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Thursday, August 16 2012
Israel In History and Prophecy: The Messiah
"For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the LORD"
The famous "star of Bethlehem" was actually the star of Jerusalem - it led the Magi on their long journey from the East to Jerusalem (i.e. "there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem ... for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him"). The result of their inquiry was that Herod "was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him" (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty).
It was then from Jerusalem that the Word of God (consider the dual, or triple, Biblical meaning of "Word of God"; see What Does Word of God Mean To You?) directed the Magi to Bethlehem. When the "chief priests and scribes" of Jerusalem consulted the Holy Scriptures, they found the prophecy that the Messiah, who would reign from Zion / Jerusalem (the reason that the "star" led them to Jerusalem in their search for the King) would be born in Bethlehem. It was only then that the "star" turned south (i.e. the "star" made a left turn at Jerusalem) and led the Magi to the house in Bethlehem (while the shepherds of Judea visited the Messiah on the same day that He was born, while He was still in a manger, the Magi came months later, when, according to the Scriptures, the "young child" Messiah was then in a house).
While there have been numerous natural (rather than super-natural, which is natural too) interpretations of what the "star" was, any knowledgeable amateur or professional astronomer knows very well that no ordinary star, planet, comet etc. can do what that "star" (which was likely an angel) miraculously did - it led men to Jerusalem, a specific city in the Middle East, stopped and waited for them while they got advice from the experts in the Scriptures, and then turned south and led the men to a specific house in Bethlehem (i.e. "the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was").
"2:1 Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king [see also Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?], behold, there came wise men from the east [see Why Did The Magi Come?] to Jerusalem, 2:2 Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.
The Messiah's first recorded visit to Jerusalem was for the purpose of presenting Him, according to His Law (see The Rock Of The Church). While there, He was greeted by two people who knew the Holy Scriptures very well, and had the Holy Spirit to understand what was written - Simeon, to whom "it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ," and "Anna, a prophetess."
"2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called Jesus, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.
While He lived in Nazareth in Galilee, the Messiah visited Jerusalem for the Holy Days. It was while there for Passover that His famous incident at age 12 in the Temple occurred.
"2:40 And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.
"Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the Gospel of the Kingdom"
The way for the Messiah's Ministry was prepared by a Levite from Jerusalem, known to history as John the Baptist. John's father was a Temple Levite in Jerusalem i.e. Jesus was a Jew, John was a Levite (see Are Levites 'Jews'?).
"3:1 In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, 3:2 And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. 3:3 For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.
By definition, the Messiah's Ministry began when John's prepare-the-way ministry was successfully completed (see How Long Was John's Ministry?). Part of the "temptation of Christ," the key failure of Satan's existence after his rebellion, occurred in Jerusalem, at the highest point of the Temple, with Satan quoting Scripture, with perverted and malicious intent, to the Christ.
"4:1 And Jesus being full of the Holy Ghost returned from Jordan, and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness, 4:2 Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.
Even when the Messiah was not in Jerusalem, people of Jerusalem came to Him - but He always looked to Jerusalem for what it will be on the day of His Return - "the city of the great King."
"4:23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom [see the Fact Finder question below], and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people. 4:24 And his fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatic, and those that had the palsy; and he healed them. 4:25 And there followed him great multitudes of people from Galilee, and from Decapolis, and from Jerusalem, and from Judaea, and from beyond Jordan." (Matthew 4:23-25 KJV)
The opposition to the Messiah came from those who regarded themselves to be the servants of the Messiah, but who had lost sight of the reality of the Messiah by means of their own laws and traditions that in effect became their religion (which is precisely also why most Christian-professing people today don't recognize the true Christ either - see Is Your Religion Your Religion? and Is Your Church A Cult?).
"15:1 Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 15:2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread.
The "traditions of men" did not include the observance of the true Sabbath Day of the LORD (see Why Observe The True Sabbath?) or His true Christian Holy Days (Passover, the Days of Passover/Unleavened Bread, Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Eighth Day - see our Calendar of Christ's Holy Days for detailed Holy Bible studies and Sermons for each of the true Christian Holy Days). Through His entire life, the Messiah traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Holy Days. As a Jew, as stated in the verses below, Jesus of Nazareth also observed Hanukkah - which will be ultimately fulfilled, in a Christian prophetic manner, on the day of Christ's return when He cleanses the Temple of the end-time "abomination of desolation" (see A History Of Jerusalem: Abomination Of Desolation and The Prophet Daniel's View Of Hanukkah).
