Who is This Babe Lying in a Manger?

Who is this babe lying in a manger? Mark Lowry famously quipped, “Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man? Mary did you know that your baby boy will calm a storm with his hand? Did you know that your baby boy has walked where angels trod? And when you kiss your little baby, you have kissed the face of God.”[1] Who is this most celebrated baby? Why all the fuss? This child was special in many ways. In fact, the Child is in fact God come to earth. How do we know this and why is this still controversial?

            I have confronted a few people who still hold to the idea that the divinity of Christ was a concept developed by Emperor Constantine in the 4th century AD.[2] Such an idea is not rooted in history but a false assumption based upon the edict of the Nicene Council in 325 AD to condemn the ideas of Arius and uphold the ideas of Athanasius.[3] Constantine simply ordered that the church solve the Arian controversy as it was causing great ecclesiastical problems which could cause societal fragmentation.

Arius taught that Jesus was merely a human person and the eternal God. His greatest concern “was the premise that God is an undifferentiated whole. On this basis he argued that the Logos or Son is a creature and therefore must have had a beginning.”[4] Thus, Arius held that Jesus held a position higher than humanity, but lower than God the Father.

Athanasius argued that Jesus was fully divine in all aspects. Athanasius stated that “The Word was made man in order that we might be made divine.”[5] By “made divine,” Athanasius was noting the relationship that humanity held with the divine, being elevated to the level of eternity and perfected in God’s sinlessness. Based upon the Scriptures, the Council declared,

But to those who say, Once he was not, or he was not before his generation, or he came to be out of nothing, or who assert that he, the Son of God, is of a different hypostasis or ousia, or that he is a creature, or changeable, or mutable, the Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes them.[6]

But what basis did the Council use to uphold Athanasius’ teaching and condemn Arius’? They used the Scriptures and the teachings of the early church. How do we know this Babe lying in a manger was in fact divine?

The Divine Nature of The Babe Lying in a Manger was Prophesied.

            I recently delivered a message on Zechariah 12. I noticed something that stood out to me that had not in my previous readings. The chapter begins with the words “Thus declares the LORD, who stretched out the heavens and founded the earth and formed the spirit of man within him…” (Zechariah 12:1b).[7] Throughout the chapter, first-person language is employed indicating that the speaker is referencing himself. God is the speaker and later says, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn” (Zechariah 12:10). Remember, God is speaking and he uses first-person language. Thus, God is claiming that he would come to earth and would be pierced for the transgressions of mankind. John the apostle understands this prophecy to have been fulfilled in Christ when, after referring to Christ’s crucifixion, he writes, “And again another Scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they have pierced” (John 19:37). Again in Revelation, this prophecy is referenced when Christ returns, stating, “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7). Another element of Jesus’ divine nature is seen in addition to prophecy.

The Divine Nature of the Babe Lying in a Manger was Professed.

Jesus himself understood himself to be divine. Jesus refers to himself as the Son of Man who had access to the Ancient of Days[8] (see Daniel 7:10) in Mark 8:38. Again, the “I am” of Jesus indicates the knowledge that he was in fact God come in the flesh.[9] Several other passages could be offered, but space does not allow such treatment.

John the apostle clearly understood Jesus to be co-eternal with the Father when he denotes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3). As C. S. Lewis notes,

A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[10]

Jesus understood himself to be the Son of God as he claimed a divine status. But Jesus not only claimed to be divine, he demonstrated his divine nature in another fashion.

The Divine Nature of the Babe Lying in a Manger was Proven.

One of the coolest things about Jesus is the fact that he did not just say something about himself, he proved it. Jesus would prove his divine nature by the miracles that he performed (e.g., Mark 2:1-12). He proved his divine nature by casting out demons by his mere word (e.g., Luke 8:26-39). He proved his divine nature by performing supernatural works over nature (e.g., Luke 8:22-25). Jesus proved his divine nature by raising the dead (e.g., John 11:38-44). Finally, Jesus’ divine nature was proven by his own resurrection from the dead (Matthew 28; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24; and John 20:1-21:25).

