Jesus: The 24th High Priest, but the Only Mediator

TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 5-6

1 Chronicles 6:1-15 details the sons of Levi. In these verses it lists 23 high priests from the exodus to the exile.

  1. Aaron
  2. Eleazar
  3. Phinehas
  4. Abishua
  5. Bukki
  6. Uzzi
  7. Zerahiah
  8. Meraioth
  9. Amariah
  10. Ahitub
  11. Zadok
  12. Ahimaaz
  13. Azariah
  14. Johanan
  15. Azariah
  16. Amariah
  17. Ahitub
  18. Zadok
  19. Shallum
  20. Hilkiah
  21. Azariah
  22. Seraiah
  23. Jehozadak

The number 23 is not used often in the Bible, but when it used it speaks of death.

The first mention of twenty-three is found in Judges 10:1-2, which says, “After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, so of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim. And he judge Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir.”

So, there are two things mentioned about Tola. First, he saved Israel. Second, he died after 23 years as judge. So, the number 23 is linked with death.

2 Kings 23:31 says, “Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem.” In other words, Jehoahaz died when he was 23 years old.

Jeremiah 25:3 says, “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of Josiah the son of Amon, king of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened.” Man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Therefore, if we do not listen to the word of God, we die.

Therefore, the number 23 symbolizes death.

I believe that the priesthood really ended after the 23 priests when Israel and Judah were in exile. While the temple was rebuilt after the exile, the Bible seems to indicate that God’s  presence never returned to the temple as the ark of the covenant is never mentioned again. Therefore, God’s presence had departed, or been rejected, and death reigned.

Hebrews 7:11 says that perfection was not attainable under the Levitical priesthood, which was the priesthood of the 23 priests from the exodus to the exile, for under this priesthood the people received the law. But, Paul said in 2 Corinthians 3:6 that the letter, the law, kills.

This would mean that Jesus was the 24th high priest of Israel. But, as Hebrews says, Jesus was a high priest of a different order, the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 5:9-10 says, “And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.”

Speaking of Melchizedek, Hebrews 7:3 says, “He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.” Therefore, unlike all the Levitical priests who died, Jesus lives forever and his priesthood continues forever.

So, Hebrews 7:11-12, 15-16 says, “Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well…This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.”

All the Levitical high priests died. And, their ministry ended in death when Israel and Judah went into exile. But, Jesus Christ is the true high priest based on his indestructible life. He lives forever.

Hebrews 7:23-25 says, “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”

What is the significance of Jesus as the 24th high priest?

The number 12 symbolizes power and authority throughout the Bible. Of course 24 is 2 times 12. The number two often symbolizes union. As the 24th high priest Jesus has all power and authority that unites us, reconciles us, with the Father.

In Matthew 28:18-20, 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 of 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.”

Even though Jesus is technically the 24th high priest, he is the only mediator between God and man, according to 1 Timothy 2:5. To say Jesus is our only mediator is just another way of saying he is our only priest.

Solomon to Josiah: Faith, Hope, Love

TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 3-4

“The son of Solomon was Rehoboam, Abijah his son, Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Joram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah his son, Jotham his son, Ahaz his son, Hezekiah his son, Manasseh his son, Amon his son, Josiah his son.” – 1 Chronicles 10:14

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13:13

“For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” – Romans 8:22-24

As I read through today’s reading, the Holy Spirit was connecting these scriptures for me.

STARTING IN PEACE

David had fought to build the kingdom of Israel. But, because he was a man of war, David was not able to build the temple. God promised David that he would have a son who would sit on the throne forever who would build the temple.

In 1 Chronicles 3:1-9, we read of David’s sons. There are 19 sons from David’s wives that are listed. And, David had other sons from his concubines.

But, in verses 10 to 14 we are given a lineage of kings who sat on the throne. That lineage starts with David’s son Solomon. It is likely that name Solomon derives from the Hebrew word shalom. Therefore, a likely meaning of the name Solomon is peace or peaceable. So, this lineage of kings starts with peace.

However, Solomon was not the son that God promised David. Solomon was just a shadow, a picture, of the true son, Jesus.

.Filled with the Holy Spirit, Zechariah prophesied over his son, John the baptist. In Luke 1:76-79, he said, “And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, to give knowledge of salvation to his people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of your God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

John guided “our feet into the way of peace” because he led people to Jesus. Jesus is the way of peace.

In Luke 2:14, when Jesus was born, a multitude of the heavenly host praise God, saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” Jesus, the promised son of David, the king, our peace, had arrived.

Therefore, in Luke 2:29, Simeon was entered the temple, picked up Jesus, and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word.” Simeon was able to in peace because Jesus had arrived.

ENDING IN DESPAIR

In the lineage of kings given in 1 Chronicles 3:10-14, Josiah is the last one. Basically, Josiah was the last independent king of Judah before the nation went into exile in Babylon. Every king after Judah was subject either to a king of Egypt or a king of Babylon.

Josiah was one of the best kings of Judah. He rid the nation of false gods and idolatry of all of kinds. Not only that, but Josiah reinstituted the passover.

2 Kings 23:21-23 says, “And the king commanded all the people, ‘Keep the Passover to the Lord your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.’ For no such Passover had been kept since the days of the judges who judged Israel, or during all the days of the kings of Israel or of the kings of Judah. But, in the eighteenth year of King Josiah his Passover was kept to the Lord in Jerusalem.” Since the passover had not been kept since the days of Judah, Josiah was the only king to keep the passover in Jerusalem.

One possible meaning of the name Josiah is the despair of Yahweh. The lineage that had started with a king who built the temple, whose name was peace, ended in despair. One of the best kings of Judah, the only one to celebrate the passover, brought despair.

