Jesus’ New Start

            A new start! Jesus needs a new start?  What about Good Friday, “It is finished”, and an Easter sunrise service why would Jesus need a new start?  Growing up in a denominational church, which observed Lent and had grand Easter services I guess I always thought that Easter Day was it.  Everything was done by noon on Easter Sunday.  Jesus rose from the dead, He had the Keys back and His time on the cross settled everything.  HE DID ALL OF THAT AND MORE!  I believe that Jesus only needed to be the sacrifice for my/our sin ONCE.  His work on the cross is/was finished and He sprinkled His blood on the Mercy Seat Himself and it does not need to be done again. 

            The new start I am talking about is not dealing with His sacrifice.  He got several new titles and honestly the work of starting His Kingdom was not done.  What He did after the Resurrection is the work that was foreshadowed by Moses and Joshua.  Both of these leaders had work to do after their (first) Passovers.  Jesus stayed around for forty days because He had work to finish before His Ascension and the birthing of His Church (Pentecost).

The Shadows of the New Start

            Moses’ Passover, which birthed the nation of Israel brought them out of Egypt and started them to the Promised Land.  The first part of the trip became the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The parting of the Red Sea (baptism) took them away from the swords and brickyards of Egypt.  The first true destination for Israel was to sacrifice and worship God at the Mountain.  It was here that Moses received the Law.

            Joshua’s Passover was held in the Promised Land, as the start of the Land of Israel.  The Ark and the people passed through the Jordan River (baptism).  After defeating Jericho and Ai, they traveled to the mountains of Blessing and Curses.  Part of the ceremony here was to build an altar, worship God, and Joshua copied the Law onto stone tablets.  He then had to lead the people in conquering the land and dividing it for the tribes.

            Elisha in 2 Kings 3 had a “passing through the Jordan” on his way past Jerusalem to Bethel and then to the mountain where Elijah had his great victory.

            Jesus had two very similar experiences with the Jordan.  The first was His personal baptism by John that was followed by forty days in the wilderness (Matthew 3 and 4).  Satan did take Him to a high mountain (4:8).  The second one was His final trip to Jerusalem and His death on Mount Calvary.

What Started New for Jesus

Some of these are very subjective on my part.

  1. His priesthood, that is like Melchizedek’s priesthood. Hebrews 5, 7 and 8
  2. He holds the keys of Death and Hades. Revelations 1:18
  3. He is the mediator of the new covenant. 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6, 9:15, and 12:24
  4. A new seat and footstool. Revelations 3:21 and Hebrews 1:13
  5. He has a new name. Revelations 3:12
  6. He gives authority. Revelations 2:26-27
  7. The Spirit could now come and be our Helper.

Hebrews and Revelation have more of these new things or things that He is now worthy to do.  I am going to add that He can now minister to the Gentiles.  Remember He was sent to the House of Israel.

A New Appearance

            In the Book of Revelations, His appearance is different. Shock, joy, or unbelief may have caused people to not recognize Him but here are the verses that lean toward Him appearing different: Matthew 28:17, Mark 16:12, Luke 24:16 and 40, John 20:14 and 21:4 and 11. I just have a feeling that His new appearance was between His first earthly appearance and what He looked like when He transfigured on top of the mountain.

Resurrection 

            There are many verses that proclaim Jesus as the Resurrection or talk about His resurrection.  Matthew 22:31 and 27:53; Luke 14:14 and 20:36; and John 11:25 are just a few of these verses.  In studying the word “resurrection” it seems our modern usage of it is centered or even defined by what Jesus did or what the dead will do.  This is great and I do value that resurrection is associated with Jesus.  But we need to remember that there was a transformation that took place.  Jesus was not restored to what He was before He was put on the cross.  He came out better or “new”. (Steven Furtick started some of this idea in his sermon on 2/28/21.) 

The 1828 Webster’s Dictionary defines the word resurrection as “a rising again”.  My Strong’s Concordance defines it as “standing up”.  I like that better because this shows me what Jesus did.  He stood up again.  Standing gives me the idea that He was about to start doing new things.  Let us look at a very important verse that Jesus said. 

John 12:32 (KJV) And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.  

