Tag Archives: prophecy

Fingerprints of Jesus

One of Isaiah’s prophetic descriptions of Jesus, written 700 years in advance, seems to be overlooked by many who claim to be advancing His work.  Isaiah’s batting average with details from the future was astonishing; there is no reason to think he got this one wrong.  He describes the style with which Jesus would accomplish His work:

He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law.  (Isaiah 42:2-4)

The work of Jesus will be:

  • Quiet
  • Gentle
  • Relentless
  • Completely successful

Jesus clearly stated that not everyone claiming to be doing His work really was.  If you want to identify His work, look for those fingerprints. You won’t find them amidst the violent, flashy, noisy or manipulative.  His work advances steadily and quietly, one soul at a time, like candlelight passed from one to another.  And it has not stopped or even faltered in all these years.

Forever

Geoffrey Wilkinson, George Henderson and Mark Frankel.  Do you know thesse names or what they have in common?  Geoffrey was a world renowned chemist.  George, a priest and politician.  Mark was an actor who played “Leon the Pig Farmer.”  They all died 20 years ago today, September 26, 1996.  How did you do?  Me neither.  Twenty years after you die, maybe your family will remember who you were but the chances of much more of a lingering impact are slim.

Isaiah wrote:

6 A voice says, “Cry!”
And I said, “What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass. (Isaiah 40:6-7)

But he wrote those words 2700 years ago in a country about the size of Rhode Island that was on the verge of being conquered and exiled!  And you know his name and can almost certainly quote or paraphrase some of what he wrote.  Try it; fill in the blank:  “The people walking in darkness have _____________.”   Or, “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given and the government will be on __________.”    See what I mean?  What are the odds?

Of course, the reason Isaiah’s work has been preserved and is widely known is because it is in the Bible.  That’s because, over the centuries, it has stood the test.  He accurately prophesied the rise and fall of kingdoms in the Middle East (try that today!) and the exile and eventual release of the Jewish people, well over 100 years before it happened.  Most significantly, he foretold the coming of Jesus with amazing accuracy and clarity.  The only explanation is that Isaiah was writing God’s words.

Including these next lines from the quote above:

8 The grass withers and the flowers fall,
but the word of our God endures forever.”   (Isaiah 40:8)

Yes, it does.

In Plain Sight

“Have you lost your mind?”  If the judge asks you that, your trial isn’t going well.  But when the king asked Paul that question during his trial, his response was simple.  He said, “You know what the prophets said would happen to the Messiah, and you were around to know what happened to Jesus.  I’m not crazy; I’m telling you things you already know are true.”  He wound up his argument with this:

For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner.    (Acts 26:26)

“This has not been done in a corner.” 

Think how unique that is.  The origins of most religions are shrouded in secrecy or are at least confined to the personal experiences of their founder.  He says, “Trust me -I had a vision; I found a book… ”  Not Jesus.  He performed His work and delivered His teaching in public, where anyone could see and hear.  When they came to arrest Him, Jesus said,

… “Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. But all this has taken place that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.”   (Matthew 26:55b-56a)

Two marks of authenticity:  1)The prophets said, “Here’s what God will do; when these things happen, you can be sure it is God’s Messiah.  2) When the events of Jesus’ life fit the pattern including His crucifixion, burial and resurrection, it was all done in public, for all to see.

Books like The DaVinci Code are based on the supposition that the Christian faith is based on a bunch of secret wisdom, carefully hidden from the gullible public.  Nonsense.  With Jesus, nothing was done in the corner.

By the way, Jesus said His second coming would be in plain sight, too.  Something to consider…

What’s Your Response?

Imagine a lush banquet with copious quantities of the best of food and drink.  That’s how God symbolically described the Kingdom He would establish.  Of course His people yearned for that Kingdom to arrive, especially since He also promised to wipe away tears and banish death forever.  If you are not familiar with that prophecy, I’ll print it below.  But in Jesus’ day, they knew it and yearned for it to be fulfilled.

So, when someone mentioned the Kingdom to Jesus, and He responded with a parable about a great banquet, the small hairs on the back of their necks stood to attention.  Making it more electrifying was the “servant” in the parable, who comes to tell people the banquet is ready.  One of Isaiah’s most common expressions for God’s Messiah was “the Servant.” (e.g. See Isaiah 42:1)

Here’s how He began the parable:

… “A man once gave a great banquet and invited many. And at the time for the banquet he sent his servant to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’  (Luke 14:16b-18)

Those who had “ears to hear” sensed that Jesus was telling them He was the Messiah-Servant, sent by God to announce the Kingdom, proclaiming “everything is now ready.”  The tragedy was that most of those who had been waiting and yearning for that announcement then decided that the busyness of their regular lives was more pressing and important than the opportunity to join God in His Kingdom for eternal life.