However, Josiah was a shadow or picture of Jesus too. The night before Jesus died his celebrated the passover with his disciples and instituted a new covenant.

Three days after Jesus was crucified, he appeared as a stranger to two disciples walking on the road to Emmaus. Jesus asked them what they were talking about. In Luke 24:19-21, they said, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened.”

These disciples had hope that Jesus would be the king who would restore the kingdom of Israel and bring peace, the peace spoken of at his birth, to the land. But, Jesus was crucified. Now three days later Jesus had not been seen as he promised. These disciples had lost hope, they despaired.

When the disciples had explained all this, Jesus said, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken.” In other words, not only had the disciples lost hope, despaired, but they without faith.

Faith in what?

GOD IS LOVE

In 1 Chronicles 3:1-14, the lineage of kings from Solomon to Josiah is made of 16 kings.

Sixteen is the number of love.

Almost everyone, given how often it is used in weddings, knows that 1 Corinthians 13 is about love.

Do you know many characteristics Paul lists about love in 1 Corinthians 13? 16!

  1. Love is patient.
  2. Love is kind.
  3. Love does not envy.
  4. Love does not boast.
  5. Love is not arrogant.
  6. Love is not rude.
  7. Love does not insist on its own way.
  8. Love is not irritable.
  9. Love is not resentful.
  10. Love does not rejoice in wrongdoing.
  11. Love rejoices with the truth.
  12. Love bears all things.
  13. Love believes all things.
  14. Love hopes all things.
  15. Love endures all things.
  16. Love never ends.

Agape (the noun not the verb) is the Greek word for God’s love. It is used 18 times in 1 John. But, the 16th time the noun love is used John writes, “But perfect love casts out fear.”

The 16 kings from Solomon to Josiah show that even though God’s people moved from peace to despair God was working love throughout the entire time.

The west side of the tabernacle, the side that was closest to God’s presence, had 16 silver bases that held up the eight frames. There were two bases per frame. Eight is the number of new creation. In the new creation, Jesus gave two commandments of love. So, we have the 16 silver bases.

Silver symbolizes redemption. We were redeemed by the shedding of Christ’s blood. This occurred on the cross. And, it’s Christ’s death on the cross that reveals love to us.

1 John 4:8-11 says, “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus had lost hope because they were slow of heart to believe. They lacked faith. Specifically, they lacked faith in God’s love. Even though they had just seen the ultimate display of love – God in Jesus on the cross willingly dying for our sins and at the same time forgiving us.

Therefore, Luke 24:25-27 says, “And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”

What was Jesus telling them?

Everything about his love and where it could be found in scripture.

FAITH, HOPE, LOVE

Jesus showed these two disciples everywhere his love could be found in the scriptures to build their faith. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”

The word of Christ is love. He came to reveal God’s love. This is why Jesus was sent. And, he gave us two commandments of love. Hearing his word and witness about the love of God is where faith comes from.

The two disciples on the road to Emmaus heard the word of love and had their faith built. They went back to the 11 and the other disciples and told them what they heard from Jesus.

Luke 24:36 says, “As they were talking about these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace to you!'” The disciples had heard the word of love from Jesus. Their faith had been built. And, Jesus spoke peace to them. The despair, the lost hope, was gone. Now they had peace.

Paul said in 2 Timothy 2:22, “So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” Here Paul links faith, love, and peace.

But, in 1 Corinthians 13:13, Paul said, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Hope and peace are synonymous. But, of the three – faith, hope, and love – love is the greatest because love is how faith comes and faith yields hope.

But, hope is not a wish. The Greek word for hope means an expectation. When we have the word of love from Christ and are faith is built, then we have a sure expectation of peace, regardless of the despair that is in the world. We have this because of the love Christ displayed on the cross by dying for our sins and forgiving us of our sins.

This hope, this expectation, is for the full reconciliation of all creation to God as we see in Romans 8. When the reconciliation is complete, our peace will be full. Then the hope, the expectation, of what is not seen will be seen and we will no longer need to hope.

What a message the Spirit inspired in the list of kings from Solomon to Josiah.

Lists Are More Than Family Trees and History

TODAY’S READING: 1 CHRONICLES 1-2

What do we read in 1 Chronicles chapters one and two? Lists. Lots and lots of lists. Lists of fathers and sons with names none of us can pronounce.

It is tempting to not bother reading these two chapters (and chapters three and four, which continue with more lists). It is easy to think that’s a nice bit of history, but it has nothing to do with me. And, I can skip it because it won’t teach me anything about Jesus.

But, as I have said in a number of previous posts, there is wonderful inspiration of the Spirit in these lists that reveal God, his plan, and his purpose.

ADAM TO NOAH AND HIS SONS

1 Chronicles 1:1-4 says, “Adam, Seth, Enosh; Kenan; Mahalel, Jared; Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech; Noah, Shem, Ham, Japheth.”

How do we learn from lists like this? How does the Spirit inspire lists?

I think there are two primary ways: the meaning of names and numbers.

Let’s look at the numbers of this list.

  1. Adam
  2. Seth
  3. Enosh
  4. Kenan
  5. Mahalel
  6. Jared
  7. Enoch
  8. Methusaleh
  9. Lamech
  10. Noah

Adam was the first man. Consider what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45-49, “This it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving Spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first but the natural, and then the spiritual. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven. As was the man of dust, so also are those who are of the dust, and as is the man of heaven, so also are those who are of heaven. Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.”

Adam was the first living being, the natural, the man of the earth, the man of dust. However, Paul shows by inspiration of the Spirit that the second was not Seth but Jesus was the first, the only, life-giving spirit, the spiritual, the man from heaven.

