Throughout the times that backdrop most of the Old Testament, the nations that surrounded Israel conceived of a world in which there were gods that ruled over a nation or territory. Several of these territorial deities are named in the Old Testament – Ba’al, Dagon, Molech, Rimmon, Nebo, Bel, Marduk, and Azazel, for example. But the God of the Bible, Yahweh (“Yar-way”) refused to be thought of as a mere territorial god! Yet, despite His constant revelation to His covenant people, the Hebrews, even they could not conceive of their God as being any greater than the conception of gods by the surrounding nations. Ultimately this wrong theology would lead to Israel’s demise time and time again. Then, what the Middle-Eastern Lutheran theologian, Dr. Munther Isaac, calls “the Jesus Event” happened! And once-and-for-all from that time on, no-one could ever be excused for conceiving of the God of the Bible as anything less than the GOD of all Heaven and all Earth!
Know therefore today, and lay it to your heart,
that the LORD is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath;
there is no other.
In my previous chapter, I discussed how Jesus the Christ was the ultimate fulfilment of all of the hopes of, and promises to, Israel (2Cor. 1:20). Without a doubt, Israels greatest Old Testament longing was for the fulfilment of the LORD’s promise to them to fully possess their Promised Land –
Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self,
and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven,
and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’”
This promise given to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, was then transmitted to the descendants via the covenant that Moses administered at Sinai (Ex. 19:20; 24:8). A covenant is an agreement with agreed terms. Israel agreed to the terms of the Yahweh’s covenant with them. His promise to bring them out of bondage in Egypt as slaves and into the Promised Land “flowing with milk and honey” (Deut. 6:3) as free settlers was a part their covenant with GOD.
But you shall keep My statutes and My rules and do none of these abominations,
either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you
(for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean),
lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you.
But Israel broke their covenant with Yahweh and failed to keep the terms of the covenant that they had vowed to keep (Josh. 24:16-21). Time and time again GOD sent prophets to them to warn them that they risked incurring the penalty of breaking their covenant with GOD (2Chron. 24:19; Jer. 25:4). But Israel had been deceived into thinking that their GOD was merely like the territorial gods of the surrounding nations – gods who were relatively impotent. First, the ten northern tribes of Israel paid the penalty for breaking their covenant with Yahweh. Just as the terms of their covenant had conditioned, they were invaded by a northern nation, dispossessed from their land, and then permanently exiled (they became known as the tribes of Israel). About a hundred years later, the remaining tribes in the south, collectively known as Judah had also broken their covenant with GOD and the prophet Jeremiah was raised up to plead with them to return to the LORD in repentance or risk the same penalty as their “sister” in the north had experienced:
And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to Me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore….Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah 3:7-8, 10
Jeremiah’s prophetic reminders to the people of Judah fell largely on deaf ears. Judah likewise abandoned Yahweh and also broke their covenant with GOD, and, as Jeremiah had warned (Jer. 6:22) they too were invaded, and they too were exiled, and they too were never again to lay possession to the land that had once been promised to them in their covenant with the LORD. Among the exiles were Daniel, Mordecai, Esther, Ezra, and Nehemiah. When Cyrus (also known as Darius) decreed that all exiled Jews (for so the Babylonians nicknamed the people of Judah) could now return to their ancestral home, only some did. And by the time of Christ, the territory of Israel was under Roman occupation, as it had been since the time of Pompey which began decades earlier. The Jews had by this time somewhat rebuilt their temple and had been aided by the assistance of the Romans’ appointed ‘king’ of Judah, Herod the Great. Their temple precinct was granted by the Romans to be under their rule. Thus, by the time of Christ, the temple and its three outer court yards had become emblematic of what GOD’s Promised Land was meant to be: a holy place where God and man could meet; a sacred space where sacrifices could be offered to atone for sins; and, a place of judgment where GOD’s will could be enforced.
IF you and I had been party to the appearing of the long-awaited Messiah, Jesus the Christ, (by earthly reckoning, the descendant of King David) I strongly doubt that we could have picked Him out from a small crowd! The prophet Isaiah foretold –
My Servant [would] grew up in the LORD’s presence like a tender green shoot,
like a root in dry ground. There was nothing beautiful or majestic about His appearance,
nothing to attract us to Him.
Isaiah 53:2 NLT (originally written 8th century B.C.)
But when Jesus, the Promised Messiah, appeared, He said some shocking things to many Jewish ears – especially the Jewish religious leaders. He declared that it was He who was the place where God and man could meet (Jn. 14:6). He declared that He was greater than the Temple (Matt. 12:6). He declared that He would be the atoning sacrifice for sins (Matt. 26:28; Mark 10:45). And He declared all judgment on behalf of GOD had been given to Him (Jn. 5:22). Dr. Munther Isaac describes the effects of Christ’s statements in terms that resembled an earthquake that happened and producing “a series of aftershocks”! Christ was saying that it was not the Temple that made them holy – it was Him! It was not the sacrificing of animals that could atone for their sins – it was Him, the Lamb of God! It was not the High Priest who ruled on behalf of Yahweh – it was exclusively Him! Even at the ‘trial’ of Christ before Caiaphas, He made an outstanding declaration after the High Priest had put Him under oath to tell the truth:
Now the chief priests and the whole council were seeking false testimony against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. At last two came forward and said,
“This man said, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to rebuild it in three days.’”
And the high priest stood up and said, “Have you no answer to make? What is it that these men testify against you?”
But Jesus remained silent. And the high priest said to him,
“I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
HE IS LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH!
The aftershocks of what Jesus the Christ said and did were felt for decades after His initial mission was accomplished (His display of the Father, His death on the cross, His resurrection, and His ascension) and it was then committed to His disciples to complete when He commissioned them just prior to His ascension. Like a sonic bomb when a visible jet speeds past the observer then seconds later they hear the loud ‘KA-BOOOOOM!’ the words of Christ’s Great Commission – “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me….Go into all the world….Make disciples of nations….” (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark 16:15).
I know that what I am trying to convey to you, my reader, may not be fully appreciated. But I pray that as the Spirit takes the truth of what GOD’s Word has revealed about Christ, you might experience the sound of a sonic boom in your soul as you realise this truth: Jesus Christ is Lord of all Heaven and all earth! May the aftershocks of this revelation cause your soul to be rocked with the revelation that there is nothing in this universe or your heart the He does not know! May more after-shocks of this revelation hit your soul like nuclear explosive waves as you come to realise that He is LORD over events that we will call ‘history’ and over a care that you now call ‘a problem’. Little wonder then the apostle Paul was knocked of his spiritual feet with the wave of this revelation when he announced to the Colossians this fridge magnet text:
It doesn’t matter if you a waitress, a doctor, a Prime Minister, a king, a President, or a teenager —there is not one cause of anxiety, care, trouble, concern, or worry, that Jesus the Christ, the Lord of Heaven and Earth, who is seated, as the creed declares, at the right hand of the Father, that He can’t carry – if you would only give it to Him!
What a Friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer! O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear, All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.
Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.
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