When we want to see who Jesus was and why he came, we tend to turn to the New Testament accounts of his birth in Bethlehem, his sermon on the hillside and his death on a cross. Yet we discover on the road to Emmaus that Jesus’ way of explaining who he was and why he came was to work his way through the Old Testament—through Genesis and Exodus, Psalms and Proverbs, Isaiah and Jeremiah.
In Seeing Jesus, Nancy Guthrie takes us through 60 selected Old Testament readings to see how they reveal Jesus in their promises and prophesies, sacrifices and shadows. Your eyes will be opened to the epic scope of the Bible’s story like never before, as you see what God’s plan for His people has been all along.
(Adapted from The One Year Book of Discovering Jesus in the Old Testament; now in a deluxe LeatherLike binding.)
|Publisher:||Tyndale House Publishers|
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Seeking and Finding Him in the Scriptures
By Nancy Guthrie
Tyndale House PublishersCopyright © 2017 Nancy Guthrie
All rights reserved.
JESUS THE AGENT OF CREATION
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
* * *
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.
All things were created through Jesus.
"IN THE BEGINNING God created" (Genesis 1:1). How did God create? He spoke each aspect of creation into being. He simply expressed his will, saying, "Let there be ..." And there was! And it was good.
It is no accident that the first words in the Gospel of John are exactly the same as the first words in the book of Genesis. John wants us to understand that the Jesus he is going to tell us about in his book didn't begin his life when he was born in Bethlehem. He was there when the earth was made. John writes: "In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him" (John 1:1-3, emphasis added). Not only was he there at Creation. Jesus was the agent of creation, the workman bringing about God's creative plans. Every time we read the phrase "Then God said" in the first chapter of Genesis, we know that it is Jesus, the living Word of God, accomplishing God's creative work.
This sheds light on the mystery of who the "us" was when God said, "Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us" (Genesis 1:26, emphasis added). Jesus, the Word, was there with him. John tells us, "The Word was with God, and the Word was God." John wanted us to understand that Jesus is the logos, the outward expression of all God is.
The apostle Paul expounds on this reality of Jesus as the one through whom all creation came into being:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see — such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
COLOSSIANS 1:1 5-16
If everything was created not only through him but also for him, that means everything that exists, exists for Jesus. Nothing in the universe was created or exists for its own sake, but rather to make the glory of God more fully known.
Creator of all there is, I marvel at what you have made, what you have spoken into being. Seeing you there at Creation helps me to see what I was made for. I was made for you, and I am yours.CHAPTER 2
THE TREE THAT BRINGS LIFE
The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. But the Lord God warned him, "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden — except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die."
* * *
The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
The fruit of one tree brought death, but the fruit of another gives life.
ADAM AND EVE were welcome to enjoy all the goodness in the Garden of Eden to their hearts' content. But God's generous permission included a specific prohibition: "You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden — except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die" (Genesis 2:16-17).
What was this tree of the knowledge of good and evil? To eat of this tree was to claim the right to decide for oneself what is good and what is evil (true and false, beautiful and ugly). God knew that it would be utterly devastating for people to cut the cord of dependence on him and claim "the knowledge of good and evil" for themselves. That's why he said, "If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die" (Genesis 2:17).
But the fruit of this tree looked delicious to Eve. She ate it and then gave some to Adam. And sure enough, they then had knowledge of good and evil, but it was from the standpoint of becoming evil and remembering how good they once were. With that bite they traded the freedom of enjoying what is good for slavery to what is evil.
God had told them that on the day they ate of the fruit they would die. And this was that day. In fact Adam and Eve did die spiritually right then. But in the midst of judgment, God gave them a promise of a descendant who would one day put an end to evil. If they would take hold of this one by faith, they would live.
We read in Galatians 4:4, "But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman." He, too, faced a decision about a tree. But where Adam and Eve disobeyed, Jesus obeyed.
And we are all invited to eat of the fruit of this tree — the Cross of Christ. On this tree hung the one who restores the knowledge of the good that Adam and Eve lost when they chose evil. No other tree so fully manifests such a vast knowledge of good and evil — the infinite goodness of Christ and the damning evil of those for whom he died. By eating of the fruit of this tree, all those who have descended from Adam and Eve can reclaim the life they lost and restore the relationship of glad dependence and obedience they left behind. "The sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God's wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:17).
Like Adam and Eve, I, too, am tempted to seek wisdom apart from jour Word, God. I, too, lust after independence from jour wise boundaries. But now I take and eat of the fruit of Christ's Cross, and I am sure to live.CHAPTER 3
HE CAME TO DESTROY THE WORKS OF THE DEVIL
The Lord God said to the serpent,
"Because you have done this, you are cursed more than all animals, domestic and wild. You will crawl on your belly, groveling in the dust as long as you live. And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel."
* * *
Because God's children are human beings — made of flesh and blood — the Son also became flesh and blood. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death.
By his death and resurrection, Jesus defeated the devil and freed us from death.
ON THE DAY when Adam and Eve fell into sin, God made a promise. This wasn't like most promises we read in the Bible, but it is the promise all its other promises flow from. This was a promise of death to the serpent, or Satan — the one who had tempted Adam and Eve to sin. "I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel" (Genesis 3:15). One day a baby would be born who would put an end to the curse that brought Adam and Eve and all their descendants so much pain and misery.
Beginning with Eve's first son, Cain, God's people must have wondered at the birth of every baby whether this was the one who would fulfill the promise of God to destroy the devil through Eve's offspring.
