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, 7 December 2016

'This One will be our peace'

Micah 5:5a

Following on directly from our considerations of Micah 5:1-5a  in the previous post, the final phrase of that prophecy is worth a little more consideration.

As we discovered last time the references back to the greatest king Israel ever had, King David, are clear in the passage. The birthplace is the same (1 Samuel 16:1-13). The image of the king as shepherd of the nation is the same (see Psalm 78:70-72). The leading out of strength in God is the same (see 1 Samuel 30:6).

However, there are some differences. The extent of the kingdom will be greater than David’s as it will reach to the ends of the earth (v4). But most crucially this king, in contrast to David, will be their peace. David had wanted to build a temple for God but God had told him not too as he had shed so much blood and it would be his son who would reign in peace who would build it (see 1 Chronicles 22:8,9).

The king Micah describes in this prophecy is instead characterised by peace. Note, though, how this king is not described. He is not described as being a peaceful king, or a king who brings peace, or as a king who oversees a peaceful time. Instead the King is described as being our peace. It is the King Himself who is the peace.

In Ephesians 2 Paul helpfully makes this explicit for us:
‘But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace…’ (vv13, 14a)

He goes on to say that Jesus preached peace to all those who were near and far off and that we now through Him all have access in one Spirit to the Father (vv17,18), and that He has made peace through the blood of His cross (see Colossians 1:20).

We have peace with God because Jesus Himself is our peace. A king born into the obscurity of Bethlehem has the mission of reconciling the world back to God. He can only do it because He Himself is our peace:
‘This One will be our peace’

Further reading:      Ephesians 2:11-18        Colossians 1:20

Worship video:
   

To think about:
As with most things to do with the Kingdom of God our thinking is turned upside down. Jesus IS our peace – he isn’t bringing peace. Asking Jesus to be our Saviour means we have that peace living inside us. How does this peace manifest itself in your life? How can you model peace to those you meet?

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, 30 November 2016

Born in Bethlehem

Micah 5:1-5a

It is an incredible thing that the place of Jesus’ birth is predicted accurately. The small town of Bethlehem in Judah is identified as being the place from which ‘One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel’ (v2). Although known as the ‘city of David’ (Luke 2:4) it was actually a fairly small town. Its fame came solely from the fact that King David was born there. Micah even describes it as ‘too little to be among the clans of Judah’ (v2)! That God chose it as the birthplace of His Son is surprising, to say the least.

If there is one thing in life you are definitely not able to influence, it is where you are born! You have no choice in the location of your birth. You just arrive when you are ready to arrive! The fact that Jesus was born in Bethlehem is remarkable when we consider the events surrounding His birth. His parents lived in Nazareth and were only present in Bethlehem at the time of His birth because they were compelled to register there as part of the census which Caesar Augustus decreed (Luke 2:1-4).

Jesus ‘should’ have been born in Nazareth. But actually God had declared in advance where He was to be born. Far from controlling where Jesus would be born, Caesar was simply an instrument in the hand of God ensuring that His plan came to pass! And so the King of kings was born in Bethlehem.

Micah then goes on to prophesy that this king is going to unite the nation (v3) and He will ‘arise and shepherd His flock’ (v4). This is language which reminds us again of David, the shepherd-boy who became king (see Psalm 78:70-72 and An eternal line of kings post). He led the nation in a way which pointed towards One who would come who would be like him.

However, the king who is in view in this prophecy will be even greater. This king will have an extensive reign, ‘will be great to the ends of the earth’ (v4) but will rely entirely on God by leading ‘in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God’ (v4).

But as well as all this we read that ‘This One will be our peace’… David was a king of war, a warrior king who had established the nation through a campaign of force (see 1 Chronicles 28:3). This new king, this eternal, worldwide king, this shepherd-king is starkly different: This One will be our peace!

Peace in the land.   Peace for the people.    Peace with God.

Further reading:       Matthew 2:1-12

Worship video:

To think about:
We are now in the time of Advent in the church calendar when we think about the coming of Jesus. It is also a time of great pressure with presents to buy, food to plan, cards to write and parties to attend. How can you find peace in all the distractions?

Also at this time we can think about the world and pray for the peace Jesus brings to break out right across our troubled globe.

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, 23 November 2016

The sign of Jonah

Jonah 1:17

The story of Jonah is well known and one of the Old Testament accounts that makes it into most children’s Bibles and Sunday School teaching plans. It would be worth reading through the account as a whole (it’s only 4 short chapters in length) and seeing where the above verse fits in to the story.

