Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew

Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew
Sergio Voitenko
6 May 2018

7 years ago I asked this question: Can a perfect God speak imperfect words?. I wanted to know if the Bible has flaws?

There are multiple ways to prove the authenticity of the Scriptures. Just google it and youll find thousands of sermons and videos. There are multiple ways to logically prove that God is perfect and so His Word must be perfect. There are tools to find translation errors. And there are experiences and testimonies like the one I shared last week, which all add weight to finding the answer to these questions.

But the strongest answer I ever found is the evidence of a supernatural intelligence in the Bible. This evidence is hidden in plain-sight throughout the pages of the Old and New Testaments, evidence that points to the fact that no human mind could have ever written this text in its original form.

Some of this evidence I am going to present to you today.

But like with any evidence, one must have the proper tools to inspect it. So before I begin, I’m going to give you a tool from the scholar’s toolbox.

And the first tool in the toolbox is the Ancient Hebrew alphabet.

Why Hebrew? Because Hebrew is the main language God chose for the writing of the OT.

Now keep in mind that there is modern Hebrew today. It is the Hebrew that I grew up speaking, and even though it is based on the ancient Hebrew, it has slight differences. This is similar to the difference between Middle English used by John Wycliffe in the 14th century and Modern English used in the NIV.

On the screen, you can see an example. @ These are the first three verses as they appear in the Wycliffe Bible of the 14th century.

Okay I’m going to read this, and make a fool out of my self. Nonetheless, I must do it, in order to make an important point. @

1 In the bigynnyng was the word, and the word was at God, and God was the word. 2 This was in the bigynnyg at God. 3 All things weren maad bi hym, and withouten hym was maad no thing. That thing that was maad.”

I believe we have a few Church members from Ireland and Scotland, watching this live right now who would have done a much better job at reading this than me.

But now the point is this, someone speaking Modern English would have thought the text is about someone who has gone mad. What sounds and looks like the same word, in fact, has a different meaning in the Middle English. It is the same way that Ancient Hebrew compares to the Modern. With a few extra grammatical differences.

So how do the translators know what is the meaning of certain Hebrew words that have been lost over millenniums? Context.

Can you imagine the responsibility and the difficulty of a Bible translation job?

So without any further ado, please pay your attention to the screen. @ This is the ancient Hebrew Alphabet.

Look at it very well. I’m going to show you some really awesome stuff. And by the end of this presentation, you will be one step closer to becoming an expert in Ancient Biblical Hebrew! Or at the least, you’ll be able to impress some of your Hebrew friends, or maybe even Charlie when he comes back!

Let’s begin. @

Hebrew is read from Right to Left.

So these @ would be the first letters.

And just like we live in a four-dimensional world, so also the Hebrew alphabet has four dimensions that apply to each letter. @ Let me explain.

  1. @ the first dimension is The Phonetic Sound – Just like in English, each Hebrew letter produces a phonetic sound. @ ⟨a⟩, @ b, @ ⟨g⟩. This one is quite easy to understand because we have the same in English. However, this is the only dimension the English language has. Hebrew, on the other hand, has three more. So let’s take a look at them.

  2. @ the second dimension is the Name of the letter, which also gives it a meaning – That’s right, each letter is an actual word that has a meaning. For example – @ the first letter is El and it means strength. Does that ring a bell? Elohim is the plural of El and that is the Hebrew word for God. So if we were to literally translate the word ‘Elohim’ it would mean Strengths).
    The second letter is @ Bet and it means a house. The third is @ Gam and that means “to walk”, and so forth.
  3. @ the third dimension is the Numerical Value – the numbers as we know them today were not invented until 500 AD. Back then the Hebrews used letters instead of numbers. @ El – 1, @ Bet – 2, @ Gam – 3, and so forth.
    Now, this leaves us with the last and the most interesting dimension. Take another look at these letters. What do you see? Can you guess the last dimension?
  4. @ the fourth and the last dimension is the Pictograph – each letter is an actual drawing, an ancient picture, if you may. @ El is an Ox Head. Do you see it? It’s really cool. The second letter Bet is a drawing of a @ Tent Floor-plan. Can you try to guess what the third letter looks like? 
    @ a Foot. I challenge you to go through the rest of these at home. Simply rewind a few minutes back to the time when I showed the entire alphabet and try to figure out what they mean. After you’re done guessing, you can see if you were right by googling Ancient Hebrew alphabet.

Now in these four dimensions of the Hebrew alphabet are hidden great mysteries and marvelous treasures. And now that we know how to read it, we can take a look at some of those mysteries.

@ The first mystery we’ll look at is in Ezekiel 9:4-6

This chapter deals with the judgment day. In these verses, Ezekiel sees a vision where the Lord instructs His angels to execute judgment upon the disobedient people. But these verses conceal one of the coolest mysteries of the OT. @ Let’s read it together,

and the Lord said to him, Go through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it. To the others He said in my hearing, Go after him through the city and kill; do not let your eye spare, nor have any pity. Utterly slay old and young men, maidens and little children and women; but do not come near anyone on whom is the mark; and begin at My sanctuary.So they began with the elders who were before the temple.”

A very scary passage, unless you have @ the mark! What is this mark? And why does it protected them from death? Let’s check this verse out in it’s Hebrew form: @

עַל־כָּל־אִ֨ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־עָלָ֤יו הַתָּו֙ אַל־תִּגַּ֔שׁוּ

This very verse had been read and sung in the synagogues for thousands of years. Yet it hides a magnificent mystery.

You see, in Hebrew, the word for “the mark”, in this verse is Tav @

This Tav, whatever this mark looks like, if it appears on the forehead of those people mentioned in this verse, it would protect them from God’s wrath. So the question is – “What is this mark; what is this Tav?”

What is interesting is that this is not the regular word for “a mark”. @ Hebrew has much better words to describe a mark on a forehead, like Siman or Ot. So why did Ezekiel use this particular rare word? And do you know how rare it is? @ it appears only three times in the entire Old Testament. @ Two appearances are in the verses we just read, and the other one is in Job @ when he yearns for salvation from God’s punishment. @ Take a look:

Oh, that I had one to hear me!
Here is my mark.
Oh, that the Almighty would answer me,
That my Prosecutor had written a book!”

Isn’t that interesting? The only three times this word was used, it is used in the context of protection from God’s wrath. Fascinating!

So what is the meaning of this word – Tav? To understand that, we’ll reach out to our toolbox and pull the Ancient Hebrew Alphabet. @

As you remember, the first letter of the Hebrew Alphabet is Alpeh. @ Which means Strength, it represents the El Elyon, the God in the Highest, the Father. But now let’s go to the end of the Hebrew alphabet. @  I’m not ready to reveal what this letter looks like just yet. You see, it is the last letter of the alphabet. @ Its number is 400 and it’s phonetic sound @ is /T/.

And it happens to be that the name of this letter @ is Tav. 

## This is the same word that Ezekiel uses to describe the Mark on the foreheads. But there are other words to say “a Mark”, which are much more common, why use this rare, yet significant word “Tav” which also happens to be the name of the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The answer lies in the pictograph. Take a look at the screen.


Does that look like something you know?

This letter is a cross! Isn’t that incredible?? Do you remember the first letter? It was Aleph, OX Head, Strength. While the last letter is a cross? Does that remind you of anything?

I am the Alpha and the Omega, I am the beginning and the End” said the Lord. He is Elohim, the Ox Head, the Strength, the Beginning and He is the End, Jesus Christ, who died on the Cross, and rose from the dead on the third day. 

## Ezekiel was seeing a cross on the foreheads of the people who were spared from utter destruction!

At the time of Ezekiel, the cross did not bear the symbolism that it does today. Back then, if he saw this symbol on the foreheads of the people, it is very likely that what he saw was what he knew looked like that – the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

This, together with the verse from Job, is fascinating.

@ Job is crying out “Oh, that I had one to hear me! Here is my mark.” @ Here is my cross.

How can there be any other explanation than a divine inspiration of the Scriptures?

## No man on earth can come up with these “coincidences”. One, sure; two, maybe; three, okay. But when 7 years ago I was set to find all the flaws of the Bible, instead I found hundreds of these supernatural ‘coincidences’. Take this is in addition to the harmonious unity in the narrative of the entire Bible, despite the fact that it was written by over 40 different authors over a period of 2,000 years. This book is so rich in detail, and yet has a simple message of salvation to all mankind; to you and me! wow!


Now, if you already knew this beautiful mystery of the cross in Ezekiel, that’s awesome. But I’m ready to put my bets that you don’t know the next one.


Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything there is a season,

A time for every purpose under heaven”

Have you heard anyone quote that before?

These are very famous words. 

## But how many people have said ‘let me look at the pictographic meaning of the ancient Hebrew letters in this verse’? I know I haven’t.

But my better half, Rhoda, did. And what she found is absolutely marvelous!

@ The Hebrew word used for time in this verse and the rest of the verses of this chapter, like you have already guessed, is not a regular word. The regular word is ‘Zman’. Solomon, who wrote this book, used the common word ‘Zman’ in the previous chapters. But here he uses the word Et. @ Et is sometimes translated as a moment rather than time. So why was Et used instead of the regular word Zman?

What you see now on the screen is actually the modern Hebrew letters. Let’s take a look at the ancient Hebrew, the pictographs:

The last letter we already know. @ It’s Tav.

But the first letter is Ayin, and in ancient biblical Hebrew, it looks like this @

Look at these two pictographs combined together. Does anyone want to take a shot at deciphering this riddle?

@ Fix your eyes on the cross!

So when you read the rest of Ecclesiastes chapter 3, think of Jesus: @

A time to be born,

    And a time to die;

A time to plant,

    And a time to pluck what is planted;”

@ This is what Jesus had done!

## Isn’t that incredible?

Here’s another usage of this word:

@ Psalm 105:19:

He sent a man before them—

Joseph—who was sold as a slave,

They hurt his feet with fetters,

He was laid in irons,

Until the time that his word came to pass,

The commandments of the Lord tested him.

The king sent and released him,

The ruler of the people let him go free.”

This Psalm speaks about Joseph, being tested before he was redeemed.

And here, the word @ time in Hebrew appears as Et.

Let’s read the verse again, but this time consider the cross: @ “until the eye sees the cross, that his word came to pass, the commandments of the Lord tested him. Then the king sent and released him… let him go free” – Reminds you of someone?

There are only 64 appearances of this word ET in the OT. If you go through each and one of them and consider the meaning of the letters, you will find marvelous things. ##

(btw… ordinal value of Alef and Tav (אלף ותו) sums up to 64…)

I’ve got one more hidden treasure to reveal to you today.

Does anyone remember John 14:6 by heart?

@ “Jesus answered, ‘I am the TRUTH and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’”

I bet you all remember these words. But there’s more to them than meets the eye.


Let’s reach out to our scholar’s toolbox one more time. Tool of choice? The Ancient Hebrew alphabet! But this time, let’s go to the drawing board.


I’d like to finish with a proverb 25:2 @

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; But it is the glory of kings to search it out.”

And in Hebrew this proverb is even more significant. It goes like this: @

כְּבֹ֣ד אֱ֭לֹהִים הַסְתֵּ֣ר דָּבָ֑ר וּכְבֹ֥ד מְ֝לָכִ֗ים חֲקֹ֣ר דָּבָֽר׃

A word-to-word translation would sound like this:

@ “It is the Glory of God to conceal the Word. And it is the Glory of Kings to investigate the Word.”

Today I’ve shared with you just a few treasures that can be found with just one tool – the Ancient Hebrew alphabet. But there are so many other tools too. Poetry. Symbolisms. Prophecies. Numbers. Acrostics. Chiasms. The Bible is full of treasures. We just need to search them out.

## If there’s any chance that you do not know Jesus yet, or have not accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. Today is the day. Do not wait for tomorrow, because it might never come.

The God who is in heaven, who spoke this perfect Word, He loves us so much. In fact, while we were still sinners, He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die instead of us. This Son is Jesus Christ. He was nailed to the cross, died and sealed in a grave. But death could not hold Him, because it was not His sin but ours, and so He rose from the dead on the third day. The Bible tells us that everyone who believes this in his heart and confesses with his mouth Jesus Christ as Lord will be saved. It’s that simple.

And what’s after that?

Pick up the Bible,

start reading,

and don’t stop.


Sharper Than Katana

Sharper Than Katana
Sergio Voitenko
29 April 2018

83% of all American people claim to be Christian (270 million), but if they were to be asked “Do you have spiritual peace or well-being?”, one-third would say. “No”!

How is it that 60% of Christians are struggling with anxiety?

30% are struggling with loneliness.

10% with depression.

55% with overeating.

11% are addicted to alcohol or drugs.

Two out of three Christians are consumed by pornography, and almost a third of them say they suffer from it; they are addicted; they cannot stop.

These are the sad statistics according to the latest surveys conducted by LifeWay, Pew Research Center, and the Cambridge University.

The research also showed that denomination does not affect the statistics, or even furthermore, these numbers prevail among non-believers alike. It appears as if all mankind is struggling with the same flesh.

There is a high chance that someone is watching this right now who is facing an ongoing struggle that they just can’t seem to overcome.

