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Who is he – 11. Messiah’s Proclamations

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Messiah’s Proclamations

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Isaiah 61:1–11; 63:1-6

61:1 The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me;
because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and release to those who are bound;
61:2 to proclaim the year of Yahweh’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 61:3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified.
61:4 They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 61:5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. 61:6 But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men will call you the ministers of our God: you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their glory.
61:7 Instead of your shame you shall have double; and instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be to them.
61:8 “For I, Yahweh, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 61:9 Their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Yahweh has blessed.”
61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Yahweh will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”
63:2 Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat?
63:3 “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. 63:4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come. 63:5 I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. 63:6 I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

In this passage from Isaiah 61 through to Isaiah 63, we have two contrasting certainties. They can be found in Isaiah 61:2. The two certainties are “the year of Yahweh’s favour, and the day of vengeance of our God”. There will be the year of favour and the day of vengeance. The year of honour, as we shall see has already started. We don’t know when it will end, but we know that it will. The day of vengeance will be in the future sometime. Again we don’t know when that will be either. But we know it will all happen quickly, suddenly and without warning (Isaiah 60:22). Therefore people need to be ready and alert! The time of when it will occur is not known, but it is known who will end it – Almighty God.

Messiah’s Good News

The Servant Messiah speaks without being introduced this time, and is the preacher in the year of the Lord’s favour. This preaching is probably a referral to the rams horn that ushers in the Year of Jubilee as established in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 25:8-55). The Servant Messiah’s preaching will usher in a time of grace, justice and freedom – just as the ram’s horn introduced the Year of Jubilee. The phrase to “proclaim liberty” is used in both the year of Jubilee and in this the year of the Lord’s favour. This proclaimed year of the Lord’s favour starts when the Messiah comes the first time and will cease when He returns again. The word year, is not a fixed period of time as we know it, but is rather symbolic of an extended period of time. This Servant Messiah is anointed with the Holy Spirit of God. This Good News was to be preached to the humble, the poor and poor in spirit – the Good News is news of freedom, liberty, grace and justice! The comfort they will receive should the offer be taken up, is one of being released from condemnation for sin through the Messiah’s offer of forgiveness – that is grace! Because of this grace, three things will be occur for these people who have accept the offer, here referred to in Isaiah 61:3 as “trees of righteousness” : they will display or reflect the Lord God’s glory and splendour; they will be priests of the Lord God service; and will inherit all things!

Messiah’s Grace & Justice

What is the outcome and result of grace? We see it in Isaiah 61:7-9. Almighty God’s grace, available only through the Messiah, will bring bountiful blessing, ecstatic joy and a rich inheritance instead of shame, dishonour and exile. Grace may well be free but it is not cheap. What was the price? The relationship bridge to God that is the Messiah, is only through the Messiah’s suffering atonement as described in Isaiah 53. Isaiah moves to justice quite naturally therefore, for grace and justice are like twins – they go together naturally. Justice is grace in action just as much as it is the judging of those in sin (Isaiah 61:8). Liberating people from sin freely (grace) is as much a part of justice as punishing those who reject the gracious offer of pardon and continue to live sinful lives. Grace and justice are also available, because God is always full of grace and justice and this is seen in the new covenant He makes with those who have heard this Good News proclaimed by the Messiah and responded by taking up His free offer.

This Good News of the twins Grace and Justice brings an offering of thanksgiving and praise (Isaiah 61:10-11)! Clothed with salvation from and through God’s Messiah, robed with the righteousness of God’s Messiah! And because God has done it for this one man, He will ensure that all those who respond from all nations will also be like that in a responsive praise and Godly righteousness.

Messiah’s Vengeance

We have been warned in Isaiah 61:2 that not only will the Messiah usher in the year of the Lord’s favour, but He will also bring vengeance with him. People today don’t like the word vengeance because it conjures up images of maliciousness and vindictiveness. This vengeance is wrought by Almighty God as punishment for people’s personal sin against Him. His anger is a righteous anger and a wrath borne of holiness. His judgment will be final and also universal – every people of every nation of all time. In particular, however, those who would persecute, mock, abhor and reject those who have taken up God’s free offer of grace through the coming Messiah.

How is Jesus this Messiah?

In Luke 4:16-20 at the beginning of His public ministry at a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah 61. This tells us that the year of the Lord’s favour has commenced. But note from the passage in Luke, that he doesn’t quote the full scripture. He stops in the middle of reading a sentence, just as soon as He says “to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour“, rolls the scroll back up. Why does he do that? It can only be because while now until He returns, is the year of the Lord’s favour, the day of judgement and vengeance will wait until that day in the future – when those who are His followers will enter the City of God and those who rejected Him will have vengeance wrought against them.

