Monday, 22 July 2013 16:03:00
All His radical pronouncements made Jesus a marked man. A death sentence now hung over his head (John 7:1-53). It was inevitable. So when the Feast of Tabernacles draws near and his unbelieving kin, his natural brothers, tell Him to go into Judea, Jesus answers with, “My time is not yet come.” Like so often is the case, His words have a double meaning. He is proclaiming that it’s not yet time to lay down His life as the lamb of sacrifice nor is it time to become King, and tabernacle with man. So He stayed behind in Galilee. That is until the middle of Tabernacles when He went to Jerusalem secretly then began teaching in the Temple.
But His teachings only managed to arouse more scorn and controversy. “He deceives the people!” some say. While others claim He’s “possessed by a demon.” To which Jesus responds, “My teaching is not My own, but His Who sent Me.” Then on the final and most important day of the feast (of Tabernacles) Jesus stands and cries in a loud voice, “If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink!” (John 7:37) A discussion breaks out as the crowd wonders if Jesus could really be the Messiah. “No one knows where the Messiah will come from,” some claim, showing their lack of knowledge of God’s word. Others who know the scriptures say, “Does the Messiah come out of Galilee? Does not the scripture tell us that the Christ (Messiah) will come from the offspring of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” But it appears their knowledge is useless for they can’t apply it to Jesus. They had not taken the time to really learn Who He was. For one thing, if they had they would have known Jesus didn’t come from Galilee. And, thankfully, there’s a third group who openly proclaims, “This is the Christ, the Messiah, the Anointed One!” All were Jews, but very different spiritually. And don’t you know we have these same three groups in our Church today? First there are those who have little real knowledge of God’s word. Then comes the “religious types” who know the Bible but fail to apply it to their lives, to live it. And finally, those who know God’s word and follow it.
Ok, what about the Feast of Tabernacles? What do those two references about that feast in John 7:1-53 tell us? First off, the Feast of Tabernacle is the last of seven feasts of Israel, or feasts of the Lord. These seven feasts provide a picture of prophetic events spanning the seven thousand years which many Bible scholars believe encompass all of human history. In the middle of the seven feasts or feast number four, is Pentecost. Jesus’ appearing in the middle of the “feast” is a foreshadowing of Pentecost and the new dispensation of grace. It literally speaks of His soon coming death and the appearance of the Holy Spirit who would herald an entirely new eon, a new era. Grace would replace law. And when Jesus rose up and proclaimed Himself living water on the “final day” He was also referring to the Holy Spirit who would come at Pentecost. It’s no accident that this took place on the last day or Great Day, the culmination of Beit HaShoevah, the ritual of the water pouring where the high priest passed through the Water Gate with his golden pitcher to collect water from the pool of Siloam then used it to cleanse the Temple altar. Jesus was soon to cleanse humanity by pouring out His blood upon God’s heavenly altar and herald in the Age of Grace where the Holy Spirit would be “living water,” the ultimate living water, for all those who thirst after righteousness.
But here’s the best part. Jesus is no longer saying “my time is not yet come.” He has fulfilled part of the prophecy of the Feast of Tabernacles. His blood has cleansed the heavenly altar and His Holy Spirit is the very fountain of living water. We can all experience Jesus as both our lamb sacrifice and as our living water through the Holy Spirit. And even though Jesus has yet to appear on earth as King, and tabernacle with us physically—that will occur during the millennial reign—He will tabernacle with each of us individually if we ask Him. So His time has come. And it’s the right time for all three groups. The right time to truly learn God’s word; the right time to apply it, to live it; and the right time to tabernacle with Jesus, and make Him King over our lives.
Until next time,
Monday, 08 April 2013 13:34:00
In following Jesus we next find Him resting at Jacob’s well in Samaria. I commented on this story in a post over two years ago, but since it’s one of my favorite “Jesus Encounters” I can’t resist reposting it now.
