeking for Jesus include:

Psalms 119:2, Blessed [are] they that keep his testimonies, [and that] seek him with the whole heart.

Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find [me], when ye shall search for me with all your heart.

Isaiah 55:6, “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

In Acts 17:27, we read that on Mars’ hill, in Athens, Paul informed the Greeks that God had determined for all mankind, “That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:”  Remember what Jesus said in Matthew 7:7, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:”  But also remember that we will never truly seek Him unless He first seeks for us, as we read in John 6:44, where Jesus says, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Hebrews 9:28, “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Jesus Christ is The Secret

            In Amos 3:7 we read, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  A few Bible students (including this author) have erroneously referred to this verse to argue that God will reveal the timing of Jesus’s return on Judgment Day to the believers because of the context of the preceding verse, “Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done [it]?,” (which clearly does relate to the warning of the Judgment to come).  However, we know that Jesus Christ is the personification of the Word of God.  He and His Gospel of Grace must, therefore, be the primary focus of this verse.  Could Jesus Christ be “the Secret” whom God reveals through His word, the Bible?  The word translated as “secret” (note that it is in the singular) is from the Hebrew word “sohd,” H5475 in Strong’s Concordance.  Let’s look at a few other verses where this same word is found:

             Job 15:8, “Hast thou heard the secret of God? and dost thou restrain wisdom to thyself?”  (Job (who is another type of Jesus Christ) did hear the “Secret” of God, the “Secret” is the word of God Who is Jesus Christ.  Please see Matt. 17:5.)

            Psalms 25:14, “The secret of the LORD [is] with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant”  Jesus is with those that fear God; He makes known to them His everlasting covenant which is His gospel of grace.

             Proverbs 3:32, “For the froward [is] abomination to the LORD: but his secret [is] with the righteous.

             Proverbs 15:22, “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.”  The word translated as “counsel” is the same word translated above as “secret,” and so we can see that without Jesus Christ there is only failure, much as we read in:

Psalms 127:1, “{A Song of degrees for Solomon.} Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh [but] in vain.

Ezekiel 13:9, “And mine hand shall be upon the prophets that see vanity, and that divine lies: they shall not be in the assembly of my people, neither shall they be written in the writing of the house of Israel, neither shall they enter into the land of Israel; and ye shall know that I [am] the Lord GOD.”  Again the word translated “in the assembly of” is the same word for “secret.”  Therefore, unless a prophet is in Christ, he will see only vanity (and not Jesus Christ), and he is a false prophet, and God’s hand of judgment will be upon him.

Psalms 64:2, “Hide me from the secret counsel of the wicked; from the insurrection of the workers of iniquity:” Clearly, we don’t want to fall prey to false Christs (see Matthew 24:24).

Jesus Christ is the “Wonderful” Secret

             In Judges 13:9-14, we read where the “angel” (messenger) of the Lord appeared to the mother and father of Samson.  There can be little doubt that this “angel” was actually the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, Who had at times appeared in human form to saints of Old Testament times (Gen. 14:18, Gen. 32:30, and Jud. 6:22).  Verses 18 and 22 indicate that this messenger was Jesus.  Judges 13:18, “And the angel of the LORD said unto him, Why askest thou thus after my name, seeing it [is] secret?”  Judges 13:22, “And Manoah said unto his wife, We shall surely die, because we have seen God.”  The word “secret” in verse 18 is translated from the Hebrew word ‘pilee’ (Strong’s H6383) which can also be translated as “wonderful” as we find in Psalms 139:6, “[Such] knowledge [is] too wonderful (pilee) for me; it is high, I cannot [attain] unto it.”  It is also derived from the prime root word ‘pala’ (Strong’s H6381) and closely linked to the companion word ‘pele’ (Strong’s H6382) that are also both translated as “wonderful,” or “wondrous.”

In Isaiah 9:6, God declares in this well known prophesy of the first coming of Jesus Christ that, “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful (pele), Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father*, The Prince of Peace.

It is not surprising therefore that we read in:

Psalms 119:129 {PE.} “Thy testimonies [are] wonderful (pele): therefore doth my soul keep them.

Psalms 119:18, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous (pala) things out of thy law.”  Psalms 119:27, “Make me to understand the way of thy precepts: so shall I talk of thy wondrous (pala) works. (NOTE: The “angel” that appeared to Samson’s parents also did “wondrously” (pala) in Judges 13:19.)

