Welcome to the Mountjoy Ministries Blog

This blog was authored by Bryan W. Sheldon, author and Bible teacher. His books are listed below. The studies in the blog are offered in the desire that they may be helpful in directing readers to the truths contained in the Bible.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Teaching Newsletter

We send out to those who have an interest in Bible Study, and have registered as a 'friend' of Mountjoy Bible School, a bi-monthly teaching newsletter. Should any readers of this blog wish to receive the newsletter, please email me your name and postal address and I will add you to our database and you will receive one each time they are published. Your details should be sent to bryan@bryansbiblestudy.co.uk.
Please be advised that currently they are only available to friends in the U.K. to whom they are sent free of charge.

May I take this opportunity to wish you all abundant blessings in the New Year.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

'Christianity Considered' now on YouTube

CHristianity Considered Part 1 is now on YouTube: it is split into two parts. The links are as follows:

CC1 1/2 http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=Jus8Xi4HbNk
CC1 2/2 http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=XTspFOJIZnA

Christianity Considered Part 2 is also on YouTube in two parts. The links are as follows:


Saturday, December 6, 2008

The Cross in the Psalms

The Shadow of the Cross in the Psalms

The Psalms of David in particular are a fruitful source of illumination when tracing the image of the cross prior to the incarnation. He was the anointed of the Lord as recorded by Samuel, “the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that time forward” (1 Sam.16.13) and therefore a Messiah himself. He honed his gift of music and prophecy at the Naioth School of Prophets, under the tutelage of Samuel, and accordingly became a perfect channel to write as the Spirit of God moved him.
Psalm 22, the most famous of all psalms in this connection reads as if it were composed at the foot of the cross. It describes in detail so much of what a Roman crucifixion entailed before even such a capital punishment was in existence. Jesus, the Son of God, the Messiah of Israel, and the Saviour of the world, was nailed to a Roman execution stake at 9 a.m. on the 14th Nissan, in the very year that was predicted in Daniel’s prophecy.

Bulls and Dogs

The suffering and abuse which Jesus suffered through the night of the 14th Nissan is illuminated in Psalm 22 by several images. “Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round” (v.12). The bulls alluded to here are from trans-Jordan and are remarkable for size, strength and fierceness. A suitable image when we consider the Messiah was arrested by a combination of Temple guards, Roman soldiers and supporters of the unmerciful Jewish leaders (over 600 men altogether), to be abused through the night with both beatings and humiliations.
The verbal abuse of the crowd as they bayed for His blood like a pack of dogs shouting, ‘crucify … crucify’ is captured by the verse, “For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me”. (v.16)
The unmerciful treatment of Jesus by Jews and Romans; including a scourging which would have killed a weaker man, left Jesus totally exhausted, unable even to carry the crossbeam of the execution gibbet; “I am poured out like water … my strength is dried up like a potsherd”. (vv.14,15) Add to that the excruciating pain of the crucifixion itself, “they pierced my hands and my feet” (v.16); “and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels … and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death” (vv.14,15). This inhuman treatment demonstrated the sinfulness of the human heart and the insatiable evil appetite of the Devil. Jesus suffered distilled essence of the wrath of man and the wrath of Satan.

I am a Worm

The added humiliation of Golgotha is captured by the words, “I am a worm and no man” (v.6). The word translated ‘worm’ refers to the worm ‘coccus ilicis’. When the female of this species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until they were ready to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such worms were the scarlet dyes of antiquity extracted. For example, these were the dyes that were used to colour the scarlet curtains and cloths in the Tabernacle. When David said, ‘I am a worm’ he pre-figured the death of Jesus when the Messiah, like the coccus ilicis worm, shed His life blood to bring many sons to glory.

I am a Reproach

The prophet continued, I am “a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.” (vv.6-8) The fulfilment of this is referenced by Matthew, and Mark, “…they that passed by railed on him wagging their heads”. (Matt.27.39; Mark 15.29)
Then again, “They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots”, (v.18) was fulfilled to the letter. “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.’” (John 19.23,24) Other Psalms add more detail, such as, “They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink”. (Ps.69.21)

My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken me?

But it is the first line of Psalm 22 that hits us like a hammer blow between the eyes. “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” The pre-incarnate Christ says it through David; David says it; and Christ says it on the cross. The expression is not one of impatience and despair, but of alienation and yearning. The sufferer feels himself rejected of God; the feeling of divine wrath has completely enshrouded him. This is the cry of the Suffering Servant of Jehovah.
In His life the Messiah had delivered those who were oppressed of Satan. “God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him”. (Acts 10.38) But on Calvary He was on the receiving end. He felt Himself deserted by God, and easy prey for the oppression of the Devil. The Psalmist knew something of the attacks of Satan. He suffered from depression caused by the enemy of souls. “I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning?” He answered his own question – “because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Ps.42.9) The instrument that Satan used in his oppression of the Psalmist was persecution. As with the Psalmist, so with Jesus - but in the person of the Messiah it is not simply the horrendous distress caused by unrestrained persecution but rather because He realised that it was the climax of a war of hatred that was as old as mankind; the unceasing conflict that dates from the Garden of Eden.

