The Messianic Mission In Psalms 22, 23, & 24

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It is written:

Hebrews 2:14-15-Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15  and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

I have been blessed to preach the Word of God full time for over twenty years. During that span, I have had the sad and solemn opportunity to preach several funearals. I don’t know how many; but I do know that since 2013, I have preached over forty eulogies. Death has been a horrific companion, as it is for all of us.

The hope that I have found-the only true hope that any of us can have-in the face of death is in Jesus Christ.

When the inspired writer describes Jesus as becoming and being a human being like us Who provides us victory even in the face of death, he quotes from Psalm 22 to make his case:

Hebrews 2:11-12-For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, 12  saying: “I WILL DECLARE YOUR NAME TO MY BRETHREN; IN THE MIDST OF THE ASSEMBLY I WILL SING PRAISE TO YOU.”

He is quoting here from Psalm 22:

Psalm 22:22-I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You.

When we look at the Psalms, we find an amazing unity of theme that prophesies the Messiah coming into the world. One of these amazing themes is that of the Messianic King. It was understood from ancient times that these Psalms were prophecies of the Messiah Himself.

“Psalms 20-24 form the larger context of Psalm 23. The immediate context of Psalm 23 is its location between Psalms 22 and 24 and requires examination, as does the larger context which includes Psalms 20 and 21. Between Psalm 23 and the previous sequence of Psalms 20-22, there are matching and also deliberately contrasted terms that reveal its meaning and message. As will be shown in more detail below, Psalm 23 serves as a perfect answer to the suffering described in the previous Psalm 22 (vv. 1-20[ 2-21]). 9 Not only is the immediate context important, but all the previous psalms, stretching back to Psalms 1 and 2, are also relevant for understanding Psalm 23. There is a consistency of topics and characters mentioned from the beginning of the Psalter. At the beginning of the book, we read of the impeccable and entirely triumphant messianic king who is rejected, suffers, and eventually restored. He is the central character in the introduction to the book, i.e., Psalms 1 and 2. As a compound introduction to the entire collection, the first two psalms announce the principal subject matter for the entire book: the triumphant monarch. The sequence of Psalms 20 to 24 continues the discussion of this monarch’s suffering and subsequent deliverance. Many Christians are familiar with Psalm 22 and its opening words, “My God, my God, why have I been abandoned?” Jesus quotes them while on the cross in Matthew 27: 46 (also Mark 15: 34). However, rarely do readers ask, “What does this particular psalm have to do with the following Psalm 23, or the previous Psalms 20-21?” There are in fact solid linguistic reasons to think that they read Psalm 23 prophetically as well. Luke 24: 44 cites Christ’s words as he taught his disciples on the road to Emmaus. There he declared that the Psalms spoke of him. If the gospel writers read Psalm 22 and many others as messianic prophecy, it is more than likely that they read the following Psalm 23 in the same manner. There is also evidence from ancient times that both Christian and Jewish interpreters read it as messianic prophecy. 10 Confirmation of this ancient view of the Psalter comes from the surrounding context itself, as will be demonstrated in the following chapters.” (Robert Cole, Why Psalm 23 Is Not About You: Reading Psalm 23 In Its Context, 9-10 (Kindle Edition); Athens, GA; College And Clayton Press LLC)

I want to spend some time considering with you Psalms 22, 23, and 24 as a unit. As Cole points out, this unit actually stretches back to Psalm 20. There are themes found within this passage that show it runs together as a whole:

