God: His Communication, The Word

When The Creator Reveals Himself

If God were seeking to make Himself known to us, how would He accomplish this desire? Since it is by words that human beings communicate with each other, we could expect God to also communicate with us by human words. If God were to speak to us, what would He say? How would He allow us to understand who He is and what His desire is for the world He created?

When we examine the Bible, we discover that God has chosen to reveal Himself through His creation, His word, and finally, His Son.⁠[1] The most tangible knowledge of God comes through His Son. God sent Jesus into the world so that we might be able to behold Him with our eyes; listen to His words, and see what He does. The first chapter of the gospel of John, we read that Jesus is called the “Logos,” the living Word of God. Jesus came as a living representation of the person of God. He did this so that we could know Him and He could have a deep and personal relationship with each one of us. In Colossians chapter 1, we discover that Jesus is the source of all creation.⁠[2] In Paul’s letter to the Hebrews, he states that God has spoken to us in these last days, by His Son, who made all that exists.⁠[3\

The Word Becomes Flesh

Nearly two thousand years ago, in a tiny town where Rachel breathed her last, Herod dispatched troops to kill all of the newborn baby boys, and David was born; an infant came into the world that would change human life, forever.

He was not the kind of man that most people would consider a powerful leader, or conqueror of nations. He worked with His hands and shaped wood from trees into useful objects for life. He used no force to compel anyone, He spoke humbly, and treated the lost, the broken, and the poor, with great compassion and love.

He did not attend a prominent Rabbinical school to learn the ancient scriptures. He was no author or traveling evangelist. There were no accolades or parades when He came into the world, though He created all that exists by the words of His mouth.

Although this man fulfilled every promise of the prophets of old, His arrival at Jerusalem was met with shock and dismay. “Who is this Carpenter from Nazareth,” the Pharisees cried, “no prophet ever came out of Galilee.” He was rejected, despised, ridiculed, scourged and crucified. While bearing unimaginable suffering Himself, the constant desire of His heart was to bring freedom to His tormentors. To the men who tortured Him: “Father, forgiven them.” To the repentant thief on the cross who had mocked Him moments before: “Today you will be with me in paradise.” To the whole world, a promise: “It is finished.” The work of your redemption is complete, eternal life is yours, heaven is your eternal home.

His heart burst from within as the mounting pressure of bearing the sins of the world pushed his body beyond the stress than any man had ever bore. He commanded His spirit to depart His body. He breathed His last, His blood poured out, His work— finished.

For three days, He lay in the borrowed tomb of a friend, his body experiencing no decay. On the first day of the week, a spectacular event—equalled, only by the first moments of the universe; when light exploded into the darkness of this world and He was alive once more.

When we read the New Testament narrative of Jesus, we are struck by the impossibility of this story. There are many aspects of the accounts that the writers are describing that were not expected by Israel, nor the world. The idea that God would visit the earth in the form of human being. The thought that the natural laws of the universe could be suspended by the voice of a man. How could anyone speak to a raging sea and calm it?⁠[4] The possibility that a person could shout at a tomb and the dead would return to life. [5] It’s a good thing that Jesus said the name of Lazarus when He commanded Him to rise; otherwise the dead from the whole world would have risen.

These accounts are not mere myth or allegory; these are the stories from where truth originates.

Unattainable Requirements

There is a goal in the lives of those who endeavor to be great men of faith; to attempt something so impossible, that without God causing it happen, it is certain to fail.

Imagine a prophecy that has a component which is so difficult to fulfill, that should it actually happen, it would be unmistakable evidence that the one who satisfied the requirements of that prophecy, must be the Messiah.

Despite the normal procedure for a crucifixion in which the legs of a man would be broken to hasten his death, Jesus’ legs are not broken during His crucifixion. How could someone engineer his own death by crucifixion, yet none of his bones would be broken, as was common during crucifixions of that day?

