Malachi 4:5-6 Sending You the Prophet Elijah

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Malachi 4:5-6 NLTse “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives. (6) His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

 

I’ve been looking forward to this for weeks, the last study in this series of books. Not because the task is complete. I am looking forward to getting back into the gospels and begin work on Luke and then John. There is still so much work to do and so much to learn. Yes this has been a learning process for me. I have to admit, about 90% of what is in this book, I saw for the first time when I compared all those parallel chapters and prayed about the spiritual links and lessons. Then it was just a matter of writing.

His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. This explains my deepest thoughts and emotions while working on these books about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. It has been like working with a kind, gentile, loving father at my side every step of the way. But I know there are a lot of details I missed, and some I forgot to include. Other details were just too difficult to explain. But I understand there are just some things God wanted to sit down and personally explain to you. That’s just the way He works. After all, if you’re a parent, you know there are certain things you have to teach on a one on one basis. I hope you know there are things in this world only you can teach your child. And if you let those opportunities slip by, the world will jump in and take your place.

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Can you image a day when fathers hearts will turn to their children and children will respond with love and understanding? The Bible of course gives us an example to learn from. And of course those lessons are often taught using contracts. Luke is the only author who mentioned Zechariah, so we will use Luke 1 as a parallel chapter.

 

Luke 1:13-20 NLTse But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John. (14) You will have great joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, (15) for he will be great in the eyes of the Lord. He must never touch wine or other alcoholic drinks. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even before his birth. (16) And he will turn many Israelites to the Lord their God. (17) He will be a man with the spirit and power of Elijah. He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. He will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and he will cause those who are rebellious to accept the wisdom of the godly.” (18) Zechariah said to the angel, “How can I be sure this will happen? I’m an old man now, and my wife is also well along in years.” (19) Then the angel said, “I am Gabriel! I stand in the very presence of God. It was he who sent me to bring you this good news! (20) But now, since you didn’t believe what I said, you will be silent and unable to speak until the child is born. For my words will certainly be fulfilled at the proper time.”

The first thing the key words point out in the fulfillment recorded in Luke 1 is, an angel came to talk to Zechariah. It was the angel Gabriel. The same angel who delivered messages to Daniel. The angel didn’t bother to introduce himself until after Zechariah expressed doubt. Then it was too late. Zechariah expressed something we need to pay attention to.

We see a pattern in the Bible. God sent Gabriel to deliver some important messages. We see that based on the general rule of repetition. This prophecy about the power of Elijah was also repeated. Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!” (Isaiah 40:3-5 NLTse).

When we pay attention to what is recorded, we see Gabriel shared this information based on scripture with Zechariah before he expressed doubt. Lesson number one. If Zechariah had studied scripture with an open mind and God’s Spirit by his side, he would have understood Isaiah’s prophecy as well as Malachi’s. Two strikes.

We can see the third strike when we understand Zechariah’s prayer for a son. We learn a great deal of details by looking back a few verses. One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. (Luke 1:8-10 NLTse).

Zechariah was a priest. A very responsible priest trusted with important tasks. Notice what he was doing. Zechariah was taking care of the incense in the temple. The texts even goes as far as mentioning prayers to point us to the spiritual meaning of incense. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. (Revelation 5:8 NLTse). There are great lessons to learn once we see how and why that incense was moved from a worldly temple to the Heavenly Sanctuary.

What was Zechariah’s prayer for a son? Since the word father is repeated a number of times, we need to consider what father’s usually pray for. There are two main prayers fathers offer for their children, especially sons. One is to pray their sons are able to accomplish much more than themselves and to live an easier, more enjoyable life. The other prayer is to have a son to carry on the family business. In this case, Zechariah was a priest. Neither one of those prayers fit into God’s plans. Zechariah’s son was not going to be a priest, like the other priests, and his father. And Zechariah’s son was not going to have an easy life.

In the eyes of a father, his son is a symbol of living on past the grave. Fathers feel a piece of themselves will live on in their son. Carrying on the same trade is one way of achieving that goal. And that tradition was not found to be stronger in any trade then the Levitical priesthood. It was almost written in stone before John was born. Zechariah was facing a trial much like Abraham offering Isaac as a sacrifice. For John not to become a priest after the Levitical order was like sacrificing his son.

Zechariah needed some time to think about it. There is something strange about someone who can’t talk. People tend to believe they can’t hear. But Zechariah heard everything around him. He heard what people thought and the gossip they were capable of spreading. Silence was a tool God used to lift the blinders from Zechariah’s eyes. Zechariah heard people talking about how they thought he was cursed. They assumed Zechariah did something wrong in the temple and God was punishing him. Zechariah thought, “how could I be cursed? God sent Gabriel to talk to me. God sent the same angel Daniel talked to.” Silence helped Zechariah to fine tune his connection with God’s Spirit.