In summary, Jonah was told by God to go and preach to the people of Nineveh and call them to repentance. Jonah did not like this idea and so headed off on a ship in the opposite direction. God caused a fierce storm to arise, resulting in Jonah being thrown overboard to save the ship and crew. ‘And the Lord appointed a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights’ (1:17). Jonah cried out to God from his underwater whale-cavern. God heard his prayer and he was spewed back onto dry land. He then headed off to Nineveh and preached the message God had given him. All the people of the city repented and turned to God. Wow!

In Matthew 12 the scribes and Pharisees ask Jesus for a sign. He replies by saying that although their generation craves a sign, ‘no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah the prophet; for just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the sea monster, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.’ (Matthew 12:39,40). Jesus goes on to say that the current generation should be reacting to His message in the same way that the Ninevites repented at the preaching of Jonah. Jesus’ generation had no excuse because the person they were hearing was One who is greater than Jonah.

The sign of Jonah:

Three days and three nights in the belly of a fish for Jonah resulted in a whole city being saved.

Three days and three nights in a tomb for Jesus resulted in the whole world being saved.

Further reading:     Matthew 12:38-42

Worship video:

To think about:
The story of Jonah is about obedience. Have there been times when God has asked you to say or do something which you have ignored? How did that work out?

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, 16 November 2016

'Out of Egypt I called My son'

Hosea 11:1-4

The prophet Hosea calls out, ‘When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son’ (v1). This draws our minds back to the events immediately following the Passover. The Passover was where the firstborn son in each Egyptian household died while each Israelite household was protected by the blood of the lamb. This led to the miracle of the Israelites being encouraged by Pharaoh and the Egyptians to leave their country (Exodus 12:29-51).

This release from Egypt is a defining narrative within the context of Scripture and the history of God’s people. The Israelites left slavery, bondage and fear and embarked on a journey that would bring them to a land of life, freedom and promise. However, this was not an ingenious human plan. This was the call of God to a nation: ‘Out of Egypt I called My son’ (v1).

Upon leaving Egypt things were by no means simple. There was still the rather large problem of the Red Sea, which God miraculously parted to allow the people through (see Exodus 14,15), and the fact that the land they were to inhabit was currently occupied. However, God did not let this fledgling nation stumble in the wilderness. Instead He took them in His arms and demonstrated a deep fatherly love for them (vv3,4). He cared for the nation, nourished and fed them, nurtured and loved them, and eventually led them into their inheritance.

In Matthew 2:13-15 we read that Joseph went down to Egypt with Mary and the infant Jesus as they fled from Herod. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 which, as we have seen, echoes the great rescue of the nation which God had brought about centuries beforehand.

It transpires, then, that this seminal event where God rescues His people out of Egypt actually points forward to a time when God will call His very own Son out of exile in Egypt. Only, by supreme divine twist, this time the rescue is not of the person coming out of Egypt. Instead the rescue will be by the One coming out of Egypt.

The Son is called out of Egypt in order to rescue others!

Further reading:      Matthew 2:13-15

Worship video:
The story behind the song:

Took me out of Egypt


To think about:
Think about how God rescued you. How did God take you in His arms and show His love for you?

Creative response:
Artwork from Jubilee Kids


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, 9 November 2016

The Son of Man

Daniel 7:9-14

In this incredible vision God gave to Daniel we are given a view right into the very throne-room of heaven.

The vision opens with the Ancient of Days, God Himself, sat on His throne (v9). His appearance is awe-inspiring - dazzlingly white clothing and pure white hair while seated on a throne with wheels blazing with flames (v9).

The throne-room Daniel sees is actually a court with books of judgement ready to be opened and judgement passed (v10). In front of the throne is a river of fire (v10), representing judgment, and thousands and thousands standing before Him awaiting the judgement (v10).

The judgement is related to the earlier part of the vision (vv1-8) where four great beasts - a lion, a bear, a leopard and ‘a fourth beast, dreadful and terrifying and extremely strong’ (v7) - are described. These four beasts represent four kings (v17) who rise up and rule over kingdoms on the earth. However, they are not kings who honour God and they are not kingdoms where God’s rule is followed. They are therefore judged (vv11,12).

At this point we obtain our glimpse of Jesus. He comes ‘with the clouds of heaven’ (v13) and approaches the Ancient of Days. He is presented before Him. Then, in contrast to those who have just been judged, He is given ‘dominion, glory and a kingdom’. All the peoples of the earth from every nation language, tribe and tongue will serve Him. The dominion He is given is everlasting and His kingdom is everlasting.

