Our Someone

If only there were someone to arbitrate between us, to lay his hand upon us both, someone to remove God’s rod from me, so that his terror would frighten me no more. Job 9:33-34 

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men—the testimony given in its proper time. 1 Timothy 2:5-6 

Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant. Hebrews 9:15 

What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death (this misery of the soul arising from sin)? Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24-25 

Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God; on behalf of a man he pleads with God as a man pleads for his friend. Job 16:19-21 

… I have called you friends … John 15:15 

Image, Detail of photo by Jack Bair

Jesus in the Middle

You know what is the most amazing and wondrous example of Jesus in the middle?

Here they crucified him, and with him two others—one on each side and Jesus in the middle. John 19:18 

Jesus in the middle. It seems like Jesus was always in the middle. The Greek word translated “in the middle” is mesos – the middle, the midst, in the midst of, amongst, between. It comes from meta, which means “with,” “denoting accompaniment,” “amid.” 

That’s why he came – to be with us, among us, in our midst. That was his mission and his passion. From the beginning to the end of his life on earth when he died still in the middle of sinful man. 

[When he was 12 years old:] After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among (or, in the midst of) the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Luke 2:46 

[His last night on earth:] For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves. Luke 22:27 (ESV) 

At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, God revealed to John the Baptist that Messiah was coming and that he was in our midst, not like John himself, who had kept himself separated. 

“I baptize with water,” John replied, “but among you stands one you do not know.” John 1:26 

So many times, the Bible tells of Jesus in the middle of the crowd, being grasped at and jostled, so that in the crush his disciples would be astonished that he could ask, “Who touched me?” (Luke 8:45) 

And Jesus touched them, and held them, and he mingled with them, and he ate with them, and he welcomed them – much to the consternation and distain of many. 

Zacchaeus quickly climbed down and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the crowds were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner,” they grumbled. Luke 19:6-7 (NLT) 

Both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke 15:2 (NASB) 

 But you know what is the most amazing and wondrous example of Jesus in the middle? It’s in Colossians: 

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away (out of our mesos = midst, out from amongst us), nailing it to the cross. Colossians 2:13-14 

Do you see it? He took out from our midst all our sins, all that stood against us, all that opposed us, all the kept us separated from the love of God. And he replaced it with Himself. One of the meanings of mesos is “between.” Jesus stood between us and the just wrath of God. Like Aaron the High Priest, a type of Jesus, who ran into the midst of the assembly with the censer, stopping the deadly plague (Numbers 16:44-50). Jesus in the middle. 

And he is still in the middle, still in our midst, still interceding for us. His blood shed on the cross for all time has stopped the deadly plague of sin and death if we will but look to him in faith. 

While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” Luke 24:36  

For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20 (ESV) 

… and in the middle of the lampstands [which represent the churches] I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash. Revelation 1:13 (NASB) 

For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, saying, “I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will sing your praise.” Hebrew 2:11-12 (ESV) 

This post is also available as a Bible study at https://hiddentreasurebiblestudies.home.blog/2021/06/03/jesus-in-the-middle/

Image: Ford Maddox Brown, Jesus Washing Peter’s Feet [1852-6], Tate Archive, image  released under Creative Commons CC-BY-NC-ND (3.0 Unported) 

Listening to the Bells

“When was the last time you heard the bells of your Great High Priest?”

And when the men of that place recognized Jesus, they sent word to all the surrounding country. People brought all their sick to him and begged him to let the sick just touch the edge of his cloak, and all who touched him were healed. Matthew 14:35-36 

She came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak, and immediately her bleeding stopped. Luke 8:44 

These verses prompted me to wonder, what is the significance of “the edge of his cloak” or the hem of a garment or mantle? What I found is amazing hidden treasure! 

In the New Testament the word translated “edge” is kraspedon (κράσπεδον). It means the extremity, edge, skirt, margin, the fringe or tassel of a garment, border, hem. In the New Testament it is the little appendage hanging down from the edge of the mantle or cloak, made of twisted wool, that Jews wore to remind them of the commandments.  