When we see key words like birth and born repeated, we have to look for a spiritual connection. That connection is the end of the Levitical priesthood and the introduction to the form of ministry God always intended and really needed. God sent His Son to this world and Jesus needed some help. Now we learn from the contrast. Gabriel told Zechariah how his son was going to lead people back to God, lead fathers to a real relationship with their children, and prepare the people for the coming of the Lord. Gabriel told Zechariah his son was going to accomplish much more than Zechariah ever dreamed about. See the connection in the contrast. John was going to be a preacher like the world has never seen. Gabriel compared him to Elijah. John was to become a man of words and Zechariah lost his ability to speak. This shows us how one form of preaching will end and another one will begin. That’s why John’s ministry is illustrated as a ministry preaching the Good News, and Zechariah, the old priesthood went silent.

Malachi warned, “Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.” Zechariah showed us the beginning of that curse. He wanted to pull his son one way when God needed John to move in a new direction. It was an important direction because it concerned His Son. The Son God was sending down here to teach the world how to worship and serve Him. We see a great deal of those details revealed in the introductions.

Malachi 4:1-4 NLTse The LORD of Heaven’s Armies says, “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw. They will be consumed–roots, branches, and all. (2) “But for you who fear my name, the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings. And you will go free, leaping with joy like calves let out to pasture. (3) On the day when I act, you will tread upon the wicked as if they were dust under your feet,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. (4) “Remember to obey the Law of Moses, my servant–all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.

Sounds like Malachi’s introduction to chapter 4 is telling about the end of the world. The beginning of Jesus’ ministry was the end of the world for some people. Is it? The introduction to every chapter of course establishes its theme and lesson. To understand it better, we can use the help of the five W’s.

Who?

the arrogant and the wicked

What?

judgment is coming

will be burned up like straw

When?

We have to look into the rest of the chapter, or the previous chapters to find that answer.

Where?Once again, we have to search for an answer.

Why?

Since we already have two unanswered questions, it’s time to look at the previous chapter to see how the author led into this introduction.

Malachi 3:14-18 NLTse “You have said, ‘What’s the use of serving God? What have we gained by obeying his commands or by trying to show the LORD of Heaven’s Armies that we are sorry for our sins? (15) From now on we will call the arrogant blessed. For those who do evil get rich, and those who dare God to punish them suffer no harm.'” (16) Then those who feared the LORD spoke with each other, and the LORD listened to what they said. In his presence, a scroll of remembrance was written to record the names of those who feared him and always thought about the honor of his name. (17) “They will be my people,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “On the day when I act in judgment, they will be my own special treasure. I will spare them as a father spares an obedient child. (18) Then you will again see the difference between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.”

The summary in chapter 3 shows two opposing groups. One thinks they have a way around serving God, while the other group, God listens to. We see that theme carried forward to chapter 4 and into Luke 1. There is another group mentioned in the introduction to chapter 4.

Who?

you who fear my name

What?

the Sun of Righteousness will rise with healing in his wings.

And you will go free

you will tread upon the wicked

obey the Law of Moses

When?

There is only one time mentioned: all the decrees and regulations that I gave him on Mount Sinai for all Israel.

Where?

Location is not given.

Why?

Is answered in the what.

We can see time and location are universal, beginning when Moses received God’s law at Mount Sinai. Since we can see John’s birth, and of course Jesus’ birth marked a new understanding of that law. The new beginning must also mark the end of an era. Which of course was one of the main themes of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

Luke’s introduction here is the introduction to his book where we see details we need to pay attention to throughout his book. When we read Luke chapter 1, we have to ask, why this story is so important and how it relates throughout his entire book?

Luke 1:1-13 NLTse Many people have set out to write accounts about the events that have been fulfilled among us. (2) They used the eyewitness reports circulating among us from the early disciples. (3) Having carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I also have decided to write a careful account for you, most honorable Theophilus, (4) so you can be certain of the truth of everything you were taught. (5) When Herod was king of Judea, there was a Jewish priest named Zechariah. He was a member of the priestly order of Abijah, and his wife, Elizabeth, was also from the priestly line of Aaron. (6) Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. (7) They had no children because Elizabeth was unable to conceive, and they were both very old. (8) One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple, for his order was on duty that week. (9) As was the custom of the priests, he was chosen by lot to enter the sanctuary of the Lord and burn incense. (10) While the incense was being burned, a great crowd stood outside, praying. (11) While Zechariah was in the sanctuary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing to the right of the incense altar. (12) Zechariah was shaken and overwhelmed with fear when he saw him. (13) But the angel said, “Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! God has heard your prayer. Your wife, Elizabeth, will give you a son, and you are to name him John.

First of all, Luke wanted his friend to know the accounts he recorded are accurate. After all, Luke was there to see them. Luke also tells us there are other reports he used from some of the early disciples. Luke carefully investigated every detail before writing.

Luke begins with a date. A date we saw missing in Malachi chapter 4. Luke quickly introduced Zechariah, pointing out he was a priest. Because Luke repeated the word priest, we have to consider the reason why.

