Merciful King: Guiding Light

Matthew 2

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“When [King Herod] had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born.” – Matthew 2: 4

Chapter 2 of Matthew is a map of prophecies, all leading to Jesus.

In the Old Testament, God (YHWH) set forth a plan, spoke it to specifically chosen men (the prophets), that they would record his plans for the future to the future generations.

With that in mind, we see that King Herod called to himself a group of people who were trained to read the prophetic writings, make sense of them, and then report the prophecies to him in understandable words.

This group of priests and scribes had decided in their hearts not to serve the Almighty Lord but to serve a king of men. Over the years, they dedicated themselves to knowledge in the Old Testament, to recording every letter of the Law, and to adding mystical interpretations and religious notions to the simplicity of scripture. In a sense, these teachers worshipped knowledge and hated the simplicity of scripture.

Here is the map, that with their knowledge they could not decipher:

Micah (5: 2, 4)Straightforward enough, God said that His Son would be born in Judah, in Bethlehem. [I personally enjoy this prophecy, because it speaks volumes about the heart of God. My interpretation: “Although you may feel you are nothing, Bethlehem, I will make you great. My Son will come from you.”]

Hosea (11: 1): “Out of Egypt I called my son.” This refers to the flight from Jesus’s birthplace to Egypt, until the appointed time, which meant they would then need to flee from Egypt. And so they did. [This reveals the omniscience of God and the desire to keep His son concealed until the appointed time.]

Jeremiah (31: 15)Although King Herod had set out to annihilate any hope of the Messiah coming to power, he could not kill the child he so desired to slaughter. He succeeded in murdering almost all children two-years-old or under at the time. Although God knew and empathized with the aching hearts of the women in Ramah, He also knew with certainty that they would have hope again, because His Son would redeem them.

Isaiah (11: 1): “He would be called a Nazarene.” It’s another way of saying that he would be a “netzer” – or “rod.” This refers to the root of Jesse, His lineage. And yet, the prophecy is far more specific. After King Herod died, the family settled in Nazareth of Galilee, and there Jesus grew up.

There are two types of people in the world: those who desire to snuff out the Light (King Herod and the scribes) or those who desire to worship the Light (the magi).

The scribes – teachers of the law – had the answers, but they missed the plan. They had the map but missed the Light.

On the other hand, simple astrologers saw a star, and by faith they knew the birthplace of the Lord. They went to worship Jesus and did not despise Him.

Do you have all the right answers and yet miss the Light? Or do you look at God’s creation and have faith that He holds all things together?

Take a breath and marvel at the skies. Have faith that you don’t need to know everything, that all things come to pass as He has written. He’s the best Author there is. (Hint: In His story, Light prevails in the end.)

 

Merciful King: The Prince’s Lineage

Matthew 1

“All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’ (which means ‘God with us’).” – Matthew 1: 22 – 23

Jesus is His name.

Jesus Christ – Immanuel – ultimately means, “God saves, the Anointed One – God with us.”

Chapter 1 of Matthew is a Jewish genealogy, intended to tie the Old Testament to the New Testament. If you look closely at the lineage of Jesus, you’ll notice something a little strange. Yes, in the lineage you’ll see King David and the father-of-faith Abraham, but you’ll also notice five women.

Women being mentioned in a Jewish genealogy is strange because traditionally women were viewed as less than important, but Matthew knew what he was doing by writing their names in the lineage. Let’s take a look at their stories:

Tamar (Genesis 38): She deceived her father-in-law into having sex with her, in order that she may have what she truly believed she deserved – an heir.

Rahab (Joshua 2): Although she was a prostitute and foreigner, she feared the LORD and kept a promise to the Israelites, that they might overthrow Jericho and have the land.

Ruth (her book): She lived in a time when all of Israel were pursuing pleasures instead of the LORD, and yet while she was a foreigner (and a young widow) in the land, she remained faithful to the LORD and her bitter mother-in-law.

Bathsheba (2 Samuel 11): She was simply described as “very beautiful.” King David, having “remained in Jerusalem” “when kings go off to war,” called on her for sex. (Can we just take a moment to address this, that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time far before he walked onto the roof top to watch a woman bathing?) After he found out she was pregnant, David tried to cover up his sin, and a snowball became an avalanche ending in the death of Uriah, who was Bathsheba’s husband.

