The Study of Jesus Christ
Bringing Truths from Different Books of the Bible into Focus, Perspective, and Understanding.
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away." Matthew 24:35
A. Jesus as Logos.
1. The Bible’s pre-incarnate term for Jesus that depicts His role as prophet is Logos (John 1:1-3). Jesus has always been the Word of God. He has been the Message of God as well as the Messenger. Jesus is called the Word (Logos) of God because He is the ultimate expression of who God is and what He is like. He was existing from eternity past not only with God, but He was being God. As God, He created everything that has come into existence.
2. It has always been true that Jesus has been the ultimate expression of who God is and what He is like. But His role has become especially visible since He was incarnated as a human being. As the Apostle John eloquently states it, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:18).
B. Old Testament Appearances.
1. As the Second Member of the Godhead, Jesus made numerous appearances in the Old Testament. Though the Trinity is never fully explained in the Old Testament, there is ample room for it. The very name of God, Elohim, is a plural proper noun. Most commentators label Elohim as a “plural of majesty,” but their explanation avoids the obvious explanation that God is a very complex being, and that, though He is essentially One (Deut. 6:4), He exists in three persons. One God, but three persons. “In the beginning God [Elohim] created the heavens and the earth.… and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters” (Gen. 1:1-2). “And God said, ‘Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness’” (Gen. 1:26).
2. Of particular interest in the present discussion are Jesus’ multiple occurrences as “the Angel of Yahweh” (Angel of the LORD). In both Hebrew and Greek, the words translated “angel” mean simply “messenger.” As “Malak Yahweh,” the Angel of the LORD appeared often as a man. This is particularly evident in His appearance to the wife of Manoah, and subsequently to Manoah himself, the parents of Samson (Judges 13:1-22). Then, as in other cases, the Angel of Yahweh not only represented Yahweh with His message and instruction, but He is also referred to as Deity. In fact, Manoah was convinced he would die because he had "seen God" (Elohim) (Judges 13:22)! There are many angels throughout the Old Testament, but the Angel of Yahweh is the only one who makes pronouncements that echo things God Himself has said. He is the only who is, in one breath called an angel, but in the next is called Yahweh. We conclude, therefore, that the angel of Yahweh was none other than a pre-incarnate appearance of the Second Person of the Trinity. It is not surprising that He whom the Old Testament writers labeled Messenger of Yahweh is the same person that the New Testament writer John labeled the Word of God (John 1:1, 14). The Messenger of God, the Word of God – they are one in the same. (For a more detailed study of The Angel of Yahweh, click here.)
C. God as Communicator.
1. God is the ultimate communicator. He communicated His glorious creative skills by fashioning the world in which we live with all its intricately complex bio-systems, living organisms, and almost infinitely complex and varied information systems (Gen. 1; Psalm 19:1-6; 139:13-16). He created the earth to be a habitable, comfortable, and beautiful home for varied species of vegetation and animals. The crown of God’s creation is man, who, as we have already noted, was created in the image and likeness of God. For beauty, for light, for glory, for signs, for seasons, and for self-revelation, God created stars, planets, the sun, and the moon. God created angels as messengers to perform His will and to communicate with humans. God called prophets to communicate specific messages to people on earth. Many of these prophets recorded God’s words to them in print, and these printed messages He gradually collected into what we now know as the sixty-six books of the Bible.
2. As marvelous and varied as God’s messengers have been God’s ultimate communication was through His Son (Heb. 1:1-3). When the Word of God became flesh, God’s love and care for men reached an all-time peak. As difficult as it is to understand Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross abandoned by His Father, who cannot look upon sin, to me it has been just as difficult to understand why the Creator of the Universe, the Creator of matter (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:15-17), would allow Himself to be locked up in a material body for the rest of eternity. What self-sacrifice! It should not surprise us that the primary function of Jesus in His earthly ministry was to deliver messages – to communicate to the people of Israel, primarily, the Good News of His coming Kingdom!
D. Jesus as Prophet during His Earthly Ministry.
1. From the very beginning of His public ministry, Jesus was intent on speaking to people. He traveled to synagogue after synagogue communicating the Good News of the impending Kingdom (Matt. 13:54; Mark 1:14-15, 21; 6:2; Luke 4:14-21; 7:5; John 6:59). He deliberately situated Himself in public venues, teaching to large crowds the message of the Kingdom. Time and time again the people were amazed at His teaching. The scribes always quoted other scribes, higher authorities than themselves, but Jesus spoke from His own authority. And yet He repeatedly stated that His messages were not His alone, but He only spoke what His Father ordered Him to speak.
