Monday, January 16, 2012

Jesus B.C. & A.D. by Edward Wood

By the time the books of the New Testament were written, Jesus had already been
 among us. The Gospels chronicle his life, Acts relates the story of the Ascension and the birth and growth of the early church. The writers of the Epistles provide us with divinely inspired insight into the details of what it means to be a Christian and, in some cases, a look into what lies ahead. Revelation, of course, gives us in detail the culmination of history and God's ultimate plan for his creation. It is a confirmation and completion of all previous Bible Prophecy.
But what of the Old Testament, those books of Scripture written long before Jesus walked the earth? Do they say anything about this man who was God in the flesh? And if they do, wouldn't this speak volumes as to Scripture's reliability? The books which comprise the Bible were written over the course of many centuries almost entirely by Jews, except, to the best of my knowledge, the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. Let us therefore apply the Jewish rules of evidence.
[Note: In the presentation which follows, bracketed sections have been added for clarification to Bible quotations and to denote from where they come;  OT - Old Testament or NT- New Testament .]
[OT] Deuteronomy 19:15 One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sins that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
[NT] 2 Corinthians 13:1 This is the third time I [Paul] am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.
 [NT] 1 Timothy 5:19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses.
We see that multiple witnesses are required for testimony to be accepted. so we'll keep to that standard here. Let's begin our investigation to see the first two chapters of the first book of the Bible:  
[OT] Genesis 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
This account continues with God then "speaking" everything in creation into existence by the power of his Word. Our second witness, the Apostle John, reveals more about this Word:
[NT]  Excerpted from John, chapter 1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made . . . . And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth . . . And of his fulness have we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
  God revealed to Moses the following  which he related to the Hebrews shortly before he was to leave them and they were to cross over the Jordan into the Promised Land:
[OT] Deut. 18:15 The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto thee ; unto him ye shall hearken
John confirms this:
  [NT] John 1:45 Philip findeth Nathaniel, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. [At this time, they did not know of Jesus' true Father.]
Luke also relates this statement from Simon Peter in the book of Acts:
[NT]  Acts 3:20-22 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise unto you of your brethren, like unto me, him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
  But we've only started. >From the prophet Micah who lived in the 8th Century B.C. we get the actual name of the town of Jesus' nativity:
[OT] Micah 5:2 But thou, Bethlehem Ephrata, thought thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. [This is not referring to King David - he had been born in the same town, but it was centuries earlier. Nor was David "from everlasting."]
  Luke and Matthew provide confirmations:
[NT]  Luke 2:4-6 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:) to be taxed [counted for the Roman census ordered by Augustus] To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child. And so it was, that while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
[NT]  Matthew 2:3-6 When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled [about the Magi's words concerning the one who was to become ruler of Israel] and all of Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.
Even the matter of Jesus virgin birth is predicted by Isaiah (also from the 8th Century B.C.):
[OT]  Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold a virgin will conceive, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel.
We find that this is exactly what happened:
[NT]  Matthew 1:23 Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. [Now some have said that Matthew quoted Isaiah out of context to apply it to Jesus because the prophecy was spoken originally to Ahaz, king of Judah, by Isaiah who feared being attacked by Rezin, king of Syria and Pekah, king of Israel. Ahaz foolishly appealed to the Assyrians for help instead of trusting in God. The Assyrians did, however, prevail against Ahaz's two foes (2 (Kings 16:1-9). In Isaiah 7:14-16, God revealed that these kings would no longer be a problem before Jesus had matured. Not only had Rezin and Pekah been dead for centuries before Jesus' birth, their countries as well were long past their former glories. Rome was now the preeminent world power. Additionally, to the best of my knowledge, there is no reliable authority which mentions a virgin birth before that of Jesus. One should realize that it is not without precedent for part of a prophecy to occur at one time, while its complete fulfillment might arrive even thousands of years later. (See Isaiah, chapter 61, as well as Isaiah 9:6-7 below.) Therefore, it seems that Matthew was quite correct to refer to Isaiah 7:14 as specifically referring to the virgin birth of Jesus - especially when we consider that the Holy Spirit inspired the gospel that he wrote.
  The Bible provides actual details of the Messiah's ancestry:
[OT]  Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah ], nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh [the Messiah] come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be [referring to the eventual restoration of Israel].
In the New Testament we see that both on his stepfather Joseph's (Matthew 1:1-17) and his mother Mary's lineages (Luke 3:23-38), Jesus is descended from King David whose own line reaches back to Jacob's son Judah.