“The repeated language and concepts between Psalms 20 and 21 (also between Pss 21 and 22), indicates they were intentionally placed together. Both speak repeatedly of the messianic king who is granted salvation11 out of trouble (Ps 20: 5[ 6], 6[ 7], 9[ 10], and Ps 21: 1[ 2], 5[ 6]). Ps 20: 5[ 6] Let us rejoice in your salvation12 Ps 20: 6[ 7] for the Lord saved his anointed… by the strength of the salvation of his right hand. Ps 20: 9[ 10] Lord save the king13 Ps 21: 1[ 2] the king14… he will exult exceedingly in your salvation Ps 21: 5[ 6] his glory is great through your salvation Ps 21: 7[ 8] For the king It is certainly no coincidence that Psalm 20’ s final half and Psalm 21’ s first half repeat the same Hebrew root for “salvation/ save,” and the noun “king” or “anointed one.” This deliberate linking of the two psalms could not be more explicit. Indeed, it is in the very last verse of Psalm 20 and the first verse of Psalm 21 (with intervening title/ superscription), where salvation and king are repeated, besides the surrounding context of each psalm. Psalm 21: 2-7[ 3-8] reveal that this king’s salvation consists of blessings, a crown, eternal life, glory, majesty and greatness. Eternal life in Psalm 21: 4[ 5] is expressed using a phrase identical to that of Psalm 23: 6.15 Confirmation that “length of days” indicates eternal life comes from the immediately following phrase. 16 Such a close parallel in language between nearby psalms points to the king of Psalms 20-21 also being the subject of Psalm 23. Further linguistic and thematic parallels across Psalms 20-23 confirm that the same subject, the messianic king, is in view throughout. The intervening Psalm 22 reveals in detail the fact of his death, which is reversed by his resurrection to eternal life in Psalm 23: 3, 6.17 Psalm 20: 6[ 7] refers to the same monarch as “his anointed one (messiah)” and then in verse 9[ 10] as “the king.” 18 The former term, “his anointed one,” is identical in form to Psalm 2: 2b[ 3b], and so the same victorious messianic monarch of the book’s introduction (Pss 1-2) continues as the focus of the author’s attention. In fact, the monarch’s anger in Psalm 21: 9[ 10] 19 also matches the anger of the messianic king, who in Psalm 2: 5[ 6], 12[ 13] is enthroned in heaven, against his enemies. Psalms 20-21 have thus declared the certainty of the king’s salvation, which includes eternal life, glory, majesty, etc., as noted above. By contrast, Psalm 22: 1[ 2] quotes the same king complaining over the fact that his salvation is distant from him. 20 Instead of salvation, he experiences terrible abandonment, suffering and death. Psalm 22 portrays that suffering at length, but not without including an answer to it in verses 22-31[ 22-32]. Then the immediately following Psalm 23 reveals what Psalm 22’ s answer only implied—resurrection from the dead. As noted already, these psalms describe the same king introduced in Psalms 1-2 and featured in the intervening Psalms 3-19. Likewise, Psalm 20: 6[ 7] identifies him as the “Lord’s anointed,” 21 which is the same title Psalm 2: 2[ 3] gives him. Later in Psalm 2: 6[ 7], God establishes him as his own king on Mount Zion, and in verse 8[ 9] the entire world and its nations are given to him as his inheritance, undoubtedly equivalent to the blessings, crown, majesty and glory given him in Psalm 21.” (Robert Cole, Why Psalm 23 Is Not About You: Reading Psalm 23 In Its Context, 13-14 (Kindle Edition); Athens, GA; College And Clayton Press LLC)

So Psalms 22, 23, and 24 follow the Messianic King of Psalms 20 and 21:

Psalm 20:6-Now I know that the LORD saves His anointed; He will answer him from His holy heaven With the saving strength of His right hand.

Psalm 20:9-Save, LORD! May the King answer us when we call.

Psalm 21:1-The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

Psalm 21:4-He asked life from You, and You gave it to him—Length of days forever and ever.

Following in Psalm 22, 23, and 24, we learn some powerful lessons about the work of the Messiah in His death, resurrection, and ascension.

The Death Of The Messiah (Psalm 22)

The 22 Psalm describes in detail the suffering that the Messiah would endure. While Psalm 20 and 21 shows us that the Messiah would be blessed by the God of Heaven, Psalm 22 stands as a testament that the Messiah would endure unimaginable grief and sorrow. This culminated in the horrific events of Calvary. We read some of the prophecies made of Jesus in this passage of Scripture. He would be killed by “dogs” (a Jewish expression denoting Gentiles-Psalm 22:16). In this death, the Messiah would be “pierced,” which is a powerful description of crucifixion, hundreds of years before Crucifixion was even invented! He would experience extreme thirst (Psalm 22:15). He experienced a profound sense of abandonment (Psalm 22:1). We also know from the study of archaeology (as well as some texts from the New Testament viewed in the light of archaeological excavations) that sexual abuse was also commonplace in the act of crucifixion.

The Psalmist also reminds us that the Lord was surrounded by the “bulls of Bashan.”