Enoch was the seventh man. The number seven symbolizes perfection and completion. Genesis 5:24 says, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.” The Hebrew for took also means accepted. Enoch was the seventh man who walked with God perfectly and completely. Therefore, God accepted him.

Noah was the tenth man. Among other things, the number 10 symbolizes testimony. Noah testified of Jesus by building the ark, which was a type of Jesus. I touched on one aspect of Noah’s testimony through the ark in The Believer and Jesus -Connected by 130, 17, and 110.

This list gets really interesting because the first ten people mentioned are father and son, one to one. But, Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth are listed. This brings the total number of people to 13.

Why is 13 significant?

The number 13 is rebellion to the law and commandments of God. Abram had a son, Ishmael, when he 86 years old in his rebellion to God’s command and promise. Thirteen years later, when Abram was 99 years old, God made a covenant with Abram. God changed his name to Abraham and said that every male among his household must be circumcised. Abraham’s rebellion lasted 13 years until God changed his name, in effect breathing God’s spirit into him, and commanded him to circumcise his the flesh of his foreskin, or die to him self. Therefore, after 13 years, Abraham’s rebellion was over.

More evidence of 13 as rebellion is found in the genealogies of Genesis. Noah was the tenth man, the man of the law and commandments. Genesis 6:9 says, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generations.” Who was the 13th man?

  1. Adam begat Seth
  2. Seth begat Enosh
  3. Enosh begat Kenan
  4. Kenan begat Mahalalel
  5. Mahalalel begat Jared
  6. Jared begat Enoch
  7. Enoch begat Methuselah
  8. Methuselah begat Lamech
  9. Lamech begat Noah
  10. Noah begat Ham
  11. Ham begat Cush
  12. Cush begat Nimrod
  13. Nimrod

Nimrod was the 13th man. Genesis 10:10-12 says, “The beginning of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that is the great city.” Nimrod was the founder of man’s first kingdom Bablyon, which is the city pictured throughout the Bible, not just in Genesis 11, in complete rebellion to God.

Additionally, Genesis 36 tells us that there were 13 chiefs of the sons of Esau. Esau is a type of the natural man, the man in rebellion to God. And the Greek word drakon, which means dragon, is found 13 times in the New Testament, all in the book of Revelation. Of course, the dragon is Satan, from whom all rebellion comes.

So, the first of the many lists in 1 Chronicles shows that all men have rebelled against God, even within the line that the Messiah would come from. Romans 3:22-23 says, “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”

SHEM TO ABRAM AND HIS SONS

1 Chronicles 1:24-28 says, “Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah; Eber, Peleg, Reu; Serug, Nahor, Terah; Abram, that is, Abraham. The sons of Abraham: Isaac and Ishmael.”

Let’s look at the numbers of this list.

  1. Shem
  2. Arpachshad
  3. Shelah
  4. Eber
  5. Peleg
  6. Reu
  7. Serug
  8. Nahor
  9. Terah
  10. Abram

Here again, the first ten people mentioned are father and son, one to one. Abram as the tenth man was a man of testimony. Abram, or Abraham, was a man of testimony too. Galatians 3:8 says, “And Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.'”

Abram’s testimony was the gospel. Abram’s knowledge of the gospel is revealed in Genesis chapters 15 and 22. I wrote about this in God Provides Himself the Lamb.

But, just like in the first list, it ends with the tenth man’s sons. In this case, Abraham’s two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, are listed. This brings the total number in this list to 12.

Why 12?

The number 12 symbolizes God’s power and authority. There were 12 sons of Israel and 12 disciples of Jesus who Jesus gave his authority to. And, in Revelation, the number 12 figures prominently in God’s people and the New Jerusalem.

Ultimately, Abraham’s testimony was about the Jesus, the true child of promise, symbolized by Isaac who was the literal 12th in this list even though he is listed before Ishmael. In Matthew 28:18, Jesus said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”

THE GENEALOGY OF JESUS

Luke 3:23-38 lists the genealogy of Jesus. Because the gospel of Luke is about the son of man, Luke takes Jesus’ genealogy all the way back to Adam and God. In addition to the inspiration of the lists mentioned above, we are given the lists in 1 Chronicles to confirm what Luke writes about Jesus’ genealogy.

But, even in the Luke’s list, the inspiration of a number is found.

How?

Count of the sons of God. Jesus was the 77th son of God. Often times, when a number is doubled or tripled in scripture it intensifies the meaning of the single number. As I mentioned above, the number symbolizes perfection, completion, and rest. What a subtle but inspired testimony of Jesus by the Spirit.

But, the number 77 has further inspired meaning.

Matthew 18:21-22 says, “Then Peter came up and said to him, ‘Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

Peter thought forgiving seven times was perfect. He thought that was complete forgiveness.

But, Jesus told Peter to forgive 77 times. I have heard it preached that this is because no one could count forgiving someone 77 times. We would lose track after awhile. And, I have heard it preached that 77 times is just a lot of forgiveness.

But, I think the inspired meaning is that because was the 77th son of God. Jesus was the perfect and complete son of God who was unjustly executed. Jesus, the 77th son of God, laid down his life for our sins. And, even though we murdered Jesus, the 77th son of God, he forgave us. Jesus was telling Peter to forgives as he forgave him. And, how perfect that Jesus told Peter this since before Jesus ascended to the Father he told Peter that he would die by like Jesus died so he would need to forgive as Jesus forgave.

The inspiration of lists in scripture is truly marvelous.

Josiah: A Witness to Jesus

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 22-23

Josiah was perhaps one of the best kings of Judah. 2 Kings 22:2 says, “And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and walked in all the way of David his father, and he did not turn aside to the right or to the left.” And, in many, many ways, what was recorded about Josiah is a witness to Jesus.