Conclusion

This Christmas, we celebrate a most marvelous birth. It is the birth of Jesus of Nazareth who is the Christ, the Son of Almighty God. How amazing the incarnation truly is! Ponder about the amazing nature of this event. Mary would give birth to the One who gave her life. Mary would bring forth the One who would save her soul. The most powerful Being in all the universe would humble himself to be born in a humble manger.

While we often stress ourselves trying to find the perfect gift for our loved ones, it is helpful to understand that the greatest gift has already been given. The perfect gift was, is, and forever will be Jesus. This Child, as Paul notes,

who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess  that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father” (Philippians 2:6-11).

May we continue to remember, as the cliché goes, that Jesus truly is the reason for this celebratory season.

© December 19, 2016. Brian Chilton.

Notes

[1] Mark Lowry and Buddy Greene, Mary Did You Know, 1991.

[2] Constantine converted to Christianity. After his conversion, Constantine allowed the free exercise of Christian worship in the Roman Empire beginning in the 4th century.

[3] Saint Nicolas is said to have attended this conference. Nicolas is linked with the popular Santa Claus figure. Saint Nicolas was an ardent defender of orthodox Christianity. It is said that Nicolas smacked Arius due to his heretical concepts.

[4] Stanley J. Grenz, Theology for the Community of God (Grand Rapids; Cambridge, UK: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1994), 248.

[5] Athanasius, De Incarnatione 54, in Early Christian Fathers, Henry Bettenson, ed. and trans. (New York: Oxford, 1969), 293.

[6] “The Creed of Nicea,” in The Creeds of the Churches, 3rd ed, John H. Leith, ed (Atlanta: John Knox, 1982), 31.

[7] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001, 2007).

[8] That is, God.

[9] See John 4:26; 6:20, 35, 48, 51; 8:12, 18, 24, 28, 58; 9:5; 10:7, 9, 11, 14; 11:25; 13:19; 14:6; 15:1; 18:5-6.

[10] C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: MacMillian, 1943, 1952), 41.

Reasons for Holding the Unity of Isaiah

Isaiah is the theological masterpiece of the Old Testament. It is in Isaiah that one finds the powerful so-called “Servant Songs” which address the future Messiah. Isaiah’s prophecies span the course of several centuries. Due to the timeframe of Isaiah’s prophecies, many textual critics have claimed that Isaiah son of Amoz could not have written or prophesied all of the prophecies contained within the book. This has led some to posit that Isaiah consists of three books written by three authors compiled together under the heading “Isaiah.” Such critics claim that chapters “1-39 were written by ‘Isaiah of Jerusalem’ and 40-66 (or 40-55) by an ‘unknown prophet of the Exile’” (LaSor, et. al., Old Testament Survey, 282). Some divide Isaiah into three books: the so-called proto-Isaiah (1-39) written by Isaiah of Jerusalem; deutero-Isaiah (40-55) written by an unknown prophet; and trito-Isaiah (56-66) written by an exilic prophet. While many critical scholars accept this view, a growing number of scholars are beginning to reject that notion and accept the unity of the book of Isaiah. I, for one, accept the unity of Isaiah for the following reasons.

Unity Seen through Early Acceptance of Isaiah as a Whole

From the earliest times, the book of Isaiah has been accepted as a unified whole. In the Great Scroll of Isaiah, one of the Dead Sea Scrolls at Qumran (1QIsa) “makes not the slightest break at the end of chapter 39” (LaSor, et. al., Old Testament Survey, 290). Jesus and the early church accepted Isaiah as a unified book as they quoted from the book in several places without giving any reference to multiple authors. If early Jews and early Christians accepted a unified Isaiah, one would need to find overwhelming evidence to the contrary to suggest otherwise, evidence that this writer does not find.