Of course, it would be impossible to set up in advance, the events that would happen during the final hours of a person’s life. No sane person would purposely engineer a grotesque and vicious death by crucifixion for himself. If Jesus wanted to deceive the world into believing that He was the Messiah, would He go so far as to ensure that He would be killed by such a horrific event? Under normal circumstances, only a deranged person would do such a thing.

The question then arises: Do insane people say and do the kinds of things that Jesus said and did during the three and one-half years of His public ministry? Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, and forgave the sins of those who came to Him in repentance. He told everyone in advance that the purpose of His life was to die for the sins of the world. He had no home, possessions, or desire for wealth or power. All of His life was dedicated to loving people and bringing them into a relationship with God.

Since it is apparent that Jesus is not insane and He is no liar; the only option that remains is that He knew what He was doing. Jesus allowed Himself to be put to death because He was following a pre-determined plan; to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah.

Jesus was fully in control of when and where He would make His sacrifice for our sins; both in His death by crucifixion and by His resurrection three days later. Jesus boldly declared before He was crucified; no one had the power to take His life from Him.

Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.  ~John 10:17-18

As Jesus is questioned by Pilate and warned that a continued refusal to answer could result in crucifixion, Jesus broke His silence to remind Pilate that he was not in control; only the Father had authority over Jesus’ life.

Then Pilate said to Him, “Are You not speaking to me? Do You not know that I have power to crucify You, and power to release You?” Jesus answered, “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above.”  ~John 19:10-11

Jesus was in authority over how and when He offered His life for all of us. When He spoke the words from the cross, Into Your hand I commit my spirit, He did so to remind us that He was fulfilling this prophecy written by David, from Psalms 31:5. Jesus was very careful to make sure that anyone who would read the Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah would immediately realize that it was Him—whom David was describing.

We should understand that the entire concept that a Messiah would come to earth, in fulfillment of hundreds of Hebrew prophecies, is not a new or unfamiliar concept to the Jewish nation. Beginning with Moses, he told the people that a prophet would come after him. They should expect His arrival and when He does come, they should “hear Him.”

The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.   ~Deuteronomy 18:15

Peter spoke these same words, quoting from Deuteronomy 18:15, to the people who were gathered in Jerusalem on the Feast of Pentecost. He said that Jesus was the Messiah that Moses had described.

For Moses truly said to the fathers, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.  ~Acts 3:22

Peter explained that what they had done to Jesus, was predicted by the prophets.

Friends, I realize that what you did to Jesus was done in ignorance; and the same can be said of your leaders. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had declared about the Messiah, beforehand—that He must suffer all these things.  ~Acts 3:17-18 (NLT 1986)

Not long after Peter recited Moses prophecy of a Messiah, Stephen stands before the elders of Israel and repeats this text to these men, once again.

This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’  ~Acts 7:37

Stephen said these things so that these leaders of the Jews would understand that Jesus had fulfilled all of the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures, including the highly respected prophetic words of Moses. These men should not be surprised to find that Jesus had come to them, in fulfillment of all that was written. They did not believe Stephen, and they would not accept Jesus as the fulfillment of Moses words. In doing this, without realizing, these leaders of Israel—again fulfilled a key prophecy of the Messiah.

He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.   ~Isaiah 53:3

After Jesus asked his disciples; “who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah.”⁠[6] Then Jesus told these men that in fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, He would be rejected by the leaders, the leading priests, and the teachers of the law.

And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.   ~Mark 8:31

Throughout the entire three and one-half years of Jesus public ministry in Israel, He set out to fulfill all four hundred of the prophecies that were written for Him. If Jesus had failed to complete any one of these, He would have been disqualified as the Savior of the world. It is very common today that many people do not realize just how important the prophetic word of God is. The entire basis for what we believe and what saves us, is predicated upon whether or not Jesus was able to complete these prophetic words that were written for Him.

