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Messiah's Kingdom

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Zechariah 14:1-21

14:1 Behold, a day of Yahweh comes, when your spoil will be divided in your midst. 14:2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city will be taken, the houses rifled, and the women ravished. Half of the city will go out into captivity, and the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 14:3 Then Yahweh will go out and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle. 14:4 His feet will stand in that day on the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in two, from east to west, making a very great valley. Half of the mountain will move toward the north, and half of it toward the south. 14:5 You shall flee by the valley of my mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azel; yes, you shall flee, just like you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Yahweh my God will come, and all the holy ones with you. 14:6 It will happen in that day, that there will not be light, cold, or frost. 14:7 It will be a unique day which is known to Yahweh; not day, and not night; but it will come to pass, that at evening time there will be light.

14:8 It will happen in that day, that living waters will go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea; in summer and in winter will it be. 14:9 Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one. 14:10 All the land will be made like the Arabah, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; and she will be lifted up, and will dwell in her place, from Benjamin's gate to the place of the first gate, to the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananel to the king's winepresses. 14:11 Men will dwell therein, and there will be no more curse; but Jerusalem will dwell safely. 14:12 This will be the plague with which Yahweh will strike all the peoples who have warred against Jerusalem: their flesh will consume away while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will consume away in their sockets, and their tongue will consume away in their mouth. 14:13 It will happen in that day, that a great panic from Yahweh will be among them; and they will lay hold everyone on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand will rise up against the hand of his neighbour. 14:14 Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered together: gold, and silver, and clothing, in great abundance. 14:15 So will be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the donkey, and of all the animals that will be in those camps, as that plague. 14:16 It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, Yahweh of Armies, and to keep the feast of tents. 14:17 It will be, that whoever of all the families of the earth doesn't go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, Yahweh of Armies, on them there will be no rain. 14:18 If the family of Egypt doesn't go up, and doesn't come, neither will it rain on them. This will be the plague with which Yahweh will strike the nations that don't go up to keep the feast of tents. 14:19 This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations that don't go up to keep the feast of tents. 14:20 In that day there will be on the bells of the horses, "HOLY TO YAHWEH"; and the pots in Yahweh's house will be like the bowls before the altar. 14:21 Yes, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to Yahweh of Armies; and all those who sacrifice will come and take of them, and cook in them. In that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of Yahweh of Armies.

As we saw on Day 11 of this series, from Isaiah 61 to 63, God has commenced doing a good thing through the Servant Messiah.  At His first coming as a baby, this Servant Messiah ushered in the Year of the Lord's favour.  We live in that period of time now, and it will continue until the Servant Messiah, Jesus Christ, comes again in glory and majesty.  He will take those obedient followers to the City of God.  For those who reject Him and the free offer of God's grace, there is the Day of Vengeance.  Now in Zechariah 14, we get a different perspective.  We get a vision of the Kingdom of God at that tie in the future.  So let us take a flight with Zechariah, into the future to see what this Messiah's Kingdom is like, where Jerusalem where mentioned, is in fact the New Jerusalem, the City of God!.

God Will Be King!

God will be king and lead the battle (Zechariah 14:3)!  The original hearers and readers of this letter would remember how in times past, God has done mighty things for them!  Things such as the parting of the Red Sea in order to escape the rampaging Egyptians. Just as God caused the Red Sea to split in two, so says Zechariah, God will split a mountain in two, and leave a valley in the middle to escape their enemies!  The Almighty and Living God is coming with His legions of angels and the saints!  You can almost feel Zechariah getting caught up in the ecstatic vision!

That day, as described in Zechariah 14:6-7, will be unique and special.  That day is only known to Yahweh!  There will be a special and unusual light! Then in Zechariah 14:8, there will be living water permanently.  The old Jerusalem had poor water supply, but the New Jerusalem will have a permanent supply of Living Water!  This day sees the end of the "Year of the Lord's Favour" and leads in the new heavens and new earth we discussed a couple of days ago.

Zechariah 14:9 "Yahweh will be King over all the earth. In that day Yahweh will be one, and his name one."

God will not just rule over Jerusalem, but will rule and reign over all the earth.  There is a day approaching with all the world, whether they want to or not, will acknowledge the Messiah's lordship, glory, beauty, majesty and authority to rule over them. There will be One Lord to rule over all.  Remember the ancient Israelites used to quote the Shema "Hear O Israel; the Lord our God, the Lord is One. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5).

Enemies Defeated!

What of those who stand against God and against God's people? They will be defeated and as God's opponents, they will not be able to stand, and won't be able to see or speak.  Decay has overtaken them as plaque and panic confuse and debilitate them.  So it is with the enemies of God and His people, they wont be able to travel and flee as their transportation will also have decayed. .

The New Age Has Come

In the Kingdom of the Messiah, under His rule, reign and authority, all will be holy.  As a result there will be no more sin, death, destruction or decay.  Everything will be devoted to the Lord God and His Kingdom.  All has been transformed, for the glory and sake of the Servant Messiah.

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus describes this day in Mark 13:24-27 "But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky."

Jesus is the light of the world and giver of Living water! Remember just a few days ago, we discussed this!  In Zechariah 14:7, we see again that light of the world shining in the evening and the New Jerusalem flowing with Living Water!

Paul writing in Philippians 2:5-11 says "Have this in your mind, which was also in Christ Jesus, who, existing in the form of God, didn't consider equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, yes, the death of the cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him, and gave to him the name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father."

When Jesus ascended into the heavens in Acts 1:1-14, two angels appeared to the disciples saying ""You men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who was received up from you into the sky will come back in the same way as you saw him going into the sky."

When in the final book of the Bible, Jesus says these words in Revelation 21:5-7 " He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." He said, "Write, for these words of God are faithful and true." He said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give freely to him who is thirsty from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes, I will give him these things. I will be his God, and he will be my son."

May it be so, Lord Jesus, and help all of us who love you to overcome and be obedient to You!  Through these twelve brief studies in Isaiah and Zechariah, we see the promises of God being fulfilled in the Messiah Servant, Messiah Shepherd, Messiah King, Messiah Prophet, Messiah Priest and Messiah Disciple. This is only fulfilled in and through that God-man, Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate.  But also remember that this Jesus, is no longer a baby in a manger, but will be coming back again one day to rule the world with justice and grace to the praise and glory of Almighty God.

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Messiah's Proclamations

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Isaiah 61:1–11; 63:1-6

61:1 The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and release to those who are bound; 61:2 to proclaim the year of Yahweh's favour, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; 61:3 to appoint to those who mourn in Zion, to give to them a garland for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of Yahweh, that he may be glorified. 61:4 They shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations. 61:5 Strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and foreigners shall be your ploughmen and your vinedressers. 61:6 But you shall be named the priests of Yahweh; men will call you the ministers of our God: you will eat the wealth of the nations, and you will boast in their glory. 61:7 Instead of your shame you shall have double; and instead of dishonour they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess double; everlasting joy shall be to them. 61:8 "For I, Yahweh, love justice, I hate robbery with iniquity; and I will give them their recompense in truth, and I will make an everlasting covenant with them. 61:9 Their seed shall be known among the nations, and their offspring among the peoples; all who see them shall acknowledge them, that they are the seed which Yahweh has blessed." 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in Yahweh, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels. 61:11 For as the earth brings forth its bud, and as the garden causes the things that are sown in it to spring forth; so the Lord Yahweh will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.

63:1 Who is this who comes from Edom, with dyed garments from Bozrah? this who is glorious in his clothing, marching in the greatness of his strength? "It is I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save." 63:2 Why are you red in your clothing, and your garments like him who treads in the wine vat? 63:3 "I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the peoples there was no man with me: yes, I trod them in my anger, and trampled them in my wrath; and their lifeblood is sprinkled on my garments, and I have stained all my clothing. 63:4 For the day of vengeance was in my heart, and the year of my redeemed has come. 63:5 I looked, and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold: therefore my own arm brought salvation to me; and my wrath, it upheld me. 63:6 I trod down the peoples in my anger, and made them drunk in my wrath, and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth."

In this passage from Isaiah 61 through to Isaiah 63, we have two contrasting certainties.  They can be found in Isaiah 61:2.  The two certainties are "the year of Yahweh's favour, and the day of vengeance of our God".   There will be the year of favour and the day of vengeance.  The year of honour, as we shall see has already started.  We don't know when it will end, but we know that it will. The day of vengeance will be in the future sometime. Again we don't know when that will be either.  But we know it will all happen quickly, suddenly and without warning (Isaiah 60:22).  Therefore people need to be ready and alert!  The time of when it will occur is not known, but it is known who will end it - Almighty God.

Messiah's Good News

The Servant Messiah speaks without being introduced this time, and is the preacher in the year of the Lord's favour.  This preaching is probably a referral to the rams horn that ushers in the Year of Jubilee as established in the Mosaic Covenant (Leviticus 25:8-55).  The Servant Messiah's preaching will usher in a time of grace, justice and freedom - just as the ram's horn introduced the Year of Jubilee.  The phrase to "proclaim liberty" is used in both the year of Jubilee and in this the year of the Lord's favour.  This proclaimed year of the Lord's favour starts when the Messiah comes the first time and will cease when He returns again.  The word year, is not a fixed period of time as we know it, but is rather symbolic of an extended period of time.  This Servant Messiah is anointed with the Holy Spirit of God.  This Good News was to be preached to the humble, the poor and poor in spirit - the Good News is news of freedom, liberty, grace and justice!  The comfort they will receive should the offer be taken up, is one of being released from condemnation for sin through the Messiah's offer of forgiveness - that is grace! Because of this grace, three things will be occur for these people who have accept the offer, here referred to in Isaiah 61:3 as "trees of righteousness" : they will display or reflect the Lord God's glory and splendour; they will be priests of the Lord God service; and will inherit all things!

