A Consistent Coming

John 7:1-13

And after these things Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For not even His brothers were believing in Him. Jesus therefore said to them, ‘My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.’ And having said these things to them, He stayed in Galilee. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up, not publicly, but as it were, in secret. The Jews therefore were seeking Him at the feast, and were saying, ‘Where is He?’ And there was much grumbling among the multitudes concerning Him; some were saying, ‘He is a good man;’ others were saying, ‘No, on the contrary, He leads the multitude astray.’ Yet no one was speaking openly of Him for fear of the Jews.

I only ask for a little crumb of consistency and not constant consistency in perpetuity; not only in life and literature but also in interpretations.

Today we “spring ahead” into daylight saving time as I write (who knows when I’ll finish); I’m fine with these kinds of inconsistencies. Yet as I sat down for breakfast at my local eatery, I saw the television screen which stated that a disgraced Democratic politician who helped create the cancel culture; blames what should be his demise on said cancel culture and not on his own actions. Nevertheless he is being consistent; they always act as though they are above the law. Just once I would like to see a democrat be truly consistent, in that their actions imitate their words.

Still, this is not the type of consistency I crave. I expect the mass media and politicians to be consistently inconsistent but I expect more from the christians, and even more from myself. Do my actions represent my words or do I vacillate in my mind and behavior? I’m afraid that the latter is true. The only thing going for me is that I try to stay consistent with my writings, and for free, without charge, while the vivacious vacillation of the prophecy pundits is all over the page. They claim to consider the context but then lively and excitedly rip verses out of context or worse; they change the definition of words and ignore the grammar. “This” is a near demonstrative and “that” is not. “Near” means close and not far off. Yet they change the meanings to fit their narrative.

Let me rewind the tape to 24 hours ago. After another day of inconsistency in my life and those around me, I went to sleep thinking about being consistent. I woke up to more inconsistency. Before thinking about or pondering today’s text, I prayed to be more consistent with my opinions, actions and beliefs. I want my mind to match the context of the Bible. I was noticing the inconsistencies which surrounded me and desired to be different.

Then I began to think about today’s text and the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; context is king, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, genre is the general, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and dividing rightly the word of truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. Hopefully it will also eliminate some of our inconsistencies.

In today’s text there is the appearance of inconsistencies in the story which John tells and also in the words of Jesus. We read; “Jesus was walking in Galilee; for He was unwilling to walk in Judea…. But when His brothers had gone up to the feast, then He Himself also went up…”

John emphatically explained why Jesus wouldn’t walk in Judea– he was under the threat of death there. Notice; “the Jews were seeking to kill Him.” What better excuse is there to avoid something than death? Death is a massive motivator, look at the separation between you and others as you are all masked up. Look at the lines for an unproven vaccine. Seatbelts, helmets, smoke detectors, airbags, emergency exits, arc-fault circuit interrupters, ground-fault circuit interrupters, life preservers, hospitals, EMT’s and ambulances– we look at these things and more and we understand that fear of death is a great motivator. Nevertheless Jesus came to die, but only at the exact time, predetermined by God. We have read the words of Jesus, that his hour had not yet come. The author of Hebrews tells us that Jesus embraced the cross for the joy set before him.

Therefore Jesus was not motivated by fear of death but death in the wrong context and at the wrong time. Jesus had to die at a specific time, on a specific day, during a specific season, in a specific year and during the Passover, as promised. Yet today’s text happened just before and during the Feast of Booths. Rather than zoom in on the seemingly inconsistent details, we should zoom out first, seeing the eternal and grand consistency of Scripture. Jesus came at the right time, according to the Scriptures, and uninterrupted, he accomplished his mission on time.

Daniel tells us when the Messiah would come and when he would die and Paul confirms this to the Romans in the middle of his letter to them.

Daniel recorded; “Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy place. So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come one who makes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who makes desolate.”

Looking back at my early inconsistencies and my dispensational self– I can’t believe that I was duped. My not utilizing the CAGED method allowed me to fall for an inconsistent, incompatible, hermeneutical process. Look again at Daniel and see if you can find a 2,000 year gap. See if you can find two princes. Perhaps it’s time to discuss the “Law of first Mention.” I’m not dogmatic and don’t consider it a “law.” I don’t know if I would even call it a principle but it is a helpful tool when attempting to study the Bible.

The Law of First Mention is summed up as follows: Since the Bible progresses, understanding the first mention of a particular concept, item or event, enlightens the reader because it starts simple.” Most of the concepts seen early on in Genesis follow a sublime string to the cross and the reverse of the curse, to the new heavens and new earth. Again, this is not a law, or much of a principle but it can be a helpful tool as long as the CAGED method is also considered. The Law of First Mention cannot stand alone but if it is coupled with the continuing context, it is an effectual way to explore examples, especially within the immediate context. It not only enlightens on the macro scale but also on the micro scale.

Daniel nine is an important example, notice; “…Messiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with plaza and moat, even in times of distress. Then after the sixty-two weeks the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week…”

Notice the regression of the Proper Noun to a Pronoun in the text but a progression in the description. We all do it, all the time, in literature and in conversations. Examples: “John Smith is a good doctor. Doctor Smith takes time to get to know his patients. John is very personable, he enjoys interacting with people.” “Bob the butcher cuts the best meat. Go get your meats from Bob. The butcher is very skilled, he cuts the meat perfectly. Tell Bob that I sent you and he will give you a discount.”

The same is true in Daniel; the Messiah is the prince and the “he” mentioned. How’s that for consistency? Jesus, the Messiah-Prince, came at exactly the right time and was set to die at the exact, right time, according to the law and prophets– during Passover and not during the Feast of Booths. This is why he was wary about going to Jerusalem publicly. Ironically enough, as I write, it is Palm Sunday and the Passover is at hand.

As an aside, I wonder why we call it “Palm Sunday” and not “Garment Sunday?” Watch– “And most of the multitude spread their garments in the road, and others were cutting branches from the trees, and spreading them in the road.”

But I digress; simply another example of how traditions trump truth. Jesus and not the alleged Antichrist made a firm covenant with Israel. In Matthew 10 we read; “These twelve Jesus sent out after instructing them, saying, ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.‘” How’s that for a consistent hermeneutic?

I am taking the long road so that we will take the long view of Scripture. Daniel was told exactly how long the Messiah would minister and he recorded it for posterity. The astute observer knows exactly when the Messiah would be cut off. Take the long view.

In today’s text, it is not the Passover that is at hand but the Feast of Booths, or tabernacles. We have read that “the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us.” The Word is the Messiah and tabernacled is in the past tense. Jesus, as we read, “came to his own,” that’s the “us.” Jesus came and Boothed, died during the Passover, was risen on the third day and ascended as the first fruits, sending his Spirit at the day of Pentecost. The feast days are important.

If you are still with me, let’s look at today’s text, keeping a consistent hermeneutic and utilizing the CAGED method. “Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was at hand. His brothers therefore said to Him, ‘Depart from here, and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may behold Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret, when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.’ For not even His brothers were believing in Him. Jesus therefore said to them, ‘My time is not yet at hand, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you; but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come.'”

Conclusion: Jesus was on the schedule set up by Daniel’s vision and the rest of the Law and prophets. Jesus was consistent, it’s our interpretations that are inconsistent. From the feasts to the Law and prophets, Jesus was on schedule. He came to do what the prophets promised. Prophecy does not point to us or modern day Israel but to Jesus.

Happy Garment Sunday.

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