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The Persecuted Church

 

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The Incarnation story and childhood of the Messiah

After 400 years of silence from the last prophetic voice, God begins his promise of the messiah with a righteous family. Elizabeth who longed for a child for so many years was barren and was old enough not to consider this any longer; as her husband served as priest their prayers were answered. Mary, Elizabeth’s relative who was also a servant, young and engaged to be married receives a child unexpectedly as well.

A promise from God is always fulfilled in his timing because His purposes are always perfect. Gal 4:4-5 "But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons." Isa.9:6 and 7:14 is about to happen and things were about to change in Israel. The Son who existed in heaven was sent to earth by the Father on a short term mission that would have everlasting affects.

He was produced by the power of God in the womb of Mary (Mariam in Hebrew) without any intervention of man; fulfilling his being born of a virgin from the Scripture of Isa.7:14 and Isa.9:6. There were more than 300 prophecies pertaining to the Messiahs first coming in the Old Testament. Everyone of them was fulfilled in the detail in Jesus’ life and death. Over 30 were fulfilled in one day, this is the day he fulfilled His purpose for coming.

It is at the time of Jesus’ birth that Mary and Joseph alone, with no one else; just the two of them saw the incarnation of God become reality in the earth.

It is at this time Luke records what no other gospel writer does, "Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people." Luke 2:8-10

Why did the angels first reveal this message to shepherds and not to others? Because they were in charge of the flocks, the shepherds took care of the lambs that were to be used in the temple for sacrifice, above all the people shepherds can be trusted. This is why God picked David, He was a shepherd that became king. It was David in Ps.23 who said, the Lord is my shepherd as he walked through troubles that threatened his life. David gives us meaning in God concern for us in our trials. Jesus is called the chief shepherd and we are called His sheep and lambs in Scripture in reference to his guidance and protection as he gathers us together. This shepherd became a lamb to identify with his sheep that he was to guide on earth to heavenly kingdom. Shepherds have a heart for the flock and know how to care for them, God sees this translated to people.

So the angel said to the shepherds "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. "And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:11-12 ) The sign was a baby born in swaddling cloths, these were burial cloths and the mangers were in caves and they were also places of burial. The sign of his birth would prophecy his death. His birth was one of humility to come as man and born with only two human witnesses, among the animals without the comfort of a home. The typology is noticeable as Jesus being the last Adam was born among the animals that were named by Adam, Adam was brought from the earth among the animals having the honor to name them and rule over them. Paul explains the dichotomy further in 1 Cor. 15:47 "The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven." Yahweh the Son of God from heaven, not from earth as Adam as the Son had no beginning, only his humanity did.

These Shepherds immediately go to his place of birth and stare at this newborn innocent child who would one day be beaten to a pulp and die for them. They watched the little hands that held onto its mother that would one day have spikes driven through them. He would die the same way he entered the world in a completely selfless act, innocent of what he was accused of. The accusation that was written over his head was "King of the Jew."

Luke 2:17-20 the shepherds quickly go into the town Bethlehem they will tell everyone what they saw and heard.

they were the first evangelists telling the people the message the angels gave. This message is still one of great joy, as it is called good news to all who will stop and listen.

Simeon had been waiting in Jerusalem assured by the Holy Spirit to see seen the salvation of the Lord before he died.

This is the first person Jesus is brought to, as Mary was confined basically to the cave with Joseph (Lk.2:21). On the eighth day Jesus was circumcised (Lev.12:2-4.) Without the circumcision that was the token of the Abrahamic covenant Christ would not have been permitted to enter either synagogue or temple, and no Jew would have listened to him preach.

According to Lev 12:4: "She shall then continue in the blood of her purification thirty-three days" (Lk.2:22). Any participation of the holy things were not allowed, this signified our original corruption. For the days up until the circumcision Mary was unable to have contact with others. Among the Hebrews a mother was required to remain at home for about forty days after the birth of a male child. It was on the fortieth day, after the circumcision she was able to go to the temple and bring a poor households offering of two pigeons. Christ's parents were so poor that they were not able to bring a lamb for a burnt offering, destroying the myth that Jesus was affluent.