“The edge of his cloak refers to the kraspedon, the blue tassel on the garment that symbolized a Jewish man’s obedience to the law (cf. Num 15:37-41). The woman thus touched the very part of Jesus’ clothing that indicated his ritual purity.” — The NetBible Study Notes   

In the Old Testament the corresponding Hebrew word, kanaph, includes the meaning of wing. Its definition is wing, extremity, edge, winged, border, corner, skirt, corner of garment. 

It is the same word as here in Psalms: 

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings (kanaph) from the wicked who assail me, from my mortal enemies who surround me. Psalm 17:8-9  

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God! And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings (kanaph). Psalm 36:7 (NASB) 

There are three areas of truth revealed in the cultural meaning and symbolism found in the Bible occurrences of these two words. All three point to Messiah and form a beautiful portrait of Jesus. Jesus the Bridegroom, Jesus the King, and Jesus our High Priest. 

Marriage – Jesus is the Bridegroom.  

Spread the corner (kanaph) of your garment over me, since you are a kinsman-redeemer.  Ruth 3:9 

Spreading the corner, hem, or wing of a garment over a woman was a euphemism for marriage – another way of saying that you marry or take responsibility for a person’s care and protection. When Ruth asks Boaz to spread the kanaph of his garment over her, she is asking him to marry her, and so take care of and protect her and Naomi.  

Again, in Ezekiel 16:8, God says to Israel, speaking of their beginnings, “Later I passed by, and when I looked at you and saw that you were old enough for love (or old enough to be married), I spread the corner (kanaph) of my garment over you and covered your nakedness. I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine.” 

Jesus is the Bridegroom, come to be the kinsman-redeemer, who wants to take us under his wing. “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing” (Matthew 23:37). 
 

Authority – Jesus is King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train (hem) of his robe filled the temple. Isaiah 6:1 

The second truth revealed through the symbolism of the edge, or hem, of the garment is authority.  

“In ancient times, tassels were part of the hem of a garment, and the hem symbolized the wearer’s authority.” — Rich Robinsoni 

In the book of Ruth, Boaz had the legal authority as kinsman-redeemer to help her. Jesus is our kinsman-redeemer and has the legal authority to heal, help, protect, redeem and marry us – the Bride of Christ.  

Another example of the hem of the garment symbolizing authority is in 1 Samuel 24:4-20. It tells of David hiding in a cave from Saul when Saul comes into the cave to relieve himself. David sneaks up and cuts off the edge or corner (kanaph) of Saul’s robe, symbolically cutting off his authority as king. Later Saul says about it, “Now, behold, I know that you will surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will be established in your hand.” 

As King of Kings and Lord of Lords, all authority has been given to Jesus (Matthew 28:18). In Revelation the hem of his garment, symbolizing his authority, fills the Temple. We, as his temple here on earth, have been granted to share in this authority (Luke 10:19; Matthew 16:19). 

Mission and Selfless Service – Jesus is our High Priest. 

Make pomegranates of blue, purple and scarlet yarn around the hem of the robe, with gold bells between them. The gold bells and the pomegranates are to alternate around the hem of the robe. Exodus 28:33-34 

In the same way that you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world. John 17:18-19 (Message) 

This is the part that amazed and blessed me the most. The bells and the pomegranates on the hem of the High Priest’s robe. What could they mean?  

The High Priest went into the Holy of Holies once a year carrying the blood of the Atonement and the incense of intercession for the people. This mission was life and death to the nation. As the kraspedon reminds of the commandments, the bells reminded the priest of this vital mission. Rabbi Moshe Kempinski writes that “the ringing bells help the Kohen Gadol be consistently aware of his mission and purpose. In addition it reminded the other Kohanim that he was in the Heichal (the Holy) on their behalf.”ii  

Hebrews says that Jesus, our High Priest, offered his own blood as the atonement sacrifice and is continually interceding for us (Hebrews 7:23-27). J. Vernon McGee urges us to be reminded of what Jesus did and is doing for us by “listening to the bells.” 

