Blog Outline

In 52 brief snapshots we will try to paint a picture of Jesus as hinted at, indicated, outlined and glimpsed in the Old Testament. We will not be providing a comprehensive study but we hope it will be both accessible and helpful to you and serve to deepen both your understanding of, and relationship with, the greatest man who ever lived.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

The light in the darkness

Isaiah 9:1-7

Zebulun and Naphtali are two of the tribes of Israel which, along with tribe of Issachar, make up the region of Galilee. This is in the northern part of Israel. Israel as a whole nation is conquered and taken into captivity in 722BC. However, a decade prior to this the region of Galilee is captured by the Assyrians (see 2 Kings 15:29) and the rest of the nation doesn’t come to their aid. Thus Isaiah describes Galilee as being ‘treated with contempt’ and being a place of gloom (v1).

But the promise that follows is astounding… The people in this region of Galilee will see a great light (v2). Joy and gladness will increase (v3). Oppression will be ended (v4). The enemy will be defeated and there will be an end to war (vv4,5).

This will all come about because of a child who will be born for them (v6). This child will be special. He will be known by marvellous names:
Wonderful Counsellor - the child will stand in the royal courts and advise and guide

Mighty God - this child is God Himself!

Eternal Father - even though a child, He will represent the Heavenly Father

Prince of Peace - He is heir to the throne

This child will carry the government on His shoulders (v6) and the government He leads will be one of ever increasing influence and peace (v7). He will be the one who will finally establish the throne of David forever and will go on to ensure that it continues with justice and righteousness.

And so Jesus, when He beings His earthly ministry starts things off in Galilee (see Matthew 4:12-17). They are the first to see the Son of God in action. The part of the nation that was treated with contempt will house the eternal throne of David. Truly the light had dawned on them, even though they did not understand it.

Further reading:        Matthew 4:12-17         John 1:1-18

Worship Video:



To think about:
Isaiah describes Galilee as being ‘treated with contempt’ and being a place of gloom (v1). So often we feel that we have been treated with contempt, or we treat ourselves with contempt and feel in a place of gloom. Isaiah was talking to a nation but how can we use this passage in Isaiah to encourage ourselves?

Creative response:
Artwork by Esther Sweeney


Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

The virgin will be with child

Isaiah 7:10-17

In this passage Jerusalem is under siege by the king of Aram and the king of Israel. The king of Judah, Ahaz, and his people are afraid (see verse 3). God speaks to the king and tells him to ask for a sign. Ahaz refuses to do this. God therefore speaks to him anyway and describes the sign which will indicate His coming salvation:

‘Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel’ (v14).

This is totally unexpected! No-one could have predicted that the sign that God would offer would be a miraculous conception and birth. This sign is against all the odds because it is simply impossible. Well, impossible unless God is involved!

This sign is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus. In Matthew’s account of the birth of Jesus he quotes this verse and helpfully adds that Immanuel means ‘God with us’ (see Matthew 1:23).

The message of the sign is that it has to be something God brings about in His own time. No-one else has the wherewithal to conjure up a virgin birth. But the real message behind this sign is that salvation will come about when God Himself comes amongst His people.

Immanuel! God with us!

Further reading:      Matthew 1:18-25

Worship Video:


To think about:
This passage is about the impossible. When have you seen God do the impossible in your life or someone else’s life?

Is there a way that we can prepare for the impossible?


Creative response:
Journal page by Bernice



Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

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Wednesday, 10 August 2016

The marriage feast

Song of Songs 2:4

The Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a beautiful book, full of the language and description of romantic love between a king and his bride. The whole book is a celebration of love. The story is poetic and describes a period of courtship of lovers as well as the marriage day itself. It tells of the mutual enjoyment, physical attraction and sexual intimacy they share. It tells of the deep emotional connection of couple in love and of their pain when separated.

Part of the story is a description of the wedding feast. The groom comes into view in his splendour:
 ‘Go forth, O daughters of Zion,
And gaze on King Solomon with the crown
With which his mother has crowned him
On the day of his wedding,
And on the day of the gladness of his heart.’ (3:11)

And he is matched by his bride:
‘How beautiful you are, my darling,
How beautiful you are!... 
You are altogether beautiful, my darling,
And there is no blemish in you.’ (4:1,7)

This book is so clearly about the love and attraction a bride and groom have towards each other during courtship and marriage. Yet, as we saw last time, marriage is a picture of Christ and the church. So when we read Song of Songs this aspect also comes into view.

Ultimately a day will come when the Lamb will be married to His bride (see Rev 19:7) who will appear perfect and prepared for her husband (v8). There will then be a party, a feast - the marriage supper of the Lamb (v9) where we will see Song of Songs 2:4 fully fulfilled: ‘He has brought me to his banquet hall, and his banner over me is love.’ The book of Revelation goes on to describe the bride of the Lamb in more detail in chapter 21 where she appears as a gloriously perfect city (21:9,10) with walls and streets of gold, foundations of precious stones and gates of pearls (vv15-21).