Messiah's Grace & Justice

What is the outcome and result of grace? We see it in Isaiah 61:7-9.  Almighty God's grace, available only through the Messiah, will bring bountiful blessing, ecstatic joy and a rich inheritance instead of shame, dishonour and exile.  Grace may well be free but it is not cheap. What was the price? The relationship bridge to God that is the Messiah, is only through the Messiah's suffering atonement as described in Isaiah 53.  Isaiah moves to justice quite naturally therefore, for grace and justice are like twins - they go together naturally.  Justice is grace in action just as much as it is the judging of those in sin (Isaiah 61:8). Liberating people from sin freely (grace) is as much a part of justice as punishing those who reject the gracious offer of pardon and continue to live sinful lives.  Grace and justice are also available, because God is always full of grace and justice and this is seen in the new covenant He makes with those who have heard this Good News proclaimed by the Messiah and responded by taking up His free offer.

This Good News of the twins Grace and Justice brings an offering of thanksgiving and praise (Isaiah 61:10-11)! Clothed with salvation from and through God's Messiah, robed with the righteousness of God's Messiah! And because God has done it for this one man, He will ensure that all those who respond from all nations will also be like that in a responsive praise and Godly righteousness.

Messiah's Vengeance

We have been warned in Isaiah 61:2 that not only will the Messiah usher in the year of the Lord's favour, but He will also bring vengeance with him.  People today don't like the word vengeance because it conjures up images of maliciousness and vindictiveness.   This vengeance is wrought by Almighty God as punishment for people's personal sin against Him.  His anger is a righteous anger and a wrath borne of holiness.  His judgment will be final and also universal - every people of every nation of all time.  In particular, however, those who would persecute, mock, abhor and reject those who have taken up God's free offer of grace through the coming Messiah.

How is Jesus this Messiah?

In Luke 4:16-20 at the beginning of His public ministry at a synagogue in Nazareth, Jesus quotes this passage from Isaiah 61.  This tells us that the year of the Lord's favour has commenced.  But note from the passage in Luke, that he doesn't quote the full scripture.  He stops in the middle of reading a sentence, just as soon as He says "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour", rolls the scroll back up.  Why does he do that?  It can only be because while now until He returns, is the year of the Lord's favour, the day of judgement and vengeance will wait until that day in the future - when those who are His followers will enter the City of God and those who rejected Him will have vengeance wrought against them.

Jesus went around, as we know, proclaiming the same Good News Isaiah writes about (Matthew 9:35, Luke 8:1).   Jesus proclaimed in his words and his life about God's love, grace and justice.  When he healed the sick, forgave sins, gave compassion on the poor, spoke and ate with the outcasts, Jesus Christ embodied this message of grace, justice and freedom.  When, as we saw on a previous day, death on the cross was the act of atonement required by God in order to punish the sins of the world, Jesus Christ did not shirk back from doing that.

As for the day of vengeance, nobody talked about hell and God's judgement more than Jesus.  But God is always reaching out, coaxing people to accept His free offer of grace, if people will only humble themselves and ask for it.  God's offer of freedom is still available in this the year of the Lord's favour.  But one day, the day of judgement will come and then it will be too late.  That is why Jesus commanded with some urgency that His followers would tell all nations of this Good News, Isaiah wrote about.  A Good News of salvation, grace, justice and freedom.

Jesus, reinforcing what Isaiah has said, tells us that the day of vengeance is for those who reject the Good News he preaches and lives (Matthew 10v14-15). God's Day of Judgment is coming said Jesus (Matthew 12:36).  What's more, Jesus said in John 5:22-23 "For the Father judges no one, but he has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He who doesn't honour the Son doesn't honour the Father who sent him." Jesus claims here to openly be the Messiah, the long awaited for chosen One! An even more overt statement by Jesus on judgment can be found in John 9:39, "I came into this world for judgment, that those who don't see may see; and that those who see may become blind." Jesus tells us that the punishment will be both physical (Matthew 5v29-30), and in the soul (Matthew 10v28).  This vengeance will consist of everlasting fire and punishment (Matthew 25v41-46) and will be Constant and outer darkness (Matthew 8v12). In other words, those rejecting the Messiah Jesus Christ, will face a lonely, impersonal God-less void.  All this will happen when Jesus comes again, not as a baby like last time, but in glorious splendour.

But for all those who accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah and have grasped hold of the Good News message of grace, justice and liberty, there will be another place.  According to Jesus, this heavenly city of God is only for those who are righteous (Matthew 5v20). In doing so, he concurs with Isaiah.  This righteousness is not their own, but the robe righteousness declared upon them through the Messiah.

This heavenly city of God, Jesus proclaims to us is a place of ecstatic Joy (Luke 15v7-10), total peace (Luke 16v19-25) and a reward (Matthew 5v11-12) - all themes we have heard in these books of Isaiah and Zechariah.

There is one more study to come.  As this is released on Christmas day, you may wonder why.  My reason for doing so, was that yes we celebrate Jesus Christ coming to earth as a baby.  Yes, His incarnation whereby God took on human flesh in the human form of Jesus Christ is important.  That iw when the year of the Lord's favour commenced. But that is only half the story, because this Jesus Christ is coming back again in splendorous glory, in order to gather all those who have responded obediently to the Good News of God's grace, justice and freedom.  For those, the heavenly city of God awaits.  But for those who reject Him now, He will reject them and the day of vengeance proclaimed in Isaiah will be a terrible day.  That is why even as it is now the year of the Lord's favour; it is not too late to respond obediently to God's free grace.  It is also not too late for you, if you are already counted as one of the Lord's followers to tell others of this free offer and the rewards of acceptance and consequences of rejection.

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Messiah's Rejection

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Zechariah 11:1 - 17

11:1 Open your doors, Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars. 11:2 Wail, fir tree, for the cedar has fallen, because the stately ones are destroyed. Wail, you oaks of Bashan, for the strong forest has come down. 11:3 A voice of the wailing of the shepherds! For their glory is destroyed: a voice of the roaring of young lions! For the pride of the Jordan is ruined. 11:4 Thus says Yahweh my God: "Feed the flock of slaughter. 11:5 Their buyers slaughter them, and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be Yahweh, for I am rich;' and their own shepherds don't pity them. 11:6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land," says Yahweh; "but, behold, I will deliver the men everyone into his neighbor's hand, and into the hand of his king. They will strike the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them." 11:7 So I fed the flock of slaughter, especially the oppressed of the flock. I took for myself two staffs. The one I called "Favor," and the other I called "Union," and I fed the flock. 11:8 I cut off the three shepherds in one month; for my soul was weary of them, and their soul also loathed me. 11:9 Then I said, "I will not feed you. That which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let those who are left eat each other's flesh." 11:10 I took my staff Favor, and cut it apart, that I might break my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11:11 It was broken in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that listened to me knew that it was the word of Yahweh. 11:12 I said to them, "If you think it best, give me my wages; and if not, keep them." So they weighed for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 11:13 Yahweh said to me, "Throw it to the potter, the handsome price that I was valued at by them!" I took the thirty pieces of silver, and threw them to the potter, in the house of Yahweh. 11:14 Then I cut apart my other staff, even Union, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. 11:15 Yahweh said to me, "Take for yourself yet again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 11:16 For, behold, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who will not visit those who are cut off, neither will seek those who are scattered, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that which is sound; but he will eat the flesh of the fat sheep, and will tear their hoofs in pieces. 11:17 Woe to the worthless shepherd who leaves the flock! The sword will be on his arm, and on his right eye. His arm will be completely withered, and his right eye will be totally blinded!"

So far in our journey we have seen that the future is glory for the Servant Messiah and all those who choose to follow Him!  It is a future of hope, joy, excitement, awe, wonderment and glory.  But that is only one side of the future. In Zechariah 11, we come to another part of the future; the part of the future which is for all those who would reject God's Servant Messiah.  While Zechariah talks in picture language and symbols, the overall message is startlingly clear: those who reject the Messiah, will in the future be rejected by Him!  But we are not given the full details here, but rather are told the why it will happen.

Judgment is coming

Here in Zechariah 11:1-3 we see this judgement coming.  The strong barriers of the door are removed!  There are no barriers strong enough to escape the judgment of God Almighty. Fire will destroy the mighty cedar trees (Zechariah 11:1), tall pines will fall wantonly (Zechariah 11:2) and fertile land will be decimated as will the places where lions inhabit (Zechariah 11:3).  Why are the shepherds crying out in dismay and angst?  Not for the land, the trees and animals! No!  They were crying out in anguish because of their loss of income! They were too busy ripping off those the people they were meant to lead, rather than leading the people rightly and righteously.  They were leaders only for what they could get out of the position they held.  They were corrupt, deceitful and arrogant.  How were the mighty cedars destroyed and barriers broken down?  History tells us that the Roman Empire swept through Lebanon, subduing the entire Lebanese leadership & independent authority under its mighty power.

The Good Shepherd

Now in Zechariah 11:4-14 we see God offering one last opportunity for the leaders of Israel to obey Almighty God.  The leaders of Israel were not looking after the people. Instead they were abandoning them and looking only after themselves.  These leaders, or shepherds, as they are referred to here were selling their own people into slavery of other nations and getting very rich because of it (Zechariah 11:5)!  It was the height of hypocrisy because they were even praising God for their wealth achieved by disobedience, deceit and lust for money.