Let’s look at some of the details of Josiah’s life and see how the picture Jesus.

THE WITNESS OF THE NAMES

The name Josiah has a number of potential meanings. The ending of the name is short for Yahweh.

The first part of his name could be from the Hebrew word for despair. If so, then Josiah would mean the despair of Yahweh. A synonym for despair is sorrow. Isaiah 53:3 prophesied of Jesus that he was “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” When Jesus was in Gethsemane the night before he died, he said, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Matthew 26:35) This seems to be the most likely meaning to me

But, the name Josiah could also mean Yahweh supports. Interestingly, 2 Kings 23:3 says, “And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the Lord.” A pillar supports, and this could be symbolic of Josiah being supported by God as he made his covenant. In Matthew 4:4, Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Jesus relied on God, was strengthened by God, and was supported by God in everything he did.

His mother’s name was Jedidah and most likely means beloved.

Her father was Adaiah. This name most likely means Yahweh has adorned, ornament of the Lord, or Yahweh has decked himself.

Taken together, these names give a witness to Jesus. Jesus was the adornment, the ornament, of the Father, the beloved son, who was a man of sorrow. Jesus was the adornment of the Father because he had glorified the Father. In John 17:4, Jesus said, “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” And, Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Mark 1:11, 9:7; and Luke 3:22 the Father calls Jesus his “beloved son.”

THE WITNESS OF THE YEARS

Josiah was eight years old when he became king. That’s pretty young, but it is a witness to Jesus and when he became king.

All four gospels reveal that it was the on the first day of the week, the day after the Sabbath, eight days after Jesus was selected as the Passover lamb, that Jesus was resurrected. On this day, he had a new, glorified body and a became a life-giving spirit. It was as if, in the resurrection, the old body Jesus had was circumcised. This was the day that Jesus had put all his enemies under his feet. Therefore, this was the day that Jesus truly became king of kings.

Josiah’s reign lasted 31 years. That’s the only time the number 31 is used in the Bible. So, it doesn’t tell us much. However, the most common name for God is El. Hebrew letters are also numbers. The two letters that make up the name God, El, are lamed (the number 30) and aleph (the number 1). Add the letters in God’s name together and you get 31.

The events recorded in 2 Kings 22 and 3 took place in the 18th year of Josiah’s reign.

Why do the events happen in the 18th year?

The first mention of eighteen is in Judges 3:14, which says, “And the people of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years.”

The next mention of eighteen is in Judges 10:8, which says, “For eighteen years they [the Philistines and the Ammonites] oppressed all the people of Israel.”

2 Chronicles 36:9 says, “Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”

All of these uses of 18 refer to oppression. Even the pillars in the temple that were 18 cubits were made of bronze, symbolizing the judgment or oppression of Satan.

Luke 13 uses the number 18 three separate times. The first is in reference to the people killed by the tower of Siloam.

The second is in Luke 13:11, which says, “And behold, there was a woman who had had a disabling spirit for eighteen years. She was bent over and could not full straighten herself.” In other words, she was oppressed.

In the third use, Jesus references this woman, saying, “And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen years, be loosed from this bond on the Sabbath day?” So, Jesus links the number 18 with the oppression of Satan that he comes to loose us from.

In each of the three events in Luke 13 – the blood of the Galileans mingled with the blood of their sacrifices, the tower of Siloam falling on people, the woman who had a disabling spirit – the oppression that people were under was linked to the number 18.

It was Josiah’s 18th year on the throne that he ended the oppression the false gods, idols, etc. that Judah was suffering under.

THE WITNESS OF JOSIAH’S ACTIONS

In 2 Kings 23, Josiah did many things after the book of the law was found in the house of the Lord. Here’s a list of what he did:

  1. burned all the vessels for Baal, Asherah and the host of heaven brought out from the temple
  2. deposed the priests ordained to make offerings in the high places
  3. deposed those who burned incense to Baal, the sun, moon, and stars, and the host of heaven
  4. burned the Asherah brought out from the house of the Lord
  5. broke down the houses of the male cult prostitutes who were in the house of the Lord
  6. defiled the high places where the priests of the cities of Judah made offerings
  7. broke down the high places of the gates of the city
  8. defiled Topheth in the valley of the son of Hinnom
  9. removed the horses the kings of Judah dedicated to the sun
  10. burned the chariots of the sun with fire
  11. pulled down and broke in pieces the altars on the roof of the upper chamber of Ahaz and the altars of Manasseh in the two courts of the house of the Lord
  12. defiled the high places east of Jerusalem to the south of the mount of corruption
  13. broke in pieces the pillars and cut down the Asherim
  14. pulled down and burned the altar at Bethel
  15. burned the bones of the tombs on the mount
  16. removed all the shrines of the high places in the cities of Samaria
  17. sacrificed all the priests of the high places
  18. put away the mediums, necromancers, household gods, idols, and all the abominations seen in the land of Judah

Maybe you would list them differently, but I tried to list according to ideas scripture was presenting. Sure enough, Josiah performed 18 major actions to eliminate the oppression of the false gods, idols, etc. that Judah was under.

There are many other way that Josiah is a witness to Jesus, including how he prioritized the word and God’s commandments, pictured by the book of the law, over money. But, we will leave it here for now.