She will be an awesome sight.

A breath-taking vision.

A bride fit for the eternal King of Kings.

Further reading:        Revelation 19:7-10 & 21:1-21

Worship Video:

To think about:
What aspects of the description of the bride of Christ have caught your attention as you read these passages? How can we prepare ourselves to be the bride of Christ?

Creative response:
Journal page by Bernice


Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

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Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Marriage

Genesis 2:18-24

In this blog we have been moving through the Old Testament in the order we find in our Bibles. However, this week we are going back to the creation account. As we saw previously in the Creation post, God created the universe and within that he made man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26,27). Genesis 2 gives further detail of how God, seeing that Adam needed to have a companion in order for him to be able to carry out the task God had given him to do, created an equal being called ‘Woman’.

When the woman was created (vv21,22) and brought to Adam it is fair to say that he became quite excited (v23). He had never seen anything quite like her before! She was a creation made in God’s image, just like Adam, and they were created for each other.

The author of Genesis then sets up the principle of marriage by saying, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother, and be joined to his wife; and they shall become one flesh’ (v24). This picture of marriage involves the leaving of one’s parents in order to form a new family unit where husband and wife are physically joined together in marriage. This provides a context for companionship, mutual support, sexual intimacy and the raising of children.

In Ephesians 5:22-33 Paul writes about marriage. He describes wives submitting to their husbands, just as the church submits to Christ as head of the church. He then describes the love which husbands should have for their wives. A husband should demonstrate love that:

- is self-sacrificial and willing to sacrifice all for his wife (v25),

- desires to see his wife increasingly reflect Jesus (vv26, 27),

- is as equally concerned about his wife as he is about himself (v28), and

- wants to nourish and cherish his wife and seek her well-being and flourishing (vv29,30).

He then quotes Genesis 2:24 which we read earlier before saying, ‘This mystery is great; but I am speaking about Christ and the church’ (v31). Ultimately, then, this bringing together of man and woman in marriage is a picture of Christ and the church.

I find it amazing that so early on in Scripture we see marriage described and within it a clear glimpse of Jesus. We should also continue to see this reflection of Jesus and the church around us every day whenever we see a marriage.

Further reading:           Ephesians 5:22-33

Worship Video:


To think about:
What aspects of marriage reflect the relationship of Christ and the church? How realistic is it to for a husband to love his wife ‘as Christ loved the church’ and what would this look like?

Creative response:
Original photo by Jalene Dort.  Journal page by Bernice


Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

Please share your creative response using the linky below. To use the linky click on 'Click here to enter'. You will need the URL from your own blog or from a photosharing website like Flickr. Alternatively share your response in the Facebook group.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Wisdom and Knowledge

Proverbs 2:1-15

The book of Proverbs begins with Solomon describing the purposes of his collection of proverbs. These purposes include: to know wisdom and instruction, to give prudence, knowledge and discretion and to increase in learning (1:1-6). However, as the wisest man who ever lived (see Solomon’s Wisdom) he said, ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’ (1:7). Linking wisdom and knowledge to one’s relationship with God rather than viewing it as an intellectual pursuit is one of the key themes of Proverbs.

Chapter 2 of Proverbs describes the pursuit of wisdom and knowledge as the pursuit of God Himself: ‘If you seek her [wisdom] as silver and search for her as for hidden treasures; then you will discern the fear of the Lord and discover the knowledge of God’ (vv4,5). Wisdom is something to be treasured (v1), cried out for (v3) and sought after (v4). The pursuit of wisdom will affect your hearing (v2), heart (v2), voice (v3) and eyes (v4). Wisdom and knowledge will do you good on the inside with it both entering your heart and being pleasant to your soul (v10).

However, you can’t help but feel as you read through this chapter and the book that this wisdom and knowledge seems to be somehow attainable and yet remain elusive at the same time.
As with so many things, wisdom and knowledge finally become most clearly defined when seen in Jesus, ‘in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Colossians 2:2,3). Our pursuit, then of true wisdom and knowledge boils down to our pursuit of Jesus. It is because of this that we can pray with Paul, ‘that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that we will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord…bearing fruit…and increasing in the knowledge of God’ (Colossians 1:9,10).

The pursuit and possession of Christ-like wisdom will cause us to increasingly reflect Him.

Further reading:     Colossians 1:9-12     Colossians 2:1-7

Worship Video:

To think about:
How would you summarise your current walk with Jesus? Are you being ‘filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding’? What does this look like in your life?

Creative response:
Journal page by Bernice


Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

Please share your creative response using the linky below. To use the linky click on 'Click here to enter'. You will need the URL from your own blog or from a photosharing website like Flickr. Alternatively share your response in the Facebook group.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

The Chief Cornerstone

Psalm 118:1-29

Concealed in the middle of this Psalm is surprising factor in the way God will work out His amazing salvation plan. He has ordained that, ‘The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.

