Taking the Epistle

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Tag Archives: Elijah

Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part one) – Matthew 3:1-12 – 02/17/2016

Matthew 3:1 (ESV) In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse one of chapter three.

V1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew now moves on from his narrative away from the childhood of Jesus and leaves that account with Jesus growing up in Nazareth in the last article in this series (link here) and begins looking at the child who was promised of Zechariah and Elizabeth called “John the Baptist” so let’s look at who he was. We are introduced to the foretelling of the baby John in the gospel of Luke…

Luke 1: 5 (ESV) In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. 8 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” 18 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” 19 And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news. 20 And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” 21 And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. 22 And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. 23 And when his time of service was ended, he went to his home. 24 After these days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she kept herself hidden, saying, 25 “Thus the Lord has done for me in the days when he looked on me, to take away my reproach among people.”

So we understand this baby will come and grow into a man who will have the “Spirit of Elijah” Luke carries on in the first chapter of Luke when he accounts of the birth of John the Baptist and a prophecy by his father…

Luke 1:57 (ESV) Now the time came for Elizabeth to give birth, and she bore a son. 58 And her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown great mercy to her, and they rejoiced with her. 59 And on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child. And they would have called him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother answered, “No; he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “None of your relatives is called by this name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, inquiring what he wanted him to be called. 63 And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered. 64 And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God. 65 And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea, 66 and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.

Zechariah’s Prophecy

Luke 1:67 (ESV) And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, 68 “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people 69 and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David, 70 as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old, 71 that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; 72 to show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, 73 the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us 74 that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear, 75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days. 76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, 77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high 79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” 80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.

And here is where we carry on the story in Matthews Gospel and John’s message was not one of hearts and flowers and if modern day folks who examine preachers and assess whether their message would be very “seeker friendly” would find John wanting. John had a simple message because he knew his role in ushering in the Messiah. It was his job to call whoever would listen to repentance, but not repentance for the sake of John, he was requesting a true repentance of the heart and a turning back to God for all people.

His message was so in unison with his messiahs mission that his first words were the same as Jesus, both started their missions calling the ones who had gathered to listen to “repent” and that gives an indication of how far the world had sunk away from God’s plan. That message is still relevant today because we need to lose ourselves and seek the Lord while he may be found and to call upon him while he is near.

John states this by saying “for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” and that is just as true today than it was then, Jesus is coming again soon and the anticipation of that second coming of the Messiah should excite us to continue our kingdom work down here. John’s main message was not the repent, but he reason for the repentance.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will look at part two of the introduction to John the Baptist where we pick up in verse three and see what John actually preaches and the heart behind that, I would hate for you to miss it and the riches that will be revealed in that bible study. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
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TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

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TTE Advent Calendar Day Ten – December 10th

Thank you for reading our tenth installment of our advent series, please check out our advent page for more articles in this series.

Thank you for reading this article today; this is part of an advent series where we examine prophetic claims that Jesus Christ was the messiah. Today we look at a claim that is not actually about Jesus himself but that he would be preceded by a forerunner. Let us look at the prophecy in the book of Malachi…

Malachi 4:5 (ESV) Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

It is no mistake or error that the closing words of the Old Testament proclaim that one will be sent to redeem Israel and you will know that it is him because he has a forerunner. (In comparison the New Testament finishes by speaking of the grace of Christ Jesus.)

This prophecy has two fulfillments, the first of which was fulfilled in the book of Matthew chapter eleven, Mark chapter 9 and Luke chapter 1. This fulfillment was in the body of the person we know in history as John the Baptist.

No one greater than John the Baptist

Let’s look at the text in the gospel of Matthew…

Matthew 11:11 (ESV) Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. 12 From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, 14 and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come. 15 He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Jesus was the one saying these words. He advised that “no one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist” he said these words because although Jesus was born of a woman, he was not conceived in the natural sense. (We will see what happened here in Luke 1 later in the article)

Jesus gives confirmation that he is Elijah to come (v14) this is an answer in a way to the question that was posed to John the Baptist at the beginning of the chapter when his disciples asked “are you the one?”

John was great in the eyes of the LORD but to give him his place in the kingdom of heaven, the least were greater than he. In verse 13 we get a vital piece of information into who Jesus is. Up until that point, all the prophets had stated “The messiah is coming” but John could say “The messiah is here”. Does this tell you who the messiah is? it is of course Jesus Christ.

Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must suffer?

Let’s look at the gospel of Mark

Mark 9:11 (ESV) And they asked him, “Why do the scribes say that first Elijah must come?” 12 And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written of him.”

