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MINI-DESPATCH. April 18, 2000.
Wendy Howard, editor of Despatch magazine.
 
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THE WONDERFUL SACRIFICE OF JESUS CHRIST!

The Jews were, long ago, in the wilderness of the desert, in the land of Edom. Their complaints  were never ending! Everything was wrong. And they never stopped bothering Moses with their moans and murmurings! God was so displeased with the Jews that He sent judgment on them. The camp of the Israelites received a sudden and awesome plaque of serpents - send from the Lord!  Many people died of snake bite, for they were deadly poisonous serpents.

Moses was instructed by the Lord God to do something which showed Yahweh’s mercy. Moses was told to get a pole and put a brass serpent on it - and raise it up for all to see. Brass stands for judgment. Then the glorious miracle occured. When a serpent had bitten any person, and that person looked at the brass serpent - he lived! He did not die, he was saved just by looking up at the snake on the pole.

In the New Testament, 1,532 years later, the Bible tells us these amazing things:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness,
even so must the Son of man be lifted up:
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. “ ( John 3:14,15).
The real brass serpent on the pole was like the SIN of the Jewish people being judged. When they looked at that snake up there the sin was forgiven - and they didn’t die physically. When Jesus hung on the Cross of Calvary, He took our place and was judged for our wrong doing - our sin, yours and mine. When anyone “looks” in repentance at Christ’s Cross, and trusts in Him, that person will not die spiritually. Jesus took the place of everyone on the earth - and SIN was dealt with. Jesus was judged for OUR sin - yet He was a Perfect Divine Person, Who knew no sin.

The record of Moses and the serpent, found in Numbers 21:7-9, was a type of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. How important it is that we look at what He did for us all, and make sure that we ourselves are trusting in only Him to be saved:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God
is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” ( Romans 6:23).
The secular world will soon be vaguely thinking about the death of Jesus Christ at Calvary, as the world celebrates “Easter.” Most people will not really understand what His death was all about!  They will just see a history story about a Jewish man who was crucified. Then they will eat hot cross buns, chocolate eggs and other special food - but their hearts will be hard and cold against the Living God and His wonderful Saviour. How empty, even insulting it all is. Because Christ’s death was the most important event that ever happened on this planet! His was the consummate act of Love and Forgiveness.

Let us start looking at this event, the death of Christ,  long before it even happened! The Old Testament in our Bibles was written hundreds and hundreds of years before Jesus ever came to the earth as a baby. In its pages God showed all about this wonderful One Who would come to save us. There are so many prophecies in the Old Testament about Christ that we cannot look at them all, just a few. Prophecy is news that is told before the event! Like a newspaper report which is told before the car accident, or before the Royal baby is born, or before the war breaks out in a foreign land. How can this be? God knows all things, and He knows all that will happen on this earth beforehand. And God is the real author of the Bible. Let’s look at what the Old Testament told us beforehand about Jesus’ death!

A PROPHECY.

“For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked
have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.”  (Psalm 22:16).
This prophecy was written in 1000 BC. It was written a thousand years before Jesus was even born!

Now have a look at what happened, in Matthew 27:35:

“And they crucified him, and parted his garments ...
that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet....”
Being crucified means, of course, having the hands and feet nailed to a cross.
Christ had His hands and feet “pierced.”

THE CROSS.

What about the Cross?
Was it really a Cross, or just a beam of wood or even a tree?
Some cults insist that there was no Cross:
 

“And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene,
Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.” ( Matthew 37:22).
The prophecy in David’s Psalm 22:16 shows the hands and feet of our Lord pierced.
There was no crucifixion practised in David’s day by the Jews. This kind of execution was used by the Phoenecians, Carthaginians and the Persians in the 6th century BC.

It was used by the Romans in Christ’s day only for those who were not Roman citizens. Romans citizens were executed by the sword, ( as Paul was ) or could choose if they were knights or the aristocracy to commit suicide. This was how Pilate died.

There were four kinds of crosses used in Roman crucifixion:

1. Crux Simplex - the simple vertical stake.
2. Crux Commissa - a cross shaped like a ‘ T ’.
3. Crux Decussata - a cross shaped a like an ’ X ’.
4. Crux Immissa - held to be  type of cross that Jesus Christ was crucified on.
This was confirmed by the Christian writer Ireneaus - 140-202 AD.