2. As God’s ultimate Message, it should not surprise us that Jesus was a prophet (Matt. 13:57; 21:11, 46; Mark 6:4, 15; Luke 4:24; 7:12-16; 13:33; 24:19; John 4:19, 44; 6:14; 7:40; 9:17). Many Jewish people consider Moses to be the ultimate Israeli prophet. It is true that God used Moses in a mighty prophetic ministry. After all, it was to Moses that God revealed the Torah, the first five books of the Bible that constitute the foundation of God’s relationship with Israel. It was to Moses that God revealed the Ten Words, which we know as the Ten Commandments (Ex. 20:1-17). It was Moses who said that Yahweh, Israel’s God, had revealed to him that He would raise up another prophet like him from among the people, and the people were to listen to him. Yahweh would put His words in that prophet’s mouth, and he would speak all that Yahweh commanded him. Whoever would fail to heed that prophet, Yahweh Himself would require it of him (Deut. 18:15-19)! Jesus of Nazareth is that prophet (Acts 3:23)!
3. It would be appropriate to define what constitutes a prophet.
a. Unfortunately, many people redefine the term prophet to coincide with their own understanding. In so doing, they dilute the meaning of the term. They say that someone has a prophetic ministry, or that so and so is a prophet. What they mean is that someone has a bold and exhortational style of ministry. What may be true is that that person has the spiritual gift of exhortation (Rom. 12:8), but what is equally true is that that person is not a prophet. He may have an authoritative and gifted teaching ministry, but that is far from demonstrating he is a prophet. Others understand, to some degree, what a prophet is, but they make claims that, in my estimation, are not true.
b. A prophet is someone who receives a message directly from God and is compelled to deliver that message to the people to whom God sends him. As a pastor, I have preached a lot of sermons and taught a lot of Bible studies in my lifetime. While I have often felt that what I was about to deliver was something God wanted me to share, I have never been under the delusion that I was a prophet. God indirectly reveals His message to me through the Word of God, illuminated by His Spirit, and I teach that message to others. But I have never heard the voice of God, and frankly, I view with skepticism those who claim they have.
c. The Biblical prophets were people to whom God revealed messages that they were to deliver. As such, their messages had the authority of Scripture, though not necessarily always written down or preserved in Scripture. Prophets in Israel had a zero tolerance policy. There was absolutely no margin for error. There was no provision for so much as one mistake. A prophet who claimed to have a message from God when he did not was subject to the death penalty (Deut. 18:20-22). That same passage describes how one can know if someone who claims to be a prophet of God is actually from God – his predictions must come true.
d. I once attended a service in which someone who believed he had the gift of prophecy was speaking. To convince us he was uttering a prophetic word, he delivered his message in early 17th century English, approximating King James English. Nothing he said convinced me he was a true prophet of God. Some attempt to differentiate between a “forth telling” aspect of prophecy and a “foretelling” aspect. As such, they are admitting that they cannot predict the future, and they are laboring under the delusion that a Biblical prophet’s ministry of speaking primarily to rectify the behavior of his listeners in the present time, and far less frequently to predict the future obviates him from ever having to predict the future.
e. The truth of the matter is that Biblical prophets did frequently predict the future. Of course, if a prophet is predicting something centuries in the future, how on earth can any contemporary check the accuracy of his prophecy? The answer is that Biblical prophets frequently made not only a distant prophecy, but also a near prophecy whose accuracy could be validated in the near future. That near fulfillment would be satisfactory proof that the prophet was from God, and that his more remote prophecies could also expected to be fulfilled. If someone today claims to be a prophet, I would say, “Make me some near predictions, so that I might validate whether your more distant predictions are also from God.” If someone who claims to be a prophet does not mirror that of Biblical prophets, I disregard his ministry without fear of repercussion.
4. It is clear that Jesus was aware that He was God’s prophet. On several occasions Jesus stated that He only spoke what His Father authorized Him to speak. That is precisely what a prophet does.
a. John 5:43. Jesus said that He had come in His Father’s name.
b. John 8:28. Jesus said that when His persecutors would crucify Him, they would discover that Jesus is the I AM, and that He had done nothing on His own initiative, but that He had spoken the things His Father had taught Him.
c. John 8:38. Jesus said that He spoke the things which He had seen with His Father.
d. John 12:49-50. Jesus said that He did not speak on His own initiative, but that the Father had commanded Him as to what to speak. The things Jesus spoke, He spoke exactly as the Father commanded Him.
e. John 14:10. Jesus said He did not speak on His own initiative, but that the Father remaining in Him did His works.
