Happy New Year! This coming week on Friday, our calendar turns from 2020 to 2021. Last year on January 1, 2020, we had no idea what 2020 was going to be like, did we. So, this year, let’s be humble and simply admit that we don’t know what 2021 holds. Yet, we know someone, Jesus, who knows about 2021 and holds us in His hands.
Oftentimes in the New Year, we make New Year’s resolutions. Goals that we set to accomplish in the New Year. Now there’s nothing wrong with making resolutions, provided that they are in keeping with God’s will for our lives. However, we all know from our past experience that most resolutions don’t last very long.
So, what should we focus on in 2021? Let’s watch a short video called “This is a New Year.” I believe that we should choose to focus on Jesus in 2021 more than we ever have before. Jesus knows what the year has in store, so He can guide us through it, no matter what happens.
Hebrews 12:1 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
This verse likens life or for our application this morning, the New Year to a race. God wants you and me to be winners in the race of this next year. To do that, we must lay aside every sin, every hindrance that keeps us from running with Jesus. Secondly, must run with endurance. This race is not a sprint, it’s a long distance race. We must keep going with Jesus even though we may feel like quitting. What should motivate us in running the race of 2021?
Hebrews 12:2 (ESV) looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
We are to fix our eyes on Jesus. He is the one that our faith is focused on. Jesus ran the race of life for us and it was the most difficult race of all time. Jesus’ race included death on the cross and bearing the shame and sins of all mankind of all history. And yet Jesus finished the race without sin, rose from the dead and is seated in heaven. God wants us to follow Jesus in our race of life in the New Year and subsequent years. When we fix our eyes on Jesus and follow Him, He will help us be overcomers. One day, we will join Jesus in glory, see Him face to face and celebrate winning the race of life.
Today’s message is entitled “Images of the Messiah.” God often uses picture or images to teach us about Jesus and how He can help us. Today, we’re going to look at three stories which will give us three images of Jesus. These images will help us keep our focus on Jesus in the New Year 2021.
Genesis 14:18-20 (ESV) And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything.
In Genesis 14, there was a war between two groups of city-states. Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham’s nephew Lot lived, was defeated and his family was taken prisoner. Abraham pursued the army and with the Lord’s help defeated them and rescued Lot. After the victory, a mysterious king, Melchizedek came and blessed Abraham. In turn Abraham tithed the spoils of the war to him, recognizing his validity as a priest. As we’ll see, God’s Word speaks of Melchizedek as an image or type of Jesus Christ.
So, let’s look at little more closely at who Melchizedek was. The name Melchizedek means King of Righteousness. He was also king of Salem, which means King of Peace. He brings out bread and wine. From our understanding of the New Testament, they represent the broken body and shed blood of the Messiah. Melchizedek is a priest of God. What does a priest do? A priest in the Old Testament acts as a representative to connect people to God and intercede on their behalf. Melchizedek therefore gave Abraham God’s blessing on his victory in war. Melchizedek is only mentioned in the Old Testament in Genesis 14 and in …
Psalm 110:4 (ESV) The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”
Psalm 110 is a messianic psalm about Jesus’ second coming when He will rule the nations. Jesus quoted from Psalm 110 about Himself. What’s fascinating is that the Lord describes the Messiah as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. We need to now jump to Hebrews 7 to understand more about how Melchizedek is an image or type of Jesus the Messiah as our High Priest.
Hebrews 7:2-3 (ESV) and to him [Melchizedek] Abraham apportioned a tenth part of everything. He is first, by translation of his name, king of righteousness, and then he is also king of Salem, that is, king of peace. He is without father or mother or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God he continues a priest forever.
Melchizedek was a real human king and priest. Yet, the way he is presented in Scripture was without beginning or end. He therefore is a type or image of Jesus the Son of God, appearing to be an eternal priest. In the Old Testament, no one could be both priest and king. Yet, Melchizedek was both priest and king, just as Jesus the Messiah is. The next verses speak of Jesus as priest.