Then Jesus said to them, “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.”  ~Luke 24:44

Jesus had 1,278 days to fulfill 400 prophecies. If He failed, then none of us would have eternal life today. In this stunning fact, we see just how important our understanding of these prophecies are to us, today.

The entire foundation of the Bible is that God has spoken His prophetic word, for the purpose of identifying the correct Messiah, when He arrives. For this reason, God gave the world, more than 400 predictions that describe every aspect of the Messiah’s life, death, and resurrection. According to Deuteronomy 18, if even one word of all that God has spoken, fails to be fulfilled, then the prophet who spoke these words, is a false prophet and no one should listen to him.[7] Conversely, if any word of God which He has spoken, regarding any event that He has predicted, ever fails, then God’s word is not true and we should not listen to Him. These are bold and brazen statements, but this is the reality that God has laid before us. Either His word is true, or it is not. The truthfulness of the Bible can only be proven by whether or not God has kept all of His promises.

The claim that is made by God is that every word that He has spoken, will come to pass.

Behold, this day I am going the way of all the earth. And you know in all your hearts and in all your souls that not one thing has failed of all the good things which the LORD your God spoke concerning you. All have come to pass for you; not one word of them has failed.   ~Joshua 23:14

For I am the LORD. I speak, and the word which I speak will come to pass  ~Ezekiel 12:25

God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did.  ~Romans 4:17

The Jews understood this claim. We see evidence of their comprehension of Messianic prophecy during the early history of Israel; when the Romans took Jerusalem captive and removed the right of the people to govern their own affairs. God had told the Jews that the right to rule themselves would not be taken away until “Shiloh,” code word for the Messiah, appeared in their midst. The following prophecy of Shiloh was written about 1400 B.C.

…the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him shall be the obedience of the people.”  ~Genesis 49:10

The Rabbis of this era wrote extensively regarding the prophecy of Genesis 49:10. These astute Hebrew scholars believed that this prediction was speaking of the coming Messiah, in relationship to the loss of rulership that would occur in the lives of the Jews.

  • Targum Onkelos:The transmission of domain shall not cease from the house of Judah, nor the scribe from his children’s children, forever, until Messiah comes.”[8]
  • Targum Pseudo-Jonathan:King and rulers shall not cease from the house of Judah…until King Messiah comes.”[9]
  • Targum Yerushalmi:Kings shall not cease from the house of Judah… until the time of the coming of the King Messiah… to whom all the dominions of the earth shall become subservient.”[10]

This amazing and detailed prophecy of Genesis 49:10 by Jacob, reveals an incredible proof for the power of prophecy in the Word of God. Jacob speaks of the Scepter (Hebrew: Shebet). Jacob predicts that The Scepter (rulership) shall not depart from Judah until Shiloh comes.

In other words: God said that a time would come when Israel would be captured by a foreign invader and they would lose their right of self government. Before this takes place, the Lord will send Israel their Messiah, as He promised.

Israel’s right to enforce their own laws was closely linked to their identity as a nation. The Torah gave the Jews the authority to put a man to death who was found guilty, according to the laws of God. The prophecy of Genesis 49:10 predicts that the scepter (rulership, the Torah, the law) shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until the Messiah arrives.

This right of rule suddenly changed when Archelaus, the ruler of Judea, was banished to Gaul. His replacement was not a Jew, which was the normal policy under the Romans.

Caesar Agustus was weary of the Jews and determined that he would take away their right of judicial authority when Caponius became the new ruler in Judea.

This event is a matter of secular history, recorded by Flavius Josephus.[11]

“And now Archelaus’ part of Judea was reduced into a province, and Caponius, one of the equestrian order of the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of life and death put into his hands by Caesar”[12]

When this occurred, the chief priests of Israel believed they had lost the Scepter of Judah, and the word of God had failed.

