Judge Yourself

For if we were judging ourselves thoroughly, we wouldn’t be coming under judgment. But when we are judged, we are being disciplined by the Lord so that we might not be condemned along with the world. 1 Co 11:31&32.

If we are to judge ourselves, by what standard are we to discern the body  (V.29)? Paul provides the answer to this question in Colossians 2:

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Col 2:16,17.

Many translations fail to get the gist of what Paul is saying here, and modify verse 17 drastically. There seems to be the notion that “the body of Christ” at the end of the verse seems to just hang. The authorized KJV adds the word “is”, while other translations completely change the text to “the reality is Christ (Messiah). Verse 17 cannot be separated from verse 16 as many translations do, because the point is by what means are we to be judged. It is not by what you do or don’t eat, or any other religious observance, which are a shadow of things that are now established in the body of Messiah.

Allow me to give you an example. I have heard on many occasions a believer say; ”I am in the church every time the doors are open!” That’s great, but here’s what the Lord says about religious observance:

“Woe to you, Torah scholars and Pharisees, hypocrites! You tithe mint and dill and cumin, yet you have neglected the weightier matters of Torah—justice and mercy and faithfulness. It is necessary to do these things without neglecting the others. Matthew 23:23.

There are weightier matters with which we must concern ourselves, and these are established within the functioning body of Messiah. At the judgment, no one is going to hear; “Ah yes, my good and faithful servant. You were in the church every time the doors were open. Enter into the joy of the Lord.”

Consider these words of the Messiah:

Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, and drive out demons in Your name, and perform many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you workers of lawlessness!’. Matthew 7:22,23.

We may perform many wonderful works, but did we know our Master’s voice. Did we perform His Will, or our own in His Name. This must be given serious consideration. Perhaps you had done many wonderful works, but then decided to take up with another brother’s wife.

When I tell the righteous that he will surely live, but he trusts in his own righteousness and commits iniquity, none of his righteous deeds will be remembered. But in his iniquity that he has committed, he will die.     Ezekiel 33:13.

The Lord has ordained the good works that we are to abide in through faithfulness.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from yourselves—it is the gift of God.  It is not based on deeds, so that no one may boast.  For we are His workmanship created in Messiah Yeshua for good deeds, which God prepared beforehand so we might walk in them.   Ephesians 2:8-10. Think on these things.

Bless His Holy Name

Bless the Lord O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His Holy Name. Psalm 103:1.

In Exodus, the Lord gives Moses a new name to identify Himself to the elders of Israel. He is told to inform them that YHVH, the God of your Fathers has sent you. Then He adds, this is my name forever and my remembrance unto all generations. Exodus 3:16.

The name of remembrance is used to call on the Lord, especially for deliverance from enemies. Furthermore, to show that this name is a new revelation, the Lord tells Moses:

And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name YHVH was I not known to them. Exodus 6:3.

Yet this Holy Name of God manages to be inserted by scribes into narratives found in the book of Genesis 141 times. Since that time, there has existed much controversy over the use of this name. Rabbis teach that use of the Name should be avoided completely for fear of using the name in vain. Out of consideration for this concern, most English translations render YHVH simply as The Lord.

This point of contention was dealt with by the Lord Jesus Christ in a most innovative way. When Jesus spoke of God, He routinely referred to Him as “The Father”. He taught His disciples to pray: “Our Father”. Jesus Christ also identified himself as the Son of God, and was accused of blasphemy and was ultimately crucified on this charge. The apostle Paul encourages us to be just as intimate with the Father, teaching us:

 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. Romans 8:15.

While Paul teaches us to be set free from a spirit of slavery and address God as Daddy, it is fear itself that has lead many to avoid the name of remembrance given to Moses. As mentioned, the name is avoided in most English translations by using The Lord.

The English translation used by many Messianic Jews is called the Tree of Life Version of the Old and New Testaments. This translation has gone full circle and replaced The Lord with Adonai. Adonai is derived from the word Adon, which is lord in a common form. For example, Sarai addressed Abram as “my Lord”, Rebekah addresses Abraham’s head servant the same way when he comes seeking a wife for Isaac.

Adonai is in fact sanctified, being used only in reference to The Lord, but it is not the Holy Name of remembrance given to Moses in Exodus 3. You will need a concordance to know when Adonai is actually used in the original text and when it is substituting for YHVH.  In the Tree of Life Version (TLV), Psalm 103:1 becomes:

Bless Adonai, O my soul,
and all that is within me, bless His holy Name.

