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.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

The Messiah and His Miracles

The Conflict with the Sanhedrists

The Reason for the rejection of the generation that rejected their Messiah

Last time we looked at the 10 rebellions that the Rabbis list regarding the rejection of the wilderness generation.

Even a cursory glance at these will show how the children repeat the sins of the fathers. Here are some examples.

The generation that rejected Jesus repeated the essence of the first rebellion of the wilderness generation. If I may paraphrase the first rebellion to suit the second, “leave us alone that we may serve the Romans.  It is better for us to serve the Romans than lose our place and nation”.[1]

Despite the rebellion at Marah, God promised, “none of these diseases”; providing a wonderful name, ‘Jehovah Raphah’, “I am the Lord that healeth thee”. Jesus, “… healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying: He Himself took our infirmities And bore our sicknesses.[2] Yet they still rejected Him!

When they questioned the beneficence of God at Rephidim, God graciously gave them water from the rock.  After they accused Jesus of having a devil, He graciously offered them living water.[3]

Israel, in the wilderness, blasphemed YHWH by assigning the redeeming power that rescued them to an idol.  The Israel of Jesus’ day blasphemed the Spirit of God, by assigning the miracles performed by the Messiah to the Devil.[4]

Bread of Heaven

Perhaps the most significant rebellion of Israel was the one that took place after the ten listed.  It was a revolt that arose from their dislike of the heavenly manna, the food provided by YHWH to sustain them.  Their rejection of the bread of heaven can be compared with the rejection of the Messiah, ‘the Bread of Life’. In respect of the wilderness generation, God greatly condemned the rejection of the manna, and because of its high significance, did not postpone judgement.  The T’nach first gives us the complaint of the rebels: “… the people spoke against God and against Moses: Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and our soul loathes (detests) this worthless bread.”[5]  Then follows the description of the reaction of YHWH: “So the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the people of Israel died.”[6]  When that generation rebelled against the bread from heaven, YHWH lifted His protection from the nation, effectively delivering them to Satan, who immediately sent in poisonous serpents to wreak havoc among the rebels!  The only antidote to the poison of the snakes was faith in the God that had the serpent in subjection, which faith they could express by looking toward the brass serpent impaled on a pole.

The nation under Caiaphas despised God’s provision, Jesus the Messiah, the true bread from heaven. He was hated without a cause”,[7] and He “endured … hostility from sinners against Himself”.[8] When Israel rejected God’s Son, their Messiah, YHWH lifted his hand of protection (as He had with the wilderness generation) and effectively delivered the nation to Satan. The dogma of the Sanhedrists, like the poison of the serpents in the wilderness, was allowed to course through the veins of the nation. Jesus left Israel to the Pharisees and Sadducees, personnel who mouthed the doctrines of the Serpent and who had the poison of asps under their lips.[9] They would lead the nation to destruction, in the name of patriotism, and in defence of tradition. Those that followed them and their system of righteousness would perish both physically and spiritually. They would be a nation possessed by multiple evils.[10] Those individuals, who wished to remain under the protection of God, would have to repudiate the decision of Israel’s highest court, and receive Jesus of Nazareth as their Messiah, even though the Sanhedrin rejected Him and Rome executed Him.  Like those in the wilderness who wished to survive the activity of Satan, they would have to look to the gibbet, where the physical evidence of ‘the serpent in subjection’ was visible. “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.[11]

The suffering Servant of YHWH, in His death, followed a path that was the exact opposite to the path of Lucifer.  Lucifer tried to exalt himself, while Jesus humbled Himself. Lucifer rebelled against the will of YHWH, while Jesus Messiah embraced the will of His Father. The results were exactly the opposite too. Lucifer was ‘cast down’, where the Son of God was ‘lifted up’.  The rebellion of Satan brought death and suffering whereas the obedience of Messiah brought life and blessing. The Roman gibbet on which He was executed became the symbol of the serpent defeated, for through death He rendered powerless the one who had the power of death, that is, the Devil, and freed those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.[12] God will cast Lucifer down to the lowest depths of the bottomless pit – Jesus will have the highest honour that heaven possesses.[13]

Next Time: The Unpardonable Sin

[1] cf.Exod.14.11,12 with John 11.48
[2]cf. Exod.15.26 with Matt.8.16,17
[3] cf. Exod.17.1-3 with John 7.20,37,38
[4] cf. Exod.32.4 with Matt.12.24
[5] Numb.21.5
[6] Numb.21.6
[7] John 15.25
[8] Heb.12.3
[9] Rom.3.13
[10] Matt.12.45
[11] John 3.14,15
[12] Heb.2.14,15
[13] Phil.2.9-11

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Messiah and His Miracles

The Conflict with the Sanhedrists (Continued)

The reason for the rejection of the generation that rejected their Messiah

The T’nach gives the reasons for the rejection of the wilderness generation.  By examining the narrative of nation’s experience under the ministry of God’s first Deliverer, Moses, and comparing it to the attitude and actions of the nation under the ministry of God’s last Deliverer, the Messiah, Jesus, we will be able to identify some of the principles involved in these sweeping judgements of God.