The Self-Seeded Plant

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 19-21

“And this shall be the sign for you: this year eat what grows of itself, and in the second year what springs of the same. Then in the third year sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit. And the surviving remnant of the house of Judah shall again take root downward and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. The zeal of the Lord will do this.” – 2 Kings 19:29-31

Sennacherib, the king of Assyria, was had come against Hezekiah to conquer Judah. Hezekiah prayed that Sennacherib’s attack would fail. He conclude his prayer in 2 Kings 19:19, saying, “So now, O Lord our God, save us please, from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you, O Lord, are God alone.” Ultimately, Hezekiah’s prayer was not for himself, for his kingdom, or for the people of Judah. Hezekiah simply prayed that all the kingdoms of the earth would know God.

Isaiah told Hezekiah that his prayer was heard. Then, Isaiah spoke a word from the Lord concerning Sennacherib. And, Isaiah gave Hezekiah a sign that his prayer – that all the kingdoms of the earth would know God – would be answered. We read that sign above in 2 Kings 19:29-31.

EAT WHAT GROWS OF ITSELF

The sign given to Hezekiah contained a period of three years. The number three symbolizes many things in scripture. But, one meaning of the number three is that is the period between death and life. Obviously, this is most clearly seen in that Jesus died and was resurrected, made alive, three days later.

In the first year, Hezekiah was told to eat “what grows of itself” and “what springs of the same.” “What grows of itself” is one word in Hebrew. The Hebrew word is saphiyach (not sure I have the spelling right), which means second growth, a self-sown crop, volunteer plants, after growth (what grows of its own accord in the sabbath year), or growth from spilled (poured our) kernels. According to one Hebrew dictionary, it is what springs up of itself in the second year and serves as food when no grain could be sown.

Saphiyach is used only four times in scripture. Once in 2 Kings 19:29 and once in the parallel passage in Isaiah 37:30. The other two times the word is used are in Leviticus 25:5, 11 in reference to the Jubilee.

In the second year, Hezekiah was told eat “what springs of the same.” This is a very similar word, sahis. It is used only this one time and means self-seeded plant.

What Hezekiah was told to eat during these first two years is an amazing picture of Jesus. For, Jesus is the self-grown crops, the volunteer plant, the self-seeded plant. Speaking of his impending death in John 12:23-34, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.”

These two years represent the period of time from Jesus’ death and resurrection until the day of Pentecost. This was a period of 50 days, which is related to the year of Jubilee. During this time, the disciples fed on the self-seeded plant. It was during this time that Jesus was teaching the disciples how the scriptures prophesied about him and pointed to him. And, it was in Jesus that the disciples could find eternal life (John 5:39-40).

SOW AND REAP AND PLANT VINEYARDS

Having fed on the self-seeded plant for two years, Hezekiah was told that in the third year he could “sow and reap and plant vineyards, and eat their fruit.”

The disciples had fed on the self-seeded plant. They had fed on Jesus who willingly, voluntarily, died for them to show them the love of God. Now, in the third year, the disciples would receive life. It was on the day of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples. They had received life. Having received life, the disciples were ready to go out and “sow and reap and plant vineyards.”

The disciples were only ready for this because they had fed on the death of Jesus. By feeding on the self-seeded plant, the plant voluntarily died, they understood what brought life.

Therefore, Jesus told them in John 12:25-26, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him.”

Jesus was calling the disciples to be self-seeded plants like. He was calling them to plant themselves in the ground like he died so that life would spring up for others.

ROOTED DOWNWARD, BEARING FRUIT UPWARD

The disciples were the surviving remnant of the house of Judah. They would take root downward and bear fruit upward. The disciples took root downward as they grew in the love of Christ. And, as they grew in Christ, abiding in his love, they were able to bear fruit for God.

Paul spoke to this in Ephesians 3:17-19, which says, “So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God.”

Of course, Jesus spoke directly about this in John 15:1-8. Jesus said if he abide in his love and his word that we would bear much fruit. By bearing much fruit, we would prove we were his disciples and glorify God. Glorifying God is bearing fruit upward.

THE ZEAL OF THE LORD WILL DO THIS

Isaiah told Hezekiah that “the zeal of the Lord” would cause this sign to happen. Isaiah prophesied about the zeal of the Lord in Isaiah 9:6-7 as well.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord will do this.”

This passage speaks of Christ’s government twice. His government is founded on love. We know this because of the two commandments Jesus gives – love God and love your neighbor (including your enemy).

Love is the zeal of the Lord. Love is what caused Jesus to be the self-seeded plant. 1 John 4:9-11 says, “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”

Did you catch that?

God sent Jesus into the world, not just into believers, that we might live through him. He didn’t send Jesus to kill people. God sent Jesus that the world might live through him.

Therefore, those that truly believe Jesus are called to eat of the self-seeded plant so that they will love one another, their brother, their enemy, as God loved us. In other words, we will become self-seeded plants so that the world might live.

Cast Out of His Sight? Provoked to Anger? Rejecting and Afflicting You?

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 17-18

In chapter 17, the text says three times that God would either remove or cast Israel out of his sight. The says two other times that Israel provoked the Lord to anger. The text even says that God rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them.

Israel had sinned and sinned greatly. They had feared other gods, breaking the first commandment by putting other gods before them. And, they had made all sorts of idols, breaking the second commandment as well.

But, did God really do the things 2 Kings 17 accuses him of doing?

Not if we look at Jesus and see him as the exact image of God. Jesus said if you have seen me you have seen the Father. Since we never see Jesus casting people out of his sight, being provoked to anger, rejecting people, or afflicting people, then we know that the Father never did these things during the Old Testament.

I’m sure almost all of us have felt that God has done these things to us as well. But, the problem is not on God’s side, but ours. I already mentioned that the chapter says that Israel had sinned greatly. The chapter also says they would not listen to God and they were stubborn, just as their fathers had been, and their fathers “did not believe in the Lord their God.”