Jesus went around, as we know, proclaiming the same Good News Isaiah writes about (Matthew 9:35, Luke 8:1). Jesus proclaimed in his words and his life about God’s love, grace and justice. When he healed the sick, forgave sins, gave compassion on the poor, spoke and ate with the outcasts, Jesus Christ embodied this message of grace, justice and freedom. When, as we saw on a previous day, death on the cross was the act of atonement required by God in order to punish the sins of the world, Jesus Christ did not shirk back from doing that.

As for the day of vengeance, nobody talked about hell and God’s judgement more than Jesus. But God is always reaching out, coaxing people to accept His free offer of grace, if people will only humble themselves and ask for it. God’s offer of freedom is still available in this the year of the Lord’s favour. But one day, the day of judgement will come and then it will be too late. That is why Jesus commanded with some urgency that His followers would tell all nations of this Good News, Isaiah wrote about. A Good News of salvation, grace, justice and freedom.

Jesus, reinforcing what Isaiah ahs said, tells us that the day of vengeance is for those who reject the Good News he preaches and lives (Matthew 10v14-15). God’s Day of Judgment is coming said Jesus (Matthew 12:36). What’s more, Jesus said in John 5:22-23 “For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn’t honour the Son doesn’t honour the Father who sent him.” Jesus claims here to openly be the Messiah, the long awaited for chosen One! An even more overt statement by Jesus on judgment can be found in John 9:39, “I came into this world for judgment, that those who don’t see may see; and that those who see may become blind.” Jesus tells us that the punishment will be both physical (Matthew 5v29-30), and in the soul (Matthew 10v28). This vengeance will consist of everlasting fire and punishment (Matthew 25v41-46) and will be Constant and outer darkness (Matthew 8v12). In other words, those rejecting the Messiah Jesus Christ, will face a lonely, impersonal God-less void. All this will happen when Jesus comes again, not as a baby like last time, but in glorious splendour.

But for all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and have grasped hold of the Good News message of grace, justice and liberty, there will be another place. According to Jesus, this heavenly city of God is only for those who are righteous (Matthew 5v20). In doing so, he concurs with Isaiah. This righteousness is not their own, but the robe righteousness declared upon them through the Messiah.

This heavenly city of God, Jesus proclaims to us is a place of ecstatic Joy (Luke 15v7-10), total peace (Luke 16v19-25) and a reward (Matthew 5v11-12) – all themes we have heard in these books of Isaiah and Zechariah.

There is one more study to come. As this is released on Christmas day, you may wonder why. My reason for doing so, was that yes we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby. Yes, His incarnation whereby God took on human flesh in the human form of Jesus Christ is important. That iw when the year of the Lord’s favour commenced. But that is only half the story, because this Jesus Christ is coming back again in splendorous glory, in order to gather all those who have responded obediently to the Good News of God’s grace, justice and freedom. For those, the heavenly city of God awaits. But for those who reject Him now, He will reject them and the day of vengeance proclaimed in Isaiah will be a terrible day. That is why even as it is now the year of the Lord’s favour; it is not too late to respond obediently to God’s free grace. It is also not too late for you, if you are already counted as one of the Lord’s followers to tell others of this free offer and the rewards of acceptance and consequences of rejection.

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Who is he – 10. Messiah’s Rejection

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Messiah’s Rejection

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Zechariah 11:1 – 17

11:1 Open your doors, Lebanon,
that the fire may devour your cedars.
11:2 Wail, fir tree, for the cedar has fallen,
because the stately ones are destroyed.
Wail, you oaks of Bashan,
for the strong forest has come down.
11:3 A voice of the wailing of the shepherds!
For their glory is destroyed: a voice of the roaring of young lions!
For the pride of the Jordan is ruined.
11:4 Thus says Yahweh my God: “Feed the flock of slaughter. 11:5 Their buyers slaughter them, and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be Yahweh, for I am rich;’ and their own shepherds don’t pity them. 11:6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land,” says Yahweh; “but, behold, I will deliver the men everyone into his neighbor’s hand, and into the hand of his king. They will strike the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.”
11:7 So I fed the flock of slaughter, especially the oppressed of the flock. I took for myself two staffs. The one I called “Favor,” and the other I called “Union,” and I fed the flock. 11:8 I cut off the three shepherds in one month; for my soul was weary of them, and their soul also loathed me. 11:9 Then I said, “I will not feed you. That which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let those who are left eat each other’s flesh.” 11:10 I took my staff Favor, and cut it apart, that I might break my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11:11 It was broken in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that listened to me knew that it was the word of Yahweh. 11:12 I said to them, “If you think it best, give me my wages; and if not, keep them.” So they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 11:13 Yahweh said to me, “Throw it to the potter, the handsome price that I was valued at by them!” I took the thirty pieces of silver, and threw them to the potter, in the house of Yahweh. 11:14 Then I cut apart my other staff, even Union, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
11:15 Yahweh said to me, “Take for yourself yet again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 11:16 For, behold, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who will not visit those who are cut off, neither will seek those who are scattered, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that which is sound; but he will eat the flesh of the fat sheep, and will tear their hoofs in pieces. 11:17 Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! The sword will be on his arm, and on his right eye. His arm will be completely withered, and his right eye will be totally blinded!”