It was the pivotal battle that the pre-incarnate Christ had prophesied; and the incarnate Christ undertook to win. “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel”. (Gen.3.15) The Bible speaks of Satan as a murderer from the beginning – a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Psalm 22 describes the distilled essence of that insatiable evil. Jesus, suffering the attack of the most powerful created being, without divine help, and without recourse to His own qualities of deity, cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt.27.46)
The appearances of Christ in the T’nach as the Angel of the Lord had precluded any successful attack by His ancient enemy. But the Philippian stoop, that is, ‘He emptied Himself’, apparently gave Satan His opportunity. Jesus described it so, “this is your hour, and the power of darkness”. (Luke 22.53) Satan had been waiting centuries for this opportunity.

Sin separates fromm God

Then there was the wrath of God. It was experienced at the time when Christ was made an offering for sin. Peter put it succinctly, “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree”. (1 Pet.2.24) Sin separates from God. Sin will make you hide from the Lord, but it will end with the Lord hiding from you. It did in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve hid themselves from the presence of the Lord. Then, He drove them out! Similarly, with Cain, God said, “... now art thou cursed from the earth, which hath opened her mouth to receive thy brother’s blood from thy hand …”, and Cain responded, “Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid ….” And Cain went out from the presence of the LORD. And so it was with the Messiah; “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me”.
As previously indicated Psalm 69 is also Messianic and it gives us another image of what the Saviour experienced in bearing our sins in His own body on the tree. The Psalmist’s prayer, “Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul. I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me”. (Ps.69.1,2) The restless sea has long been considered an image of sinful humanity. On such a sea there is no place to stand - it will engulf you. Jesus was different. The sinless, spotless Son of God walked on water. But on Golgotha He carried the sins of the world. There the weight of sin sank the unsinkable.


But there was deliverance for the Messiah. The second unit of the twenty second Psalm ends with a prayer. “Deliver my soul from the sword, My only life from the power of the dog. save me from the lion’s mouth”. (v.20) This is a prayer that was answered, but as a deliverance out of death, not a deliverance from death. “Save me from the lion’s mouth”, initially points us to Satan, the ‘roaring lion’, but it also reminds us of Daniel. The best man in the kingdom, Daniel, was unjustly accused and sentenced. The law was immutable and Daniel was thrown to the lions. But in the morning, when the stone was rolled away Daniel emerged from the cave. The death sentence had been served. Similarly, in the morning, after the stone had been rolled away, the Messiah emerged from the tomb after the death sentence had been served. Jesus was delivered from the tomb, not the cross.


It is evident that the provision of salvation for humankind through a substitutionary sacrifice was not an exercise in fire-fighting, undertaken by God because He had been taken unawares by the activity of Adam and his posterity. He knows the end from the beginning. (Isa.46.10) Not only did know that the sacrifice would take place, but He knew when, where, and how. So much so, that He included the date in the prophetic calendar He gave to the Jewish nation, and He included details of the execution in the T’nach. When the Ethiopian statesman read from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, “He was led as a sheep to the slaughter ... For His life is taken from the earth.” (Acts 8:32,33) he asked the question, “... of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” (Acts 8:34) The only answer that could be given is—Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel, the Son of God and the Saviour of the World.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Importance of the Cross

The Importance of the Cross

Fundamental to the teaching of the Mountjoy Bible School is the centrality of the cross of Christ. Paul, the theologian par excellence wrote: “For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified”. (1 Cor. 2:2)

A Decease to be accomplished

The death of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, is the event that stands out above all other events of history. It was a decease that He accomplished. Although constantly threatened with assassination and summary execution, He declared the impossibility of Him dying anywhere but Jerusalem, and at any time other than Passover. Even, in the face of a detachment of Roman infantry, at the very time He had diarised for His death, He was adamant that He could still escape if He wished to; legions of angels would come at His call. He had boldly stated, “I lay down my life … no-one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself”. He had also added, “… that I might take it again. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again.” (John 10.17,18)

This identifies an element that requires us to step back and marvel. Not only was His death voluntary, at a pre-determined time and place, but His resurrection also. He had to die in the year prophesied by Daniel (Dan.9.25), that is 483 years after the edict to rebuild Jerusalem—and it had to be at Passover as the Paschal Lamb in accordance with the prophetic element of the Feast calendar—and He had to rise on the Feast of Firstfruits as the firstfruit from among the dead, for a similar reason.

The decease that He accomplished ranks as a work of enormous value inasmuch as by it He appeased the wrath of God, provided expiation for sin and compensated His Father for all loss and damage received at the hand of humankind. He provided means for sins to be forgiven and sinners to be cleansed. The work of the cross has a quality that satisfies a righteous God and eases the conscience of man.