“When the high priest went into the holy place to function, the people could not see him; but because they could hear the bells, they knew he was busy ministering on their behalf. When was the last time you heard the bells of your Great High Priest? No wonder today many believers are confused; they haven’t been listening to the bells. Our Lord is in yonder at the throne of the Father, busy for us today, and the bells are on His garment.” — J. Vernon McGeeiii  

Interspersed between the bells on the hem of the robe were wool pomegranates. The symbolism of the pomegranates is breathtaking. Pomegranates were generally symbolic in ancient times of life because of all the seeds. But Rabbi Kempinski points out a further, wonderful, meaning. 

“The Pomegranate is a Biblical sign of blessing. Most fruits are made up of pulp and seeds. The pulp of the fruit is what the fruit uses to sustain and ‘feed’ itself. The seeds of the fruit are what the fruit uses to bring new fruit into the world. The seeds, then, are all about granting further blessing. 

The pomegranate is a fruit that is made up mostly of seeds and contains very little pulp. Therefore it symbolizes a fruit with the unselfish desire to grant further blessing in the world without being too concerned with itself and its own needs.”iv 

Doesn’t that sound like our Great High Priest? Unselfish, not concerned about self-preservation, but intent on giving his life away? Unconcerned with his own needs, but determined to serve unreservedly? Completely focused on his saving, redeeming mission? 

For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many. Mark 10:45 

Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Such a high priest meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself. Hebrews 7:25-27 

i Rich Robinson, The Tallit and the Tzitzit https://jewsforjesus.org/publications/newsletter/newsletter-sep-1993/the-tallit-and-tzitzit/ 

ii Rabbi Moshe Kempinski, A Bell and a Pomegranate (https://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/18543

iii Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Golden Bells and Pomegranates https://www.blueletterbible.org/Comm/mcgee_j_vernon/eBooks/golden-bells-and-pomegranates.cfm 

iv Rabbi Moshe Kempinski, A Bell and a Pomegranate 

Photo of pomegranate by Psyberartist https://flic.kr/p/BffZS1  

The Ram

I just recently discovered an amazing, wonderful hidden treasure looking at this verse.

Blessed (adored, knelt down to, praised, thanked) be the Lord,

who daily, daily (perpetually, presently, continually, today, yesterday, tomorrow)

bears our burden (our heavy burden, carries our load),

The God (the powerful, strong, mighty God) who is our salvation (welfare, deliverance, victory, Yeshua!).

Selah (pause, lift up, exalt). Psalm 68:19

 

I just recently discovered an amazing, wonderful hidden treasure looking at this verse. The Hebrew word translated God is el (אֵ֣ל). And, according to Strong’s Concordance, el is a shortened form of ayil (אַיִל), which means strength, or anything strong, like a strong man, a pillar, or a mighty oak. But it primarily means, and is mostly used (156 times) to mean a ram, like a ram for the burnt offering. I had to selah, pause, a minute to let that sink in.

Ayil is the word used in Genesis 22 where God tells Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, to test his faith. It is the word used for the ram that Abraham looks up and sees with its horns caught in the thicket, the ram provided by God to be a sacrifice in Isaac’s place, the ram that foreshadowed the Lamb of God who would carry all our sins and sorrows and pains and sicknesses – our heavy load – to the cross.

The one who still daily bears our burdens. The Hebrew word for daily is repeated for emphasis – he daily, daily, day after day, perpetually, presently, continually, today, yesterday and tomorrow bears our burdens as our Intercessor, Comforter, God With Us.

The strong one, the mighty one who willingly let himself be caught in the thicket to be our sacrifice. The One provided by God to be our salvation, welfare, deliverance, victory.

Yeshua.

Jesus.

Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The LORD Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the LORD it will be provided.” Genesis 22:13-14 (NIV) 

Blessed, adored, knelt down to, praised, and thanked be the Lord!

Selah

 

Image, Silk Willoughby church, East Window detail, by Jules & Jenny on flickr.com https://www.flickr.com/photos/jpguffogg/

In My Distress

The earth truly did seem to quake at the smoke from her nostrils, the fire from her mouth, the bolts of lightening from her eyes – and the neighbor backed down fast.

