The Messiah Sweepstakes

Throughout the Old Testament, God promised the Jews that He would send a king who would establish God’s kingdom on earth. This “deliverer” was referred to as the Messiah, or “the Christ.” He would be God coming down to earth.

Predictions (or prophecies) in the Old Testament about this Messiah were many and specific, and all gave clues as to how the Messiah could be identified: where and when He would be born, His family tree, when and how He would die, and more.

You might think having so many prophecies posted for all to read—there are at least 40 in the Bible concerning the Messiah, made over a period of hundreds of years—would make it easier for someone to figure out how to be a candidate in the Messiah sweepstakes. But the opposite is true. It’s one thing for an imitator to fulfill one or even a few of the prophecies, but with so many specific parameters, it was impossible for any one person to meet the Messiah qualifications, such as:

  • Had to be born in the little town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  • Would be a direct descendant of the famous King David (Isaiah 11:1)
  • Would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  • Would say certain things while dying (Psalm 22:1)
  • Would come back from the dead (Psalm 16:9-10)
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Why the Dead Sea Scrolls Matter

The Dead Sea Scrolls are among the most significant artifacts of the Ancient Near East. In this special article that first appeared online at the Baptist Press, Benjamin Hawkins shows how the Dead Sea Scrolls speak to the reliability of the Bible. The Dead Sea Scrolls are currently being exhibited at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where Hawkins is a PhD. student. The Scrolls are also on display in New York City in a magnificent display presented by The Franklin Institute.

When a Bedouin shepherd discovered the Dead Sea Scrolls in Israel in the 1940s, few people immediately understood their importance. After taking the scrolls back to his camp, this shepherd left one of them on the ground to be torn apart by children, while one person reportedly used another scroll fragment to wipe a baby's bottom.

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The Sacred Conspiracy of Christmas

The English have the 12 days of Christmas in song.  The high churches have the 24 (ish) days of advent.  At Crave Something More, and here at Conversant Life, I’ll be writing a series called the “21 Days of CSM Christmas.”  Starting December 5 and finishing on Christmas Day, I will write once a day about all things Christmas, in the hopes that we will all continue to see Jesus as the greatest satisfaction to our soul’s deepest cravings.

Day 4:  The Sacred Conspiracy of Christmas

Let’s be conspiracy theorists for a moment.  Say you are a guy (let’s call you Joseph), and you’re engaged to this sweet hometown girl (let’s call her Mary), and you have watched this girl for years and years and have finally mustered up the courage to ask her to be your wife.  And then she goes to visit relatives for a few months, and she comes back pregos, and you’re wondering what you should do.

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Know Hope

The death of Jesus on the cross is central to the Christian life, but it is also part of a larger story, one that includes the resurrection. Without the resurrection of Jesus, the cross would be meaningless, because without the resurrection, there would be:

No Messiah. The true Messiah must fulfill the Messianic prophecies found in the Hebrew Scriptures, including the prophecy that the Messiah would die for the sins of the world (Isaiah 53:7,8), and that God would raise Him from the dead (Psalm 16:9,10). If Jesus did not come back to life after dying, then He wasn’t the Messiah. And if Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, then both Jews and Gentiles alike are still waiting for salvation.

No Eternal Life. Jesus didn’t just say that He would be resurrected. He also said that He would be a resurrection for us:  I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die like everyone else, will live again. They are given eternal life for believing in me and will never perish (John 11:25,26).  If Jesus wasn’t raised from the dead, then Jesus was a big fat liar, and there’s no hope for us to have eternal life.

No Heaven. Do you think about heaven? There’s no loftier thought we human beings can have. Now think about this: Without the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, we’ll never get there. Jesus made it very clear that He is our connection to heaven. Not only is He designing and building a place in heaven for all who believe in Him, but He has also promised to take us there personally (John 14:1-4). As wonderful and amazing as heaven sounds, it doesn’t mean a thing if Jesus is still dead.

No Hope. The bottom line is that without the resurrection, we’re sunk. Oh yeah, we can appreciate the teachings of Jesus, we can do our best to imitate the life of Jesus, and we can feel good about living good lives here on earth. But what good is that if there’s no hope of a life with Jesus beyond this one? If Christians are merely putting their faith in a dead guy, they are just what Ted Turner once called them—a bunch of losers. Or as the apostle Paul put it, we are to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:19).

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