Luke also pointed out, Zechariah was an important priest and he was old. He’d been around for a while. Like all priests in his day, Zechariah would have began instructions for his position at a very early age. Zechariah endured rigorous training under the care of Israel’s most honored and trusted priests. In short, Zechariah read the scriptures. But he was taught the accepted interpretations and was not allowed to question, add to, or subtract from those interpretations. Zechariah was, for lack of a better term, brainwashed from birth.

The first new lesson we see God introducing to Zechariah is His timing. Elizabeth was well past child bearing years. They waited together in the twilight of their years for what was to come. Because they didn’t have a son to care for them, they had to put more trust and dependence in the established priestly order to care for them in their old age. Which made it impossible for Zechariah to stray away from the accepted order in any way, shape, or form. Zechariah was stuck – bound to his job and beliefs by dedication and financial concerns.

Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations. It was important for God to find a married couple who both followed His commands. But there was more than just following commands. There had to be more than a search for self righteousness through works. God had to find a couple willing to understand His plan of salvation and teach their son, or allow God to teach their son how to prepare the world for Jesus’ ministry.

What are the connecting factors between the introduction for Malachi 4 and Luke 1? Malachi told us to, “remember o obey the Law of Moses, my servant.” Luke told us, “Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God’s eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord’s commandments and regulations.” The connection goes beyond God’s law. Malachi talks about a day of judgment. Luke tells us about the day final preparations were made to announce Jesus’ arrival here in earth. This was not only a renewal of the original form of worship, but the beginning of Jesus’ life, ministry, test, and trial to prove He is worthy to judge this world. Jesus had to first prove He could take the worst this world was prepared to throw at Him and pass every test and trial. God’s standards are not lax. They are especially rigid for His Son. You see, God wanted His Son to be just like Him in all ways. Jesus explained that. No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us. Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father! So why are you asking me to show him to you? (John 1:18, 14:9 NLTse).

No one knows what day Jesus will return to fulfill that portion of His ministry. Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear. “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows. (Matthew 24:35-36 NLTse). But there are certain steps we have to know before we can understand circumstances related to Jesus’ return. Don’t be concerned about the date. Don’t worry about it and certainly, don’t listen to anyone who claims to know the day and hour. But that does not mean we are supposed to ignore the event and all the details and lessons associated with Jesus’ return. We find a recorded fulfillment in one portion of this prophecy. Part of the prophecy is a lesson. A very important lesson we can understand. Many people preach about that one detail, the power of Elijah. “Look, I am sending you the prophet Elijah before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives.” How can we tell which details are correct and which are man made fabrications if we don’t understand the extent of the event?

The main question is, will you be afraid when God pours out a dramatic amount of new information and understanding during those last days? I think most religions preach their own version of the later rain, power of Elijah, a last day Pentecost, a time where people will once again have the gift of prophecy and dreams. The only thing is, I can’t find a verse in the Bible where God told us, He is going to be silent for a time, or withhold His voice until some future time. When I hear people believe God doesn’t talk to this world now, I tell them to tear every page out of their Bible where they find something about God speaking to someone and see how much is left. There may be time that passed when people didn’t listen to God, but that doesn’t mean He wasn’t trying to be heard.

We talked about this study during our meeting today and some important details came out. That’s another way God speaks to us, through His faithful followers. Did you notice, Elizabeth couldn’t get pregnant until Zechariah lost his voice? Look at the texts someone pointed out to me. “Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days in which he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” (Luke 1:25 KJ2000). As soon as Zechariah fell silent, he finally entered into a world where he could understand his wife. Elizabeth had to endure her pain and reproach alone in silence. Zechariah had to share that silence to know his wife. Once he knew and shared her pain, she was ready to conceive.

That’s one thing about God’s Word. Once you learn to study with God’s Spirit, there is always more to see and learn. There is no doubt about it. But it is not always easy to share. Having been involved in an institutional church for some time, I know how difficult it is to share. Malachi provided an important detail that will help us understand why. His preaching will turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the hearts of children to their fathers. Otherwise I will come and strike the land with a curse.”

Like God wanted Jesus to be exactly like Himself, fathers want their children, especially sons to grow up exactly like themselves. As we’ve seen in this story about Zechariah, God needed that chain broken. The last thing God wanted was to see was John to grow up like his father. When we see how God teaches with contrasts we can see that lesson. I’ve heard dozens of people tell me, “I am second generation this, or third generation that.” It’s their way of saying, “I already know everything.” They learned from their parents and if their religion was good enough for their parents and grandparents, it is good enough for them. It is the rut Gabriel told Zechariah he had to get out of. Everything Gabriel told Zechariah went against what he had drilled into his head by his father. That’s been a major problem in Christianity for generations. People refuse to move on. That’s why they reject anything and everything new with no additional thought. They have been drilled into thinking their parents and grandparents are lost if they didn’t know everything. It’s sad, but that’s the way people think. It’s really nothing more than an excuse not to move on. The best reason they can come up with not to listen to God’s voice.

