SERMON DELIVERED ON 07-27-19  

       In last weeks sermon we saw how Jesus had taught His disciples that it was the Hebrew Scriptures that told of what He would experience during His time here on planet earth.  We saw how passages in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 were used by the Apostles to prove to others that Jesus was indeed the promised Messiah to Israel.  In Acts 17 we saw how Paul is seen at a synagogue in Thessalonica for three Sabbaths in a row proving to the Jews and others that Jesus is the Christ by referencing the Hebrew Scriptures.  

       Today we will return to that synagogue in Thessalonica were Paul is proving from the Hebrew Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.  While it is highly probable Paul used Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 as we covered last week, it is also very probable he used Psalm 69 and other passages we will look at today. 

      Psalm 69:1-5: Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.   You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you. 

       When David says, “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you,” this tells us David is writing about himself and not about Jesus as Jesus would not be admitting to folly or guilt. Some translations actually render the phrase “my guilt” as “my sin.”  Jesus never sinned. So this passage can’t be about Jesus. Yet we find statements in Psalm 69 that are used to relate to Jesus by NT writers. One example is verse 9.

       Psalm 69:9: Zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.

       Here David is telling us his zeal for God’s house consumes him.  The temple had not yet been built so the house David was referring to was probably the Tabernacle.  Now how does this relate to Jesus? Well, in John 2, it is recorded that when Jesus found men in the temple selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money, He made a whip out of cords, and drove all of them from the temple area.  To those who were selling doves he told them to get out and said “How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!"

       John 2:17: His disciples remembered that it is written: "Zeal for your house will consume me."

       Here we find that what was written hundreds of years earlier in a totally different context is now being applied to Christ.  Was Psalm 69:9 a prophecy about Christ?  John doesn’t say it was.  But John does associate what Jesus said with what David had written hundreds of years earlier. Psalm 69:21 is another association that is made.

       Psalm 69:21: They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. 

       Matthew 27:33-34: They came to a place called Golgotha (which means The Place of the Skull). There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.

       Here there isn’t any explicit association made with what David wrote.  Matthew does not say, as John does, that what Jesus was experiencing here was related to what had been written.  What we have from Matthew is an implied association between David’s statement and an event in the life of Jesus. 

       There are dozens of such implied associations between OT sayings and events in Jesus’ life.  Let us look at another one.  In Psalm 118 we see David extolling God’s greatness while once again expressing anguish over persecutions he was suffering at the time. Within this context, David then makes this statement:

        Psalm 118:22-23: The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone;   the LORD has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes.

        Psalm 118 is a robust song of praise and thanksgiving directed to YHWH for facilitating deliverance from David’s and Israel’s enemies. Included in this Psalm is the statement seen in verses 22-23 that Jesus applies to Himself.

       Matthew 21:42-45:  Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "`The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone ; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes' ? "Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."  When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them.  

       Mark 12:10-11: Haven't you read this scripture: "`The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" 

      Luke 20:17-18: Jesus looked directly at them and asked, "Then what is the meaning of that which is written: "`The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone'? Everyone who falls on that stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed."      

       Within the context of Psalm 118, it would appear when David writes of a stone that has been rejected becoming the capstone, he is writing about himself or about Israel as some commentators believe.  When looking at the history of David, we see he was rejected right from the beginning.  When Samuel was told by God to find a king to replace Saul, he was directed to consider the sons of Jessie.  Jessie paraded before Samuel seven of his sons.  Jessie didn’t even bother to bring out his eight son David.  Samuel rejected all seven of the sons paraded before him and asked for David to be brought out.  It was David, who was initially rejected from even being considered, who became King over Israel. 

       David initially became one of Saul’s armor bearers and was well liked by Saul.  However, David’s successes in battle and general popularity among the Israelites turned Saul against David and David spent many years hiding from Saul having been rejected by his king who was now trying to kill him.  Yet in the end, David prevailed and became King of Israel.  Figuratively speaking, the stone the builders rejected had become the capstone. What is interesting is that Jesus uses this writing from Psalm 118 in reference to Himself.

       In Matthew 21, Jesus gives a series of parables to the religious leaders and concludes with a parable about a landowner who planted a vineyard, put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. The land owner then rents the vineyard to some tenant farmers and goes away on a journey. When harvest time approaches, he sends his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. The tenants are seen as seizing his servants, beating one, killing another and stoning a third servant. The land owner then sends more servants to collect the fruit and the tenants treat them the same way. Finally, the land owner sends his son who the tenants kill.

       Jesus then asks the religious leaders what the land owner should do to these tenants.  The religious leaders reply that the land owner should punish the tenants and give the vineyard over to new tenants.  Then Jesus says "Have you never read in the Scriptures: "`The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone." Jesus refers to this OT passage in Psalm 118 and applies it to Himself. 

        When Peter and John were called before the religious leaders to account for how they were able to bring about the healing of a man cripple from birth, Peter refers to the Psalm 118 passage and again does so in one of his letters.  Paul appears to appeal to this passage as well.

