The Hebrew scriptures (Old Testament) are filled with prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. For Jesus himself, the Hebrew Scriptures were the key by which he understood his vocation as Israel’s Messiah.
It is believed that there is as many as 456 prophecies in the Old Testament about the Messiah. And it is believed that Jesus fulfilled 324 of those prophecies during his first coming. As Christians, we believe that he will fulfill the remainder of these prophecies when he returns (His second coming).
There is no other individual who has ever come a close second, as the possible Messiah. Jesus is the only option. God has left no other alternative.
The two prophecies that were discussed during the Sunday sermon were Psalm 2 and Daniel 9: 24-27: For the blog this week, I will expand a little more on these two prophecies.
1. Psalm 2 – The Messiah would be called God’s Son
Psalm 2 speaks of the nations of the world plotting against both God himself and his “Anointed.” Originally, this referred to the Davidic king, but the scope of what is described here, as well as later Jewish tradition, understood this to be referring to the Messiah, God’s Ultimate “Anointed.”
In verse 7, God specifically calls the Anointed “My Son” and promises his worldwide rule in the face of the laughable opposition of the nations who counsel rebellion against God. The New Testament refers in numerous places to the ideas in this psalm, Jesus as God’s Son and the Opposition to God and his Messiah.
In the Hebrew Bible, “son of God” is used about angels (Job 1:6), about the nation of Israel (Exodus 4:22-23), and about Israel’s king (2 Samuel 7:14). In the New Testament, when Jesus is called “Son of God” or “God’s Son,” it implies: (1) he is the Messianic king; (2) he has a personal intimacy with the Father, whom he addressed as Abba; (3) he obeyed the Father, and especially; (4) his sonship is unique, unlike any other. For example, Jesus regularly speaks of “your Father” and “my Father” – but never “our Father” (Matthew 6:9 refers to what the disciples as a group are meant to pray; Jesus does not include himself in that group).
It should be pointed out, that the title “Son of Man” which Jesus frequently uses for himself implies his divinity. That title comes from Daniel 7:13, which speaks of a heavenly figure. The title “Son of God” on the other hand points to Jesus as the unique Messianic king. Who enjoys a special intimacy with God the Father, whose life is characterized by obedience to God, and whose career was marked by opposition, exactly like the Son of Psalm 2.
2. Daniel 9: 24-27 – The Messiah would come according to a timetable.
The prophet Daniel was a student of the Hebrew scriptures and had been studying the book of Jeremiah, where he had read that the Babylonian exile was to last 70 years. As those 70 years were drawing to a close, Daniel began to pray and fast both for himself and for his nation, that God would forgive them and bring them back to Israel (see Daniel 9:1-3). The bulk of chapter nine then gives us Daniel’s heartfelt prayer.
As he prayed, the angel Gabriel appeared to him to bring an announcement: Gabriel tells Daniel not about the 70 years of captivity (which Daniel knew were coming to an end) but about “seventy sevens,” or a period of 490 years, climaxing not merely in the return from Babylon but rather the beginning of the messianic age.
Firstly, the “seventy weeks” (literally, “seventy sevens,” understood by almost everyone to mean seventy seven-year periods or 490 years) begin with “the going out of the word to restore and build Jerusalem.” Commentators have drilled down to the details and dated “the word” at various times in the sixth and fifth centuries B.C. In any event, the walls of Jerusalem began to be rebuilt about 457 B.C.
Second, after sixty-nine weeks, Jerusalem and its Temple are destroyed: “The people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary.” After the seventieth week too, we are still talking about desolation and destruction of the Temple: “On the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Therefore, the 490 years begin with the rebuilding of Jerusalem in the fifth century B.C. and take us to the era of the Temple’s destruction which occurred in A.D. 70.
Third, “an anointed one” is mentioned twice. Translations vary: if the punctuation is translated one way, we have two anointed ones, one coming after seven weeks (49 years) and another one – who is killed – after an additional 62 weeks (434 years). If the punctuation is translated a different way, we have only one anointed person, who comes after seven and sixty-two weeks (483 years). A great deal of ink has been spilled over figuring out the best way to translate this, but in the end, the key point is: given the total of 490 years, an anointed one will be killed not long before the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70.
According to this interpretation of this prophecy from Daniel – there was a short window of time that the Messiah was to come, and Jesus arrived at that time. Daniel 9:24-27 points us to that very designated time, in the first century AD, when the Messiah came among humanity as our atoning sacrifice.
