Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Devotion 12. Jesus The New Israel.

Jesus is the fulfillment of all of the promises to Israel. He is the goal of Israel’s existence. He is the final destination of faith.

Matthew presented his gospel in a manner that shows Jesus as Israel. He did this to show the promises to Israel were fulfilled in Christ.

I believe Matthew organized his gospel into five sections to show Christ was the fulfillment of the Torah and, therefore, of all the Old Testament scripture. That is too much to analyze here, but it is an interesting study.

Here are some examples of Matthew’s presentation. Matthew begins his gospel saying this is the book of the generations of Jesus Christ. Genesis 2:4 says these are the generations of the heavens and earth when they were created. It repeats that language in reference to Adam in Genesis 5:1.

Matthew gives a detailed genealogy of Jesus, Genesis gives several genealogies of the Israel. Both tell of miraculous births: Isaac and Jesus. Israel and Jesus both go to Egypt for protection. Both are tempted in the wilderness: Israel for 40 years and Jesus for 40 days, in which he quotes scripture for the time of Israel’s wilderness experience.

Matthew 2:15 in particular is interesting. In writing of Jesus going to Egypt to escape Herod, Matthew wrote that this was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet “Out of Egypt I called my son” (ESV) The prophet here is Hosea, who in Hosea 11:1 said “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” The son in Hosea 11:1 is Israel. Matthew directly says this is a prophecy and Jesus fulfills it.

One last example occurs at the giving of the great commission, the last event recorded by Matthew. Jesus said “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20).

The Hebrew Bible (we have re-arranged the books) ends with the words of 2 Chronicles 36:23: “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD, the god of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.”

Cyrus, under the influence of the Holy Spirit claimed universal authority. Christ did the same. Both told the people of God to go and to build a house for God. The Jews were to go home and build the temple as God’s house. The disciples were to go into the world to build the new temple, the body of Christ.

Matthew began his gospel alluding to the beginning of the Hebrew scripture and ended by alluding to the end of the Hebrew scripture. He was saying Christ is the sum and substance, the fulfillment, of the Old Testament.

Jesus spoke of this principle to two of his disciples after his resurrection. Luke 24:47 says “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” The entire Old Testament and all of its promises are about Jesus and fulfilled in him.

Paul referred to this principle. He said ‘For all the promises of God find their Yes in him.” (2 Corinthians 1:20). Some versions of the Bible say “yes and amen”.

So we again see that God has kept his word in all aspects. Every word of promise is fulfilled in Christ. We also see that there is nothing insufficient in God’s work for us. Christ fulfills it all. When God promised Adam and Eve he would bring a descendant who would defeat Satan, he fulfilled it in Christ. When he promised forgiveness of sin, he fulfilled it in Christ. When he promised to dwell with his people, he fulfilled it in Christ. When he promised to reign over his people, he fulfilled it in Christ.

Now we see why it is so important to believe in Christ and abide in him. There is no other. There is nothing else to wait for. There is only Christ, who is all and in all. He is the goal of history. He is the head of the church. In eternity, he will be the center of our universe.

Christmas is a little reflection of that. Everything centers on Jesus.
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