This is a reference that Jesus made about how He would die on the cross.  But as our Master Teacher often does this term has another layer of meaning. The NIV has a footnote that the term “lifted up” also means to be exalted. The Orthodox Jewish Bible (OBJ) has the term “hagbah” for the term “lifted up”.  This is the word/term for the act of lifting up the Torah for the congregation to see as it is read during a service.  Jesus is the Word.  So, if we lift up or exalt Jesus, the Word, all men will be drawn to Him.  

Jesus was hagbah on the cross for our sin.  His resurrection, His new start, or Him standing up again, was so we would lift Him up.

Tree of Knowledge – Fear of Death

Between studying the Tree of Knowledge and Jesus being a high priest like Melchizedek in the Book of Hebrews I saw a verse on the “fear of death” that tied the two ideas together.  Hebrews 2:15 – To free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death (NIV). The verse is addressing Jesus as our High Priest but the “fear of death” is what caught me by surprise.

Where is this fear of death first mentioned or talked about?  This topic of fear and death (yes, I replaced of with and on purpose) made me look through the verses with the word fear in them.  (NOTE: This is a study blog, not a theology blog you can argue this elsewhere.). Fear is associated with death and punishment in most of the verses in the Bible.  Well, what about “the fear of God” that just means we are to reverence Him, not be afraid of Him.  Back to this later.

The first place where the “fear of something” and death are together is in the Garden.  No, not when Adam and Eve were afraid because they heard God and they were naked – that is the second time.  You may call it another phobia but Eve wanting the fruit, I believe, is associated with the fear of not knowing what God knew about death. It is clear that Adam and Eve were superior, intelligent humans but I am not sure that everything made sense to them. They had never seen death or anything die, not that we know of.  The first recorded death is their son.  So, MAYBE the serpent mixed her not knowing death with a nice-looking piece of fruit and his assurance that nothing would happen and we now have FEAR.  I know most preachers call Eve’s action stemming out of lust, but lust is really fear that someone has something you do not have.  This still makes me wonder how long those three had been talking together and did all of the animals talk.  Talking to the devil about a fear instead of walking with God, could be a problem.

Adam expressed their fear of God because he was waiting for the “you will die” to happen.  With the knowledge of good and evil came what we call fear.  You can fear for good reasons and you can fear for evil reasons. 

So, back to the fear of God.  Do you fear Him for good reasons or for bad?  We know we should fear God.  Is the softening of the word fear by calling it reverence, really a good thing? We need to hold God as important but in my Strong’s Concordance reverence is part of the definition of the word fear and it still means “fear”. 

This line of thinking will quickly lead to the argument of “once saved always saved” or “God never unsaved someone”.  No matter your thoughts on that topic we are still to fear God.  What about 1 Corinthians 13 and 1 John 4:18 where perfect love is casting out fear.  That is true, perfect love will cast out fear, and Jesus, our perfect love, will cast it out.  If I may, as an example of softening the thought of fearing God for good reasons.  1 Corinthians 13: 10 “when perfection comes” has been misused to be talking about the King James Version of the Bible, and not Jesus.  Grace is given to us by Jesus, our perfect love, to help us not live in fear of what God could be doing to us because of our sin.

Hebrews 2:15 and Proverbs 14:27 – The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death (NIV), talk about death holding us or being a snare.  That fear was put into humans in the Garden by Satan and we pass it on to our children.   

The Tree

My thoughts of the Tree of Knowledge are changing.  We know what eating the fruit did for mankind.  What about touching it? How about the branches, trunk, and roots?  The whole conversation between Eve and the snake now seems even stranger.  Was the snake talking about the “touching” part when it said, “You will not die” and then slipped in the eating phrase to finish off his lie and deception?

In Eve’s mind even touching “knowledge” would bring death.  When she did not die why not taste it and see what happens.  The immediate “death” that happened was they now knew there was a “good” and an “evil”, that is why they hid and made “religious” or fig leaf clothes.  They could finally see that God was holy (good) and now they were not (evil).  The whole time when He would walk in His garden, and they enjoyed perfect fellowship with a perfect God they had no fear of Him.  For them to see a difference must have been horrible. Sorry for such a simple thought – The rest of the Bible is about bringing man back to walk with God and enjoy perfect fellowship again.