She came to the temple with her baby for their purification. There she met Simeon and the prophetess Anna and heard their thanksgiving and prophecy. God will always lead those by the spirit that have been walking by the spirit to see the great things he will do. Luke 2:27-32: "So he[Simeon] came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: "Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; For my eyes have seen Your salvation Which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel."

All nations were to receive the revelation because we are all in the same predicament together. The Savior is Jesus-our salvation is in a person. It is for the whole world.

The birth of Jesus, which we celebrate as Christmas is prophecy fulfilled to the letter, it is something God told well in advance. It was the prophecy waiting to be fulfilled from the time of Adam and Eve; right after they sinned the promise came in Genesis 3:15. That one from their line would come and would crush Satan, the one who tempted man into sin would be conquered by a man as well, as God an very unlikely combination, a child taken from the sinner and the sinless God who knew no sin.

It is much later some estimate up to two years, when we find the magi the wise men from the east that searched the Scripture to know Jesus was born. A prophecy which spans over 1,500 years Numbers 24:17 "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel. " Glory will come from Jacobs seed, and from Israel. Led by the spirit men from the east went and inquired of Herod. Now the Jehovah’s Witnesses say they were led by satan but the scripture is clear it was a pursuit of godliness and knowledge from the Scripture. Herod gathered the chief priests and scribes to make sure of this event he heard from their inquiry. When confirmed, he like Pharaoh wanted to see the deliverer dead. So he asked the wisemen to come back and tell him where he is so he might worship this new king along with them. Herod was already in jeapordy and did not need a competitor to his rule, even if it was little child.

When they find Jesus he is not in a stable anymore but a home. A moving star which was the shekinah glory led them right to the house. Matthew gives us the approximate time as Jesus is no longer a baby but called a child. They find his home, and they fall down and worship the Son who will be a king. They also bring three significant gifts; gold, suitable for royalty signifying his kingship, frankincense which was used in worship and prayer; and Myrr the most significant one, foretelling how He would be embalmed in his death, for His purpose was to come to die.

Afterwards they are warned in a dream not to go back to Herod because of his plot to kill Jesus so they go back another way to their country. Imagine traveling all this way to give these gifts and then just leave, but they only needed to see the child once who would bring salvation and know God has fulfilled his promise in their day.

The Lord then appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, "Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word."

We find this kind of typology used consistently through the New Testament. Matt 2:15 they were "there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, "Out of Egypt I called My Son." Fulfilling the prophet Hosea statement" When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son."(Hosea 11:1)

Just as Pharaoh slaughtered all the males two years and under so did Herod. As the men from the east did not come back but listened to God, Herod reacted in anger and to make sure there was no king he had all the children in the area killed by his soldiers. So a whole generation of males who were born around the time of Jesus in the surrounding area of Bethlehem were killed.

Egypt was a Roman province, but Herod could not pursue them to this place. Somewhere between two and four years after the birth of Christ most believe Herod died. All those who have opposed Christ throughout history have died but Christ who died still lives.

There is an apocryphal work called the Gospel of the infancy in Arabic which has made up acts of Jesus and Mary while in Egypt. The problem is they did not stay there that long. There are Apocryphal Gospels that tell about His school days, His teachers, playmates, and many incidents that blaspheme. They relate how in a fit of temper He would strike down His companions with death, curse His accusers with blindness, and mock His teachers (Pseudo-Matthew 30). All these are made up stories. The reason there is no mention of Jesus doing anything in ministry until age 30 is because he was being trained and He would come on the scene suddenly at the right time, when he was of a priestly age, at the time of Passover.

Almost all the years of the life of Jesus were passed in obscurity until he is ready to reveal himself in his mission.

After the first few years of His birth the Bible does not have any mention, except one brief incident with Jesus at the age of twelve visiting the city of Jerusalem with His parents on the occasion of the Passover. In Jewish tradition it is at this time a child become accountable for his own life, they become a son of the law.

