Tag Archives: prophecy

Today’s Scripture – April 8, 2018

Luke 19:28-38 (NIV) After Jesus had said this, he went on ahead, going up to Jerusalem. As he approached Bethphage and Bethany at the hill called the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples, saying to them, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, which no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ tell him, ‘The Lord needs it.’
Those who were sent ahead went and found it just as he had told them. As they were untying the colt, its owners asked them, “Why are you untying the colt?”
They replied, “The Lord needs it.”
They brought it to Jesus, threw their cloaks on the colt and put Jesus on it. As he went along, people spread their cloaks on the road.
When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: “Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Despite the fact that Jesus’ role as the Messiah was FAR different from what the Messiah had grown to be in the minds and hearts of the people, it must never be forgotten that He did come to fulfill that role as God had defined it over centuries. This included the combined roles of prophet, one who spoke to God’s people on His behalf; priest, one who presented the blood sacrifice before God’s throne; and king, the ruler of God’s kingdom on earth, who would rule forever.

One of the signs of the Messiah that God had given to the people through the prophet Zechariah (9:9) was the image of the Messiah coming into the city of Jerusalem in triumph on a donkey colt, as opposed to riding on a horse like a warrior. And it was now time for that sign to be fulfilled.

All lay in readiness for Jesus’ arrival. Just ahead, right on the near edge of the village of Bethany, was tied a donkey colt. Jesus instructed two of His disciples to fetch it. And when they brought it back, Jesus mounted it, and started down the Mount of Olives into the gates of Jerusalem.

The crowds going down the road into the city for the Passover was enormous, and those around Jesus, caught up in the moment, began singing Messianic verses from the Psalms, and praising God aloud for the great miracles that they had seen through Jesus’ ministry. Word quickly spread among the crows of who this was riding into the city on the donkey, and the imagery was not lost on them. They quickly took up the chants, laying branches and their own cloaks on the road ahead of Jesus as He passed by (Matthew 21:8-9).

This was a pivotal moment for the Jewish people. In fulfillment of Malachi 3:1, the Lord Himself was coming into Jerusalem to begin the process of purifying for Himself a people, the core of His kingdom. And the fate of the whole city depended on their reception of Him.

Father, unfortunately for the high priests, Pharisees, and teachers of the law, they were all blind, and could neither see who Jesus truly was, nor what He was doing by riding into Jerusalem in this fashion. And the consequences were indeed horrific: they ended up murdering the Son of God, and drawing down consequences on themselves that included death for multiplied thousands and the complete destruction of the city and the temple. Help us, Lord, to have eyes that clearly see, and hearts that quickly receive and fall into line behind You in whatever You are doing. Amen.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – March 21, 2018

Luke 18:31-34 (NIV) Jesus took the Twelve aside and told them, “We are going up to Jerusalem, and everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. They will mock him, insult him, spit on him, flog him and kill him. On the third day he will rise again.”
The disciples did not understand any of this. Its meaning was hidden from them, and they did not know what he was talking about.

If this scene was not so tragic, if there had not been so much riding on what Jesus was telling them, the incredulity of the disciples would be humorous. Events were taking place around them at a furious rate, plans were being made and attacks planned virtually in front of them, and they were completely blind to it all, focused only on the hero’s welcome that they believed was waiting for Jesus in Jerusalem.

The amazing thing is that, though they were trying hard to decode Jesus’ words to them, to dig below the surface, to decipher the deep meaning of what He was saying, Jesus wasn’t speaking in code. He was laying His meaning right on the surface, accessible to anyone who would simply listen.

They were headed up to Jerusalem, and would get there later that day, before sunset. And when they got there, all of the events prophesied for the suffering and death of the Messiah would quickly unroll, just as He had been teaching them over the last several weeks. And, in case they hadn’t been paying attention (they hadn’t), He laid it all out for them in a nutshell: He would be handed over to the Romans, who would mock Him, insult Him, spit on Him and flog Him. Then they would kill Him. But He would rise again on the third day.