This is the Lord’s doing; It is marvellous in our eyes’ (vv22,23). This is incredible: God’s plan for salvation will involve the ‘builders’ of the nation rejecting His chosen stone. But God’s plan will not be thwarted as this rejected stone will become the ‘chief cornerstone’!

In the Synoptic Gospels Jesus applied verses 22 & 23 to Himself. In telling a parable about a vineyard owner who rents out his vineyard to people who then kill the son and heir Jesus sent a clear message to His hearers that the fulfilment of this Psalm was near. Jesus’ parable clearly showed that the religious authorities were not acting in accordance with God’s ways. In quoting this Psalm the condemnation of the ‘builders’ was certainly clear to Jesus’ audience of scribes and chief priests who simply worked harder to find a way to kill Him (see Matthew 21:42-45; Mark 12:10-12; Luke 20:17-19)

Peter repeated the message to the religious leaders in Acts 4 when he explains that they (the builders) crucified Jesus (the rejected stone) but He became the chief cornerstone. And He is the only way to salvation (vv10-12)!

This use of Psalm 118:22 is expanded by Peter in his first letter. Describing Jesus as ‘a living stone which has been rejected’ (1 Peter 2:4) he describes us as ‘living stones being built into a spiritual house’ (v5). He quotes Psalm 118 in his argument and moves on to make some almost unbelievable statements about what our salvation means: it is multifaceted and involves us being ‘a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation and God’s own possession’ (v9). But at the heart of his argument is the necessity of the rejection of the Stone so that It (He) could become the Chief Cornerstone (vv6-8).

And Paul, too, elaborates upon this imagery when he describes Christ Jesus as the corner stone in whom the whole building fits together and grows into a holy temple, the very dwelling place of God (Ephesians 2:20,21). The chief cornerstone of the Temple was massive. It supported the building but also set its shape and orientation. The rightness of the cornerstone determined the magnificence of the building.

And Our Chief Cornerstone was the stone which the builders rejected.

Further reading:     1 Peter 2:4-10       Ephesians 2:19-22

Worship Video:

To think about:
Meditate on the picture of a building built on the cornerstone of Jesus in which each of us is a living stone.    What elements of that picture encourage you?   What does it mean to you to be a ‘living stone’?

Creative response:
Journal page by Bernice



Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

Please share your creative response using the linky below. To use the linky click on 'Click here to enter'. You will need the URL from your own blog or from a photosharing website like Flickr. Alternatively share your response in the Facebook group.

Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Deity, kingship and priesthood

Psalm 110:1-7

This Psalm is quoted or referred to many times in the New Testament. It is written by David, and Jesus picks up on this authorship when debating the identity of the Christ with the Pharisees. In Matthew 22:41-46 Jesus’ line of argument is that since the Psalm opens with ‘The Lord said to my Lord,…’ (v1) it shows that David, the king, is showing deference to someone who is to come. This person must have a higher status if He is called ‘Lord’ by David. Since the only status higher than royal authority is divine status it implies that David is referring to a divine king. It is noticeable that there was no reply to Jesus question!

I want to comment on two further points arising from the Psalm:
(i) The king is seated (vv1,2)
For a king to be able to sit down means that there is no fighting, no war, no enemies standing against him anymore. Throughout the New Testament this image is picked up on and applied to Jesus. He is able to sit down because all things are now in subjection to Him. In Ephesians 1:20-22 this is linked to the resurrection and ascension, a double-move which both establishes Jesus’ position as victor over death and as being seated at the right-hand of the Father in heaven.

(ii) The king is a priest (v4)
As we have already seen, the royal line was the line of Judah. The priests, however, were taken from the tribe of Levi. To therefore appoint the king as ‘a priest forever in according to the order of Melchizedek’ was both surprising and impossible. Kingship meeting the priesthood had implications. The most significant of these was that this king would adhere to the standards of holiness set out for the priests.

It is worth noting the fact that this priest-king is sat down. This means that the priests’ work is also complete: there are no more sacrifices to offer (see Hebrews 8:1,2; 10:11-14).

So this short Psalm talks about the deity, the kingship and the priesthood of Jesus. No wonder it is the most-quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament!

Further reading:    Matthew 22:41-46 Ephesians 1:20-23 Hebrews 10:11-14

Worship Video:
 

To think about:
Jesus is King and Priest. What implication does that have for us who are described as co-heirs with Christ?

Creative response:
Journal page by Bernice


Please remember to go back to previous blog posts to see the creative responses that have been added. Click on the thumbnail pictures to view them.

Please share your creative response using the linky below. To use the linky click on 'Click here to enter'. You will need the URL from your own blog or from a photosharing website like Flickr. Alternatively share your response in the Facebook group.