Unified Theological Concepts

Isaiah addresses several major theological concepts which are united within the entire book of Isaiah. LaSor and company denote that “Several dozen parallels in wording, concepts, and literary images have been identified to demonstrate the linkage between the two halves of the book” (LaSor, et. al., Old Testament Survey, 283). Barker and Kohlenberger demonstrate that “Isaiah’s temple vision (ch. 6) of the thrice-holy God deeply influenced his whole prophetic career and his theology” (Barker & Kohlenberger, EBC, 1043). Isaiah notes the grandeur of God as the angels call to one another “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory” (Isaiah 6:3).[1] This theme is seen throughout the book of Isaiah. Barker and Kohlenberger denote that Isaiah “speaks of God as Creator both of the universe (40:26; 42:5; 48:12-13) and of his people, Israel (43:1, 15). He has a vision of the whole earth full of the knowledge of the Lord (11:9) and even of a new heaven and a new earth (65:17; 66:22)” (Barker & Kohlenberger, EBC, 1043). Hope and forgiveness are constantly seen throughout the book of Isaiah, from 1:18-19, 30:18-19, and ultimately through the suffering servant in 52:13-53:12. These theological concepts are not broken but flood the entirety of the book of Isaiah.

Unified Eschatological Concepts

As the theology is unified in Isaiah, so are the eschatological concepts united in Isaiah. Isaiah looks to a day when God will deliver the land of Israel and the people of God from the problems of sin. In chapter 27, Isaiah speaks of a day when “Jacob’s guilt will be atoned for, and this will be the full fruit of the removal of his sin” (27:9). Later in chapter 53, Isaiah speaks of one who “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (53:4). The prophet goes on to say, concerning this servant, that “he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed” (53:5). Finally, the prophet looks to a day when God would create a “new heavens and [a] new earth” (66:22). The eschatology is united in demonstrating that a Messiah would come and establish a new covenant and that new covenant would bring forth a final new creative order.

 Unity Promoted by Predictive Evidence

The greatest problem that opponents to Isaianic unity hold is the incredibly accurate predictive elements that Isaiah holds. However, this should not be surprising. Jeremiah accurately predicted that Cyrus would allow the exilic community to come back to Israel. Ezra records that “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken by Jeremiah, the LORD moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia” (Ezra 1:1). Cyrus would allow the exiles to return and rebuild Jerusalem. However, Cyrus did so as Jeremiah had prophesied that he would do. Jeremiah was clearly written earlier than Ezra and far before Cyrus came to reign. Thus, if Jeremiah could accurately pinpoint future details, then why not Isaiah?

Conclusion

It may be that the book of Isaiah had redactors who formulated the book. LaSor and company denote that “A reasonable possibility is that Isaiah’s messages were collected and preserved by his disciples and later edited and put into written form” (LaSor, et. al., Old Testament Survey, 285). However, it is just not necessary to postulate that multiple writers constructed the book of Isaiah over a vast period of time. In fact, as LaSor and company denote, “All of the elements of Isaiah’s theology are found implicitly, at least, in the eighth-century vision of these acts” (LaSor, et. al., Old Testament Survey, 301). Therefore, this writer holds that Isaiah is an amazing unitary work by the prophet Isaiah of Jerusalem which was formulated and pieced together by his disciples.

 Bibliography

Barker, Kenneth L., and John R. Kohlenberger, III. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Old Testament, Abridged Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994.

LaSor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard, and Frederic William Bush. Old Testament Survey: The Message, Form, and Background of the Old Testament, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids; Cambridge, UK: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 1996.

[1] All Scripture, unless otherwise noted, comes from the New International Version (Grand Rapids: Biblica, 2011).

Copyright March 2015. Brian Chilton.

Does the ‘Four Blood Moon Prophecy’ Biblically Remain in Orbit?

blood_moon_03_05_151

From April 2014 to October 2015, the world will experience an unusual phenomenon. During this time, the moon will turn blood red. This is caused by the earth standing between the rays of the sun and the moon. The atmosphere of the earth casts a red hue upon the moon giving the moon the “blood” color. But what does this mean if anything? This article will examine the possible link between the four blood moons and biblical prophecy. Do these blood moons hold any significance biblically speaking? What about the Scriptures used to purport the significance? Do they mean what they are purported to mean?