For anyone who has been taught the English language, this statement implies that the holy Name of God is Adonai. Unfortunately, that is not the case, as the substitution has been made for YHVH. Through a series of mental gymnastics, the holy Name of God has been replaced by a Hebrew word that is derived from the common word Adon, for my Lord. This is drinking the wine of astonishment! Psalm 60:3.

Adonai spoke to Aaron saying:  “Do not drink wine or fermented drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you go into the Tent of Meeting, so that you do not die. This is to be a statute forever throughout your generations.  You are to make a distinction between the holy and the common and between the unclean and the clean. Lev. 10:9&10.

They will teach My people the difference between the holy and the common and explain to them the difference between the unclean and the clean. Ezekiel 44:23.

Now here is where translation becomes a bit ludicrous. Here is Psalm 135:1 in the TLV:

Halleluyah! Praise the Name of Adonai.
Give praise, O servants of Adonai

First of all, Adonai does not appear in this verse. More importantly the Hebrew halal Yah is found and translated Halleluyah. This expression is used frequently in the Psalms and is often simply translated Praise the Lord. Yah is a contracted form of YHVH and used 41 times in the Old Testament. Typically it is also translated “the Lord” beginning with Exodus 15:

The Lord is my strength and song, and He is become my salvation:

Tree of Life substitutes:

Adonai is my strength and song,
and He has become my salvation.

So Adonai replaces Yah in most verses, with the exception of when it is preceded by halal. I suppose Halleladonai would be pretty awkward, and Halleluyah is one of the most familiar expressions in all of Christianity. Of course, so is Praise the Lord!

The question being asked then, is it appropriate for the original text to be mistranslated  to satisfy a tradition of men. What would Yeshua say?

Then Yeshua said, “Woe to you Torah lawyers as well, for you weigh the people down with burdens hard to carry… Luke 11:46.

The apostle Paul teaches that Messiah came to take down the wall of separation between Jew and gentile. Woe to anyone that tries to maintain that wall for the sake of a tradition. We have a better name, a name above all names. His name is Yeshua and He is King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the Son of God.

The one who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the Temple of My God, and he will never leave it. And on him I will write the name of My God and the name of the city of My God—the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God—and My own new Name.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Ruach is saying to Messiah’s communities.”  Revelations 3:12, 13.

One Gospel

I marvel that you are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:6&8.

Over time many have felt the need to adapt the Gospel to a particular time and place as a strategy for outreach and church growth. Let us be clear as to why the Gospel you preach must be pure and true.

Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment.  John 16:7&8.

An evangelical presentation of the Gospel may prove effective for the “winning of souls”, but will only fail to gather those chosen by the Lord absent the conviction of the Holy Spirit. 

Of sin, because they believe not on me.  John 16:9.

True conviction of sin does not occur by preaching against sin. Someone may feel ashamed if they feel called out for their behavior. They may want to be a better person, spouse, and citizen. There is only one Holy conviction: Jesus Christ, crucified for sin.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 1 Co 2:2.

Therefore, the first element of the Gospel is WHO Jesus is, not what He has become to the world. He may be our Savior, Redeemer, Lord and King, but first and foremost, He is the only begotten Son of God. This truth is beyond dispute.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.  John 3:16. (most beloved verse, and the highest truth.)

He that believes on him is not condemned: but he that believes not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. John 3:18.

But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. John 20:31.

The most prevalent adaptation to the Gospel is the “die and go to heaven” message. This evolved out of the myth that “good people” go to heaven when they die. This is easily debunked with the familiar verses from Paul:

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God. Romans 3:23. 

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. Romans 6:23.

However, the message of: accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior and invite Him into your heart, and if you die tonight you will go straight to heaven, does not appear in the New Testament. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is never presented as a die and go to heaven message, but a live in holiness and righteousness in the sight of God.

Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:2.

The consistent apostolic message and of Jesus Christ himself is that of a coming resurrection of the dead and the righteous judgment of God, to which He is appointed the only Potentate.

Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. 1 Tim 6:15.

Jesus taught that we MUST be born again. The apostle John offers a clear presentation that this is only accomplished by believing in the Son of God.

Gentiles preach confess Jesus as Lord. Messianic Jews preach Yeshua haMashiach.  But Paul preached:

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Spirit. 1 Co 12:3.

Before anyone can truly serve the Lord in obedience to the conviction of the Holy Spirit, they must be born of God. This is by faith in the Son.

Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.               1 John 4:15.