These two prophecies help to reinforce the belief that only Jesus could have been the Messiah (Christ) promised in the Old Testament.
This blog is based on my sermon preached on March 19, titled "The God We Worship". The Bible passage I used is the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, John 4: 7-26.
1. Read John 4:7-9. There are lots of ethnic or racial or religious divisions around us. Do you have a no-go place in your life, a Samaria you’ve been told to stay away from? Can you remember a time when you went to a “Samaria”? How did it go?
2. Read John 4:10-19. Jesus knows details about her personal life. How comfortable are you with Jesus knowing every detail of your life? What does Jesus mean by “giving us living water”?
3. Read John 4:20-26. Why does the woman change the subject to her religion and Jesus’ religion? What does Jesus think is the right kind of religion? What does Jesus mean by “worship the Father in Spirit and in truth”?
4. Read John 4:27-38. Why do you suppose Jesus chose the woman at the well to reveal himself to for the first time in Samaria?
5. When do you most feel that you are worshipping the Father in Spirit and in truth?
6. Name one thing you are thirsting for in your relationship with Christ.
March 12th – Les Kovacs
Thank you so much for your questions this week. I am touched by the depth of your interest and the excellent questions generated in response to my last talk. I have chosen to respond to one of these questions because it landed close to my heart.
At one point in my sermon, I talked about submitting to God as a way of walking in His wisdom, and one of your questions asked how we can submit to God during especially hard times. This question really struck a chord with me because I too struggled with this issue a number of years ago when I hit a very rough patch in my life. I won’t go into the gory details, but it was without doubt the lowest point in my life, and I wondered how I would possibly be able to go on. I had suffered a deep emotional loss; I made some regrettable-in-hindsight decisions; and I felt deserted by some people I had really counted on. Fortunately, those who really were the closest to me, my immediate family and my true brothers and sisters, helped me regain my emotional equilibrium, and strengthened my reliance on God.
When we’ve been wounded deeply, whether physically, emotionally, or spiritually, our natural tendency is to withdraw. Like when we touch a hot stove, and we reflexively pull our hand away. When we hurt and want to protect ourselves from further harm, we pull back into a defensive posture. We withdraw from our family, our friends, and even from God. Yet that is exactly when we need them, and especially Him, the most. That is when we need His love, forgiveness, and compassion the most. When we are unable to carry on in our own strength, and we place our faith in Him, He can carry us through the difficult circumstances and deliver us safely on the other side. I know that because I have felt Him carry me.
And there are some practical ways for us to reach out to Him in our time of need. These are some of the supports that helped me:
Prayer and seeking God's guidance. Prayer is a powerful way to us connect with God and seek His guidance during difficult times. Take time to talk with God and ask for His strength and guidance, and the wisdom to accept His will. Psalm 25:5, “Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
Find comfort in scripture. Reading the Bible can provide comfort and guidance during difficult times. Scripture reminds us of God's love, His promises, and His plan for our lives. Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
Trust in God's plan. Remember that God is in control and that He has a plan for your life. Sometimes it is difficult to see the bigger picture, but trusting in God's plan can help you find peace and comfort. Trust in His wisdom and accept that He knows what is best for you. Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Let go of control. Letting go of control and surrendering to God's will can be very difficult, but necessary. Let go of your fears and worries and surrender them to God. Accept that we cannot control everything in our lives, and it is essential to remain patient and have faith in His ultimate goodness and mercy. Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.“
Practice gratitude. Despite the challenges you are facing, try to find things to be grateful for. Focusing on the blessings in our lives can help shift our perspective and bring a sense of gratitude. Focusing on the positives in your life can help bring you closer to God, and acknowledging His goodness and faithfulness can also help us grow our trust in His plan for our lives. Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Seek support. Don't be afraid to reach out to family members, friends, and your spiritual brothers and sisters for support. Surround yourself with people who love you and will uplift and encourage you. There is wisdom in the council of many, particularly if they are your Christian family. God placed them in your life for a reason.
Submitting to God's will during difficult times can be a daunting challenge, but it can also be a source of comfort and strength. It means trusting in His goodness and seeking His guidance and support to help you through it. Remember, He loves you and will never desert you.
Questions for you. Are you afraid to intentionally submit to God when you find yourself in one of life’s big messes? If so, what’s holding you back?
Praise be to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit!
