The Jewish Messiah has Come: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

AthanasiusAthanasius wrote a chapter in On the Incarnation refuting the unbelief of the Jews. In today’s excerpt, we see this mighty Church Father shaking the cage of the unbelieving Jewish nation, calling them to repent of their rejection of Jesus, and to see Him as their long-awaited Messiah.

In love and respect to those practicing post-Messiah Judaism, I stand as one in debt to your fathers, your Scriptures, your nation. It is history’s great irony that I am of the seed of Abraham, and you are not, though you be his children, and I am not. I urge you to drink deeply of Jesus, the Jewish Messiah, and God of Israel become Man.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

How would you challenge the Jews who reject their Messiah?

Well…

When did prophet and vision cease from Israel? Was it not when Christ came, the Holy One of holies? It is, in fact, a sign and notable proof of the coming of the Word that Jerusalem no longer stands, neither is prophet raised up nor vision revealed among them.

And it is natural that it should be so, for when He that was signified had come, what need was there any longer of any to signify Him? And when the Truth had come, what further need was there of the shadow? On His account only they prophesied continually, until such time as Essential Righteousness has come, Who was made the Ransom for the sins of all. For the same reason Jerusalem stood until the same time, in order that there men might premeditate the types before the Truth was known. So, of course, once the Holy One of holies had come, both vision and prophecy were sealed. And the kingdom of Jerusalem ceased at the same time, because kings were to be anointed among them only until the Holy of holies had been anointed.

Moses also prophesies that the kingdom of the Jews shall stand until His time, saying, “A ruler shall not fail from Judah nor a prince from his loins, until the things laid up for him shall come and the Expectation of the nations Himself.”

And that is why the Savior Himself was always proclaiming “The law and the prophets prophesied until John.” So if there is still king or prophet or vision among the Jews, they do well to deny that Christ is come; but if there is neither king nor vision, and since that time all prophecy has been sealed and city and temple taken, how can they be so irreligious, how can they so flaunt the facts, as to deny Christ Who has brought it all about?

Again, they see the heathen forsaking idols and setting their hopes through Christ on the God of Israel; why do they yet deny Christ Who after the flesh was born of the root of Jesse and reigns henceforward? Of course, if the heathen were worshipping some other god, and not confessing the God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and Moses, then they would do well to argue that God had not come. But if the heathen are honoring the same God Who gave the law to Moses and the promises to Abraham—the God Whose word too the Jews dishonored, why do they not recognize or rather why do they deliberately refuse to see that the Lord of Whom the Scriptures prophesied has shone forth to the world and appeared to it in a bodily form? Scripture declares it repeatedly.

“The Lord God has appeared to us,” and again,

“He sent forth His Word and healed them.” And again,

“It was no ambassador, no angel who saved us, but the Lord Himself.”

The Jews are afflicted like some demented person who sees the earth lit up by the sun, but denies the sun that lights it up! What more is there for their Expected One to do when he comes? To call the heathen? But they are called already. To put an end to prophet and king and vision? But this too has already happened. To expose the God-denying-ness of idols? It is already exposed and condemned. Or to destroy death? It is already destroyed.

What then has not come to pass that the Christ must do? What is there left out or unfulfilled that the Jews should disbelieve so light-heartedly? The plain fact is, as I say, that there is no longer any king or prophet nor Jerusalem nor sacrifice nor vision among them; yet the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of God, and the Gentiles, forsaking atheism, are now taking refuge with the God of Abraham through the Word, our Lord Jesus Christ.

Surely, then, it must be plain even to the most shameless that the Christ has come, and that He has enlightened all men everywhere, and given them the true and divine teaching about His Father.

Thus the Jews may be refuted by these and other arguments from the Divine teaching.

His language may not be politically correct, but his arguments are surely potent. Be reconciled with the God of your fathers, Jewish friends. Jesus is Lord.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

What a Crazy Idea: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

Athanasius

I was actually a black guy 🙂

Athanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday as we sit at the feet of our forefather in the faith – a warrior for Christ who relentlessly pursued truth in all the churches. I’ve been posting quotes from his magnum opus “On the Incarnation of the Word” each Tuesday so far.

Uncle Ath?

Yes, kids?

 

What was the strategy of God in sending His Son as a peasant man?

Well…

…That mystery the Jews [stumble over], the Greeks deride, but we adore; and your own love and devotion to the Word also will be the greater, because in His Manhood He seems so little worth.

For it is a fact that the more unbelievers pour scorn on Him,

so much the more does He make His Godhead evident.

The things which they, as men, rule out as impossible, He plainly shows to be possible; that which they deride as unfitting, His goodness makes most fit; and things which these wiseacres laugh at as “human” He by His inherent might declares divine.

Thus by what seems His utter poverty and weakness on the cross He overturns the pomp and parade of idols,Christ Crucified and quietly and hiddenly wins over the mockers and unbelievers to recognize Him as God.

My favorite uncle.

