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Chapter nine: The Promised Deliverer
Because of his obedient faith in his creator God, Abraham received the promise that a great nation would come forth from the son of his old age. This might not seem as important to us in our time when many worry about the planet having to support too many people. It was different 4 thousand years ago. Having a family was even more important to Abraham, whose original name meant “exalted father.” Later the name given to him by God would be Abraham, or “father of a multitude.” In ancient days a person’s name often described him. Abraham’s very purpose in life was not simply to prosper in business, but to inherit the Promised Land, and to populate that land with his family. This family would then be God’s instrument through which all families of the world would be blessed!
Ironically, his family did not really flourish at first in the promised land. Many things would transpire before that time. Abraham’s grandson Joseph, was betrayed by the jealousy of his own brothers, and he became a slave in Egypt. In his integrity and faithfulness to God he endured much suffering and abuse, but was rewarded in the end. His God enabled him to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh and to lead Egypt through a great famine. Finally his brothers humbled themselves before him, and they were reconciled.
In this we see another parallel with Jesus, who while on the cross asked for forgiveness for his own people who in their jealousy rejected Him! The natural children of Abraham mostly have failed to recognize Him to this day, with only a minority believing in Him. However, we look forward in great anticipation with the apostle Paul who saw the day when their eyes would be open in great numbers! (Romans 11:25-29). Like Joseph and his brothers who wept and embraced one another, there will also come a time when the natural sons of Abraham will reconcile with the One who rescued them as well!
8 “In that day the LORD will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the one who is feeble among them in that day will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them. 9 “And it will come about in that day that I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 “And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born.
It appears that this mourning will not be limited to Israel, but to all nations, for we read in Revelations 1:7:
7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. Even so. Amen.
What a great day that will be when all who have pierced Him with their words and actions of hatred, selfishness, pride and injustice finally grieve over their ways as He reveals Himself to them!
The Great I AM
This wonderful story of Joseph and his brothers had a happy ending. He brought His father and all that were with him to live in Egypt, where there was plenty of food which he had stored up during the seven plentiful years. The seventy families that were brought down with Jacob multiplied there greatly. However, after the death of Joseph another Pharaoh came to power. He feared that they might rise up against him, so he enslaved them and forced them to build great cities. In spite of this they multiplied even more! His next plan was to control their population growth by infanticide. The parents of Moses were wise and courageous enough to hide him and at the same time hopeful enough to risk sending him down the river to freedom. What would become of him? Would the God they trusted in watch over him and use him for something special?
Having been rescued by Pharaoh’s own daughter and raised in the palace, he could have been very content with his life. This situation might have been that easy for some, but not Moses. He saw how his people were being mistreated and he got involved. This led to his accidental killing of an Egyptian which resulted in his flight from Egypt. Then he again found a relatively good life as a shepherd. Could he at last find contentment? No. Like Joseph, Moses would be another example of Christ, the greatest of all deliverers, by leaving a place of comfort and ease for a place of suffering and struggle. This would lead to a greater purpose, the purpose of lifting others to a higher life! All of this prefigures our Savior Jesus Who left the riches of heaven to become the servant of all. (Philippians 2:5-11)
While in the wilderness, Moses would meet the Great I AM, The Eternal One, Who has no beginning or ending. Out of a bush on fire but not consumed by the flames, he received the call to go back to Egypt to deliver his people. God would give many great and powerful signs through Moses to demonstrate His superiority over the gods of Egypt and to liberate the children of Israel from slavery. Moses would be God’s spokesman throughout his lifetime and revealing in great detail how this great family was to become a civilized nation, and an example to the world.
So much could be said about the importance of Moses, but here I simply want to point out how his ministry fits into the eternal plan of God through Christ. It was Moses who was instructed by God to oversee the building of a place where God would meet with His people. The tabernacle in the wilderness was built to show how serious God was about renewing that relationship He had with Adam and Eve in the garden. In it He provided a place where they could express repentance for their sins and also receive His grace and be at peace with Him. His blessing would be demonstrated in the glory of the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night and the provisions made for their journey back to the Promised Land.
Sadly, as is often the case, many missed the point. Far too many worshipped outwardly but not from the heart, right up until the time of Jesus. Jesus pointed this out to many religious leaders of His day who thought they really understood Moses:
45 “Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?”
So how did Moses write of Jesus? The answer might be found in a concept described by the author of the letter to the Hebrews.
10:1 For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never by the same sacrifices year by year, which they offer continually, make perfect those who draw near.
Paul also made a similar observation in Colossians 2:16-17:
16 Therefore let no one act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day — 17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.