Mary: In upcoming chapters, Mary will be described as pure, but when Joseph (her fiancé) first heard that Mary was pregnant, his immediate thought was not that she had been made pregnant by the Holy Spirit. No, more than likely he felt shame, shame because his fiancee had had sex with another man. So, he resolved to call off the engagement in private, leaving Mary with some dignity – or so he thought. See, Joseph was a righteous man, a man who lived by faith. And he was the man that God had chosen to raise His Son. So, God’s plan would prevail, and Joseph’s plan would be stopped by God’s messenger.

Over and over again, the genealogy of Jesus could have been snipped as a thread is snipped by a pair of scissors, but God would not allow it. All these things – Tamar’s deceit, Rahab’s betrayal of her own people, Ruth’s choice to stay with a bitter woman, Bathsheba’s answer to the king’s lustful call, and even Joseph’s lack of knowledge – could not stop the plan of God. In fact, in a lot of ways, God used these shining, shimmering human failures to glorify Himself.

Is there something in your life right now that seems unfair or doesn’t make sense, but may actually be used for ultimate good in the end?

Carry on, because more than likely, whatever it is, it’s leading to Jesus and His plan.

Come ti chiami?

Why “Rowan Cords”?

So, why Rowan Cords? That’s the first question, and I’ll get to the answer.

What does it mean? That will be answered as well.

Where is this blog headed?

 

All good questions! I respond with more questions:

Is there a Higher Power? Yes. (Gasp! You think, He responded in certainty!)

Is He relational? Yes. (Really?! How come I’ve never heard him?!)

Does He have a name? Yes. In fact, He has many names, but the Ultimate is Jesus. (Perhaps I will get to share more about this Jesus.)

Do we know what Jesus expects of us? We should, because He gives us access to His Word – at least He does in America. (I can’t speak of other countries. . .)

These questions (more specifically, the answers to these questions) are the foundation of this blog post – and prayerfully the foundation of my blog.

 

Okay, with this foundation now laid, let’s look at the other questions again:

The phrase Rowan Cords echoes two concepts that have really touched my heart while studying God’s Word the past two years. And I hope the upcoming posts simply encourage, edify, and entertain you.

[Disclaimer: I am not perfect and definitely do not know everything, and ideas presented here are meant to challenge us – even me, especially me. I have no degree in biblical studies. In fact, I only started reading the bible regularly in April 2015. I enjoy story, and I trust the Author when He shares His with me. So, I enjoy sharing it with others, especially through online webpages like this one.]

 

My life verse: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart.”

(Proverbs 3: 3)

Rowan: 

This comes from two separate ideas.

First, “love and faithfulness” pertain to the Law, the Old Testament Law that we ourselves cannot obey without the power of God Himself. All we can do is continually seek out the Word of the Lord, keep ourselves immersed in it, and meditate on it day and night. We can tie it around our wrists, make posts online about it, keep it in photographs around our homes and workplaces. We need reminders because we are finite and forgetful.

But, that’s just it. Without the power of God, it cannot necessarily be written on our hearts. Religion is empty. But that’s when Jesus comes in. We realize we are weak to obey the Law, and He says, “All you need to do is believe in me.” Believe He is the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets, and He begins to write Love on the tablet of our hearts.

[Thought: The same power that inscribes love and faithfulness on our hearts also erases the junk we’ve inscribed there. (Honestly I cannot remember if that’s a quote or an original thought. . . I’ll give credit to Chris Tiegreen for the heck of it.)]

Second, a Rowan tree, in most myths and legends, is protective, acts as a spiritual guide to keep a traveller on the correct path, and always guides the sojourner home. To me, this echoes the power of God, so I clung to the idea. Without Him, we are lost.

Cords: 

The word for “bind” in Hebrew here literally means, “to tie together,” which further (roughly) translates to “two inseparable ideas when bound together – once and for all.”

Consider Ecclesiastes 4: 12: “A cord of three strands is not easily broken.” (i.e. God, Jesus, Holy Spirit)

This power is only possible through Christ, by Christ, for the purpose of Christ – for His exaltation.

And the only time the Trinity broke up was when Jesus was on the cross, dying for everyone, because He chose to do so for the sake of the world.

Consider also Isaiah 49: 16. “See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands.”

This is God speaking, and what would those engravings be but the marks of the nails through His palms as He hung to the cross?!

He broke the cord so that He might have more strands.

God alone has the power to bind, thus the name He allows us to share as His children – Christians.

At the cross, He invited us into fellowship with the Father. His intention is Love, that we would be inseparable from His Word and character, bound to it as with a cord, bound to Him as with a cord. We are stronger together.

 

Thanks for reading! I encourage you to consider His power and mercy.

If you wish to delve in further, leave comments, questions, and the like. Hope you enjoyed.

[Final note: I intend to make regular posts every Friday following this post.]