  

The Tetrad of Blood Moons

The four blood moons mark four times between April 2014 and October of 2015 when the moon turns blood red. This is caused by a lunar eclipse. Fraser Cain writes,

  During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes behind the Earth’s shadow, which darkens it. If you could take a look at the Earth from inside its shadow, you would see that the atmosphere around the edge of the entire planet glows red. Once again, this is because large amounts of atmosphere will scatter away the blue/green light and let the red light go straight through. During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes fully into the shadow of the Earth and it’s no longer being illuminated by the Sun; however, this red light passing through the Earth’s atmosphere does reach the Moon, and shines on it (Cain 2008, Universe Today).

While this writer holds a great deal of respect for John Hagee, Hagee’s biblical interpretations concerning the four blood moons is questionable. For Hagee, these four blood moons represent occasions when something big happens with Israel. According to Hagee, there have only been four occasions in history when there have been four blood moons and they all correspond to big events in history. For instance, according to Hagee’s website http://fourbloodmoons.net/, over the past 500 years four blood moons occurring at a particular time has only transpired four times.

4 blood moons

The Four Blood Moons of 1492 announced the Edict of Expulsion in which Jews were given 14 days to leave Spain forever. It was the crescendo of suffering for people who’d watched their friends get tortured on the rack and burned alive for refusing to convert to Catholicism during the Spanish Inquisition. Soon, however, their tears ended in triumph. That October, Christopher Columbus, funded by Jewish money and maps, found a haven for Jews around the world—America.

Following the unspeakable anguish of the Holocaust, 1948 Four Blood Moons heralded in the triumphant birth of the State of Israel. After the nearly 2000 year Diaspora, God gathered the Jewish exiles from the nations of the world and brought them home to the land of covenant as prophesied by the Old Testament Prophets God sent us a signal that history was about to change forever…and it did.

The Four Blood Moons of 1967 occurred around the Six-Day War when Jerusalem was won and reunited with the State of Israel. Today, Jerusalem is more than the country’s “undivided capital.” It’s where Christ was crucified for the sins of the world and where He will return to rule a global kingdom that shall never end. This event shows history being changed forever. God sent the revelation in Four Blood Moons.

The next Four Blood Moons begin April 2014 and September 2015. History is getting ready to change forever!  ARE YOU READY?
And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood and fire and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. -Joel 2:30-31 NKJV (Hagee 2003, fourbloodmoons.net).

There are a few problems with this interpretation. In a moment, this article will examine the biblical references mentioned by Hagee and others closely aligned with them. But first, let’s examine the instances listed. While the 1948 and 1967 blood moons do correspond with big events in the history of Israel, the 1492 reference is a bit of a stretch. While it is true that America has become a safe haven for Jewish individuals, to say that Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America directly corresponds to Israel’s history is problematic. Israel in its present state was non-existent at that period of time. In fact, it was ruled by the Mamluks until the 1500s. There was a great time of persecution of Jews in Europe and in the Middle East. In addition, it has been debated as to whether Columbus was the actual discoverer of the Americas. Nordish sailor Leif Erikson discovered the Americas earlier than Columbus in the 900s who had in turn heard about the land from Bjarni Herjolfsson. If true, this blows a substantial hole in Hagee’s interpretation of the four blood moons.

Another problem relates to the fact that Hagee only goes back 500 years in his interpretation concerning the four blood moons. Certainly other appearances of four blood moons must have existed before 1492 as the earth is at least 6,000 years old according to young earth creationist models. Therefore, the possibility certainly exists that there may have been tetrads of blood moons prior to the 1400s. Did those appearances correlate to Israel’s history in any way? If not, then why are we to suspect that this series of blood moons will indicate something big, if in fact anything at all?