Hebrews 7:15-16 (ESV) This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.
The Old Testament priests were all chosen from the tribe of Levi and they all died. Jesus on the other hand was from the tribe of Judah, a king, but also a priest. Jesus was eternal, spoken here of the power of an indestructible life. As priest Jesus connects us to God.
What does a priest do? A priest offers sacrifices for the forgiveness of sins. Unlike the Old Testament priests, Jesus our High priest is eternal. He offered one sacrifice for all time by His death on the cross. Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins needs never to be repeated, it works forever for every person who believes in Jesus. Jesus as High Priest connects people to God through the forgiveness that He offers.
As an eternal High Priest, Jesus also intercedes or prays for us continually. Not only is Jesus High Priest, He is also King of Kings, ruling and reigning over all. Whatever you or anyone else has done, no matter how big the sins you have committed are, Jesus the eternal priest has paid the price to bring you forgiveness. When you are forgiven, Jesus connects you to God and He begins to intercede or pray for you. He’s got your back, no matter what you’re going through in life.
This connection that Jesus provides through being our High Priest continues throughout our lives. Not only does He forgive our sins when we are saved, but He continues to forgive our sins as we confess them to Him on a daily basis. Thank God that Jesus connects you to God.
Numbers 21:6-7 (ESV) Then the LORD sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many people of Israel died. And the people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned, for we have spoken against the LORD and against you. Pray to the LORD, that he take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
In Numbers 21, we learn that the people of Israel got discouraged and impatient. They grumbled against both God and Moses. So, God brought judgement upon the people in the form of venomous snakes that bit the people and many died. The people then repented of their sin and asked Moses to pray for them and rescue them from the fiery serpents. So Moses prayed for them.
Numbers 21:8-9 (ESV) And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a fiery serpent and set it on a pole, and everyone who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live.” So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.
God told Moses to do something unusual. He was to make a bronze serpent in the form of a living fiery serpent and put it on a pole in the camp. He then instructed the people that if they were bitten, they should look at the bronze serpent and they would be healed and live. In the Bible, a serpent represents Satan and sin. When the people sinned by grumbling against God’s and Moses’ authority, it opened the door to being attacked by Satan. Without forgiveness, even one sin will result in being bitten by Satan and eternal death. But when they people looked at the bronze serpent in faith that they would be healed, they were healed. Those who refused to look at the bronze serpent, thinking what good would that do, died. Faith led to healing and forgiveness, unbelief led to death. This bronze serpent is an image or type of Jesus the Messiah.
John 3:14-15 (ESV) And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
Jesus, the Son of God was lifted up on a cross as He died for us. On the cross, the Bible tells us that Jesus took our sin upon Himself. He took the sins of the world for all time upon Himself, in fact, the Bible says that He became sin for us. In a sense, Jesus became that serpent on the pole. And what must we do to live and be healed from the fatal wound of sin? We must look to and believe in Jesus to forgive us and give us eternal life.
When Jesus became sin for us, the Father could no longer look on Him and turned His back on His only Son. For the first time in eternity, the Father and Son were no longer connected. Jesus bore our sin and paid the price for our healing. After He died, three days later, He rose from the grave to live forever more. The price for forgiveness of sin had been paid, the price for physical healing was complete. Faith in Jesus brings healing.
We learn from the image of the bronze serpent that faith is essential in order to receive healing. Let’s first talk about spiritual healing or salvation. One must believe in and entrust your life to Jesus in order to have your sins forgiven and to be saved. At the end of this message, I will give you an opportunity to pray with me to receive Jesus’ gift of forgiveness and eternal life.
Forgiveness is not automatic. Although it’s available to everyone, each person must make a conscious choice to believe in Jesus. That choice involves repenting or turning away from your sin and putting your faith in Jesus to forgive your sin. Now in the story from Numbers, the bronze serpent brought physical healing from the serpent’s bite.