So far in our journey we have seen that the future is glory for the Servant Messiah and all those who choose to follow Him! It is a future of hope, joy, excitement, awe, wonderment and glory. But that is only one side of the future. In Zechariah 11, we come to another part of the future; the part of the future which is for all those who would reject God’s Servant Messiah. While Zechariah talks in picture language and symbols, the overall message is startlingly clear: those who reject the Messiah, will in the future be rejected by Him! But we are not given the full details here, but rather are told the why it will happen.

Judgment is coming

Here in Zechariah 11:1-3 we see this judgement coming. The strong barriers of the door are removed! There are no barriers strong enough to escape the judgment of God Almighty. Fire will destroy the mighty cedar trees (Zechariah 11:1), tall pines will fall wantonly (Zechariah 11:2) and fertile land will be decimated as will the places where lions inhabit (Zechariah 11:3). Why are the shepherds crying out in dismay and angst? Not for the land, the trees and animals! No! They were crying out in anguish because of their loss of income! They were too busy ripping off those the people they were meant to lead, rather than leading the people rightly and righteously. They were leaders only for what they could get out of the position they held. They were corrupt, deceitful and arrogant. How were the mighty cedars destroyed and barriers broken down? History tells us that the Roman Empire swept through Lebanon, subduing the entire Lebanese leadership & independent authority under its mighty power.

The Good Shepherd

Now in Zechariah 11:4-14 we see God offering one last opportunity for the leaders of Israel to obey Almighty God. The leaders of Israel were not looking after the people. Instead they were abandoning them and looking only after themselves. These leaders, or shepherds, as they are referred to here were selling their own people into slavery of other nations and getting very rich because of it (Zechariah 11:5)! It was the height of hypocrisy because they were even praising God for their wealth achieved by disobedience, deceit and lust for money.

Zechariah is asked now to play a role – representing the Shepherd Messiah feeding the sheep (Zechariah 11:4). God issues judgment against the people of Israel, particularly the leaders, and will hand them over to their neighbours. Since the leaders showed neither pity nor mercy, neither shall God show mercy or pity on them (Zechariah 11:6).

Zechariah continues his role as the Good Shepherd, performing much the same way the Shepherd Messiah will do, when He comes. He tends to caring for the lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted. Just as we have seen earlier that the Shepherd Messiah will do. Now Zechariah takes too staffs, naming one ‘Favour’ and the other ‘Union’ (Zechariah 11:7). As part of his work, three of the false leaders or shepherds are disposed off within one month. These leaders could have been kings, priests or prophets. Disposed off, because when the Shepherd Messiah comes, He will be as we have seen a Messiah King, Messiah Priest and Messiah Prophet, all simultaneously.

But now, in Zechariah 11:8, Zechariah as the Good Shepherd is rejected! The same way that the Shepherd Messiah will be rejected as we saw in Isaiah 53.

Good Shepherd Judges

Eventually Zechariah the Good Shepherd tires of the people’s disobedience and recalcitrant attitudes and behaviour. In Zechariah 11:9-11, he says “I will not feed you. That which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let those who are left eat each other’s flesh.” I took my staff Favor, and cut it apart, that I might break my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. It was broken in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that listened to me knew that it was the word of Yahweh.” So because of the leadership’s disobedience and self-righteousness, God is stopping the covenant between them and this is symbolized by breaking the staff called ‘Favour’. God has always kept His word and was always faithful in keeping His covenants with people and Israel. But because of the Israel’s disobedience the covenant was now void and invalid. The Good Shepherd is rejected.

The Foolish Shepherd.

Now Zechariah is to play a foolish Shepherd. This foolish Shepherd has no time for people who are lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted. He is only interested in himself and his own gain. He will not look out for the sick in order to heal them or feed those who are hungry. This foolish Shepherd is the contrast of Zechariah as the Good Shepherd and of the Shepherd Messiah to come. What is the judgement upon this Foolish Shepherd? His power will be taken away and his intelligence dimmed. The staff, called ‘Union’, is broken in order to symbolize the break up of the nation of Israel into north and south.

Where is Jesus the Messiah in here?

