2001-04-27 - Messiah: His Final Call to Israel
Messiah: His Final Call to Israel Series, Part 29
In the cross of Christ, I glory,
When the woes of life o'ertake me,
When the sun of bliss is beaming
Bane and blessing, pain and pleasure,
Zechariah 13:7-9 "Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow," saith Jehovah of hosts: "Smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered; and I will turn my hand upon the little ones. And it shall come to pass, that in all the land," saith Jehovah, "two parts therein shall be cut off and die. But the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part into the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, 'It is my people;' and they shall say, 'Jehovah is my God.'"
A glance above at the seventh verse of this passage shows that God the Father is in charge of this tragic drama. He speaks to the sword, urging it to awaken against His Shepherd. In this exhortation, the sword is either personified, or those who wield it are addressed and urged to awaken in active opposition against God's Shepherd. They are to smite this Shepherd. When they do so, God will take care of the scattered sheep.
God speaks of this Shepherd against whom the sword is to awaken, as the man who is His "fellow." The word in the original, rendered "fellow," means "one's equal." Since God is the one speaking, and since He calls this man His equal, it is certain that this Shepherd is the God-man who enters the world by miraculous conception and Virgin Birth. In this prophecy, we have a forecast of the execution of the Messiah of Israel.
The poet was correct in speaking of the Cross of Jesus of Nazareth as "towering above the wrecks of time." The fact of its standing unmoved by the changes of time is proof of its origin and purpose. The faint glimmer of it, though the outline of it is very indistinct, is found in Genesis 3:15. To the serpent, God speaks of the conflict between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent: "He [the seed of the woman] shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
In Psalm 22:1-21, God gives a clear and distinct picture of the Messiah hanging on the Cross, surrounded by the raging and fanatical mob, which is compared to vicious bulls and howling dogs.
In Isaiah 52:13-53:12, again we see the Messiah of Israel being offered by God the Father, as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Though they stand in their sublime grandeur, the outlines of the Cross, however, are eclipsed by the glory and significance of the purpose of God.
The glory of the Cross is seen once more, in Zechariah 13:7. In this passage, the Cross is glorified by Him whom God calls "my fellow," and by whose death salvation was purchased for all.
This cross was erected on Golgotha, outside the city walls of Jerusalem. Having passed through several trials in which there was a miscarriage of justice, Jesus of Nazareth was nailed to the Cross on which He hung from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. From 12 noon to 3 p.m., God the Father, who was supervising the events of this occasion, veiled the scene in darkness so that no mortal eyes could look upon the greatest of all events in human history.
The blind leaders of Israel, who in their ignorance fostered this execution, intensified their opposition against the followers of Jesus. Nevertheless, the Cross - the emblem of the heroic, vicarious suffering of Jesus - figuratively speaking, remained intact.
The old rugged cross survived the storm of opposition that was hurled against it by Imperial Rome. During the first three centuries of the existence of Christianity, one persecution after another was launched against the Christians, who welcomed the martyr's crown and glory. Individuals such as Celsus, Porphyry, and Julian the Apostate, used the pen, which often is mightier than the sword, against the Church. Although believers in Jesus were murdered by the tens of thousands, the Cross during this reign of terror still stood unshaken by the attacks of Satan.
In the seventh century, the Moslem hordes, like a mighty flood, came pouring over the boundaries of the Empire and all but inundated the Christian civilization. Nevertheless, the Cross of Jesus stood unmoved.
During the Dark ages, ignorance, superstition, human jealousies, rivalries, dogmatism, and human fleshly abuses all but shrouded the old rugged Cross in darkness.
From the time of the Renaissance and the Reformation, rivalries, heightened by the spirit of jealousy, religious debates and dogmatism, have rent the body of Christian believers into contending factions. Yet the Cross has been clearly visible by innumerable hosts, and He who was suspended upon it has been received as Savior and Lord.
In modern times, rationalism, erroneous evaluation of science in many fields, over-emphasis upon the evaluation of philosophy, together with religious dogmatism and a faulty exposition of the Scriptures, have continued to split the body of Christ into many contending sects. Nevertheless, the Cross of Christ stands out in all its sublimity and glory -- and it shall ever stand. Truly, the Cross of Jesus Christ towers over the wrecks of time. It stands today for all who would receive the Atonement made there for them. Have you been to that old rugged Cross? And if you have been there, will you tell someone who has not been there about that special place today? Someday all Israel will come to see the reality of this place. Did you pray for the peace of Israel today? Next week we will look into the return of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.
In His Service,