The Bible tells us that Jesus’ death on the cross also makes possible physical healing. Jesus and the early church prayed and saw many healed and set free from evil spirits. The Bible actually instructs believers to pray for those who are sick and believe in Jesus to heal them. Healing is also not automatic. You must ask for it and believe that Jesus still heals today. If you need prayer for healing, I and others in the church are available for prayer after every service. We have seen many healed in the past and believe that God will heal you as well. Faith in Jesus brings healing.
Genesis 22:1-2 (ESV) After these things God tested Abraham and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.”
God have promised Abraham and Sarah that they would have a son and descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Yet the years past and Sarah continued to be barren. Finally, in their old age, Sarah became pregnant and the son of promise, Isaac was born. Yet, after Isaac had grown into a young boy, God challenged Abraham with the ultimate test. He instructed Abraham to take Isaac, his only son which he loved and to sacrifice him as a burnt offering.
This was an unbelievably hard test on so many levels. Abraham knew that God did not allow human sacrifice, so why would He ask for it now. Even more distressing was after waiting a lifetime for Isaac to be born, now not only would Isaac die, but Abraham would be the one doing the sacrifice. What should he do? What could he do? Abraham chose to obey God.
Genesis 22:10-12 (ESV) Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me.”
The New Testament records that Abraham believed that if Isaac died, God would raise him from the dead. Abraham had faith and obeyed God. God provided a sacrifice of a ram after Isaac was removed from the altar. Abraham gives us an image or picture of God the Father offering up His only son on the cross.
John 3:16-17 (ESV) “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.
Jesus is God the Father’s only Son, the son that He loves. God sent Jesus to this earth to be born and to die, to be sacrificed on the cross for us. Jesus Himself chose to obey the Father and die for us of his own free will.
Why did God sacrifice His only Son? Because He loved the world so much. The world here is not planet earth, the world is all the people of the world, including you and me. We are each guilty of sin and deserve eternal death and torment in hell forever for our sin. And we had no way out. So God sent Jesus to save us. But salvation is not automatic for anyone. Each person must choose to believe in Jesus and accept His forgiveness of their sins in order to be saved and have eternal life. Although Isaac was spared from being sacrificed by his father, Jesus was sacrificed by his father because He loved us so much. God sacrificed His only Son for you.
This image of God sacrificing His only Son for us should lead us to worship and thanksgiving for God’s gift of salvation. As God sacrificed His best for us, so He calls us, just as He called Abraham, to sacrifice our best to Him. All that we have comes from God and He desires for us to give it to Him. When we do, God will give it back to us, sanctified and ready to serve Him with.
Is there anything in your life that you’re holding back from giving to God? Whatever it is, God wants you to give it to Him, to let go of it. To say, Lord, whatever you want to do with this, I give it to you. And the Lord will provide, He will give back to you many fold what you have given to Him.
This morning the Lord is speaking to some here who are holding onto something that you know God wants you to give to Him. Believe, like Abraham, that God is able to raise whatever it is back from the dead if you chose to sacrifice it to God. Since God loved you so much that Jesus died for you, He desires to fill your life with His goodness as you give everything to Him.
Today, we’ve looked at three images of Jesus that I believe will help us focus on Jesus in the New Year. Jesus connects us to God as eternal High priest like Melchizedek. When you’re going through something difficult now or in the New Year, know that Jesus is praying for you. Faith in Jesus brings healing. Jesus became that serpent on the cross for us, that our sins might be forgiven and our sicknesses healed. In faith, receive Jesus’ forgiveness and healing through 2021.
As Abraham was willing to sacrifice his only Son, so God loved you so much He sacrificed Jesus for you. Jesus was God’s greatest gift, so He will certainly give you everything else you need to follow Him in the New Year. In response to all that God has given us, God asks that we give Him everything that we have and everything that we are. God will take our offering and multiply it to bless us in return. Focus your eyes on Jesus in 2021 and you’ll have a wonderful year.