Again, this was about as clear as anyone could possibly say it, and it wasn’t even the first time He had told the disciples what was coming. But their hearts were hard, their minds were closed, and they couldn’t figure out what he was trying to tell them. It was only after He rose from the dead that they would finally see that Jesus really had clearly foretold every event before it happened.

Father, I’m afraid we do the same thing today with Your word. Even where the words are perfectly clear and the meaning obviously, we ignore the plain meaning of what You say, and instead we look for hidden meanings that must be intricately interpreted. And when we can’t find any, we deem the words too deep for us, and move on, completely overlooking what You simply said. But, Lord, You most often say exactly what You mean, and You mean simply what You say. Help me to understand the clear meaning of Your word, to have eyes that clearly see, ears that clearly hear, and hearts that understand what You are saying to me each day. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – March 7, 2018

Luke 17:22-25 (NIV) Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.”

Jesus turns away from the Pharisees who were questioning Him and addresses His disciples. The cross is looming directly ahead of Him, and He is aware of the long and often painful mission that He will be leaving in the hands of these men when His work here is done.

Jesus realized that in the space between Jesus’ ascension and His return, there will be a tendency for His followers to grow discouraged and to jump at every sign that His return might be imminent. But that will be a weakness for them, a distraction, not a strength. So He warned them away from that.

Even today many are claiming that the end is near. It is absolutely nearer than ever. But Jesus clearly warned His followers: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:7-8 NIV) He was directing them away from analyzing signs and timelines, and back focusing on the vital work of expanding the kingdom of God that He had commissioned them to do. And through these words, He is steering today’s disciples back to the same focus.

Jesus Himself was not immune to longing for His ultimate return to come. But even He knew that there was work to do to fill up the time until then. In His case, the work involved the suffering and rejection that was waiting for Him in Jerusalem in just a few days. To get to the one required steadfast commitment to go through the other.

Father, Your guidance in this is good and necessary. It really is easy for us to get distracted, pulled off message, by our vision of Jesus’ return. But, like Jesus Himself, we have a vital job to do here and now, before that vision can be realized. Walk with us, Lord, as we do the work of growing Your kingdom, and of being Your representatives until Jesus comes, so that when He does return, we may be glad, and not ashamed. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – June 23, 2017

Luke 2:36-40 (NIV) There was also a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
When Joseph and Mary had done everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.

Anna was another person who was completely devoted to the Lord, and had been since her youth, even before her husband died when she was in her very early twenties. She spent her days in prayer and contemplation in the temple complex, also listening to such teaching as she could hear going on around her in the temple or in the synagogue services she attended on the Sabbath. Women in those days did not generally have an opportunity to read the Scriptures for themselves or to take classes like the men did. But every word she heard she treasured in her heart.

That morning God alerted Anna that the Messiah would be at the temple, so she went with great expectancy. When she heard the song that Simeon was chanting and the words that he spoke to Mary and Joseph, she knew that this child was the One. That started her own prayers of thanksgiving to the Lord, and then she started speaking to all of those passing by, pointing out the child to them as the Messiah. And, as usual, Mary and Joseph took careful note of all that was said about Jesus.

Mary and Joseph did not immediately return to Nazareth, although Luke does point out that they didn’t head back home until after they had completely fulfilled all of the requirements of the law of God. The wise men would soon show up, and immediately after that they would have to escape Herod’s clutches by fleeing to Egypt for a few months (Matthew 2:1-18). But when they came back to the land after Herod’s death, they went back to Nazareth and resettled there among their family and friends.

Jesus grew into a young man who was full of wisdom and grace. He was a quick pupil, whether the subject was the Scriptures or carpentry. Despite the fact that He was in fact God in the flesh, He was humble and obedient to His parents, and kind and gracious to those He met.

