Jesus is . . .

See the source image

“We’re New Testament people, we don’t need to read the Old Testament.” “I just want to know about Jesus, so I’ll stick with the New Testament.” Ever thought or said anything like that? I’ve heard it many times. As Christians – Christ’s followers – we are focused on only what Jesus did and taught.  But the Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus Christ.  Check it out:

In Genesis, He is the Seed of the woman who will one day crush the head of Satan.

In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb and the one who leads His people out of bondage.

In Leviticus, He is the great high priest and the perfect sacrifice.

In Deuteronomy, he is the Great Prophet to come.

In Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord’s host.

In Judges, He is the one who faithfully delivers His people from the cost of sin.

In Ruth, He is our Kinsman Redeemer.

He is the anointed King in the line of David in the books of Samuel.

In the books of the Kings, He is the Spirit filling the Temple.

He is the great Teacher in Ezra and the Restorer of broken walls in Nehemiah.

He is the Interceder for His people in Esther and the coming Redeemer in Job.

He is the Shepherd in Psalms and the Source of all wisdom in Proverbs.

He is the Teacher in Ecclesiastes.

He is the Beloved Bridegroom in the Song of Solomon.

In Isaiah, He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Suffering Servant.

In Jeremiah and Lamentations, He is the Man acquainted with sorrows.

In Ezekiel, He brings life to dry bones.

In Daniel, He is the Ancient of Days.

He is the faithful Husband in Hosea, the Hope of His people in Joel, the Judge of the nations in Amos, and in Obadiah the One who warns of coming judgment.

In Jonah He is the preacher of the Good News, in Micah He is the Ruler from Bethlehem.

In Nahum, He is the judge of His people’s enemy,  the Sovereign Lord in Habakkuk, and in Zephaniah, He is the God who is mighty to save.

In Haggai He is the Glory of the House of God, in Zechariah He is the Royal Priest and in Malachi Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.

Beloved, if you want to know Jesus, read the Old Testament. He is all over the place.  Then read the New Testament with a fresh understanding of Jesus who was and is and is to come.

Is He Lord?

See the source image

I had a t-shirt that got me into trouble in middle school. It wasn’t racy or low-cut or provocative – it was what it said. No, it didn’t have profanity on it or racist comments.  It said, “As long as there are pop tests, there will be prayer in school.” By my middle-high school years, faculty-led prayer had been banned from schools for ten years. Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. Fifty-nine years later we are reaping the consequences of that decision. Deadly, horrific consequences.

After the 9/11 tragedy, Anne Graham Lotz commented, “for several years now Americans in a sense have shaken their fist at God and said, God, we want you out of our schools, our government, our business, we want you out of our marketplace. And God, who is a gentleman, has just quietly backed out of our national and political life, our public life. Removing his hand of blessing and protection.” What fools we have been.

But we were not the first to tell God to leave us alone. The Old Testament Prophet Amos tried in obedience to deliver the word of the Lord to the people but they told him, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac” (Amos 7:16). In other words, “Shut up and leave us alone.” And so God did. He told them, “The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord” (8:11). They had said, “We don’t want to hear from you, God,” and He gave them what they wanted – silence from heaven. For four hundred years. Years of great oppression and persecution and struggle.

You and I can’t plead for God’s help in a crisis and then reject His holy and righteous ways when they rub against our “freedoms.” And I’m not just talking on a big, national scale – I’m talking about our every day lives. The missionary Hudson Taylor said, “Christ is either Lord of all, or He is not Lord at all.” You and I have to be all-in. What say you, Beloved? Is He Lord or is He not?

Why the Old Testament Still Matters

See the source image

Reading the Bible is paramount for the believer who wants to live and walk as Jesus did – after all, that is the purpose for our salvation – “to be conformed to the likeness of [God’s] Son” (Romans 8:27). I’ll bet you have started trying to read through the whole Bible and found it to be more challenging than you thought. Especially in the Old Testament – especially in Leviticus! What do all those old rules and sacrifices and rituals have to do with us as New Testament believers? EVERYTHING!

The entire Old Testament looks ahead to Jesus Christ. He fulfills every promise and completes every command. In Genesis He is the Seed of the woman who will one day crush the head of Satan. In Exodus, He is the Passover Lamb and the one who leads His people out of bondage .In Leviticus, He is the great high priest and the perfect sacrifice. In Deuteronomy he is the Great Prophet to come. In Joshua, He is the Captain of the Lord’s host.