 

We are only told in Luke 2:52 that " Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." We know none of the details. New Age literature like the Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ, written by Civil War army chaplain Levi Dowling in the late 1880’s to early 1900’s tells us after studying with Rabbi Hillel, Jesus allegedly traveled to India where he spent years studying among the Brahmins and Buddhists.

According to another story, Jesus came to Japan in his early 20s, studied Japanese culture and religion and then returned to Judea when he was 33 to begin his ministry. He was never crucified because he switched places with his younger brother Isukiri and managed to flee across Siberia to Alaska and back to Japan by boat. Jesus settled in Shingo married, and had three daughters and lived until age 106. This theory first emerged in the 1930s when researchers claimed to have found a "will of Christ" which indicated a burial mound that was believed to fit the theory found in the village about 370 miles north of Tokyo.

Then the mystics the Rosicrucians say Jesus was a spiritual master who veiled his language having two meanings, one for the common people the other for the initiated. Others say Jesus became a master, experiencing self-realization through Kundalini yoga. He later studied and mastered Vedic and Buddhist teaching. He then attained God- consciousness. He was initiated in the Hermetic mystery school in Heliopolis, approved by a world council. When he returned to Israel, He taught a Hindu mystic world view veiled in terms that the Hebrews would understand.

The most widely circulated story was alleged by Nicholas Notovitch who claimed that while traveling in Tibet in the late 1800s he was told by Tibetan lamas that a record of Jesus visiting them existed in a Himalayan monastery. In the early 1900s another visitor to Tibet was allegedly told the same thing. No one who had the ability to read and translate such "records" ever saw them, no copy was ever brought to the West as proof of these claims.

Not only are these new age stories antithetical to Judaism but to what Jesus taught as there being only one God separate from his creation and sin needing to be dealt with. There are 3 feasts, 2 in spring one in fall that every Jew must attend or they would have broken the law. If Christ had broken even the smallest law he would have become a sinner like the rest of us and would have been disqualified to the Messiah. To travel to India or Tibet and return back to Israel for any of the feasts makes this an impossibility; much less his being gone for 18 missing years. Remember this all occurred before he was revealed as the messiah so he was not using any supernatural abilities. He never quoted any other book but the Old Testament, no other prophet except his own which makes this all unlikely if he learned all this knowledge elsewhere.

Luke 2:41-51 His parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.

Finding him missing they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. V.46, "they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, "Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought you anxiously." And He said to them, "Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" Here we see Jesus already having great knowledge without his supposed traveling to other countries to learn the mystical secrets of life.

There is much that we may know indirectly of His childhood days, by a close examination of the environmental conditions under which He grew. He was raised in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. Nazareth did not have the best of reputations even in Galilee. Nathaniel of Cana repeated a common opinion when he said: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?"

Jesus began his ministry in Galilee the most beautiful and fertile area of Palestine. It was abundant in agriculture (Corn, grapes, olives, figs and other fruits) also flowers, there were springs and brooks and green pastures

They had a population estimated as high as three million in its numerous villages and towns and there were lots of gentiles there. Rabbis of Jerusalem held the Galilean in contempt as being uncultured, unrefined in their speech. The Judeans were accustomed to say that no prophet ever arose from Galilee. But this was not the case, we know at least one Jonah and possibly Nahum who were born.

Mark 6:2-3: "He began to teach in the synagogue. And many hearing Him were astonished, saying, "Where did this Man get these things? And what wisdom is this which is given to Him, that such mighty works are performed by His hands! "Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?" And they were offended at Him." The peoples argument is clear, we know him and his family how is this possible, he did not have the time to go off and study like others who devoted their lives to the scriptures.

It was an evil reputation to be called a Nazarene (Matthew said this was in accord with the prophecy of Isaiah 53) and pictures the Messiah as a "root springing up out of the dry ground."