"7:2 Now the Jews' feast of tabernacles was at hand ... 7:14 Now about the midst of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. ... 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (John 7:2,14,37-38 KJV)
The Messiah's Ministry was, even then, to all people who could "hear" and then choose to obey Him (see also The Gospel By The Gentile). Ironically, it included Arab people from Idumaea - where Herod the Great, the "king of Jerusalem" originated (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty).
"3:6 And the Pharisees went forth, and straightway took counsel with the Herodians against him, how they might destroy him. 3:7 But Jesus withdrew himself with his disciples to the sea: and a great multitude from Galilee followed him, and from Judaea, 3:8 And from Jerusalem, and from Idumaea, and from beyond Jordan; and they about Tyre and Sidon, a great multitude, when they had heard what great things he did, came unto him." (Mark 3:6-8 KJV)
The "triumphal entry" into Jerusalem was a prophecy of Christ's future entry into Jerusalem, when all the world will say "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord."
"21:1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives [see The Ascent From Bethany], then sent Jesus two disciples, 21:2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 21:3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them.
Keeping in mind that there were no chapters and verse numbers in the original Scriptures (they were added by European printers about 15 centuries later), consider what the Messiah was talking about at the end of "chapter 23," when He made His famous "There shall not be left here one stone upon another" statement at the start of "chapter 24," "24:2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down."
"23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 23:38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. 23:39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matthew 23:37-39 KJV)
Jesus was well-familiar with the history of Jerusalem - He was there through it all (again, see The Rock Of The Church). The "abomination of desolation" of history" was a prophecy of a greater "abomination of desolation" yet to come. Notice how Matthew and Luke (Matthew was an Israelite who observed Hanukkah, while Luke was a gentile who didn't observe Hanukkah) recorded the same event with different emphasis - Matthew with "the abomination of desolation," Luke with "when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies." (again, see A History Of Jerusalem: Abomination Of Desolation).
"24:15 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) 24:16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains" (Matthew 24:15-16 KJV) "21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. 21:21 Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. 21:22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled." (Luke 21:20-22 KJV)
"Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
The Crucifixion was the greatest injustice ever done, but brought about justice for all who repent and accept the Sacrifice - even those who participated in the execution, such as the Pharisee Saul, later known as the apostle Paul (see Straight Street).
"26:57 And they that had laid hold on Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest [see Annas And Caiaphas], where the scribes and the elders were assembled." (Matthew 26:57 KJV)
After being held and abused overnight, the Messiah was delivered to "Pontius Pilate the governor."
"27:1 When the morning was come, all the chief priests and elders of the people took counsel against Jesus to put him to death: 27:2 And when they had bound him, they led him away, and delivered him to Pontius Pilate the governor." (Matthew 27:1-2 KJV)
Herod the "Great" (the only thing great about him was his evil) died when the Messiah was an infant. His dynasty continued however; Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great, saw what his father missed - the killing of the Messiah (see also The Herods). Before doing so, "Herod with his men of war set him at nought, and mocked him, and arrayed him in a gorgeous robe" (see also The Mocker's Folly).
"23:6 When Pilate heard of Galilee, he asked whether the man were a Galilaean. 23:7 And as soon as he knew that he belonged unto Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him to Herod, who himself also was at Jerusalem at that time.
After the Messiah was beaten nearly to death, a man named Simon was forced to carry His cross member (see Crossing The T) to the place of execution just outside the Jerusalem city walls. The Messiah at that time uttered another prophecy about His return, that made plain that on that day, He will be a Lion, not a Lamb i.e. "Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us."
"23:26 And as they led him away, they laid hold upon one Simon, a Cyrenian, coming out of the country, and on him they laid the cross, that he might bear it after Jesus. 23:27 And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
The place of execution was Golgotha, in Hebrew meaning "place of the skull" - likely referring to the surrounding rock formations, some of which have the appearance of a skull. The Latin version of the word, Calvaria (from which the English "Calvary" originated) means the same as the Hebrew word.