When Archelaus was banished as ruler of Judea, the transfer of power away from the Jews is mentioned in the Talmud:

A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews.”[13]

After this took place, in 7 A.D., the high priest of Israel went throughout the streets of Jerusalem wearing sackcloth and ashes, crying, “woe unto us, the scepter has been taken from us, and shiloh has not come…”[14]

Because their right to self-rule had been taken away and Shiloh had not arrived, the leaders of Israel believed that the prophecy of the Messiah’s arrival before they lost their rulership, had failed.

Because one prophecy had failed, the leaders of Israel believed that all the word of God had failed. In this, we understand just how important is was in the mind of the Jews, that every prophecy of the Messiah must be fulfilled—perfectly.

This single nonfulfillment would mean that the word of God was no longer reliable and what God had said in His word could not be trusted.

The Jewish leadership did not realize that at the very moment when the high priest was lamenting that Shiloh had not come, a young boy of about 7 years of age was amongst them—who was Shiloh, their promised Messiah (Jesus).

Just five years later, Jesus is seen in their Temple at Jerusalem—a boy of about 12 years old, teaching the scriptures to the leaders of Israel.[15] This young boy is Shiloh, and He had come in fulfillment of God’s promise. Jesus, the Messiah, had arrived at the moment that Judah had lost their right to self-rule, and they didn’t know it. The Word of God had not failed; it had been kept just as He said that it would.

These are the accounts of honest men who have endeavored to tell us the true and accurate descriptions of every word that God has spoken to the world. Incredibly, as we read and understand each one of the Prophecies of the Messiah, we realize how impossible it would be for one person to fulfill every one. We are stunned to realize that had even a single prophecies not been fulfilled by Jesus, then the entire Bible would be null and void.

When you finish this study you will understand that all God has spoken to us, He has accomplished.

NEXT:

God: His Communication


NOTES:
[1] John 1, Romans 1, Colossians 1, Hebrews 1
[2] For by Jesus all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.  Colossians 1:16
[3] God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.  Hebrews 1:1-2
[4]Then He arose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm.  So the men marveled, saying, “Who can this be, that even the winds and the sea obey Him?”  Matthew 8:26-27
[5] Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with graveclothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.” John 11:41-44
[6] Mark 9:29-30 (NLT) Then Jesus asked: “who do you say I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Messiah…”
[7] It was the intent of God that by fulfilled prophecy, we would understand that the source of the words contained in the Bible are from God, not from man.
Deuteronomy 18:21-22 And if you say in your heart, “How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?” —when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not listen to him.
The test for whether a word spoken by someone who claims to be a prophet of God is valid, is determined by their fulfillment. If any word or part of the prophecy fails, the person who spoke the prediction is called a false prophet; and no one should listen to that person. If, however, the words that are spoken in each of these prophecies come to pass exactly as they were written, then we can have confidence that God is the original source of these predictions.
[8] The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation: The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum”, Samson H Levy (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Jewish institute of Religion, 1974), ,p.7
[9] ibid.,p.8
[10] ibid.,p.8
[11] 1. Fla”vius Josephus, The Wars of the Jews”, Book 2, chapter 8
2. The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation: The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum”, Samson H Levy (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Jewish institute of Religion, 1974), p. 2
[12] The Messiah: An Aramaic Interpretation: The Messianic Exegesis of the Targum”, Samson H Levy (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Jewish institute of Religion, 1974), p. 2
[13] Jerusalem Talmud, Sanhedrin, filoi 24.
[14] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities 17:13
[15] Jesus parents went to Jerusalem every year at the Feast of the Passover. And when He was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to the custom of the feast.  When they had finished the days, as they returned, the Boy Jesus lingered behind in Jerusalem. And Joseph and His mother did not know it; but supposing Him to have been in the company, they went a day’s journey, and sought Him among their relatives and acquaintances. So when they did not find Him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking Him. Now so it was that after three days they found Him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the teachers, both listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were astonished at His understanding and answers. So when they saw Him, they were amazed; and His mother said to Him, “Son, why have You done this to us? Look, Your father and I have sought You anxiously.”And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” Luke 2:41-49