Guest Blogger: Jesus Christ

I’d like to step aside today and allow the Son of God to dictate the wording of this blog post. His Name is Jesus, He is the Christ – He was born of a virgin, lived a perfect life without sin, died as a substitute for the sin guilt of His redeemed people, and rose from the dead to live forever as God and Man in one Person.

I trust His credentials for writing on my blog.

When He dictated this short letter word for word, it was written to a church in a different place and time, but it is absolutely relevant for me, and so probably for many of us who will see this. Think of it as written to you, as it is.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:

The One who holds the seven stars in His right hand, the One who walks among the seven golden lampstands [that would be Jesus], says this:

‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first loveTherefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Yet this you do have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life which is in the Paradise of God.’

Rev. 2:1-7 NASB

We here in the Western, conservative, gospel-believing, Christ-exalting, Christian churches are the Ephesians. We hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans (legalists who pervert the gospel and steal sheep from the flock of Christ), but what of our first love?

Has materialism stolen your heart like it does mine all too often? Let’s repent in joy, together.

Grace from Christ Jesus to you all,

-Justin

Prophesy Fridays: The God of Israel will be Pierced

I am pretty sure the internet is devoid of commentary on prophecy, so I’d better throw in a dash of red-hot, mind-blowing prophetic power to scald the demons.

habanero peppers

Be sure to subscribe to the Citizen on the right side column to get an e-mail when a new post is published.

…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. Zechariah wrote his book of prophecy about 450 years before the crucifixion of Jesus, but when Yahweh, the God of Israel speaks His Word to Zechariah, you might think old Zech was time-traveling to be at the foot of the cross almost five centuries later.

Messianic Jams and Hebrew Lunches

Six years ago I had an internship with the New York State Department of Education in their Child Nutrition office. I worked in Albany, and on any given day of the week, was called upon to go out into the field to visit the locations that participated in our summer food program for kids. We had to show up unannounced (just like government thugs like to do 😉 ), and count the number of kids eating the summer lunches we funded, as an accountability for how much the locations were being compensated.

Anyhow, the great Jewish city of Brooklyn, New York empties out in the summer, and every tassled, bearded, kosher man takes his family north into the Catskill Mountains. There are Hasidic Jewish summer camps everywhere through those hills, and they just happen to be big time participants in the summer lunch program… so there I went throughout the summer to count kosher kiddies.

We would show up and shout Surprise! and then do a little dance with the Rabbi, and play the fiddle while singing about tradition. Oh wait… no, that was another thing. Actually, we would show up and sometimes sit around for a while as the staff at the camp was getting all the children together so we could count them and check their meals for program standards.

At one particular camp, we State workers had some time to mill around in the cafeteria before the kids showed up for lunch, and so I began to look around and explore. At the time I was getting pretty good at reading Hebrew, so I found myself reading a wall chart instruction guide on hand-washing. Two young Jews spotted me reading the Hebrew-only chart, and approached from behind. They were very curious if I were a Jew as well.

“No,” I replied, noticing they were about my age, “but I do try and read Hebrew.” We talked some about the language, and then I felt a bubble of confidence (or maybe it was just gas), but either way I asked them if I could run a Hebrew sentence by them, and they could “critique” my pronunciation… if you know what I mean 😉

Over the couple years before that I had been really digging Lamb (a messianic music group from the 70’s and 80’s). My favorite song from Lamb (which everyone who knew me was sick of to the point of death I think) is called V’sha Fac’ti – the first words of Zechariah 12:10. Now, Lamb sang it all in Hebrew to a very catchy, banjo-strumming beat – so I had the entire passage memorized in Hebrew.

As I began to recite the passage (song) to my new Jewish friends, one of them particularly seemed to cue in on my words. His eyes locked on mine, and as I spoke out the glorious picture of Jesus, he confirmed my Hebrew by translating into English:

Me: V’sha fac’ti al beit David 

Him: And I will pour out on the house of David

v’al yoshev Yerushalayim

And on the inhabitants of Jerusalem

ruach chen v’ta’a’cha’nu’nim

The Spirit of grace and of prayer

v’hi’bitu eli et asher

And they will look upon Me

dakaru

Whom they have pierced.