       Acts 4:10b-11:  It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "`the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.'

       1 Peter 2:7:  Now to you who believe, this stone is precious. But to those who do not believe, "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,"      

       Ephesians 2:19: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

       The question that arises here is whether Psalm 118:22 is or was meant to be prophetic of Jesus?  There is nothing in Scripture that says David’s statement about a capstone was made as predictive of Christ.  Neither Jesus, Peter nor Paul say that David's use of the "cap stone" metaphor was a prophecy about Christ. They simply apply this metaphor to Jesus. On the other hand it is generally recognized that David is a type of Christ in OT Scripture.  This being the case, Psalms that pertain to David in their original context can be seen as pertaining to Christ as well.      

Zechariah 9:9:

       Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.

       The context of Zechariah is YHWH bringing destruction upon Tyre and other nations becoming fearful because of what happens to Tyre.  There is a good deal of figurative language describing God interacting with Ephraim and Judah in various ways.  In the midst of all this rhetoric is the statement seen in verse 9:9.  Several NT writers use Zechariah 9:9 as predictive of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey.

       Matthew 21:1-5:  As they approached Jerusalem and came to Bethphage on the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, "Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, tell him that the Lord needs them, and he will send them right away." This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: “Say to the Daughter of Zion, `See, your king comes to you, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'"

       John 12:14-16: Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written, "Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king is coming, seated on a donkey's colt."  At first his disciples did not understand all this. Only after Jesus was glorified did they realize that these things had been written about him and that they had done these things to him.

       As can be seen, there is nothing in Zechariah 9:9 to suggest this is a prophecy about Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey. However, it is a prophecy about a king who is righteous and bringing salvation riding a donkey into Jerusalem.  All four Gospels record Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey and being hailed as a king. The association with Zechariah appears unmistakable. 

       Some skeptics believe this event never happened because if it did it is believed the Romans would have immediately arrested Jesus and put Him to death since they had no tolerance for anyone claiming to be or being claimed to be a king. However, this event took place during the Passover season when Jerusalem was extremely crowded and the Romans did everything possible to keep the peace. Arresting Jesus in broad daylight and executing Him would have created quite a backlash.

       Some believe Jesus manufactured this event to make it look like he was fulfilling prophecy.  It is believe from early on He perceived Himself as the promised Messiah and orchestrated events in His life to reflect OT prophecies and events.

       However, as already seen and as will be seen as we move through more of this material, there are many events in the life of Jesus that appear to relate to OT writings that Jesus would not have been able to orchestrate.  This makes the skeptics assertions highly improbable.  

The Bethlehem birth:

       Matthew reports that Magi come to Jerusalem and inquired as to the location of the one who has been born king of Jews.  It’s recorded that King Herod is told by the Jewish religious leaders that the Christ is to be born in Bethlehem according to what the prophet has written and then Matthew paraphrases what the prophet Micah wrote.

       Matthew 2:5-6: "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: "`But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.' "

       Micah 5:2: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

       Micah prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.  In chapters one through three, in very apocalyptic and hyperbolic terminology, Micah appears to be predicting the Assyrian captivity of the Nation of Israel and Babylonian captivity of the Nation of Judah.  In chapter four he appears to be looking forward to the “last days” when Israel will be restored as a unified nation with headquarters at Jerusalem.  In chapter 5 is the prophecy about a ruler coming out of Bethlehem followed by additional narrative as to the manner in which this ruler will rule. 

       Micah 5:3-4: Therefore Israel will be abandoned until the time when she who is in labor gives birth and the rest of his brothers return to join the Israelites. He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

       After speaking about the coming ruler to Israel, Micah speaks of Jacob (Israel) being scattered among the nations and how God will judge the nations that don’t obey him.  In chapters six and seven, Micah continues to record God’s displeasure with Israel and concludes by once again speaking of Israel’s restoration.

       The book of Micah is largely predicting judgement upon Israel for their sinning ways. Mixed in with this judgement rhetoric is prophecy about restoration under a leader who comes out of the town of Bethlehem.

       It is apparent that the religious leaders of Jesus day understood that OT Scripture predicted that the Christ would be born in Bethlehem as this is what they told Herod. That Bethlehem was believed to be the prophesied birth place of the Messiah appears to have had widespread belief among the Jews of Jesus day.  When speculating as to who Jesus was and knowing He had been raised in Galilee, some asked the question, “Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David's family and from Bethlehem” (John 7:42).

       Micah 5 appears to be plausible as predictive of Jesus' birth as there is no apparent OT fulfillment of this prophecy and it is associated with a future ruler over a restored kingdom of Israel who is a descendant of David. Scripture shows David’s family came from Bethlehem.

       So here the charge of skeptics that Jesus manufactured events to make it look like he was fulfilling prophecy doesn’t hold water. Jesus would not have been able to orchestrate the place of His birth.  He would not be able to orchestrate OT prophecies pertaining to Has trail and crucifixion. The skeptic’s claims here are without merit.  Now let’s take a look at what is referred to as the 70 weeks prophecy.