Psalm 22:12-Many bulls have surrounded Me; Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.

Bashan was a country that the Jewish people believed was the entrance to Hell.

“In effect, Bashan was considered the location of (to borrow a New Testament phrase) “the gates of hell.” Later Jewish writers understood these conceptual connections. Their intersection is at the heart of why books like 1 Enoch teach that demons are actually the spirits of dead Nephilim. 17 Lastly, aside from Bashan being the gateway to the underworld, the region has another sinister feature identified in the Deuteronomy 3 passage: Mount Hermon. According to 1 Enoch 6:1–6 , Mount Hermon was the place where the sons of God of Genesis 6 descended when they came to earth to cohabit with human women—the episode that produced the Nephilim. 18 Joshua 12:4–5 unites all the threads: “Og king of Bashan, one of the remnant of the Rephaim, who lived at Ashtaroth and at Edrei and ruled over Mount Hermon.”” (Michael S. Heiser, The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible, 3752-3759 (Kindle Edition); Bellingham, WA; Lexham Press)

The “bulls” were demonic forces:

“But the psalmist wasn’t shown a vision of angry bulls from the Golan Heights surrounding Christ on the cross. He was given a glimpse into the future at spirits from Bashan, demonic entities represented by bulls, who surrounded the cross to celebrate what they thought was their victory over the Messiah. Confirming this interpretation of Psalm 22: 12, Old Testament scholar Dr. Robert D. Miller II recently used archaeological and climatological evidence to prove that “the phrase Bulls of Bashan refers not to the bovine but to the divine, [and] moreover that Iron Age Bashan would have been a terrible land for grazing and the last place to be famous for beef or dairy cattle.” (Derek P. Gilbert, Last Clash of the Titans: The Second Coming of Hercules, Leviathan, and the Prophesied War Between Jesus Christ and the Gods of Antiquity, 80 (Kindle Edition); Crane, MO; Defender Publishing)

This passage graphically describes the fact that the Messiah would die during these terrible events:

Psalm 22:15-My strength is dried up like a potsherd, And My tongue clings to My jaws; You have brought Me to the dust of death.

Psalm 22:29- All the prosperous of the earth Shall eat and worship; All those who go down to the dust Shall bow before Him, Even he who cannot keep himself alive.

The Messiah would suffer terribly and die.

The Resurrection Of The Messiah (Psalm 23)

Even though the Messiah dies, there is a cry and shout of exclamation and joy. He knows that there will be victory, even over death!

Psalm 22:21-24-Save Me from the lion’s mouth And from the horns of the wild oxen! You have answered Me. 22  I will declare Your name to My brethren; In the midst of the assembly I will praise You. 23  You who fear the LORD, praise Him! All you descendants of Jacob, glorify Him, And fear Him, all you offspring of Israel! 24  For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted; Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.

The Bible here shows us that after His death, the Messiah would live again. This is the theme of Psalm 23!

In the first verses of Psalm 23, we are being told of the Messiah’s entrance into the Hadean world. We know from other Scriptures that the Lord Jesus went to this realm between His death and resurrection, and that while there He preached the Gospel to those who were spiritually lost in that realm.

1 Peter 3:18-22-For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive by the Spirit, 19  by whom also He went and preached to the spirits in prison, 20  who formerly were disobedient, when once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21  There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22  who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

1 Peter 4:6-For this reason the gospel was preached also to those who are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

We see reference to this even later in Psalms. The Bible here refers to how the Lord passed through the valley of the “shadow of death.” This was a common phrase in the Old Testament for the realm of the dead:

Job 3:5-May darkness and the shadow of death claim it; May a cloud settle on it; May the blackness of the day terrify it.

Job 10:21-Before I go to the place from which I shall not return, To the land of darkness and the shadow of death,

Job 10:22-A land as dark as darkness itself, As the shadow of death, without any order, Where even the light is like darkness.’ “

Job 12:22-He uncovers deep things out of darkness, And brings the shadow of death to light.

Job 24:17-For the morning is the same to them as the shadow of death; If someone recognizes them, They are in the terrors of the shadow of death.

Job 38:17-Have the gates of death been revealed to you? Or have you seen the doors of the shadow of death?

