[Jesus] said to [the disciples at the Last Supper], “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfilment.”Luke 22:37
It is good to reflect on all the implications of this simple statement to his disciples as Jesus was ‘looking down the barrel’ at his Gethsemane ordeal and all the pain and anguish of the cruel cross. It means he KNEW that EVERYTHING Isaiah prophesied in Chapter 53 was about to be fulfilled in every detail, and could NOT be avoided, which explains the intense ‘blood, sweat and tears’ of his wrestling in prayer in the Garden.
He KNEW that: “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” He KNEW that he was about to be “stricken BY GOD, smitten BY HIM, and afflicted”, and to be “pierced for OUR transgressions” and “crushed for OUR iniquities” and “the punishment that brought US peace was [to be laid] UPON HIM” so that “by HIS wounds WE are healed.”
He KNEW that it was none other than ‘the LORD’ himself, the God of the Covenant, who was about to ‘LAY ON HIM the iniquity of us all’. (I find it incredible that liberal ‘theologians’ who taught me ’theology’ 50 years ago had no place in their thinking for the doctrine of ‘Substitutionary Atonement’!).
He KNEW that he would be “assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” He KNEW that “it was the LORD’s WILL to crush him and cause him to suffer.”
And it means that while KNOWING ALL THIS he was still prepared to go through with it FOR ME! “And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:8). “And when before the throne I stand in him complete, I’ll lay my trophies down, all down at Jesus’ feet. Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe; sin had left a crimson stain, he washed it white as snow.” (Elvina Hall). “Yes, living, dying, let me bring my strength, my solace, from this spring: that he who lives to be my King once died to be my Saviour!” (Dora Greenwell).
King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart.2 Chronicles 9:22-23
Because of his great wisdom and wealth, Solomon has put a stamp on human history that has lasted for 3,000 years! Like the Queen of Sheba, we cannot even start to imagine the full extent of his grace and his grandeur (6). To his credit, he openly proclaimed that the LORD his God was the source of all this, a fact that the Queen of Sheba herself acknowledged (8)!
So Solomon exemplifies for us what God desires US to be: a people that DECLARE the greatness of his glory to a watching world, who LIVE by HIS unfailing wisdom, and who REJOICE in the benefit of HIS abundant blessings.
But Solomon is also an important example of the DANGER inherent in such a strategy: our sinful hearts prevent us from handling such largesse appropriately! Chronicles spares us the down side of all this that we discover in 1 Kings 11:4ff and the book of Ecclesiastes. Perhaps Agur had the outcome of Solomon’s life in mind when he wrote: “Two things I ask of you, O LORD; do not refuse me before I die: Keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the LORD?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonour the name of my God.” (Proverbs 30:7-9)!
Sadly, the purveyors of the ‘prosperity gospel’ in modern times have failed to notice this danger – and the same result often occurs as we see with Solomon. Let us rejoice in the blessings of God that encourage us, but also in the hardships and trials that keep our hearts right before him and make our witness more effective and productive.
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.Revelation 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.
It is almost 2,000 years since the Apostle John wrote these words as part of the divinely-inspired Scriptures, and ‘the time’, the Return of the Lord Jesus Christ in Power, is something we are still waiting for! We must conclude from this that the Sovereign Lord God has a considerable amount of human history to play out before he brings it to its climax in that unique, world-shattering Event. (It is interesting to reflect on the fact that, if it HAD happened more than 100 years ago, you and I would never exist to participate in all the glory and blessings of his Kingdom!)
It seems that the main point of John’s use of ‘near’ is to drive home the urgent need for us all to be READY for Jesus when he comes. After all Jesus, during his earthly ministry, had told numerous parables to this effect (see, especially, Matthew 25)!
The Greek word translated ‘read’ in this verse is the verb to ‘know’ with the prefix ‘ana’ in front of it, which strengthens it and carries with it the idea of ‘up’. It is used in different contexts to mean to ‘read aloud’ and to ‘read with appreciation and understanding’. So, this is the PURPOSE of the last Book of the Bible – to keep us mindful and expectant with regard to Jesus’ Second Coming, and to encourage us to draw comfort from the fact that our Sovereign, compassionate Heavenly Father is STILL in FULL control of EVERYTHING that happens in our lives. Therefore, we need not fear, no matter how bad things might get (like viral pandemics, the advance under our very noses of the Cultural Marxist juggernaut, attacks on our religious freedom, the instability and threatened collapse of the world’s economy, etc, etc), because it is all part of God’s Eternal Plan – a Plan that blesses US, as we turn to him in repentance-and-faith and take refuge in Jesus.
We need not fear, because there is a defined, predetermined Endpoint to all the confusion and suffering around us – and we can live out our our lives with the encouragement that the ‘Day of the Lord’ is always ‘NEAR’ (remembering that “with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.” – Psalm 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8). “Marvellous message we bring, glorious carol we sing, wonderful word of the King, Jesus is coming again! Coming again, coming again, may be morning, may be noon, may be evening and may be soon! Coming again, coming again; O what a wonderful day it will be – Jesus is coming again!” Take heart, the time is NEAR!