Branches and Roots

The root of Jesse, the root of David, the branch of David is taking on new and different meanings for me now.  Paul says we are grafted into the stem so we can enjoy the life-giving sap.  I will pass on the roots of the Tree of Knowledge but will marvel that Jesus is the root, the fruit, the branches, and the leaves of the tree they should have eaten from.

I can see fear sitting in the branches of the Tree of Knowledge. It is waiting to jump on the knowledge you have chosen to focus on.  Good fear will bring you to obey God and want to follow Him because He has the power to do mighty things. Fear of evil will have you blaming God for things that do not fit in your paradigm. Is fear a neutral thing?  Does it depend on what we do with it?

Solomon said it best in Ecclesiastes 12: 13 Fear God and keep his commandments. (NIV). Through the Tree of Knowledge, we got the fear of death but the fear of God was not far away.  Fearing God is not bad and is needed in today’s society.

Special pic is from http://clipart.christiansunite.com/1613648461/Bible_Characters_Clipart/Adam_and_Eve_Clipart/Adam_and_Eve009.jpg

Terah and His Granddaughters the Mothers of Israel

Terah, the little-known figure in Genesis 11 is the grandfather of Israel.  His granddaughters are the “mothers of Israel” and his grandsons are the “fathers of Israel”.  To clear the air at the start of the post, families intermarried 4,000 years ago.  Genetically that would not work well now.  The gene pool seems to have been corrupted along with society as we have moved away from the Garden.  I am not trying to do genetics in this post because I am not qualified, but I will note some of the non-Terah additions.   

Terah, it seems, had several wives, none of them are named.  We know that Abram and Sarai were half-siblings, but Nahor, Terah’s second son, married the daughter (Milcah) of his third son – Haran.  I guess you lose sight of the fact that this is still tracing the family line back to Noah and then to Seth and Adam.  Flip that forward you have the family line of those who first “called on the name of the Lord” (Genesis 4:26 NIV).  

Rebekah, Terah’s great-granddaughter, married her cousin Isaac, and his great, great, granddaughter’s Leah and Rachel married their cousin Jacob.  Milcah was Terah’s granddaughter, her son Bethuel fathered Laban and Rebekah.  Laban was with Bethuel when Abraham’s servant was handing out things to get Isaac a wife – Rebekah.  Besides Leah and Rachel Laban had sons (Genesis 31:1).  We have no idea who the mother of Laban was or who his wife was.  Haran had another son, Iscah, but nothing is said about him.

Names – Strong’s Concordance has no meaning associated with Terah.  Nahor is the name of Terah’s father and second son, it may mean snoring.  Bethuel, who is not mentioned in Genesis 29:5, may mean “destroyed of God”.  Laban may mean brick or white.  I like names and their meanings but you may have to do more than a quick search to form an opinion before you make it part of the story.

The Other Mothers of Israel

Leah and Rachel account for nine tribes in Israel. Laban gave his daughters maidservants – Leah was given Zilpah and Rachel received Bilhah.  The two servants had four sons for Jacob.  We know nothing of these two girls and a safe guess is they came from the Haran area.  This should complicate the family bloodline a bit but they are still “children” of Abraham.

The Wives of Jacob’s Sons  

Isaac and Jacob were both “encouraged” to go back to the family in Padan Haran to find brides.  The servant who was entrusted with the task was not to take Isaac back there.  Rebekah was “upset” with the women around them and not too happy that Esau had found his wives from the Canaanites. (I believe that Esau in Genesis 28:8+9 took a bride from Ishmael in an attempt to please his father. A wife from within the family.)  Jacob probably knew he would not be welcomed by Laban if he was looking for wives for his sons.  So, where did the girls come from?  Joseph’s wife was an Egyptian; they had Manasseh and Ephraim.  Judah married Shua and had children by Tamar (Jesus’ grandmother), they were both Canaanites. The easy answer to the wives is Canaanites, or “Jacob’s servants” he acquired in Haran, or women from Shechem.  If we are thinking genetics, the family line has spread out again and the line of Terah was not added in for the twelve sons to form their families.  Once the family population was greater they could go back to marrying cousins.