Who is he that overcomes the world, but he that believes that Jesus is the Son of God?      1 John 5:5.

We are not called to simply believe, but to overcome. To be called AND chosen AND faithful.

He that overcomes shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. Revelations 21:7.

…and they that are with him are called, and chosen, and faithful. Rev 17:14.

Jesus died to restore us to a right relationship with His Father. He lives forevermore so that we too may live by the faith of the only begotten Son of God.

For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.  Romans 5:10.

Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.Hebrews 7:25.

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ lives in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20.

A Circumcised Heart

The Lord gave Moses and Aaron further instructions in regard to strangers and servants desiring to keep the Passover, that all the males must be circumcised. This is why circumcision was such a hot topic in the early church discussion in regards to expectations placed upon gentile believers. Paul resolved the issue in Romans chapter 2:28 & 29: for he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter, whose praise is not of men, but of God. Note the clear symmetry between the two verses right up to in the spirit and not in the letter. But then Paul adds this final clarification; whose praise is not of men, but of God. When our heart is circumcised, we can say like Paul:

For do I now persuade men or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. Gal 1:10.

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men but God, which tries our hearts. 1 Th 2:4.

Some translations change this to “God, who tries our hearts”. Granted, He certainly does do this, but the point Paul is making is that the test of a circumcised heart is to put ourselves to this question, am I pleasing men or God. This is the issue which tries our hearts.

Twice Paul makes an interesting statement in 1 Co 1:31 and 2 Co 10:17, “let them that glory, glory in the Lord.” The statement suggests that he is quoting a verse from the Old Testament. In actuality, let them that glory, glory in the Lord is a paraphrase of a passage from the prophet Jeremiah. Paul is not so much attempting to teach a lesson here, but to stir up their minds by way of remembrance. By mentioning this he is calling to mind something he no doubt taught on extensively while in Corinth. Why do I say this?  Paul’s stay in Corinth is chronicled in Acts chapter 18, and verse 4 says that he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks. Then he receives from the Lord in a vision by night “be not afraid but speak and hold not thy peace, for I am with you and no man shall set on you to hurt you, for I have much people in this city.” Vs. 9 & 10. And then verse 11 tells us that he continued there for 18 months, teaching the Word of God among them. So let’s look at the text from Jeremiah that Paul would have been teaching from to apply this paraphrase he uses “to glory in the Lord.”

Thus saith the Lord, let not the wise glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty glory in his might, let not the rich glory in his riches: but let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, saith the Lord. Jeremiah 9:23 & 24.

Now let’s jump back over to 1 Corinthians chapter 1:26-29; for you see your calling brethren how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty, and base things of the world and things which are despised God has chosen, yes and the things which are not to bring to naught things that are; that no flesh shall glory in His presence.

Try to set aside the obvious inference that the church is made up of foolish, weak, base and despised members and hear the echo of Jeremiah 9 in this passage. So what was Paul teaching on by using Jeremiah 9 as his text? Let’s continue through the final two verses:

Behold, the days come says the Lord, that I will punish all them which are circumcised with the uncircumcised, Egypt and Judah and Edom and the children of Ammon, and Moab, and all that are in the utmost corners, that dwell in the wilderness: for all these nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart. Jeremiah 9:25.

In the time of Jeremiah, all the people of Israel had become blind to God’s Word. For Paul wrote in 2 Co 3:15-17; even unto this day when Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it (the heart) shall turn to the Lord, the veil shall be taken away. Now the Lord is that Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

The blindness of the uncircumcised heart is a paramount issue. For the Lord has set a day when the veil will be lifted from the hearts of Israel.

This will be an opportunity to look at the first of the mysteries of God Paul speaks about in 1 Co 4:1 & 2; let a man so account of us as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful.

In order to be a faithful steward, a man must know what these mysteries are to which Paul speaks.

For I would not brethren that you should be ignorant of this mystery, less you should be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Romans 11:25.

 

The Blasphemy of a Messiah

At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.   Acts 9:20

How much significance should be placed on this point that Paul immediately began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  First, consider the facts that came out at the trial of Jesus Christ.

Then came Jesus forth, wearing the crown of thorns, and the purple robe. And Pilate saith unto them, Behold the man! When the chief priests therefore and officers saw him, they cried out, saying, Crucify him, crucify him.

Pilate saith unto them, Take ye him, and crucify him: for I find no fault in him.  The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law he ought to die, because he made himself the Son of God.           John 19:5-7.

