(NOTE: All Scripture verses are taken from the New International Version 1984, unless otherwise stated.)
FOCUS: From beginning, through the middle, and to the very end, the Bible — above everything else — is a record of a remarkable family tree! In Part 1, we looked at the documented genealogy of the bloodline connecting Adam and Jesus. Sin and death resulted from the choice Adam made. The choice Jesus made — a brutal death on a cross as payment for sin — re-established relationship with God and brought eternal life for those who will choose to believe that Jesus is the Son of God … the Messiah! Because of His sacrifice, Gentiles can now be “grafted” into the family tree and become “children of God.”
FOUNDATION SCRIPTURE: [Paul speaking] “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. What I am saying is that as long as the heir is a child, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. He is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were children, we were in slavery under the basic principles of the world. But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, ‘Abba, Father.’ So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.” (Galatians 3:26-4:7)
PROPHECY CONNECTION #1: Peter’s Testimony
After Jesus was resurrected and ascended into heaven, Peter — one of Jesus’ closest friends — shared what he knew to be true with the people who had witnessed the miracle of Pentecost (see Acts 2) and the undeniable power of the Holy Spirit. Peter pointed out prophecy connections in Scripture, and he was given a vision concerning divine acceptance of non-Jews — proof that God had given permission to graft Gentiles into Abraham’s family tree!
A. Acts 2:22-3:
“‘Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know. This man was handed over to you by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on Him. David said about Him:
“‘”I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will live in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the grave,
nor will you let your Holy One see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.”
“’Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.…
“‘… let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ…. Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.‘”
B. Acts 11:1-18:
“The apostles and the brothers throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers criticized him and said, ‘You went into the house of uncircumcised men and ate with them.’
“Peter began and explained everything to them precisely as it had happened: ‘I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds of the air. Then I heard a voice telling me, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“’I replied, “Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.”
“‘The voice spoke from heaven a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.
“‘Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. He told us how he had seen an angel appear in his house and say, “Send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter. He will bring you a message through which you and all your household will be saved.”
“’As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” So if God gave them the same gift as he gave us, who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could oppose God?
” ‘When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”
PROPHECY CONNECTION #2: John’s Testimony
John was Jesus’ best friend. He called himself “the one Jesus loved,” and John was with Jesus from the moment He was arrested until the moment He died on the cross (see John 18 – 19.) He actually entered the tomb and saw the linens that had wrapped Jesus’ dead body. (Google the “Shroud of Turin”!) And he was entrusted with a vision of the future, given to him personally by the risen Lamb of God, Jesus Christ …
A. Revelation 1:1-8:
[John writing] “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw—that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near…. Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
“To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
“Look, He is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him;
and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him.
So shall it be! Amen.
“’I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.’”
B. Revelation 5:1 – 6:1 (abridged):
John watched as a scroll appeared in the right hand of God. Many scholars believe this scroll represents the deed to planet earth, which was forfeited to the devil when Adam disobeyed his Creator in the Garden of Eden and sin entered the world. Jesus is the only one worthy to “buy back” mankind because He is “the Lamb who was slain”!
[John writing] “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals. And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming in a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to break the seals and open the scroll?‘ But no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth could open the scroll or even look inside it. I wept and wept because no one was found who was worthy to open the scroll or look inside. Then one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David [Jesus, descendant of Judah and David], has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals.’
“Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain [Jesus, sacrificed to atone for the sin of mankind], standing in the center of the throne … He came and took the scroll from the right hand of Him who sat on the throne….
“‘You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slain,
and with your blood you purchased men for God
from every tribe and language and people and nation.
You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God,
and they will reign on the earth.’ …
“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals …”
PROPHECY CONNECTION #3: Paul’s Testimony
Paul was a powerful persecutor of Christ’s followers. He did not walk with Jesus or learn from Him as the other disciples did. Instead, Jesus’ Spirit spoke to Paul (then called “Saul”), and through a miraculous turn of events, gave him knowledge, insight and an unexpected commission …
A. Acts 9:15-31 (abridged):
“The Lord said to Ananias [a disciple of Jesus], ‘Go! This man [Saul/Paul] is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.‘
“Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, ‘Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may … be filled with the Holy Spirit.’ … [Paul] got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
“Saul spent several days with the disciples in Damascus. At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God. All those who heard him were astonished and asked, ‘Isn’t he the man who raised havoc in Jerusalem among those who call on this name? And hasn’t he come here to take them as prisoners to the chief priests?’ Yet Saul grew more and more powerful and baffled the Jews living in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.
“After many days had gone by, the Jews conspired to kill him … he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him …
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.
“Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee and Samaria enjoyed a time of peace. It was strengthened; and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord.“
B. 2 Corinthians 11:24-31; 12:6-10:
It didn’t take Paul long to figure out that as a member of the family of God and a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, HE WOULD FACE PERSECUTION AND SUFFERING FOR THE SAKE OF JESUS’ NAME …
[Paul writing] “Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness….
“Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say.
“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
WHAT’S THE POINT?
The Bible is documented evidence that the Lord God, Creator of heaven and earth has had a plan from the very beginning. (Google the “Dead Seas Scrolls.”) When He said to the serpent in the Garden of Eden — the devil in disguise — “I will put enmity you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers,” God was announcing the struggle that would ensue between Himself and the evil one that would play out down through the history of the world. And when He said, “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel,” the Father was foreshadowing the crucifixion and resurrection of His Son, Jesus the Messiah. (See Genesis 3:15.)
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
For me, it matters because this information assures me that I’ve been adopted into God’s family through the promise made to Abraham (father of the covenant), through Isaac (the miracle child), through Judah (symbol of sovereignty), through David (king with a heart for God), and through the understanding — thanks to men like Peter, John and Paul — that Jesus IS the Son of Man AND the Son of God! So when I believed and was baptized, according to Jesus’ example, I became a child of promise and heir to everything my heavenly Father owns!
THINK ABOUT IT …
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).