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Friday, January 7, 2011

The Cross in the Old Testament Part 2

We continue looking at how the Cross of Christ is prefigured in the Old Testament.

Just after Moses and the Israelites leave Egypt, but before they reach Mount Sinai, they are attacked by the Amalek.
During the battle, Moses climbs a mountain and holds up his staff in his hands. Provided his arms were outstretched the battle was to be won.
Exodus 17:11-13 So it came about when Moses held his hand up, that Israel prevailed, and when he let his hand down, Amalek prevailed. But Moses' hands were heavy. Then they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it; and Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other. Thus his hands were steady until the sun set. So Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
So Moses holding the staff over his head visually would have looked like a cross. I thought also how again the cross of Christ is like St. Paul says in
1 Corinthians 1:18 …the power of God.
Now in the same story of Moses and the defeat Amalek; after the battle Exodus 17:15 say that Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The LORD is My Banner.
 
I wondered what the Hebrew word for banner was and what its significance was here in the story. Why call that altar - The LORD is My Banner.
The Hebrew word ‘banner’ here is nissi, which means a banner, standard, like a flag.
So then I see where the word is used next and sure enough it is the Book of Numbers Chapter 21.
The situation here is that the Israelites once again are being rebellious, so God sends firey serpents to bite them and some of them die.
Numbers 21:8 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he shall live." And Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on the standard; and it came about,
that if a serpent bit any man, when he looked to the bronze serpent, he lived.

Jesus links the brazen serpent to his crucifixion.
Jesus in the New Testament is drawing on this imagery in the Gospel of John when he is talking with Nicodemus.
John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
Now when is Jesus lifted up? In this context it is the cross. Yet there are even further connections. Jesus says to Nicodemus
John 3:14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up;
John 12:32 and I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself."

So when Jesus is lifted on the cross all men will be drawn to himself. This idea has its roots again in the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied about Jesus saying:
Isaiah 11:9-12 In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a standard to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious. In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise a standard for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

So this was prophesied about even in the Old Testament. Something else that struck me here was how Isaiah says “the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people”

When was the first time, but the first Exodus when God through Moses, extends his hands over the sea and at one time saves his people and destroys the enemy.
Moses says this after they get saved:
Exodus 15:6, 12 Thy right hand, O LORD, glorious in power, thy right hand, O LORD, shatters the enemy...Thou didst stretch out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.

So Jesus will do the same - extend his hands on the cross, to defeat sin and save his people.

I think that the death of Samson with the death of Jesus are also.

Samson as we recall is the strong man of the Old Testament with the long hair. Eventually he is captured by the Philistines who are occupying and enslaving Israel at that time. They cut out his eyes and bring him out to make fun of him.
Nowall of the leaders of the Philistines are there at this party, some 3,000 people.
Judges 16:26-30 "Let me feel the pillars on which the house rests, that I may lean against them."…Then Samson called to the LORD and said, "O Lord God, please remember me and please strengthen me just this time, O God, that I may at once be avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes." And Samson grasped the two middle pillars on which the house rested, and braced himself against them, the one with his right hand and the other with his left. 30 And Samson said, "Let me die with the Philistines!" And he bent with all his might so that the house fell on the lords and all the people who were in it. So the dead whom he killed at his death were more than those whom he killed in his life.

So in Samson’s death he destroys the enemy of his people. Jesus does the same.

Hebrews 2:14-15 that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.

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