At a public trial, the testimony of His accusers was that Jesus must die for claiming to be the Son of God. Now the man who was previously persecuting the church, one of high esteem among the religious leadership, was preaching this very thing! This is an extraordinary turn of events, that the one who was identified and accepted by the original disciples as the “apostle to the gentiles”, would first boldly preach in the synagogues of every place he visited.

For many have come before and after claiming to be a messiah, a fact of which is much attested. For messianic Jews to simply proclaim Yeshua haMashiach in Israel or anywhere in the world in nothing new under the sun.  If you want to stir up the status quo, preach the Son of God. 

Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.  For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.  Acts 5:34-39.

It is noteworthy that this same Gamaliel was the headmaster of the school of the Pharisees where Saul trained. (Acts 22:3). And who was the one man that disregarded this advice and set off on a murderous rampage against the church?  Irony!

Before appearing at the judgment seat of Pilate, Jesus was examined by the High Priest, along with the scribes and elders. Many false witnesses came forward to accuse Jesus, but none of the charges held. Then the High Priest played his trump card:

But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy. What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death. Matthew 26:63-66.

And so the religious authorities found Jesus guilty of blasphemy and worthy of death for claiming to be the Son of God. Then Saul, upon his conversion immediately preached this in the synagogues, thereby, bringing the same charge against himself. Then he gave this testimony of himself before his conversion..

Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.   1 Tim 1:13.

This is his conversion, to embrace what was called blasphemy, and reject what was before:

I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamalieland taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day.  Acts 22:3.

The Lord Jesus Christ expects us to preach His Blasphemy, for this is the most excellent glory that He received:

For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.              2 Peter 1:17.

do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’?   John 10:36.

Receive From Heaven

After these things came Jesus and His disciples into the land of Judea and there He tarried with them  and baptized. And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim because there was much water there and they came and were baptized. For John was not yet cast into prison.    John 3:22-24.

There comes a point in everyone’s ministry when they must make the right decision and abide under the anointing they received for the work they were chosen to do. Two ministries are in the Judean wilderness, both baptizing. This is an awkward situation but nothing bad has come of it, yet. Ultimately questions will be asked and there will be an accountability required of us.

Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John and said unto him Rabbi, he that was with you beyond Jordan to whom you bore witness, behold, the same baptizes and all come to him. John answered and said a person can receive only what is given them from heaven.  John 3:25-27.

This discussion raises more questions than answers and demands a serious pause for consideration. John’s ministry is quickly becoming a lesson for future disciples to draw wisdom. Why does John even still have disciples? And he is now addressed as Rabbi? Notice the way they describe the Lord as “he that was with you”. Why did he not become a disciple of Jesus with the revelation he had received concerning Him?

Jesus did not call John to follow Him as he did His first disciples. John was clearly left to his own devices and now his very purpose is coming into question. He gave his own testimony previously that defined his anointing and purpose, “I am the voice crying out in the wilderness, prepare the way of the Lord”. What remained for him to accomplish? The Holy Spirit gives us one of the most important lessons we could ever hope for: “you can only receive what is given you from heaven.” Will this become an issue in our walk with the Lord?

You yourselves bear me witness that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that has the bride is the bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, which stands and hears him rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice, this my joy therefore is fulfilled. He must increase but I must decrease. John 3-28-30.

We now come to one of the more frequently quoted verses: He must increase but I must decrease. If only that were true, John would have quietly faded into the background. We would say “whatever happened to John the Baptist, he was so prominent at first and then he just seems to disappear from the narrative.”  Oh, that makes sense, once Jesus was baptized he had fulfilled his mission. The only lingering question would be, why did he not follow Jesus? Instead he ceases to be a voice in the wilderness and goes to Jerusalem. Notice the Bible doesn’t say “and the word of the Lord then came again unto John and said, go tell that rascal Herod he can’t have his brother’s wife.”  Maybe he was just bored, but now we find him in prison, his head soon to be placed on a platter.

Now when John had heard in the prison the works of Christ he sent two of his disciples, and said unto Him are you He that should come or do we look for another?             Matthew 11:2, 3.

This is astonishing! John was informed of God how to identify the Messiah. He witnessed the Holy Spirit descend from heaven in a bodily form and light on Jesus like a dove. He testified, this is the Son of God! And now he asks, “Do we look for another?” He is actually saying, if you are the Messiah, why am I in prison!? Aren’t you supposed to be restoring the kingdom of Israel, aren’t you supposed to restore the throne of David!?