Based on Jesus’ response to similar treatment, we know that this is not God’s reaction. Look at what Jesus said in Luke 13:34-35 as just one example.

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! Behold, your house is forsaken. And I tell you, you will not see until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!'”

Jesus didn’t want cast those that were going to kill him out of his sight. Nor did he feel provoked to anger, reject them, or afflict them. No, Jesus wanted to gather the people to him like a mother hen puts her chicks under her wings to protect them.

We actually see God doing this in 2 Kings 17:13, which says, “Yet the Lord warned Israel and Judah by every prophet and every seer, saying, ‘Turn from your evil ways and keep my commandments and my statutes, in accordance with all the Law that I commanded your fathers, and that I sent to you by my servants the prophets.” God wasn’t provoked to anger, but trying to warn Israel what would happen to them – they would destroy themselves or be destroyed by their enemies – if they kept sinning.

Now, you may be saying, “But, Jesus said, ‘Behold, your house is forsaken.’ See, he said they were forsaken for killing him.”

However, the Greek word translated forsaken here is aphiemi. It means leave, forgive, permit, let loose. About 1/3 of the time the word is translated forgive. Most of the time Jesus uses it as forgive it is in reference to forgiving others for their sins. Just under 1/3 of the time it is translated left. Here the idea is either that sickness or disease left somebody because of the healing power of Jesus or people left what they had to follow Jesus.

Luke 13:35 is the only time the word is translated forsaken. But, given Jesus’ other use of the word, and that he forgave the people from the cross for killing him, I think it is more likely that Jesus said, “Behold, your house is forgiven.” If this is the case, then Jesus spoke to Jerusalem ahead of time that they were forgiven for killing him.

Luke 13:34-35 is just one small example of many that shows Jesus didn’t cast people out of his sight, reject them, or afflict them. Nor was he ever provoked into a response. If he ever was going to be provoked, then it would have been on the cross. But, Jesus wasn’t even provoked to lash out in anger in his own unjustified execution.

God never leaves us, never forsakes us. His mercy and forgiveness are always waiting. We just have to turn from our sin towards him.

Grasping with the Mind Puts the Sacrifice of Christ in Darkness

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 14-16

When we seek to be like God, to grasp equality with him, we exalt our mind and intellect and lose sight of the light, love, and life of God. This happened to Adam and Eve in the garden. It happened to King Ahaz. And, it happens to us too.

In 2 Kings 16, King Ahaz went to Damascus to meet with the king of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser. Ahaz saw the altar there and had Uriah the priest build a replica of the altar. Then, Ahaz put this altar in the temple, replacing the bronze altar, moving it to the north of the replica of the altar in Damascus. In 2 Kings 16:15, Ahaz said, “The bronze altar shall be for me to inquire by.”

The name Ahaz means he has grasped.

Isaiah 19:23-25 says, “In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and Assyria will come into Egypt, and Egypt into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. In that day Israel will be the third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying, ‘Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my inheritance.'”

Egypt, Assyria, and Israel represent three components of man and people that live in one of those three states. Egypt symbolizes the body or the flesh. Assyria symbolizes the mind, the intellect, and reason. And, ?israel symbolizes the spirit. Notice that all these belong to God and will be redeemed by him.

But, Ahaz replicated the altar of Damascus, the exaltation of the mind, the intellect, and reason. He put the altar of Assyria, Tiglath-pileser, in the temple of God, grasping to be like God through his mind, intellect, and reason.

In order to do this, Ahaz pushed the altar of bronze in the temple out of the way. He moved the altar of bronze to the north side of the temple. Only Ahaz was allowed to inquire of the altar of the bronze. The Hebrew word for inquire that Ahaz used is baqar. It has a much richer meaning that simply asking about a thing. Baqar means to carry out an examination of the offering, to attend to, to reflect.

This is interesting because the lampstand was on the south side of the temple. The lampstand shined forth the light of God, which represented the Holy Spirit and the revelation of God we receive from him.

So, Ahaz put the altar of the intellect, reason, and the mind between the lampstand on the south side of the temple and the altar of bronze on the north side. The altar of bronze was now in darkness. The lampstand, the revelation of the Holy Spirit, could no longer shine on the altar of bronze because Ahaz’ intellect, mind, and reason was in the way. By grasping to be like God, Ahaz blocked the light of God from shining on the altar on bronze. In Ahaz, we see ourselves trying to reflect on the sacrifice of Christ, to examine his offering, through our own intellect, reason, and mind. But, this is impossible as that puts the sacrifice of Christ in darkness.

The altar of bronze symbolized the judgment of Jesus Christ on the cross. The crucifixion of Christ is how we know love. The son of God loved us so much that he was willing to die for us. But, Ahaz’s grasping to be like God through his intellect, reason, and mind blinded him to the love of God.

Because, Ahaz was blinded to the love of God he could receive the life of God. God’s life is one of eternal submission or surrender. God’s life is marked by forgiveness as see in Jesus’ last words from the cross. Again, Ahaz’ intellect, reason, and mind blinded him to this as it cut off the revelation of the Spirit.

Isaiah 7:10-13 says, “Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz: ‘Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven.’ But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test.’ And he said, ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary men, that you weary my God also?'”

Isn’t it interesting that God told Ahaz, the king who had moved the altar of bronze into darkness, to ask him for sign? The word ask here is just your standard word for asking or inquiring about something. God wanted to reveal himself to Ahaz. But, because Ahaz was grasping to be like God through his own intellect, reason, and mind, Ahaz put himself above simply asking God a question, even when God explicitly asked him to do so. Ahaz preferred to stay in the darkness of his own reasoning.