The divine Son of God became a lowly human in order to blast the elitist sensibilities of the proud. He’s winning over the mockers and unbelievers through His utter poverty and weakness at the cross – counter-intuitive, counter-culture. I love it.

Thanks for reading,

-Adam

Jesus’ Arms Outstretched: Tuesdays with Uncle Athanasius

Athanasius 5, Heretics 0

Athanasius 5, Heretics 0

Athanasius (c.297-373), my favorite early church father, fought heretics with all of his soul. I am brought to tears reading his glorious writings. Please indulge with me each Tuesday as we sit at the feet of our forefather in the faith – a warrior for Christ who relentlessly pursued truth in all the churches. I’ve been posting quotes from his magnum opus “On the Incarnation of the Word” each Tuesday so far. Please check out the past posts – they really are awesome to get into.

Uncle Ath?

Yes kids?

Do you see any significance in the outstretched arms of Jesus on the cross as He died?

Well…

…If any honest Christian wants to know why He suffered death on the cross and not in some other way, we answer thus: in no other way was it expedient for us, indeed the Lord offered for our sakes the one death that was supremely good. He had come to bear the curse that lay on us; and how could He “become a curse” otherwise than by accepting the accursed death? And that death is the cross, for it is written “Cursed is every one that hangs on tree.”

Again, the death of the Lord is the ransom of all, and by it “the middle wall of partition” is broken down and the call of the Gentiles comes about.

How could He have called us if He had not been crucified, for it is only on the cross that a man dies with arms outstretched? Here, again, we see the fitness of His death and of those outstretched arms: it was that He might draw His ancient people with the one and the Gentiles with the other, and join both together in Himself.

My favorite uncle.

A little allegorical, yes, but wow – think of the image painted there. The Word of God made flesh, a perfect Man – perfect in love, grace, and purity – being murdered ruthlessly and with mockery. He was suffering not only the incredible pains of torture, but also the shame of nakedness and disfigurement before His nation… and in the midst of this, His arms pinned to the wood, He was calling His Jewish family to Him with one bleeding hand, and His Gentile flock with the other, carrying each of us down into His death with Him so that we might rise again with Him in His resurrection.

Meditate, my friends. Before you go off to the next thing, meditate.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Athanasius, On the Incarnation, chap. 4, sec. 25, http://www.ccel.org.

Poetic, Prophetic King David and Blind (Tour) Guides: Prophesy Fridays

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy (that’s sarcasm, folks), so I’d better throw in a dash of yellow-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to light up your life.

Scotch Bonnet

The reality is, I say that at the beginning of every “Prophesy Friday” because I’m aiming to counteract some of the atrocious sea of false prophecy and sensationalism out there. If these posts are a blessing to you, please consider sharing them with a friend.

…the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10

Let’s strengthen our mutual faith together, brothers and sisters. Foresight and clarity of Bible prophecy is one of (if not the) greatest means of growing in our faith in the true God. Today we’re going to look at the prophetic power of Psalm 110, one of the most oft quoted Psalms in the New Testament, and one that Jesus Himself used to identify Himself as the Messiah and God. Prophetic pepper. But my friend in Israel didn’t really agree.

He was a soldier in the 1967 6-day war between the teenage State of Israel and her fierce Arab enemies all around. He’s been a champion of his nation, and a believer in all things Jewish since his boyhood. My tour guide through Israel knew his way around the nation, and he had a passion for her every nook and cranny.

Meet Meyil.

Israeli Tour Guide Meyil

At one of the stations of the cross, traditionally where Jesus stumbled while bearing his cross to Golgotha. The photograph is itself a picture of how close most Jews are to the truth, yet turned away looking elsewhere. Jerusalem 2009

As we puttered around Israel in our air-conditioned van, Meyil pulled the steel arm of the microphone down to his mouth over and over.

“This is called ‘Magdala’.

“Over dere is called ‘Waddi’ dat de ancient people walked from town to de other side of de mountains to de other town to visit de relatives.”

“Here Jesus gave the Sermon on the Mount.”

And all the way around the country we went – Caesaria, Haifa, Ptolemais, Galilee, Golan Heights, West Bank, Dead Sea, Qumran, Jerusalem, and more. It was a fantastic time, made all the better for our tiny tour group because not only was Meyil an expert in the history of his nation, but he also had studied the New Testament at university. He proudly filled in details of every place we went, not only from his own Jewish history, but reverently took off his hat in every Roman Catholic shrine and Christian holy place. I hung on his every word as we walked across the temple mount together, and watched him out of the corner of my eye as the British fellow at the Garden Tomb exuberantly described the historical meaning of Jesus’ resurrection.

During one of our outings – it happened to be in John the Baptist’s hometown – I walked next to Meyil and asked him questions about his life and background. He talked about his time in the military, his schooling, his perspective on Iran and the Palestinians, and of course, on the New Testament and Jesus. Anticipating my evangelistic move, Meyil cut off a question of mine, seeing where I was going – “God is good to us all, and for Him, to try… is enough.” There was his theology. To try is enough for God – to be a good Jewish boy or Christian boy. I walked beside my friend, silenced by the finality of his declaration.