This one ‘like a Son of Man’ (v13) is surely none other than the One through whom all nations of the earth will be blessed and the One who will sit on the throne of David forever. During His ministry Jesus speaks of His return as the Son Man coming on the clouds of heaven (Matthew 24:30) and even at His trial before the Sanhedrin He quotes this verse to the high priest, which ultimately leads to His ‘conviction’ (Matthew 26:63-66).

Many of the themes of Daniel’s wonderful vision are picked up in Revelation. In chapter 1 we see a more detailed description of ‘one like a son of man’ (Revelation 1:13). Chapter 5 describes the throne room of heaven where it becomes clear that the Lamb is the Son of Man and the universal scope of His dominion, power and kingdom is described.

Further reading:      Philippians 2:5-11      Revelation 1:4-20     Revelation 5:1-14

Worship video:

To think about:
Both the descriptions in Daniel’s vision and in the book of Revelation are incredible. Spend some time looking at the imagery contained in the passages and then give glory to God through worship.

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, 2 November 2016

The Heart-Cleanser

Ezekiel 36:22-38

This prophesy of Ezekiel begins with Israel being gathered from the nations and brought back to their own land (v24). This builds on the theme of the scattered flock being gathered by the great Shepherd (see Ezekiel 34 and the God’s Shepherd post).

However, once this gathering has taken place there is to be a total transformation given to the people. They will be sprinkled with clean water and become cleansed from their filthiness and all their idols (v25). More than that, they will be given a new heart and a new spirit in them (v26). But more than that, they will be given God’s own Spirit in them who will cause them to live in a way which honours God (v27). And even more than that, they will be cleansed from their iniquities and they will live in places no longer desolate (v33).

So how can this transformation happen?   The short answer is ‘Through Jesus’!

Cleansing in the Old Testament involved being sprinkled with the blood of animals (see Hebrews 9:19-22). Ezekiel is drawing on this picture of God’s designated way of being cleansed. However, in Jesus, the cleansing now happens because of His blood rather than the blood of animals (see Hebrews 9:11-14). And this Jesus-cleansing goes much deeper and cleanses our consciences. It is because of this deep-cleansing by the blood of Jesus that we have the confidence to enter the holy place (Hebrews 10:19) and we can have full confidence that we have had ‘our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.’

This image of being sprinkled with blood in order to be made clean may seem strange to us but Peter summarises it well at the start of his letter: ‘To those… who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure.’ (1 Peter 1:1,2)

So in chapter 36 Ezekiel didn’t only give us a glimpse of Jesus. He gave us a glimpse of how the Father gathers, the Son cleanses and the Spirit sanctifies.

Further reading:     Hebrews 10:19-25      1 Peter 1:1,2

Worship video:

To think about:
Do you enter the holy place with the confidence that Hebrews 10 describes? If not, ask the Holy Spirit to help you. If you do, think about what it is that gives you that confidence.

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, 26 October 2016

God's Shepherd

Ezekiel 34:1-31

The model of godly leadership laid out in Scripture is one of servant leadership. The leader is appointed not to lord it over the people but to shepherd the people and guide them in living God’s way. The authority of the leader is delegated by God to them. The leader should thus should reflect the heart of God in the way they lead.

Verses 1-10 of this passage paint a picture of self-serving leadership which promoted the comfort of the shepherd over the needs of the flock. This stands in stark contrast to the picture of the good shepherd in Psalm 23 where the needs and protection of the sheep are the foremost priority of the shepherd. The vacuum created by the poor leadership described by Ezekiel resulted in the people being scattered, hurt, broken and abandoned.

God therefore declares that, ‘I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out’ (v11). His heart is always for His sheep, His people. His search will bring the scattered flock from the nations. They will be gathered to a safe place where there will be rest and pasture (v14), nourishment (v15), healing and restoration (v16).

However, God goes further and declares that He will select His own shepherd, the Ultimate Shepherd, who will be a servant of God (see the Servant posts) (v23). What comes to light here is the fact that this Ultimate Shepherd will be of the line of David.  Since Ezekiel prophesied after David had died, he can’t be referring directly to David. Instead he is prophesying that One will emerge who would be of the line of David. He will be one who will faithfully shepherd the people. He will feed them (v23) and he will lead them back to God (v24).

This, therefore, is a passage of great hope and optimism as we see God’s people being gathered and restored in order that they may fulfil their destiny. But for this to happen there needs to be a day when they are provided with His shepherd who will burn with compassion for the lost sheep of Israel and provide a way of leading them back into the blessings of God.

And in Jesus that day would come!

Further reading:     Matthew 9:35-38

Worship video:


To think about:
Jesus’ mission on earth was to lead people to God. Our mission is the same – that our lives point to God. That people see Jesus in the way we speak and act. What changes do you need to make so that people can see more of Jesus in you?

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.