Meditations on the Messiah // Sixteen

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Hebrews 1:5, 6 KJV:
For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? Let all the angels of God worship Him.

The author of Hebrews seeks to show that Jesus us “better than.” Better than what? Everything. But the first line of reasoning is to show that Jesus is better than the angels. He is superior to even powerful angelic beings. He is supreme over all.

This passage in Hebrews cites Psalm 2:7 wherein we find a glorious statement that we know, through the unfolding of God’s revelation, is from the Father to the Son: “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…'”  The Nicene Creed affirms that Jesus was “begotten, not made.” Jesus never had a start time to His existence. He is eternally God – eternally self-existing just as the Father and the Spirit are eternally self-existing within the Godhead. And yet Jesus was eternally begotten of the Father. He is from the Father, but He was never made. There was never a time when Jesus was not.

We need to remember at Christmas time that when Jesus was born to the virgin He “became flesh” but He nevertheless existed for eternity with God (John 1:14). The Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1). God has come to be with us. And Jesus is God before all time and for all eternity.

That is why Jesus is better than everything. We worship Him as God incarnate. He is supreme over all.

Let all the angels worship Him.

Let all His creation worship Him.

Let all the nations, His inheritance, worship Him.

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Meditations on the Messiah // Fifteen

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Psalm 24:7-10 KJV:
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of Glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory? The Lord of Hosts, He is the King of Glory.

Ancient cities were often well-fortified fortresses with watchtowers and high walls. The doors would not just open for anyone. But for a King returning from battle, you can imagine the glorious scene of the city opening its gates and greeting him with celebration.

The beginning of Psalm 24 asks who is worthy to ascend the hill of God’s holy city. The final section of the psalm provides the answer – the Divine Warrior is worthy to ascend the hill and stand before the presence of God for He has conquered and overcome.

In Christ we see the immediate application of these words in his death and resurrection – He has overcome the enemy and now leads in triumphal procession (2 Cor 2:14; Col 2:15). We rejoice to welcome our King and to follow behind in His parade.

But there is also a future application – the rider on the white horse will return and bring justice to the earth (Rev 19). We will follow behind in this instance too as our King leads into the New Jerusalem where we will worship God forevermore.

The glory of Christmas is that all of this is true in a little infant. God has come in weakness, and yet He is the Divine Warrior who rules in glory and splendour. The wise men from the East perceived a king was here. We should too. And follow Him with our allegiance, loyalty, and devotion.

Meditations on the Messiah // Fourteen

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Isaiah 53:8 KJV:
He was cut off out of the land of the living; for the transgression of Thy people was He stricken.

Psalm 16:10 KJV:
But Thou didst not leave His soul in hell; nor didst Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption.

Psalm 16 is actually written as a personal poem from David to the Lord – you will not abandon my soul in sheol (the place of the dead in Old Testament terminology). Yet here we have this text used and applied with reference to Jesus. Jesus is the holy one (like David) who will not be abandoned in sheol.

In this “move” that we see often from David to Jesus there is a profound point for us today, if we reason back from Jesus to David: God treats His people as He treated Jesus, for we are in Jesus. If God has not abandoned Christ to death, but raised Him in the third day, so also God will not abandoned us, who are made holy by our union with Christ, but will raise us as well on His Day of visitation.

Our lives are lived in and through Christ.

Our hope is anchored in Christ.

Our victory over death is grounded in Christ.

Our very identity as the people of God is in Christ.

This is a tremendous and glorious truth that should encourage us every single day: God treats me as a son, a holy one, because I am now “in” His Son (Romans 8:14-17). He is for me, not against me (Romans 8:1). He will not let me see corruption in hell, for I am secure in the death and resurrection of Christ who has already passed through the judgment of death and hell on my behalf.

Meditations on the Messiah // Thirteen

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Psalm 69:20 KJV:
Thy rebuke hath broken His heart; He is full of heaviness. He looked for some to have pity on Him but there was no man; neither found He any to comfort Him.

Lamentations 1:12 KJV:
Behold, and see if there be any sorrow like unto His sorrow!

Like Psalm 22 from yesterday, Psalm 69 provides a window into David’s pain and sorrow and this, in God’s great story of history, becomes a picture of Jesus’ own suffering and death.

Lamentations likewise poetically recounts the time of Jerusalem’s judgment by Babylon and the desolation that came by way of that judgment.