When Israel’s Greatest King Spoke of Jesus

David was the man after God’s own heart. We also know that when David waxed poetic and wrote his Psalms, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through him, just as Peter preached

Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus (Acts 1:16 ESV).

So David wrote his Psalms according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Peter later confirms this idea of divine inspiration when he writes

 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).

David was not only Israel’s greatest king, he was also a prophet. Ironically, David prophesied most often about his own descendant, Jesus of Nazareth – and yet my tour guide, as educated in New Testament as he was, as respectful to Christianity as he was, stumbled at this point.

In the southern end of the Old City of Jerusalem, we walked the narrow streets of what is called “the City of David,” otherwise known as the hill of Zion. Meyil pointed and flourished upon every rock and stone, telling of the history of Suleiman the Great, the Turkish ruler who rebuilt the walls of the Old City, and how in the City of David we would see the so-called tomb of David. Outside of the tomb, I noticed the defaced statue of King David,

King David Jerusalem

playing his harp as usual. Here Meyil talked about David; who he was, and how he remains Israel’s most celebrated figure – the founder of Jerusalem as the capital and all. But then he said something that threw me for a loop.

David was many things, but a prophet he was not.

I spoke up immediately, almost on accident: “David was a great prophet, Meyil. He wrote beautiful prophecies…”

“No,” he cut me off, “he did not write prophecy. Let us move on to de tomb” he said, turning to walk onward. I was stunned. Not a prophet? How could he say that? My mind raced to the Scriptures: Psalm 2, 22-24, 40, and so many more speak so clearly of… oooohhh, right. Of Jesus. That’s why Meyil rejected his greatest king as a prophet, because David was constantly writing about his own son Jesus, and no one who rejects the Lordship of Jesus could accept David’s testimony of Him.

Psalm 110 and Jesus’ Puzzling Question

Jesus was nearing the end of His time on earth, less than a week from His crucifixion. The Pharisees had badgered Him and hounded Him for years, and Jesus had just about had it (read Matthew 23 to see what He thought of them). At the end of Matthew 22, Jesus takes a turn asking a question to them:

What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He? (Matt. 22:42 NKJV)

That word Christ, from the Hebrew, means “Messiah” – Jesus was asking the Pharisees a grade-school question. Whose son is the Messiah? Any Jewish toddler could have answered between suckles at momma’s breast.

They said to Him, “The Son of David.”

OK Jesus, we’ll play your game. We’ll feed you the obvious answer… now what’s the punchline?

Yes, they were in for a punchline. Thinking they knew their Scriptures, that they had turned them in and turned them out and turned them into sauer kraut, they had yet missed the central, unifying figure of the entire Bible: the Man asking them the question. There is no irony in all of literature like this moment. He then delivers the goods:

How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:

‘Yahweh said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool’?”

First Jesus notes the divine inspiration of the text of Psalm 110:1, David calls Him “Lord” in the Spirit.

Second, whoever this Lord is, David sees Him seated at the right hand of Yahweh… the checkmate comes:

If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?

In other words, riddle me this, Batman: If all of us scholarly Jews agree that Psalm 110 is referring to the Messiah, as we do, and the Messiah is David’s son, as He is, then how is it David calls Him ‘Lord,’ as in, “my Lord and my God”… ? Jesus had delivered the bomb into the house, and the eyes of every Pharisee had just watched the fuse disappear into the explosive head – kaboom, friends. Kaboom, Meyil. Kaboom, world. The Messiah is also the Lord of heaven, the Messiah is a divine Son – yet also a human being… all there in Psalm 110, all written by David His ancestor 1,000 years before His virgin birth.

So what did the great scholarly Pharisees reply to this explosion of prophetic grace?

And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore (Matt. 22:46).

Oh, well pardon me. Cat got your tongues, boys? No wonder they murdered Him – He looked them in the eye, claimed to be the fulfillment of their Scriptures, and made them silent fools in front of their nation.

What About You?

Have you bowed the knee to the Man Jesus Christ? He is the fulfillment of all Scripture; the meaning of life is found in Him. He is the Creator of the cosmos, and the King of eternity. He is Wonderful… and He bowed His own royal head in death to purchase the forgiveness of sins for you. Believe it.

I will leave us this week with the full, glorious text of Psalm 110 – a sort of autobiographical sketch of the God-Man Messiah Jesus. Grace to you all who love Him.

1 Yahweh says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

Yahweh sends forth from Zion
your mighty scepter.
Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
on the day of your power,
in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
the dew of your youth will be yours.
Yahweh has sworn
and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
after the order of Melchizedek.”

Yahweh is at your right hand;
he will shatter kings on the day of his wrath.
He will execute judgment among the nations,
filling them with corpses;
he will shatter chiefs
over the wide earth.
He will drink from the brook by the way;
therefore he will lift up his head.

I pray that Meyil, and every Jew would see the true King of Israel.

Thanks for reading,

-Justin