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Wednesday, April 24 2013
The Messiah and His Prophet
The Messiah (see A History Of Jerusalem: The Coming Of The Messiah and Appearances Of The LORD God), Who was born as Jesus of Nazareth (or other renderings, into all of the tongues, which means languages, of humanity; see The Word Of God In The Tongues Of Man and What Did The Messiah Say About Gentiles?), was born as an ordinary man - no different than any other human, except that He was born sinless and stayed that way for His entire human lifetime (see Who Were The Three Sinless People?).
"53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him [see also Who's Hiding On Your Wall?]. 53:3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 53:4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:2-5 KJV)
The Ministry of the Messiah was introduced by a prophet named John, more popularly known as John the Baptist. John's ministry (see the Fact Finder question below) became so popular that some thought, and suggested, that John was the prophesied Messiah to come. John always and very quickly set the record straight about that:
"3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom [see The Birth Of The Bride and the Church series of studies beginning with The Church In The Garden]: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:27-30 KJV)
The Messiah and the prophet John nevertheless shared a number of similarities, just as they had some important differences e.g. Jesus was a Jew (see Who Were The First Jews? and A History Of Jerusalem: The City Of David), while John was a Levite - the Israelite tribe that were given the responsibility to serve the High Priest (see The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood). The ultimate High Priest was the Messiah, so John being a Levite, the son of a Temple-serving Levite (John's father was a righteous man, unlike many of the others who had by then taken over the Temple for their religion) was a perfect choice.
"And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways; To give knowledge of salvation unto His people by the remission of their sins"
The first similarity between the Messiah and John involved their births. Both of them were the product of a miraculous conception - Jesus by means of a miraculous supernatural conception of a young virgin, John by means of a miraculous natural conception of a childless woman who was by then beyond the age of having children. At the time of the birth of their first child, the mother of the Messiah was a teenager, while the mother of John, as well as his father, were both "well stricken in years."
"1:5 There was in the days of Herod [see A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty], the king of Judaea, a certain priest named Zacharias, of the course of Abia: and his wife was of the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elisabeth. 1:6 And they were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless. 1:7 And they had no child, because that Elisabeth was barren, and they both were now well stricken in years.
The angel Gabriel appeared to both Elizabeth (John was born a few months before Jesus) and Mary - who already knew each other as family i.e. "thy cousin Elisabeth." Jesus and John were inter-tribal cousins (just as were Jesus and another prominent John - the apostle John; see Cousins John).
"1:26 And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth [see Why Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth And Capernaum? and The Hill Of Nazareth], 1:27 To a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. 1:28 And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.
John's father was a righteous Levite (see How Did The Messiah's Levite Priesthood Change? and No Levites In The Lost Ten Tribes?) who served on a rotating basis at the Temple in Jerusalem ("he executed the priest's office before God in the order of his course"; see also The Origin Of The Levite Priesthood). His home however was in a nearby city in the hill country of Judea ("Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth"). John was raised in the south, in primarily Hebrew-speaking Judea, while Jesus was raised in the north, in primarily Aramaic-speaking Galilee (see The Syrian Tongue Of Jesus) - the reason that people in Judea could recognize people from Galilee by their accent e.g. "26:73 And after a while came unto him they that stood by, and said to Peter, Surely thou also art one of them; for thy speech bewrayeth thee" (Matthew 26:73 KJV)
"1:39 And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 1:40 And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 1:41 And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 1:42 And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 1:43 And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 1:44 For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 1:45 And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
Jesus and John were both given their names by the LORD, as proclaimed by the angel Gabriel: "1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John" (Luke 1:13 KJV) and "1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins" (Matthew 1:21 KJV).
"1:57 Now Elisabeth's full time came that she should be delivered; and she brought forth a son. 1:58 And her neighbours and her cousins heard how the Lord had showed great mercy upon her; and they rejoiced with her.
The human father of the Messiah and the father of the prophet John were different in background. Zacharias was a southern Levite who worked at the Temple, while Joseph was a northern Jew who worked as a builder. Those differences made no difference in that both were extremely righteous men.
"1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
The "working man" Joseph, in contrast to the scholar Zacharias, was nevertheless of royal blood - a Jew of the line of King David. When the Roman imperial government (see A History Of Jerusalem: Pompey And The Caesars and A History Of Jerusalem: The Herodian Dynasty) dictated that a tax census was to be conducted (see also Does Rome Have Christ's Birth Certificate?), although he was by then a man of the north, Joseph returned to his ancestral home town in the south - Bethlehem. The LORD brought it about; He was then born there, according to prophecy (see Why Bethlehem, Egypt, Nazareth And Capernaum?).