Jesus answered and said unto them Go and show John again those things which you do hear and see.  Mt. 11:4.

Jesus tells John’s followers that the works of Christ speak for themselves. Then he adds another critical word for us to always consider:

And blessed is whosoever that shall not be offended in Me. Matthew 11:6.

This was the Lord’s pointed word to John, are you offended in me? We can never allow our own expectations to distort our understanding of what God has chosen us uniquely to have as a stewardship. John the Baptist teaches us that we can come out from under our anointing, we can walk and speak in the flesh what we believe to be the word of God, even quoting scripture verbatim, and there will be consequences. Condemning Herod was not kingdom business, not the Gospel message that Jesus came for: “to save the world, not condemn”.

Truly I say unto you among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. Mt. 11:11.

My beloved brethren, abide in Christ, and remain among the least of these.                    Keep a good head on your shoulders!

 

If You Will Receive

For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John. And if you will receive, this is Elijah which was to come. He that has ears to hear let him hear. Matthew 11:13-15.

His disciples asked, “Why do the scribes teach that Elijah must come first?” Jesus answered, “Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things. But I tell you that Elijah has come already and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they desired. Likewise shall the Son of man also suffer of them.” Then the disciples understood that he spoke unto them of John the Baptist. Matthew 17:10-13.

The relationship between John the Baptist and Elijah was a stumbling block for the Jews at the time that Jesus was ministering the gospel. Clearly, they were not one and the same person, as Elijah was taken directly to heaven hundreds of years before Christ. When the authorities in Jerusalem sent emissaries to inquire into the baptism of John, he was asked point blank, “Are you Elijah?” He answered “I am not. I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness: make straight the way of the Lord, as spoken by the prophet Isaiah. (John 1:19-23.) He did not suddenly appear on the scene the way Elijah did in 1 Kings 17, but we are given a narrative of his birth to Elizabeth and Zacharias in Luke chapter one. The Holy Spirit clarifies this by the prophecy given to Zacharias by the angel who announced his coming conception.

And he shall go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. Luke 1:17.

The angel here references the prophecy of Malachi that Jesus also alludes to in Matthew 17 when he said Elijah truly shall come first and restore all things. Of course, John the Baptist did not restore anything, but simply announced the coming of the Lord, as the prophecy in Isaiah 40 that he refers to when questioned by the religious authorities. So what is the significance of this prophecy in Malachi?

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. Malachi 4:5, 6.

This is obviously a prophecy concerning the second coming and the judgment. The greater stumbling block for the Jew was that the Messiah would come twice, first as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world. At the end of the age He will complete all prophecy with the day of God’s wrath. Jesus understood that anyone waiting for Messiah would expect Elijah first, and he was provided in the person of John who came in “the spirit and power of Elijah”. Consider how he works around this issue in Luke chapter four in the synagogue of Nazareth one Sabbath day when He was chosen to read from the prophet Isaiah chapter 61.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are bruised.

To preach the acceptable of year of the Lord. Luke 4:18, 19.

After stopping the reading abruptly, he sits back down and every eye is on Him, wondering why He has stopped. He then declares, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your hearing.” So why suddenly stop reading? Because Isaiah 61:2 continued, “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God”. We see the first and second coming mentioned in one verse, and Jesus declaring the fulfillment of only the acceptable year of the Lord.

So why do biblical scholars claim that the ministry of Jesus lasted three years? In John chapter 2 Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Passover when he drives the vendors from the temple, which is immediately followed by the days of Unleavened Bread. In John chapter 5 He returns to Jerusalem for the next feast, which would have been Firstfruits. In John chapter 7 He is at Jerusalem at the great feast, which is Tabernacles. In accordance with the Law of Moses, all Jewish men were required to appear “before the Lord” for these three feasts.

The next time we find Jesus in Jerusalem, Lazarus has been raised from the dead and all the people are already in the city for the upcoming Passover. He is greeted by the people as a coming king, in spite of the fact that He arrives on a donkey to fulfill the words of the prophet. He never sees the feast of unleavened bread and He keeps the Passover a day early because He knows his arrest and crucifixion are eminent. This completed the acceptable year of the Lord. Do you really think that Jesus came to Jerusalem three times as prescribed by the Law, worked miracles, declared Himself to be the Son of God and provoked the religious authorities by calling them a generation of vipers and then said No? Okay, I’ll try again next year for the less acceptable year of the Lord round two. Once Jesus reached the age of 30, He began His ministry and fulfilled His Father’s Will. When He comes again it will the Day of the Lord.