The prayer of all mankind should be that God might deal “wonderfully” with them and grant them the eyes to see the Person of Jesus Christ in the scriptures of the Bible; to understand or know Jesus Christ (Who is “the Way”) as Savior and Lord; to talk of, or declare, the gospel of salvation effectuated by the work of Jesus Christ; and, in Christ, to keep (desire to be obedient to) His commandments.

Joel 2:26, “And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously (pala) with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is Hidden From the Non-Elect

   In Proverbs 25:2 we read, “[It is] the glory of God to conceal a thing (“word,” thus: Jesus Christ): but the honour of kings [is] to search out a matter (“word,” thus: Jesus Christ).”  The word translated as “conceal” is from the Hebrew word “sahtar,” H5641 in Strong’s Concordance.  It is the same word as found just above in Psalms 64:2 that is translated as “hide.”  It can also be translated as “secret,” as is found in: Deuteronomy 29:29, “The secret [things belong] unto the LORD our God: but those [things which are] revealed [belong] unto us and to our children for ever, that [we] may do all the words of this law.

             In Isaiah 45:15 we read, “Verily thou [art] a God that hidest (sahtar) thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour.”  This is why the prayer of the believer is found in Psalms 27:9, “Hide not thy face [far] from me; put not thy servant away in anger: thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation.” and Psalms 119:18&19, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.  I [am] a stranger in the earth: hide not thy commandments from me.” and in Psalms 143:7, “Hear me speedily, O LORD: my spirit faileth: hide not thy face from me, lest I be like unto them that go down into the pit (Hell).”

             The New Testament provides additional insight into this issue of God, and His secret things, being hidden from all those except the believers (the “elect”* of God…those whom He wills to save).  In Luke 10:21-24, we read, “In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight.  All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and [he] to whom the Son will reveal [him].  And he turned him unto [his] disciples, and said privately, Blessed [are] the eyes which see the things that ye see:  For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen [them]; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard [them].

In John 14:21 Jesus states that, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest (from the Greek meaning to “disclose,” “reveal,” or “declare plainly”) myself to him.”

For the believers, God makes His words (the Bible) “plain”, as we find in Proverbs 8:8, “All the words of my mouth [are] in righteousness; [there is] nothing froward or perverse in them.  They [are] all plain to him that understandeth, and right to them that find knowledge.”  For the non-elect, God’s words are “hidden”.  II Corinthians 4:3 states, “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:  In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.”  Ephesians 3:9, “And to make all [men] see what [is] the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:” Colossians 1:25, “Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;  [Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest (made known or revealed) to his saints:”  Colossians 2:2, “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;  In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

*NOTE: Regarding the issue of election, remember that Jesus also prayed in John 17:9, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.  And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.”  While it is correct to understand that Jesus was referring specifically to His disciples at that point, we later read in the same chapter, in John 17:20, “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, [art] in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”  For more on this issue, please read Romans, chapter 9, particularly verses 11-24; and Romans, chapter 11, particularly verses 5-8.

 “The Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophesy”

            We also learn that if anyone is a true prophet (one who is declaring God’s word faithfully), then certain criteria must also be met.  All true believers, the true prophets, must have the testimony of Jesus Christ, and no one else.  That is why we read in Revelation 19:10, “And I fell at his feet to worship him.  And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  You see the Bible is the word of God, and Jesus Christ is both God and the Word made flesh (See particularly John 1:1 and John 1:14).  Revelation 19:13 reiterates this point, “And he (Jesus Christ) [was] clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his (Jesus’s) name is called The Word of God.”   Note also that in John 15:26, Jesus told His disciples, “But when the Comforter (the Holy Ghost or the Holy Spirit) is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, [even] the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me (Jesus Christ):”

The Whole Bible is About Jesus Christ and God’s Salvation Plan Through Him Alone!

That is the True Gospel of Grace!