The best known of the names for the Messiah among the Jews was Tsamech or Branch, based on Isaiah's prophecy (Isa 11:1). The word Netzer is the same equivalent. The title Nazarene not only stood for the reproach which Jesus bore, but was a fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. He was a Branch (Netzer) sprung out of David's roots. Although Jesus was from Nazareth he was not strictly, a Nazarite, for he drank wine, and touched dead bodies; however he had the holiness a Nazarite sought.

By the time Jesus is on the scene teaching the religious system that was given to the Jews by Moses was in disarry, taken over by the Pharisee’s who thought of improving the Mosaic law they instead corrupted it. Christ came to restore it back to its correct way before he would bring it to an end.

From his Jewish childhood and the people he grew up with he used illustrations for His later teachings, such as the leaven hid in three measures of meal, women grinding at the mill, sowing and reaping, the sparrow and the lily, the children in the market place playing at wedding and funeral, etc.

He worked with his father in his trade as a Carpenter, which was often an all around woodworkman. He planned and constructed houses and manufactured furniture and agricultural instruments. This again he used in illustrations such as my yoke is easy.

The Jewish children begin their formal education in the synagogue school at the age of six under the Rabbi, who kept the building and guarded the rolls of the law, the prophets, and other sacred writings. The children sat on the floor around their teacher. These schools existed in all the synagogues throughout the land; and attendance was obligatory. From as early as 6-10 years of age the child studied the Old Testament as his chief text-book; the Mishnah, Talmud (at the time the traditions of the Fathers) were also included in a higher age.

But Jesus did not need to learn this way, in Isa. 50:4-7 "The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him who is weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, he awakens My ear to hear as the learned. The Lord GOD has opened My ear; and I was not rebellious, nor did I turn away. I gave My back to those who struck Me, and My cheeks to those who plucked out the beard; I did not hide My face from shame and spitting." For the Lord GOD will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed."

Jesus probably spoke the Aramaic in His home, at this time Hebrew was mostly reserved for the religious practices in the synagogues and the Greek which was commonly spoken especially in the larger cities of Galilee and Judea.

Most likely Jesus was trilingual as were many that mastered all three languages Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. He probably did most of His teaching in Aramaic the common language of the Jews but was able to speak in Greek if necessary as the Bible records in numerous occasions.

Jesus was brought up in a Jewish home that obeyed God. He identified with all of humanity because he became a human creature that was made in the image of God. He identified with what He himself obeyed by the law. There was only one law Jesus did not have to obey, that was one of the sacrifice. Only sinners needed to bring a sacrifice for sin, instead he was going to be the ultimate sacrifice for our sin that would end all the sacrifices once and for all. If he did sacrifice it would have been an admittance of having sin.

Why did Jesus come? Because of sin; Scripture says, "he shall save his people from sin. How? By baptism, by His good life and keeping the law? No but by giving His life for you and I. He identified with humanity in his baptism. To fulfill all righteousness, the requirements of the law and for the priesthood.

In Acts 20:28 it states "God purchased the Church with his own blood." With his own blood, the blood from Emmanuel’s veins, is the very reason there had to be a virgin birth (Isa.7:14) It’s not that God has any blood, but that the life that was in the Son was kept pure, sinless so it would be able to save sinful humanity. In the Old Testament God had already given the law and they had already been practicing sacrifices, for without the shedding of blood there is no removal of sin"

The Old Testament law gives the standard to show what sin is.There are different Hebrew and Greek words and meanings to sin. All sin is the breaking of the law or commands meaning to violate God's perfect standard or a command given. One of the main descriptions is missing the mark or target and hitting another. To keep the law perfect means to have a bullseye every time you do something.

Sin can be summed up as anything contrary to Gods perfect nature as well as his commands. Sin is when someone is defied, offended, or hurt. This can pertain to people or God. Although all sin is offending God, since he is what we offend by breaking his standard by either word, law or person. Sin has its roots in the heart and influences the intellect and will and finds expression through the body. James gives the definition of how sin is birthed. James 1:14-15 " but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death." The source of sin doesn't come from the outside but from within. we are drawn away from our own desires( The Greek means to be lured into a trap) It is not a single act but a process that begins in our heart. You can say the real source is heart disease, our fallen human nature. Prior to Christ the law was given to Israel to live by Rom. 3:19: "that all the world may become guilty before God… for through the Law {comes} the knowledge of sin."