Zechariah is asked now to play a role - representing the Shepherd Messiah feeding the sheep (Zechariah 11:4).  God issues judgment against the people of Israel, particularly the leaders, and will hand them over to their neighbours.  Since the leaders showed neither pity nor mercy, neither shall God show mercy or pity on them (Zechariah 11:6).

Zechariah continues his role as the Good Shepherd, performing much the same way the Shepherd Messiah will do, when He comes.  He tends to caring for the lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted.  Just as we have seen earlier that the Shepherd Messiah will do.  Now Zechariah takes too staffs, naming one ‘Favour' and the other ‘Union' (Zechariah 11:7).  As part of his work, three of the false leaders or shepherds are disposed off within one month.  These leaders could have been kings, priests or prophets.  Disposed off, because when the Shepherd Messiah comes, He will be as we have seen a Messiah King, Messiah Priest and Messiah Prophet, all simultaneously.

But now, in Zechariah 11:8, Zechariah as the Good Shepherd is rejected! The same way that the Shepherd Messiah will be rejected as we saw in Isaiah 53.

Good Shepherd Judges

Eventually Zechariah the Good Shepherd tires of the people's disobedience and recalcitrant attitudes and behaviour.  In Zechariah 11:9-11, he says "I will not feed you. That which dies, let it die; and that which is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let those who are left eat each other's flesh." I took my staff Favor, and cut it apart, that I might break my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. It was broken in that day; and thus the poor of the flock that listened to me knew that it was the word of Yahweh."   So because of the leadership's disobedience and self-righteousness, God is stopping the covenant between them and this is symbolized by breaking the staff called ‘Favour'. God has always kept His word and was always faithful in keeping His covenants with people and Israel. But because of the Israel's disobedience the covenant was now void and invalid.  The Good Shepherd is rejected.

The Foolish Shepherd.

Now Zechariah is to play a foolish Shepherd.  This foolish Shepherd has no time for people who are lost, oppressed, poor and afflicted.  He is only interested in himself and his own gain.  He will not look out for the sick in order to heal them or feed those who are hungry.  This foolish Shepherd is the contrast of Zechariah as the Good Shepherd and of the Shepherd Messiah to come.  What is the judgement upon this Foolish Shepherd?  His power will be taken away and his intelligence dimmed.  The staff, called ‘Union', is broken in order to symbolize the break up of the nation of Israel into north and south.

Where is Jesus the Messiah in here?

Jesus was offended and dismayed by the behaviour of, and the active disobedience by, the leaders of Israel.  He frequently told the Pharisees, Priests and other leaders that they were oppressing the poor, didn't care for the lost, neglected orphans and widows.  For example, Matthew 12:34 You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks." Or Matthew 15:3, where Jesus speaks to the Pharisees and teachers of the Law, saying "And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition?"  Yes, Jesus spent time judging and condemning the leaders of Israel for their selfishness, deceit and dishonesty.

In contrast to the Pharisees and other religious leaders, Jesus as the Good Shepherd, did seek the lost, the orphans, widows and oppressed.  He desired to spend time with them, having compassion upon them.  He healed the sick, fed the masses, gave wise counsel and proclaimed love to those who were the unloved of society.  Jesus when he looked over the crowds, commented that they were like sheep without a shepherd (Matthew 9v36).

Jesus said in John 10v10, that He gives His life that all those who follow Him, will have it more abundantly. Jesus as the Great Shepherd came to earth in order to bring sheep back into the fold; that is to bring people back into a full relationship with God. Jesus here in John 10, is looking ahead to His death on the cross as a means of facilitating the way for people to come back into a living relationship with God.  Jesus fed people, but not only physically, but spiritually!  Jesus is the Good Shepherd, the Shepherd Messiah as enacted by Zechariah.

Jesus the Shepherd Messiah was rejected! Rejected by the leaders of Israel, who accused him of being demon-possessed. Rejected as He hung on a cross for the sins of the world. Rejected because of who He was - the Shepherd Messiah, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep, the people of the world.  Jesus, the Shepherd Messiah who is also priest, prophet and prince.  Priest because He mediates between humanity and God the Father.  Prophet because He spoke forth God's word. Prince, because He is a King Messiah and is the Prince of Peace.

This Jesus, who through the Holy Spirit, beckons people to come back into relationship with God.  Just as a shepherd cares for sheep and seeks any that are lost, so too does Jesus seek out those who are lost and still reject Him.  One day it will be too late, and if Jesus is rejected in this life, then in the judgement to come, He will reject all those who reject Him now.

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Messiah's Invitation

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Isaiah 55:1 - 56:8

55:1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, to the waters! Come, he who has no money, buy, and eat! Yes, come; buy wine and milk without money and without price. 55:2 Why do you spend money for that which is not bread? And your labor for that which doesn’t satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat you that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 55:3 Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 55:4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples. 55:5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you don’t know; and a nation that didn’t know you shall run to you, because of Yahweh your God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he has glorified you.”

55:6 Seek Yahweh while he may be found; call you on him while he is near: 55:7 let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to Yahweh, and he will have mercy on him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 55:8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” says Yahweh. 55:9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 55:10 For as the rain comes down and the snow from the sky, and doesn’t return there, but waters the earth, and makes it bring forth and bud, and gives seed to the sower and bread to the eater; 55:11 so shall my word be that goes forth out of my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing I sent it to do. 55:12 For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing; and all the trees of the fields shall clap their hands. 55:13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree; and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to Yahweh for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.” 56:1 Thus says Yahweh, “Keep justice, and do righteousness; for my salvation is near to come, and my righteousness to be revealed. 56:2 Blessed is the man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast; who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing any evil.” 56:3 Neither let the foreigner, who has joined himself to Yahweh, speak, saying, “Yahweh will surely separate me from his people”; neither let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” 56:4 For thus says Yahweh, “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and hold fast my covenant: 56:5 to them I will give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name better than of sons and of daughters; I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off. 56:6 Also the foreigners who join themselves to Yahweh, to minister to him, and to love the name of Yahweh, to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath from profaning it, and holds fast my covenant; 56:7 even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” 56:8 The Lord Yahweh, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, says, “Yet will I gather others to him, besides his own who are gathered.”

Remember from Day 8, that we talked about the City of God to come, where all those who believe will live and worship the Lord God Almighty for ever! Who is this invitation for? This invitation to join is to all people of all races and nationalities!   But they have to respond to the call!

Come, see and taste

READ verse 1"Come", cries Almighty God through the prophet Isaiah.  Come!  The gates to my City are open to all who believe!   There is no entry charge, its free!  This food is free for all!  What is this food? It is mercy and pardon. Mercy from God and pardon for sin for all those who respond to the call God has put out.

Everlasting Covenant Disclosed

This is the everlasting Covenant (Isaiah 55:5-6) or the new Covenant we have talked about and was proclaimed by other prophets such as Jeremiah and Ezekiel.   Just as each of the previous covenants had a symbol to authenticate the agreement, so does this!  Noah's covenant had the rainbow, Abraham had circumcision and Moses had the sprinkling of blood.  This new and everlasting Covenant will also have a sign! The sign is disclosed in 55:13 as a everlastingly transformed universe! Amazing!  This is the climax of Isaiah so far!  This is why the Messiah Servant must suffer in Isaiah 53!  This new everlasting covenant does not cancel the other covenants, but rather fulfills them.  The final result of the Messiah Servant's work will be everything that Almighty God has promised and all promises of God will find their Amen in the Servant.

Everlasting Covenant Result

Because of this New Covenant, even though Israel will go into exile, they will return from it stronger.  As in Isaiah 55:4-5, David was made a witness to the covenant and leader of people, so too will Israel.  Once restored to the land, this Messiah Servant will come from Israel, and Israel will be used to conquer people spiritually for the Lord.

And this is no dream, hallucination or fantasy as some of the people of Israel would be thinking.  But the thoughts and mind of God is so much higher than mere mortal humanity.  For as Isaiah 55:8-9 states "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," says Yahweh. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts."

Just as plants grow when rained upon, so too will Almighty God's plans.  His word has gone out and it will not return with nothing (Isaiah 55:11).  His word has power to speak the universe into existence.  His word will bring a restoration from exile, a redeemed creation and a renewed world (Isaiah 55:12-13).   It will be a place of joy and excitement!

Come Quickly Everybody!

It is with a sense of urgency that Isaiah speaks these words of God.  Decisions must be made but guest must come!  The spiritual food of mercy and pardon is available to all, but the offer must be taken up!   If the offer is rejected, then the consequences are disastrous for the person who does not believe.  That is why the command to seek while God can be found, for there will come a time when the gates will be closed and no more admittance allowed.

Everlasting Covenant Features

What are the hallmarks of this Covenant?  Two of the characteristics are justice and openness

Justice: Isaiah 5:7 tells us that God had looked for justice but found only injustice and suffering.  Those who respond to this Everlasting Covenant will need to administer justice and live obedient lives.  They are to do this, because God's righteousness is about be disclosed (Isaiah 56:1).  They are to live an obedient life to God, not to earn salvation, but rather as a hallmark of having agreed the New Covenant with God, to symbolize that they are God's people.

Openness: This offer is open to all!   Just as the nation of Israel was always meant to be a light of God to the nations, so too are the people of the New Covenant.  They are to be a light to every nation of God's goodness and glory, extending an invitation to all to join in this life of the New Covenant.  They were to accept all those who chose to accept the offer of being bound to God Almighty through this New Covenant (Isaiah 56:3, 6).  An obvious example is that of the Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8:26-40.  This man was a eunuch from a foreign land, and according to Isaiah 56:4-7, he was to be welcomed by other acceptors of this New Covenant.  All of this resulting from the Messiah Servant's work.