Did you ever ask yourself “Why do I do things which I do not wish to do?.”

Do you feel like you keep losing the battles?

Yet deep down you still want to be closer to God, you want to walk with Him as Moses did, As Elijah, as the disciples did.

I know you might be thinking “I’ve heard that before., every pastor says the same thing, “do this,” “don’t do that,” and you might say I’ve tried it all, it doesn’t work.” Well, I couldn’t agree with you more, and that is precisely why I am here. You see, I am not a pastor. I am a follower, just like you.

I was among that 83 %. In fact, I was among the 11% of addicts. I struggled with this since I became a Christian.

And seven years ago I found a solution. This solution is actually what many pastors do, but not many teach. It is so because some pastors do not always realize that, this thing that they do, this solution, is the very thing that keeps them out of trouble. Well… most of them.

Just like Moses, Elijah, the disciples and so many more, walking daily with God is possible.

I’ve got nothing to gain from this testimony. If anything, it is to lose my reputation as I’m going to expose myself, in the hope that some might relate and find encouragement. If God could transform a sinner like me, then just imagine what he can do with you!]

BTW if the intro didn’t peak your interest, I brought some fun sermon props with me. A big picture, paper with a hole, a magnifying glass, two goats in the backroom, and a Katana sword. So you might want to stick around to see how this pans out.

I grew up in a Russian-Jewish family in Israel. My parents believed in Jesus when I was still a lad, so I grew up in a Christian home, going to church every Sabbath. That’s right, not Sunday, Sabbath, we lived in Israel after all.

I confessed my faith in Christ at the age of 13 and got baptized the same year. Interestingly enough, being baptized in the Jordan river, in the Holy Land, did not seem to have an extra spiritual advantage on me, and certainly not long-lasting, because by the age of 20 I backslid from faith as far as I possibly could.

I was struggling with pride, alcohol, pornography, and a host of other things that would not be even appropriate to mention in public. I heard so many sermons in my life, and had numerous Christian mentors, trying to help me and advise me what to do and what not to do. Every tip they gave seemed reasonable, and indeed it was helpful for them, but for some reason, it did not bring any lasting change in me. I kept on tripping over again and again. Every time I would fall into sin that stained my heart with guilt, I felt further separated from God. Feeling unworthy of His fellowship, unworthy to take communion, and at times it felt like God wouldn’t even hear me if I prayed. And to cope with this reality, I became ignorant and in denial. I would still go to Church but I had long forgotten what fellowship with God looked like. I only knew what fellowship with other believers was, it was all about me.

My dual faced life came to its peak as I was sitting by the right-hand of my pastor in Nazareth, translating sermons to Russian while getting wasted drunk later in the nights, and brag about it to my friends in the military. I became self-centered, prideful, a user of people, and abuser of rules. And it was only the start of it.

After being released from the Israeli Air Force, I was hired by an American company and worked as a consultant for Hewlett-Packard, traveling the United States of America, driving luxurious cars, staying in top of the line hotels; an American Dream come true, I tell you. I thought I was Mr. Big Shot. But in reality, I was a nobody. My outward image may have enriched itself, but my inward soul was destitute.

I no longer desired to address my struggles, I embraced them, I said: “It’s not that bad.”

I got married and my ignorance started to fade away slowly as I saw the damage I was causing to the woman that I fell head over heels for.

She is the most wonderful woman in the world. And I got a billion reasons to prove to you why that statement is true. But only one reason is enough, and it rests on my finger, right here. The Lord had appointed me to love her. How? Just as Christ loved me and gave himself up for me, so should I give my desires up for her needs. But I failed miserably, from the very first day. I had no idea what love is, I only knew what she made me feel.

August 2011, one year into our marriage, despite still going to Church now and then, I came to my lowest point. Marriage no longer satisfied me, the alcohol did not fill me, pornography became an addiction, and I was on route to pour our marriage down the drain.

And then came along Grace Baptist Church. One sunny Sunday, in Aug 2011, we randomly picked a Church to attend, where a certain pastor, who does not like to take credit so I won’t mention Charlie’s name, was preaching that day. On that day, he just happened to give his testimony. His life before Christ seemed like complete havoc. But on that stage, I saw a new man, who had no resemblance to his earlier life. How did he do it?

He kept saying it was Jesus, it was Jesus. Jesus. But I also have Jesus, what is different? So as I kept on listening, I was struck by his passion for the Bible. He mentioned that he reads it daily, never missed a day, and in the past few years, he read it over 70 times. Cover to cover.

And then, it dawned on me. What do pastors and all of our spiritual mentors have in common? They preach. And to preach, they study the Bible. Most likely, on a daily basis.

And out of good intention, they relay to us what they learn, telling us what to do and teaching us what to look out for, what guard rails to set.

When we lived in Atlanta, we went to see Andy Stanley. His sermon was about “Guard Rails for a Christian”. Have you ever seen it? He gives excellent advice. But even though, following the advice, the do’s and dont’s, can be very useful, they do not change our hearts nor do they transform our minds.

So what can transform our minds?

The book of Hebrews 4:12, says @:

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

The Word of God! The Bible. It is living and active.

[Katana sword]

You know what is interesting?

Proverbs 5 talks about lust, it says there, that it is as sharp as a two-edged sword.

[put sword down]

But Hebrews 4:12 says, [pick up the Bible], the Word of God is sharper than any two-edged sword.

The Word of God, written by the hand of man, available for us today in almost every language, is sharper than any two-edged sword, even lust. It is living and powerful!

@ In Psalm 119, David asks a question: “How can a young man keep his way pure?”

And what is the answer? “by guarding it according to Your word.”

And then he adds, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.”

Going back to the story. In Aug 2011, I took a few days off work, I opened the Bible and started reading. I did not stop. Literally. I did nothing else but read his word, day and night.

When I got to the part where Jesus says “But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,” I started weeping uncontrollably. The damage I’ve done to my marriage dawned on me. I can’t imagine how I must have hurt God with my actions. But I didn’t stop reading. When I got to the book of Romans, chapter 6, I started crying uncontrollably again, but this time from joy.

@ Romans 6:1

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?”

How did I not see the past tense before? Died to sin. Not dying. Not will die.

For the first time in my life, I understood that my salvation does not depend on my action. I was bought with a price, and my righteousness is in Christ! There’s nothing I can do to add to what Christ has done for me on the cross. I can only accept His precious gift of life.

But having been saved by grace does not help explain why do I keep doing things which I do not wish to do.

By the time I got to Ephesians chapter 2, I was swept away in His loving arms. Listen to what it says: @

And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”

Notice the terminology, it says we were dead in “trespasses and sins”. Aren’t those two synonyms? Or is there a difference?

Believe it or not, in the Old Testament, there is a distinction between the two.

For example, [pick up two goats] when a sin was committed, the Israelites were instructed to make two offerings. A sin offering and a trespass offering. Why two?

Let’s take a look at the original Hebrew words.

@ A trespass is מעל (Maal). It has the same root as the word Above. Ma’al is sometimes translated as “act”. And if you combine it with its root, it almost sounds like ‘acting above’, an act above the law.

@ While the word “sin” in Hebrew is חטאChetta”. It means to wander away from something, to miss. To be in sin is to be separated from God. Like Proverbs 8:36 says חטאי חמם נפשוHe who wanders from me, injures his own soul”.

A trespass is an act against the law set by God. Sin is the state of the soul.

And that’s why we can be in a state of sin from our very birth, without ever committing a trespass. Just like one who is born in slavery is already a slave from birth, so were we born in slavery to sin. We were slaves to sin, but having believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have died to sin and can no longer live in it. This is because the state of our soul is marked with the stamp of God, the Holy Spirit; the guarantee of our salvation. So no matter how much we keep on trespassing, our soul is free from sin.

So let me try to put this into our modern day perspective.

Area 51 is a military zone with a fence around it and a sign that says @ “No Trespassing. Up to one year imprisonment and $5,000 fine”. If one day I am led by my desire to meet up with E.T., put myself above the law, and trespass that territory, I would then commit a crime, and thus be a criminal. The trespass would be the act, and the result would be my criminal title. A title, I would never be able to clear. It’s a title that stays for life. Oh, If only there was anyone who could take the charges in my stead.

After the book of Ephesians, as I progressed reading the Bible for the first time, the book of Colossians put the nail in the coffin. You gotta hear what Colossians, chapter 2, says in verses 13 and 14: @

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

The trespasses that I committed were like a written record of debt that separated me from God. Just like a man in prison, separated from His family. But with Christ and in Christ, I am a free man. My trespasses are not counted against me, my record is clean. I can still trespass, but it is not counted against me.

So then I continue reading and get to 1 John. He takes that coffin with its nail and burns it up so that there is left zero doubt, and full confidence in Christ. Listen to 1 John 3:9, @

Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.

Wait wait wait.. I’ve heard that before.. 1 Corinthians 5:19 @

God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them…

My trespasses are not imputed to me! I am free from sin! Dead to sin! Alive in Christ!

So, the question remains then. Why am I still trespassing and doing stupid things, and how do I stop?

@ 1 Peter 2

Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

Desire the pure milk of the Word”

Side-note: Isn’t it interesting that the organ that has the taste buds is the same organ that can emit words that are bitter or words that are sweet. Praise the Lord, for His Word, is sweeter than honey. And the people in this Church have tasted it. You are consuming it like hungry lions.

Since the day I opened this book, I have not stopped reading it. I have not skipped a single day. And I have never gone back to my old habits, addictions or trespasses. It all went away overnight. I used to think that Job’s covenant not to look at another woman lustfully was a myth, but I tell you it’s a wonderful reality. If your mind is filled with the everlasting and ever fulfilling perfect Word of God, everything else in this world would not even look attractive. Since the very first days of reading the Word, my relationship with Rhoda had taken a drastic change to the good. My love for her had been increasing daily, it only gets better and better, with every day, even though I do not deserve even a millionth of it.

I am not saying all of this to boast in pride, but quite the opposite. I’m saying this as a testimony of my weak flesh. I can assure you, If I didn’t set the highest priority on His Word today, then tomorrow you would find me in indulged in trespasses, avalanching down from the peak of the mountain of grace, into the abyss of addiction and malice. I am a weak man, and there’s no strength in me other than Jesus Christ, who Is the Word that took on flesh and died for me! So I have no reason to boast, but in Christ Jesus, who saved me from eternal separation from God and left with me two things while I’m still breathing on this Earth – the Bible and the Holy Spirit to understand it. He gave them to each and one of us, so we can live a life worthy of the calling we have received.

I’d like to finish with these thoughts.

More than 80% of all churchgoers in America do not read the Bible on a daily basis. They might be saved, but they are missing out on an opportunity of a life filled with the richness of faith, in which words like loneliness, depression, and addiction are never to be heard.

If you are amongst the 80%, I do not judge you or condemn you. I’m hurting for you because I know what it’s like to be in that place. And I want to tell you that there’s a way for you to fellowship with God. The kind of fellowship Abraham had with God, the personal daily relationship like Moses had with God, face to face. I want you to have the heart of King David, the faith of Prophet Elijah, Apostle Peter, Apostle Paul, Beloved John, Rhoda Voitenko, Christian Postel, Aaron Goodwin, Chuck Wenger, Jim Dwyer, Charlie Garret and countless more. Such life is possible and it’s beautiful.

I’m sure you have questions for God, and you might be praying to Him on a regular basis, but give Him the chance to speak back to you. His Word is not in the past, it is living and it is active. It will never pass. It will shape you and it will mold you. It will transform your mind and your entire life if you read it daily and do what it says.

So often I see Christians read a daily devotional as a substitute for Bible reading. Or just open the Bible, pick a few verses, and that’s it.

And I don’t blame them, because the chances are, there is just no one around to show them how powerful and effective the Word of God is.

You know I used to do that too. Pick verses here and there. Not even know the context.

(Optional Section)

Let me show you something. [Picture and a dot illustration].

I have a picture here. I’m going to cover it up with a piece of paper with a hole in the middle of it.

What do you see?

Can you tell me what this photo is about?

Do you ever look at photos in this way?

I didn’t think so. You first look at the entire picture, and then you examine the details.

So why did I read the Bible verse by verse, pixel by pixel, before I looked at the entire picture?

That was me before, but then Aug 2011, I read the entire Bible for the first time, I saw the big picture. And it is marvelous!

Open the Bible, start reading, and don’t stop. If you say “well, but I’ve got work.. kids.. wife… school… God gave them to me so I must take care of them first…”

I know it seems like you don’t have the time, but the reality is that you just did not set the priorities right. You do your duties at your work and school, and you might be rewarded with money or some years of relationships, which is good for this life, but it’s all going to be burnt up one day. Would you not rather seek the heavenly rewards first? What if God’s Word was your first priority in your day, how would your life look like then?

One of my mentors was Chuck Wenger. He worked under Billy Graham and produced the Jesus Film that was translated to over 1400 languages. His daily schedule looked like this: He would wake up 4 AM, study the Bible for 4 hours, afterward make breakfast for his wife and children, and then head to the office. By the time he was done with his business, ministries, and spending time with family in the evenings, it would be midnight. He slept 4 hours a day. He did that for twenty years. And for what advantage? By setting God as his first priority, he made himself available for God to use him in incredible ways to change the world.