God Makes This Point Clearly and Unequivocally in the New Testament:

            In John 5:39, we read where Jesus was admonishing the Jews and said, “Search the scriptures (only the Old Testament in that day); for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me (Jesus Christ). In John 5:45, we read, “Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is [one] that accuseth you, [even] Moses, in whom ye trust.  For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me.”  Also in Hebrews 10:7 where God explains Psalms 40:7 as saying that the book (the Bible) is talking about Jesus Christ, “Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me, [Jesus Christ]) to do thy will, O God.”  Remember also in Luke 24:27 where Jesus, after His resurrection, was walking on the road to Emmaus with the two who did not recognize Him?  There we read, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.”  Later on, in verse 31, we read, “And their eyes were opened, and they knew him;.”   We see this repeated again later begining at verse 44: “And He (Jesus) said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me.  Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,”   This point is reiterated in Acts 3:18, “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”   Again in Acts 10:43, we read, “To him (Jesus Christ) give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”  In John 1:45 we read where, “Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”  Finally, in Romans 1:1-3, we read, “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called [to be] an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,) Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord

             We can see, therefore, that effectively the entire Bible has been precisely crafted by God, by His Holy Spirit, into one cohesive, consistent whole, from beginning to end and was written as a “parable,” in that only if God has given the reader “eyes to see” can the Bible truly be understood and applied to his heart, otherwise the Word remains hidden to that individual.  It is the only way to “hear” Him (see Matt. 17:5).  Because this is so, we can also see how it should be possible to “see” the Lord Jesus Christ (He is both the Word and Wisdom) on each and every page, whether it be in the New, or Old, Testament.  In I Corinthians 13:12, we read, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

             Remember how Jesus taught in John 14:6, “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” and that John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” Colossians 4:3, “Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:” and finally in Matthew 7:13, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide [is] the gate, and broad [is] the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:  Because strait [is] the gate, and narrow [is] the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.”  Finally, in John 6:44, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

The New Testament Speaks Plainly of the Gospel (“Good News”) of Jesus Christ

Which Previously Had Been Veiled in the Old Testament

            In II Corinthians 3:2-18, we read how God compares the New Testament to the Old Testament.  We see a clear comparison between the glorious gospel of grace (for both Jew and Gentile!) through Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life that is openly revealed by the Spirit through “great plainness of speech” to the gospel of works by man that can only lead to condemnation and eternal death, but which was nonetheless glorious because it pointed to Jesus Christ in a veiled manner and which veil was removed by the person and completed work of Jesus Christ.  “Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:  [Forasmuch as ye are] manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.  And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward:  Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency [is] of God;  Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.  But if the ministration of death, written [and] engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which [glory] was to be done away:  How shall not the ministration of the spirit be rather glorious?  For if the ministration of condemnation [be] glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory.  For even that which was made glorious had no glory in this respect, by reason of the glory that excelleth.  For if that which is done away [was] glorious, much more that which remaineth [is] glorious.  Seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech:  And not as Moses, [which] put a veil over his face, that the children of Israel could not stedfastly look to the end of that which is abolished:  But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same veil untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which [veil] is done away in Christ.  But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.  Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away.  Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord [is], there [is] liberty.  But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, [even] as by the Spirit of the Lord.

 Conclusion

             The conclusion of the matter is, only if (by the grace of God, alone) we have the Holy Spirit indwelling in our hearts (because we are called and chosen by God) can our spiritual eyes and ears be opened to the hidden Truth of God (in concurrence with being given the necessary faith hope and love and the desire to be obedient to Him!).  Because that Truth is of God, and about God, spiritual (not carnal, earthly, human) discernment is required.  In Romans 7:14 we read, “For we know that the law (the whole word of God, the Bible) is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin.” Therefore, only if we are being guided by the Holy Spirit according to God’s sovereign good pleasure, using the process of searching and comparing scripture with scripture (comparing spiritual with spiritual) within the context of the whole Bible, will the veil be removed such that we can begin to see Jesus Christ and His work of salvation for His people that God has inextricably interwoven throughout all His word, the Bible.  Jesus really is the Child of Promise and The Way, The Truth, and The Life.  May all who read this be as the Greeks in John 12:20&21 that came up to the feast to worship and say, “we would see Jesus.”

 Understanding Parables: A Biblical Proof-Text for Typological Interpretation

            In Mark 4:10 we read that Jesus, when He had just finished telling the parable of the Sower, was asked by His disciples what the parable meant; “And when he was alone, they that were about him with the twelve asked of him the parable.”  In Mark 4:13, Jesus gave the following response, “And he said unto them, Know ye not this parable? and how then will ye know all parables?

            Why did Jesus imply that His disciples should have known what the parable meant?  Could they have known before Jesus explained it to them?  Also, He indicated that if they did know the meaning of this parable, then they would be able to know the meaning of all parables.  What did that mean?