Jesus didn’t have His legs broken at the cross because He had places to go and things to do. God knew Jesus was going to move forward. On the other hand, those guilty people on their crosses had their legs broken. They weren’t going anywhere. They died at the cross. They represent a lot of Christian religions stuck at the cross. They want to keep it easy to understand. They use excuses like, “new people may come in.” Don’t they think God is able to get new people up to speed before they walk through that door? There is no excuse to consistently reject new details God is trying to share. No matter how great or small they may be. God always confirms His Word. There is no danger in learning something new. We were created in God’s image and He is our loving Father, who lives to take us as far as we are willing to go and learn as much as we decide to learn. Which brings us to the perfect time to look at and compare the summaries.

Luke 1:56-80 NLTse Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back to her own home. (57) When it was time for Elizabeth’s baby to be born, she gave birth to a son. (58) And when her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had been very merciful to her, everyone rejoiced with her. (59) When the baby was eight days old, they all came for the circumcision ceremony. They wanted to name him Zechariah, after his father. (60) But Elizabeth said, “No! His name is John!” (61) “What?” they exclaimed. “There is no one in all your family by that name.” (62) So they used gestures to ask the baby’s father what he wanted to name him. (63) He motioned for a writing tablet, and to everyone’s surprise he wrote, “His name is John.” (64) Instantly Zechariah could speak again, and he began praising God. (65) Awe fell upon the whole neighborhood, and the news of what had happened spread throughout the Judean hills. (66) Everyone who heard about it reflected on these events and asked, “What will this child turn out to be?” For the hand of the Lord was surely upon him in a special way. (67) Then his father, Zechariah, was filled with the Holy Spirit and gave this prophecy: (68) “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has visited and redeemed his people. (69) He has sent us a mighty Savior from the royal line of his servant David, (70) just as he promised through his holy prophets long ago. (71) Now we will be saved from our enemies and from all who hate us. (72) He has been merciful to our ancestors by remembering his sacred covenant– (73) the covenant he swore with an oath to our ancestor Abraham. (74) We have been rescued from our enemies so we can serve God without fear, (75) in holiness and righteousness for as long as we live. (76) “And you, my little son, will be called the prophet of the Most High, because you will prepare the way for the Lord. (77) You will tell his people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. (78) Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us, (79) to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (80) John grew up and became strong in spirit. And he lived in the wilderness until he began his public ministry to Israel.

This summary is what I couldn’t wait to get to. Here is where we see one of the most important lessons in this prophecy and its fulfillment. Did you notice something missing? An angel talked to Zechariah. The angel also spoke to Mary. When we check, we see, Joseph had dreams. It seems the only one who didn’t have an angel appearing to them or had a dream was Elizabeth. Look at what she said to praise God. And after those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, “Thus has the Lord dealt with me in the days in which he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.” (Luke 1:24-25 KJ2000).

Elizabeth returned to seclusion, to share the pain her husband was experiencing. Being childless, Elizabeth was not looked upon in a positive way by society. Especially in a circle of priests and their wives who were all experts in the law. Being alone opened up a channel to God’s Spirit to alleviate her lonely feeling. Elizabeth didn’t need a miraculous meeting or dream to learn and understand what was happening. She had a direct connection with God she relied on, because she was using it for years. This is the connection fathers need with their sons and with God. The same connection Elizabeth had with God.

I’ve been trying to sell my house for more than a year. I have it priced way below market value and below tax assessed value. People come over, look at the house, but the answer is always the same. They think the yard is too much work. It is a full acre with flower gardens all over. It also has vegetable gardens and fruit trees as well as a wild flower garden. And of course plenty of grass. They say there is too much work for them. To me it is paradise. A place to walk a few steps and meet God in nature. There are a lot of birds, deer, and even a pair of cranes that mate every years. Ducks are in the pond and geese visit, eat, and rest in the corn field up the block. I watch squirrels dodging hawks and falcons. Every year rabbits are all over the yard for a few weeks. Until those baby hawks leave the nest. I look out everyday and watch the balance of life in a sinful world and learn lessons.

All the people who look at the house have kids. I can see, this world is not ready for this study, or the message in Malachi 4. Fathers have no interest in teaching their kids or spending time with them. There is no connection between them. Fathers have no heart to share. All they know is give their children everything they want, then let television, the Internet, and the school system raise their kids. The world has gone from one extreme to the other. This world is not ready for God’s simple message. God is love.

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Psalms 129:1-3 Back is Covered with Cuts

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Psalms 129:1-3 NLTse From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me. Let all Israel repeat this: (2) From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me, but they have never defeated me. (3) My back is covered with cuts, as if a farmer had plowed long furrows.

This is one of the most graphic prophecies in Psalms. When we think of the spiritual meaning of long furrows plowed through Jesus’ back we can’t help but think of the whipping Jesus endured at the hands of Roman soldiers and how religious leaders convinced people to reject Him as their Savior.

After I highlighted the key words and prayed about this particular prophecy I couldn’t help but see some of the popular conceptions about the cross and how it is often depicted in in shrines, statues, and paintings. We usually see the cross as square. I wondered why the cross is shown to the world as being square. The more I thought and prayed about it the less a square cross made sense. Then I began to see the spiritual meaning behind a round unfinished cross. I also wondered why God would place such a gory prophecy so close to the end of the of the Psalms.