Some have taken Hagee’s interpretation of the four blood moons even further than Hagee does in suggesting that the final blood moon marks the return of Christ. In Hagee’s teachings on the four blood moons, he lists Joel 2:30-31, Acts 2:19-20, and the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24. This article will now examine the context of these Scriptures in addition to Jesus’ teaching in Luke 17:22ff. Do these Scriptures suggest that the blood moons indicate anything pertaining to physical Israel?

 

Biblical Texts Concerning Blood Moons and End Times

The Context of the Prophecy of Joel

“And I will cause wonders in the heavens and on the earth—blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and terrible day of the Lord arrives” (Joel 2:30-31).

There is a problem with the identification of Joel’s prophecy to some point in the distant future. Joel was addressing a time in which He would “pour out (His) Spirit upon all people” (Joel 2:28). This would be a time in which “Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams, and your young men will see visions. In those days (God) will pour out (God’s) Spirit even on servants—men and women alike” (Joel 2:28b-29). In fact, this prophecy has already been fulfilled as seen in the next passage of Scripture. But the yom YHWH (Day of the Lord) can refer to many things. It could indicate the final day of the Lord just as it indicated the coming of the Spirit of God. However, to use the passage of Scripture to indicate something big with Israel alone is somewhat misleading and misguided. In fact, it takes the text out of context. There is no evidence that the blood moons that Hagee suggests took place at this time. Only that the Spirit of God was unleashed upon God’s elect.

 

The Context of Peter’s Quotation

“And I will cause wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below—blood and fire and clouds of smoke. The sun will become dark, and the moon will turn blood red before that great and glorious day of the Lord arrives” (Acts 2:19-20).

The text in Acts is taken out of context if intended to refer to the end times because Peter does not relate the signs presented by Joel to predict a future point in time, but the current situation. Peter was not looking toward some future point being the end times, he was saying that the end times had already come. The end times are identified as a period of time beginning at Christ’s resurrection lasting until the return of Christ. In other words, God had stepped on the scene through His Son Jesus. The Spirit of God had come and rested upon God’s people.

 

The Olivet Discourse

Immediately after the anguish of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will give no light, the stars will fall from the sky, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. And then at last, the sign that the Son of Man is coming will appear in the heavens, and there will be deep mourning among all the peoples of the earth. And they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with the mighty blast of a trumpet, and they will gather his chosen ones from all over the world—from the farthest ends of the earth and heaven…Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. However, no one knows the day or hours when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows (Matthew 24:29-31, 35-36).

Jesus gives great insights concerning the end times in what is called the Olivet Discourse. For one, Jesus indicates that the sun will be darkened and the moon will give no light. It’s not that the moon turns red. This indicates a divine judgment upon creation. The sun will be on the verge of collapse (darken) and the moon will give no light as it receives no light from the sun.

Secondly, society will be overrun by corruption (as seen in the following passage of Scripture). People will not rejoice to see the Son of Man’s return. The world will mourn. What will this sign be? Jesus doesn’t say. But it will be a sign that everyone will recognize.

Third, Jesus suggests that He will return visibly for all to see and the angels of heaven will gather the elect from every land. Could this be what is termed the Rapture? It could if one holds to an eschatological system that allows such an event. Whatever one’s interpretation, it will be noticed that everyone will know that Christ has returned when He does.

Finally, Jesus presents a CRITICAL point. No one will know when Christ returns. No one. Everyone will see when Christ returns, but no one will know when He returns. Only the Father in heaven is privy to that information.

 

The End Times Teaching

The time is coming when you will long to see the day when the Son of Man returns, but you won’t see it. People will tell you, ‘Look, there is the Son of Man,’ or ‘Here he is,’ but don’t go out and follow them. For as the lightning flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other, so it will be on the day when the Son of Man comes…And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business—eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building—until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. Yes, it will be ‘business as usual’ right up to the day when the Son of Man is revealed. On that day a person out on the deck of a roof must not go down into the house to pack. A person out in the field must not return home (Luke 17:22-24, 28-31).