Jesus as this Messiah

Lets see again from his own life and words how Jesus is this Messiah Servant.

This Jesus welcomes the burdened: Matthew 11:28-30"Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  Are you burdened down with cares, stresses and strains?  Come to Jesus today and let him take them..

Are you hungering and thirsting after righteousness? Then come to Jesus who offers Living Water and is the Bread of Life.  John 7:37-38 Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." Or John 6:35 "Then Jesus declared, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty."

Are you seeking God! Then seek! Ask! You will find!  Matthew 7:8 "For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened."

This is Jesus who said in John 12:46 "I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in the darkness"!  What's more, He said that all those who follow Him are lights to the world as well Matthew 5:14 "You are the light of the world."  That's why Jesus gave the command in Matthew 28:18-20 for His followers to go into all the world to tell about Him.

Fulfilling the Covenants

Frequently, this Jesus said that He was to fulfill what was written. One example of this is Luke 18:31-33 He took the twelve aside, and said to them, "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all the things that are written through the prophets concerning the Son of Man will be completed. For he will be delivered up to the Gentiles, will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit on. They will scourge and kill him. On the third day, he will rise again."

Primarily though is Jesus' Words in Luke 22 whereby Jesus instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion.  Luke 22:19-20 He took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and gave to them, saying, "This is my body which is given for you. Do this in memory of me."  Likewise, he took the cup after supper, saying, "This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.

Christians do this regularly as a remembrance of Jesus until He comes again (1 Corinthians 11v26)!  The bread symbolizes His body broken on the cross and the wine symbolizes His blood shed on the cross.  Further more it has other symbolic meanings, all of which symbolize the New Everlasting Covenant - a Covenant guaranteeing salvation! Amongst these meanings are that it

  • Symbolizes fellowship with other believers in the worldwide church in openness and integrity
  • Symbolizes our dependence on Christ for spiritual life and spiritual food.
  • We receive the benefits of His sacrifice as the Suffering Servant.

It signifies in the New Covenant for Christians to tell all others of this offer to come and join.  It is also for Christians to live an obedient life to God Almighty, to love justice and be welcoming to all!

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Messiah's Promise

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Isaiah 54:1 - 17

54:1 "Sing, barren, you who didn't bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, you who did not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife," says Yahweh.

54:2 "Enlarge the place of your tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of your habitations; don't spare: lengthen your cords, and strengthen your stakes.

54:3 For you shall spread out on the right hand and on the left; and your seed shall possess the nations, and make the desolate cities to be inhabited.

54:4 "Don't be afraid; for you shall not be ashamed: neither be confounded; for you shall not be disappointed: for you shall forget the shame of your youth; and the reproach of your widowhood you shall remember no more.

54:5 For your Maker is your husband; Yahweh of Armies is his name: and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall he be called.

54:6 For Yahweh has called you as a wife forsaken and grieved in spirit, even a wife of youth, when she is cast off," says your God.

54:7 "For a small moment have I forsaken you; but with great mercies will I gather you.

54:8 In overflowing wrath I hid my face from you for a moment; but with everlasting loving kindness will I have mercy on you," says Yahweh your Redeemer.

54:9 "For this is like the waters of Noah to me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah shall no more go over the earth, so have I sworn that I will not be angry with you, nor rebuke you.

54:10 For the mountains may depart, and the hills be removed; but my loving kindness shall not depart from you, neither shall my covenant of peace be removed," says Yahweh who has mercy on you.

54:11 "You afflicted, tossed with storms, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in beautiful colors, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 54:12 I will make your pinnacles of rubies, and your gates of sparkling jewels, and all your walls of precious stones. 54:13 All your children shall be taught of Yahweh; and great shall be the peace of your children.

54:14 In righteousness you shall be established: you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not be afraid; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.

54:15 Behold, they may gather together, but not by me: whoever shall gather together against you shall fall because of you.

54:16 "Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and brings forth a weapon for his work; and I have created the waster to destroy.

54:17 No weapon that is formed against you will prevail; and you will condemn every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of Yahweh, and their righteousness which is of me," says Yahweh.

God fulfils every promise made!

You may recall back on Day 4 in Isaiah 52, Isaiah started talking about a great homecoming for all those who believed.  Then on our Day 5, Isaiah gave a picture regarding the sacrificial suffering of the Messiah Servant.  Now in Isaiah 54, we see the reason for the suffering.  We see that because of this coming Messah's suffering and subsequent exultation and vindication, that God will make a New Covenant with all the peoples of the world!

God has always kept the promises He made with people!  Promises to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and David were also kept by God!  God is ever faithful and always true to His word!  And here God reminds them through Isaiah of three promises or covenants He has made: Abraham, Moses and Noah.

Past - Covenant with Abraham

Here in Isaiah 54:1-3 God reminds the people through Isaiah, that God has always kept His promises to His people!  If they looked back at the covenant promises made to Abraham, they would see this!  When they go into exile, keep hold of the promises of God and be obedient to Him!  God is always faithful and wants their total obedience to Him!

How are these verses of Isaiah 54:1-3, are meant to be a reminder of the covenant with Abraham?  The mention of the barren woman (1), tent (2) and descendants (3) would all bring to mind God's promises to Abraham... The barren woman, would be a reminder that Abraham and Sarah were aged and childless.  The tent would act as a reminder that Abraham was a tent-dweller in an alien land.  The descendants would remember that they themselves are descendants from Abraham!  And God has promised in 54:3 that they will return to the land of Abraham and populate there once more.

The Abrahamic covenant is a link to all of God's activities and programs until the end of time, when Jesus returns to gather His people to Himself.  That is how important it was, particularly to Israel!  The covenant had aspects for Abraham personally, as well as aspects that applied to all nations.

Past - Covenant with Moses

Now in Isaiah 54:4-8, God moves to the covenant He made with Moses (Exodus 19v5-8).  When as a young nation, Israel was in exile and slavery in Egypt - it was an embarrassment to her.  Now as a nation she was like an aged widow, she was due to be in exile again, but in Babylon this time. But just as God made the covenant with Israel on Mount Sinai after escaping from Egypt, so too would God restore her to Himself once again and be her husband and Redeemer.

The covenant with Moses begins with a stipulation "Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me." (Exodus 19v5).  This covenant was to Israel in order that those who believed God's promise to Abraham would know how to live righteously and obediently.

Past - Covenant with Noah

Next God talks about his promise to Noah (Genesis 9v1-19)! Now instead of just a covenant with Israel, this is a covenant with the whole world!   After the flood, Noah and his descendants spread throughout the world, bringing new life and God's blessing to all parts.  The flood is symbolic of the coming period that Israel will spend in exile, and all of the people of Israel are likened to the family of Noah and their descendants.  God will protect them in exile, just as He did Noah and his family through the flood.

God has always kept his promises to Israel!  But Israel has not always been faithful!

New Covenant of Peace - the promised New Covenant

Future - Promised New City

Now the Lord talks about the future - the now but not yet.  A great city is built to house all those who are God's people as a reward for their obedient faithfulness despite trials, sufferings and persecution!  Here Isaiah links also to the coming Messiah!  Remember the Messiah was also a Disciple taught by God (Isaiah 50:4), then so were they (54:13)! Just has He had suffered (Isaiah 53:4), so have they (Isaiah 54:11)!  Just as He was justified (Isaiah 50:8), so would they be (Isaiah 54:17).  Those who serve God Almighty with faithful obedience will share in the sufferings of the Messiah King but also participate in His glory, because they are His children.  Because of the Messiah Servant's sacrificial suffering they will be able to live in the city of God forever! God is going to make a new Covenant with people - and He can be trusted to keep His promises!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Starts the New Covenant

Both the prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel talk about the promise of this New Covenant that God will have with all of humanity.  What is this New Covenant that God is making?

Four features of this covenant are:

  • Regeneration -God will write His law on the hearts of people. (Jeremiah 31v33)
  • Restoration - God will be their God, and they will be God's people. (Jeremiah 31v33)
  • Promised Holy Spirit - God will indwell people and they will be led by Him (Jeremiah 31v 34)
  • Justification - Sins will be forgiven and removed eternally (Jeremiah 31v34)

What does all this have to do with Jesus?  This New Covenant is sealed only through the perfect sacrifice of the God-Man Jesus on the cross as spoken of in Isaiah 53:1-12.  His blood ensures the truth of this New Covenant.  His death pays the penalty for the sins of all people who say yes to God and His New Covenant. This New Covenant is contrasted with the Old Covenant or the Mosaic covenant (Jeremiah 31v32; Hebrews 8v6-13) because this New Covenant finalizes what the Mosaic Covenant could only point to: the follower of God living in a righteous life conforming to God's holy character.  In this way, Jesus is also the redeemer of the Church and the redeemer mentioned in Isaiah 54:5 & Isaiah 54:7!  He is the redeemer spoken about by Job (Job 19:25)!

Husband of the bride - the church

Jesus Christ is the head of the church!  The church is married to Jesus Christ and is frequently described as a bride! Just as the people of Israel were in Isaiah 54!  How are the church linked to Jesus Christ?

The Church is the Body of Christ and is a living organism and not merely an organization (Ephesians 1v22, 23; 4v15-16).  We are all baptized into one body (1 Corinthians 12v13) and this body is made up of many parts or believers. Each believer has a vitally necessary and important function (Ephesians 4v15; 1 Corinthians 12v13).