Jesus was offended and dismayed by the behaviour of, and the active disobedience by, the leaders of Israel. He frequently told the Pharisees, Priests and other leaders that they were oppressing the poor, didn’t care for the lost, neglected orphans and widows. For example, Matthew 12:34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Or Matthew 15:3, where Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, saying “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?” Yes, Jesus spent time judging and condemning the leaders of Israel for their selfishness, deceit and dishonesty.

In contrast to the Pharisees and other religious leaders, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, did seek the lost, the orphans, widows and oppressed. He desired to spend time with them, having compassion upon them. He healed the sick, fed the masses, gave wise counsel and proclaimed love to those who were the unloved of society. Jesus when he looked over the crowds, commented that they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9v36).

Jesus said in John 10v10, that He gives His life that all those who follow Him, will have it more abundantly. Jesus as the Great Shepherd came to earth in order to bring sheep back into the fold; that is to bring people back into a full relationship with God. Jesus here in John 10, is looking ahead to His death on the cross as a means of facilitating the way for people to come back into a living relationship with God. Jesus fed people, but not only physically, but spiritually! Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd Messiah as enacted by Zechariah.

Jesus the Shepherd Messiah was rejected! Rejected by the leaders of Israel, who accused him of being demon-possessed. Rejected as He hung on a cross for the sins of the world. Rejected because of who He was – the Shepherd Messiah, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, the people of the world. Jesus, the Shepherd Messiah who is also priest, prophet and prince. Priest because He mediates between humanity and God the Father. Prophet because He spoke forth God’s word. Prince, because He is a King Messiah and is the Prince of Peace.

This Jesus, who through the Holy Spirit, beckons people to come back into relationship with God. Just as a shepherd cares for sheep and seeks any that are lost, so too does Jesus seek out those who are lost and still reject Him. One day it will be too late, and if Jesus is rejected in this life, then in the judgement to come, He will reject all those who reject Him now.

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Who is he – 9. Messiah’s Invitation

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Messiah’s Invitation

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Isaiah 55:1 – 56:8

55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. 55:2 Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 55:3 Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 55:4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples. 55:5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know; and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you, because of Yahweh your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”

55:6 Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call you on him while he is near: 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh. 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 55:10 For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 55:11 so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do. 55:12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands. 55:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” 56:1 Thus says Yahweh, “Keep justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 56:2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 56:3 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people”; neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 56:4 For thus says Yahweh, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: 56:5 to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 56:6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; 56:7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 56:8 The Lord Yahweh, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own who are gathered.”

Remember from Day 8, that we talked about the City of God to come, where all those who believe will live and worship the Lord God Almighty for ever! Who is this invitation for? This invitation to join is to all people of all races and nationalities! But they have to respond to the call!

Come, see and taste

READ verse 1″Come”, cries Almighty God through the prophet Isaiah. Come! The gates to my City are open to all who believe! There is no entry charge, its free! This food is free for all! What is this food? It is mercy and pardon. Mercy from God and pardon for sin for all those who respond to the call God has put out.

Everlasting Covenant Disclosed

This is the everlasting Covenant (Isaiah 55:5-6) or the new Covenant we have talked about and was proclaimed by other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel. Just as each of the previous covenants had a symbol to authenticate the agreement, so does this! Noah’s covenant had the rainbow, Abraham had circumcision and Moses had the sprinkling of blood. This new and everlasting Covenant will also have a sign! The sign is disclosed in 55:13 as a everlastingly transformed universe! Amazing! This is the climax of Isaiah so far! This is why the Messiah Servant must suffer in Isaiah 53! This new everlasting covenant does not cancel the other covenants, but rather fulfills them. The final result of the Messiah Servant’s work will be everything that Almighty God has promised and all promises of God will find their Amen in the Servant.

Everlasting Covenant Result

Because of this New Covenant, even though Israel will go into exile, they will return from it stronger. As in Isaiah 55:4-5, David was made a witness to the covenant and leader of people, so too will Israel. Once restored to the land, this Messiah Servant will come from Israel, and Israel will be used to conquer people spiritually for the Lord.

And this is no dream, hallucination or fantasy as some of the people of Israel would be thinking. But the thoughts and mind of God is so much higher than mere mortal humanity. For as Isaiah 55:8-9 states “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

Just as plants grow when rained upon, so too will Almighty God’s plans. His word has gone out and it will not return with nothing (Isaiah 55:11). His word has power to speak the universe into existence. His word will bring a restoration from exile, a redeemed creation and a renewed world (Isaiah 55:12-13). It will be a place of joy and excitement!

Come Quickly Everybody!

It is with a sense of urgency that Isaiah speaks these words of God. Decisions must be made but guest must come! The spiritual food of mercy and pardon is available to all, but the offer must be taken up! If the offer is rejected, then the consequences are disastrous for the person who does not believe. That is why the command to seek while God can be found, for there will come a time when the gates will be closed and no more admittance allowed.