Jesus gives additional pointers in His end times teaching found in Luke 17. For one, notice that Jesus mentions that people will desire to see Christ’s coming but the time will not yet come. Jesus refers to the times surrounding His return to a time of great moral corruption much like Noah’s days and the days of Sodom. In other words, Jesus is saying, “It’s bad now…but it will get worse.” For this reason, this writer feels that the gauge of moral corruption is a far better test than the four blood moons as to when the possible appearing of the Lord.

Secondly, Jesus states that His return will be quick and thunderous. People will go about as if everything is normal. There are signs that Christ will return as listed in the previous passage, but people will not heed to those signs. People of the final time will be in love with their lives. In other words, signs will exist that the end is near, but no one will expect when the return of Christ actually transpires. Again, no one knows when this will happen…only God alone.

 

 The Focus and Conclusion

There is nothing wrong in having a heart focused on the return of Christ. The problem really comes when one spends all their time looking to the heavens for the return of Christ. The church has a mission. If one refuses to partake in this mission, that person will have to answer on the Christian day of judgment. But many times modern Christians become like the disciples on the day of the ascension. They were looking up as Jesus entered the heavenly realm. The angels accompanied them and said, “Men of Galilee…why are you standing here staring into heaven? Jesus has been taken from you into heaven, but someday he will return from heaven in the same way you saw him go” (Acts 1:11)! While it is good to anticipate the Lord’s return, we need to remember our calling. We are called to go forth making disciples for the cause of Christ.

While Hagee presents some interesting information concerning the four blood moons and the nation of Israel, this writer is unconvinced that these moons represent what it is purported to indicate. It is very possible that God will do something big with Israel in the next few years. However, this does not indicate that Jesus will return during this period of time, but it doesn’t necessarily indicate that Jesus won’t return either. In fact, Jesus could return as you finish reading this article. Or, Jesus could return while you are asleep. The fact is that Jesus is going to return at a time when no one expects His appearance. This day will be great for the one who is an ardent disciple of Christ, but a time of great mourning for the one who is not. That is why Joel calls the day of the Lord a “great and terrible day” (Joel 2:31).

 

 

Bibliography

New Living Translation, 3rd Ed. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 2007.

Cain, Fraser. “Red Moon.” UniverseToday.com (October 23, 2008). http://www.universetoday.com/19969/red-moon/#ixzz32lgcz6dT. (Accessed May 25, 2014).

 

Hagee, John. (2003). http://fourbloodmoons.net/. (Accessed May 25, 2014).

Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ: Part 3–Prophetic Witness

The Evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Part 3: Prophetic Witness

by: Pastor Brian Chilton

 

Have you ever had a premonition; you know a feeling like you have done something before or a feeling like something bad might happen if you continue doing something that you know is wrong?  Many people will pass off premonitions, but what if those premonitions came together in a logical sequence that was beyond dispute?  In such a case, a person may be compelled to believe that someone was trying to tell them something.

With the life of Jesus of Nazareth, we find a multitude of prophecies that were fulfilled during His lifetime that cannot be dismissed.  Although time and space will not allow us to investigate all the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, we do want to take the time to examine the prophecies that were fulfilled by the resurrection of Christ.

It must be noted that no one in the first century was expecting the Messiah to raise from the dead after His death.  The fact is many did not consider that the Messiah would be executed on a Roman cross.  Most were expecting a military leader who would free Israel from the bondage of the Roman Empire.  N.T. Wright writes,

 

The real problem was that resurrection was from the very beginning a revolutionary doctrine.  For Daniel 12, resurrection belief went with dogged resistance and martyrdom.  For Isaiah and Ezekiel, it was about YHWH restoring the fortunes of his people…Resurrection is precisely concerned with the present world and its renewal, not with escaping the present world and going somewhere else; and, in its early Jewish forms right through to its developed Christian forms, it was always concerned with divine judgment, with the creator god acting within history to put right that which was wrong.[1]

 

So, we must consider that fact as we move forward.