             When we do a word study of the parable of the Sower, using a concordance such as Strong’s or Young’s, comparing scripture with scripture (comparing spiritual things with spiritual things); we find that if we search just the Old Testament (the only scriptures available at the time of Christ) we can derive essentially the same meaning of the parable as Jesus gave His disciples.  By applying the same principles to the rest of the Bible, trusting God’s Word, by faith, being led by the Holy Spirit, we ought to be able to learn the meaning of “all” parables.

            However, please remember that the information in this Bible Study Help is not to be viewed as some kind of a cookbook “recipe,” by which we can automatically come to truth.  God is Sovereign, and in complete control of the revelation of saving truth from His Word, the Bible.  Intellectual knowledge will never save anyone (it could actually add to his greater condemnation).  May we never be as those God describes in II Timothy 3:7, “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.”   (Remember also that Jesus is The “Truth”)

 Word Study, Parable of the Sower

(See Matthew 13:3-23, Mark 4:3-20, and Luke 8:4-15)

The Sower and His Seed: (God and His Word)

            Isaiah 55:10&11 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper [in the thing] whereto I sent it.

            *II Corinthians 9:10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for [your] food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;

The  Wayside: (The World, that which is not in “the Way”.  Remember Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life)

            Psalms 140:5 The proud have hid a snare for me, and cords; they have spread a net by the wayside; they have set gins for me. Selah.

            *Matthew 20:30  And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, [thou] son of David.

* New Testament, only shown to reinforce illustration.

Fowls of the Air:  (Forces of Satan)

            I Samuel 17:44 And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

            I Samuel 17:46 This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel.

            Job 28:21 Seeing it is hid from the eyes of all living, and kept close (concealed) from the fowls of the air.

Devour: (Destroy or Consume)

            II Chronicles 7:13 If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;

            Isaiah 33:11 Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, [as] fire, shall devour you.

            Jeremiah 51:34 Nebuchadrezzar the king of Babylon hath devoured me, he hath crushed me, he hath made me an empty vessel, he hath swallowed me up like a dragon, he hath filled his belly with my delicates, he hath cast me out.

            Zephaniah 3:8  Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination [is] to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, [even] all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.

Stony: (Hard Hearted)

            Psalms 141:6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.

            Ezekiel 36:26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.

Root: (Jesus Christ, the Root of Jesse)

            II Kings 19:30 And the remnant that is escaped of the house of Judah shall yet again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.

            Isaiah 11:10  And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.

Withered: (Dried Up, Scorched, as in the Fires of Hell)

            Isaiah 27:11 When the boughs thereof are withered, they shall be broken off: the women come, [and] set them on fire: for it [is] a people of no understanding: therefore he that made them will not have mercy on them, and he that formed them will shew them no favour.

            Ezekiel 19:12 But she was plucked up in fury, she was cast down to the ground, and the east wind dried up her fruit: her strong rods were broken and withered; the fire consumed them.

            Joel 1:12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, [even] all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.

            *John 5:3 In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

            *John 15:6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast [them] into the fire, and they are burned.

Thorns:  (Cares of This World, and the Snare of False Gospels)

            Genesis 3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;

            Judges 2:3 Wherefore I also said, I will not drive them out from before you; but they shall be [as thorns] in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare unto you.

            Proverbs 22:5 Thorns [and] snares [are] in the way of the froward: he that doth keep his soul shall be far from them.

            Isaiah 32:13 Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns [and] briers; yea, upon all the houses of joy [in] the joyous city:

            Isaiah 33:12 And the people shall be [as] the burnings of lime: [as] thorns cut up shall they be burned in the fire.

            Jeremiah 4:3  For thus saith the LORD to the men of Judah and Jerusalem, Break up your fallow ground, and sow not among thorns.

            Ezekiel 2:6  And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns [be] with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they [be] a rebellious house.

Fruit: (Good Fruit is the Evidence of True Salvation)

            Deuteronomy 11:17 And [then] the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and [lest] ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.

            Leviticus 26:4 Then I will give you rain in due season, and the land shall yield her increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit.

            Deuteronomy 22:9  Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

            Psalms 1:3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.

            Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous [is] a tree of life; and he that winneth souls [is] wise.

            Proverbs 12:12 The wicked desireth the net of evil [men]: but the root of the righteous yieldeth [fruit].

            Isaiah 4:2 In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth [shall be] excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.

            Isaiah 27:6 He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root: Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit.

            Jeremiah 17:8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and [that] spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.