So while Jesus is resting a woman comes to draw water. Immediately He begins a conversation by asking her for a drink; rather shocking with you consider that she was not only a Samaritan, a member of a mongrel race considered unclean by Jews, but also a woman, a second class citizen in a male dominated society. Jewish men didn’t strike up conversations with strange women.
She acknowledges this prejudice by asking why He’s even talking to her. His response is amazing on so many levels. In essence He says, if you knew who you were talking to, you’d “ask of him and he would have given you living water.” He goes on to explain this living water was “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” He was declaring that He was the source of everlasting life, and here’s the kicker, He was declaring it to a fallen Samaritan women.
A few verses down we realize just how fallen. She’s had five husbands and the man she’s currently living with wasn’t even her husband. That’s probably why she came to the well around the 6th hour or noon, in the heat of the day, when no one else would be there, because she was probably even an outcast among her own people. But Jesus knew all this, and revealed His knowledge to her. And she was amazed. And so am I because even with this prior knowledge He doesn’t say, “boy, you really blew it. You’ve really made a mess of your life.” Rather He said, “if you’d asked, I’d have given.”
And that’s just what he says to us. No matter how much we’ve messed up our life, no matter how low on society’s totem poll we are, no matter how insignificant we feel, no matter how “unclean” our lives have become, God loves us, and says, “if you ask I will give you eternal life.” Wow!
Sometimes I don’t understand why God bothers with us. We are so flawed, so weak, so much like the “dog who returns to his own vomit” yet He’s there, saying to each of us, “ask me, and I’ll give you because I love you, no matter who you are or what you’ve done.”
The end of the story is also wonderful. Jesus uses this woman, this fallen unclean Samaritan, to go and tell her community about Him and lead others to Him, thus showing there is a place for even the lowliest in God’s kingdom and in His plan.
Oh what a God we serve! What a loving, tender, good God! And it’s His very goodness that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4b).
Until next week,
Monday, 23 May 2011 10:22:00
Beware of this valley. It’s dangerous. The name itself, Gerar, means to drag off roughly. What happened here? In Genesis 26:12-22 Isaac, Abraham’s son, has been mightily blessed by God and has “became very great,” so great in fact that the Philistines who lived in the area were envious and their envy drove them to stop up all of Isaac’s wells. And everyone knows how vital water is, especially in the Middle East. Eventually, the local king got into the act and, in the interest of peace, asked Isaac to leave, thus Isaac was symbolically “dragged off roughly”, to the valley of Gerar. But even here his troubles didn’t end because the new wells his herdsmen dug were contested by the herdsmen of Gerar. After a cycle of digging wells then giving them up to the protesters, Isaac finally dug a well that he was allowed to keep.
So why do I think this is a dangerous valley? Because it’s a valley that can easily breed resentment. Imagine you are happy, “on top of the world,” and living in peaceful union with God, blessed mightily by Him, when all of a sudden, because of the sins or selfishness or carelessness or malevolence of others you are forced to go to a place you don’t want to go; forced to endure hardship, suffering, heartache, humiliation, all because of something someone else did. It could be a spouse who did not handle the finances wisely and now you are facing bankruptcy, or a spouse who has violated the marriage with an adulterous affair, or a business that has been mismanage and now you are out of a job, or a rebellious child who has run away from home and turned your world upside down. It could be any one of a dozen things but the result is the same. You find yourself where you don’t want to be, “dragged” there by someone else. And because you believe it’s not your fault, bitterness can sprout like a weed.
Verse 19 of Genesis 26 tells us that in the midst of this valley, Isaac’s servants found a “well of springing water (KJV).” The Amplified calls it a “well of living (spring) water.” Jesus tells us in John 4:10 that He will give “living water” to whoever asks, the only kind of water capable of quenching spiritual thirst. Gerar is a tough valley to be sure, but oh, what a deep and marvelous well God has for us there if only we ask! It doesn’t have to be a place of bitterness. It can be a place where circumstances make us more open to the Lord, as well as a place of deep refreshing. As usual, the choice is ours.
Until next week,