Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Definitely Not a Cleverly Devised Tale

“For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” (2 Peter 1:16–21, NASB95)

Peter along with James and John had gone up onto a high mountain with Jesus for one of those never forget it encounters, as we read in Matthew 17, and Scripture records what happened next,

“And He [Jesus] was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.”” (Matthew 17:2–9, NASB95)

In Peter’s last letter he shared something that He had been forbidden to share until after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. He shared about that time when he and James and John saw Jesus in His glory. And He went on to share that along with seeing Moses and Elijah that they had also heard the confirmation of God the Father speaking from heaven that Jesus was indeed His beloved Son. All that they had been told by the prophets and by Jesus Himself was confirmed at that moment. In response to this Peter added, that the prophecies of Scripture are true and dependable because they were written by men moved by the Holy Spirit speaking from God. Peter had no doubts about the prophecies of God’s Word. He had seen them fulfilled as He had even heard from God Himself.

Yesterday, after posting what I wrote, Robin and I had a discussion concerning the genealogy of Mary as opposed to the genealogy of Joseph. While Joseph was the legal father of Jesus, it was Mary who provided the blood ties to the lineage of Jesse and David. In Scripture we find two different genealogies of Jesus. The first is found in Matthew chapter 1 which records the genealogy through Joseph, where we read in verse 16, “Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” Note here that Joseph is referred to as the husband of Mary and that it was Mary by whom Joseph is born. There is no claim that Joseph “begot” Jesus or was His birth father, which is consistent with Scripture which declares that Jesus was conceived by the power of the Most High God through the Holy Spirit. However, this does not minimize the legal right to the ties of the lineage of the kings as Jesus became Joseph’s legal heir.

But God did not leave Jesus to become King by a legal loophole. Rather, He also established that Jesus was of the lineage of Judah, Jesse, and David by blood as well. We read in Luke 3:23-38 the genealogy of Jesus in reverse order, and in this account the ancestors from Joseph to David differ from the record in Matthew. The reason for this is that while Luke records the genealogy of Joseph, Luke records the genealogy of Mary. In Luke 3:23 we read, “When He began His ministry, Jesus Himself was about thirty years of age, being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph, the son of Eli,” Matthew includes women in his genealogical record, but Luke does not. And while it might seem that there is a contradiction in who might be the father of Joseph, with one saying Jacob and the other Eli, it is easily explained when Joseph is seen as the representative male in the lineage, without reference to the female. In Luke we don’t see Mary, the mother of Jesus mentioned, nor do we see Eve, the mother of all mankind mentioned either. Rather, we find Eli’s son-in-law Joseph included as the supposed father of Jesus. Matthew gives us several key women on one side and Luke gives us the men on the other with both coming together in Mary and Joseph. One summarizes His legal birthright and the other establishes His direct lineage, with both coming together declaring Him to be from the tribe of Judah, the shoot from the stem of Jesse, and the branch from the root of David. No matter how you look at this, Jesus was and is the King who was foretold from ages past.

There are those who would love to poke holes in Scripture and claim there are contradictions, thinking if they can do this then they call into question the veracity of statements such as Peter and Paul, who wrote in 2 Timothy 3:16 that all Scripture is literally Spirit or God breathed. They attack Scripture and try to supplant it with their own added or twisted teaching. They pick and choose what they will believe and what they won’t. Peter warned about them in the verses that followed the passage above. “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.” (2 Peter 2:1–3, NASB95)

It would be so easy to pass over the genealogies, but digging deeper into the snapshots we have in Scripture of the people mentioned in these genealogies shows us just how intentional and faithful God is. God’s Word is also true and dependable. God cannot lie! There may be things that we don’t completely understand, just as the disciples on the mountain waited to understand. But in all of these we need to keep before our hearts and minds that our God is not a liar and He keeps His promises. The prophecies about the birth of our Savior point to so much more than His ability to predict the future. They speak to a God who intended the future and is who has proven Himself fully able to bring it to pass. This is true of the big things upon which eternity turns and the daily things of our lives (both big and small).

Abraham knew this as we read in Hebrews 6. “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and I will surely multiply you.” And so, having patiently waited, he obtained the promise. For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (Hebrews 6:13–20, NASB95)

And Paul based his ministry on it. “Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the faith of those chosen of God and the knowledge of the truth which is according to godliness, in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested, even His word, in the proclamation with which I was entrusted according to the commandment of God our Savior,” (Titus 1:1–3, NASB95)

Sarah wrote today in “Jesus Calling” about the fiery attacks on our minds. These attacks can come in a variety of ways, with one of the common ways having to do with whether or not we matter to God, whether He really does pay attention to us and has fully accepted us and is pleased with us. As we reflect on the extent to which our God went to show His love and to prove His faithfulness we can be encouraged in seeing His promises kept as they prove Him faithful to continue to do so even for us.

“The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, Yea, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.” (Psalm 19:7–10, NKJV)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/3)

Do not be surprised by the fiery attacks on your mind. When you struggle to find Me and to live in My Peace, don’t let discouragement set in. You are engaged in massive warfare, spiritually speaking. The evil one abhors your closeness to Me, and his demonic underlings are determined to destroy our intimacy. When you find yourself in the thick of battle, call upon My Name: “Jesus, help me!” At that instant, the battle becomes mine; your role is simply to trust Me as I fight for you.

My Name, properly used, has unlimited Power to bless and protect. At the end of time, every knee will bow (in heaven, on earth, and under the earth), when My Name is proclaimed. People who have used “Jesus” as a shoddy swear word will fall down in terror on that awesome day. But all those who have drawn near Me through trusting uttering My Name will be filled with Inexpressible and glorious Joy. This is your great hope, as you await My return.

Ephesians 6:12. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

1 Samuel 17:47. “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s….”

Philippians 2:9-10. “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.”

1 Peter 1:8-9. “and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, obtaining as the outcome of your faith the salvation of your souls.”

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