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Bible verses about Christ as Mediator
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Leviticus 23:9-14

The wavesheaf offering is an easily overlooked offering. Only those aware of the counting required to observe Pentecost notice it because the count for Pentecost begins with the day of the wave-sheaf offering. Possibly many of us were once unaware of the wavesheaf offering because the church supplied us with a calendar showing the holy day dates for many years in advance. Since the date of Pentecost had already been determined for us, we were unaware that the count began with the day the ancient Israelites made the obscure wavesheaf offering.

Occurring on only one day each year, the day of the wavesheaf offering is not designated a holy day by God. But it is far from minor or obscure in its meaning to salvation. In fact, we could say that, without what it means to our salvation, there would be no salvation!

The wavesheaf consisted of an omer of barley, still on the stalk, cut at the beginning of the spring harvest. Since it came from the very beginning of the harvest of the firstfruits, it can be called the first of the firstfruits (Exodus 23:19). A comparison of Exodus 23:14-19; 34:22-26; Leviticus 23:10-11 and Nehemiah 12:44 confirms that each Israelite possessing a harvest was required to give an offering. A priest then lifted or "waved" each sheaf before God for acceptance. However, while the individual Israelite farmers did bring a firstfruits offering to the priests, the standard, recorded practice during the Second Temple period (the time of Christ) was to perform only one official waving of a sheaf by a priest in Jerusalem. This one sheaf and its waving represented all the others brought by individual farmers.

In its setting in the Old Testament, the wavesheaf offering represents a thankful acknowledgment to God as the Giver of the harvest, while dedicating or consecrating it to Him. Its waving set the stage for the rest of the harvest to proceed. In fact, the work of harvesting could not begin until the wavesheaf offering occurred.

Though Scripture specifies the day the wavesheaf was to be cut, it gives no specific time of day to cut it. Jewish history from the Second Temple period gives an interesting insight. The second-century Mishnah affirms that, when the Sadducees controlled the Temple, the sickle was put to the grain just as the sun was going down on the weekly Sabbath (Menahot 10:1-4, Jacob Neusner translation, pp. 753-754). The book, Biblical Calendars, states, "The Boethusians [Temple priests] reaped [the firstfruits sheaf] at the going out of the Sabbath" (p. 218. Additional information can be found in the section titled "Temple Service," p. 280, as well as in The Temple: Its Ministry and Services by Alfred Edersheim, 1994, pp. 203-205). The New Testament's silence on this Sadducean practice—along with its agreement with the ritual's fulfillment in Christ—must be construed as acceptance of its validity.

The priests began to make the first cutting right at the end of the Sabbath, continuing over into the first day of the week, when the bulk of the work would be done. The ritual, however, was not complete until the sheaf was offered (waved) before God the following morning, or more precisely, between 9:00 a.m. and noon. Some might object to the reaping of the sheaf in the closing minutes of the Sabbath because it is a day of rest when no work is to be done. After one understands the full reason for it, as well as Jesus' direct statement that a priest is blameless in the performance of his required duties (Matthew 12:5), any objections to the practice disappear.

The spiritual reason is supplied in the New Testament, when a major step in God's plan begins to unfold. The Old Testament situates the festivals of God within the agricultural harvests, but in the New Testament, these agricultural harvests become types of God's spiritual harvests of souls into His Kingdom. The New Testament uses this imagery extensively (e.g. John 4:35-36; Matthew 9:36-38).

Another clear reference to a spiritual harvest is the Parable of the Wheat and Tares:

The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat. . . . [The owner said,] "Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, 'First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.'" (Matthew 13:24-25, 30)

In His explanation of this parable, Jesus says, "The enemy who sowed them is the devil, the harvest is the end of the age, and the reapers are the angels. . . . Then the righteous will shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!" (Matthew 13:39, 43). It is so plain! A harvest symbolizes a resurrection. More specifically and positively, a harvest is a type of a resurrection to eternal life—birth into the Kingdom of God!

The resurrected Jesus Christ fits into this picture as the archetypical Wavesheaf. He was crucified "in the middle of the week" (Daniel 9:27), a Wednesday, and put into the grave near sunset (John 19:31, 38-42). Mark confirms this: "Now when evening had come, because it was the Preparation Day, that is, the day before the Sabbath [an annual Sabbath, the first day of Unleavened Bread]" (Mark 15:42). The holy day fell on a Thursday, followed by a second preparation day, then the weekly Sabbath (Luke 23:54-56).

Jesus explains in Matthew 12:39-40 that the length of time He would be in the tomb is the sign of His Messiahship. Counting three days and three nights from Jesus' burial in the tomb on Wednesday evening near sunset brings us to Saturday evening near sunset. As the Sabbath was ending, the Father burst the bonds of Christ's death by the power of His Holy Spirit and resurrected Him as very God.

He was now prepared to be accepted before the Father. But John 20:1 and John 20:17 show that His ascension did not occur until sometime Sunday morning.

The Bible nowhere indicates that the priests understood the ritual they were performing on Saturday evening when Jesus Christ, the archetypical Wavesheaf, was "harvested" from the material world by being resurrected from the dead. On Sunday morning, as the firstborn of many brethren, He was lifted into and through the heavens to God's throne to be accepted by Him as the sacrifice for our sins and as our High Priest.

God's plan had just taken a momentous step toward its completion. The Redeemer of mankind had triumphed and been glorified. "For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Romans 5:10). Now the payment for our sins had been secured and a sinless and dynamic High Priest installed as our Mediator before the Father. Our salvation had now been assured and death conquered, preparing the way for many, many more to follow.