@ A Civil War chaplain, E.M. Bounds once said,

The men who have done the most for God in this world have been early on their knees. He who fritters away the early morning, its opportunity and freshness, in other pursuits than seeking God will make poor headway seeking Him the rest of the day. If God is not first in our thoughts and efforts in the morning, He will be in the last place the remainder of the day.

Open the Bible, read it, memorize it, taste it and do what it says. Yes, doing is difficult, especially when we are struggling with habits developed over many years. But it is only difficult in the beginning. I promise you it gets easier with every right decision you take, with every taste of this wonderful Bread of life, the eternal Word of God.

I’ll leave you with the Words that God told Joshua in chapter 1 verse 8: @

Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.

If you have accepted Jesus but have not found the spiritual peace yet, if you want to be free from problems that separate your heart from God, then make the Bible your first priority, always keep God’s Word on your lips, think about it day and night, and do what it says.


  • Next week Sermon (Hidden Treasures: Ancient Hebrew)

Job 19:23-27 (In My Flesh I Shall See God)

Job 19:23-27
In My Flesh, I Shall See God

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;
26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!” Job 19:23-27

Right at the beginning of the book of Job, Job is described as a man who was blameless and upright, and one who feared God and shunned evil. In the same chapter, the Lord acknowledges that “there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, one who fears God and shuns evil.”

From there, Satan, with the permission of the Lord, did his best to cause Job to trip up and to sin against God. He failed. But there is, in the character of Job, a flaw nonetheless. Job, wanted to do right, and he did right, but it becomes evident that he felt that he somehow merited to know why evil occurred to him when he had been a man of justice and integrity.

In other words, Job thought fearing God, was actually working his way to heaven. One can fear God without really having faith in God. I can know He is there, and that I need to be good, but if He says that being good isn’t enough, and that I need to trust in Him alone to be considered good, then is my doing good really good if I am not trusting in Him in the process? Or is my doing good only good when it is done in faith of His provision and not mine.

That may sound like double-speak, but it isn’t. To God, a good deed, not done in faith, is not really a good deed. This is what James tells us. But people misunderstand what he is saying. They assume that he means that we merely need to do good things after having faith. That is not at all what he is saying. He is saying that our good deeds must be deeds in faith. Job misunderstood this as well. He assumed that his righteousness allowed Him to question God when things went bad.

But God owes us nothing. Job was given a lesson in this, and in the end, he discovered what so many people, even people of Israel today, and even people in the church today, have failed to understand. The only truly good deed is a deed of and in faith. Otherwise, it is self, and not God, who is the recipient of the satisfaction for what is done. Paul explains this in many ways in his writings, but it becomes as clear as crystal to us when he cites David, a man under the law, who intuitively understood this…

Text Verse: But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness, 6 just as David also describes the blessedness of the man to whom God imputes righteousness apart from works:

“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven,
And whose sins are covered;
Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” Romans 4:5-8

David said, “Blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” But David was under the law. If he sinned, under the law, how can sin not be imputed? It is because sin could be atoned for through a substitute. But substitution in this way, by its very nature, involves faith. The deed isn’t undone, but one has faith that it is forgiven. With no faith in the sacrifice, then God does not forgive.

This is what Paul then uses to explain the work of Jesus for us. Jesus died for all people. All sins are potentially forgiven in His sacrifice, but not all sins are actually forgiven. Only when faith in what He has done is brought into the equation are those sins potentially-forgiven then actually forgiven. Job was not wrong in doing good things, but he thought that what he did gave him a special relationship with God that exempted him from trouble, or at least that it allowed him to question God as to why the things happened. God showed him otherwise. His story, like all of Scripture, points us to our need for Jesus Christ. Either looking ahead to Him, or looking back on Him, all people need Christ Jesus. It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Record of our Lives

23 “Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!

Job was not only a tested man, but he was – at the point of this verse – a frustrated man. He had gone through the most difficult of trials, the greatest of loss, and the sadness of his situation was immeasurable. But despite this, his three friends who had come to comfort him instead spent their time correcting him. They questioned his righteousness, and they insinuated that his troubles stemmed from the conduct of his life and actions. The voice of these three was consistent as he received the same accusing words from each. In the chapter preceding his words here, certainly one of the shortest people in the Bible, Bildad the Shuhite (he being only height of a shoe!), pierced him with more words of condemnation –

He is driven from light into darkness,
And chased out of the world.
19 He has neither son nor posterity among his people,
Nor any remaining in his dwellings.
20 Those in the west are astonished at his day,
As those in the east are frightened.
21 Surely such are the dwellings of the wicked,
And this 
is the place of him who does not know God.” Job 18:18-21

Words such as this must have broken Job’s heart. He defended his righteousness, stating he had done nothing deserving of the misery inflicted upon him. And yet, the barbs of his friends kept coming. Immediately following these words of Bildad, Job resumed his defense. By verse 21, he is almost beside himself with the misery of his treatment, and he cried out –

Have pity on me, have pity on me, O you my friends,
For the hand of God has struck me!
22 Why do you persecute me as God does,
And are not satisfied with my flesh?” Job 19:21, 22

It is at this low and miserable state that he moans forth the first words of our sermon text today.

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!

In his hopes for a defense, he lamented, wishing that his words, meaning the conduct of his life, had been written down. If only they had been meticulously noted and compiled, even into a book, then it could be referred to. It could be opened. It could stand as a witness to the care he had put into his walk in the presence of God. Surely that would stand as a testimony to his friends of the error of their accusations! And even better than a book which could burn up or corrupt away by mold, or be eaten by a goat or bugs, if only they were engraved on a rock! The permanence of his deeds would be noted, and stand forever as a witness to his actions. Instead of a short note on a gravestone, Job desired that his entire life would be carved deeply into rock to shout out to these unfaithful friends that he was righteous.

Understanding that even rock will wear out though, he adds in words of permanence, “With an iron pen and lead, forever!” The iron would cut deeply. Even the erosion of weather could not wear out that which had been so deeply cut, and which was then filled with lead to seal what had been etched, and to highlight the letters of his life for all to see. It is this; this which Job desired. As he sat in the mire of misery, he held fast to his righteousness, desiring that all could see it and approve of his life and actions.

Job sat in the land of Uz at a time in history believed to be around that of Abraham. At this place, and at this point, he only had a minimal knowledge of the Holy One. But he did have a knowledge of Him, and so he lived his life in a pursuit of righteousness. But his life wasn’t recorded, and so what profit was that righteousness except to God who knows all things? This much he understood. “I have a life, and it is known to God.” Later the Bible will confirm this. The very birthplace of each person is, in fact, recorded –

And of Zion it will be said,
“This one and that one were born in her;
And the Most High Himself shall establish her.”
The Lord will record,
When He registers the peoples:
“This one was born there.” Selah Psalm 87:5, 6

Those born in Zion would be recorded as such, by the Lord Himself, when He registered the peoples. If this is true of those born in Zion, then the Lord is aware of those not born in Zion. If He is aware of the place of their birth, and thus records it, then He – by default – must also be aware of the time of their birth. And if so, then He must know to whom a person is born. As He is aware of all births in this manner, then the entire genealogical record of humanity is known to Him and recorded by Him. One simple statement about the record of those born in Zion logically follows through to the birth record of all humanity. The Lord knows, and His knowledge is recorded.

At least Job could access this from the library of infinite record. But that would not be enough to place in front of his unfriendly friends. He would need more to defend himself before them, and before the accuser, Satan, who had done him so wrong. And he could then question the Lord satisfactorily as to why He allowed His poor faithful servant Job to come to such disaster. But there is more on record than just genealogies. Job didn’t know the words of the 56th Psalm. If he did, he would have had more comfort for his broken heart…

You number my wanderings;
Put my tears into Your bottle;
Are they not in Your book?” Psalm 56:8

In fact, Job’s wanderings – where he had gone and what he had done – these were recorded as well. The all-seeing eye of his Creator had watched his steps and recorded them. And each woeful tear of Job’s streaming eyes had been captured and safely secured away in a book of remembrance.

His wealth was gone, his children were destroyed, and his nagging wife was left behind to increase his misery. The tears flushed forth like a torrent streaming through the dry wadis of the desert, but the Lord had marked them all down. Such actions were, in fact, recorded in the book of his life. Though the words may be lacking, he could present this evidence to the miserable physicians who had come not to heal, but to open already infected wounds, and to allow them to fester even more. The movie of his life may be a silent one, but the care of his daily walk, and the emotion of his desolation, would surely bring them to repentance of their misdiagnosis and mistreatment of this admission into the hospital of sackcloth and ashes. Oh! If only the words accompanied the scene! Then, surely then, they would know – with all certainty – that he was righteous, and that his petition to God for his ill treatment was just and justifiable.

But Job, sitting on his heap of mourning, lacked the words of the Redeemer whom he was sure was out there. It would be many generations until He came, but when He did, we are told by Him that what Job desired with such longing was already true. It wasn’t just genealogies, wanderings, and tears that were recorded. The knowledge of the Holy One didn’t go to a certain point and … stop. No, His knowledge is infinite, and His record is complete. Nothing is hidden from His eyes, and all the ways of man are known to Him. And the ways of man, including the inclination of the heart, and the very words he speaks are known. What Job longed for, was, in fact, to be waiting and available…

 “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit. 34 Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. 35 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. 36 But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. 37 For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:33-37

Job longed for his words to be recorded. He wanted them recorded permanently, and he wanted them highlighted for all to see. His accusers could shut up as he presented them openly and with delight. And the God who had wronged him would surely feel remorse and apologize to him for his ill treatment. Job would be vindicated in all ways. Or so he thought would be the case.

Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
That they were engraved on a rock so smitten
With an iron pen and lead, forever to gaze upon and look

All that I have said and done
That it could be there to vindicate me
I am the man pleasing to God! Yes that one!
If only my words were written, He could see

Wouldn’t He then say that I was right?
That I was righteous in and of myself
The trial would be a marvelous sight
As my record was taken down from the shelf

Is this how it shall be?
Will God truly in this manner favor me?
Time will tell, and we shall see

II. The Plan Already in Motion

25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;

Words of confidence! Words of surety! Job knew that his Redeemer lived. What this actually meant, in all its finer detail, was not his concern. He was aware of the ancient promise, and he knew that God was faithful and true to keep it. After the fall of man, a Redeemer was assured. He would come and restore that which was lost. He would crush the accuser, that vile serpent, that brought all of this misery and woe into his life.

Before it came, Job lived faithfully and righteously. He was blameless and upright, he feared God, and he shunned evil. As the priest of his household, he sacrificed for the sins of his family. He didn’t allow his great wealth or position to interfere with his walk before God. Instead, he maintained his integrity, and he held fast to righteousness. But in this, he also thought that he deserved a trial when things went bad. God must have had erred in allowing his life to be destroyed, and he wanted a trial to bring about his vindication.

His Redeemer would do so, and He was alive and waiting eagerly to do so. Job was certain, “My Redeemer lives.” He certainly wasn’t thinking of the human Jesus. He was thinking of God who redeems. His theology was lacking, but only because of his time and place, not because of his desire to know.

And so with a voice of confidence, he exclaims, “And He shall stand at last on the earth!” Job is thinking of God, but God doesn’t have parts. God is Spirit. However, in his prophecy, he uttered true words nonetheless. His lack concerning the knowledge of God was not allowed to interfere with the prophecy from God. Somehow, His living Redeemer would stand upon the earth.

Then! Then he would receive his vindication. It might not be now, and it might not be soon enough to restore the pains of his heart during his earthly walk, but he knew that it was coming. At that time, he could present his case, have the errors corrected, and stand vindicated for his life of integrity. The wrongs would be admitted, and the Lord would… Oh certainly He would!, admit that Job had been mistreated and wronged unjustly.

The record of his life, from birth through tears, and even to death itself – it was all recorded. He didn’t know that, but he was certain that his life proved that what happened to him was in error. Several times in the psalms, David specifically asked for vindication as well. In the 26th Psalm, he asked for vindication because of the life of integrity he had lived. His words there are similar to Job’s cries.

In the 35th Psalm, David cried out, “Vindicate me, O Lord my God, according to Your righteousness.” David understood that the Lord is righteous, and that the trials he faced were known to the Lord. Surely He would vindicate him. Again, the words are similar to the pleas of Job. In the 43rd Psalm, David pleas for vindication, asking the Lord to plead his cause against an ungodly nation. Job’s plea was similar. The words of his accusers were ungodly and incorrect. He had been just and righteous, and they accused him of having received his just desserts for unrighteousness. In the 54th Psalm, David again appeals for vindication, claiming that God was his helper. Job on the other hand felt that God had somehow wronged him. He cried out for vindication from the error which had been made. It is the flaw in Job’s theology which most needed correction. We can misunderstand things about God because we lack the full revelation of who He is, but we can never impute wrongdoing to Him. This is especially so when we compare His righteousness to our own, and His workings to ours.

I know that my Redeemer lives!
And that He at last shall stand upon the earth
I will receive every blessing He gives
Eternity will be filled with joy and mirth

But will it be that He is pleased with me?
Is my redemption secured because of the things I’ve done?
Or is there something else I need to see
In order to have my victory won?