For the wilderness generation, God identified the point of no return to Moses: “Then the Lord said to Moses: How long will these people reject Me? And how long will they not believe Me, with all the signs which I have performed among them?”[1] Also, “…all these men who have seen My glory and the signs which I did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and have put Me to the test now these ten times, and have not heeded My voice, they certainly shall not see the land of which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who rejected Me see it”.[2]  Notice, how YHWH refers to the rejection of Moses as a rejection of Himself.   The rejection of Moses can be identified in the following rebellions.

In the first one listed below, i.e. “then they said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness”.  In the second and third, they “complained against Moses”  In the fourth they, “contended against Moses”, and in the ninth and tenth “they did not heed Moses”.

The Rabbis list the ten rebellions as follows:

(i)                 At the Red Sea: “Then they said to Moses, Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”[1]  They were on the threshold of a mighty miracle if they had only trusted, for the Lord divided the waters of the Red Sea and completed the defeat of Pharaoh.

(ii)               At Marah: “Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people complained against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?[2]  Again they needed to trust in God!  He made the bitter waters sweet and promised that none of the diseases that were common among the Egyptians would affect any Israelite.

(iii)             In the wilderness of Sin: “Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, Oh, that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”[3] This is where YHWH began to rain on them manna from heaven!

(iv)             At Rephidim: “Then all the congregation of the children of Israel set out on their journey from the Wilderness of Sin, according to the commandment of the Lord, and camped in Rephidim; but there was no water for the people to drink. Therefore the people contended with Moses, and said, Give us water, that we may drink. So Moses said to them, Why do you contend with me? Why do you tempt the Lord? And the people thirsted there for water, and the people complained against Moses, and said, Why is it you have brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our livestock with thirst?”[4]  Here, significantly, the Lord provided water from the rock.

(v)               At Horeb, the golden calf revolt: “And he (Aaron) received the gold from their hand, and he fashioned it with an engraving tool, and made a moulded calf. Then they said, This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”[5] So serious was this rebellion that YHWH implied that the survival of the nation was in the balance.  The intercession of Moses, God’s Messiah, averted immediate judgement.

(vi)             At Tabeerah: The rebellion against the route chosen by YHWH: “Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord; for the Lord heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the Lord burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”[6]  They survived once more through the intercession of Moses, although a great number first died under the judgement of God.

(vii)           At the graves of lust: “Now the mixed multitude who were among them yielded to intense craving; so the children of Israel also wept again and said: Who will give us meat to eat? We remember the fish which we ate freely in Egypt, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our whole being is dried up; there is nothing at all except this manna before our eyes!”[7]  Here YHWH gave them meat in abundance.

(viii)         At Kadesh Barnea: “So all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, If only we had died in the land of Egypt! Or if only we had died in this wilderness! Why has the Lord brought us to this land to fall by the sword, that our wives and children should become victims? Would it not be better for us to return to Egypt? So they said to one another, Let us select a leader and return to Egypt.[8] The words of this mutiny form the basis of the judgement of God upon that generation.  The rebellious parents were to die in the wilderness, but the children would not become victims.  YHWH would protect them and take them into the promised land.

(ix)             The rebellion of certain individuals against the commandments of God at the giving of the manna: “they did not heed Moses. But some of them left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and stank. And Moses was angry with them.”[9] 

(x)               And again, the rebellion of certain individuals against the commandments of God at the giving of the manna: “Now it happened that some of the people went out on the seventh day to gather, but they found none.”[10]

More Next Time:
[1] Exod.14.11,12
[2] Exod.15.23,24
[3] Exod.16.2,3
[4] Exod.17.1-3
[5] Exod.32.4
[6] Numb.11.1
[7] Numb.11.4-6
[8] Numb.14.1-4
[9] Exod.16.20
[10] Exod.16.27

[1] Numb.14.11
[2] Numb.14.22,23