His ministry began suddenly and would end just as suddenly.

Ps.22:6 the psalm of the cross where Jesus cries my god my God why have you forsaken me, the crucified one also says I am but a worm and not a man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people." This word tola worm; was a certain worm crushed for its red dye and used to color the robes of royalty. What a picture this gives of Christ, the king dying on the tree, shedding His precious blood that He might "bring many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10) Isa.1:18 though your sins be as scarlet they will be made white as snow. Peters favorite saying was Christ was crucified on the tree. 2,000 years ago God’s tree was a cross, decorated with a bloody man, it may not have looked beautiful to man but it was the only acceptable decorated tree to God.

God literally came in the flesh as the prophet malachi said In Mal.3:1: "Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom you seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant" Coming humbly into the world. Phil.2:5 explains the mystery of the incarnation "Who being in the form of God did not consider it theft to be equal with God. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant." He came as an ordinary man in an ordinary way .

He came to earth born among the animals in a cave but When He died it began his exaltation, he was buried in a rich mans tomb

Jesus was born into the world the same way he left. He was born in a cave wrapped in swaddling cloths, he was wrapped in cloth and put back in the cave when he died.

Phil.2:7 "But made himself of no reputation taking the form of a bond servant, being made in the likeness of men."Vs.8 "Being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." This is the reason he came to earth and became a human to give his body as a sacrifice to God for our sins. Since God is Spirit he cannot die, he needed to take on the human form with all its conditions of humanity (minus the sin). He became the savior of all men because all men are sinners. the Messiah came to fulfill mans greatest need a restoration of fellowship with his creator.

He didn’t come to restore a temple made in stone but became a living tabernacle which the glory of God would dwell and reveal himself to people. The tabernacle had a tremendous amount of typology for Israel. Just as the glory of God was hid except to the high priest who could enter behind the veil into the Holy of Holies, so Messiah's Glory was hid behind the veil of flesh. John starts off his gospel of Jesus being " the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him." John 1:9-12) The creator became a creature, the Word that made all things as the work of his own hands became his own workmanship in his incarnation

If Yeshua ha Mashiach had come into the world as an opulent man, clothed with earthly honors a place of prominence, he would have had a multitude of supporters, and most of them would be hypocrites. Because they would not be following for the right reasons, some today follow him for all the wrong reasons. The king, the prince became the pauper Phil.2:5 making himself of no reputation, but when he rose he had the greatest reputation of all. God gave Jesus a name above all names (Philippians 2 Ephesians 1:21) and this continues throughout all the ages. The name is "Jesus is Lord", of which every knee will bow, some of us do it willingly now. Be assured all will do it one day. He is ther Lord of Jeremiah 23:5-6: "Behold the days are coming, says the Lord, that I will raise to David a branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

The proof of Christianity lies in the quality of the person of messiah. He is not just another man in the long line of religious teachers, he is just another spiritual master enlightened by knowledge, or another prophet in the long line of prophets. No prophet ever said they were the express image of the invisible God, or that if you have seen them you have seen the father, they knew better. God the Father never said of any prophet that they were the cause for the existence of all things.

No prophet priest or king ever was able to point to himself and say I am the way the truth and the life and be the only way to God.

1 Peter 1:3-12 "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith--the salvation of your souls. Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow."

He’s come for all Jews, and gentiles. He’s not God of only the Christians he is Christ-- lord of Lords and king of kings, savior of all people. He is the Jewish messiah.

John the Baptist, who was "The voice crying out in the wilderness: prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God" (Isa.40:3-4) said the first time he came, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make your path straight" Time to prepare as the messiah is about to come a 2nd time.

 

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