But, God gave him a sign anyway. Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Again, isn’t interesting the sign – a virgin giving birth to a son – that God gives to the one who blocks the revelation of the Spirit in favor of his own intellect and reason? God gives a sign that seems impossible by natural understanding.

Like Ahaz, when we grasp with our own intellect, reason, and mind, then we will put the very nature of God, his light, love, and life, in darkness. We will never be able to understand who God is.

Therefore, we cannot have the mind of Ahaz. We must have the mind of Christ. What is the mind of Christ?

Philippians 2:5-8 says, “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

Jesus Christ, even those he was God, did not grasp to be equal with God. Instead, he submitted to God as a servant. This is what led Jesus to the cross, the altar of bronze. It was the lack of grasping by Jesus that made the cross possible. Therefore, this is why we cannot understand the cross, the very nature of God, when we grasp at God with our own minds.

 

To Repair the Temple, Give to the Poor and Needy

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 11-13

In 2 Kings 12, Jehoash, the king of Judah, instructed the priests to use the money given by the people to repair the house of the Lord. But, the priests failed to use the money to repair the temple.

So, Jehoash told the priests to take no more money from the donors. I believe the implication is that the priests were taking the money from the gifts of the people for themselves instead of using them to repair the temple.

So, instead of giving the money directly to the priests, the money went into a box. The king’s secretary and the high priest counted the money together. Then the money was given directly to the workers who had oversight of repairing the house of the Lord. The money was not used for basins, snuffers, and other instruments of service.

Of course, Jesus showed us that he was the true temple. And, all of us who believe in him are his body, his house, his temple.

Therefore, it seems to me that the lesson is that first and foremost are giving is to go to directly take care of the needs of others, for people are the house of the Lord. Until we have met every need of others, fully repairing the house of the Lord, our giving should not go to the instruments of religious service – physical buildings and anything else the church uses for “ministry.”

Unfortunately, most of the most American Christians give is used in the exact opposite manner. The money first, and almost exclusively, goes to buildings and the performance of religious service.

Acts 2:45 says, “And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need.”

Acts 4:34-35 says, “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.”

The very first disciples after Peter preached his first sermon did exactly what Jehoash instructed. They gave to meet the bodily needs of others, to repair the temple of the Spirit.

These disciples were following the instructions of Jesus.

Jesus said in Matthew 19:21, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus said in Luke 12:33, “Sell possessions, and give to the needy.”

Jesus said in Luke 18:22, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”

Jesus never once instructed his followers to build elaborate temples and buildings that were richly furnished for religious performance. But, he repeatedly told his followers to give to the poor and needy.

Jesus said in Matthew 25:37-40, “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did you see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.”

Jesus said his body was the temple. When we give to those in need, we give to Jesus for the repair of the temple, his body. Of course, this shows that all people are part of his body, especially the poor, the outcast, the needy.

Yet, American Christians spend billions of dollars every year on new buildings to “worship” in. I think we totally missed the point.

By the way, Jehoash gave this instruction when he was 30 years old. Huh…the same age Jesus started preaching about his body as the temple of the Lord. Probably a coincidence.

The 28-Year Reign of Jehu Reveals Jesus

TODAY’S READING: 2 KINGS 9-10

The last words concerning Jehu are found in 2 Kings 10:36, which says, “The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.”

From the moment Jehu was anointed king by Elisha (2 Kings 9:1-13), Jehu was a murderer. In 2 Kings 9:14-29, Jehu murdered Joram, the king of Israel, and Ahaziah, the king of Judah. Then, in 2 Kings 9:30-37, Jehu killed Jezebel. Next, in 2 Kings 10:1-17, Jehu slaughtered the descendants of Ahab and the relatives of Ahaziah. Finally, in 2 Kings 10:18-27, Jehu struck down all the prophets of Baal.

Jehu was quite the killer!

Now, if you have been reading my blog for any length of time, then you are probably wondering why I say a man whose only recorded deeds during his 28-year reign as king of Israel were murder reveals Jesus since Jesus never did any violence.

It is only possible to see Jehu as a revelation of Jesus if we move beyond the literal letter of the Old Testament that kills to the inspiration of the Spirit of the New Testament that gives life.

So, let’s read some key events of Jehu’s 28-year reign as the king of Israel with the inspiration of the Spirit and see how they reveal Jesus.

WHO IS JEHU?

Jehu was the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi.

Jehu means Yahweh is he or Lord is he.

Jehoshaphat means Yahweh has judged or the Lord judges.

Nimshi means rescued from danger.

Perhaps we can think of Jehu as one rescued from danger by the Lord who judges. The Lord is he.

JEHU SLAUGHTERED AHAB’S 70 SONS

Ahab means brother of the father. Ahab served and worshiped Baal. Perhaps we could think of Ahab as a brother to Baal who was a father to the people of Samaria since they worshiped him.

Ahab had 70 sons. Jehu slaughtered Ahab’s 70 sons. So, how do we see Jesus in Jehu because of this?

After the flood dissipates, one man, Noah, and his family leave the ark. Genesis 10 lists all the descendants of Noah. If you count all the names of those that were fathered, that were sons, then you will find there are 70 descendants of Noah listed in Genesis 10. This list is often called The Table of Nations and is representative of all the nations of the earth. This number 70 is a key number and shows up repeatedly in the Bible. Therefore, when we see the number 70, in many instances we should think of the nations.

Deuteronomy 32:8-9 says, “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided mankind, he fixed the borders of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. But the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.” It is possible that there were 70 sons of God, which is why the people were divided into 70 nations, or peoples, after the flood. But, it also is possible that Israel was not counted as one these 70 nations or peoples. They were God’s people, sojourners and without a land.

Psalm 2:1-2 says, “Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against his Anointed.”