Text: Luke 10: 21-24
On Sunday we looked at Luke 10: 21-24, and two main points were discussed:
So, it is Openness to God that is the true virtue – whether we are learned or not. God delights to reveal himself to those who are willing to open their lives and hearts to him. The example shared on Sunday was that of Eta Linnemann.
You can read Eta Linnemann’s testimony here:
Eta Linnemann's testimonny
2. Jesus is the source of Revelation (verse 22).
Jesus is the source of revelation today because only God knows God, here as Father and Son. And because only God truly knows God, this knowledge makes him the sovereign, sole dispenser of revelation. What is our heavenly Father like? Well, exactly as Jesus revealed him. Jesus is the sovereign dispenser of the knowledge of God the Father to “anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”
The Father is revealed in the Son through the Spirit to us.
So, when unbelievers/sceptics tell us they cannot see the beauty and truth of the gospel, we should not be surprised or personally offended in the slightest. The Word of God radiates light, but it cannot be seen unless a person’s eye is first opened by God.
For those of us that can see and hear – we are blessed. Praise God!
“Blessed are the eyes that see what you see. For I tell you that many prophets and kings wanted to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Verses 23-24)
Currently in the United States, there is an outpouring of the Spirit that began at a small Christian University (Asbury). God is currently revealing himself to many of the Gen Z age group through this revival. Below is a video that looks at this revival, from a Canadian perspective.
The Shepherd God
During our All Ages service on Feb. 26th we discussed The Shepherd God as well as the beginning of Lent. It was a brief homily with our children sitting at the front, focusing mainly on our Gospel reading of the day, John 10:1-5, 11-18. Special emphasis was given to John 10:3 in which Jesus declares that He calls His sheep by name, and they listen to Him because they know His voice. Tying this all together with Lent was the lesson that we ought to use this time before Easter to rid ourselves of that which distracts us from the voice of our Shepherd.
There was obviously much, much more to be said on any one of these verses, so thanks to this blog I am able to expand a little more!
Q: What are the jobs that Jesus does as our Shepherd?
A: Thank you, anonymous submission! This was a big area I was tempted to get into on Sunday and I am grateful for the question. When we think of God as our Shepherd, we may naturally turn to Psalm 23 to read about the way He tends His flock; specifically the first 3 verses in which He:
We read on from there that He watches over us even in places of darkness and death, promises us His comfort and protection and glorification in front of those who oppose Him, lavishing His blessings upon us and securing us a room in His house for all eternity.
This Psalm has so much that we can unpack, however I’ll leave that part to you, your small groups, and personal meditation and continue on – for this is a wonderful picture of our Shepherd God, but by no means is it comprehensive. All of scripture teaches us of our God as our Shepherd and how He looks after His sheep! Let us turn to John 10 and continue our search for His hand in our lives.
Right off the hop we can note a few things about this lowly flock of sheep. I’ll list a few of the first I note and follow them up with a question for your own considerations. I would encourage you to take some time and go through this chapter verse by verse and consider their implications, what is said or unsaid, and explore for yourself the ways in which God has revealed Himself as our Good Shepherd:
There is a vast amount of symbolism here and the time it would take to properly unpack this would take me beyond the scope of this blog. For now, I pray I’ve given a bit more of an understanding of God as our Shepherd as well as a helpful direction in which to take your study! Let me close by saying that I absolutely love this parable; the fact that little ol’ me has been welcomed into the fold of God’s flock, that He knows my name and cares for me is absolutely staggering.
We are more than likely going to lose our wonder and awe at this fact, so Jesus’s words in John 10 (well, all of them to be honest) need to be mediated upon and taken to heart. Not only will we become more secure in Him as our full and total identity, but we’ll become more and more sensitive to hearing His voice!
Lord Jesus, thank you for your humility and sacrifice. Thank you for emptying yourself, laying aside your glory and coming to this broken world. Thank you for laying down your life on the cross, the names of all your wayward sheep written on your heart. Thank you for calling us by name and teaching us to follow you. We want more of your presence and less of our own selves. Please teach us to deny ourselves this day and to follow you. Help us hate the sin to which we cling, not just in this Lenten season but forever. Most of all Lord, refresh us today with your joy, the joy in knowing our God knows our name and we know His! Let us sing and dance today, like a lamb in the safety of the fold, knowing all things are secure in you. Amen
In 2023, each week's blog is a follow-up reflection written by the preceding Sunday’s preacher to dig deeper into the sermon topic and explore engaging discussion questions.