Everlasting Covenant Features

What are the hallmarks of this Covenant? Two of the characteristics are justice and openness

Justice: Isaiah 5:7 tells us that God had looked for justice but found only injustice and suffering. Those who respond to this Everlasting Covenant will need to administer justice and live obedient lives. They are to do this, because God’s righteousness is about be disclosed (Isaiah 56:1). They are to live an obedient life to God, not to earn salvation, but rather as a hallmark of having agreed the New Covenant with God, to symbolize that they are God’s people.

Openness: This offer is open to all! Just as the nation of Israel was always meant to be a light of God to the nations, so too are the people of the New Covenant. They are to be a light to every nation of God’s goodness and glory, extending an invitation to all to join in this life of the New Covenant. They were to accept all those who chose to accept the offer of being bound to God Almighty through this New Covenant (Isaiah 56:3, 6). An obvious example is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40. This man was a eunuch from a foreign land, and according to Isaiah 56:4-7, he was to be welcomed by other acceptors of this New Covenant. All of this resulting from the Messiah Servant’s work.

Jesus as this Messiah

Lets see again from his own life and words how Jesus is this Messiah Servant.

This Jesus welcomes the burdened: Matthew 11:28-30″Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Are you burdened down with cares, stresses and strains? Come to Jesus today and let him take them..

Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then come to Jesus who offers Living Water and is the Bread of Life. John 7:37-38 Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water.” Or John 6:35 “Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Are you seeking God! Then seek! Ask! You will find! Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.”

This is Jesus who said in John 12:46 “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness”! What’s more, He said that all those who follow Him are lights to the world as well Matthew 5:14 “You are the light of the world.” That’s why Jesus gave the command in Matthew 28:18-20 for His followers to go into all the world to tell about Him.

Fulfilling the Covenants

Frequently, this Jesus said that He was to fulfill what was written. One example of this is Luke 18:31-33 He took the twelve aside, and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again.”

Primarily though is Jesus’ Words in Luke 22 whereby Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion. Luke 22:19-20 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me.” Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Christians do this regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11v26)! The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood shed on the cross. Further more it has other symbolic meanings, all of which symbolize the New Everlasting Covenant – a Covenant guaranteeing salvation! Amongst these meanings are that it

  • Symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the worldwide church in openness and integrity
  • Symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life and spiritual food.
  • We receive the benefits of His sacrifice as the Suffering Servant.

It signifies in the New Covenant for Christians to tell all others of this offer to come and join. It is also for Christians to live an obedient life to God Almighty, to love justice and be welcoming to all!

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Who is he – 7. Messiah’s Leadership

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Messiah’s Leadership

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Zechariah 10:1 – 5

10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field. 10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd. 10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle. 10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. 10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.

During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt. The Temple was central to Jewish worship. But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them? Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words. He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) “Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. “. Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them. But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.

Seek God

If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God. They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.

Turn to God

In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness. These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers. Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!! The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment! The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.

They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.

Follow Me

These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God. Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty. The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so. Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests. Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail! So who were the people of Israel to follow? They were to follow the coming Messiah. Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd! From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2)

Messiah Cares

This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.

Cornerstone: all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily. It held two walls together. The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple. If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right. The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together. Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.

Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms! This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.

Battle-bow: Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Shepherd Messiah to a battle-bow! This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep. He will battle for them. This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened.” In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied! That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father. That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.

And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Again in John 10:14-17 “I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I’m known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God’s kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.

And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear. Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit! For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 “You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world.

Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith – referring back to Isaiah 8:14. Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon. All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone! It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon. It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.

Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd. Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured! Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help! He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord! Amen! Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 “Follow Me!”, so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life. Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.

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Who is he – 6. Messiah’s Arrival

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Messiah’s Arrival

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Zechariah 9:9 – 12

9:9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9:10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow will be cut off; and he will speak peace to the nations: and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9:11 As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I have set free your prisoners from the pit in which is no water.

9:12 Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope! Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.

The King is Coming!

We have seen in Isaiah that the coming Messiah was a Servant Prophet, a Servant Disciple and a Servant King. Today we switch over to the Book of Zechariah to look at in more detail about this Servant King Messiah. Zechariah gives us a picture of how the Messiah will announce His arrival and what sort of qualities that this Servant King will have. He comes into Jerusalem on a donkey! The phrases ‘Daughter of Zion’ and ‘Daughter of Jerusalem’ are terms symbolizing God’s people who believe. It is a scene of exultation, excitement and emotion. The people recognize this man as their Messiah: their Servant-King.