Peter James and John had just had the mountain top experience to beat all mountain top experiences. They got a face to face audience with Jesus in all of his glory, with Elijah and Moses. God spoke to them, told them who Jesus was and that he was well pleased in his son’s mission.

Now they have questions, they know they are talking to the messiah and they quote the earlier verse in Malachi so they asked “where is Elijah?” So Jesus answers in the same way this article did, he advises of the two comings, that Elijah does come first to restore all things (prior to the second coming) that the Son of Man must suffer, which he was heading to do so on the cross at Calvary and concludes by stating that Elijah had come as John the Baptist, and he was killed by Herod. John came and ministered in the spirit of Elijah.

Who was John the Baptist?

Let’s look at the back story of John the Baptist in the book of Luke.

Luke 1:8 (ESV) Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. 11 And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. 12 And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. 13 But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. 14 And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, 15 for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. 16 And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, 17 and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

We meet Johns father and mother, Elizabeth was barren and God was about to bless them in a way far beyond anything they would have prayed for. John’s father was of the correct lineage and served in the priesthood and we read that he was a faithful man. We read that because of the amount of priests it was done by division and by lot and it fell to him to be given the task to burn incense unto the LORD.

Can you imagine what a day this was for him, he had been waiting so long to serve in this way. Dependent on the amount of worthy priests, this might be a once in a lifetime opportunity.

I know that when I get to serve in certain ways for the LORD I do get pumped about it, I enjoy conveying God’s word and I always look forward to sharing. I am inspired when I read of this man’s life and see how faithful he was.

You can wonder about a lot of things in this situation, you wonder if he had been asking other priests what it was like back there, wondered if the LORD had a word for him in his life, wondered if he was worthy enough, you can imagine all sorts of things.

To offer the incense was seen as the most privileged position, he would be in the face of God whilst everyone else gathered and prayed from before dawn. He was in there alone in front but on the other side of the holy of holies (I mean that he hadn’t entered this) He was in the inner sanctum of the temple, about as close as a man would get to the altar.

Whilst the nation was in prayer (Could we learn something from this?) An Angel of the LORD came and spoke to him. We know he would have been praying for the nation, for himself, for a coming Messiah, to rid the land of the Romans, who knows? What we do know is that in his heart was the yearning to be a father. We read that “your prayer had been heard” and then he proceeded to advise that he would be a father and his son would be called John.

I love that the Bible is so honest, if I was face to face with an angel in that situation I think I would be scared also, something tells me he was freaking out. I am learning from this that despite how “veteran” we think our Christianity is, we can sometimes be surprised when God shows up. We shouldn’t be, but sometimes we are.

Here is a list of what he was told:

1) He would father a son called John
2) He will be great before the LORD
3) He would not drink wine or strong drink
4) He would be filled from the Holy Spirit from his mother’s womb
5) He would turn many back to the LORD
6) He would have the spirit and power of Elijah
7) He would prepare the way of the LORD

Future prophetic meaning

We have to realize that it is one messiah and he will come twice, once to be the “suffering servant and the second time when he comes back to judge the world. It is truly one messiah and two comings. Let’s look at the book of Revelation chapter eleven.

Revelation 11:1 (ESV) Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, “Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship there, 2 but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months. 3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 And if anyone would harm them, fire pours from their mouth and consumes their foes. If anyone would harm them, this is how he is doomed to be killed. 6 They have the power to shut the sky, that no rain may fall during the days of their prophesying, and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague, as often as they desire. 7 And when they have finished their testimony, the beast that rises from the bottomless pit will make war on them and conquer them and kill them, 8 and their dead bodies will lie in the street of the great city that symbolically is called Sodom and Egypt, where their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb, 10 and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth. 11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood up on their feet, and great fear fell on those who saw them.

Elijah will return as part of the “two witnesses” who will prophesy for 1260 days prior to the second coming of the messiah. This is some feat as the world will at that point be so anti-God and the witnesses will be attacked, mocked and ridiculed. This will be why they are given tools to defend themselves. They will have power and protection from God until that time is elapsed.

Once that time is elapsed, there will be no time wasted in killing them; this will bring great rejoicing amongst those who are following the beast. They will not be buried, they will lay there for 3 and a half days and then God will raise them up. Can you imagine the stir that would cause?

This has been a long article and I apologize for the length, however it was on my heart that I needed to cover this in this way, my hope is that you find something in this article that strengthens your faith, renews your faith or sparks an interest in investigating whether Christ was indeed the messiah. Should you have any questions then please contact me or comment below.

God bless you one and all, I thank you for reading this article. Please share, comment or like below as the LORD leads you too.
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TTE