Friday, September 25, 2009

MESSIAH (χριστος) (משיח)

The Jews had used that word to refer to kings and priests who were anointed in their calling.There had been open pronouncements as well as hidden shadows, all pointing to a future coming of God’s chosen, God’s anointed, and God’s Messiah. Most of the human race felt a deep need to be rescued, and that feeling had produced numerous religions built upon superstition as well as human strength. But unmistakably woven throughout the Old Testament was a vision of a Rescuer, one that would come and deliver His people. The descriptions and metaphors were varied and sometimes confusing.

Some prophecies seemed to describe a powerful ruler, one that would vanquish all His enemies, while others seemed to portray a humble and unlikely servant. But orthodox Jews had always believed that one day a priest and a king would come and deliver Israel from all her enemies. This Anointed One would be after King David and would rule over God’s people from David’s throne. Their vision, although glorious in their sight, was a constricted view that confined the Messiah to Israel and the land that she was given. But that description would prove to be shortsighted and vastly insufficient.

This Messiah would not come to judge Israel’s enemies; this Messiah would come to judge the sins of each and every Jew who called themselves Israelites. No longer would God deal with Israel as a nation, He would now deal with every person individually. This Anointed One would come in disguise. His disguise would not be as a foreigner from another land, no, His disguise would be far more astounding that that, for He would come as one of them. And instead of the loins of Levi, He would come as a son of Judah.

While the Jews would look for Him in a palace nursery, He would arrive in a lowly stable. While they expected royal parents, He came to peasants. While their eyes were on Jerusalem, He graced Bethlehem. As they listened for the hoof beats of His great steed, He arrived through a virgin’s womb. And as they looked for His great throne, He rested in straw. Instead of a robe, he wore strips of common cloth. So came this Messiah.

The Jews assumed this Messiah would come as a Jew and for the Jews, yet the prophet would reveal Him as a “light to lighten the Gentiles”. His ministry would not be restricted to a tabernacle made with hands, and His priestly mission was to all men and women equally. He was sent to the entire earth. So many had predicted He would come with great power, and so He did.

But it was not the kind of power they had assumed, and His mighty power would be wielded through weakness and sacrifice. This king and priest would not be anointed with oil, but with the waters of John’s baptism and the blood of His own veins. His outward appearance would conceal the enormity of His mission and the unassailable dominance He would have over all His enemies.

This Messiah came and fulfilled His ministry and calling. And when He conquered death and the grave, He offered redemption to all sinners everywhere. We were all called to become members of another kingdom, a kingdom of light and not darkness. This Messiah opened a way for all who would to follow, and in His wake came a Spirit, a Spirit that would continue and finish the mission of redemption provided by the Messiah. This Spirit was one with the Messiah, and He would come and speak of the Messiah and provide power for others to speak of Him as well.

This Messiah, the one and only Messiah, still speaks in 2009. His voice is not stopped and His arm is not shortened. He speaks in the mountains of Pakistan and the deserts of the Sudan. He moves among the homes in China and on the Indian reservations of America. He is witnessed openly in Canada and secretly in Iran. He is lifted up high in the great rallies in Brazil and in the hush of prison cells in the United States. He speaks in the marriage ceremonies between two believers and in the memorial ceremonies of saints that have passed. He is testified before congregations by parents of an infant, and He is glorified as a once follower of Charles Manson goes home to His dwelling place.

As the world scurries to figure out how the schemes of men can save the world, this Messiah remains the one and only hope for all mankind. And the leaders of countries who profess to be believing followers of Christ seem to compartmentalize him as religious window dressing. But one day this Messiah will return to be acknowledged of all men. His power and countenance will shame the world and all will bow to His glory. The offer of this Messiah’s redemption remains “now”, but one day the door to His ark will be shut forever. What a thought – fearful and unsettling.

Men continue to play at their games and at their religion, but the Messiah’s return looms ever larger. It would do well for the church of the Messiah to lift Him up higher to a world in desperate need of salvation. While men exert such energy to find national peace and safety, we cannot affort to be distracted from our calling. We must not get entangled with the moral and cultural battles armed with the carnal weapons of political leverage. We are a peculiar people, a holy nation, a people that have been called out of that darkness and into His marvelous light.

We must be armed with the weapons of prayer, God’s Word, and lives that speak of Christ’s redemption. We must sound the clarion call to sinners everywhere – “Believe the gospel and be saved!!”. Spread the salt – uncover the light – build His city on the hilltop - and preach both the words of redemption and the living expressions of God’s grace! The Messiah has come, and He calls men everywhere to believe His gospel and prepare ye the way of the Lord. The time of His coming is nigh, and His glory shall be seen by all people everywhere.

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