Royalty: He is recognized as the long waited for king. He is “Your King” oh nation of Israel. King is either the Lord God (Isaiah 43:15) or a King from the line of David (2 Samuel 3:17). This King is both and is the definitive king of Isaiah 9:7! He is described as “yours” because this King is not a foreigner but an Israelite! But His arrival is not just for their benefit and gain as Zechariah goes on to clarify.

Righteous: In the example of Alexander the Great, we see a ruler who had great vanity, and this vanity caused him to act injudiciously at times. Alexander the Great could have been the fulfillment of the previous section of Zechariah, particularly with his marauding forces. This Kingly ruler however will reign with righteousness and justice. This Messiah King will desire to enact God’s Will in all circumstances and at all times – perfect obedience. Throughout the Old Testament, and in Isaiah as we have seen, righteousness is part of the Messiah!

Salvation: This Servant King comes with salvation and saving power! The Messiah shows Himself as one who saves and offers salvation to the people. He has come to help and restore people back into an obedient relationship with God. Again as we have seen with Isaiah who wrote about 200 years before Zechariah, righteousness and salvation are combined in the Servant King (Isaiah 45:8; 51:4).

Gentle: In this translation, the word lowly is used, but perhaps a better translation is ‘gentle’. The extended meaning of this word in Hebrew signifies one who has known suffering and sorrow, and lives a simple lifestyle. Humility is worn by this Servant King, like a crown. There is no pride in this King, but a gentle and humble spirit. This is reflected again by Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1-3, where the Servant King would endure rejection and suffering. Perhaps the greatest symbol of his gentle humility is the transportation he is on. A donkey. Donkeys were ridden by every class of people. This is to signify that this King is one of the people and arriving unassumingly.

What now?

Peace reigns: The Servant King Messiah has bought peace with Him! By this, He has established the environment in order for total peace to exist! Peace comes through people telling the good news that Isaiah talked about in Isaiah 52:7. “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” Peace with God comes only through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant King of Isaiah 53. A life of obedience to God in all those who follow this Messiah, will bring about peace between people and nations. This Messiah’s reign is not limited to Israel but all nations of the world. The second coming of the Messiah is hinted at here, but we will save that for a couple of days time.

He releases prisoners: This Messiah will release those who are enslaved to sin and are prisoners to its power. He will deliver them because of the covenant that exists between God and Israel. But this King will have a new Covenant between God and all people of all nations! Where God will live inside those who place their hope in Him. This covenant means all people can be saved and be set free from the guilt and stain of their sinful ways. They will be able to live a life of total obedience to God, by submitting themselves to this King!

How is Jesus this King?

This prophecy by Zechariah is seen as being fulfilled when as both Matthew and John recall how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

Matthew 21:1-5When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, “Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

And the scene as recalled by John in John 12:12-15 – 12:12On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!” Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, “Don’t be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey’s colt.

This is Jesus, the Messiah who was and is a gentle King, reigning righteously, offering salvation and has setup the environment for peace on earth to reign. This Jesus, who through His sacrifice on the Cross enables all people of every nation to have peace with God and have God Himself live inside them.

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Who is he – 5. Messiah’s Sacrifice

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Who is He? Messiah’s Sacrifice

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Isaiah 52:13 – 53:12

52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.

52:14 Like as many were astonished at you (his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),

52:15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.

53:1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

53:2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no good looks or majesty. When we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

53:3 He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect him.

53:4 Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted.

53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.

53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

53:7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn’t open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn’t open his mouth.

53:8 He was taken away by oppression and judgment; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living and stricken for the disobedience of my people?

53:9 They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

53:10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him. He has caused him to suffer. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand.

53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied. My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself; and he will bear their iniquities.

53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors

In the first Servant Song we saw that the Servant King will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all. In the second Servant Song it was revealed that the Servant Prophet will bring comfort to people and have compassion on the afflicted. For the third Song we saw that this Servant Disciple will live a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is attainable and that a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible. Then we saw in the last chapter that there will be a big homecoming for the people of Israel and for all nations. During the previous Servant Songs we say glimpses of the suffering this Servant who is both a King and Prophet will endure. Now in this section, this Servant Song we get the full picture of suffering and why He must suffer. This is how people will on the last day be consummated with God and attention is now back on him as 52:13 states “Behold, my servant”. Echoing previous passages of where the Servant is God’s. This is, as somebody once wrote, “the jewel in the crown of Isaiah’s theology, the focal point of his vision.” It is as if we are meant to understand that nothing that has been said before is as important as this passage. Without this passage of Scripture, none of the rest makes sense. Let us discover together why that is so.