  Now what will the kingdom of the Messiah be like?   [OT] Isaiah 9:6-7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for forever. the zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
[OT]  Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days [God the Father], and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed [which will begin at the Millennium and lasts beyond into eternity].
The Apostle John said: [NT] Rev. 19:16 And he [Jesus] hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
  This king is also to be a priest, something very unusual. The royal line, as we've already seen, comes from the tribe of Judah. However all Jewish priests were those descended from Moses' brother Aaron (both men who were descendants of Jacob's son Levi).
[OT]  Exodus 28:1 And take unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel [Jacob], the he may minister unto me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons.
  Levites who were not of this lineage were given these other tasks:
[OT]  Numbers 1:50 But thou shall appoint the Levites over the tabernacle of testimony, and over all the vessels thereof, and over all things that belong to it: they shall bear the tabernacle, and all the vessels thereof; and they shall minister unto it, and shall encamp round about the tabernacle.
  But Jesus' priesthood was to be completely different, based on an enigmatic figure from history named Melchizadek who had met Abram (later named Abraham) after he had returned from a battle in which he had freed, among others, his nephew Lot and Lot's family from captivity (Genesis, chapter 14).
[OT]  Psalm 110:4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent [change his mind] Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizadek
[NT]  Hebrews 4:14, 5:10 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession . . . . . Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisadec [Different spelling, same person!]
  But let us look at more of Jesus'  First Advent where even the manner in which Jesus entered Jerusalem was accurately foretold:
[OT]  Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Matthew confirms this:
[NT] Matt. 21:2-5, 8-9 [Jesus said] Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall fins an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, Tell ye daughter of Sion [Zion], Behold they King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass . . . . And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest
In less than a week this triumphal entry into Jerusalem would come to a bitter end. We learn of Jesus' rejection:
[OT]  Isaiah 53:3-4 He is despised and rejected; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
[NT] John 19: 5-6a, 16 Then came Jesus forth, wearing a crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him . . . . Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus and led him away.
The grim prophecy below gives details of that crucifixion:
[OT]  Psalm 22:16-17 For dogs [a term often used for evil people] have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hand and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.
Matthew's account bares it out:
[NT]  Matthew 27:35 And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, the y parted my garments among them and upon my vesture did cast lots.
  The significance of Jesus' atoning sacrifice for us all is prophesied by Isaiah, confirmed by the author of Hebrews:
[OT]  Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our inequities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes, we are healed.
[NT]  Hebrews 10:10 By which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
  Even the details of his death and burial place are predicted and confirmed - dying with criminals and buried in a rich man's tomb:
[OT]  Isaiah 53:9-10 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was there any deceit in his mouth.
[NT]  Mark 15:27 And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand and the other on his left.
[NT]  John 19:38,42 And after this Joseph of Arimathea [a wealthy man], being a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, besought Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus: and Pilate gave him leave. He came therefore, and took the body of Jesus . . . There laid they Jesus because of the Jew's preparation day; for the sepulcre [Joseph's own unused tomb] was nigh at hand.
  But there is more! As we know, Jesus didn't stay in that tomb. King David said:
  [NT]  Psalm 16:10 For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell [Sheol - the place of departed spirits]; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. [Clearly David was not speaking of himself, since he died and never came back to life - 1 Kings 2:10.]
The Apostle Matthew relates the following:
[NT]  Matthew 28:5-6 And the angel answered and said unto the women [who had come to the tomb], Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is rise, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.
  In the weeks that followed Jesus made many appearances to his followers, turning their grief into joy. Forty days after the resurrection, Jesus ascended back into heaven from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:1-11). The Bible teaches that he will return to gather his own out of this world, and then return to establish his everlasting kingdom on this earth.
  But where is Jesus at this very moment? The Bible tells us that he's in heaven with the Father, as we've already seen above from Daniel 7:13-14 and as confirmed in the passages below:
[NT] Mark 14:62 And Jesus said [to the high priest at his trial in answer to his question], I am [the Christ or Messiah]: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.
[NT] John 14:1-3 [Jesus said} Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I do prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; there where I am , there ye may be also.
[NT]  Acts 7:55 But he [Stephen the deacon, immediately before he was martyred], being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of god, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
[NT]  Hebrews 8:1 Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such an high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
  We've examined in this commentary only  some of the Bible's many words about Jesus. From the Old Testament, we've encountered the prophecies, from the New Testament, we've seen many of them come to pass in astonishing accuracy.
  I believe that the evidence is undeniable that the Bible is indeed God's Word and that its promises of the age to come in which Jesus returns to rule a kingdom where righteousness reigns are absolutely guaranteed.