Father, it would probably be understandable to us if Jesus was a bit haughty from time to time, especially as He grew and became more and more aware of Who He was. But the fact is, You are not haughty or overbearing, but kind, gracious, loving, and forgiving to all who love You and want to know You. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see all of those positive traits beginning to show up in Jesus as He grew older. Help each of us to also reflect those traits in our own lives, so that we, too, can bring honor and glory to Your name. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – June 22, 2017

Luke 2:25-35 (NIV) Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout. He was waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. Moved by the Spirit, he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you now dismiss your servant in peace. For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.”
The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him. Then Simeon blessed them and said to Mary, his mother: “This child is destined to cause the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be spoken against, so that the thoughts of many hearts will be revealed. And a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

Even in the darkest times in Israel’s history, God always preserved for Himself a remnant, a faithful few who kept the light of whole-hearted devotion burning. And He kept those faithful, righteous and devout people in the loop as to what He was doing.

Many in the days when Jesus was born were waiting for the Messiah, and believed that the day was drawing near. But a few, like Mary and Joseph, Zechariah and Anna, and Simeon and Anna were waiting with a different kind of expectancy, because God was able to speak directly to their hearts and show them what He was doing. Simeon did not know the exact day that he would lay eyes on the Messiah, but he knew that it would be soon, before he died.

That morning, God spoke to his heart through the Holy Spirit and told him that the day was finally here. He rushed into the temple courts, his eyes sweeping continually from side to side, looking for some sign as to which of the hundreds of people gathered there was the One.

Finally he saw a man with a woman who was holding a child close in her arms, and the Holy Spirit said, “That’s Him; that’s the Messiah!” Simeon approached the family with tears rolling down his wrinkled cheeks. He had waited so long, and now here was the proof that God was still working His plan for His people. He held out his arms expectantly and, after only a brief hesitation, Mary handed the child to this stranger. He held the child securely, and caressed his tiny, smooth cheek. Then a sing-song chant of praise burst through his lips: “Sovereign Lord, You promised that I wouldn’t die until I had seen Your Messiah, Your Savior. Today I have seen Him, so now I can die in peace! This tiny child is the One! He will not only save Your people, Israel, and draw them into Your glory; He will even draw Gentiles to know You!”

The man seemed lost in a trance of ecstasy. But suddenly his eyes cleared and lowered to meet those of Jesus’ astounded parents. His voice was low but intense as he predicted that, in the course of His life, this child would not just be a beneficent religious figure, but would shake up the entire Jewish society and religion, and would end up on the hit list of some pretty powerful people, who would show what they really were by their intense opposition to Him.

But it was his final sentence, “And a sword will pierce you own soul, too.” that turned Mary’s blood cold and dimmed the joy of the day. Any mother has the potential to be crushed by tragedy that strikes her child. But few live with the certainty that that day will come.

Father, I am amazed at how many people You brought into the loop so that they knew who Jesus was, even as an infant. Some in the vicinity were likely skeptical of what they were hearing, and some were likely oblivious, so caught up in their own agendas that they didn’t even notice all of the buzz. But those with eyes to see and ears to hear got to experience the joy of hope realized, the exhilaration of knowing that You were on the move. And You are still moving today! Help me to stay tuned in to Your voice so that I can share the good news of all that You are up to with everyone around. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – June 13, 2017

Luke 1:67-75 (NIV)

His father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied:
“Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us–to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to rescue us from the hand of our enemies, and to enable us to serve him without fear in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Zechariah’s being filled with the Holy Spirit did not enable him to do signs and wonders (these had already been accomplished in Elizabeth and Mary), but it enabled him to give the Lord appropriate praise, and even to get a glimpse of His larger plan.

First of all, he realized that God was beginning to act right then to begin the process of redeeming His people. In the past He had redeemed Adam and Eve from death, Noah from the flood, and the whole nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt and captivity in Babylon. But two huge oppressors still held God’s people, indeed all people, captive: sin and death. Zechariah could clearly see that the child Mary was carrying would be the long promised horn of the house of David, a powerful ruler who would not only rule over all of those who would become God’s people, but who would actually save them from both the penalty and the power of sin.