In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears. The earth trembled and quaked, and the foundations of the mountains shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it. He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him—the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced, with hailstones and bolts of lightning. The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at your rebuke, Lord, at the blast of breath from your nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me;     he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. (Psalm 18:1-19 NIV)

I love this Psalm. The imagery of a passionate God tearing apart the earth to rescue me is breathtaking. And it reminds me of something that happened when I was twelve.

My little brother is eight years younger than me and could be very naughty when he wanted, which seemed most of time to his big sister. At four years old, he especially seemed to aggravate one of our neighbors with his antics. My mom tried her best and kept an eye on him out the kitchen window, and his big sister got to babysit. One day, when he was out playing he did something that was the proverbial “straw” and the neighbor raged out screaming at him. I was paralyzed with shock, but in a blazing second, there was my mom standing between my brother and the woman in all the fury and glorious passion of a mother. The earth truly did seem to quake at the smoke from her nostrils, the fire from her mouth, the bolts of lightening from her eyes – and the neighbor backed down fast. That picture is forever seared in my memory and is why I love Psalm 18 so much. The zeal of The Mom for her children – like a mother bear for her cubs – is a perfect picture of God’s love and zeal for us.

Remember that when you feel under attack, when you feel hopeless and helpless as a four year old child, when the enemy stands over you ready to crush you once and for all. Cry out to Jesus and he will come blazing out to rescue you. For he has already stood between – the Intercessor – he took all the blows meant for you. The Good Shepherd, like David, defending his sheep with his bare hands from the destroying lion. He will passionately rescue you. He will be there and hide you in his shadow and comfort.

He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us … We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. Luke 1:69-71, 74-75 (NLT)

The LORD will march forth like a mighty man (champion); he will come out like a warrior, full of fury (jealousy, zeal). He will shout (for joy, triumph) his thundering battle cry, and he will crush (prevail against) all his enemies (adversary, foe). Isaiah 42:13 (NLT)

The Last Adam

Could it be that, as the first Adam who sinned was made from the dust, this last perfect, sinless Adam would be crushed back into dust so that, through Him, humankind might be remade, reformed, become new creatures, transformed?

Surely (truly, verily, indeed) he took up (lifted up, bore) our infirmities (malady, anxiety, calamity, disease, grief, sickness) and [He himself] carried (bore, was laden or burdened with) our sorrows (anguish, figuratively affliction, grief, pain, sorrow), yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted (chastened, humbled, humiliated). But he was pierced (chalal) for our transgressions, he was crushed (daka) for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on (paga) him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:4-6 (NIV)

The verses of Isaiah 53 are familiar as describing the Messiah, Jesus, and what he would do for us in his suffering on the cross. They are beautiful verses, full of wonderful promises, and I have read them many times over the years. But, this last time as I looked closer at the Hebrew meanings of the three words highlighted above – chalal, daka, paga – I saw some things I had never seen before. I would like to look at them here, saving daka for the last.

First, chalal (חָלַל) is a heartbreaking word. Translated “pierced”, it means to wound fatally, bore through, pierce. But it also means to profane, defile, pollute, desecrate, to treat as common. One way a person could be defiled in the Old Testament was through contact with the dead (Leviticus 21:4). We were dead in our transgressions (Ephesians 2:1-6) yet Jesus had contact with us. He had contact with our pollution, our dirt. I like the image above. It’s messy and dirty. God got his hands dirty saving us. The sinless, perfect, unblemished Lamb of God allowed himself to be defiled, polluted, treated as a common criminal to carry our sins and rebellions to the cross, and there, do away with them (Isaiah 53:9, Luke 23:33). Not only did God get dirty, he also allowed his reputation to be destroyed. Psalm 8:9 proclaims, “O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name (reputation, fame, glory) in all the earth!” Yet, he laid it all down to completely identify with us. The Bob Carlile song calls Him a “Man of No Reputation.”[1]

The Hebrew word paga (פָּגַע) is translated here “laid upon” – God laid upon him the iniquity of us all. It means to lay upon or light upon, but it also means to cause to come between, cause to entreat, make intercession, meet together, pray, reach the mark. In laying on Jesus our iniquities, God caused Him to come between us and the justice due us from a righteous God. Jesus has become the Intercessor, entreating the Father for us, reaching the mark set by God for us – whereas we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”[2] – making the way for us to meet together, to come into His Presence.