What does the Lord have in store?
Is my life pleasing now in His sight
Is anything lacking? Is there anything more?
That will ensure things come out right?

What is Your plan for me, O God?
Reveal it to Your servant, as in this life I trod

III. The Resurrection

26 And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!”

Job knew that a day of reckoning for all men lay ahead. Life is lived, man makes his decisions with the information available, he conducts his life in whatever way suits him, and for whatever most motivates him, and then he expires and returns to the earth. In this passing, corruption sets in, the body breaks down, and the elements return to dust. Eventually, even that is picked up and swept away by the winds or rains. Not even a pile is left as a testament to the man who once existed and lived out his life under the sun.

Nobody remembers, no name is left upon the wind for ear to hear, no reflection of him remains in a mirror. It is as if he never existed at all. It is the eventual end for everyone. Though we build monuments to our existence, even they fall into rubble and disappear. The vanity of this futile existence is repeated in the vanity of obscurity. None of it mattered apparently. Such is the state of man as far as time and remembrance are concerned.

Except of course, for those who have not lived only under the sun, but under the heavens. They have the knowledge that God is there, that He is a Rewarder of those who seek Him, and that this life is not all there is to existence. Job knew this, and he, with absolute certainty, proclaimed –

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God.

There would be a renewing of the man. From what was once dust itself, he would be gathered again into a physical suit. The flesh destroyed by corruption, time, and natural force would be reclaimed, and a body would be created for the soul which had departed it. The two would be reunited, and in this body, God would be beheld. Job knew this, because he believed that the Lord is true to His word. What little he knew about the record of man was enough to convince him that he had to act justly, walking in integrity, and conduct his affairs in righteousness. He knew that sacrifices were needed to cover wrongdoing, and that he would be held accountable for the life he lived. Someday, the elements would regather to support this truth.

Isaiah prophesied about this as well. From time to time, you might hear a preacher or teacher say that the ancients had no idea about a resurrection. It is as if they have had their heads held under water a bit too long. The deprivation of oxygen kept them from either reading, or actually taking in, the words of the Old Testament. Even a cursory reading of it, including the words of Job, show that this has always been known to man. Isaiah, simply confirms what was already commonly accepted –

Your dead shall live;
Together with my dead body they shall arise.
Awake and sing, you who dwell in dust;
For your dew is like the dew of herbs,
And the earth shall cast out the dead.” Isaiah 26:19

The dwellers of the dust would be aroused to walk upon it once again. The spot of their interment would become the place of the soles of their feet. The earth will cast forth the dead, and the dead shall live. The daisies which feed the mule would no longer be nourished by the sons of Adam. Instead, revitalization of the inanimate would occur, and those who dreaded death while alive, will live again.

But for every such action, there is a reason. This gathering of humanity from the dust of the earth serves a purpose that goes beyond eternal life. It divides that eternal life into two separate avenues. Job knew it would come, Isaiah confirmed that it is coming, but Daniel explains why it will be so –

And at that time your people shall be delivered,
Every one who is found written in the book.
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake,
Some to everlasting life,
Some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Those who are wise shall shine
Like the brightness of the firmament,
And those who turn many to righteousness
Like the stars forever and ever.” Daniel 12:1-3

There is to be a dividing line as to what will happen to the reanimated seed of Adam. A judgment lies ahead, and it will be based upon what is written down. The very thing that Job longed for, is exactly what is already prepared. Every birth, every step, every tear, and every word… all of it has been compiled for a day of reckoning, evaluation, and judgment.

The ancients knew this to be true, and the Lord slowly continued to reveal the truth throughout the ages. Eventually, it became so well known, that even the women of the land, who were never held by those in the east of being the scholarly sort, were fully aware of what had been revealed. Jesus, before His crucifixion, and resurrection, meaning during Old Covenant times, had an encounter with Martha at the tomb of her brother Lazarus. We have the privilege to sit in on what happened, and what was said…

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

20 Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” John 11:17-27

Martha already knew that there would be a resurrection. It was so well known among the people by this time, that a girl from an obscure little village was fully aware of what lie ahead in the resurrection at the last day. What she didn’t know was that the Resurrection stood before her. The Life of man itself had been revealed; the One who had breathed the breath of life into man four thousand years earlier; stood right there ready to comfort her misery, calm the mournful soul, and confirm the power which rested in His hands. The Redeemer had not yet redeemed, but He would show that He was capable of doing so. The time was not far away when it would come about. It is this One, known to Job, and yet unknown by Job, about whom he called out his words of hope –

Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.

Job prophesied that he would see God. But God cannot be seen except in the manner in which He reveals Himself in creation. Job may not have known this, and yet his prophecy was not incorrect. He would see God as far as God can reveal Himself to His creatures. He revealed Himself in a burning bush to Moses. He came in a pillar of cloud by day, and a pillar of fire by night to the children of Israel. Later He revealed His back while Moses was secreted away in the cleft of the rock.

He came in awesome splendor to others, such as Ezekiel. What Ezekiel saw was so dramatic that the word “like” is used time and time again. Something that is “like” something is not what is described. Rather, it is the pitiful prophet’s poor pronouncement that what he sees is “like” something else. He tried to use something understood to describe that which is not understood.

But apart from all of the stunning representations of the Lord to prophets like Isaiah, and Daniel, and others, there is one presentation of the Lord which is found interspersed throughout the Old Testament – that of a Man. He walked up to Abraham with two others. He stood before Joshua with a sword drawn. He appeared to Gideon. He came to the mother of Samson first, and then to both her and her husband.

To these, and others, the Lord appeared as a Man. If this is so, then it should not be so impossible for Job to assume that he would stand before God as well. The Lord is God, and the Lord has appeared as a Man. It was for this appearance before the God/Man – whether or not he recognized that this is how He would appear – that he cried out with his words of surety, anticipation, and hoped for vindication… “How my heart yearns within me!”

The heart of Job yearned to stand before his Creator, but Job’s hope was one of somewhat misdirected anticipation. He hoped for a chance to be vindicated in his righteousness and have the error of his calamity explained and exposed. His friends were wrong; Job did not deserve what happened to him, as if it was divine recompense for wickedness. But Job was also wrong in assuming that the God owed him an answer for what had happened to him.

And so to correct his faulty arrogance, the Lord came to Job. He had expected to hear from God at some distant point in the future, but his ears were tuned into the words of the Divine earlier than anticipated. And rather than being comforted, apologized to, and given an explanation for his misery, we read something entirely different…

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Who is this who darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?
Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me.” Job 38:1-3

After this, the Lord filled the ears of Job with question after question of matters far too weighty for Job to furnish with an answer – “Where were you when…?” “Who accomplished this…?” “Have you commanded…?” “Have you seen…?” “Can you do…?” Again and again, the Lord reveals to Job that there are mysteries far greater than he could ever imagine. If this is so, then the course of his unfolding life is also a part of the mysteries of God, known to Him, but kept from Job.

As if the questioning was through, the Lord stopped and abruptly charged Job to respond. And immediately Job did, but no longer was there an air of arrogance in his voice. He was humbled and laid low by the piercing interrogation of the all-wise Divine voice he heard…

 Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said:

“Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him?
He who rebukes God, let him answer it.”

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“Behold, I am vile;
What shall I answer You?
I lay my hand over my mouth.
Once I have spoken, but I will not answer;
Yes, twice, but I will proceed no further.” Job 40:1-5

Job was done and he was O so glad that the interrogation was over. But the Lord wasn’t done. Just as He controls the creation, so He controls the counseling. And thus, the questioning resumed once again…

Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:

“Now prepare yourself like a man;
I will question you, and you shall answer Me:” Job 40:6, 7

The Lord’s words and questions, like arrows swiftly fired by the finest archer, kept coming until the target lay vanquished. When His words ended, there was nothing left of the pride of Job. He may have possessed more integrity that any other man who ever lived, but even that could not bear up to the scrutiny of the Almighty. And so he uttered his awestruck words for the ears of the Lord to hear…

Then Job answered the Lord and said:

“I know that You can do everything,
And that no purpose of Yours can be withheld from You.
You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.
Listen, please, and let me speak;
You said, ‘I will question you, and you shall answer Me.’

“I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear,
But now my eye sees You.
Therefore I abhor myself,
And repent in dust and ashes.” Job 42:1-6

The dust and ashes in which he already sat were a sign of mourning for his poor, pitiful state – for the loss of those he loved, and for the life which was taken from him. But that same bed of dust and ashes became an altar of repentance for the arrogant assumption that he had a right to know what was reserved for God alone to know.

Job knew still that he would be resurrected. He knew still that he would stand before God. He knew still also that His Redeemer lived and would in fact redeem. And at this point, his heart within him certainly yearned for that to come to pass. But the yearning now was a yearning converted and renewed. What he sought was not his own vindication, but God’s glory. And with that as his hope and treasure, he could rightly yearn for that awesome and terrible Day when men’s souls will be judged before the One who holds the power of eternity itself in His hand.

Job had his conversion before the Lord. Just as Abraham believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness, Job too believed in the Lord. The righteousness that Job possessed as a man, was elevated to a righteousness that was the gift of God. He had moved from the earthly to the heavenly. It is the Lord alone who can grant such a hope to man, and as Job discovered, it is entirely external.

It is the same Lord today who provides the same redemption to man. But it is now received in a more specific manner. As the Lord reveals, His requirement for harmony, fellowship, and reconciliation with Him elevates to that new level of revelation. A person can no longer look to the Lord as Abraham, Moses, or Job did and find the same declaration of righteousness as they found. Their hope was in One to come. Our hope must be in the One who has come.

Yes, it is the same Lord, but His self-revelation has been elevated, and so our acknowledgment of Him must meet that heightened level as well. What does this mean? It means that we must come to Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith in order to be saved. When He spoke to the Jews at the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, He told them that He and the Father are one.

The apostles missed the importance of those words, and so again with them on the night before His crucifixion, He said “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” How can this be? Is Jesus the eternal Father? No. Jesus is the eternal Son of the Father. He is the One who reveals the infinite Father to us in a manner in which we can comprehend. Just as the Lord appeared to Abraham in a manner in which he could understand, so the Lord appeared to the world.

This is the message of love which the Father has sent unto us. That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. There, in Christ Jesus, the eternal and Divine united with His creation in order to redeem that which had been lost. But that redemption could only occur if there was death involved in the process.

The sin exists, the law of God exists, and the standard of that law is published. God cannot arbitrarily forgive sin as if it was of no consequence. One sin, by one man, disrupted the workings of the entire created universe. That one sin of man has also been continuously transferred from father to child since. Each human being has received his father’s error, and all are separated from God because of it. The deal is done, and the fate is sealed. There is nothing we can do to undo it, because we are moving ahead in time. It cannot be undone. It exists in us, and it condemns us.

What we need is a new birth; one apart from sin. Jesus said that unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. But in order to be born again, we must first die; die to sin. This is what Jesus came to do. He, born of a woman, but not of a man, was born without sin. His Father, being God, transferred no sin to Him.

He was then qualified to redeem man. But was He also capable? This is what we have come here today to find out, to accept, and to adore. God’s law was written, and He was born under that law, being of Israel. Whereas Adam had one law, and that in the negative, to obey; Christ had as we are told 613 to obey. Some were negative, “You shall not.” Others were positive, “You shall.” And this vast law, so heavy and burdensome, carried with it a promise; if a man does the things of the law, he shall live by them.

This is the purpose of the gospels. They tell us of Christ Jesus’ birth without sin, and His life without sin. He was qualified, and He is capable. But… was He willing? In order to redeem man, He also had to die. The new birth was as far from us as the east is from the west without the death of the Lamb of God.

Job’s heart yearned within Him to see his Redeemer. Anyone who wants to see God should long to see Him as well. But to gaze upon the Redeemer means to gaze upon the crucified Christ. The sin that we bore demanded His death before He could give life. The answer is, “Yes, He was willing.”

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” John 10:17

He had the power to lay it down, and He used that power, of His own accord, to grant new life to those He came to save. The sinless Christ was nailed to the cross of Calvary, bearing all the sin of the world. Every evil deed – from Adam’s pride, to David’s adultery, to our theft, hatred, disobedience, and failure to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength – all of it, was cast upon the Lord Jesus Christ. The wrath of God was completely and sufficiently poured out on His own Son in order to remove the guilt we bear.

And to prove that Christ’s qualified, capable, and willing sacrifice was complete and sufficient, He raised Him from the dead. Without sin of His own, death could not hold Him, and with our sin removed through death, the new birth is now available. In Christ, there is now a choice for all men to make. Will we receive the sufficiency and completeness of God’s wrath poured out on Him for our sins, or will we test God and stand on our own before Him in our own supposed righteousness.

Job repented in dust and ashes for his arrogance. Each of us must be willing to put self aside and trust… simply trust that God has done it all, and that it is all done. We are here today as a group of believers to worship the risen Christ. But we are also here to remember the crucified Christ. My Creator… our Creator, was willing to accept the torturous punishment of Roman crucifixion on the tree of Calvary to make all things new. The question I have to ask, and I ask it often is, “What manner of love is this?” Thank God for Jesus Christ our Lord.