            Ezekiel 17:8 It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring forth branches, and that it might bear fruit, that it might be a goodly vine.

            Ezekiel 34:27 And the tree of the field shall yield her fruit, and the earth shall yield her increase, and they shall be safe in their land, and shall know that I [am] the LORD, when I have broken the bands of their yoke, and delivered them out of the hand of those that served themselves of them.

            *Matthew 3:10 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Other verses to ponder:

Romans 15:4, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.

I Corinthians 10:11, “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.

Psalms 19:11, “Moreover by them is thy servant warned: [and] in keeping of them [there is] great reward.” (please, if at all possible, read all of Psalms 19 and 119)

Psalms 37:30, “The mouth of the righteous speaketh wisdom, and his tongue talketh of judgment.

Ecclesiastes 8:5, “Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man’s heart discerneth both time and judgment.”

Hebrews 12:25, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more [shall not] we [escape], if we turn away from him that [speaketh] from heaven:  Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more (Judgment Day) I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”

Ecclesiastes 1:18, “For in much wisdom [is] much grief: and he that increaseth knowledge increaseth sorrow.

Galatians 1:12, “For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught [it], but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 13:1&2, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love, “agape” in the Greek), I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.  And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (love, “agape” in the Greek), I am nothing.”  If we don’t have the Godly love (agape) of Jesus Christ in us (which is synonymous with true salvation), we are nothing.

POSTSCRIPT:

While this Bible Study Help may have given the reader the impression that this author dogmatically believes that there is only one method or level to Bible interpretation, that is neither the case nor the intention of this study.  It is certainly true that there are at least three levels of interpretation, i.e., the “literal/historical,” the “moral,” and the “spiritual.”  This Bible Study Help is intended to instruct the reader in the highest level, the spiritual, which points to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

The events recorded in the Bible are not myths or legends on which the gospel message is derived.  All the events recorded (including all of the Old Testament narratives) are literal, and can be trusted as true facts.  From those historical facts we can derive moral lessons.  The Bible also contains specific laws and codes of conduct that provide the best means to govern and benefit human society.  The framers of the US Constitution wisely drew heavily on those lessons and laws. The proverbs teach us valuable moral lessons.  While such lessons will certainly benefit anyone in this life, neither a knowledge of biblical historical facts, or biblical morality through obedience to God’s laws, will bring that person to salvation.  Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all of the historical events, moral lessons, and Levitical laws and ordinances, which are all only “types” and “shadows,” and therefore have no lasting substance in themselves.  Eternal salvation is only a gift of grace by God obtainable through the hearing of, and responding repentant faith in, the Gospel of Jesus Christ; which is the true purpose and lasting substance of the Bible.

Bible Study #1                                        Isaiah, Chapter 29

With these guidelines in mind, let’s look at Isaiah 29:10-12.  There we read, Isaiah 29:10, “For the LORD hath poured out upon you the spirit of deep sleep, and hath closed your eyes: the prophets and your rulers, the seers hath he covered.  And the vision of all is become unto you as the words of a book that is sealed, which [men] deliver to one that is learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I cannot; for it [is] sealed:  And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Isaiah 29 is primarily a testimony by God against the prophets, seers, and rulers (the Priests and Pharisees, the “learned ones”) who claim to understand the word of God, the Bible, but who really have no true understanding at all.  To them this “book” is “sealed,” even though they are “learned” men.  They are blind guides and the Light of Christ is not in them.  They do not have the Holy Spirit to guide them to the truth that leads to eternal life.  They do not want, nor seek, righteousness by grace through Jesus Christ alone, but rather through their own efforts through the keeping of the Law.  As a result, they are “spiritually blind” and therefore still dead in their sins.

As for the “not learned” one, there is no implication that he can do any better.  All he can say, and rightly so, is that “I am not learned.”   Moreover, regarding the “not learned,” the Bible has only unpleasant words to say.  Turning to II Peter 3:16, for example, we’ll find that regarding the understanding of scripture by such a one, “As also in all [his] (Paul’s) epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

So who then can understand this sealed book, the Bible?  The believers can.  We know this from Isaiah 8:13-16, “Sanctify the LORD of hosts (Jesus Christ) himself; and [let] him [be] your fear, and [let] him [be] your dread.  And he (Jesus Christ) shall be for a sanctuary (to the believers); but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem (those who claim to have fellowship with God, but really do not).  And many among them shall stumble, and fall, and be broken, and be snared, and be taken.  Bind up the testimony, seal the law among my disciples (the true believers).”  Also in Isaiah 8:20, “To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them.”  (Matthew 6:23, “But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great [is] that darkness!“)  Finally we read in Romans 11:8, “(According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.”