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I began to think of how the cross is preached and presented to the world. Popular preachers hire writers to out do one another on graphic descriptions of the cross. They spend long hours researching history on crucifixions and how people suffered on a cross to bring color to the sermons they write. I wondered why God’s Spirit would direct them to history books which took their minds off God’s written Word. I saw how this is what the world wanted to hear. I saw how Satan wanted to turn people away from the spiritual meaning of the cross to the physical. I saw how preachers fancied themselves as experts by studying the physical aspects while ignoring the spiritual lessons taught at the cross. I saw how the cross was not an end like many preachers seem to teach, but a beginning of understanding. Who in their right mind can deny the fact Jesus’ disciples and followers were blind to the spiritual lessons of the cross until He rose from the grave and spent forty days revealing everything in the scriptures about Himself and the ministry He lived on earth? Jesus explained the scriptures in one night to a couple of men over dinner and they were amazed at what they missed. Now it seems it takes us a lifetime to see what those men learned in a couple of hours while dining with Jesus.

People are too focused on the blood and gore of the cross. One of the most popular movies about the cross is the most graphic ever produced. The writer knew it would be so popular he produced the movie in Hebrew, a language few people viewing the movie could understand. In his estimation this placed human focus and understanding on the graphic scenes he knew would attract the masses. It turned out to be one of the most profitable movies of its time. It didn’t matter the writer and producer was from a religious faith most denominations flocking to the theaters often scorned and accused of the most heinous crimes committed upon humanity over the past few generations. The graphic scenes and hidden symbols of tradition were too much of a lure to people to ignore. The movie achieved its goal. People walked away from the silver screen thinking they knew the truth. All they saw was a man dying. The movie did little if anything to lead people into the close relationship with Jesus He longs for. Like the majority of people who witnessed Jesus dying on the cross, movie goers saw a man die, but didn’t know Him as God’s Son.

Why would the Roman state waste time and funds to finish a cross? Why would they waste resources on taking a round tree trunk and finishing it off to a square piece of lumber to execute a man or woman? It didn’t make sense to waste resources on a convicted criminal. Romans first adopted crucifixion as punishment for slaves. It served the purpose of humiliating the slave as well as instill fear in other slaves. In 71 B.C. The Roman army lined the road from Capua to Rome with 6,000 crucified rebels on 6,000 crosses. In 7 A.D the Romans crucified another 2,000 rebel Jews in Jerusalem. During Titus’s siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., Roman troops crucified as many as 500 Jews a day for several months. The main focus of crucifixion was not to keep carpenters employed and busy. Crosses were made from trees large enough to support a human body. They were chopped down and limbs were trimmed off. Finishing the wood any further would be viewed as a sign of making crucifixion more comfortable for the slave or rebel and looked at as a waste of time. I doubt if the Roman army spent time fashioning square lumber as they marched along the road fastening rebels to crosses. As far as they were concerned, fastening them to a tree with a bunch of rough cut knobs sticking out was giving the rebels what they deserved.

I began to go over the types of wood available to build a cross. I saw how most of the time the cross is shown as being made of hardwood like oak. The Romans wouldn’t think of wasting a valuable wood on slaves and convicts. Cedar is mentioned in the Bible. Can you imagine being nailed to rough sawn cedar after having half your back removed with a whip? Cedar does not decay and is immune to insects because of the natural toxins it contains. The combination of blood and sweat releasing those toxins and mixing in the wounds of a man’s back would be enough to drive a person insane in the matter of hours. Cedar was too valuable a commodity to waste on slaves and criminals. Pine is a less expensive wood and may have been used. When pine branches are trimmed sap will leach out to cover the remaining trunk. Pine sap has many uses. It can be used to make an adhesive. It is also used as fuel and to produce thinners for paint and other material. The chemicals in pine sap along with its rough bark would add to the suffering of the condemned. The rough bark and sap would also add to the difficulty of handling the crosses since they were reused time and again.

Poplar is also mentioned in the Bible and has some interesting significance related to the cross. God told Jacob to strip the bark off poplar branches and stand them up in front of the watering troughs for the sheep and goats. When the poplar branches were placed in the ground and the sheep and goats came to drink, the would easily conceive. Jacob made a deal with his father in law Laban where Jacob would receive all the black sheep and speckled goats as payment for his labor. Do you get it? See the connection to the cross? Jacob was what? A shepherd. So was Jesus. The poplar was stripped of its bark and set up in front of the watering trough to produce black sheep and speckled goats people usually wanted to neglect because they placed less value on them. What kind of people did Jesus attract?

Look at the aspects of poplar. The bark is smooth in young trees about the size they would harvest for crosses. The poplar bark is easy to peal off. After it dries the bark tends to fall off on its own. After a crucifixion or two it would almost fall off on its own when handled exposing the yellow color of the wood below. Now think of the primary colors used in the Tabernacle which pointed to Jesus and His sacrifice. We see the colors blue, red, and purple. Blue and red are used to make purple. I think it’s okay for me to use a portion of my book on the Tabernacle titled, “The Tabernacle, “T” is for the Cross.” here so we can see the spiritual meaning behind those colors.