"23:32 And there were also two other, malefactors, led with him to be put to death. 23:33 And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him, and the malefactors, one on the right hand, and the other on the left. 23:34 Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. And they parted his raiment, and cast lots." (Luke 23:32-34 KJV)
The Messiah died about 3 pm ("the ninth hour" on a sundial), upon which the entire city of Jerusalem felt the effects - darkness and an earthquake. The veil of the Temple, separating the Holy Place from the Most Holy Place, was torn at that moment (see Why Was It Torn?).
"23:44 And it was about the sixth hour, and there was a darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 23:45 And the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was rent in the midst. 23:46 And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost [see Giving Up The Ghost]" (Luke 23:44-46 KJV)
The Body of the Messiah was buried in a nearby tomb at Jerusalem by Joseph of Arimathaea, and a believing Pharisee, Nicodemus (it was to Nicodemus that the famous "born again" and "John 3:16" teachings were given - see What Was The Lesson Of John 3:16?).
"23:50 And, behold, there was a man named Joseph, a counsellor; and he was a good man, and a just: 23:51 (The same had not consented to the counsel and deed of them;) he was of Arimathaea, a city of the Jews: who also himself waited for the kingdom of God. 23:52 This man went unto Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. 23:53 And he took it down, and wrapped it in linen [see also Linen In History And Prophecy], and laid it in a sepulchre that was hewn in stone, wherein never man before was laid. 23:54 And that day was the preparation, and the sabbath drew on." (Luke 23:50-54 KJV)
"I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God"
Although discovered on the first day of the week, the Resurrection occurred just before sunset on the Sabbath, exactly as required by the Word of God (see Why Observe The True Sabbath? to understand the Truth). Mary of Magdala was the first human to see, and speak with, the risen Messiah.
"20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 20:7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 20:8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 20:9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead [see Their Eyes Opened After Christ's Tomb Did].
The ascension occurred near Jerusalem, from the Mount of Olives of Jerusalem, where the Return of Jesus Christ, and (if you are a true Christian; see The Way To Salvation: Step 1), your salvation will also happen (see When And Where Your Eternal Life Will Begin).
"1:1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 1:2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 1:3 To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Fact Finder: What is the true Gospel of the coming Kingdom of God?
This Day In History, August 16
30 BC: Marcus Atonius, more popularly known today as Mark Antony, died at age 52. He was a Roman military and political leader, an associate of Julius Caesar, and lover and ally of Cleopatra (see Antony and Cleopatra).
1513: English and German forces under Henry VIII defeated the French at Guinegate, in what was called the Battle of the Spurs.
1777: France declared bankruptcy.
1812: During the War of 1812 (1812-1814), General Isaac Brock, together with native allies, attacked and captured Detroit along with U.S. General William Hull and his army. Hull, with more than 2,000 men, had retired to Fort Detroit after a failed U.S. invasion of Upper Canada (today known as Ontario). Brock was knighted for the action, however news of the award did not reach Canada until after Brock's death at the Battle of Queenston Heights in October 1812.
1868: A magnitude 8.5 earthquake in the Peru-Chile Trench in the Pacific produced a tsunami that struck the coast of Peru and Chile, killing approximately 70,000 people.
1896: Gold was discovered in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River, near the present site of Dawson, Canada; it set off what is often described as the greatest gold rush in human history.
1914: During the First World War (listen to our Sermon The European World Wars), Liege fell to the Germans after fierce Belgian resistance and heavy German casualties. On the same day, the Austrian-born Adolf Hitler (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion), who a year earlier had been rejected by the Austrian army on medical grounds, volunteered for service in a German regiment and was accepted.
1949: After 45 years of burial in Vienna, the body of Theodor Herzl was taken to Israel, according to his request that the Jewish people move him there after the creation of the State of Israel. He was buried on a ridge facing Jerusalem, bearing the name Mount Herzl (see also Anti-Zion Is Anti-Christ).
1960: Cyprus became an independent republic, with Archbishop Makarios as its first president.
1964: During the Vietnam civil war (the Vietnamese people were divided into North and South by French colonial forces in the 1950s), a U.S. backed coup overthrew South Vietnam President Duong Van Minh and replaced him with General Nguyen Khanh.
1972: Morocco's King Hassan II escaped unhurt when an airliner carrying him to Rabat was fired on by Moroccan Air Force pilots.
1989: A geomagnetic storm produced by a solar flare affected computers on earth e.g. it caused a shutdown of all trading on Toronto's stock exchange.