In Judges, He is the one who faithfully delivers His people from the cost of the sin. In Ruth, He is our Kinsman Redeemer. He is the anointed King in the line of David in the books of Samuel. In the books of the Kings, He is the Spirit filling the Temple. He is the great Teacher in Ezra and the Rebuilder of broken walls in Nehemiah. He is the Interceder for His people in Esther and the coming Redeemer in Job.

He is the Shepherd in Psalms and the Source of all wisdom in Proverbs. He is the Beloved Bridegroom in the Song of Solomon. In Isaiah He is the Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace and Suffering Servant. In Jeremiah and Lamentations He is the Man acquainted with sorrows. In Ezekiel He brings life to dry bones. In Daniel He is the Ancient of Days.

He is the faithful Husband in Hosea, the Hope of HIs people in Joel, the Judge of the nations in Amos, and in Obadiah the One who warns of coming judgment. In Jonah He is the preacher of the Good News, in Micah He is the Ruler from Bethlehem. In Nahum, He is the judge of His people’s enemy, the Sovereign Lord in Habakkuk and in Zephaniah He is the God who is mighty to save. In Haggai He is the Glory of the House of God, in Zechariah He is the Royal Priest and in Malachi Jesus is the Son of Righteousness.

When you read the Old Testament, always look for Jesus, He is on every page, in every verse. Then read the New Testament with a fresh understanding of Jesus who was and is and is to come.

Is God Still Speaking?

See the source image

Sometimes God gives us exactly what we ask for. Amos was not a “professional” prophet, but he faithfully opened his mouth and spoke for Almighty God. He chastised Israel for turning away from God’s Law and disregarding and oppressing the poor. He called out those who were “complacent,” who lived in excess and ease and had no compassion for the downtrodden. Amos extended God’s hand of peace and life in calling for the people to repent and seek Him.

But they wanted no part of God – no wait, that’s not quite true. They wanted His blessing and favor. They didn’t want repentance and obedience. They rejected the word of the Lord and “commanded the prophets not to prophesy” (2:12) saying, “Do not prophesy against Israel, and stop preaching against the house of Isaac” (7:16). They told Amos to shut up. But they were really telling God to shut up because Amos was speaking the very words of the Lord. And so He did. “‘The days are coming,’ declares the Sovereign Lord, ‘when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of God” (8:11). That is terrifying. Back in Deuteronomy Moses told the people of God “[These] are not just idle words for you – they are your life” (Deut. 32:47). A famine of the words of God was life-threatening. The people of God were taken captive for seventy years, and when they were graciously allowed to return home, God was silent. They had told Him to shut up and he gave them exactly what they demanded. For four hundred years.

The Word of the Lord has been stripped from almost every public place in America. God’s people have been told to stop proclaiming God’s Word. Not just in the public square, but even in God’s own house. (No, really. Google “Governor demands to review Pastor’s sermons.”) If you speak up for truth, you will be told to sit down and shut up.

Thankfully, God did not stay silent forever. John tells us that God once again sent His Word to His people, not through prophets, but in His Son, Jesus Christ, who is “The Word made flesh” (John 1:1, 14). He still speaks and His message is this: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Oh, hear the Word of the Lord. He is speaking to you, Beloved.

Is the United States in the Bible?

Amos. If the United States was anywhere in the Bible it is here. God  called out the arrogance and sin of the people of Israel – calling the wealthy women who oppress the poor “cows” (Amos 4:1)  He declared that “the time will surely come” when the godless nation will receive their just consequences – judgement (4:2).
In chapter  3, He said he would send “an enemy [who] will overrun the land, pull down your strongholds and plunder your fortresses” “destroy the altars and tear down” the homes of the wealthy (3:11-15). Then he described the disasters and hardships He brought on them for their sin: lack of basic necessities, lack of rain when the crops needed to grow, pestilence that destroyed what little survived the drought, plagues, and the stench of death from the multitudes of rotting corpses. Despite all that He declared: “Yet you have not returned to me” (4:6,8,10,11) Does any of that sound familiar?
Then He said the most frightening words of all, “Prepare to meet your God.” But first He offered an olive branch and a second chance with a call to repentance: “Seek me and live” (5:4,6). He called to Israel “Seek good, not evil, that you may life. Hate evil, love good; then the Lord Almighty will have mercy” (5:14, 15).
Oh, Christian pray that it’s not too late for the United States. Pray that the disasters that the country is facing – COVID 19, political and social unrest, hate and anger, destruction of public, religious, and private property, and all rest – will cause us to repent and to “seek God and live.”  Otherwise, as I glance ahead in Amos, the worst is yet to come.
Hold fast to what is good Beloved. Hold fast to holiness and righteousness. Hold fast to God. He is your only hope.
But what a hope He is!