On the surface, the wavesheaf offering may seem an insignificant event lost in the more visible activities of Passover and Unleavened Bread. Though it may be lost on this world's "Christianity," it memorializes the most significant spiritual event that has yet taken place on earth: the resurrection and ascension of our Savior Jesus Christ! Thank God that He has given us understanding of it! We can be even more thankful when we understand that it signifies the real beginning of the spiritual work of harvesting human souls, culminating with us being resurrected and changed to spirit as Jesus' brothers and sisters at His return!

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Wavesheaf Offering


 

John 15:4-5

Jesus Christ is our Mediator (I Timothy 2:5), the connection, the bridge, between God and us. Spiritual enablement flows from God through Him to us. God's power and God's faithfulness are the issues that are of supreme importance to us in these critical times. Are we constantly cognizant of the fact that our salvation lies in His hands? He has the power to save.

Notice how David expressed this in a psalm written during a time of serious trouble for him: "For look, they lie in wait for my life; the mighty gather against me, not for my transgression nor for my sin, O LORD" (Psalm 59:3). David feared the threat of murder in a situation in which he was innocent. Verses 9-10 carry his thoughts further: "I will wait for You, O You his Strength; for God is my defense. My God of mercy shall come to meet me; God shall let me see my desire on my enemies." Here, David's confidence rises because he believes in God's awareness and strength - which is strong enough to put down nations, let alone a small band of enemies. He also recalls God's mercy toward those who serve Him.

Verses 16-17 show that his thoughts extend one step further: "But I will sing of Your power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy in the morning; for You have been my defense and refuge in the day of my trouble. To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; for God is my defense, the God of my mercy." These final two verses summarize why he trusts God, and conclude in a strong affirmation of David's faith. He trusts God because of the combination of God's strengths, His power, combined with His mercy and His will to use them in behalf of those who trust Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Power Belongs to God (Part One)


 

1 Timothy 2:5

There is one mediator, Christ. The Holy Spirit is referred to as the parakletos, the Comforter. It is the guide, leading us into all truth. Comforter means "one who goes alongside." If this were a personality, then one would begin to think that it is in a position somewhere between us and the Father. But the Bible makes o mention of anything of the kind. There is only one between us and God, and that One is the Son.

This is similar in form to I Corinthians 11:3, which shows that, of the Deities above us, only One stands between us and God the Father, that is, God the Son. This means that not even the Holy Spirit, sent to us as a Comforter, is a mediator.

If the Holy Spirit were God (equal to the Father and the Son), it would be an affront of the highest order to exclude "Him" from an intermediary role between us and the Father—especially when we consider that the Bible assigns us, mere human beings, an intercessory role between others and the Father. By prayer we are to intercede before the Father for one another, which is a form of mediation. We go to the Father in behalf of our brothers and sisters who are undergoing trial, difficulty, sickness, or whatever. The Holy Spirit is excluded from this role because it is not a personality, yet we are given it because we are personalities.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Holy Spirit


 

Hebrews 2:16-18

Barclay comments: "He came as a man; he came seeing things with men's eyes, feeling things with men's feelings, thinking things with men's minds. God knows what life is like, because God came right inside life" (p. 104). Jesus Christ is not remote, detached, and disinterested, nor insulated and isolated from our lives. He knows our frame; He knows that we are but dust. He can see in us a reflection of what He experienced as a man. He can thus extend mercy to us, completely understanding what we are going through.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beatitudes, Part 5: Blessed Are the Merciful


 

1 Peter 4:1-6

The apostle is speaking about the efficacy of Christ's suffering and death in making possible a relationship between God and human beings. His conclusion, beginning in I Peter 4:1-2, is that, since Christ suffered so much to bring this about, Christians should respond by "ceas[ing] from sin" and living "for the will of God."

This means, of course, that in doing so, we no longer live as we used to, like the "Gentiles," like the world (verse 3). Seeing this, our friends who are still in the world wonder why our lives have changed so drastically, and they are likely to malign us for it (verse 4). But we need not worry because God, the just Judge, will bring them into account for their abuses of us (verse 5). In verse 6, he winds up his discussion by providing a general example to give us hope in this regard. He explains that the gospel had been preached in the past to people who are now dead, and even though their contemporaries may have judged them worthy to suffer persecution and death, God, conversely, has judged them worthy of eternal life. He implies that God would do the same for us.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Jesus and 'the Spirits in Prison'


 

1 John 3:23

When name is used in this way, it does not mean "the word by which a person is called," but rather "the whole nature or character of the person" as far as we know it or understand it. This is why the proverb says, "A good name is to be chosen rather than great riches" (Proverbs 22:1; see Ecclesiastes 7:1).

"Our help is in the name of the LORD" (Psalm 124:8). David, the psalmist here, does not mean that our help lies in the fact that God is called Yahweh. This name contains nothing magic in it at all. David means that our help is in His love, in His mercy, in His power, in His promises. It is in the things that have been revealed to us as parts of His nature, of His attributes, and of His character—and whether or not we have faith in them.

So then, to "believe in the name of Jesus Christ" means to believe in the nature and the character of Jesus Christ. It means to believe that He is the Son of God and that He stands in relation to the Father in a way that no other person in the universe ever has or ever will. It means that He can perfectly reveal the Father to us. It means that we believe He is the Savior, the High Priest, the Mediator and Intercessor, and our soon-coming King. It means that we believe that through Him we have entrance into God's presence—not just entrance to Him, but actually, fellowship with Him.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Love and Fellowship


 

 




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