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.

Friday, May 20, 2011

The Messiah and the Ritual of Israel (Continued)

Sacrifices and Offerings (Continued)

The Psalms of David (Continued)

We continue our consideration of Psalm 22 for it is its first line which 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 realized that it was the climax of a war of hatred that was as old as mankind; the unceasing conflict that dated from the Garden of Eden. It was the pivotal battle that the pre-incarnate Christ had prophesied; and the incarnate Christ undertook to win.  And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall 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. 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. 
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 but 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?” Jesus, suffering the attack of the most powerful created being, without recourse to His own qualities of deity, and without divine help, cried, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani” “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt.27.46)
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Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Messiah and the Ritual of Israel (Continued)

Sacrifices and Offerings (Continued)


David, who succeeded Saul as King, has become known as the sweet Psalmist of Israel. He was committed to protecting and promoting the activities of the priests of YHWH. He re-organized the priesthood from twelve to twenty four courses, each with a chief priest. Also the Zadokian dynasty of chief priests was established during his reign. This is the order, committed to righteousness, which will function in the Messianic Kingdom under King Jesus.
David’s Psalms, 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. Under the tutelage of Samuel he honed his gift of music and prophecy at the Naioth School of Prophets, and accordingly became a perfect channel to write as the Spirit of God moved him. Peter speaks of him as a prophet.
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 Savior 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. 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 the distilled essence of the wrath of man and the wrath of Satan.
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 color 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.
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 fulfillment 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).

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Friday, May 6, 2011

The Messiah and the Ritual of Israel (Continued)

Sacrifices and offerings

David and Solomon

The period from Moses to David and Solomon provides little in the way of new light in respect of sacrifices and offerings, although the ark itself had several adventures. It is when Israel became a true monarchy under David that there was further impetus given to the concept of a ‘kingdom of priests’. This is the particular focus of the first book of Chronicles. While the books of first and second Kings also deal with the monarchy, the promise of the Davidic Covenant and the establishment of the Jerusalem Temple, they are written from the point of view of the prophet, whereas Chronicles is written from the point of view of the priest. The Chronicler is concerned to get to Solomon and the building of the Temple. But we need to consider David’s contribution first. Not only did he desire to construct a permanent building to house the ark but many of his meditations were, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, prophetic of the time when the ultimate blood sacrifice would be offered.

Samuel and Saul

It is the ministry of Samuel that laid the foundation for the period of the Kings. It is his call, training and rule that was used to move the nation of Israel from a loose confederation of tribes ruled by Judges to a united kingdom under one king. He was faithful to YHWH and received those messages from the  throne of God that enabled him to know the mind of God in respect of the divine plan for Israel. He was aware that, on the horizon were those changes in the government of Israel that would better illustrate the declared purpose of God that they should be a ‘kingdom of priests’. Under David first, and then more so with the building of the Temple by Solomon, they progressed to be the model for a Messianic kingdom under the Son of David.
When Samuel succeeded to the priestly office he became a pillar in the defense of Israel. A Nazarite from birth, at his peak he was the prophet, judge and priest of Israel. He it was, that informed Saul that he had forfeited the kingdom by disobedience. The circumstance of the rejection is illuminating. Saul demonstrated his lack of faith in the Lord by being agitated by the late arrival of Samuel to offer sacrifice prior to a military campaign. He usurped the priest’s office by making the sacrifice himself, thus incurring the displeasure of Samuel and the judgment of the Lord. This signaled the removal of Saul’s authority as king of Israel, losing him the protection of the Lord. It also signaled the beginning of David’s authority, which increased under the guidance and protection of YHWH. The importance of the incident for our purpose is that it again identifies that the priest’s office should be occupied by those properly called and trained, and that the safety and blessing of God’s ancient people depended on the activity of the priesthood. Moreover, the sacrifices could not be used as an end in themselves, that is, like a talisman to ensure the support of the Lord. Samuel summed it up: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams (1 Sam. 15:22).

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