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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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