"2:1 And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed. 2:2 (And this taxing was first made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria.) 2:3 And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
The coming of the "Magi" was a matter of an official representative recognition and worship of the Messiah by the "gentile" world (see Why Did The Magi Come?). It resulted in the Roman dictator of Judea committing an act of genocide and infanticide against "all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men." John the Baptist barely missed being included in that slaughter - for one, or both possible reasons. Being a few months older, John may have just exceeded the two year limit, "from two years old and under. As well, the town in which they lived, although not far from Bethlehem, must have been just outside "Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof."
"2:11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. 2:12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.
With their mothers so well known to each other (as we read above, Mary and Elizabeth had lengthy visits together), it's virtually certain that Jesus and John knew each other as children. While they lived far apart through the year, there were times when they could easily have visited - such as the famous incident when Jesus remained at the Temple during Passover, where John's father was a serving Levite.
"2:41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. 2:42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. 2:43 And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. 2:44 But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. 2:45 And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. 2:46 And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. 2:47 And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. 2:48 And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.
Fact Finder: By the definition of John's ministry ("to prepare the way"), what happened to John's disciples after he was killed?
This Day In History, April 24
1479 BC: Thutmose III ascended to the throne of Egypt.
1184 BC: The traditional date of the fall of Troy.
1533: William the Silent, prince of Orange, was born. He led the revolution against Spanish rule and helped create an independent Netherlands.
1547: Holy Roman Emperor Charles V defeated the Protestants at Muehlberg, near Leipzig, Germany (see The Holy Roman Empire).
1558: Mary Queen of Scots, at age 16, married the dauphin of France, the future Francois II.
1877: Russia declared war on the Ottoman Empire (listen to our Sermon The Ottoman Empire).
1884: Otto von Bismarck cabled Capetown to inform them that South Africa was then a German colony.
1898: Spain declared war on the United States after receiving a U.S. ultimatum to withdraw from Cuba.
1906: William Joyce, U.S.-born British Nazi collaborator during the Second World War, was born. He broadcast German propaganda to Britain, where he earned the nickname "Lord Haw-Haw." He was later hanged for treason.
1916: Ernest Shackleton, along with five men of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition, began a rescue, from uninhabited Elephant Island in the Southern Ocean, of the ice-trapped ship Endurance.
1916: The Easter Rising in Dublin, an insurrection aimed at setting up an Irish Republic, began.
1918: During the First World War, the first tank-to-tank combat, at Villers-Bretonneux, France; British Mark IVs versus German A7Vs.
1921: The Tyrol region of central Europe voted for union with Germany.
1932: Nazis made German election gains in Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and Hamburg (see Presidential Quotes On War, Terrorism, Religion).
1945: Allied troops liberated the Dachau concentration camp.
1950: The Kingdom of Jordan was formed by the union of Jordanian-occupied Palestine and the Kingdom of Transjordan ("Transjordan" means across the Jordan; see also Beyond Jordan).
1953: Winston Churchill was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II.
1957: The Suez Canal was reopened after UNEF peacekeepers entered the region.
1967: Soviet cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov was killed when his spacecraft crashed in Russia after 17 orbits of the earth.
1980: Eight U.S. servicemen died in Operation Eagle Claw, an attempt by President Jimmy Carter to rescue the Iran hostages.
1981: The "IBM Personal Computer" was introduced.
1986: The Duchess of Windsor, born in the U.S. as Wallis Warfield, died at age 89. Her marriage, as a divorced woman, to King Edward VIII led to his abdication in 1936.
1990: The Hubble Space Telescope was launched into earth orbit.
1990: West and East Germany agreed to merge their currency and economies on the next July 1.
1992: Scientists working with the COBE satellite announced that their data showed hot and cold "ripples" in space which indicated proof of the "big bang". Stephen Hawking called it "the discovery of the century, if not all time." Project leader George Smoot said, "If you are religious, it's like looking at God."
1996: Russian President Boris Yeltsin met Chinese President Jiang Zemin at the start of a visit to Beijing hailed by both sides as signaling a new relationship between them.
2005: Joseph Ratzinger became the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church, taking the name Pope Benedict XVI.