The Church is the Bride of Christ, which suggests the purity, holiness and faithfulness of God's people. Furthermore it suggests the great love that Jesus Christ has for His Church, the Bride (Ephesians 5v25-32; 2 Corinthians 11v2; Rev 19v7.22v17)

The Church is the Temple of Christ - Christ is building a spiritual temple with Himself as the Cornerstone or foundation. As Christian Disciples we are living stones and God dwells within the temple, filling it with all His fullness (Ephesians 2v22; 1 Peter 2v5)

God keeps His promises - Jesus is proof of that!

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Messiah's Leadership

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Zechariah 10:1 - 5

10:1 Ask of Yahweh rain in the spring time, Yahweh who makes storm clouds, and he gives rain showers to everyone for the plants in the field. 10:2 For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie; and they have told false dreams. They comfort in vain. Therefore they go their way like sheep. They are oppressed, because there is no shepherd. 10:3 My anger is kindled against the shepherds, and I will punish the male goats; For Yahweh of Armies has visited his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as his majestic horse in the battle. 10:4 From him will come forth the cornerstone, from him the nail, from him the battle bow, from him every ruler together. 10:5 They shall be as mighty men, treading down muddy streets in the battle; and they shall fight, because Yahweh is with them; and the riders on horses will be confounded.

During the time of Zechariah, the Temple was being rebuilt.  The Temple was central to Jewish worship.  But who would help give advice and solve the multitude of problems they were facing? Who cared about them?  Well, Zechariah speaks into their situation with wise words.  He has already likened the nation of Israel as being like sheep, and that God is their shepherd (Zechariah 9:16) "Yahweh their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they are like the jewels of a crown, lifted on high over his land. ".  Throughout Chapter 10, it is repeated again and again, that God will care for and bless them.  But in order to receive the blessing and care, the nation of Israelites must seek, turn and follow.

Seek God

If the people need advice and help in times of trouble and need, the first place they should look, is to the Lord their God.  They must seek and ask of Him! (10:1)! God can provide all things! He can control the weather, but these people need to stop being so independent, self-sufficient and start to rely on God and His infinite wisdom and resources.

Turn to God

In 10:2, Zechariah reminds the people of Israel, that following idols and false gods is foolishness.  These idols are self-seeking, liars and deceivers.  Israel needed to turn back to the One True Almighty God! Instead of following the glory of the Almighty God, they were turning to idols for worship, advice and listening to superstitious nonsense. And of course idols and false gods are mute! They cannot speak or give advice because they are not Gods at all!!  The sin of idolatry particularly broke the second commandment!  The people were to turn away from false gods and return to worship the One True Almighty God.

They were also to listen to the true prophets of God instead of the false prophets who deceived by speaking words they wanted to hear.

Follow Me

These sheep, the nation of Israel were to follow God.  Instead of wandering around aimlessly, they were to follow and obey God Almighty.  The Jewish leaders and teachers were supposed to be leading the nation in worship of Almighty God, but were not doing so.  Hence God in 10:3 being enraged at those who were in positions of trust who were deceivers, liars and only looking out for their own interests.  Ezekiel 34 expounds this out in much further detail!  So who were the people of Israel to follow?  They were to follow the coming Messiah.  Not only was the Messiah a King, Prophet Servant and Disciple but He would also be a Shepherd: the Good Shepherd!  From the lowliest tribe of Judah, will come this Good Shepherd "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, being small among the clans of Judah, out of you one will come forth to me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2)

Messiah Cares

This Good Shepherd will be utterly reliable, responsible, faithful and being the sure foundation that the people of Israel need, particularly in a time of crisis. In 10:4 God will send this Good Shepherd to also be a cornerstone, nail or tent peg, battle bow and a source of all ruling authority.

Cornerstone:  all ancient buildings needed a chief cornerstone to ensure a sure foundation so that the building could not fall down easily.  It held two walls together.  The imagery fits in well with the building of the Temple.  If you want to continue worshipping God, then you must get the foundations right.  The chief cornerstone of the building holds the building together.  Not only that, it gives the building shape, strength and all other stones are adjusted by it.

Nail: Another translation is that of tent-peg. Just as the chief cornerstone holds the building together, so does a tent-peg ensure that the tent stays fastened down during storms!  This Good Shepherd would ensure that everything is held together if they stick to Him.

Battle-bow:  Probably referring back to 9:13, Zechariah now likens this Shepherd Messiah to a battle-bow!  This Good Shepherd will fight to keep the wolves from harming His sheep.  He will battle for them.  This Good Shepherd will be brave, courageous and strong as he leads his people to victory!

How is Jesus this Messiah?

Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-8 "Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be opened."  In other words, ask of God your heavenly Father and your needs will be supplied!  That was how Jesus lived and obeyed, by being in constant communication with God the Father.  That is how he could live a life of utter obedience to God, because He always asked, sought and knocked.

And Jesus is the Good Shepherd, hence Him saying in John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep." Again in John 10:14-17 "I am the good shepherd. I know my own, and I'm known by my own; even as the Father knows me, and I know the Father. I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep, which are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will hear my voice. They will become one flock with one shepherd. Therefore the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again."

Jesus is the Good Shepherd only through the sacrifice he must make for His sheep. Here Jesus is looking ahead to the sacrifice He makes on the Cross. His love for all of humanity compels Him to make the ultimate sacrifice. Just as all shepherds will endanger themselves for the safety of their sheep, so too will Jesus endure the pain and suffering of the Cross, so that people can be led into safety of God's kingdom. It is in this role of the Good Shepherd, that Jesus exhibits true leadership, which is self-less and sacrificial. Ezekiel 34v11 tells of God searching out for his sheep among all nations, and this is fulfilled through Jesus. Through His perfect, obedient and voluntary sacrifice on the Cross, not only will salvation be available to the Jews but also to those of other nations.

And Jesus is willing to fight for His people! He gives spiritual armour for all those who follow Him to wear.  Christians are in a spiritual battle reminds Paul in Ephesians 6, and as the Good Shepherd, Jesus will fight and battle for us through His indwelling Holy Spirit!  For as the Bible says in 1 John 4:4 "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is he who is in you than he who is in the world."

Jesus Christ is, as Peter reminds us in 1 Peter 2:8, the Cornerstone of faith - referring back to Isaiah 8:14.  Jesus Christ is the dependable, sure foundation that all faith is to be ground upon.  All Christians are living stones, but should be living on the dependability of Jesus Christ the chief cornerstone alone!  It is only Him, who can give direction, assurance and be relied upon.  It is Him that calls all people everywhere to seek for, turn to and follow obediently.

Jesus Christ, Servant King, Servant Prophet, Servant Disciple, Servant Shepherd.  Follow Him as the great leader He is and victory is assured!  Whatever you are struggling with today, turn it over to God and ask for His help!  He has promised to help! Remember that the battle belongs to the Lord!  Amen!  Just as Jesus said to Peter in John 21:19 "Follow Me!", so Jesus calls all those willing to follow Him, to follow Him for life.  Follow and be led by Him and Him alone, regardless of what and where that might be.

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Messiah's Arrival

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Zechariah 9:9 - 12

9:9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King comes to you! He is righteous, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

9:10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow will be cut off; and he will speak peace to the nations: and his dominion will be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.

9:11 As for you also, because of the blood of your covenant, I have set free your prisoners from the pit in which is no water.

9:12 Turn to the stronghold, you prisoners of hope! Even today I declare that I will restore double to you.

The King is Coming!

We have seen in Isaiah that the coming Messiah was a Servant Prophet, a Servant Disciple and a Servant King.  Today we switch over to the Book of Zechariah to look at in more detail about this Servant King Messiah.  Zechariah gives us a picture of how the Messiah will announce His arrival and what sort of qualities that this Servant King will have.  He comes into Jerusalem on a donkey!  The phrases ‘Daughter of Zion' and ‘Daughter of Jerusalem' are terms symbolizing God's people who believe.  It is a scene of exultation, excitement and emotion.  The people recognize this man as their Messiah: their Servant-King.

Royalty: He is recognized as the long waited for king.  He is "Your King" oh nation of Israel.  King is either the Lord God (Isaiah 43:15) or a King from the line of David (2 Samuel 3:17).  This King is both and is the definitive king of Isaiah 9:7!  He is described as "yours" because this King is not a foreigner but an Israelite! But His arrival is not just for their benefit and gain as Zechariah goes on to clarify.

Righteous: In the example of Alexander the Great, we see a ruler who had great vanity, and this vanity caused him to act injudiciously at times.  Alexander the Great could have been the fulfillment of the previous section of Zechariah, particularly with his marauding forces.  This Kingly ruler however will reign with righteousness and justice.  This Messiah King will desire to enact God's Will in all circumstances and at all times - perfect obedience. Throughout the Old Testament, and in Isaiah as we have seen, righteousness is part of the Messiah!

Salvation:  This Servant King comes with salvation and saving power!  The Messiah shows Himself as one who saves and offers salvation to the people.  He has come to help and restore people back into an obedient relationship with God.  Again as we have seen with Isaiah who wrote about 200 years before Zechariah, righteousness and salvation are combined in the Servant King (Isaiah 45:8; 51:4).

Gentle: In this translation, the word lowly is used, but perhaps a better translation is ‘gentle'.  The extended meaning of this word in Hebrew signifies one who has known suffering and sorrow, and lives a simple lifestyle.  Humility is worn by this Servant King, like a crown.  There is no pride in this King, but a gentle and humble spirit.  This is reflected again by Isaiah in Isaiah 53:1-3, where the Servant King would endure rejection and suffering.  Perhaps the greatest symbol of his gentle humility is the transportation he is on.  A donkey.  Donkeys were ridden by every class of people.  This is to signify that this King is one of the people and arriving unassumingly.