Part of the Law was not to intermarry with the people/nations around them.  Ruth is a worthy inclusion, she is a granddaughter of Lot through his son Moab.  All three of Terah’s sons added to the bloodline of the Hebrew nation and more specifically, Judah

Terah 

This is definitely a “what if”!  Terah in Genesis 11:31 seems to be the first one going to Canaan.  When he left Ur, he traveled northwest to skirt the desert.  He made it to Haran (the town with the name of his dead son) and stayed and died there.  Nahor and Milcah are not mentioned in Genesis 11:31, 32.  Were they already in Haran, which is why Terah never left?  Don’t know! They may have followed after Terah and Abram.  

The stated reason for leaving Ur was to go to Canaan.  Was Terah following the voice of God?  Did he just stop following the leading and stayed in Haran?  Was he just going with Abram who was really the one called?  Would the whole family (Terah, Nahor, Lot, and Abram) going and being in Canaan changed the major points of history?   

The Really BIG What If

Were these direct descendants of Seth going to Canaan to meet Melchizedek?  We are not told of any other meetings between Abraham and Melchizedek other than Genesis 14.  I just find it hard to believe they did not meet.  And the ten percent Abraham gave was a lot of possessions to someone you did not know.  Yes, the region of Moriah could have been the land controlled by the King of Salem, but that was after Abraham’s victory (Genesis 22).

Oh!

We can see what Canaan did to Lot.  Laban would have been really bad.  Well, Sodom would have been burned up by his time, but I don’t think Laban would have done well there.  Israel had enough problems with Moab, Ben-Ammi, Esau, and Ishmael, the family infighting would have gone to another level.

Abraham not wanting Isaac to go back to Haran could have been for two reasons. Frist, Haran was not a nice place.  Second, Abraham knew that Isaac’s blessings would only be found in Canaan, the place where there was a priest like Melchizedek.  Genesis 15: 7+8 confirms the calling and the possession of the land.

Logos – Truth

Truth, the word, as part of the logos of John’s Gospel (KJV) is used by John, himself, questioned by Pilate, and given by Jesus.  In my Strong’s/Vines Concordance it is #225 – Aletheia (truth) it signifies the reality lying at the basis of an appearance, the manifested, veritable essence of a matter.   #230 or “of a truth” (truly) is used by the disciples at the feeding of the five thousand when the leftovers were picked up (6:14), and the Jew’s at the Feast of Tabernacles (7:40).  

In the 2011 version of the NIV, John uses the word truth in forty-two verses, in his Gospel he used it in twenty-three verses, and in nineteen verses in 1,2, and 3 John.  The word truth is not used in Revelations.  This is in contrast to Matthew who uses it once in his Gospel. (Different translations will differ in the total number of uses.  These numbers are for the base word truth, so truthful, etc. is included.  True does come into play in some translations.) The New Testament uses truth 102 times, while the Old Testament has thirty-five uses of the word.

John using the word truth more than the other writers of the Bible makes sense because John is showing us that Jesus is the Christ and God’s Son.  There have been seven outstanding miracles highlighted in John.  This is a shame because more miracles are documented in the Gospel of John (See Plus One and +++).  The total number is not given because Jesus healed large numbers of people at various times in that Gospel).   So, truth is used a large number of times to highlight John’s purpose in declaring Jesus as the Son of God.

So, is truth a capstone, something to always be reaching for, or is it a foundation stone, something that you are built on and has always has held you up?  One will always have you looking and never finding your answer.  The other one you can rest on knowing it is there. If you go looking for it, it may still be hard to find, you may have to dig a bit, but you know it has always held you up.

Friday of Holy Week had Jesus being questioned by a man in John 18: 28-40.  These two men had very different views on what truth was.  Pilate’s question (vs 38), “What is truth” shows that he viewed it as a capstone, something that he was unable to reach or know.  Jesus’ statement in verse 37 has Him resting on His foundation so that He can testify to the truth even in His moment of trouble.

That precious “morning moment” when I woke up and those two choices played around in my mind made me realize I needed to choose one.  In fact, it has shown me that there are other foundation stones that I keep putting in the wrong place.  God’s love, grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit are a few things that I have put high into the air, to reach for, instead of realizing that they are what has always held me up as a Christian.

If truth has always been out of your reach, make the Logos of God your foundation by praying the pray in “Following Jesus” at the top of this post, or learn to rest on Jesus if you have prayed that prayer.