The color blue may be the easiest to explain. Moses was told to, “Speak unto the children of Israel, and bid them that they make them fringes in the borders of their garments throughout their generations, and that they put upon the fringe of the borders a ribbon of blue: And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring: That ye may remember, and do all my commandments, and be holy unto your God.” Numbers 15:38-40 KJV. Blue is the color used to remind us of God’s commandments. This is a very significant point which has ramifications beyond the Tabernacle.

The color purple is also mentioned during Jesus’ hours before His sacrifice. And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe, And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands. John 19:2-3 KJV. This may be the reason people associate purple with royalty. We have to consider the fact, Roman solders dressed Jesus in a purple robe not to honor, but to mock Him. Would it be proper to apply the definition of royalty to the color purple based on the fact, Roman solders used a purple robe to mock Jesus? Would purple represent royalty, or the disrespect Jesus received at the hands of his executioners?

Scarlet is the most difficult color to find an accurate spiritual meaning for. Scarlet can represent a number of things in the Bible. Isaiah chapter 1 tells us, “though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” This is a very important verse, because it links the color scarlet to red. It seems out of place to assume, scarlet in the Tabernacle represents sin. After all, the Tabernacle was an image, or type of the Heavenly Sanctuary.

Matthew chapter 27 records the robe Roman soldiers placed on Jesus as scarlet. I don’t think this is any type of mistake, but a clue to lead us in an unexpected direction when we study the colors of the Tabernacle.

Revelation chapter 17 describes a scarlet colored beast, and a woman arrayed in purple and scarlet. Revelation chapter 18 describes a city, “clothed in fine linen, and purple, and scarlet.” We know the beast, woman, and city have nothing to do with the Tabernacle, as a matter of fact, they strive against everything the Tabernacle stands for. Notice one important detail. All three are missing the color blue, which represents God’s law.

Isaiah establishes a Biblical link between scarlet and red. Since sins are scarlet, and sins are red, we can look at this as a mathematical equation. Sins = scarlet, and sins = red, therefore, scarlet = red. This allows us to search the word red in an effort to locate additional information.

2 Kings 3:22 KJV And they rose up early in the morning, and the sun shone upon the water, and the Moabites saw the water on the other side as red as blood:

The Bible also provides a connection between red and blood. Common sense may tell us because blood is red, it is okay to establish a relationship between the two, and make them interchangeable, but common sense does not establish a proper spiritual connection, until supporting texts are located. In this case, a simple search supplied the required supporting texts. The following verses show us the relationship between the blood of Christ and the Tabernacle.

But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 2:13-14, Hebrews 10:19, Revelation 1:5-6 KJV.

The Bible supplies adequate evidence showing the scarlet curtains also represent Christ’s blood, His sacrifice for our sins.

When combined the colors scarlet and blue make purple. Some studies indicate this has some significance. Since there are more than one possible interpretation for the colors scarlet and purple, we can substitute the spiritual definitions for the colors to test this theory.

In the Bible, scarlet is used to represent Christ’s blood, and sin. Purple may represent royalty, and mocking. Blue represents God’s law.

God’s law, and Christ’s blood combine to represent His royalty. Jesus’ royalty is shown in John chapter 18, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Jesus is also known as, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.” Revelation 19:16, Daniel 7:14 KJV.

Christ did not die to earn a kingdom. He died to save souls from the bondage of sin. Daniel tells us, Christ’s, “kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.” Paul adds, “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” Daniel 7:27, Romans 8:16-17 KJV.

It is one thing for a man to give his life to save another, but how many men would share his kingdom with those he was willing to save? God’s love did not end at the cross.

We can also consider the other things scarlet, and purple represent. God’s law when combined with sin, can only represent mockery. The beast, and whore in Revelation lack God’s law. The fact of the matter is, given the opportunity they would do away with all of God’s commandments, and replace then with their own rules. Some of their rules may appear similar to God’s commandments, but are still changes to God’s laws. In other words, they are mocking God’s law, just as the Roman solders mocked Christ in the purple robe.

Can scarlet in the sanctuary represent sin? Leviticus chapter 16 explains the details of the yearly atonement of sin. A bull was offered as an atonement for the sins of the high priest, and his house. The ceremony included two goats, one for a sin offering, the other was known as the scape goat. The bull was sacrificed; “And he shall take of the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it with his finger upon the mercy seat eastward; and before the mercy seat shall he sprinkle of the blood with his finger seven times. Then shall he kill the goat of the sin offering, that is for the people, and bring his blood within the vail, and do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bullock, and sprinkle it upon the mercy seat, and before the mercy seat: For on that day shall the priest make an atonement for you, to cleanse you, that ye may be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” Leviticus 16:14-15, 30 KJV.

Of course the ceremony performed in the earthly Tabernacle was a sign, or symbol representing Christ’s work in the Heavenly Sanctuary. But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building; Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us. Hebrews 9:11-12 KJV.