Around the time of the First Century, biblical scholars were looking into allegorical interpretations of the Scriptures. The New Testament apostles and teachers also began to see amazing parallels between the old and new covenants. Jesus Himself took special time to show that He was written about in the law of Moses, the writings of the prophets and in the poetry of the Psalms and the wisdom literature of the Hebrew canon. (Luke 24:44-45). When individuals become open to see how Jesus was concealed in the stories, the characters, and the rituals of the old testament, a rich and wonderful portrait of Christ becomes available to them. He reveals Himself by the Spirit to the humble of heart.
The law given by Moses, with it’s ethics, with it’s order, with it’s sacrificial system and it’s clear method of separating His people from the world — was a mere shadow of the good things to come in Christ! In depth studies of this marvelous, and mysterious body of literature have proven to encourage many to believe in God’s eternal purpose in Christ and His Church! Not only was He the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, but also the Light of the world as seen by the candlestick in the tabernacle. Likewise the bread on the table in the tabernacle pointed to Christ who is the Bread of Life.
The entire tabernacle tells the story of how fallen humanity returns to intimacy with God through the work of Jesus on the Cross. Christ is the door of the tabernacle, He is the sacrifice on the brazen offer which represents my repentant heart. He is the sanctuary where we receive His Light from the candlestick, the sustenance from the Showbread, and we can offer up prayers and praise in the golden alter of incense. Finally, by His grace we can enter into the holiest place of all, where His presence, His word and His blood on the alter seal our relationship with God forever! (Hebrews 9:1-15, 10:19-22)
As Moses defeated the mighty Pharaoh and his false gods, Jesus brought down the lies of the devil by proving the love and goodness of God on our behalf, as well as His power over death. (Hebrews 2:14-15). Moses led his people out of bondage in Egypt and on their journey to Canaan. Christ snatches us from our old lives of sin and the corruption of this world. Even now He provides for us all we need on this wilderness journey while being surrounded by hostile forces.
Moses on Mount Sinai gave Israel the law written by the Finger of God, to prove to the world their identity as God’s chosen people. Jesus revealed the true intent of that law in His Sermon on the Mount to prove that by faith we can become citizens of heaven while still living on this earth!
Moses could have been speaking of Jesus when he made this statement:
15 The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.
Peter and others declared that Moses was in fact foretelling the coming of Jesus even back then. (Acts 3:19-22, John 6:14)
Are you beginning to see how the many pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together in Jesus Christ? But here we are just beginning, there is so much more to come! Christ is not only delivering us from the effects of the fall, He is restoring us to the relationship we had with Him in paradise before the fall! Not only that, but something greater! We already bear the image of God in an earthly manner, but we are to also bear the image of God in a much deeper way. Even now, those who worship Him are being daily transformed!
In the third chapter of his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul describes a situation where some biblical scholars had failed to see the portrait of Christ hidden in their scriptures, our Old Testament. Their minds and their hearts were blinded, as if separated from seeing Him by a veil. But — when any heart turns to the Lord, that veil is taken away! Of course we know that it can only be the Holy Spirit Who warms our hearts, convicts us of our sin and forgetfulness, and leads us to repentance.
2 Corinthians 3:13-18:
14 But their minds were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains unlifted, because it is removed in Christ. 15 But to this day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their heart; 16 but whenever a man turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18 But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.
Did you get that? We can be transformed into the image of Christ, who is the express image of the invisible God! (2 Corinthians 4:4, Colossians 1:15, Hebrews 1:3).
28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the first-born among many brethren; 30 and whom He predestined, these He also called; and whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.
Remember the original blessing in Genesis One? God had intended all along for humanity to bear His image, to rule the earth on His behalf and to fill the earth with His glory. Disobedience and sin disrupted that plan, but God could not fail in His purpose. The world was being prepared for the promised deliverer by God’s work through many beforehand. Glimpses of Him would be seen in Abraham, Joseph, Moses and others. In fact the entire created universe testifies of Him. (Romans 1:20).
Throughout the ages God has been working with us as a potter works with clay in his hands. Everything that has happened and is happening is leading to a great climax in which the knowledge of the glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea! (Isaiah 11:9, Habakkuk 2:14) Creation itself will be delivered from the bondage of corruption and into the glorious liberty of the children of God! (Romans 8:20-21)
In all of this you and I have a part to play. We get to be incorporated into the the very Body of Christ, Who is the Seed, the descendant of Abraham through Whom all the families of the earth will be blessed! Where do I get this crazy idea? In the bible of course!
18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
Once we begin to see the big picture, from a great panoramic view of the entire bible, the individual pieces of the puzzle begin to fit into place. Have you ever tried to work a picture puzzle without having the cover of the box that shows the end result? Sometimes we just see individual pieces in God’s plan without having a clue to the way they fit together. If you can bear with me, I believe we can show in this simple study how beautiful the bigger picture really is. More than that, I hope each of us can find what our part in God’s great plan might be, giving us a greater sense of purpose in this life!
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