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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Creation to Eternity - Part IV.

God - The Book Part IV.
Creation To Eternity

Prophets Describe the Savior

After forty years in the desert, the Israelites, known also as Jews, entered the promised land of Canaan. Although the inhabitants of Canaan knew of God's mighty miracles for the Jews, they rejected Jehovah as God, and fought against the Children of Israel. But God protected the Jews as they resettled in the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Once a year the appointed High Priest went behind a sacred veil which separated the people from the Holy presence of God.

The Lord ordained priests to oversee the animal sacrifices and to lead in worship. There the priest represented the whole nation before the Lord.

After many years, the Israelites crowned a king, David, whom God called,  "A man after my own heart."

God spoke to the Jews through David and other godly men, called prophets, reminding them to be holy as a witness to all nations. When the Israelites sinned, the Lord warned Israel through these prophets, that if they continued to sin, He would allow a foreign nation to overrun their country.

In spite of these warnings, Israel was disobedient and rebelled against God, rejecting His laws and killing the prophets who testified against them.

Finally, after eight hundred years of rebellion, Israel was taken out of her own land and was made captive in the nations of Assyria and Babylon.

But God continued to speak through prophets during the Jews' captivity. Some of the messages were calls to repentance, while others were prophecies about the Savior who would come to rescue sinful mankind.

The prophet Micah foretold the exact city where the Savior would be born and described His eternal nature saying, "Out of Bethlehem shall the one come who will rule in Israel, whose existence is from old, from everlasting."

God even revealed that the coming Savior would descend from the royal line of David. Through the writings of the prophet Malachi, the Lord described a special messenger who would announce the coming Savior and prepare the people to receive Him.

Prophets Describe the Savior (Part 2)

Zechariah prophesied, "O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, your King comes to you: He is righteous and has salvation; humble, and riding on the foal of an donkey."

King David described how the Savior Himself would know in advance that one of His close friends, with whom He ate bread, would betray Him.

And Zechariah even recorded that the price of the betrayal would be thirty pieces of silver.

'Jesus was whipped, tortured, and then crucified, for our sins".

Through the prophet Isaiah, God foretold that the coming Savior would be tortured, by whipping, and that His face would be spat upon.

David described the method of execution as "piercing the Savior's hands and feet, yet not breaking any of His bones."

That the Savior would say, "My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?", and that onlookers would laugh and ridicule the Savior, saying, "He believed that the Lord would deliver him."

David also wrote that "the Savior's bones would be out of joint and in His thirst He would be given vinegar to drink," and that the Savior's persecutors would "divide His clothes among them, and gamble for His

Isaiah said that onlookers would be "astonished" when they saw how the Savior's face was disfigured from the torture.

The prophecies in God's book even describe how one day, David's descendants, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, would "look at the Savior whom they had pierced."

And all this was written in the Scriptures many hundreds of years before the Savior came.

The Ministry of Jesus Christ

After seventy years of captivity, the Lord allowed His people to come back to the land of Israel. Only a small group chose to return, but they as well as Jews elsewhere, still lived under the rule of other nations...

Five hundred years later, when Rome ruled Israel, two young Jews named Joseph and Mary, both descendants of the royal line of David, planned to marry. But before they came together, Mary became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit of God.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Joseph, Don't worry about taking Mary as your wife: for the child in her was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The child is the Son of God. And when she gives birth to this son, you must name Him 'Jesus', which means Savior, for He will save His people from their sins."

This happened as the prophet Isaiah had foretold, The Lord Himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin will bare a son, and they will call Him Emmanuel, which means God with us."

In a city called Bethlehem, Jesus was born in a stable. 

Joseph and Mary had to travel to the city of Bethlehem for a census and to pay taxes. And while there, Mary gave birth to her firstborn son whom they named Jesus. So, as prophesied, Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a descendant of King David.

And in the same country, there were shepherds watching over their flocks at night. And the angel of the Lord came to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were very frightened. Then the angel said, "Don't be afraid: for I bring good news of great joy, for all people. Today a Savior was born for you which is Christ the Lord."

And the child grew, becoming strong in spirit; and the grace of God was on Him. Jesus matured, increasing in wisdom and in favor with God and man.

Jesus Grows in Grace and Spirit

Now when Jesus was about thirty years of age, a man named John the Baptist came preaching and baptizing in the wilderness, saying, "Repent: Prepare yourselves for the Lord."

John was the messenger the prophets had foretold would announce the coming of the Savior. Then Jesus came to the Jordan river to be baptized by John. And when John saw Jesus coming, he said, "Behold, the Lamb of God, which takes away the sin of the world."

And Jesus, when He was baptized, went up out of the water, and the heavens opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descend like a dove and light on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."

Then, after Jesus spent forty days in the desert, Satan, who had successfully tempted Eve in the Garden, tried ways of tempting Jesus - but Jesus would not sin.

Finally, Satan took Jesus to an especially high mountain, and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. Then Satan said, "All these things I will give to you, if you will fall down and worship me."

Jesus answered, "Get away from me, Satan: because God has written that, you shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve."

While Jesus, the son of God, lived on earth in the form of a man, He was tempted in all the same ways we are, yet He never sinned.

So, where Adam failed, Jesus succeeded. This showed that Jesus indeed could be the Savior of mankind--the lamb sent from God.

Jesus revealed himself as the promised Savior in many ways, including performing countless miracles. At a wedding feast, He changed water into wine. He healed a man who had been lame for thirty-eight years.