Closing Verse: So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where 
is your victory?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57

Next Week: Leviticus 26:40-46 In times ahead, this will become completely evident… (I Will Remember the Covenant) (50th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and a purpose for You. Though Paradise was lost, He offers access to it once again through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So call on Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new
And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land

What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose, and so we have believed
And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard

Now if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled
Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew

And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly street’s we’ll trod
And we are still dead in our sins; fallen Adam’s seed

Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures
———-the world could ever look upon

But indeed Christ is risen from the dead
He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one Man, Adam our federal head
So Christ will make all alive; our souls He will keep

But there is an order to the Resurrection call
Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep

Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it’s true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto Him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story

Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring

Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…

Luke 1:35 (The Son of the Most High and of a Maidservant)

Luke 1:35
The Son of the Highest and of a Maidservant

Read Luke 1:26-38. It’s not uncommon in today’s church for women to be upset with Paul for his directions concerning church conduct as outlined in 1 Timothy 2. In the pastoral letters of Timothy and Titus, Paul gives guidance to us concerning all manner of church conduct. Most of his words are taken at face value as things which are still relevant to the proper operation of a Bible-obedient church, even to this day.

However, in 1 Timothy 2, Paul gives directives for the church, meaning any and all churches, during this dispensation. In those directions, he puts set limits on what women can and cannot do within the church setting. They are very limiting, and they don’t square well with modern feminist sensibilities. At the end of his thoughts, he explains why –

For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Timothy 2:13-15

What is Paul speaking of here? A woman will be saved in childbearing? Isn’t a woman saved in the same way as a man? Aren’t people saved by grace through faith? Isn’t it a gift and not of works? How can Paul say that a woman is saved by doing certain things? That seems completely contrary to what the epistles say elsewhere. Why is this being brought up during our annual Christmas sermon? And isn’t Charlie ever going to stop asking questions and get on with it?

Text Verse: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Recently, a woman was angry at me for stating in a prophecy update exactly what Paul writes about concerning a woman’s place in the church. I said his words are to be taken literally, and prescriptively, in all churches at all times. Count me one less viewer on the Superior Word YouTube channel…

She posted something angry on my Facebook page, and then she posted a comment on her own page that said something like (and I am paraphrasing here), “It is unimaginable that a woman could carry the incarnate word of God, the Savior of the world, in her womb, and yet not be allowed to serve as a deacon while administering the bread and wine at the Lord’s Table.”

Now think that one through. The highest honor of any human who ever lived was given to a woman, and yet that isn’t enough for her, or for countless other “liberated” women in the church today. Rather, for them it is better to be disobedient to the very word which God has given us, and which is the only source to tell us of the incarnation of Jesus Christ, than it is to accept the story of the Lord’s coming, and then to accept the word of that same Lord as authoritative. The breakdown in the logic is gigantic.

If she, and others like her actually studied what Paul says, they might actually drop their emotions and agree with God that His word is really the best way of all. Why do I say this? Well, we’ll look over Paul’s words before we conclude today, putting together a picture of what he is speaking of, and which is directly related to the splendid promise which was fulfilled in Gabriel’s coming to Mary with the words of what was soon to occur in her womb.

Really wonderful things are to be found in His superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Announcement to Mary (Luke 1:26-38)

26 Now in the sixth month

The timing of the birth of Christ can be determined by the timing of the pregnancy of Elizabeth. She is now in her sixth month of pregnancy, and so if one knows the time of her conception, then one can know the month of the year that this announcement to Mary is made. From there, one can then determine when Jesus was born, nine months later.

The exact dating of this will come in a sermon in just a couple weeks. When we arrive at Leviticus 23:23 in our series of the Feasts of the Lord, the timeline will be given then. Until then, be assured that Luke is carefully chronicling certain names and periods of time so that we can know, with all certainty, when Christ Jesus was born. For now let us just know that it is the sixth month of the pregnancy of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist.

26 (con’t) the angel Gabriel was sent by God

The name Gabriel means basically “Man of God” but it means more than simply “man.” Rather, it signifies a mighty man. Thus one might say, “Mighty Man of God.”

He is found twice in the book of Daniel, and twice in Luke – once at the announcement of of the coming birth of John the Baptist, and once here with the news to be relayed to Mary. As he is a heavenly angel who passes on messages from the throne of God to humanity, he is often associated with one who speaks with authority and eloquence, and thus we remember him today in the idiom, “He has the gift of gab.”

26 (con’t) to a city of Galilee named Nazareth,

The region of Galilee is mentioned six times in the Old Testament. It means “circuit” or “circle.” Most notably, it is found in the prophetic announcement of the coming Messiah in Isaiah 9:6 –

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.

  You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning 
and fuel of fire.

For unto us a Child is born,

Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” Isaiah 9:1-7

The time for the prophecy to be fulfilled has arrived. The words of Gabriel are to announce that which has already been revealed through Isaiah. The specific place in Galilee is in the hometown of Mary, Nazareth. This town is never mentioned in the Old Testament, but is found 12 times in the New. It’s meaning is widely debated, but it could mean “scattered” or “sewn.”

27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.

People argue over whether Isaiah was prophesying of a literal virgin or not when he said “the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son.” But Scripture interprets Scripture, and Matthew cites that verse and applies it to Mary in his gospel. Luke now repeats the same thought here. It is without a doubt that the Bible expects us to accept, at face value, that Mary is a virgin, and that Mary will conceive and bear a child as a virgin.

The name Joseph gives the sense of doubling or repeating. “He shall add” is an acceptable translation of his name. David means, “Beloved.” And finally, the name Mary, or Mariam, is rather hard to pin down, but it is probably based on the perfume myrrh, and means something like “Myrrhs” or “Occasions that call for Myrrh.” Looking at the uses of myrrh in the Old Testament, the prominent idea which it symbolizes is love, but more especially, love in intimate union, but not necessarily sexual in nature. What an appropriate name for the mother of the Messiah.

28 And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!”

Gabriel’s announcement is one of wonder and delight. He entered into Mary’s presence and immediately sent forth a greeting which tells us of divine favor. “Rejoice” here gives the sense of a formal greeting of well wishes of peace or joy. He then says to her that she is one who has a special station by saying “highly favored.” The word is only used here and in Ephesians 1:6. It gives the sense of one who has been accepted through the bestowing of grace.

This is then seen in the next words, “the Lord is with you.” It is a standard Hebrew greeting found in Ruth 2. But coming from Gabriel, it indicates divine favor upon her as an individual. Because of this, she is “blessed,” meaning praised, among women.

29 But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.

Here the same root word is used that was seen when Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, received his greeting from Gabriel. The only difference is that for Mary, it is an intensified form. Where Zechariah was troubled, Mary is troubled through and through. She was going back and forth in her mind between her inner thoughts and her emotions. She was unable to process both the presence of Gabriel, and the meaning of his words to her.

30 Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.

Gabriel’s words are intended to quell the surge of emotions and thoughts which took hold of her. Her terror was obvious, and so he tells her to not be afraid. Her inability to understand what “highly favored” meant is then fully explained for her to grasp what he meant – she has found favor with God.

31 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son,

There is no doubt about Gabriel’s message here. He is making a purposeful connection to Isaiah 7:14. Mary is a virgin, the virgin will conceive, and the virgin will bring forth a Son. Whether she had ever heard of this prophecy or not we can’t know, but she would remember the words and would know that she was the fulfillment of them at some point, be it now, or be it as time progressed and it was revealed to her.

31 (con’t) and shall call His name Jesus.

The name Yeshua, or “Jesus,” is derived from Yehoshua, or Joshua, which means, “the Lord is Salvation.” The name Yeshua simply means, “Salvation.” And so something of a divine pun is being made on the name. As the Lord is Salvation, then we see that the Lord is Yeshua, or salvation.

It is to be His name, and it is to be His function. But Mary, if she has heard of the prophecy of Isaiah 9, would be then be even more confused. There, Isaiah said that His name would be Emanuel, or “God with us.” Unless she was highly astute, and processed the name as to its meaning, she would be left wondering why the name would be Yeshua and not Emanuel. And so to ensure that she at least begins to think it through, he continues without giving her a chance to interject…

32 He will be great,

The English almost sounds like the world’s greatest understatement. But Gabriel would have spoken to Mary in Aramaic, the language of the day. Despite this, the New Testament was written in Greek. The word megas, or “great,” is surely intended here in a superlative sense indicating “exceeding greatness.” “Mary, the Child born to you will be great.”

32 (cont’) and will be called the Son of the Highest;

The Greek word for “Highest” here is hupsistos. It too is a superlative word. In the case of the One being referred to, it then signifies the Most High. There is nothing which can exceed the station to which His Father possesses. The title here is from the Hebrew elyon which was introduced into Scripture at the time of Abraham, where Melchizedek is called priest of El Elyon, or God Most High.

32 (cont’) and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David.

Of the words of Isaiah, the ones most likely to have been known by Mary would be those of Isaiah 9. A coming Messiah was prophesied, and a list of names and duties were ascribed to Him. That He would sit upon the throne of David was surely known to all of the people of Israel, and Gabriel’s words now would call this prophecy to mind. This throne was to be granted to her Son, the Son of the Highest, by Yehovah Elohim, or the Lord God.

33 And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.”

Though not identical to the prophecy, Gabriel’s words mirror the thought of Isaiah 9:7 which I read earlier. There will be no end to His government, and He will sit upon the throne of David forever and ever.

The house of Jacob comprises the twelve tribes of Israel. The kingship over them was granted to the throne of David, and the throne of David is now said to be granted to the Child that she would bear. And the reign of his throne over this kingdom would be without end.

But in this there now arises an obvious question for this heavenly messenger. First, Mary is betrothed to a man, but she has not yet been married to him. How could the Child she was to bear be the Son of the Most High and not the son of Joseph? And more, how could she conceive in her womb without having known a man? The betrothal to Joseph, and the obvious state of her virginity, both appeared to render the words of Gabriel impossible to reconcile.

34 Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?”

It is the most obvious question of all. In the begetting of a child, it takes two to tango, and that music had not yet played in her life. The question is surely one of understanding the nature of humanity, and not one of denying the possibility of Gabriel’s words. Where Zechariah had history itself to provide an answer to his question, meaning Abraham and Sarah, among others, Mary had no such history to rely on. Not since the world was created had a woman bore a child without knowing a man. “How can this be” then is not distrust, but lack of understanding. That lack will now be corrected…

35 And the angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you;

The chances of Mary not knowing the creation account of Genesis would be very, very unlikely. Almost anyone with ten brain cells today will know the words, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” They will know where the words came from, and they will know what they signify.

The creation account would have been commonly held knowledge by the people of the land. What Gabriel is telling Mary now would take her mind right back to those early school lessons. In Genesis 1:2, it says, “The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The same God who created the universe, and the same God then who formed the barren, lifeless elements into shape, would come upon her and over shadow her.

Just as God uttered the words, “Let there be light,” and there was light, so God would beget a Child in her womb, and the spark of life would ignite within her. The lifeless womb would come alive, even as the lifeless creation had brought forth life. From “Let there be light,” even to “Let there be Life,” the word of God would be accomplished. There was the creation by God, and there would be entrance into that creation by God.

35 (con’t) therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.

Gabriel’s words have answered the “How?” which Mary asked, Now his words explain what that means. She will bear a Child, and He will be called, “the Son of God.” He will have no earthly father, and no earthly father is even necessary. And because no physical act of union will take place, there can be no sin imputed to her for violating her betrothal to Joseph.

Further, as He will be born of God, the term Holy One is given. He will be set apart unto God, and thus holy. Just as the high priest of Israel was set apart to God, and just as the people of Israel were set apart to God, there would be a special separation of this Child to God which would make Him unique above all others. It is probably here that she realized that Isaiah’s name for the Messiah, Emanuel, is actually a title. His name is Jesus, and He is “God with Us.”

Depending on her knowledge of Hebrew Scripture, she could either find herself getting lost in countless points of doctrine and how they were suddenly cleared up by the announcement which has rested upon her ears, or she could simply take the words at face value and not consider them further than what had been spoken. But what she had heard is still being pondered and studied 2000 years later, and still not all that it means has been drawn from it.

36 Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.

Elizabeth means both “God is Seven” and “God is Oath.” The name carries both meanings. Here she is called “your relative.” In verse 1:5, she is said to be “of the daughters of Aaron,” meaning of the priestly class of Israel. Taking this in its intended sense, this means that either Mary’s father or mother was of the house of Aaron, or that the mother of Elizabeth was of the house of David.

As we are not told, we cannot speculate too far other than to say that it is possible that Christ Jesus descends from Levi through Aaron, as well as from the line of David.

What is significant about these words is that another important event has happened in the land, and it would be reason for Mary to feel that what has been told her is a part of a greater plan than just that which pertains to her alone. The Lord was working, once again, in the land of Israel, and she was to be a great and blessed part of that plan. But even more, Gabriel identifies the child to be born to Elizabeth as a son. He could not know this apart from divine revelation. Everything he says shouts out the supernatural.