Three passages of Scripture stand out as prophecies concerning the resurrection of the Son of God: Job 19:25-27, Psalm 16:10-11, and the last portion of Isaiah 53.  In this brief article, let us examine these three passages as it relates to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The first passage of Scripture comes from what many consider the oldest book in the Bible, the Book of Job.  Job writes, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.  26 “Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; 27 Whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes will see and not another.  My heart faints within me!”[2]  Job brings out some important points that we must consider that points to the resurrection of the Messiah.  First, Job points to the “Redeemer”גָּאַל This “Redeemer” would be like an avenger, or “kinship redeemer,” who would free Job from the bondage that he was suffering.  Remember, Job was suffering a lot of physical anguish at this time.  So, who could deliver him but God?  No one.  Second, Job points to the fact that the Redeemer would be a ruler at the end of time.  Job refers to the kingly reign of the Messiah/Redeemer.  Finally, Job recognizes that he will be resurrected.  Job speaks of his bodily death.  Then, Job says that “in his flesh I shall see God.”  Job is clearly pointing to his own resurrection.  Okay, so we see that Job believes in resurrection, but how does this point to the Messiah’s resurrection?  If the Messiah were to be able to resurrect the dead which Job gives indication, then the Messiah must be able to be resurrected.  Granted this is not a clear indication that the Messiah would resurrect from the dead.  However, it does show the power of the Messiah to be resurrected.

Another text points more clearly to the resurrection of the Messiah.  David writes in Psalm 16, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.  11        You will make known to me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand there are pleasures forever.[3]  In this passage of Scripture, we find that the Psalmist shows that the Messiah, or “Holy One,” would not undergo the decomposition of the grave.  Notice that the Psalmist has discussed his own mortality before mentioning the Holy One.  Then, the Psalmist continues to point to the fact that the Holy One would lead him to the “path of life.”  This indicates that the Holy One would have the power of life.  Therefore, this points to the fact that the Holy One had power over death.  The Messiah, or the “Holy One,” would never see decomposition, and would live eternally.  This points to the resurrection of the Messiah, maybe not explicitly, but it is definitely implied.

Finally, we see Isaiah give a powerful rendering of the Messiah’s work in Isaiah 53.  We know the portion of Scripture in Isaiah 53 that denotes a “Suffering Servant.”  But have we noticed the last part of the chapter, especially the last portion of verse 10?  Isaiah writes,

 

10            But the Lord was pleased

To crush Him, putting Him to grief;

If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,

He will see His offspring,

He will prolong His days,

And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.

11            As a result of the anguish of His soul,

He will see it and be satisfied;

By His knowledge the Righteous One,

My Servant, will justify the many,

As He will bear their iniquities.

12            Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,

And He will divide the booty with the strong;

Because He poured out Himself to death,

And was numbered with the transgressors;

Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,

And interceded for the transgressors.[4]

 

Isaiah points to the fact that the Messiah would suffer and die for the sins of the people.  But, notice in verse 10 that Isaiah writes that God would “prolong His days.”  How does one prolong one’s days after death has occurred?  Well, it could transpire with a resurrection event.  Notice, too, Isaiah points that God would “allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death.”  Wait!  How does this happen in the physical sphere?  Well, it can happen with a resurrection event.

Some will argue that these passages are not explicit in their references to the resurrection.  But, I would argue that they are explicit enough.  A clear examination of these texts bring forth evidence that the resurrection of the Messiah was prophesied long ago.  Perhaps the implicit nature to some of these texts caused it to be missed in the first century when no one was expecting the Messiah to rise from the dead…especially after crucifixion.  Although the resurrection was a surprise to the early church, it was of no surprise to God…the giver of life and creator of all things.

Bibliography

All Scripture used in this article, unless otherwise noted comes from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995).

 

Wright, N.T., The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


[1] N.T. Wright, The Resurrection of the Son of God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003), 138.

 

[2] All Scripture used in this article, unless otherwise noted comes from New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (LaHabra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Job 19:25–27.

 

[3] Ps 16:10–11.

[4] Is 53:10–12.