What now?

Peace reigns: The Servant King Messiah has bought peace with Him!  By this, He has established the environment in order for total peace to exist! Peace comes through people telling the good news that Isaiah talked about in Isaiah 52:7.  "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!""  Peace with God comes only through the sacrifice of the Suffering Servant King of Isaiah 53.  A life of obedience to God in all those who follow this Messiah, will bring about peace between people and nations.   This Messiah's reign is not limited to Israel but all nations of the world.  The second coming of the Messiah is hinted at here, but we will save that for a couple of days time.

He releases prisoners:  This Messiah will release those who are enslaved to sin and are prisoners to its power.  He will deliver them because of the covenant that exists between God and Israel.  But this King will have a new Covenant between God and all people of all nations!  Where God will live inside those who place their hope in Him. This covenant means all people can be saved and be set free from the guilt and stain of their sinful ways.  They will be able to live a life of total obedience to God, by submitting themselves to this King!

How is Jesus this King?

This prophecy by Zechariah is seen as being fulfilled when as both Matthew and John recall how Jesus Christ entered Jerusalem on a donkey.

Matthew 21:1-5 - When they drew near to Jerusalem, and came to Bethsphage, to the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go into the village that is opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Untie them, and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord needs them,' and immediately he will send them."

All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophet, saying, "Tell the daughter of Zion, behold, your King comes to you, humble, and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey."

And the scene as recalled by John in John 12:12-15 - 12:12 "On the next day a great multitude had come to the feast. When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, they took the branches of the palm trees, and went out to meet him, and cried out, "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, the King of Israel!" Jesus, having found a young donkey, sat on it. As it is written, "Don't be afraid, daughter of Zion. Behold, your King comes, sitting on a donkey's colt."

This is Jesus, the Messiah who was and is a gentle King, reigning righteously, offering salvation and has setup the environment for peace on earth to reign.  This Jesus, who through His sacrifice on the Cross enables all people of every nation to have peace with God and have God Himself live inside them.

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Who is He? Messiah's Sacrifice

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Isaiah 52:13 - 53:12

52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high.

52:14 Like as many were astonished at you (his appearance was marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men),

52:15 so shall he sprinkle many nations; kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand.

53:1 Who has believed our message? To whom has the arm of Yahweh been revealed?

53:2 For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no good looks or majesty. When we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

53:3 He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect him.

53:4 Surely he has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted.

53:5 But he was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on him; and by his wounds we are healed.

53:6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

53:7 He was oppressed, yet when he was afflicted he didn’t open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is mute, so he didn’t open his mouth.

53:8 He was taken away by oppression and judgment; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living and stricken for the disobedience of my people?

53:9 They made his grave with the wicked, and with a rich man in his death; although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

53:10 Yet it pleased Yahweh to bruise him. He has caused him to suffer. When you make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed. He shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of Yahweh shall prosper in his hand.

53:11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light and be satisfied. My righteous servant will justify many by the knowledge of himself; and he will bear their iniquities.

53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he poured out his soul to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors

In the first Servant Song we saw that the Servant King will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all.  In the second Servant Song it was revealed that the Servant Prophet will bring comfort to people and have compassion on the afflicted. For the third Song we saw that this Servant Disciple will live a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is attainable and that a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible. Then we saw in the last chapter that there will be a big homecoming for the people of Israel and for all nations.  During the previous Servant Songs we say glimpses of the suffering this Servant who is both a King and Prophet will endure. Now in this section, this Servant Song we get the full picture of suffering and why He must suffer.  This is how people will on the last day be consummated with God and attention is now back on him as 52:13 states "Behold, my servant". Echoing previous passages of where the Servant is God's.  This is, as somebody once wrote, "the jewel in the crown of Isaiah's theology, the focal point of his vision." It is as if we are meant to understand that nothing that has been said before is as important as this passage.  Without this passage of Scripture, none of the rest makes sense.  Let us discover together why that is so.

The Servant Exalted

The beginning is an adoration of the Servant, as is the song's finale.  Sandwiched between them is the description of suffering.  This servant acts and speaks with wisdom.  How could He be faithful and obedient to God, if He were not wise?  Not just any wisdom, but Godly wisdom which flusters and confounds mere human wisdom.  This Servant will be raised up! Here Isaiah uses ecstatic language used of God Himself.  And what attracts people to this Servant? Certainly not his looks, charisma or appearance for He had no outer beauty that would attract anybody. Verse 14 indicates the level of suffering the Servant will endure. Many are flabbergasted by it!  Verse 15 shows the cleansing, the sprinkling indicating a sacrifice.  Sprinkling needed to be done with water, oil or blood in order that people could enter into the presence of God.  This cleansing, is not for Israel alone, but for all nations and people.  He who was considered unclean by many humans (52:14), will be the one to cleanse many other humans from across the world.  Then all accusations, and slander against the Servant will cease.

The Servant Despised

The passage now looks at the Servant through the eyes of the nation of Israel, for it is through their words and actions that others will come to know and understand about the Servant.  Even though Israel is disobedient and rebellious, there are still some who fear the Lord (50:10).  When those people see the full picture of what the Servant has done, then they will go naturally to tell others about it.  Whereas before they would simply be witnesses about God, now they would be witnesses about the saving power of God through the Servant's suffering, death and glorification. What of this Servant?

He had grown up like any other boy, just as a plant grows from a root in soil.  As time goes on, nothing about Him is special and any promise He showed was decidedly unimpressive.  The Servant will be persecuted, despised, rejected, insulted and hideous.  So hideously malformed that people could not look at Him.  These people considered him an implement of God's deserved torment. That was what the witnesses were thinking.

While God ultimately crushed the Servant, it was not because the Servant deserved it.  But rather the witnesses realize that they were the ones who deserved punishment and not the Servant.   Just as the animals when offered as sacrifices were substitution offerings in Israel's worship, so too was this Servant a substitutionary sacrifice.  A sacrifice that through His body being pierced and his being crushed for sin, the Servant has provided a way for others to be comforted and pardoned.  That way being at a cost.  A cost of the Servant's own life.

The Servant Suffers Silently

Now a solitary witness speaks out.  If this is Isaiah, he was cleansed by God back in chapter 6. but what of his countrymen? How will they be cleansed and how as stray sheep will they be gathered back into relationship with God?  The Servant is led to His death, just as a lamb is led to be butchered.  This Servant goes quietly and obediently to certain death, through oppression and judgment.  His death as an innocent Servant, and buried in the grave with the wicked and guilty. Silent.

The Servant Suprises

Now in verse 10 we have the surprise!  Death is not the end of this Servant! Yes God had bruised Him and caused the Servant to suffer. But, the Servant was an offering for sin! That way the Servant will offer righteousness to all the nation.  The Servant's mission will be accomplished!  God will raise this Servant from the dead and the Servant will be exalted!  His sacrifice will surpass any and all previous sacrifices and be the only and final sacrifice needed!  Through His death, the Servant will be able to judge righteously and enable those who follow Him to live righteously.  Righteously in the sense that His knowledge and wisdom will cause many people to live new lives that are pleasing to God. A righteousness that only comes from people being in relationship with God, instead of being enemies of God.

How is Jesus this Servant?

In Acts 8:26-40, the Ethiopian asked the question of Philip "who does the prophet speak about?" Philip replied that it was about Jesus.

Jesus Christ who grew up as Luke said "increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men." (Luke 2:52). This Jesus who people called the son of a Nazarene carpenter and who people said "Can anything good come from Nazareh?"  This Jesus who did not have anything attractive about him, but the way in which He spoke, the wisdom He imparted and the life that He lived.  Jesus Christ who was betrayed by one of his closest friends.  This Jesus, who was the Lamb of God, who died on a Roman Cross, after a trial where he was falsely accused, tortured and oppressed. This Jesus, who was rejected by even those closest to Him when He died. This Jesus who cried out "My God! My God! Why have you abandoned me? This Jesus who even though without sin, was buried in a grave for the wicked.

This Jesus who rose victoriously from the dead 3 days later, in order to conquer death, sin and the devil.  This Jesus, who ascended to the right hand of the throne of God, in the beauty of exaltation and glorification.  This Jesus, who alone is the only way that people can one day enter into God's presence when all of history is consummated.  This Jesus, the suffering Servant who was a Servant King, Servant Prophet and Servant Disciple.  This Jesus, who is the Lord and Saviour of the universe. This Jesus who as fully God and fully human simultaneously, is the only one who could be the full sacrifice demanded of God for the everlasting payment for sin.  The Jesus who will judge with righteousness and wisdom, give all people a choice to make - be His disciple and be in a dynamic relationship with God, or go your own way and be astray from God forever.

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Who is He?- Messiah's Encouragement

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Isaiah 51:9-52:12

51:9 Awake, awake, put on strength, arm of Yahweh; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Isn't it you who cut Rahab in pieces, who pierced the monster? 51:10 Isn't it you who dried up the sea, the waters of the great deep; who made the depths of the sea a way for the redeemed to pass over? 51:11 The ransomed of Yahweh shall return, and come with singing to Zion; and everlasting joy shall be on their heads. They shall obtain gladness and joy. Sorrow and sighing shall flee away. 51:12 "I, even I, am he who comforts you: who are you, that you are afraid of man who shall die, and of the son of man who shall be made as grass; 51:13 and have forgotten Yahweh your Maker, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth; and fear continually all the day because of the fury of the oppressor, when he makes ready to destroy? and where is the fury of the oppressor? 51:14 The captive exile shall speedily be freed; and he shall not die and go down into the pit, neither shall his bread fail. 51:15 For I am Yahweh your God, who stirs up the sea, so that its waves roar: Yahweh of Armies is his name. 51:16 I have put my words in your mouth, and have covered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and tell Zion, ‘You are my people.'"