37 For with God nothing will be impossible.”

Jesus will later say in the book of Luke, “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God.” This is the intent of what Gabriel now says to Mary. God cannot make a square circle, or make a two a seven. He also cannot violate His own character, such as being unrighteous. But those things which are deemed impossible to man are wholly possible to God. The barren womb of Elizabeth had come to life, and the virgin womb of Mary would do so as well.

*(fin) 38 Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.

Mary’s answer to the news which she has received is the simplest and most basic words of acceptance that one could think of. There are no further questions, such as “When,” as if she wanted to be ready for things to happen. Nor does she ask “Why,” as if she was somehow unsuitable to the role she has been chosen for.

Unlike the parents of Samson, who was also divinely prophesied, she doesn’t ask for a cup full of details as to the many variables of what she should do during her pregnancy, or afterwards. Instead, with the purest of faith that if God has chosen her, and if He has the plan already in motion, then all she needs to do is submit herself to the will of the Lord and that will be sufficient.

And so in saying, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!”, she accepts everything that has been presented as possible, and everything that will occur as in accord with His sovereign will. She simply and faithfully accepts her role in redemptive history. And with that, Gabriel departs her presence.

May it be according to Your will, O God
May my life be used as You alone see fit and right
May You guide my every step as upon the path I trod
Be with me through every day, and be with me every night

I am Your servant, and Your will is what I desire
According to Your word, I gladly live my life
From this day forward, to Your will I aspire
I am in Your hands for use, and not for insolent strife

Thank You for the Christmas Gift, our Lord Jesus
Because of Him, to You my life I submit
How grateful I am for something so very marvelous!
Because of such love, to You my life I do commit

II. The Child of God, Born of a Woman

As we opened today, I mentioned Paul’s instructions to us concerning propriety within the church, especially in regards to the conduct of women. But what does this have to do with the Christmas story? Why include this in a Christmas sermon?

Well, God established a hierarchy which hasn’t changed since the creation of man. There will never be a time that woman comes before man in the sense of creation. She came from him, and he is over her. That is what God ordained. However, there is a time when woman comes before man in the reception of a special honor. Before we get there though, we have to get through the cataclysmic event which precipitated the need for this high honor. Here are Paul’s words to the women of the church –

I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, 10 but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. 11 Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. 12 And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” 1 Timothy 2:8-15

Paul sets strict boundaries on women in the church as to what is not permitted. The words are set, and they are prescriptive. Obedience to them is expected. But he then immediately explains why these things are to be by bringing in the creation account to justify his position. He says that Adam was formed first, then Eve – Creation. He then goes from the order of creation of man – first Adam and then Eve – to the fall of man. He cites the creation account saying, “And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” Paul’s logic is that the serpent went to the one he knew was susceptible to being deceived. If this were not so, then the Bible wouldn’t have bothered with telling us this.

What the Bible implicitly declares, and what is obvious from human nature, is the truth that women are beings which are formed differently from men, and who follow different internal guidelines in order to make decisions. And so in order to avoid the error of the fall, meaning deception, being repeated in the church, Paul gives specific directives to which there are no exceptions.

The problem with exceptions is that they eventually become the rule. This is not how affairs are to be handled, and so rules of conduct are set and fixed. The woman was deceived and fell into transgression. Lesson learned; guidelines are established based on this; doctrine set.

However, Paul then says something which seemingly makes no sense at all unless the context is maintained – “Nevertheless, she will be saved in childbearing if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self-control.” First, the translation is incorrect, and so no wonder it makes no sense.

There is an article in front of “childbearing” which is left out in almost all translations. A direct translation says, “She will be saved, moreover, through the childbearing.” Paul’s context is the creation and fall of man. From there, he immediately went to the idea of salvation – “she will be saved.” The Genesis account comes alive once again at the hand of Paul – Creation/Fall/Salvation. It is all there waiting to be unpackaged.

And so what is he speaking of? Are women saved if they have children? If they don’t have children, will they go to the fiery furnace forever? Will they be “more” saved if they have lots of children? No, none of these things apply.

The second thing to notice is that the account goes from the singular to the plural. It says, “She (singular) will be saved, moreover, through the childbearing, if they (plural) abide in…” Obviously two things are on Paul’s mind, which are completely overlooked by the angry women who want to be deacons and elders in the church, despite being told it is not allowed. Paul has explained why, and now he tells them that in a way there is a great honor which they possess anyway.

Only four of the 26 versions of the Bible that I reviewed includes the definite article before “childbearing.” And two of those make it a paraphrase, although they are correct in the idea of their paraphrase nonetheless. But before we look at what Paul is referring to, let’s see how difficult this verse is when one is trying to force theology into it, instead of drawing it out. Here are the various translations that I looked at. See how they attempted to translate their way out of a theological dilemma –

Women will be saved through childbearing.
She will be saved through childbearing.
Women will be preserved through the bearing of children.
She shall be saved in childbearing.
She will be delivered through childbearing.
But she lives by her children.
She shall be saved through the childbearing. (literal)
Yet a woman will be brought safely through childbirth.

These pretty much represent all of the translations. Only one is literal, the one which includes the article before “childbearing.” A couple of them are so wrong it’s hard to imagine what they were thinking. Of the two paraphrases that get the intent of what Paul is saying, the ISV does the best job. It reads as follows –

…even though she will be saved through the birth of the Child, if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, along with good judgment.” ISV

Do you see what Paul is doing? He has already taken us back to Genesis 3. He has shown us what happened at the fall, after the creation, and he then explains how that is corrected in the same passage. In Genesis 3:15, the Lord spoke to the woman, and then while cursing the serpent, He said what is now known as the Protoevangelium, or “the first gospel.” There, a promise was made that One would come who would destroy him and his works –

And the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

14 So the Lord God said to the serpent:

Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:13-15

The Lord promises the woman will bear, and from her would issue the Messiah who would crush the head of the serpent. So who was Paul speaking of when he said, “and she shall be saved through the child-bearing,…” Who is “she?”

Well, the nearest antecedent is found in the previous verse when speaking of “the woman” who was deceived, meaning Eve. Therefore, Paul is referring to her. That is why it is in the singular. She, Eve, will be saved through the bearing of a Child. Not directly, but through her, because she stands in place of all women.

That is why Paul then switches to the plural by saying “if they continue in faith, love, and holiness, with self control.” It is the call of the gospel. To live in faith. And in living in faith, the woman will be saved, just as the man will be saved. And this faith is based on the grace which was given to humanity in the Christmas Child; the Lord Jesus Christ.

And so why did I include this passage from Paul’s letter to Timothy which governs church-age doctrine in a Christmas sermon? The reason is because of Mary’s simple, humble proclamation of faith, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!” Without having all the details, and with simple faith that God is God, and His will is right, she acknowledged that she was at His disposal.

In the church of 2017, we have so much more than the limited knowledge of God’s plan that Mary had. Rather, we have the entire book, complete and sealed, which tells us of what God has done in Christ Jesus. We have the Christmas Child revealed. We have the perfect Life lived. We have the perfect Sacrifice given. And we have the acceptance of each in the resurrection of Christ. But before He accomplished these things, we have recorded for us the simple faith of Mary which set the stage for all of those other things to come to pass. “Behold the maidservant of the Lord!”

This may not be the most dramatic Christmas sermon – one which gives the warm details of the birth of Christ. Such sermons will bring us to tears when we hear of heaven’s King lying in an animal’s feeding trough. They excite us with high notes of the heavenly choir singing forth the praise of God. Those are sermons which fill us with the Christmas spirit. But we must remember that there could be no Christmas Child without a heavenly Father and an earthly mother of that Child.

The Father’s involvement shows us how much we are loved by the Creator of all things. And the mother’s teaches us a lesson about what the Father is looking for in each of us. He is looking for the simple obedience of faith, and thus for faithful obedience.

We cannot separate ourselves from our actions. They define who we are. Eve, the first female, and thus she who represents all who follow after her, is saved through the birth of the Child. Mary, the mother of Jesus, was saved through the birth of the Child, and any others who will come to Him for salvation, are saved through the birth of the Child, because the Child then died to save them as well.

Why are we expected to live out the roles assigned for us as men and women of God? Because the Child of Christmas came to die for us so that we could live for Him. He is the Creator, and He is the Redeemer. His name is Salvation, and salvation is what He gives to us, if we will simply have faith? Is disobedience to His word worth appeasing the pride that rises up in our hearts? May it never be so!

Gabriel’s words to Mary said, “…blessed are you among women.” It is the woman who was deceived and fell into transgression, but another woman was called blessed among them. Where Eve was faithless, Mary was found to be faithful. Where Eve brought about the need for salvation, she was saved through the birth of the Child named… Salvation. And that birth came through one of her own gender.

Paul’s words are not restrictive on women, they are freeing. The deception of the woman led to the fall of the man. In his fall, she fell as well. But in granting the honor to Mary of bearing the Christmas Child, the disgrace of of the fall can be erased in all of us, even those who were deceived in the first place.

God’s Gift to humanity is given, the Light shining in the dark places has come forth, and the Forgiver of all transgressions has walked among us. Let us acknowledge that His way is best, that His plan is perfect, and that obedience to Him is intended for our good in all ways and at all times. He has spoken, His word is proper, and our humble act of adhering to it will bring great reward when we stand before Him and receive our judgment for the lives we have lived.

Closing Verse: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.” Titus 2:11-14

Next Week: Leviticus 23:9-14 Changing from earthly to incorruptible suits… (The Feasts of the Lord, Firstfruits) (38th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. He was willing to put on a body of flesh and to dwell among us despite all the pains He had to endure in the process. If He did that for you, think of how much more lies ahead when we walk with Him in glory! So follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon
Her who is distressed or in agony
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali

And afterward more heavily oppressed her
By the way of the sea
Beyond the Jordan it shall occur
In an area of the Gentiles around the land of Galilee

The people who walked in darkness
It is they who have seen a great Light
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death
Upon them has shined a Light so bright

You have multiplied the nation
And likewise its joy You have increased
They rejoice before You with great ovation
According to the time of harvest, a joy which will not be ceased

As men rejoice when they divide the spoil
When they receive the bounty and no longer toil

For You have the yoke of his burden broken
And the staff of his shoulder is taken away
The rod of his oppressor no longer an unfriendly token
As in the day of Midian, when he was destroyed that day

For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle
And garments roooooolled in blood
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire, worthless chattel
Useless implements overtaken by time’s great flood

For unto us a Child is born
A time to rejoice and not to morn
Unto us a Son is given
The One to lead us from death to a’livin’

And the government will be upon His shoulder
Every eye will see Him, every soul will be His beholder

Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom’s realm
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever, He at the helm
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this

And His name will be called Wonderful
The Counselor and Mighty God is He
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, pure and white as wool
Of the increase of His government and peace, no end shall we see

Do not be afraid, for behold
I bring you good tidings of great joy
Which will be to all people, forever told
The wondrous story, the birth of a Boy

For there is born to you this day
In the city of David a Savior, it is He
Who is Christ the Lord, to whom heaven’s hosts obey
The Messiah has come, and now you may go and see

And this will be the sign to you:
You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes
Lying in a manger, a glorious view
The Christmas Child whom our Heavenly Father bestows

A Child like no other has come to dwell among us
He shall lead us in paths of righteousness for His name’s sake
And His name is called out, His name is Jesus
Come, and of the Heavenly Child partake

He is God’s gift and heaven’s treasure
He is Immanuel, God with us
And he bestows upon us grace without measure
The Christmas Child, our glorious Lord Jesus

Hallelujah and Amen…

Resurrection Day 2017 – John 19:30 (It Is Finished)

John 19:30
It is Finished!

When we finish something, it really isn’t the end of what we hoped for. Actually it is more often than not, the beginning. When I built our dinner table almost 23 years ago, I was excited about getting it done. All of the planning, the careful work, the cutting, sanding, and varnishing… all of that would have been for naught if I finished and then set it on fire, unless a very time consuming and costly bonfire was what I was hoping for all along.

Rather, I spent all of that time making the thing so that it would be ready as a present for my wife. And then, once that was out of the way – I mean the hauling it into the house, placing it there while she was out, anticipating the look on her face, and all of the other things that go along with giving a present like that to someone – I mean once that was out of the way, then there would be another reason for having built the table. Right?

It was in hopes of using it for many years as a place where we could eat, sneak bits off the table for one of the dogs, place flowers, pay bills (hate paying bills!), watch TV, and on and on. And so, finishing the table was really only the starting of what the work was intended for.

As I said, the same is true with with most things. We finish school in order to be edumacated enough to get a job, or to get accepted into another school. And when we finish our job we retire, so that we can do the things that we couldn’t do when we worked.

Surely, each time we start a project, it is normally for the purpose of finishing it in order to do something else. I finished that table, and it has been fulfilling its purpose for many years. I hope I die or get raptured out of here before I have to move that thing. It is quite possibly the heaviest dinner table on the planet, but I built it to last, and last it has. Eventually though, it will come to its end as all things do. All things except for that which is truly eternal…

Text Verse:Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

God began a project too. All along it was intended as something that would be eternal, but in order for that to be the case, there had to be something to bring it about. He knew before He ever created, that if man was involved, death would also be involved. But death implies an end, whereas eternity means that which is endless.

