The Bedrock of Our Faith
4 . 5 . 2020
A Messianic Psalm is a Psalm which has excerpts which relate directly to the Lord Jesus Christ and cited elsewhere in the Scriptures, either Old Testament or New Testament.
Consequently, Psalm 72 is considered Messianic because it contains this beautiful verse:
He shall have dominion also from sea to sea,
and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
Ps 72v8 (NB. Penned approx. 1000BC)
Referring to the future coming Kingdom of the Lord Jesus and this Psalm is quoted by Zechariah (writing approx. 500BC).
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion;
shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee:
he is just, and having salvation;
lowly, and riding upon an ass,
and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,
and the horse from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow shall be cut off:
and he shall speak peace unto the heathen:
and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea,
and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
You will notice, that this lovely prophecy (as is so often the case), looks forward in time and refers to his first coming – “lowly, and riding upon an ass” (cf Matt 21v2-7), and then to His second coming to earth “his dominion shall be from sea even to sea” (Zech 9v10).
You must be familiar with the way when you look at mountains in the distance, they adopt that blue haze, and you see one rearing up behind another, and they look ‘as if’ they are in close proximity, one right behind another even? But when you approach that first mountain and even crest it, you are amazed that the mountain that you thought was just behind, is miles and miles away. The perspective of great distance confused you. Prophecy is like this; they were writing from a great distance in time – typically. When prophets spoke, they were being guided by the Spirit of God and not always fully sentient themselves of the import of what they were writing. They could refer in one section (sometimes within one sentence) to things that were fulfilled in the first appearance of Christ (which is now history) and then in the next breath to things that will only be fulfilled at his second coming. Our modern and westernised minds would have thought if you talk about two events in succession, they should naturally follow one after the other in quick succession. But that is man’s thinking and does not anticipate the grace of God that has interposed a period between the first and second comings. Between when he would come:
- lowly, and riding upon an ass and
- when he comes again to have dominion from sea to sea.
Has the Lord forgotten? Is He slack? Far be the thought. Peter addresses this question squarely with these direct yet gracious words:
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3v9
We see this same principle of prophetic fulfilment in the prophecy of Isaiah 61. There we read this:
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me;
because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives,
and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
and the day of vengeance of our God;
to comfort all that mourn;
Isaiah 61v1-2. (written approx. 700BC).
Notice the comma after “the acceptable year of the Lord”, that beautiful expression is immediately followed by the sobering “day of vengeance of our God”.
Now, let’s examine how this prophecy is used by the Lord Jesus. Luke tells us the story in chapter 4.
And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph's son?
Can you imagine the stunned silence in the synagogue that day? Here was the Lord Jesus in his home town of Nazareth “where he had been brought up”. Everyone there knew him. He selected carefully the large scroll of Isaiah, He took time to find the portion near the end we call chapter 61, and He began to read. This verse was written all these years previously, anticipating THIS very day when the Christ Himself would stand up to read it. What silence would have fallen on His listeners as he framed these words “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me because the LORD hath anointed me”. Before we go further it is important to understand that the title Christ (Christos in Greek, the language of the New Testament, means “anointed one” and is the same word exactly that is Messiah in Hebrew, the original tongue of the Old Testament), and so when He said “the LORD hath anointed me” he was saying in effect, the LORD hath made me Christ. The words that follow explain the mission: “to preach good tidings.”.
But you’ll notice something peculiar as He reads, he reaches the expression “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord”. And he DOES NOT READ the following expression “the day of vengeance of our God”. In fact, as if to underline this abruptness, Luke records He “closed the book, gave it to the servant and sat down.”
What is going on here? Why did He cut short the reading? The answer is BECAUSE the follow-on portion: “the day of vengeance of our God” was not being fulfilled at that time. It would be at his second coming to earth that we will witness “the day of vengeance of our God”. His second coming is yet future as we write in April 2020, but it approaches.
You see, this is another striking example where prophetic writers will look forward from far back in time and talk about events in sequence, that we might naturally assume are consecutive, but the New Testament gives us greater insight into the Old Testament and we are much richer in understanding as a result.
Prophecy is as certain as history for God has written it. How can it be you ask; history cannot be changed? That’s right, but neither can prophecy! Everything that God has written shall come to pass, and as you read the first of the gospels – Matthew, you notice the constant refrain: “it is written”, the events, the dates, the miracles, everything was being done in perfect accord with the Father’s will, and many of these details are revealed in the Old Testament. Prophecy is merely history written in advance, and this why we know it is true and will be fulfilled. Every prophecy concerning Christ’s first coming has been fulfilled to the letter. Christ’s birthplace - Bethlehem, being born of a virgin – God actually said through Isaiah this will be a sign to us, His lineage – Son of David, His time in Egypt as an infant, His manner of death – crucifixion, the fact that not a bone would be broken (the thieves on either side had their legs broken), His riding on an ass, the time He would come – precisely predicted by Daniel, His betrayal, the price of His betrayal His death – thirty pieces of silver, His time in the grave – three days, His resurrection. Are all these exact fulfilments coincidental? Or are they God’s mechanism of demonstrating the veracity of His claim, evidence that cannot be refuted or gainsayed. No, the truth stares at us, and is very plain to those who take God at His Word. As the Father himself said so forcibly to Peter, James and John on the mount of transfiguration: “This is my beloved Son, in Whom I am well-pleased – hear ye Him”.
This is just a small sample of the predictions concerning Him, written hundreds of years before, authenticating that this one who would fulfil the prophecies was truly the Son of God. The prophecies where not generalised statements that could be fulfilled easily. Rather they were specific, detailed, exact statements. It is not as if He fulfilled some of these but not others, rather all were fulfilled exactly. All this is testable and bears scrutiny and has been for the past two thousand years.
This is the unchallengeable, unassailable bedrock of our faith – the Word of God.