5. Clearly Jesus had an exhortational prophetic ministry. For reasons some times of questionable merit, publishers of the Bible have frequently in modern versions highlighted Jesus’ words with red colored font. Unfortunately, the effect has sometimes been to persuade the reader that the words of Jesus are somehow more the Word of God or more important than say, the words of Paul or Luke. Nothing could be further from the truth. From a practical point of view, however, it is helpful to be able to detect easily words that Jesus Himself has spoken. One cannot but read through Matthew 5-7 and be impressed with Jesus’ forthright and compelling exhortations to people to prepare for the Kingdom of God with a decisive repentance and change in lifestyle.
6. One is also left with the undeniable conclusion that Jesus readily predicted the future.
a. Matthew 13:1-52 is Jesus’ prediction of what the Kingdom of the Heavens would look like in the centuries following His ministry in view of Israeli leaders having irreversibly rejected Him as the Jewish Messiah on behalf of the nation. With Israel having rejected her King, what would the “Mystery” (Matt. 13:11) form of the Kingdom look like in the ensuing centuries? We now know that Jesus was predicting the course of His gospel during the Church Age in Matthew 13. There would be a parallel growth of evil mixed with good in the Kingdom (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43), with varying responses to the message of the Kingdom (Matt. 13:3-9, 18-23). The growth of the Kingdom would be great (Matt. 13:31-32) and pervasive (Matt. 13:33), but it would be infiltrated with imposters who appeared to be part of the Kingdom, but were not, much as weeds sown by the Enemy infiltrated the field in which the sower sowed seed (Matt. 13:24-30, 36-43).
b. In Mathew 24:1-25:46, Jesus gave to his disciples both a relatively near prediction and a far prediction. His near prediction was that no stone would be left upon another in the temple (Matt. 24:1-2). The disciples responded with three questions: (1) “When will these things happen?” (2) “What will be the sign of Your coming?” and (3) What will be the sign “of the end of the age?” (Matt. 24:3). In Matthew 24, Jesus answered questions 2 and 3. But in Luke 21, Jesus also answered the first question. He said, “When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near” (Luke 21:20). He urged those in Jerusalem and Judea to flee the wrath (Luke 21:21-23). He predicted that they would “fall by the edge of the sword” and “be led captive into all the nations.” He predicted that Jerusalem would be “trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). That prophecy was fulfilled beginning in 70 A.D., when the Roman army, led by Titus Vespasian, after a siege of the city, destroyed the city and the temple. Over a million Jewish people were killed. Subsequently, Jewish people were dispersed all over the world in what we term the Jewish Diaspora. That remained the situation largely until God raised up Christians in Great Britain to lobby for a homeland for the Jewish people. With the world’s conscience horrified by the nearly six million Jews killed in the Holocaust, Israel’s time had come. Though Britain actively supported the Arabs, the British Mandate over Palestine expired on May 14, 1948. On that same day the Jewish people declared their independence and the state of Israel was born. To this day, Jerusalem still remains trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, for Israel cannot even build her own temple on her own Temple Mount. Without a doubt, Jesus’ prophecy came true.
c. But Jesus also made some far predictions. Matthew 24-25 details Jesus’ predictions of the end-time events surrounding the Great Tribulation and also His own future return in power to set up His kingdom. Jesus predicted the signs that would accompany the first half of the tribulation period (Matt. 24:4-14). Then He gave signs that would accompany the last half of the tribulation (Matt. 24:15-28). He labeled this time as “great tribulation,” the like of which has not existed from the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will [again]” (Matt. 24:21, author’s translation). In Matt. 24:29-51, Jesus predicted His return: The sequence of His return (Matt. 24:29-31); the timing of His return (Matt. 24:32-36); the suddenness of His return (Matt. 24:37-44); and the accountability at His return (Matt. 24:45-51). In Matt. 25 Jesus predicted the judgments that will take place at His return. These will include the judgment of Israel (Matt. 25:1-30) and the judgment of the non-Jewish nations (Matt. 25:31-46). For the author’s detailed outline of Matthew, click here. For more concise outlines of Matthew, click here.
d. In the book of Revelation Jesus makes many predictions concerning the future. He makes predictions to each of the seven churches (Rev. 2 - 3); He predicts the many judgments and developments that will take place during the Great Tribulation (Rev. 6:1 - 19:4). These include His opening of the seven-sealed book of judgment (Rev. 6:1 – 8:5); Seven angels’ soundings of seven trumpets (Rev. 8:6 – 11:19); Satan’s strategy against God’s program (Rev. 12-13); Seven angels pouring out seven bowls of God’s wrath upon the earth (Rev. 15-16); the destruction of Babylon, the great prostitute (Rev. 17-18); His own Second Coming in power and judgment (Rev. 19); His own Millennial Reign (Rev. 20:1-6); the final judgments (Rev. 20:7-15); and the New World Order with the New Jerusalem situated in the New Heaven and Earth (Rev. 21-22). For simple outlines of the Book of Revelation, click here. For an exhaustive outline of Revelation, click here. For an exhaustive, annotated outline of Revelation, click here.
e. Unquestionably, Jesus’ authority as a Prophet has already been validated. His nearer predictions have come true precisely as He predicted. We have every reason to believe that His long-term predictions will come true just as precisely as His short-term predictions have. Jesus Himself said, “Heaven and Earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35)!