Now getting back to Isaiah, chapter 29; if we go to the next two verses, verses 13&14, we read, “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:  Therefore, behold, I will proceed to do a marvellous work among this people, [even] a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise [men] shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent [men] shall be hid.”  To understand this passage we don’t go to men, we go to God through His Word the Bible.  In Matthew 15:7-9 (and Mark 7:6-9), we read where Jesus was rebuking the Pharisees and scribes (the learned ones, the prophets, rulers, seers of that day whom God had blinded referred to in Isaiah 29:10&11) and God records for us, “[Ye] hypocrites, well did Esaias (Isaiah in Greek) prophesy of you, saying,  This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with [their] lips; but their heart is far from me.  But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men.”  Jesus also said in Matthew 23:27, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness.

A Marvelous Work and a Wonder?

           As for the “marvelous work and a wonder,” God is declaring that despite the fact that so many “learned” men of Israel (who intellectually knew what the Bible says) are so blind to any understanding of what it is really talking about, God would save a remnant of all humankind (both Jews and Gentiles) for Himself.  We are told this in the concluding section of chapter 29, beginning with verses 18 and 19, where God capsulizes the essence of salvation, “And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book (the “sealed” book, the Bible), and the eyes of the blind shall see out of obscurity, and out of darkness.  The meek also shall increase [their] joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel (the Lord Jesus Christ).”

God tells us that He would effectuate His salvation program first, marvelously (from the Hebrew word ‘pala’), by the redemptive action (the work) of the Lord Jesus Christ (as the Passover Lamb at the cross) and then, wondrously (from the related Hebrew word ‘pele,’ identified as a name for Jesus Christ in Isaiah 9:6), by “the opening of the blind eyes” (spiritually speaking) through the pouring out of His Holy Spirit on people from every nation (not just Jews) beginning at Pentecost.  For proof that this is the only correct interpretation, we must first turn to Isaiah 42:6&7 where we read, “I the LORD have called thee (Jesus Christ, as the servant) in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles; To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, [and] them that sit in darkness out of the prison house.”  Then in Luke 2:30-32, we read that the devout man Simeon, upon seeing the child Jesus in the temple at Jerusalem, declared to God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, “For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,  Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;  A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Finally, in Acts 13:38-41, we read that (after Pentecost) while Paul and Barnabas were preaching the gospel of salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ in Antioch in a Jewish synagogue, they said, “Be it known unto you therefore, men [and] brethren, that through this man (Jesus Christ) is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:  And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.  Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets;  Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.”  Because many of the Jews did not believe, they were rebuked by God as we read in verses 46-48, “Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you (the Jews): but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.  For so hath the Lord commanded us, [saying], I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.  And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.”  This is the true meaning of a “marvelous work and a wonder”.

                          Summary of Isaiah Chapter 29

           In conclusion, we can see that the “sealed book” referred to in Isaiah, chapter 29, is the Word of God, the Bible.  We can see that the “learned one” is anyone who claims to have Biblical authority in his doctrinal pronouncements, but who is really preaching a false gospel because God has blinded him to the truth concerning salvation only through the Lord Jesus Christ.  As for the “marvelous work and a wonder”: it is God’s magnificent salvation program for “the elect of God” who are chosen by God from out of all mankind (not just the Jews).

That salvation program was wrought by God the Father through Jesus Christ His Son in the power of the Holy Spirit which effectively began in earnest about 2000 years ago (but was predetermined from the foundation of the world, and therefore covers the Old Testament believers as well, see Revelation 13:8).

Let us always remember that God is glorified by the Son, Jesus Christ.  It is Jesus whom we should believe in and come to know as our Saviour and Lord.  He is the One we should worship and honor, as saith the scriptures:

John 3:35&36, “The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.  He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

II Peter 1:2&3, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,  According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

II Peter 3:18, “But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen.

Finally, I Peter 4:11, “If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever.


     *  Note the intimacy between Jesus and The everlasting Father that is reiterated later in: John 14:9, “Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Shew us the Father?”  John 10:30, “I and [my] Father are one.” I John 5:7, “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.