If death was involved it was because there was something imperfect which brought that death about. That imperfection is known as “sin.” In order for sin to be eradicated, and for the imperfection to be removed, then there must be a process which is followed, a process which would involve another death.

The difference is that this death would have to be a perfect one, not involving sin in the One who dies. God knew this, and His word calls Jesus “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” This is the project that God started, and this is the project which He finished through the work of Jesus Christ. But the finishing of the project was only meant as a new beginning, not the end.

Like the table that has another purpose than just being made into a table, the work of Jesus Christ which ended with the words “It is finished” had an entirely different purpose behind it. It is a purpose which involves any and all who are willing to receive it by faith, and it is one which will last… yes, for all eternity. This is what we will see in today’s resurrection day sermon, and it is a truth which is found in God’s superior word. And so let’s turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. It has Begun

Genesis Chapter 1 gives us a broad brushstroke of creation, explaining in one chapter the order of what occurred, and the totality of God’s creative effort. In other words, in just 31 verses, the Bible tells us that everything which we see in the universe around us came into existence by the wisdom and power of God. And yet, the focus of all of this vast, marvelous creation is centered on one particular thing – the creation of man.

How do we know this? Well, first, the Bible is written. Writing is information in a specific form and for a specific purpose. Inanimate objects don’t need or use writing, man does. Writing isn’t used by any animate objects apart from man either. The fact that the Bible exists shows us that what is presented in it is intended for man’s use. Without man, there would be no need for a description of how creation occurred, and thus no need for a Bible.

Secondly, and with that first understanding as a key to everything that will follow in all of this book we call “the Bible,” there is a specific attention given to man in the 1st Chapter of Genesis. In the creation of the physical universe, the earth where we live is specially highlighted.

It is created, it is prepared in a particular way to receive life, the sun and the moon are singled out as being a necessary part of interaction with the earth, and then in verse 16, the rest of the entire universe is lumped into just two Hebrew words, v’eth ha’kokavim – “and the stars.”

Those two words describe everything else that exists in the physical universe, but only those stars that are visible to man are considered as important enough to even mention. We know this, because elsewhere in Scripture, constellations are mentioned by name. A constellation is only useful from one vantage point. Any other planet at any other point in the universe will see the stars differently, and those constellations will not exist as we know them. Further, by calling the sun, which is also a star, “the sun,” it means that this particular star is one prepared specifically for the earth on which we live, an earth which is specifically made for man who was to be created on it.

And so we again see the importance of man highlighted implicitly through this detail. And thirdly, as each day of creation is noted, it builds upon the previous days in order to reach a result. God carefully and methodically created with an intent and purpose, which is to provide a place where man could dwell. Everything else was created for this purpose. The room was prepared and the guests were expected.

Forth, when the sixth and final day of creation arrived, God first created the living creatures according to their kind – the cattle and the creeping things. Upon completion of that, it says, “And God saw that it was good.” Everything was ready then for the last act of His creative efforts… man. The expected guest had his house waiting for him. Everything was set and ready. Only then do we read the exceedingly special words which follow –

Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:26-28

Man bears a special garment that distinguishes him from all else in creation, He bears the image and likeness of God. It is to this image-bearer of the Creator that dominion of the earth was given.

And then there is a fifth way of knowing that man is the central purpose of God’s creation. It is because Chapters 2 and 3 of Genesis insert the many details of man’s creation and early moments which Genesis 1 left out. It is given to show specifically that the Bible is intended for man’s knowledge of who he is in relation to his Creator, and how he arrived at the place that he is now, and that the Bible is the record of these things.

After Chapter 3, the narrative continues on in this way for the next 1186 chapters, right up until the the last page, and indeed until the last word of the book of Revelation. And so, understanding this, and as our first thought today is “It has Begun,” we want to discern what, in fact, has begun.

We have the creation, we have the knowledge that it centers on what God has done in the creation of man, and from Chapter 2 of Genesis it shows that man was intended to live in a paradisaical setting where he could actually fellowship with his Creator, the Lord God. After the creation of woman who was intended to be a helper for the man, Chapter 2 ends with the words, “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.”

There was an innocence about them which was, according to the word, “very good.” In this state of innocence, they were set to have a wonderful existence which would keep them ever in the presence of the Lord, and forever free from pains, trials, or sadness. But this marvelous existence would not last very long. Indeed, it would slip away from them just as the breath itself disappears as it is exhaled on a cold morning.

Without wasting any words, Chapter 3 immediately introduces the serpent, the cunning deceiver, who would bring an end to the innocence of man and the intimate fellowship that he enjoyed with the Lord. In a mere 24 verses, Chapter 3 takes the man from a state of innocence to a state of understanding. It takes him from a state of life, to a state of death. It takes him from being in a paradise of abundance, to expulsion and exile to a place of hardship and toil. And, worst of all, it takes him from intimate fellowship with the Lord, to a state of enmity with Him.

When properly considered, it is truly the most heartbreaking set of words ever penned about man, because it describes how all of the other heartbreak of man began. And there is one more thing in the record which cannot go without note. It says that man became more, not less, like God in the process. This would seem like a good thing, but for the most part it is not. Just before his expulsion from their garden of delight, we read these words –

Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— 23 Therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken.” Genesis 3:22, 23

The man became like his Creator in that he acquired the ability to know good and evil. But without the ability to properly use that knowledge, it is as much of a curse as it is a blessing. It may be good to know how to cut down a tree in order to build a house, but if we cut down too many trees, we might cause a mudslide which could come down upon the house we have built.

Each thing that we do may have unintended consequences, and so without knowing the end from the beginning, what is good in one instance may be bad in another. Until we learn from our mistakes, we often remain ignorant about what is truly good and what isn’t. Unless we have external guidance from one who has already learned, or from the One who knows all things, we are prone to err. And when we err, evil is more often than not the result.

But this is how it began. The life we live, the troubles we face, the lack of fellowship with God that we experience, all of it began because we didn’t do what He asked of us in the first place. From that point, we were set on a course that we could not fix, and which leaves us wandering aimlessly through one mistake after another. And this continues on until we lay our head down for the last time and return to the earth from which we came. Truly, it is a vain and hopeless existence when we don’t have all of the information we need to make the right choices.

There is a curse upon us, a self-inflicted pain
Our father Adam broke God’s command
It seems as if things will never be right again
And for his transgressions our life God will demand

But there at the beginning was a promise of One to come
Who would reverse the curse and right Adam’s wrong
Whatever this One offers, I sure want me some
To the truth of His message, I wish to belong

Who will it be, how will it come about?
The thing that He offers, I know I cannot do without

II. It Will be Resolved

The end of Chapter 3 of Genesis, and all of the misery of the world since then, should really make us wonder if going on is even worth the trouble. Why bother when all we will get is older, more feeble, less respect, and just aching bones and sleepless nights. This would be the case if we didn’t pay attention to the details of Chapter 3.

You see, right there in the middle of the chapter, there are a few words which, if understood, are enough to give even the most wearisome person hope. It was the serpent who got us into this mess, and if he could just be taken out of the way, things would turn out for good. And this is what was promised in verses 14 and 15 –

 So the Lord God said to the serpent:

Because you have done this,
You are cursed more than all cattle,
And more than every beast of the field;
On your belly you shall go,
And you shall eat dust
All the days of your life.
15 And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14, 15

A promise was made that the cunning deceiver would be defeated, and when this was accomplished, man would have access once again to the paradise he had lost. How do we know this is a correct reading of those words? Because it is implicitly stated from this point on. In a thousand different ways, the people of faith understood this, and the Bible records that their interpretation of it is correct. Restoration would come, and it would come when the Seed of the woman arrived.

From this point on, from Chapter 4 of Genesis on, the story of this coming Redeemer takes shape. A select line of people are highlighted, and with each new page, the story continues to unfold. The select line are known as bene ha’elohim, or “sons of the God.” Those not in this line belong to ha’adam, or “the man.” The distinction between the two comes down to what their life was directed to. Were they people of faith in the promise of God, or were they men who followed in their first father’s footsteps, trusting in the deceit of the deceiver?

Eventually, it came down to a single man named Noah. The entire world had followed after the serpent, and God determined to put an end to what He saw. However, He had made a promise, and so he spared Noah and his family in order to keep the promise alive. God is ever-faithful to His word.

In the destruction of the world, Noah was kept safe and together with his family, they arrived on the shore of a new world, one ready once again to allow man to flourish and live out his days, exercising his will in hope or in futility – the choice was his.

And once again, in the mere turning of a page, there is rebellion and there is the pronouncement of a curse. It seems that man is destined to self-ruin. But in the midst of the disobedient heart, God continues to work out His plan, carefully and methodically. With the turning of one person or group, there is the calling of another.

But, it can’t be said that one is better or more deserving than the other. Eventually from Noah’s son Shem, one of his descendants named Abraham was called, but he was called from one life to another. We read in Joshua that Abraham’s family served other gods, not the true God. His calling was an act of grace.

They were called out of this state. Therefore, it was a call of grace, and it was a call of mercy. The call was not from righteousness to righteousness, but from disobedience to righteousness. God had a plan, it was set, and he was working it out according to His wisdom. Each step is carefully recorded for us to see and to understand that we had not been abandoned, but were still the central focus of His act of creation, just as it was at the beginning.

To Abraham, a promise was made, a great and marvelous promise, one that would be realized in and through his descendants, but as time drew on, it became harder and harder to see how it could come about. His wife was barren and under the normal conditions of life, it would seem that things would not turn out as they were expected to. But Abraham believed God and remained faithful despite the barren years.

Eventually, the time came when it was seemingly impossible that the first promise could come to pass, but the Lord took him outside in the night and asked him to count the stars if he could but number them. The whole host of heaven was there before his eyes, and the Lord promised him that his descendants would be such as that which he beheld. The next words say, “And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.”

In believing the unbelievable, and in trusting what seemed impossible, the Lord credited Abraham with righteousness. The Lord is pleased when His word is accepted at face value and believed as true.

Eventually, Abraham did have a son, a son of promise named Isaac. From Isaac came another son of promise, Jacob, who is Israel. And from Jacob came a collection of sons, all were granted the promise of Abraham. Collectively, they would be known by the name given to their father, Israel.

It is this unique and set-apart family who would continue the marvelous march towards the fulfillment of God’s plan. The resolution of the problem would come through them. Their history is chronicled, and each step of the way, God’s guiding hand is seen often in the foreground, and it is never lacking in the background, directing their affairs towards an ultimate goal. Certainly, they had no idea what lay ahead, but we can look back on their history and see it with such clarity that it is really astonishing to consider.

Seemingly random events come together to form the most marvelous tapestry as the years of Israel unfolded before them. Finally, when the time was right, God began to use them to display His glory in the world. The stories of their redemption from Egypt, their passing through the waters of the Red Sea, and the marvelous events which led them to the foot of Mount Sinai would be counted as mere fairy tales unless we knew that God was behind them. But He was, and the stories are recorded so that we can be assured that Israel’s history is not an aberration, but a carefully sculpted plan with a definite and marvelous purpose.

There at the foot of Sinai, the Lord gave them His law, He gave them His instructions for a place where He would dwell among them. He also gave them ordinances for how they could approach Him, and how they were to conduct their lives in His presence.

Each detail demonstrated that the problem would, in fact, be resolved. He was there among them, and they could live, and in fact they would live, if they adhered to His precepts. This was explicitly stated to them when He said these words –

You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

To live is to not die. The promise is clear. If a man does these things, he will live by them. The life that was lost in Adam could be obtained once again through this marvelous law which the Lord set before the people. Life, not death, was possible.

The resolution to the problem was now available. In being obedient to the Lord’s word, life – yes, certainly eternal life – could be obtained. This is what the word says, and this is in fact the word of the Lord.

A cross is there on the hill of Calvary
It is a sign of God’s love to the people of the world
On that cross Jesus died for you and for me
The greatest display of love ever, was on that day unfurled

Oh! That Christ would die for sinners like us!
How deep is the love of God for this to have come about?
Wondrous is the giving of His own Son, Jesus
So take hold of the promise, stand fast and do not doubt

Christ died and into the grave He went – had death won?
A lifeless body, seemingly the end of the story
But No! Death could not hold the sinless Son
He burst forth from the grave in radiant glory!

III. It is Finished

With the giving of the law, everything that was lost could be restored. At least that’s the way it appeared on the surface. But by digging deeper into what the law was showing us, it became evident that there was a problem. It was the same problem that has been seen since the very beginning, and that problem is sin.

The law made the promise that the one who did the things of the law could live by them, but what was evident right away, and what continued to be more evident with each passing year, was that nobody could do the things of the law. Instead of bringing life, it only brought death!

The argument goes like this: If there is no law, then there can be no violation of the law. In fact, a person wouldn’t know what something like coveting was without being told to not covet. But as soon as the law is given, sin then takes the opportunity through the commandment to produce the desire to covet.

Without a law, there is life, but when a commandment is given which is supposed to give life, it instead brings death. Sin uses the commandment to deceive, and through that comes death. This is the dilemma of the law. If a man does the things of the law, he will live by them, but in the giving of the law, sin is stirred up and he dies by that same law.