So these two passages paint an agonizing picture – the agony of David and the judgment of Jerusalem. And both foreshadow or anticipate the judgment and the “exile” of Jesus the Christ.

It is astonishing that when Jesus came to our blood-stained and evil earth he knew what he was getting into.

He came to suffer and he came to save.

He came to take the sin of the world on his shoulders and to remove it.

He came to swallow the cup of God’s wrath.

That was what was needed to break the chains of sin and death and to purchase his people and liberate them from their enemy. Behold the agony of the incarnation. It is not pretty. It is not a silent night. It is a sin-stained, bloodied affair. And it is salvation.

Hallelujah, what a saviour!

Born to save the sons of earth, born to give them second birth!

Meditations on the Messiah // Twelve

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Psalm 22:7-8 KJV:

All they that see Him laugh him to scorn: they shoot out their lips, and shake their heads, saying: He trusted in God that He would deliver Him: let Him deliver Him, if he delight in Him.

The pattern of true Christian faith is always this: suffering and then glory.

The psalmist (David) originally wrote Psalm 22 and it is the most agonizing psalm there is, opening with the famous words, later quoted by our Saviour on the cross: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

As a warrior, a king, and “a man after God’s own heart,” David had many enemies (1 Samuel 13:14). Here in this psalm he is facing the complete despair and inner turmoil of experiencing their animosity against him, with the sensation that God is far of and forsaking him – an experience most Christians relate to from time to time.

You have the picture then of the righteous servant, suffering at the hands of his enemies. And that image points to Jesus, the Messiah – who suffered at our hands for our sins. For we were the true enemies of God. But now we have been forgiven and cleansed.

When we experience a true enemy, our summons is to prayer and faithfulness: “Therefore let those who suffer according to God’s will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good” (1 Peter 4:19). But we are allowed to be angry. We are allowed to “vent” and that is best done into the ear of the Lord.

For those with enemies and who experience their opposition even during the Christmas season, may God be a refuge to you today.

Meditations on the Messiah // Eleven

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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Isaiah 53:3-6 KJV:

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah has been called “the fifth gospel” and here you see why – the presence of Jesus the Messiah jumps from these lines in the Old Testament.

The clear idea in these lines is that of substitutuon. God will place our sins on the back of this righteous substitute. He will be a representative substitute and he will do for us what we could never do for ourselves.

The heart of the gospel – the good news – of Christ, is that of substitution:

In the death of Christ, we find life.

In the wounds of Christ, we find our healing.

In the grief of Christ, we find true and lasting joy.

In the judgment of Christ, we find true peace with God.

This passage above describes us as sheep – an apt description. Sheep are vulnerable, often foolish, and easily frightened. And sheep wander. We can all relate to the famous words in “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” which says I am “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it – prone to leave the God I love” (Robert Robinson). Even as we wander away from God we mourn and regret the fact that we are leaving him.

We have wandered into sin. We have wandered down paths we never should have gone onto. We have turned to our own way. Yet in the Messiah God has saved us from sin and death and has brought us into the green pastures (Ps. 23). Believe in him. Trust in him. Turn to him.

 

 

Meditations on the Messiah // Ten

This is a series of daily, devotional posts that work through the Scriptures used in Handel’s Messiah. The musical numbers that correspond to these passages of Scripture are linked below through Spotify. So give this a read and then a listen.

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John 1:29:
Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world.

These words are spoken about Jesus by John the Baptizer. John rightly recognized that Jesus came as the sacrifice to deal with the sin of the world, once and for all.

In the Exodus, the people of Israel were to kill a young, spotless lamb and to paint its blood on the doorframe of their homes so that when God killed the firstborn sons in Egypt, his wrath would pass over the homes of Israel (Exodus 12).

And here, centuries later, John perceived that Jesus was the true and final wrath-remover. He is the covering for sin and his blood will be painted on us to atone for our sin, and not for ours only but for the sin of the whole world.

Our sin must be dealt with. All sin has a cost – and the cost is death (Romans 6:23). Christ came to die for sin so that we would not die for it before God. Sin wrecks everything – our joy today and our hope for life with God tomorrow.

There is no greater blessing in life than to have the burden of sin lifted, the shame of sin removed, and the guilty conscience cleansed and freed. This is why Jesus came – to take away the sin of the world.

So may all the world turn to him.