How did sin enter the Heavenly Sanctuary? We have to remember, sin did not originate on earth, it originated in Heaven. Jesus tells us, “I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.” Why was Satan cast out of Heaven? Thou art the anointed cherub that covereth; and I have set thee so: thou wast upon the holy mountain of God; thou hast walked up and down in the midst of the stones of fire. Thou wast perfect in thy ways from the day that thou wast created, till iniquity was found in thee. Ezekiel 28:14-15 KJV.

The earthy Tabernacle illustrates the cleansing of the Heavenly Sanctuary. Sin will be cleansed first from the Heavenly Sanctuary, before the earth is cleansed.

Scarlet accurately represents two important events in the plan of salvation. The offering of Christ’s blood for the forgiveness of sins, and offering the same blood in the Heavenly Sanctuary during the cleansing.

These three colors have been carefully chosen by God to remind His followers of His plan of redemption. The spiritual meaning of each color has been carefully preserved within His word. When properly studied, every detail within the Tabernacle reveals the identity, and character of its designer.

Anyone who owns a color printer knows it takes three colors to make up all the colors. We know these three colors in technical terms as cyan, magenta, and yellow. In layman’s terms they are known as blue, red, and yellow. The Tabernacle provides the blue and red pointing to Jesus’ ministry before and after the cross. To make up the colors of the rainbow, a symbol of God’s promise, we need the color yellow which is supplied by the poplar tree Jesus was nailed to.

Poplar has other properties, uses and traditions we can look at and learn from. It was used for wooden shields before iron became poplar. Its light weight and flexibility had certain advantages. The yellow color resisted fading and was used inside palaces and sanctuaries. The flexibility of poplar was well known in the field of execution. Black slaves in the United States would sing a hymn asking not to be hung from a poplar tree. Hanging was legal in those days and to copy a theme from the Roman’s to extend suffering in order to set an example for other slaves, owners would hang disobedient slaves from a poplar tree. When stools or the bench the slave was standing on was kicked away, the weight of the slave would pull the branch down giving them and instant moment of hope as their feet touched the ground. Other slaves looked on as the victim boobed up and down while they slowly strangled to death. Poplar trees have a history of pain, suffering, and execution.

It’s a shame Satan has been able to succeed for so long in concealing one of the greatest messages from the cross, the missing color from God’s plan of salvation. But God will reveal His messages in His time to the people who need it most. God never forgot His promise, the first covenant He made with this world. His rainbow is not only a sign He will never again destroy the world in a flood, its also a symbol used in the foundation of the New City Jerusalem and it’s gates.

It’s time we stopped looking at the cross as a one dimensional color and opened our eyes to the rainbow of promises God’s given us. Its time for us to search out and find the details His disciples missed before the cross and found after Jesus’ resurrection.

Matthew 27:25-31 NLTse And all the people yelled back, “We will take responsibility for his death–we and our children!” (26) So Pilate released Barabbas to them. He ordered Jesus flogged with a lead-tipped whip, then turned him over to the Roman soldiers to be crucified. (27) Some of the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into their headquarters and called out the entire regiment. (28) They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him. (29) They wove thorn branches into a crown and put it on his head, and they placed a reed stick in his right hand as a scepter. Then they knelt before him in mockery and taunted, “Hail! King of the Jews!” (30) And they spit on him and grabbed the stick and struck him on the head with it. (31) When they were finally tired of mocking him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him again. Then they led him away to be crucified.

The people who put Jesus on the cross took responsibility for putting Him on a tree of little value and work put into fashioning it. They would take two pieces of wood, notch them out to fit, bore a few holes to fasten them together with wooden dowels or tie them in place with ropes. The nails used to fasten Jesus to the cross are often shown in movies as new black iron spikes. They didn’t have the means or materials to preserve iron like we do today. Those nails were untreated. After short exposure to the elements the nails would rust. Enzymes from the blood, acids from fat combined with sweat from the victim, not the mention water from rain would quickly rust and pit the iron spikes. Once used for an execution they were useless for any other purpose. The people condemned Jesus to death on a cross. The cheep wood and rusted nails represented the value they saw in Jesus. A mistake still made today when the cross is taught as an end of Jesus’ ministry. When the cross is taught as the answer to salvation without concern or understanding of the events following the cross looking at what was taught and comparing those details to Jesus’ ministry and the prophecies He fulfilled – teacher diminish the value of the cross. They fulfill the prophecy the earthly material at the cross pointed to.

We also need to look past the cross at what the disciples and Paul taught. Paul quoted hundreds of verses in scripture. Who spends time to look at those scriptures to see the full message Paul is teaching? Paul was no idiot. He may have seen Jesus preach and paid little attention to His words. Paul’s mind would have been wrestling with scripture trying to measure Jesus’ words against what he had been taught. It took a few days of blindness then three years of learning at Jesus’ feet, but once Paul’s eyes were open he understood how and what Jesus taught. By sending people back to scripture and letting God’s Spirit guide them.