The tradition of the type of cross is strengthened by Matthew 27:37; Mark 15:26; Luke 23:38 and John 19:19-22. It was NOT a cross shaped like an ‘ X ‘ as the title was nailed to  the cross of Jesus above His head.
Did Jesus carry all of His cross when He struggled along those streets of Jerusalem? The usual procedure was to cause the condemned man to carry the cross-beam [ patibutum ] to the scene of his execution, not the entire cross as is often depicted. The condemned person was then stripped, and laid down with his shoulders on the crossbeam. Then his hands and feet were either nailed or tied to the cross beam. This was then lifted and secured to the upright post of the cross so that  victim’s feet could not touched the ground.
 

A PROPHECY.

In 712 BC, that is seven hundred and twelve years before Jesus was born, Isaiah 53:5,6  declares:
 

“But he was wounded for our transgressions he was bruised for our
iniquities : the chastisement of our peace was upon him...
and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all...”
Now have a look at Romans 5:6-8:
 
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that,
while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
When Jesus died it was as a payment for all the sins of the whole human race - past, present and future! What a Saviour! When He died for you, how many of your sins were in the future? Why all of them were! So Christ paid for all of your sin on the Cross, hundreds of years before you came into the earth.

A PROPHECY.

In 787 BC, seven hundred and eighty seven years before Christ, the prophet Amos wrote this:
 

“And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord God,
that I will cause the sun to go down at noon,
and I will darken the earth in that clear day.”
 
What happened when Jesus died? Matthew 27:45:
 
“Now from the sixth hour [ 12 noon ] there was darkness
over all the land unto the ninth hour.”
When Jesus hung on that awful cross darkness came over the earth from 12 noon until the “ninth hour” ( 3pm ). It was such a holy time that God kept people from seeing the Lord Jesus Christ being judged for the sins of the world.

A STUDY OF PROPHECY.

There many, many more prophecies which deal with Christ’s sacrificial death in the Old Testament. What a thrill to look them up in God’s Word and ponder upon them. Note that the New Testament makes it perfectly clear when a prophecy is being fulfilled - it says so!

There is no guess work or personal opinion on the matter:
 

Psalm 22:1 compare Matthew 27:46.
Psalm 69:21 and John 19:28-30.
Psalm 35:11 and Matthew 26:59-61;
Psalm 118:25,26 with John 12:12,13;
Zechariah 11:12,13 and Matthew 27:3-10;
Psalm 35:1 and Matthew 26:59-61;
Psalm 2:1,2 with Acts 4:25-27;
Psalm 41:9 and John 13:18,19,21,26,27;
Zechariah 13:7 with Mark 14:27;
Isaiah 50:6 compare Mark 14:65 and Matthew 27:26;
and lastly Isaiah 53:12 and Mark 15:28.
There are many, many more.
 

THE ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM.

Jesus was only once proclaimed as the Messiah in the days of His earthly ministry. This happened as recorded in John 12:12,13. He came as King at His capital city on 10th Nisan,  anniversary over 15 centuries of  day when the perfect male lamb was brought into the home to be on the 14th Nisan the sacrifice for sin. He entered Jerusalem riding on an ass.  Matthew 21:4,5. Thus fulfilling the prophecy written in 487 BC:
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.” Zechariah 9:9.

Why an ass? The Judges of Israel  leaders in the time before Saul was king over Israel, used to ride on white asses ( Judges 5:10 ). This was a tradition amongst  early kings. So Jesus Christ came riding on an ass to show His identification with  the rulership of Israel. Later kings rode on horses. But the ass showed that the ruler was also a servant.

HOW SHORT A TIME...

It was but a short time ( within three days ) before the crowds who waved palms for their king cried “crucify him!” ( Mark 15:13). Yet, the Lord God Almighty had delivered His own Son up to the very death which He endured for us all. It was not by the mere caprice of the rabble that He died!
 

“Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. “ Acts 2:23.

“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” 11 Corinthians 9:15.

“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. “
( Romans 5:7-9).

(Acknowledgement given to Perth Christian Bible Ministries reference source ).
 
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From W. B. Howard ...
Editor of `Despatch' Magazine & "Beauty for Ashes" Booklet
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