The Servant Exalted

The beginning is an adoration of the Servant, as is the song’s finale. Sandwiched between them is the description of suffering. This servant acts and speaks with wisdom. How could He be faithful and obedient to God, if He were not wise? Not just any wisdom, but Godly wisdom which flusters and confounds mere human wisdom. This Servant will be raised up! Here Isaiah uses ecstatic language used of God Himself. And what attracts people to this Servant? Certainly not his looks, charisma or appearance for He had no outer beauty that would attract anybody. Verse 14 indicates the level of suffering the Servant will endure. Many are flabbergasted by it! Verse 15 shows the cleansing, the sprinkling indicating a sacrifice. Sprinkling needed to be done with water, oil or blood in order that people could enter into the presence of God. This cleansing, is not for Israel alone, but for all nations and people. He who was considered unclean by many humans (52:14), will be the one to cleanse many other humans from across the world. Then all accusations, and slander against the Servant will cease.

The Servant Despised

The passage now looks at the Servant through the eyes of the nation of Israel, for it is through their words and actions that others will come to know and understand about the Servant. Even though Israel is disobedient and rebellious, there are still some who fear the Lord (50:10). When those people see the full picture of what the Servant has done, then they will go naturally to tell others about it. Whereas before they would simply be witnesses about God, now they would be witnesses about the saving power of God through the Servant’s suffering, death and glorification. What of this Servant?

He had grown up like any other boy, just as a plant grows from a root in soil. As time goes on, nothing about Him is special and any promise He showed was decidedly unimpressive. The Servant will be persecuted, despised, rejected, insulted and hideous. So hideously malformed that people could not look at Him. These people considered him an implement of God’s deserved torment. That was what the witnesses were thinking.

While God ultimately crushed the Servant, it was not because the Servant deserved it. But rather the witnesses realize that they were the ones who deserved punishment and not the Servant. Just as the animals when offered as sacrifices were substitution offerings in Israel’s worship, so too was this Servant a substitutionary sacrifice. A sacrifice that through His body being pierced and his being crushed for sin, the Servant has provided a way for others to be comforted and pardoned. That way being at a cost. A cost of the Servant’s own life.

The Servant Suffers Silently

Now a solitary witness speaks out. If this is Isaiah, he was cleansed by God back in chapter 6. but what of his countrymen? How will they be cleansed and how as stray sheep will they be gathered back into relationship with God? The Servant is led to His death, just as a lamb is led to be butchered. This Servant goes quietly and obediently to certain death, through oppression and judgment. His death as an innocent Servant, and buried in the grave with the wicked and guilty. Silent.

The Servant Suprises

Now in verse 10 we have the surprise! Death is not the end of this Servant! Yes God had bruised Him and caused the Servant to suffer. But, the Servant was an offering for sin! That way the Servant will offer righteousness to all the nation. The Servant’s mission will be accomplished! God will raise this Servant from the dead and the Servant will be exalted! His sacrifice will surpass any and all previous sacrifices and be the only and final sacrifice needed! Through His death, the Servant will be able to judge righteously and enable those who follow Him to live righteously. Righteously in the sense that His knowledge and wisdom will cause many people to live new lives that are pleasing to God. A righteousness that only comes from people being in relationship with God, instead of being enemies of God.

How is Jesus this Servant?

In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian asked the question of Philip “who does the prophet speak about?” Philip replied that it was about Jesus.

Jesus Christ who grew up as Luke said “increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men.” (Luke 2:52). This Jesus who people called the son of a Nazarene carpenter and who people said “Can anything good come from Nazareh?” This Jesus who did not have anything attractive about him, but the way in which He spoke, the wisdom He imparted and the life that He lived. Jesus Christ who was betrayed by one of his closest friends. This Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, who died on a Roman Cross, after a trial where he was falsely accused, tortured and oppressed. This Jesus, who was rejected by even those closest to Him when He died. This Jesus who cried out “My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? This Jesus who even though without sin, was buried in a grave for the wicked.

This Jesus who rose victoriously from the dead 3 days later, in order to conquer death, sin and the devil. This Jesus, who ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, in the beauty of exaltation and glorification. This Jesus, who alone is the only way that people can one day enter into God’s presence when all of history is consummated. This Jesus, the suffering Servant who was a Servant King, Servant Prophet and Servant Disciple. This Jesus, who is the Lord and Saviour of the universe. This Jesus who as fully God and fully human simultaneously, is the only one who could be the full sacrifice demanded of God for the everlasting payment for sin. The Jesus who will judge with righteousness and wisdom, give all people a choice to make – be His disciple and be in a dynamic relationship with God, or go your own way and be astray from God forever.

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Who is he – 4. Messiah’s Encouragement

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Who is He?- Messiah’s Encouragement

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Isaiah 51:9-52:12

51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn’t it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? 51:10 Isn’t it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? 51:11 The ransomed of Yahweh shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 51:12 “I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; 51:13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 51:14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail. 51:15 For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar: Yahweh of Armies is his name. 51:16 I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.'”