51:17 Awake, awake, stand up, Jerusalem, that have drunk at the hand of Yahweh the cup of his wrath; you have drunken the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it. 51:18 There is none to guide her among all the sons whom she has brought forth; neither is there any who takes her by the hand among all the sons who she has brought up. 51:19 These two things have happened to you. Who will bemoan you? Desolation and destruction, and the famine and the sword; how shall I comfort you? 51:20 Your sons have fainted, they lie at the head of all the streets, as an antelope in a net; they are full of the wrath of Yahweh, the rebuke of your God. 51:21 Therefore hear now this, you afflicted, and drunken, but not with wine: 51:22 Thus says your Lord Yahweh, and your God who pleads the cause of his people, "Behold, I have taken out of your hand the cup of staggering, even the bowl of the cup of my wrath; you shall no more drink it again: 51:23 and I will put it into the hand of those who afflict you, who have said to your soul, ‘Bow down, that we may walk over you;' and you have laid your back as the ground, and as the street, to those who walk over." 52:1 Awake, awake, put on your strength, Zion; put on your beautiful garments, Jerusalem, the holy city: for henceforth there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. 52:2 Shake yourself from the dust! Arise, sit up, Jerusalem! Release yourself from the bonds of your neck, captive daughter of Zion! 52:3 For thus says Yahweh, "You were sold for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money." 52:4 For thus says the Lord Yahweh, "My people went down at the first into Egypt to live there: and the Assyrian has oppressed them without cause. 52:5 "Now therefore, what do I do here," says Yahweh, "seeing that my people are taken away for nothing? Those who rule over them mock," says Yahweh, "and my name continually all the day is blasphemed. 52:6 Therefore my people shall know my name. Therefore they shall know in that day that I am he who speaks; behold, it is I."

52:7 How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!" 52:8 The voice of your watchmen! they lift up the voice, together do they sing; for they shall see eye to eye, when Yahweh returns to Zion. 52:9 Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem; for Yahweh has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem. 52:10 Yahweh has made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.

52:11 Depart, depart, go out from there, touch no unclean thing! Go out of the midst of her! Cleanse yourselves, you who bear the vessels of Yahweh. 52:12 For you shall not go out in haste, neither shall you go by flight: for Yahweh will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.

Be Encouraged People of God!

In the first few verses of chapter 51 that I didn't read, we see that faith is nurtured by listening and hearing.  People are encouraged to look back and see what God has done with just one man, Abraham! How from him came an entire nation!  This bodes well for the future when all history is consummated - have faith in your God who will lead you into the next world! But for now, don't be afraid of what other people will do - stay close to God, have faith in Him, trust Him patiently and live obedient and righteous lives. For as verse 6 states "my salvation shall be forever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished."

Then we come to a mounting anticipation with baited breath.  Quickly the phrase "awake awake" is repeated, as if to give a sense of urgency.  The exodus from Egypt, an event remembered well by the nation of Israel and alluded to in verses 9 & 10 of chapter 51, will be surpassed by a new age of righteousness at the end of time.  All those "ransomed by the Lord", those set free by God will enter the city of God with joyous singing which will be their crown! Sorrow and sadness will no longer exist! Gladness and joy will be triumphant! Alleluia! Despite many obstacles in the way, the Lord God will reign triumphant. His Messiah, His Servant will deliver you.  His Servant will be triumphant.

Wake up!

Note that the people themselves are to wake up, not the Lord God or His Servant!  All that will be fulfilled is not waiting for God, but waiting for people and their spiritual inertia!  It's their unwillingness to be obedient to God that is stopping the fulfillment of history! While Isaiah is clearly eager, it seems the nation of Israel is not - they have forgotten about their awesome and Almighty God who created the heavens and the earth! So Isaiah shouts out "Wake up!!"  I am your God and you are my people is to remind Israel of the covenant that exists between themselves and God!  It is a covenant that signifies relationship, care and commitment! Israel may have forgotten this, but God had not!  God is in the relationship, He is trustworthy and faithful, so therefore there is no need to fear!  God's commitment is faultless and worthy of obedience! This commitment deserves active obedience on the part of the people of Israel and not their overwhelming spiritual laziness.  While overwhelming fear inhibits and destructs, the love of God frees.  Isaiah urges them to live an active and obedient life worthy of their freedom and not a life of spiritual inertia and rebellion.

One last time, Isaiah urges action when crying "Awake! Awake!" in 52:1.  Salvation is nearing and coming quickly, are you ready?  Be alert, people of Israel and live as if you are the freed people of God and not as if you are rebellious captors. Be ready, just as your ancestors were the night before the Exodus from Egypt commenced. Be expectant and ready.  One difference to note.  With the exodus, the Israelites took what they could from the Egyptians - gold, silver, jewelry and clothing.  This time, everything will be left behind.

All this bears in the mind the Servant.  The Servant, who as a King dispenses justice and as a Prophet speaks for God, will usher in this new period.  When Isaiah writes in 52:11 "Depart, depart, go out from there", he must be urging people to respond to the Servant. Respond by living a holy and righteous life of obedience to God as one who is on a lifelong pilgrimage. Stop rebelling against Him and love Him who first loved them.

Where is Jesus in this?

Jesus during his earthly ministry always urged people to be active in obedience to God.  Jesus comforted the lonely, oppressed, the weak and the poor.  He urged people to come back into relationship with God.  With a sense of urgency, He told people to be ready and alert for the day when history will end.  Jesus urged his listeners to be spiritually awake. Jesus said in Matthew 11:30 "For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."  Jesus who remarkably stated in John 8:34-36 "Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.". When Jesus Christ the Servant King comes back, He will come back like a thief in the night - with surprise!  But for those who love and trust in Him, it will be a day of gladness and joy because their King will have returned to gather them.  This Jesus who in Mark1:15 issued these words ""The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"  Truly we concur with Isaiah when he wrote in Isaiah 52:7 "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, "Your God reigns!""  Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, through whom is salvation alone.

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3. Messiah's Obedience

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Isaiah 50:4 The Lord Yahweh has given me the tongue of those who are taught, that I may know how to sustain with words him who is weary: he wakens morning by morning, he wakens my ear to hear as those who are taught. 50:5 The Lord Yahweh has opened my ear, and I was not rebellious, neither turned away backward. 50:6 I gave my back to the strikers, and my cheeks to those who plucked off the hair; I didn't hide my face from shame and spitting. 50:7 For the Lord Yahweh will help me; therefore I have not been confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be disappointed. 50:8 He is near who justifies me; who will bring charges against me? Let us stand up together: who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. 50:9 Behold, the Lord Yahweh will help me; who is he who shall condemn me? Behold, all they shall wax old as a garment, the moth shall eat them up. 50:10 Who is among you who fears Yahweh, who obeys the voice of his servant? He who walks in darkness, and has no light, let him trust in the name of Yahweh, and rely on his God. 50:11 Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who adorn yourselves with torches around yourselves; walk in the flame of your fire, and among the brands that you have kindled. You shall have this of my hand; you shall lie down in sorrow.

After discovering some of the things that will identity the Servant in the first Servant song and finding the Servant's mission in the second Servant song, we now see obedience in this the third Servant song.  It is obedience of God and trust in God regardless of spite, evil, malice and bitterness.  From verse 4 we see that the Servant is willing to learn.  This willingness to learn is a lifelong learning as indicated in the phrase "morning by morning".  Each morning the Servant awakes and is ready to be fully obedient to God throughout the day.  On top of that his words have power. He is able to give comfort and counsel as He consoles the weary, despised and rejected.  Those people who like Him are undergoing trials, temptations and having to endure. This Servant in no way rebels against God, and this Servant is sinless and offers faultless obedience to God (v5).  Nothing will stop Him from living a life of obedience to God, hence not retreating or hiding (v6).  The nation of Israel had forgotten to listen to God and was rebellious, disobedient and wearisome.

The Servant is also willingly suffering by giving Himself over to His tormentors, and offering His body to be beaten, scarred, shamed and spat upon.  This Servant is the ultimate Prophet and willing to give His all in obedience to God Almighty.  The full details of the suffering of this Servant are at this point in Isaiah still not given.  But we do know at this point in Isaiah, that He is willing to obey in both his mind and his body, so that all glory will go to God.  This Servant sets his face like stone towards His goal, because He knows that God will help Him to achieve.  The Servant's confidence to achieve is not in His own strength to endure but rather a reliance on God's help to overcome all that would cause Him to stumble and give up.  This Servant is not on a pedestal above every other human, but is rather on the same level as each person.  He is not so detached from other people that He is untouchable.  Rather, this Servant lives a perfect life of discipleship, to show that it is achievable and a life of total obedience to God and trust in God for all things is possible.

And what is the response of the people of God, Israel, to his Servant (v10-11)?  Some of the people of Israel fear and obey the Lord as the Servant does, but most do not.  The Servant has shown people that what God desires is not hollow words but obedience regardless of the personal cost.  This Servant has shown this in His life of total abandonment to God and obedience to, and trust of, the Almighty God.   Others are rebellious and will be destroyed by their own rebellion (v11)  This Servant challenges everybody to make a choice.  Life a life of total obedience to God, or be destroyed by your own rebellion.  There is a choice to be made between righteousness and wickedness - a choice between obedience to God and rebellion against God.