The Shadow of the Cross

As the shadow of Peter transmitted health to those who were touched by it, so the cross provides benefit and blessing to those who acknowledge its worth and shelter in its shade. The ‘towering cross’ (as Bowring put it) throws a long shadow forward and is able still, to touch lives in every community. But its shadow reaches back in time also. In the ancient counsels of the Godhead, the cross featured largely.

Peter wrote that Jesus was foreordained before the foundation of the world to be a sacrificial lamb. (1 Pet.1.19,20)
And those that seek shelter in the cross of Christ are spoken of as chosen in Him “before the foundation of the world”. (Eph.1.4)

These truths are clearly within the wider context which was revealed in His prayer to His Father when He asked, “O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was”. (John 17.5)

In these Scriptures we have:
The Christ before the foundation of the world.
The Cross before the foundation of the world.
The Church before the foundation of the world.

The Shadow of the Cross in Genesis

When God was announcing the remedy for the treachery of the serpent in the Garden of Eden, He said the Serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. This prophetic image indicated that the Son of God, who would be the seed of the woman, would suffer at the hands of the Serpent, although the contest would ultimately result in the defeat of Satan. Because God is omniscient, that is all wise, it must be that He works to a plan. The plan was that He Himself, in the person of God the Son, would be incarnate. He would suffer and die to accomplish the redemption of humankind.

There is a hint of it in the meeting of Abram and Melchizedek. The High Priest Melchizedek, a shadowy figure granted to prefigure the eternal priesthood of Christ, came to Abram with bread and wine. Bread and wine were the elements that Jesus the Messiah consecrated to His own high purpose just prior to His execution.

The shadow of the cross can be seen much clearer in Abraham’s encounter with God recorded in Gen. 22. The Lord had been relating and inter-reacting with Abraham for many decades. With each encounter Abraham was being groomed to know a little more of the mind of God, and be brought more into conformity with the character of God. Now, in his old age, Abraham was privileged to be tested in a way that would reflect the work of God the Father when the Son of God had to be offered up as a whole burnt offering on the altar of Golgotha. Abraham answered the call of God in verse 1 with the word ‘hineni’. Translated ‘here am I’ it indicates readiness, receptivity and responsiveness to instructions. The word ‘hineni’ is a refrain in the whole episode. Abraham employs it to answer God in v.1, to reply to Isaac in v.7, and to the angel of the Lord in v.11. The call came from the true, personal God, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”

Here then, is the first mention of love in the T’nach, and it is a father’s love for his son. The test required Abraham to totally abandon his son to death. Isaac was the son in whom the hope of the world rested. The promises of God were encapsulated in this boy. Could Father Abraham embrace the will of God and enact a sacrifice that would typify the sacrifice that God the Father would be required to make? Abraham totally accepted the command of God and was ready to surrender his son to the will of God, yet knowing in his heart that the promises of God were inviolable and would hold firm.

Of course, God did not require human sacrifice and provided an animal for Abraham to offer on the altar, thus cementing the principle of substitution. In such a way, Abraham was permitted to prefigure to the Jewish nation, the code that would underpin their salvation.

There is a sweet touch in the narrative when Isaac, ignorant of the intention of Abraham, asked to see the sacrificial lamb. Abraham replied, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering”, or better, “God himself will provide the lamb for a burnt offering”, as the RSV translates it. Nevertheless, the truth that will be evident at Calvary is that - God Himself will provide the lamb, together with - God will provide Himself a lamb - that is, God, in the person of the Son will voluntarily die as the Lamb which bears away the sin of the world.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Messiah and the Feasts of Israel

'The Messiah and the Feasts of Israel' is the latest book from the pen of Bryan Sheldon. The synopsis is as follows:

The Feasts of the Lord were placed in the calendar of the Hebrew nation as a prophetic timetable of God's redemptive plan. Israel, in celebrating the spring cycle of feasts was compelled to look back to their deliverance from Egyptian slavery and the giving of the Torah. But these feasts were not only memorials of great acts of God in the past, but also finger-posts to future events when Messiah would come. For the Messiah would:

  1. Die a substitutionary death at Passover

  2. Be buried at the Feast of Unleavened Bread

  3. Be resurrected at the Feast of Firstfruits, and

  4. Pour out the Spirit of God from His place of ascension at the Feast of Weeks

Moreover, the prophetic timetable has not yet run its course, for the fulfilment of the autumn cycle of Feasts is still to come. The Messiah will:

  1. Return at a future Feast of Trumpets

  2. Judge the Jewish nation on a coming Day of Atonement, and

  3. Initiate the millennial kingdom at a Feast of Tabernacles

Let it be known that God is still the Lord of History and He is working His purposes out as year succeeds year.