With this in mind, look at what the Psalmist says later:

Psalm 107:10-15-Those who sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, Bound in affliction and irons— 11  Because they rebelled against the words of God, And despised the counsel of the Most High, 12  Therefore He brought down their heart with labor; They fell down, and there was none to help. 13  Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, And He saved them out of their distresses. 14  He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, And broke their chains in pieces. 15  Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!

Here were people in Hades. They were clearly unsaved because they had “rebelled against the words of God, and despised the counsel of the Most High.” Their hearts had been brought down with labor. There was none to help, except the Lord! They cry out to Him and He saves them.

Writing of the subject of the “shadow of death” (among other things), author Levenson tells us:

“Much of the power of this stanza derives from its overlay of several dominant metaphors of Sheol, and we should be most unwise to attempt to unravel and separate them. The “pits” from which the LORD rescued the rebels humbled in suffering (v zo) recalls the language of the grave, as we saw above. The twice-mentioned mentioned “deepest darkness” (vv 10, 14) again suggests the grave, but also the primordial darkness and water that God triumphantly overcomes in the act of creation in Genesis 1.34 The Hebrew word salmawet, best known as the “shadow of death” in the King James Version of the twenty-third psalm (v 4), surely suggests death to the attentive hearer, even if that etymology is unscientific, tific, as many scholars now believe.35 The “gates of death” suggests a city, as we have seen, specifically, the subterranean city that is the diametric opposite of the lofty city atop Mount Zion, in which the life-giving LORD reigns supreme preme and inviolable. But the references to “cruel irons,” “gates of bronze,” and “iron bars” depict something far more ghastly than a mere city, even one that is heavily fortified. They depict, in fact, a prison, and in so doing, they interpret the rescue/healing of the afflicted penitents as an act of liberation. That, in turn, draws in its train a large number of biblical parallels, most memorably Joseph, whom his brothers first resolved to murder and subsequently quently threw into a pit from which he was rescued, only to be enslaved and later imprisoned in Egypt-but then redeemed from these fates no less (Gen 3718-z8, 36; 39:20; 41:14). In this, of course, Joseph pre-enacts the experience ence of the people Israel a few generations later when they become the target first of Pharaoh’s enslavement, then of his genocidal decree (Exod 1:8-zz), only to survive both of these and then to march proudly out of the house of bondage (Exod 13:27-14:31). Both of these cases-the one cast as biography, the other as national history-are narrative realizations of the liberation and deliverance celebrated in the verses we have quoted from Psalm 107.” (Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God of Life, 758-775 (Kindle Edition); New Haven and London; Yale University Press)

This reminds us of the work that Jesus did when He was in Hades.

But notice more from Psalm 23.

Psalm 23:3-He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.

Look at that phrase “he restores my soul.” It speaks directly to the resurrection of the Messiah!

“How then does this messianic king go from persecution, torture, and death in Psalm 22 to resurrection and eternal life in paradise in Psalm 23? Verse three answers this question–“He made my life/ soul return.” The Hebrew verb in its common form means “to return,” but in this active transitive form it states that the Lord caused him to return. 49 The same verb is used in Jeremiah 50: 19 for the ultimate return of Israel to the land by direct divine action, resulting in the nation’s “soul” enjoying satiety. 50 Here, God brings the king from out of the dust of death in Psalm 22 to the eschatological restored Eden of Psalm 23. There is also a deliberate connection between the reference to resurrection in Psalm 23: 3 and Psalm 22. The last sentence of Psalm 22: 29[ 30] confirms that the persecuted and suffering king of this psalm was not kept alive. Its language is quite similar to that of Psalm 23: 3. The verb “he (did not) keep (his life) alive” of Psalm 22: 29[ 30] is identical in pattern and voice in the original Hebrew to that of “he caused (my life) to return” in Psalm 23: 3.51 Furthermore, these two verbs of Psalm 22: 29[ 30] and 23: 3 have the same object “life/ soul.” In the original it is often translated by the archaic English “soul,” but can also be rendered “life,” as in Psalm 16: 11 (“ because you did not abandon my life/ soul to Sheol”). 52 Consequently, there is little doubt that the appearance of identical nouns and verbal patterns53 in two verses, each placed at the end of one psalm and the beginning of the next was deliberate: Ps 22: 29[ 30] …although his life he did not keep alive54 Ps 23: 3 he made my life return These words of Psalm 22: 29[ 30] have puzzled interpreters because they appear abruptly at the end of the psalm. 55 However, it does make good sense in the immediate context of death in Psalm 22, and the following resurrection in Psalm 23. The grammatical construction of vav followed by a non-verb indicates a contrast of sorts, expressed here by “although.” The one before whom all the dead bow (Ps 22: 29[ 30]), 56 and whom they will serve (Ps 22: 30[ 31]), 57 will surprisingly, also experience death (as Ps 22: 15[ 16] had affirmed previously).” (Robert Cole, Why Psalm 23 Is Not About You: Reading Psalm 23 In Its Context, 27-28 (Kindle Edition); Athens, GA; College And Clayton Press LLC)