Jesus as the Servant

We see here a first glimpse of what would come about when Jesus would be crucified.  Did not Jesus set his face like stone towards Jerusalem and to the cross He would bear?   Were not Jesus' words comforting to the tired, weak and oppressed - such as the Samaritan woman at the well?  Jesus was sinless as He lived a life of total obedience to God.  Was Jesus' beard not plucked out in handfuls? Was his face beaten beyond recognition by His captors?  His back reduced to hamburger mince by the flagellating whips that contained metal and bone.  His face was spat upon and cursed.  Jesus Christ lived a life of total obedience and sacrifice to God.  As we read and study the Gospels, we discover that Jesus endured and lived a life of obedient discipleship par excellence.  Look to Jesus Christ, "the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls." (Hebrews 12v2-3)

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2. Messiah's Mission

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Isaiah 49:1 Listen, islands, to me; and listen, you peoples, from far: Yahweh has called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother has he made mention of my name: 49:2 and he has made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand, he has hidden me: and he has made me a polished shaft; in his quiver has he kept me close: 49:3 and he said to me, "You are my servant; Israel, in whom I will be glorified." 49:4 But I said, "I have labored in vain, I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely the justice due to me is with Yahweh, and my reward with my God."

49:5 Now says Yahweh who formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, and that Israel be gathered to him (for I am honorable in the eyes of Yahweh, and my God has become my strength); 49:6 yes, he says, "It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give you for a light to the nations, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth."

49:7 Thus says Yahweh, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despises, to him whom the nation abhors, to a servant of rulers: "Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship; because of Yahweh who is faithful, even the Holy One of Israel, who has chosen you."

49:8 Thus says Yahweh, "In an acceptable time have I answered you, and in a day of salvation have I helped you; and I will preserve you, and give you for a covenant of the people, to raise up the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritage: 49:9 saying to those who are bound, ‘Come out!'; to those who are in darkness, ‘Show yourselves!'

"They shall feed in the ways, and on all bare heights shall be their pasture. 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun strike them: for he who has mercy on them will lead them, even by springs of water he will guide them. 49:11 I will make all my mountains a way, and my highways shall be exalted. 49:12 Behold, these shall come from far; and behold, these from the north and from the west; and these from the land of Sinim."

49:13 Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted.

The Servant

This is the second Servant song, and here the Servant Himself is speaking!  We have no idea of his actual name but He does have a name (Isaiah 49:1)!  In the first Servant song, with the dispensing of justice as part of His identity, the Servant is a King! But not just a King, something more as well!  In this song, the Servant appears as if He is a prophet by the things He is saying.  He was called Isaiah 49v1) just as Jeremiah was.  The words he speak are as if a double-edged sword (Isaiah 49v2).  Despite the opposition (Isaiah 49v4), He perseveres to gain the reward and to glorify God (Isaiah 49v3).  And while we find His name is Israel!  Not the nation of Israel itself, but as a person who embodies all that Israel was meant to be and do.  This Servant would glorify God in all His ways.  This servant is a Prophet who is also a King.  This Servant is a perfect incarnation of God's light, covenant and salvation.

The Servants Mission!

In verse 5, the Servants mission is clear.  Firstly the Servant will be a light to the nation of Israel and then to be a light to the nations.  Isaiah 49:4 & 7 intimates the Servant will suffer for being who He is - despised and abhorred in slavish servitude.  This Servant will be despised by the very people He has been sent to. But He will eventually be worshipped and honoured by rulers and kings. The Servant is on a mission to bring all people back into relationship with God who is "the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One".  The exiled people will be restored to the land (Isaiah 49v8).  People are described as being freed from captivity and have all manner of needs met (Isaiah 49v9-10)! The Servant will gather people back to God just as a Shepherd gathers his flock of sheep. And it wont just be a restored Israel, but all peoples from all lands and nations, hence Isaiah 49:12 "Behold, these shall come from far; and behold, these from the north and from the west;"  This Servant King and Servant Prophet will shepherd people back into relationship with God and dispense God's justice throughout the whole world.  That is all part of the Messiah's mission - to bring comfort to people and compassion on the afflicted (Isaiah 49:13).

Then as if bursting from the seams with praise, we read "Sing, heavens; and be joyful, earth; and break forth into singing, mountains: for Yahweh has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his afflicted."

Jesus as the Servant

Paul quotes Isaiah 49:8 in 2 Corinthians 6:1-2 "As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you." I tell you, now is the time of God's favor, now is the day of salvation." Paul here is saying to the Corinthians to grasp hold of God's offer of salvation, right now! Right now, because it is a time acceptable to God! But who is Paul talking about? Paul is talking about Jesus Christ "All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation." 2 Corinthians 5:18-19.

Jesus Christ said of himself that he was the Good Shepherd (John 10) and the Light of the World rescuing those in darkness (John 8:12) - all images portrayed in this Servant Song of Isaiah 49v1-13..  Jesus came to save the lost (John 12:47) and to gather all people from all places back into relationship with God.  Jesus Christ, the man who was despised, abhorred and rejected by his own people just as the Servant of Isaiah 49 was to be.  Jesus Christ, who is honoured and worshipped, just as Isaiah 49 tells us the Servant would be.  Jesus Christ, the Servant King and Prophet, who had as His mission statement Mark 10v45 - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

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1. Messiah's Identity

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42:1 "Behold, my servant, whom I uphold; my chosen, in whom my soul delights- I have put my Spirit on him. He will bring justice to the nations.

42:2 He will not shout, nor raise his voice, nor cause it to be heard in the street.

42:3 He won't break a bruised reed. He won't quench a dimly burning wick. He will faithfully bring justice.

42:4 He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth, and the islands will wait for his law."

42:5 Thus says God Yahweh, he who created the heavens and stretched them out, he who spread out the earth and that which comes out of it, he who gives breath to its people and spirit to those who walk in it.

42:6 "I, Yahweh, have called you in righteousness, and will hold your hand, and will keep you, and make you a covenant for the people, as a light for the nations;

42:7 to open the blind eyes, to bring the prisoners out of the dungeon, and those who sit in darkness out of the prison.

42:8 "I am Yahweh. That is my name. I will not give my glory to another, nor my praise to engraved images.

42:9 Behold, the former things have happened, and I declare new things. I tell you about them before they come up."

In this chapter we have what is almost universally called "The 1st Servant Song".  In this book of Isaiah, one of the key words is "Servant". In the previous chapter, Isaiah 41, the nation of Israel is also called a servant of God.  Isaiah himself has been called a servant of God (Isaiah 20v3).  However, here in chapter 42, it is as if the phrase "Servant of God" has taken on a new meaning - someone who is unique, special. God Himself is speaking, and announcing "my Servant".  By looking further into what God says, we know it cannot be Israel. If anything, Israel is the bruised reed or dimly burning wick.  Remember Israel was to be a light to the nations and reflect God to the whole world. In chapter 41, Israel is described as always complaining resentfully, fearful, discouraged and embittered.  Later on in chapter 42, Israel is seen as blind, deaf and disobedient.  So this is not an ideal that Israel was to aspire to, but rather one person who would be God's response to Israel's failure and weakness.  So what does the rest of this passage tell of the identity of the Servant, the Messiah whom God would send?

We get a clue in verses 1-4.  This Servant will bring God great delight!  This servant will be gentle, quiet, faithful, and encouraged.  This Servant will have God's Spirit upon him, and this shows that the Servant will not do anything in his own strength, but rather rely on God's strength to persevere.  All the things Israel were to be and do, but had not.  Therefore this Servant was the opposite of Israel.

The key word for this Servant, is justice.  He will bring God's justice to the nations (Isaiah 42v1); faithfully bring God's justice (Isaiah 42v3) and set in place upon all the earth, God's justice. (42v4). Justice, in this context, is God restoring order to the whole world against the ravages of sin and decay.

Additionally, this Servant will be a covenant and a light as he is called out in righteousness.  This covenant implies that God will provide welfare for all people and by the light of this Servant shall all the spiritually blind see, the spiritually dead made alive, those captive under the power of sin will be freed and those in spiritual darkness will see the light.  Through this Servant, God will reverse all damaging effects that sin has caused the world since it entered into existence way back in Genesis 3.  This servant will provide freedom, self-respect and justice for all.  Firstly for Israel itself and then to the whole world.

Identifying Jesus Christ as this Servant?

Perhaps the best example to use, looking back with New Testament eyes, is when Jesus was baptized.  Jesus went to John the Baptist, and presented Himself for baptism. John at first refuses to do it (Matthew 3v13-15). He knew that Jesus of Nazareth was the perfect Son of God who had no need to repent of sin.

Through His baptism, Jesus identified with all sinners that He came to save. why did Jesus get baptized? In replying to John's initial refusal to baptize him, Jesus said "...it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness" (Mt.3v15). This looks forward to the cross, because it is only through the baptism of suffering that Jesus endured on the cross, that God is able to fulfill all righteousness. The "us" referred to means the Father Son and Spirit. When Jesus came up from the water, the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God, and the Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a dove. The voice from God the Father ratified Jesus as the Son of God. Not a son of God as some may claim, but the one and only Son of God.  This harks back to Isaiah 42, where God called the Servant a delight and the Spirit coming upon Him.

Tomorrow, we will skip forward to Isaiah 49:1-26 and discuss the mission of this Servant Messiah.  You may like to read this passage beforehand.

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