Another well taught fairy tale is Jesus’ lily white skin. As if God misplaced someone of European descent in Jerusalem to die on the cross. The dark skin of Jesus’ body contrasted the bright yellow wood of the cross. Jesus took attention away from Himself so people would be attracted to and focus on God, His glory and plan of salvation.

The people condemned Jesus, the solders mocked Him then led Him away to be crucified. How often do we condemn Jesus? Are we willing to take responsibility for His death? There are a lot of symbols in that prophecy and its fulfillment. This prophecy focuses on one. A prophecy that points backward and forward. Another example of how God crossed His time line with multiple events.

The stripes on Jesus’ back were an opening for us to learn from. They should remind us of how He spiritually plowed this field on earth and set the field for others to scatter seed. Those wounds opened up understanding and new meaning to scripture. The truth about those scriptures was the seed His disciples spread as they also plowed new fields. Peter was assigned the field of Gentiles. When persecution ran ramped throughout the region, Peter was sent to minister to a Roman officer and his household. Paul was sent to Jews as well as Gentiles. Among them Paul witnessed to Greeks and in Rome. John plowed new fields when he was sent to Patmos, an island where Rome sent the most notorious criminals. Yes Patmos was a ministry field for John. Those long furrows plowed in Jesus’ back stretched around the world. The Roman whip designed to make Jesus suffer opened up new understanding to God’s plan of salvation.

The introduction to this prophecy tells us part of that story. Like God’s rainbow it provided a sign of hope. From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me. Let all Israel repeat this: From my earliest youth my enemies have persecuted me, but they have never defeated me. They never did defeat Jesus. When we compare this to the introduction in Matthew 27, we see how the religious leaders thought they defeated Jesus.

Matthew 27:1-2 NLTse Very early in the morning the leading priests and the elders met again to lay plans for putting Jesus to death. (2) Then they bound him, led him away, and took him to Pilate, the Roman governor.

The introduction tells only a small portion of their plans. When we look at the summation we can see how confident the priest were in their plan.

Psalms 129:4-8 NLTse But the LORD is good; he has cut me free from the ropes of the ungodly. (5) May all who hate Jerusalem be turned back in shameful defeat. (6) May they be as useless as grass on a rooftop, turning yellow when only half grown, (7) ignored by the harvester, despised by the binder. (8) And may those who pass by refuse to give them this blessing: “The LORD bless you; we bless you in the LORD’s name.”

Matthew 27:59-66 NLTse Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. (60) He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left. (61) Both Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting across from the tomb and watching. (62) The next day, on the Sabbath, the leading priests and Pharisees went to see Pilate. (63) They told him, “Sir, we remember what that deceiver once said while he was still alive: ‘After three days I will rise from the dead.’ (64) So we request that you seal the tomb until the third day. This will prevent his disciples from coming and stealing his body and then telling everyone he was raised from the dead! If that happens, we’ll be worse off than we were at first.” (65) Pilate replied, “Take guards and secure it the best you can.” (66) So they sealed the tomb and posted guards to protect it.

It doesn’t surprise me when we find God using the color yellow in Psalm 129. I’m excited to see it, but I’ve grown to know God provided all the details we need in His prophecies. There’s no need to wonder away from His Word to find answers. When God is good and ready to supply information, He provides all the details and backs them up. In this case the yellow grass is cut down and separated from its source of life. In this prophecy yellow grass is used to protect people from the elements and referred to as useless. If we didn’t see how the color yellow is found on the cross and combined with the colors of the Tabernacle to produce the rainbow of God’s promise, the color standing alone would be useless.

David also made reference to the harvest. In this case the cut grass is ignored. Without the full story of salvation people will be ignored by the harvester, despised by the binder when Jesus comes to gather His people. Those left behind will be the vast number of people who look at the cross but never see its color and never knew the man who died for their sins. The cross to them will be nothing more than a spectacle of pain, suffering, and death pointing to their own experience their ignorance will lead them to. They never experienced the love Joseph felt when he gave up his reputation and status to take Jesus off the cross and lie Him in his own tomb. Joseph sacrificed his own tomb in exchange for eternal life.

The priest tried to think of a way of keeping Jesus in the grave. Their conscience told them Jesus rising from the grave was a possibility. For many Christians this still remains on their conscience as a possibility – but not a reality. I know there are a lot of Christians out there who go to church just in case it is true. Just in case there is a God. Just in case we were created and didn’t evolve. I run across so called Christians who love to blend God’s Word with science to come up with a cozy little belief they feel comfortable with. It’s like serving two gods…. like the pagans did … just in case one couldn’t deliver them they have another god in reserve.

Why would the priests want to post guards to protect a tomb? What good would it do them? The gospels tell us what happened. Deep down inside the priests had doubts. God’s Spirit was still working on them after they crucified Jesus. They still had a chance to repent. Some of them did. God’s message continued to spread. The number of believers greatly increased in Jerusalem, and many of the Jewish priests were converted, too. (Acts 6:7 NLTse). The Roman whip cut deep wounds into Jesus’ back, but not as deep as the furrows Jesus plowed with His blood, sweat, and tears.