June 11, 2012

Revealing Christ In The Old Testament X: A Nail To Hang Salvation On


At the core of Ezra is restoration because of faith and reliance on God. In the restoration for a faithful remnant we have a picture of restoration from backsliding, of individual faithfulness and corporate faithfulness, and of a true effort too walk closer with God.

The worldliness, unbelief and desire of the modern evangelical church that we see all around us does not need be a hindrance to a faithful walk for us as faithful believers. We still obey the God who is still calling us to come out and be separate unto Himself.

The restored remnant in Ezra's time seems to have begun at the core, and to have worked from within outwards. They did not begin with building up the walls, nor even with building the Temple, but...

Ezra 3:2-4~ and they built the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings on it, as it is written in the Law of Moses the man of God. They set the altar in its place, for fear was on them because of the peoples of the lands, and they offered burnt offerings on it to the Lord, burnt offerings morning and evening. And they kept the Feast of Tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number according to the rule, as each day required...

At the very heart of this book we see Christ and His great atoning work in these burnt offerings. The restored people are pointed forwards to Him that was to come. In turning back to these practices we see a remnant turning back to God, Messiah in faith to do what He has promised He would do even after having been punished and driven into exile and returned. It is like every soul that returns from its backsliding today must begin again but this time at the foot of the Cross, not the Temple. The idea remains with us. There are many self-proclaiming Christians that a nothing more than their proclamations. When it comes to actually producing fruits of the Spirit...they are much harder to come by. Whether we like it or not there are a large contingent within our own churches that are marginal Christians. There are so few in the core unit of our churches that keep the church alive...and they are the remnant.

The next step was laying the foundation of the Temple amidst praise and thanksgiving. But some of the old men who remembered the glory of the former house (Solomon’s Temple) wept with a loud voice, so that the people could not distinguish between the shouts of joy and of weeping. It is the story of a believer encapsulated in a single act of worship that is both a combination of joy and sorrow. Joy in that we are truly saved by faith through grace but at the same time we will need to endure to the end probably through more suffering until we reach glory. Are salvation is assured but due to what has happened in the past we are sorrowful and repentant of our sin. Our restored soul’s rest upon the foundation of Christ but there is also mingled sadness over wasted and wicked days.

During Ezra’s prayer of confession in Ezra 9 he speaks of "a nail in a sure place" in verse 8. Although he is referring to the tent peg of the Tabernacle we know from other typologies mention about the Tabernacle, that the Tabernacle itself is a type of Christ. In the context of this passage though the nail or peg itself appears to be Christ as the image conveyed of it are that of a stake being driven firmly into the ground or into a wall. It is immovable and holds things down or up. In the case of Isaiah’s context it affixes something up as v25 tells us of something that will fall. Along the same lines we see the idea that people will not hang too many things on a weak unreliable nail or hook but a solid one that is rooted deeply will be depended upon greatly and as such…everyone hangs their burdens and hopes upon.

The image of pegs as anchors are not only for the Tabernacles. We also see them in Jesus the One possibly represented by the peg. He too would also be an anchor for His people (just as Eliakim). In the following passage we see a reference to a perfectly placed peg/nail, a manifestation of grace that allows God’s people to be relieved of their bondage and burden of sin and we then see that we are still slaves yet in bondage (Romans 7) but God has not forsaken us nor turned us over to our sin because we have turned to Him in belief, praise and worship. In the context of this passage we have also turned to Him and repent (remember: this is a prayer of confession). We obviously cannot ignore the implications of the image of a nail itself. The very thing that held Christ to the Cross because of our sins is in view here.

Ezra 9:5-9 But at the evening offering I arose from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn, and I fell on my knees and stretched out my hands to the LORD my God; and I said, “O my God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift up my face to You, my God, for our iniquities have risen above our heads and our guilt has grown even to the heavens. Since the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt, and on account of our iniquities we, our kings and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity and to plunder and to open shame, as it is this day. But now for a brief moment grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us an escaped remnant and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and grant us a little reviving in our bondage. For we are slaves; yet in our bondage our God has not forsaken us, but has extended lovingkindness…

If we jump forward to Isaiah 22:20-25 we see a reference point to show us some of what is going on here. In Isaiah we see a prophecy of Jerusalem.

“In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah.  I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will become a seat of honor for the house of his father. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots—all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars. “In that day,” declares the Lord Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The Lord has spoken.

Here we see a typification of Jesus Christ in the peg/nail and in the idea of driving by force. The word “וּתְקַעְתִּ֥יו/drive” here is to affix by striking in-just as Christ as afflicted by blows from people. It is these blows and Christ’s crucifixion that eventually drives what Jesus did into the annuals of history and for all time becoming the atonement for sin for all people for all time. This word in the Hebrew can also allude to a person becoming a bondsman or willing servant / slave to the one he indebts himself to another by a handclasp or handshake. It portrays the making a deal by a poor man’s bargain or handshake. This gives us an image of someone becoming a slave or guarantee oneself in place of another by pledging oneself. Hmmm…this sounds really familiar, perhaps because it foreshadows pledging oneself in place of sin and it was done He that knew no sin to became sin for us (Isaiah 53:9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; 1 John 3:5). Initially, we see the One nailed fail and die from a worldly and physical standpoint but from a spiritual and salvation standpoint it is a victory as He had risen from the dead. It is this victory over death that stands as a sentinel to the believe like stake in the ground. It is a stake driven through the heart of sin, wickedness and death.

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