Alarm bells went off in his friend’s head. He chuckled at our little translation session. “I know what you’re doing.”

“What?” I asked, feeling outed.

He turned to his friend who had just recited Zechariah 12:10 with me, the gentile State worker.

“He’s going to convert you to Christianity,” he said, smiling knowingly. They both looked at me with humor in their eyes.

“We’re talking about your Bible” I replied.

Yahweh, Eternal God – Pierced and Mourned

And we were. And there He was – Jesus, doing what He always does: standing tall on the pages of His Old Testament. I didn’t win any Jewish converts that day in the Catskills, but without having to say anything about the meaning of the passage, they knew who we were talking about. Yahweh God of Israel, uncreated and supreme above all – speaking in the first person in Zechariah 12, states clearly that it is He who they will look upon when He is pierced.

Wow. Pierced. Where was God ever “pierced”? In the Person of His Son, on the Roman death cross, 400+ years after Zechariah wrote those words, and all for you and me. Jesus took on flesh, having been alive and co-eternal with the Father and the Spirit, and He humbled Himself to the point of death, even the desperately ugly, criminal’s death on the torture cross.

It’s no wonder this shows up in the Old Testament: it was the pinnacle of all cosmic history. The glorious, worthy Son of God bows His head to be murdered by His own creatures. Stop your internet schedule for a moment and ponder that. He did that to pay your sin debt. He loves you. Ponder it.

Decades after Jesus had risen from the grave and returned to His Father, the Apostle John saw a vision of God’s glory and Word, and introduced the book of Revelation with this in 1:7

Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (NKJV)

John quoted Zechariah’s prophecy, and saw in it the future fulfillment when Jesus returns to His earth in glory. Those who remain enemies of Jesus will look upon Him and mourn – mourning for their own doom and imminent destruction… but it does not have to be so for you, friend. Today is the day to look upon Him who was pierced for your transgressions, who suffered the death of an eternal separation from the Father in His holy wrath against sinners. I urge you, place all your eggs in this basket: while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, and He did it in fulfillment of powerful, clear prophetic words which described how it would happen, even centuries before He was born. Oh, and pray for our Jewish friends; that they might see Him and yet not mourn any longer…

What a glorious Savior. Praise Him!

Thanks for reading,

-Justin

Our Great Hope: to Live in New Jerusalem Forever

This world has been called a “veil of tears” by Christian song-writers, and they have spoken well. This world is a sorrowful realm of broken dreams, idolatry, and war. The beauty and goodness we see in the world and among humanity is definitely in spite of the reign of sin among humankind. God’s grace actively restrains the outbreaking of sin and destruction in our world, and He does so in pity and love.

I pray that you would be drawn nearer to Him, our Creator, through my blog. I am writing in order to entice you with the love and grace of Jesus Christ – God in the flesh – the One who became man to die in the place of sinners – who rose from the dead 3 days later – and who is going to return to earth to judge the living and the dead. He calls you right now to turn from your sin and to trust Him, that He is able to forgive you and raise you to life again on the final day. Sound good?

The unspeakable joy, and the unspeakable terror which will be revealed on the Day of Judgment:

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”

Then He who sat on the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write, for these words are true and faithful.”

And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things,and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:1-8 NASB)

As the excellent Dr. Michael Horton said it:

[New Jerusalem] is descending from heaven (Rev 21:2) as those who are spiritually dead are raised and receive a new birth from above that makes them citizens of the new age (Jn 3:3-6; Eph 2:1-10). The writer to the Hebrews reminds us in chapter 12 that the whole system of world powers and kingdoms will be shaken when Christ returns. At the same time, the kingdom of Christ is a present reality: “Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire” (Heb 12:27-28).[1]

Sweet.

Are you looking forward to that Day? I am.

Grace to all those who love the Lord Jesus Christ,

-Justin

[1] Michael Horton, The Christian Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2011), 955-6.