Zechariah could see clearly that the sending of the Messiah was way more than merely a promise kept. It was an act of unbridled mercy. God’s people had a long, long history (about 1500 years at that point) of rebelling against Him and His commands, from the days of the Exodus, all that way to the day in which Zechariah was living. Many times God had allowed them to be oppressed, conquered, and even exiled to punish them and to help them to repent of their rebellion. But He had always stopped short of allowing them to be destroyed because of the love that He had for them, and because of His faithfulness to His covenant promises.

But now God was poised to do a new thing among His people, and Zechariah was among the very first to see it clearly. Now He was not only going to save them from their most powerful enemies, sin and death. He was going to purify His people with the fire of the Holy Spirit, and enable them to serve Him in genuine holiness and righteousness in His presence for all of their days.

Father, this is a great and wonderful promise, foretold from the days of the prophets, and still available to all of Your people today. But so few of us are willing to believe that it is true. Instead, we see ourselves as vile sinners, for whom true righteousness and holiness is only a pipe dream, or a promise for the age to come. But, Father, You make it clear even in the words of good Zechariah that this promise is for us, it is for now, and You are powerful enough to pull it off in our lives. Help us, help me, to believe this promise, and to receive its fulfillment from Your hands. Make it real in my own life today. Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations

Today’s Scripture – April 6, 2017

Matthew 24:1-3 (NIV) Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.  “Do you see all these things?” he asked.  “I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately.  “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”

Jesus had just finished thoroughly denouncing the religious leaders of the Jews, and pronouncing God’s judgment on them.  But, although they had heard every word, His disciples were oblivious to their import.

As they left the temple complex, the disciples were struck anew with awe over the impressiveness of the temple, its buildings and its walls.  Surely this whole city, built on top of the hills and surrounded by tall, strong walls was pretty much impregnable.  It would stand forever as a testimony of God’s power and steadfastness to His people.

But Jesus deflated them instantly with an entirely different picture – a picture of a city that would soon be ruins and wreckage, with smoldering buildings, and walls so thoroughly pushed over that they could no longer be identified as walls.  He forecast a city, not taken over by an enemy, but one completely destroyed by God’s own hand.

The rest of the walk to the campsite on the Mount of Olives was made in silence as the disciples pondered this horrendous picture.  It was only later in the day, when they couldn’t get this image out of their heads, that they approached Jesus to get more information.

The disciples knew well the history of Jerusalem. They knew that, despite its impressive structures and seemingly unconquerable walls, God had knocked it all down by the hand of Babylon six centuries earlier, virtually erasing all that had been built.  That had been preceded by the dire prophecies of Jeremiah in the temple courts (cf. Jeremiah 26:1-16), and had come about in just a few years.  Now here was Jesus prophesying similar things in the temple courts.  Those who refused to listen to Jeremiah were trapped in the nightmare scenes that unfolded in the city after the Babylonians surrounded and besieged them.  Jesus’ followers wanted more than anything to know what warning signs they needed to watch for so that, before the hammer of God’s judgment fell, they could get themselves and their loved ones out the city to safety.

Father, at least we can give the disciples credit for hearing accurately what Jesus was telling them.  We know from history that this destruction really did fall on the city a mere 40 years later when the Romans came, surrounded Jerusalem, and then, after a long siege, tore down the walls, destroyed the temple not leaving one stone on another, and taking its treasures in triumph to Rome.  Lord, You don’t make idle threats; You give clear warnings – warnings even to us in our times., both through Your word and through Your Spirit.  Help us, as Your people, to not only keep our ears tuned to Your voice, but our lips ready to speak Your words of warning, of urging to repentance, to all who need to hear.  Amen.

Leave a comment

Filed under Scripture Meditations