But, Isaiah 40:15 says, “The nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales.”

Therefore, Psalm 2:7-8 says, “I will tell of the decree: The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.”

God’s plan has always been to give Jesus the nations as his inheritance or possession. God begins regathering the nations in Acts. Acts 17:26-28 says, “And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, for ‘”In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, ‘”For we are indeed his offspring.”‘”

Paul said in Ephesians 2:15 that Jesus “by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace.” The two men were Israel and the Gentiles, comprised of the 70 nations. Therefore, Galatians 3:28 says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek…for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

By creating one new man through his death on the cross, Jesus “slaughtered” the power, the sons of God, over the 70 nations, which were pictured by Jehu’s slaughter of the 70 sons of Ahab.

JEHU SLAUGHTERED 42 RELATIVES OF AHAZIAH

After Jehu slaughtered the 70 sons of Ahab, he went to Beth-eked. There Jehu slaughtered 42 relatives of Ahaziah.

Beth-eked means the house of binding.

Jesus said in Matthew 23:2-4, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.”

Jesus continued in verses 13-15, “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves.”

The Pharisees bound the people under the weight of numerous laws without ever lifting a finger to help him, thereby shutting them out of the kingdom of heaven. The Pharisees may have gone to great lengths to convert people, but the weight of their laws bound the converts so much that they made the convert twice as much a child of hell.

And, in John 8:44, Jesus even said the Jews were of their “father the devil, and you will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is not truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Throughout the New Testament, Satan is called the god of this world. He ruled the nations. But, Satan did not rule the nations forever. Revelation 11:1-2 says, “Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff, and I was told, ‘Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar of those who worship there, but do not measure the court outside the temple; leave that out, for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for forty-two months.'” Satan’s rule over the nation was limited to 42 months.

Revelation 13:3-5 says, “And the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast, and they worshiped the dragon, for he had given his authority to the beast, and they worshiped the beast, saying, ‘Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?’ And the beast was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months.” The best, the government of this world, ruled and given authority by Satan, ruled for the same 42 months.

This period of rule by Satan would be marked by his nature of murdering and lying. But, 1 John 3:8 says, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.” Therefore, Satan’s rule coming to an end after 42 months because Jesus destroyed his works, which the Jews were participating in because the devil was their father, was pictured by Jehu slaughtering the 42 relatives of Ahaziah.

JEHU HAD 80 MEN STRIKE DOWN THE PROPHETS OF BAAL

Jehu gathered all the prophets of Baal in one place. He tricked the prophets into thinking they were going to have a solemn assembly for Baal. But, outside the house of Baal, Jehu had 80 men waiting. The 80 men struck down all the prophets with the sword and destroyed the house of Baal.

The first mention of the number 80 is in Exodus 7:7, which says that Moses was 80 years old when he spoke to Pharaoh. Moses was bringing a the law, a testimony, the number 10, that would take the people to the promised land. The promised land is a picture of Jesus and the new creation, the number eight. So, we can see the number 80 as the testimony of the new creation.

In 2 Corinthians 5:17-19, Paul said, “Therefore, it anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.”

But, this message of reconciliation, the testimony of the new creation, was not just for men but for the spiritual rulers and authorities, which could be symbolized by the prophets of Baal. Ephesians 3:8-10 says, “To me, though I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plant of the mystery hidden for the ages in God, who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”

By preaching the testimony of the new creation, the message of reconciliation, we “destroy” by the spiritual sword, the word of God, all that is against God. Therefore, we reconcile men and spiritual beings, every created thing, to God.

JEHU’S 28-YEAR REIGN

All of this took place during Jehu’s 28 year reign as king of Israel.

But, what is the significance of his reign lasting 28 years?

The first mention of the number 28 is in Exodus 26:2, which gives the length of the fine twined linen curtains of the tabernacle as 28 cubits. Fine twined linen is symbolic of the truth and righteousness of Christ. Revelation 19:11 says, “The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war.” Christ was righteous and worthy because he was willing to obey the Father and lay down his life for us. Therefore, he was able to judge with forgiveness and make war by dying on the cross (he defeated death through death – Hebrews 2:14).

In John 17:1-2, Jesus was given authority or power over all flesh because he was willing to glorify the Father. Having done that in his death, Jesus said in Matthew 28:18, “All authority [power] in heaven and and on earth has been given to me.”

Every Hebrew letter is also a number. So, Hebrew words can be reduced to numbers. It’s interesting that the the Hebrew word for power, koakh, reduces to the number 28.

1 Corinthians 1:24 says that Christ is the power of God. When we read through scripture, we see that the power of God is love. It is love that casts out fear. It is love that kept Jesus on the cross to defeat death through death and destroy the works of the devil.

Hebrews 11:3 says, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that the what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

So, the universe was created by Jesus, the word of God, the power of God. Jesus was given power over all heaven and earth. And, the Hebrew word for power reduces to the number 28.

Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” It’s interesting that in the Hebrew this sentence has 28 letters in it. There is Jesus, the power of God, right in the first sentence of the Bible.

The work of creation was completed in six days and God rested on the seventh. So, the full work of creation was done in seven days.

1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7 = 28

Once again we see the number 28 related to God’s power to create and then rest, which signifies ruling from the throne – power. And, Ephesians 1:10 says, “With a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth.” The number 28 gives some new context to that verse.

There are many other interesting things about the number 28. It’s actually quite a significant number mathematically.

But, as we have seen, it’s a significant number in understanding Jesus. And, the number 28, the length of Jehu’s reign, helps us see through the literal letter of murderous ways to the Spirit’s inspiration that testifies of the work of Jesus to defeat sin, death, and the devil.