Amazing grace! But it was the Hebrew verb translated “crushed” here – daka (דָּכָא) – that stunned me. It means to crumble, to bruise, beat to pieces, break in pieces, crush, destroy, humble, oppress, smite. The noun derivative of this word is dakka and literally means “dust.” It is used in Psalm 90, “You turn men back to dust, saying, “Return to dust, O sons of men” (NIV). Could it be that, as the first Adam who sinned was made from the dust, this last perfect, sinless Adam would be crushed back into dust so that, through Him, humankind might be remade, reformed, become new creatures, transformed? “For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.” 1 Corinthians 15:22 (NIV)

Could it be that Jesus, Son of God, became a human being so he could bear all the punishment and consequences of our rebellion against God? All the infirmities, malady, anxiety, calamity, disease, grief, sickness, sorrows, anguish, afflictions, and pain could be laid on Him? That He would become our sin there on the cross, and then would be crushed to dust so that the Potter could remake, reform humankind into a new creation?

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV)

But now, O LORD, You are our Father, We are the clay, and You our potter; And all of us are the work of Your hand. Isaiah 64:8 (NASB)

But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so the potter squashed the jar into a lump of clay and started again. Jeremiah 18:4 (NLT)

Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ John 3:7 (NASB)

 

Image detail: By Earthen Potter – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54699329

[1] Man of No Reputation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QVJtfXLqFr0

[2] Romans 3:23

This blog is also a Bible study, free to use, at The Last Adam Bible Study

The Judge is in Love with You

The Spirit is leading us to God, The Judge, and sometimes I could be afraid to go with him because of fear of being judged, of not measuring up, of being rejected.

Romans 8:14-15 (NIV) says that “those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'” What does it mean to be “led by the Spirit of God?” Sometimes I have gotten this picture in my mind of the Spirit or Jesus way ahead of me leading the way saying, “Look this is the way it should be done,” and I am struggling alone over rocky ground to keep up and follow him. Or that he has given me a map or a set of instructions that I’m trying to figure out.

But the word “led” in this verse is the Greek word “agó” (ἄγω) which means to be taken along with, accompanied, attended personally, conducted, or led by laying hold of. So, he is not far ahead of me, nor have I been left alone to figure it out by myself, but he is right there with me all the way, holding my hand and accompanying me, even attending to me personally.

The Greek word “agó” also includes the meaning of being brought to, or, led away to a court of justice – to the judge, and it is used many times this way in the New Testament (Mark 13:11, John 8:3, 18:28, Acts 5:21, 25:6 are examples). The Spirit is leading us to God, The Judge, and sometimes I could be afraid to go with him because of fear of being judged, of not measuring up, of being rejected. But, Jesus is there at the right hand of the Judge, our Intercessor. And, even more, Jesus promised that He would give us a Friend, Counselor, Helper, or Advocate in the Holy Spirit. The Greek word is parakletos, which means summoned, called to one’s side or aid. The parakletos is “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge, a pleader, counsel for defense, legal assistant, an advocate†.” All I need do is turn from sin, from my own way, and He pleads my case – “Jesus shed His blood for this one on the cross!”

And even more wonderfully, what does it say? That if we take His hand and follow after and are led by the Spirit of God, we are sons of God, we are His beloved children. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.'”

And then later, “What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:31-34 NIV)

When it says “God is for us” it means in the Greek that he is over the top for us – on our behalf, for our sake, over and above, more than, more, beyond, exceeding, abundantly – it’s almost like the language, Greek or English, can’t quite contain or express the fullness of the meaning completely.

Don’t be afraid, take his hand and let him lead you. He is for you. He is over the top FOR you!! As the old Lamb songs goes, “The Judge is in love with you.”

The Judge by Lamb

† Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament

This blog is also available as a Bible study for free use here The Judge is in Love with You Bible study