And what is more, even the very mediator of the law was exposed to this truth. He had the knowledge of good and evil, but sin used that knowledge to bring him death, not life. The record of this truth stands in the eventual death of Moses, of Aaron, and of every other person who ever lived under this law – high priest or layman alike. The law which promised life, did not deliver it. Instead, it continued to produce death.

Was there nothing that could free them from this body of death, which indeed it was, a body of death? The people of God, selected from among the nations of the world, given great and enduring promises, and among whom dwelt the Lord God, and who were sanctified by His presence, could not obtain the life they sought through the law they were given, despite that law being right there with them, and which was intended to guide them.

And if they, chosen and set apart, could not obtain life, then how could anyone else, not even of their line, hope to find it? What was the answer? What is the answer? To where do we turn in order to find life? Or, is it all futility ending in death? If so, why delay the inevitable?

But have we forgotten the promise? Have we become so consumed with our own works that we have failed to remember what the Lord said to the deceiver?

And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:14, 15

The Lord promised that the serpent’s head would be crushed, but it wouldn’t be one of us who would do it. Instead, it would be the Seed of the woman. What that means was long misunderstood. Eve thought it was speaking of herself.

When she had Cain, she cried out, I have acquired a man from the Lord.”  She thought that she had a child that would handle the problem and restore her to paradise. She even claimed that the child was “from the Lord,” as if in a resounding cry of victory.

However, it wasn’t long before she realized she was wrong. With the birth of her son Abel, there was no cry of victory. When she named him, it was with a sense of despair. Life was a passing breath, and Abel reflected that futility to her.

With the continued line of people from Eve, there is often the talk of the seed which would continue on. The daughters of Lot wanted to preserve their father’s seed, intending to find life through it. David was promised that his seed, One who would come from his body, would build a house for the Lord and would establish the throne of his kingdom forever.

This theme is repeated numerous times, showing that the seed of the man was needed to bring in the eternal promise, but that promise still needed to be fulfilled in the Seed of the woman as well. It is rather confusing to consider when looking forward. However, we today are not looking forward.

We are looking back, and the picture is clear. The failures of Israel were each a lesson, and also a stepping stone, to the success of God. The law promised life to one who would do the things of the law, but the nature of man made it impossible for him to do the things of the law. And so God handled the problem for man, by becoming a Man.

In order to do this, the Holy Spirit of God, the third member of the Trinity, overshadowed a virgin woman of Israel. She, being a descendant of those to whom the promises were made, was to be the human receptacle for the incarnate Word of God.

It was He whose coming had been promised for 4000 years. The prophets spoke of Him, and the Lord testified through them in His word the things that He would accomplish, and the glory that would be revealed through Him.

As we are told by John, “And the Word became 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” (John 1:14). In being born of a woman, but not of a man, He was truly and fully man, but also truly and fully God.

But in this state, He was born as a Man without sin. As sin is passed from father to child, and as all humans are born of both a father and a mother, all humans inherit sin. However, as He was born of a woman, but not of a man, He inherited no sin. His father being God meant that He was born in a state of sinlessness.

And yet, He was born with the knowledge of good and evil. In His sinlessness, He could handle that knowledge as no man born in sin could. But there is more. He was also born under the law of God, being a citizen of the people Israel. Therefore, with His unique ability to do the things of the law, the promise of Leviticus 18:5 could be realized in Him –

You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord.” Leviticus 18:5

He is a Man, is He not? Yes, He is a Son of Adam through Mary. And He has the ability to keep the statutes and judgments of the Lord, does He not? Yes, being the Lord God incarnate, He was fully capable of accomplishing this.

In doing the things of the law, life would thus be the result. This is why the gospel writers give such minute detail concerning the life of Jesus. They were chronicling the marvel of this Person who came and dwelt among them, showing us that He was qualified and capable of the task, and also showing us that He, in fact, performed what He was called to do.

Each step of the way, His obedience to the law, and to His Father, is carefully recorded. But this record isn’t for Him to revel in, it is for us to believe in. The Lord doesn’t need the word to be the Lord, or to accomplish His task. But man needs the word to understand the work of the Lord in accord with the word. And so the word is given.

In the gospels, we see the fulfillment of everything that was spoken of by the prophets, even since the very beginning. Every word they wrote was to lead us to understanding who would come and what He would do. In this, we would then know that He was the One spoken of. He said as much to the people of Israel –  

You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39

And then He said something that truly revealed what He had come to do. In the very next verse, He said, “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:40). In coming to Him, they could have life. The life promised in Leviticus 18:5 was to be found… in Him!

This is what the gospel writers recorded, and this is what they testify to. The fulfillment of the Scriptures is found in Jesus. And in fulfilling them, life was to be found as well. He told the leaders of Israel this, but they couldn’t grasp it. They couldn’t believe. The very people who maintained the oracles of God, failed to accept the truth of God contained in those oracles.

However, their unbelief in no way nullified the faithfulness of God. He spoke, He accomplished, and His word stands as a testimony of what He alone has done. And so, in being born sinless into the people bound to the law, in living without sin under the law, and in His death without sin, He thus died in fulfillment of the law. The One who was promised at the very beginning, willingly came, voluntarily surrendered Himself, and allowed the beings that He created to take His life so that they could live. Tell me that isn’t incredible!

Each of the four gospels details the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Each gives details from the writer’s own perspective, and they record the scene in their own words while highlighting what they were inspired to write. The gospel of John records the crucifixion in the19th Chapter of his book.

He focuses on several prophetic fulfillments of Scripture as do each of the other gospels, but John says something differently than all of the others. Beginning in the 28th verse, he says this –

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!’ 29 Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. 30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, ‘It is finished!’ And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” John 19:28-30

John notes that Jesus knew that all things were accomplished, using the word tetelestai. The word is the perfect tense of the word teleó, or “fulfilled.” John then says that in knowing that all was perfectly fulfilled that Jesus said, “I thirst” in order that Scripture might be teleiōthē, or fulfilled. It is the aorist tense of the word teleioó. It indicates working through the entire process in order to reach the final phase. If one thinks of pulling out a pirate’s telescope one stage at a time until it is fully stretched and at maximum capacity, this is the idea of what John was saying.

It then notes after Jesus received the sour wine that He said His final words, tetelestai, or “It is finished.” It is the same word as at the first, teleó, and it is again in the perfect tense. It is finished – completely and wholly. It is done.

What is being said, is that Jesus had come and fulfilled every single thing necessary to undo the work of the devil. He had fulfilled every requirement of the law, He had taken the full weight and measure of God’s wrath in fulfillment of violations of the law, and He had thus prevailed over the law, not merely in and of Himself, but for any and all who would accept what He had done.

The word teleó signifies a payment. This is why the word is translated as “finished.” When a debt is paid, the payment is fulfilled. The law of God demanded a payment for violations of that law. Adam broke the law, though it was but one law and in the negative – “You shall not.” Because of this, a payment was due.

The people of Israel violated God’s law, time and time again, but just one infraction of the law broke the entire law. And thus a payment for violating the law was due. In Christ’s fulfillment of the law through His death, the payment was made. But unlike the sin offerings which were prescribed under the law which could not take away sin, Christ’s payment could.

The animals which were sacrificed under the law only looked forward to a more perfect Sacrifice. They temporarily stayed the wrath of God that only Christ could perfectly and eternally take away. Jesus knew the point when His work had fulfilled the law, and so John notes that He then said, “I thirst” so that Scripture could be fulfilled.

The question is, “If all was fulfilled, then why did Jesus say, “I thirst” in order to fulfill Scripture?” The answer must be taken both literally and spiritually. Jesus literally thirsted. The 22nd Psalm, a psalm about the cross, says “My tongue clings to my jaws.” In response to that thirst, the 69th Psalm then says, “…for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.” This literally came to pass, but Jesus’ cry was more intimate than just a physical thirst. In the 42 Psalm, we see the fulfillment of what He was referring to –

As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1, 2

The time had come, the work was complete, and Jesus longed to return to the living God from whom He came. The debt had been paid, and the tortures of His mortal life were no longer needed. We can know that this is correct, because even after His death, His lifeless body was still used to fulfill Scripture. In the piercing of His side, and in not breaking any of His bones, etc., John says that Scripture was again fulfilled –

Therefore, because it was the Preparation Day, that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), the Jews asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. 33 But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. 36 For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” 37 And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” John 19:31-37

The fulfillment of the payment is what Jesus understood was completed, and the thirsting of the Lord for His God is what He desired. When one drinks, it is to prolong life, but in Jesus’ case, it was to show that despite taking that which could prolong His life, He still voluntarily gave it up. It was not taken from Him, instead He yielded it of His own will because of His thirst for His God.

The redemption of man had come, and the payment was complete. But in understanding that, we still must have a final explanation of what this means. The law says that the man who does the things of the law shall live by them. It is a promise. But we have also seen that none can meet the demands of the law. And so what does Christ’s life and death mean to us?

It goes back to the doctrine of substitution. Christ died, as the animals at the temple died, as a Substitute. In His death, we can have our sin transferred to Him. As substitution was a part of the law, and as He fulfilled the law, then He must be an acceptable Substitute for any who desire His death in their place.

In that death, sin is atoned for. And as He died in fulfillment of the law, then to God we die with Him in the transfer of our sin. Through the law we thus die to the law, and we move from Adam to Him. As we die to the law, then the law no longer has mastery over us. And as the law is what brings death, then death itself no longer has mastery over us. The deceiver can no longer deceive. The devil is defeated, and death is swallowed up in victory!

How do we know that this is true? It is the reason we’re here today. Christ didn’t just die for our sins and stay in the grave. No! Instead, He defeated death itself because He had no sin of His own. Death is the result of sin, and life is the result of obedience to God’s law, and so death could not hold Him. And as we are in Him, being counted as justified before the law, death can no longer hold us.

The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is defining moment of human history. For those who receive what He has done, there is but one outcome, that we too will be resurrected unto eternal life, and we too will be restored to the paradise which was lost to man so long ago. I hope that today you will take time to read the final two chapters of the book of Revelation. For any and all who will but come, Jesus Christ has shown us in His word the glories which lie ahead for us. If you have never received Him as your Lord, asking Him to forgive you and grant you eternal life, today is the day. Don’t wait another moment, but simply call out, and He will lead you back home to where we were originally intended to be.

Closing Verse: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
55 “O Death, where is your sting?
O Hades, where 
is your victory?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Corinthians 15:50-58

Next Week: Leviticus 3:1-17 Peace with God! Better than even a diamond ring… (The Peace Offering) (4th Leviticus Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and a purpose for You. Though Paradise was lost, He offers access to it once again through the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So call on Him, and trust Him, and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

A Celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
This is the gospel which was preached to you
It is also the one you received and on which you stand
It is the gospel of salvation, providing life that’s new

And which will carry you to the promised Holy Land
What is delivered to you is what was before received
That Christ died for our sins according to God’s word
He was buried and He rose and so we have believed

And many witnesses testify to this message you have heard
Now if Christ is preached that He is risen from the dead
How can some among you say the resurrection isn’t true?
If there is no resurrection after Christ was crucified and bled

Then our faith as well as yours is certainly askew
And if so, we are found false witnesses of God
Because we have wrongly testified of this mighty deed
And our faith is futile, no heavenly street’s we’ll trod

And we are still dead in our sins, fallen Adam’s seed
Even more, those who have fallen asleep in the Lord are gone
And we are the most pitiable creatures the world could ever look upon
But indeed Christ is risen from the dead

He is the Firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep
And as death came through one Man, Adam our federal head
So Christ will make all alive, our souls He will keep
But there is an order to the Resurrection call

Christ was first, the pattern for the rest when He comes
When He does, He will make a shout out to us all
And we will rise as if to the sound of heavenly battle drums

Then comes the time, when He delivers the kingdom to the Father
When all rule, authority, and power have come to an end
The last enemy to be destroyed is death, never more to bother
Then the Son will to the Father eternal rule extend

But you ask, what will we be like after our time of sleep
After we have been buried in corruption’s pit so deep

Our body is sown in dishonor, but it will be raised in glory
It is sown in weakness, but raised in power – the resurrection story

The first man Adam became a living being, it’s true
The last Adam became a life-giving Spirit, life to me and you

And as was the man of dust, created so long ago
So are those likened unto Him, also made of dust
And as is the Man, the Lord from heaven, you know
That we shall bear His image for eternity just as we’ve discussed

Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God
Nor can corruption inherit that which in incorrupt
Be we shall all be changed, and so heavenly streets we’ll trod
In the twinkling of an eye, the change will be abrupt

When the last trumpet sounds we will be taken to glory
We shall all be changed, completion of the gospel story
Where O Death, O where is your sting
When Christ our Savior, us to Himself does He bring

Where O Hades, O where is your victory
When Christ translates His children to eternal glory

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin the law
But thanks be to God who gives us victory through our Lord
My beloved brethren be steadfast in all you’ve heard and saw
And cling confidently to God’s eternal word

Know for certain that your labor is not in vain
Be of good cheer, Christ is coming again

Hallelujah and Amen…