Jesus cured a man with Leprosy, saying, "Be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him.  A man full of leprosy - an untouchable - saw Jesus and fell on his face, saying, "Lord, if You want to, You can make me clean."

Jesus then reached out his hand and touched him, saying, "Be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him.

Jesus brought sight to a man who had been blind from birth.

One woman, who for twelve years had a disease which doctors could not heal, reached out and touched Jesus' robe. He turned, saying, "Daughter, be comforted. Your faith has made you well; go in peace."

Those suffering from different kinds of diseases were brought to Him, and He healed them all.

Jesus called twelve men together, asking them to follow Him. He gave them power and authority over devils, and He sent these disciples out to preach about the kingdom of God, and to heal the sick.

His fame went everywhere, and great crowds came together to hear Him teach and to be healed of their diseases.

When a gathering of five thousand people needed food, Jesus prayed over a young boy's lunch of bread and fish. The food was miraculously multiplied, so that it fed the whole throng, with twelve baskets left over.

But the people kept asking for more proof that Jesus was from God. They said, "Our forefathers ate manna in the desert. It is written in the Scriptures, He gave them bread from heaven to eat."

Jesus replied, "The bread of God is He who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."

The people said, "Lord, give us this bread all the time."

Jesus answered, "I am the bread of life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger; he that believes on Me shall never thirst." Jesus prophesied that He must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and then be raised from the dead on the third day.

Most of the religious and political leaders rejected Jesus' teaching. However, one, a Pharisee called Nicodemus, came to Jesus at night, seeking truth.

Jesus told him, "Unless a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

Nicodemus asked, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter his mother's womb a second time and be born?"

Jesus explained, "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. You should not be so amazed that I said, "You must be born again."

Nicodemus said to Him, "How can these things be?"

Jesus scolded him for teaching others about religion when he didn't understand spiritual truths himself. Then Jesus explained spiritual birth. "For God loved the world so much that He gave His only begotten Son,
that who ever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world; He sent Him so that the world might be saved.

The real condemnation is this: light came into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil. He who believes on the Son has everlasting life: and he who does not believe on the Son, shall not see life; but the wrath of God remains on him."

Finally Nicodemus understood and believed.

To a foreign woman, Jesus said, "Whoever drinks the water that I give shall never thirst; it shall be a well of water within him, springing up into everlasting life."

The woman said, "I know that the Messiah will come, who will be called Christ. When He comes, He will tell us everything."

Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am that Messiah."

Later, Jesus taught the people, saying, "If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and follow Me. For what does it benefit a person if he gains the wealth of the whole world and loses his own soul?

Watch out! Beware of greed: for a person's life does not consist in the abundance of the things which he owns, for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."

Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting, and said, "What are we going to do? This man is performing so many miracles. If we let Him continue, everyone will believe on Him: and then the Romans revoke our right to control the people."

Meanwhile, Jesus taught with great authority. He went into the temple and threw out the merchants who were inside, buying and selling. He said to them, "It is written in the Scriptures, My house is the house of prayer: but you have made it a den of thieves."

And He taught saying, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who believes on the Son may have everlasting life, and I will raise up from the grave those who believe. But there are some of you who do not believe. Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that did not believe, and who would betray Him.

So there was a split among the people because of Him. Among the chief rulers, many believed on Him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess their belief since they were afraid they might be expelled
from their religious meeting places. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Jesus taught, saying, "I am the light of the world: whoever follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."  Most of the religious leaders looked for a way to destroy Jesus, but could not find one, because all the people were anxious to hear Him when He spoke.

Jesus continued teaching in the Temple, saying, "I am the light of the world: whoever follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

And He said to those who believed on Him, "If you continue living as I tell you, then you are indeed My disciples. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. If the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. I am the door; if any man comes to God through Me, he shall be saved. I am the Good Shepherd: the Good Shepherd gives his life for the sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man snatch them out of My hand."

After three years of teaching, Jesus instructed His disciples to bring Him a certain young donkey, one that had never been ridden, and He sat on it. Then as He rode toward Jerusalem, a huge crowd began to rejoice and loudly praise God for all the mighty works which they had seen.

They called out, "Hosanna! Blessed be the King that comes in the name of the Lord: peace in heaven, and glory in the highest."

But when Jesus neared the city, he looked at it and cried over it because the people still did not recognize him as the promised Savior.

Satan entered into Judas, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, and Judas betrayed Jesus.   

Then Satan entered into Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus' twelve disciples, and Judas conspired with the chief priests and captains about how he might betray Jesus. They were glad, and agreed to give him thirty pieces of silver to inform them of a time and a place they could capture Jesus when there were no crowds around Him.

Jesus knew that His hour to die had come, so He gathered His disciples together for a Passover dinner. As they ate, Jesus took bread, blessed it, broke it, gave it to them, saying, "Take, eat: this is My body, broken for you. This do in remembrance of Me."

And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks, he gave it to them; and they all drank. And He said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. But I say unto you, I will not any more drink of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it again with you in My Father's kingdom."

Jesus said, "Don't let yourselves be upset: you believe in God, believe also in Me. In my Father's house are many mansions, and I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again to get you, so that you can be with Me. And you know where I am going and you know the way to get there."

But Thomas said, "Lord, we don't know where you're going, so how could we know the way?"

Jesus answered, "I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father except through me."

That evening, Jesus also warned the disciples of difficult times to come. He said, "If the world hates you, remember that it hated Me before it hated you. He that hates Me, hates My Father also."