E. Jesus as Prophet during His Future Reign.
1. Deut. 18:17-19.
a. Yahweh told Moses that He would raise up for Israel a prophet like Moses from among the descendants of Israel. Yahweh would put His words in this prophet’s mouth and he would speak all that Yahweh commanded him to speak. If the people would not listen to this prophet, Yahweh Himself would require an accounting of them.
b. We have already determined that Jesus of Nazareth is this prophet. During His life on earth He did speak expressly the things Yahweh commanded Him to speak. But the people of Israel as a whole did not heed the words of Jesus. Just as Jesus predicted Jerusalem was captured and destroyed, and has been trampled underfoot by Gentiles ever since (Luke 21:20-24).
c. But there is coming a future day when Jesus will speak as God’s prophet. That day will come when Yahweh establishes Jesus as His anointed King upon Zion, His holy mountain (Psalm 2:1-6). Jesus there will serve both as King, Priest, and Prophet. Those who then disregard the words of Jesus will be in mortal danger, for He will “break them with a rod of iron” and “shatter them like earthenware” (Psalm 2:8-9). It is for this reason that the earth’s kings and judges are warned to worship Yahweh with reverence and do homage to His Son so that the latter will not become angry and destroy them (Psalm 2:10-12).
2. Isaiah 2:1-4. This remarkable prophecy paints a bold picture of the future Kingdom of the Messiah.
a. The prophecy centers around the future of Judah and Jerusalem (Isa. 2:1).
b. The prophecy will be fulfilled in the last days (Isa. 2:2).
c. Mount Zion will be the focal point of world government. The government of Israel, situated on Mount Zion, will be the supreme government of the entire world. All other national governments will be subservient to Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2).
d. The heads of state and the peoples of all the nations of the world will make their pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Their specific goal will be to make their way to the temple in Jerusalem, the house of the God of Jacob. There, they will seek and receive a personal audience with the God of Jacob, the God / Man Messiah Jesus. They will ask Him to teach His ways to them so that they as citizens of various countries in the world can walk in them – live by them (Isa. 2:2b-3).
e. The law of the God of Jacob, King of Israel and of the world, will go out from Jerusalem into all the world. It will be the word of the Lord (Isa. 2:3).
f. What else will this be but oral interpretations of the written law? Who will be giving these oral interpretations? It will be none other than Jesus Christ. As He gives His interpretations and perspectives on the Law of God, He will be serving as a rabbi, but more than a rabbi – an authoritative prophet. What lessons on living and international and domestic law those will be! – and all taught by the world’s most dynamic speaker! I can hardly wait for those lessons to begin!
g. The dissemination of the sense of the Law from Jerusalem will have a revolutionary impact on the entire world. Weapons of war will be turned into instruments of agriculture. Nations will completely disarm, eliminating all military budgets. War will become a thing of the past (Isa. 2:4). What a brilliant and peaceful future!
3. Isa. 51:4. God speaks to the people of Judah and to the nation of Israel as a whole. He states that a law will go forth from Him and that He will establish His justice for a light to the people. To some degree the groundwork for the dissemination of this law was fulfilled in Christ’s First Advent. Most likely this refers primarily to the future effective giving of the Law by the Messiah to the nations of the world. That will take place in Christ’s Millennial Kingdom.
4. Isaiah 11 paints a glorious picture of the future reign of the Messiah.
a. He will be supremely filled with the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:1-2).
b. As a result, His legal decisions as King will be unerringly accurate, promoting justice and righteousness even for the poor and afflicted, too impoverished to hire high-priced lawyers (Isa. 11:3-5).
c. Even nature itself will be changed; harmony will prevail in the human and animal kingdom (Isa. 11:6-9).
d. The reason for such dramatic change is that “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:9)! Part of the knowledge of Yahweh pervading the entire world will be the legal decisions delivered by the reigning King, Jesus, also serving as Prophet. His interpretations of the Law will be dynamic building blocks to enlighten the peoples of the world, enthralled by the wisdom and justice of the Great King. Dissidents will be eliminated from the Kingdom (Isa. 11:4).
Prepared by James T. Bartsch
Published Online by WordExplain.com
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Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE ®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
WordExplain by James T. Bartsch
(Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. Used by Permission.)
Updated November 21, 2016
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