Daniel 9:24-27

       Daniel 9:24-25: "Seventy `sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy.  "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven `sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.'

       In the 70 weeks prophecy, 70 weeks is equal to 490 days, which becomes 490 years according to the day for a year principle that scholars have identified in Scripture. Daniel writes that from the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler comes; there will be seven `sevens,' and sixty-two `sevens.' This would be a total of 69 weeks or 483 years. History reveals that it was approximately 483 years prior to the appearance of Jesus that the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem was made. This presents pretty good indication that the Anointed One called the ruler who appeared 483 days after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem is Messiah (Christ) Jesus. 

       Daniel 9:26:  After the sixty-two `sevens,' the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.  The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end will come like a flood: War will continue until the end, and desolations have been decreed.

       While there are a variety of interpretations of this passage, it appears Daniel is predicting the crucifixion of Messiah Jesus and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple following the 483 years.   Daniel speaks of the people of the Anointed One, called the ruler, destroying the city and the sanctuary.  The ruler is identified as the Anointed One in verse 25.  If the Anointed one is Christ Jesus, the people of Christ Jesus would be His fellow Israelites the Jews.  These would be the people of the ruler that was to come who would destroy the city and the sanctuary. 

       While we know the Romans played a significant role in destroying Jerusalem and the temple, first century historian Josephus writes that the Jews did more to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple than did the Romans. According to Josephus there were a number of Jewish factions all fighting each other before the Romans even arrived. There was virtually a civil war going on which caused much death and destruction.

       Daniel 9:26 appears to predict the crucifixion of Jesus in the middle of the 70th week which would be three and one-half years into the final seven years of the 490 years of the 70 weeks prophecy.  Remember the day for a year principle here.  The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple would follow some 40 years later.  Jesus being cut off in the middle of a seven year period is further indicated in Daniel 9:27. 

       Daniel 9:27: He will confirm a covenant with many for one `seven.'  In the middle of the `seven' he will put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on a wing [of the temple] he will set up an abomination that causes desolation, until the end that is decreed is poured out on him. "

       As is true of verse 26, there are a number of interpretations to this passage.  One interpretation is that the war with Rome lasted seven years. According to this view, this war began when Roman General Cestius Gallus came up against Jerusalem in October of A.D. 66 and didn’t end until the last of the Jewish holdouts died at Masada in A.D. 73, a period of seven years.

       Midway through this war (AD 70), the temple was destroyed.  Once the Temple was destroyed, the sacrificial/offering system came to an end.  There has been no temple, priesthood or sacrifices since.  It is believed the “He” of Daniel 9:25 is Messiah Jesus who puts an end to sacrifice and offering by facilitating the destruction of the Temple through the vehicle of the Roman army.    

       As previously mentioned, the Hebrew word messiah appears 39 times in the OT but in only three places can this word be seen to be associated with Jesus. Two of those three places are here in Daniel 9:24-27 were we see the phrase "Anointed One" (Hebrew "Messiah) used twice. This passage speaks of a coming of an "Anointed One" in association with the finishing of transgression, putting an end to sin, atoning for wickedness, bringing in everlasting righteousness, sealing up vision and prophecy and an anointing of the most holy. 

       This prophecy also speaks of the "Anointed One" being cut off and putting an end to sacrifice and offering.  Every one of the things mentioned here can be associated with Jesus and what the NT describes Him as doing.  Yet oddly enough, as much as NT writers and Jesus Himself cite OT passages as pertaining to Jesus, Daniel 9:24-27 is not cited in the NT as associated with Jesus except for verse 27.

       Daniel 9:27’s reference to an abomination that causes desolation is referred to by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse.  In Matthew 24:15 Jesus refers to this passage in Daniel 9. 

       Matthew 24:15-16: "So when you see standing in the holy place `the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel--let the reader understand--16. then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.

       Since this abomination in Daniel 9 is tied to the destruction of the Temple and the Olivet Discourse is largely tied to the time of the destruction of the Temple, it would appear Daniel 9:27 is prophetic of events in the first century.   

       It does seen a little unusual that Daniel 9:24-27 isn’t used by Paul, Peter and others in proving from the OT that Jesus is the Christ, the prophesied Anointed One.  On the other hand, they may have used this passage and it simply is not recorded by the NT authors. This passage appears to be one of the most significant and most obviously prophetic of all OT passages identifying Jesus as the Christ. Let’s now return to Acts 17.

       Acts 17:1-3: When they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. "This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ," he said. 

       In this and the last sermon, I have tried to place us at the feet of Paul and get a feel for how Paul explained and proved from the OT Scriptures that the man Jesus was indeed the Christ, the promised Messiah to Israel. As seen throughout the NT, it was the OT Scriptures that were used to establish the NT Church. As the NT documents became available, they too were used to preach Christ.  But it all began with the OT. 

       We will return to Acts 17 next time around.