The promise of the offspring of Eve was finally fulfilled when Jesus was born to Mary. Jesus was the one who would crush the head of the enemy, Satan. John said this is exactly what Jesus came to do. "The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8).
But Satan did not go down without a fight. He, too, fulfilled the promise God had made. He struck the heel of the Promised One, using every tool of evil at his disposal to bear down on Jesus. The battle began in earnest when Jesus went away to the wilderness to fast and pray. There Satan attacked Jesus at every possible point of vulnerability — to no avail. The battle continued all the way to the Cross, where Satan thought he had finally won. But the Cross was not the defeat of Jesus; it was the deathblow to Satan. When Jesus gave up his spirit and died on the cross, Satan thought he had killed Jesus. But "in this way, [God] disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross" (Colossians 2:15).
Satan's power is wielded in the world in the form of death. What gives him that power is sin and the estrangement from God it brings. But on the cross, Jesus did what was necessary for sinners to be reconciled with God. The devil thought he was defeating Christ, but in reality Christ was reconciling us to God, defeating the devil, and delivering us out of his clutches. "Only by dying could he break the power of the devil, who had the power of death" (Hebrews 2:14).
Death Destroyer, you have overcome the devil and put him in chains. And the day is coming when he will be thrown into the fire and utterly defeated. You will fulfill your promise to vanquish Satan, along with his power to rob, kill, and destroy. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!CHAPTER 4
THE CURSE BECAME HIS CROWN
To the man [God] said, "Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains."
* * *
When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing.
GALATIANS 3:13, EMPHASIS ADDED
The curse of sin was laid on Jesus.
IN THE GARDEN as God originally created it, there were no thorns. But that changed when Adam and Eve sinned. God said to Adam, "Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat, the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you" (Genesis 3:17-18).
From that day on, this instrument of pain intruded into the perfection of the original creation. Every pricked finger, every overgrown field, every ugly thornbush was meant to be a reminder of the frustrating pain of sin. But when Christ came, he transformed the thorn from a reminder of the Curse into a reminder that he has put an end to the Curse by taking it upon himself.
Pilate had Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip. The soldiers wove a crown of thorns and put it on his head, and they put a purple robe on him. "Hail! King of the Jews!" they mocked, as they slapped him across the face.
What better symbol than a crown of thorns to speak to what Jesus was about to accomplish on the cross? "When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing" (Galatians 3:13).
While a crown is usually a symbol of authority and honor, this crown was a tool of humiliation. However, in the sovereign plan of God, this crown of thorns became a symbol of what Jesus accomplished in his humiliation. He wore the thorns we earned by our rebellion when he broke the curse of sin.
Revelation describes a day when we will be in a new garden where "no longer will there be a curse upon anything" (Revelation 22:3). Jesus will be there, wearing a crown — in fact, many crowns — but no longer a crown of thorns. And because he wore the crown of our curse when he went to the cross, we will be there too. We'll lay our crowns before him, saying, "You are worthy, O Lord our God, to receive glory and honor and power" (Revelation 4:11). The Curse and its thorns will be gone forever, and Jesus will give us the crown of life.
Jesus, I should be the one who feels the thorns pressing into my forehead. I should be the one who bears humiliation and scorn. It is my face that should be spit upon, my back that should be beaten. But you have taken it all for me — every sting of the Curse. Instead you give me the honor of being your child, your heir, and you welcome me into jour home forever.CHAPTER 5
JESUS BRINGS LIFE
The man — Adam — named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live.
* * *
I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it's here now, when the dead will hear my voice — the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live.
Jesus gives life to those who put their hope in him.
IN GENESIS 3, God pronounced a curse on the serpent and the earth that would impact Adam and Eve and all their descendants. So we might expect that Adam would be crushed under the weight of this bad news. But Adam also heard hope in what God said. He heard the promise of an offspring who would reverse the Curse. Adam's first words after hearing the Curse express his faith in what God had promised: "The man — Adam — named his wife Eve, because she would be the mother of all who live" (Genesis 3:20). God said Adam would die, returning to dust; yet Adam immediately named his wife Eve because she would be the mother of all the living. Adam caught the promise given in the midst of the Curse, and by naming his wife "life," he demonstrated his faith that God would indeed bring the blessing of life out of this curse of death.
Adam failed the test in the Garden. He failed to live up to all that God had intended for him. Yet here he teaches us to put our hope in the one who will not fail. Faced with certain death and inevitable suffering, Adam put his hope in the promise of the offspring who would crush the head of the one who led him into sin.
Then the anticipation began for the Son who would come. The woman would experience painful labor to bring him forth, but the confident hope of all those who believed God's promise was that when he came, he would put an end to pain.
All of us who have inherited this nature of sin from our father, Adam, can also learn from Adam. We can learn from him how to stare the curse of death in the face and celebrate the promise that this curse is not God's final word. God's final Word is his Son, Jesus. We can learn from him to put all our hope in the promised offspring of Eve, the one who said,
I tell you the truth, those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life.
And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it's here now, when the dead will hear my voice — the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. JOHN 5:24-25
Lord, you are life itself, and we believe you are the promised offspring sent to break the curse of death. Because of you, we do not have to live in this sin-cursed world of pain only to die. Instead, we live with the confidence that we have already passed from death to life in you.
Excerpted from Seeing Jesus by Nancy Guthrie. Copyright © 2017 Nancy Guthrie. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.
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