51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of Yahweh the cup of his wrath; you have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it. 51:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she has brought forth; neither is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons who she has brought up. 51:19 These two things have happened to you. Who will bemoan you? Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword; how shall I comfort you? 51:20 Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of Yahweh, the rebuke of your God. 51:21 Therefore hear now this, you afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: 51:22 Thus says your Lord Yahweh, and your God who pleads the cause of his people, “Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering, even the bowl of the cup of my wrath; you shall no more drink it again: 51:23 and I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;’ and you have laid your back as the ground, and as the street, to those who walk over.” 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, Zion; put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. 52:2 Shake yourself from the dust! Arise, sit up, Jerusalem! Release yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion! 52:3 For thus says Yahweh, “You were sold for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money.” 52:4 For thus says the Lord Yahweh, “My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there: and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause. 52:5 “Now therefore, what do I do here,” says Yahweh, “seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them mock,” says Yahweh, “and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who speaks; behold, it is I.”

52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!” 52:8 The voice of your watchmen! they lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when Yahweh returns to Zion. 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 52:10 Yahweh has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there, touch no unclean thing! Go out of the midst of her! Cleanse yourselves, you who bear the vessels of Yahweh. 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, neither shall you go by flight: for Yahweh will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Be Encouraged People of God!

In the first few verses of chapter 51 that I didn’t read, we see that faith is nurtured by listening and hearing. People are encouraged to look back and see what God has done with just one man, Abraham! How from him came an entire nation! This bodes well for the future when all history is consummated – have faith in your God who will lead you into the next world! But for now, don’t be afraid of what other people will do – stay close to God, have faith in Him, trust Him patiently and live obedient and righteous lives. For as verse 6 states “my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.

Then we come to a mounting anticipation with baited breath. Quickly the phrase “awake awake” is repeated, as if to give a sense of urgency. The exodus from Egypt, an event remembered well by the nation of Israel and alluded to in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 51, will be surpassed by a new age of righteousness at the end of time. All those “ransomed by the Lord“, those set free by God will enter the city of God with joyous singing which will be their crown! Sorrow and sadness will no longer exist! Gladness and joy will be triumphant! Alleluia! Despite many obstacles in the way, the Lord God will reign triumphant. His Messiah, His Servant will deliver you. His Servant will be triumphant.

Wake up!

Note that the people themselves are to wake up, not the Lord God or His Servant! All that will be fulfilled is not waiting for God, but waiting for people and their spiritual inertia! It’s their unwillingness to be obedient to God that is stopping the fulfillment of history! While Isaiah is clearly eager, it seems the nation of Israel is not – they have forgotten about their awesome and Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth! So Isaiah shouts out “Wake up!!” I am your God and you are my people is to remind Israel of the covenant that exists between themselves and God! It is a covenant that signifies relationship, care and commitment! Israel may have forgotten this, but God had not! God is in the relationship, He is trustworthy and faithful, so therefore there is no need to fear! God’s commitment is faultless and worthy of obedience! This commitment deserves active obedience on the part of the people of Israel and not their overwhelming spiritual laziness. While overwhelming fear inhibits and destructs, the love of God frees. Isaiah urges them to live an active and obedient life worthy of their freedom and not a life of spiritual inertia and rebellion.

One last time, Isaiah urges action when crying “Awake! Awake!” in 52:1. Salvation is nearing and coming quickly, are you ready? Be alert, people of Israel and live as if you are the freed people of God and not as if you are rebellious captors. Be ready, just as your ancestors were the night before the Exodus from Egypt commenced. Be expectant and ready. One difference to note. With the exodus, the Israelites took what they could from the Egyptians – gold, silver, jewelry and clothing. This time, everything will be left behind.

All this bears in the mind the Servant. The Servant, who as a King dispenses justice and as a Prophet speaks for God, will usher in this new period. When Isaiah writes in 52:11 “Depart, depart, go out from there”, he must be urging people to respond to the Servant. Respond by living a holy and righteous life of obedience to God as one who is on a lifelong pilgrimage. Stop rebelling against Him and love Him who first loved them.

Where is Jesus in this?

Jesus during his earthly ministry always urged people to be active in obedience to God. Jesus comforted the lonely, oppressed, the weak and the poor. He urged people to come back into relationship with God. With a sense of urgency, He told people to be ready and alert for the day when history will end. Jesus urged his listeners to be spiritually awake. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Jesus who remarkably stated in John 8:34-36 “Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”. When Jesus Christ the Servant King comes back, He will come back like a thief in the night – with surprise! But for those who love and trust in Him, it will be a day of gladness and joy because their King will have returned to gather them. This Jesus who in Mark1:15 issued these words “”The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!” Truly we concur with Isaiah when he wrote in Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”” Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, through whom is salvation alone.

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