Don’t compound the tragedy; Jesus still speaks those same words of invitation to each of us today.  “Come, for everything is now ready.”  What is your response?  Are you wanting to be excused?  Consider carefully.

Here’s Isaiah’s prophecy:
On this mountain the Lord of hosts will make for all peoples a feast of rich food, a feast of well-aged wine, of rich food full of marrow, of aged wine well refined. And he will swallow up on this mountain the covering that is cast over all peoples, the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death forever;and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.  (Isaiah 25:6-8)

Unlikely but Certain

Shepherds near here live in rustic, tiny wagons with rounded tops.  Pretty shabby accomodations but then shepherds are on the bottom of the food chain; they don’t command per diem expense accounts in fancy hotels.  Same thing was true in biblical days: shepherds were considered to be a pretty low and sleazy lot. 

Kings, on the other hand, jet around the world in private, posh comfort and command the highest respect and fanciest privileges.  As they have for thousands of years.  (Ok, they didn’t have Lear Jets back in the Bible days, but you get the idea…)

These days, the nations surrounding Israel want to wipe her off the map and take her land for themselves.  As was also the case a few hundred years before Christ.  And, just as they were about to conquer Israel, God made this astonishing promise:

“Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us;
with a rod they strike the judge of Israel
on the cheek. But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days. Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.  (Micah 5:1-5a)

Quick paraphrase.  God said, You, Israel, are about to get wiped out by your pagan neighbors.  But after you have been destroyed and things look hopeless, I will send you a King Who will be a Shepherd to His people.  His mother will give birth to Him in Bethlehem, the least likely of places.  But eventually, His reign will be accomplished by My unlimited power.  He will incorporate people from every nation into His flock and His reign will be supreme even to the ends of the earth.  He will bring peace because He will be peace. This may seem unlikely, but it is going to happen, because I planned and ordained His coming from ancient days past.

His birth was extremely unlikely.  But it happened, just as God said it would.

His dual role as Shepherd/King seemed like a ridiculous oxymoron.  And yet He affirmed both.

Perhaps least likely of all, that anyone one man could reign supreme to the ends of the earth and bring peace.  But His reign is already being established, growing and spreading around the globe.   Unlikely, but certain. 

Running the Rapids with Jesus

Before you even get in the raft, the white water guide begins to establish his or her authority and control.  In the early stages of the float trip they work hard to make sure everyone knows what to do, practicing the commands over and over.  “Back-paddle!”  “Right turn!”  “Let’s do it again!”  Why?  White water!  There’s rapids downstream and, when they get to them, it’s too late to begin figuring out what to do.  The idea is for everyone to be alert, trained and ready to respond quickly, without panic.  Even if the raft seems about to flip.

Jesus told the folks in His raft they would eventually confront dangerous rapids.  When they asked how they could know the end of the age was approaching, He didn’t mince words.  Instead, He prepared them (and us).   You can read what He told them in the 24th Chapter of Matthew, but here are some excepts of what He said:

Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you.  For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

In other words, “When things get dicey, make sure you listen to my commands and not anyone else.”

“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. 

In other words, “When you hear the roar of the rapids, don’t freak out;  I have told you this trip winds up in white water so keep your heads.”

“Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.   –  (Matthew 24:4–13 Excerpts – NIV84)

In other words, “Don’t be surprised at how violent the rapids will seem.  You may even get tossed out of the raft.  But remember to trust me.  Do what I say and you will come through just fine.”

Human history is filled with failed attempts to make our world better as we strive for utopia.  People even held the hope that World War I would serve to end all future wars.  No matter how or what we try, we have not succeeded in eradicating evil.  As we see the rise of ISIS, Russia’s alliances with wicked dictators and nations who pledge the destruction of Israel, it might seem discouraging and frightening.

But these kinds of events have been foretold in Scripture.  Jesus never whitewashed the truth: wickedness will increase as the age continues toward the end.  But He also said,  “see to it you are not alarmed.”  And, “don’t listen to others who will lead you astray.”  And, “stand firm in your faith and you will be saved.”

His Words

Compare these two, clear statements from the Bible, written 1500 years apart:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.  –  (Deuteronomy 18:18 – Words of God to Moses, approximately 3500 years ago)

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.  –  (John 14:10 – Words of Jesus)

And then, this:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways,  but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.  –  (Hebrews 1:1–2  –  Unknown author, roughly 2000 years ago)

The reason the Bible fits perfectly together, even over the span of a millennium and a half, is because it was inspired by One Eternal Author Who knew what He would do from before the beginning.  His words have therefore been relevant in all ages, including our own.  Knowing that, pay further attention to the rest of what God told Moses about the One in Whom He would put His words:

If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account.  –  (Deuteronomy 18:19)

Probably a good idea to really listen to Jesus…