Furthermore, we are told that the enemies which had surrounded the Messiah in His death (Psalm 22:12, 13, 16) are now watching the Messiah as He is resurrected and the Lord cares for Him and provides for Him.

Psalm 23:5-You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.

One reason the shepherd would anoint a sheep was to provide it medicinal healing from dangerous parasites and infections. The oil was used as medicine for healing.

“For in the terminology of the sheepman, “summertime is fly time.” By this, reference is made to the hordes of insects that emerge with the advent of warm weather. Only those people who have kept livestock or studied wildlife habits are aware of the serious problems for animals presented by insects in the summer. Just to name just a few parasites that trouble stock and make their lives a misery, there are warble flies, bot flies, heel flies, nose (nasal) flies, deer flies, black flies, mosquitoes, gnats, and other minute, winged parasites that proliferate at this time of year. Their attacks on animals can readily turn the golden summer months into a time of torture for sheep and drive them almost to distraction. Sheep are especially troubled by the nose fly, or nasal fly as it is sometimes called. These little flies buzz about the sheep’s head, attempting to deposit their eggs on the damp mucous membranes of the sheep’s nose. If they are successful, the eggs will hatch in a few days to form small, slender, worm-like larvae. They work their way up the nasal passages into the sheep’s head; they burrow into the flesh and there set up an intense irritation accompanied by severe inflammation. For relief from this agonizing annoyance, sheep will deliberately beat their heads against trees, rocks, posts, or brush. They will rub them in the soil and thrash around against woody growth. In extreme cases of intense infestation, a sheep may even kill itself in a frenzied endeavor to gain respite from the aggravation. Often advanced stages of infection from these flies will lead to blindness. Because of all this, when the nose flies hover around the flock, some of the sheep become frantic with fear and panic in their attempt to escape their tormentors. They will stamp their feet erratically and race from place to place in the pasture trying desperately to elude the flies. Some may run so much they will drop from sheer exhaustion. Others may toss their heads up and down for hours. They will hide in any bush or woodland that offers shelter. On some occasions they may refuse to graze in the open at all. All this excitement and distraction has a devastating effect on the entire flock. Ewes and lambs rapidly lose condition and begin to drop in weight. The ewes will go off milking, and their lambs will stop growing gainfully. Some sheep will be injured in their headlong rushes of panic; others may be blinded and some even killed outright. Only the strictest attention to the behavior of the sheep by the shepherd can forestall the difficulties of “fly time.” At the very first sign of flies among the flock, he will apply an antidote to their heads. I always preferred to use a homemade remedy composed of linseed oil, sulfur, and tar, which was smeared over the sheep’s nose and head as a protection against nose flies. What an incredible transformation this would make among the sheep. Once the oil had been applied to the sheep’s head, there was an immediate change in behavior. Gone was the aggravation, gone the frenzy, gone the irritability and the restlessness. Instead, the sheep would start to feed quietly again, then soon lie down in peaceful contentment.” (W. Phillip Keller, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 (Timeless Faith Classics), 102-104 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)

But there is another powerful lesson for us to consider here from the anointing of oil. There appears to be the meaning also that the deadly attacks of the enemy have now ceased in the Messiah. By His resurrection, the serpent had lost its’ power.

“The common experience of a shepherd with his flock will help us understand. I have Charles W. Slemming to thank for help with this verse. He has done a masterful piece of work in his writings concerning shepherds in the Middle East. In this case he tells of the shepherd who comes to a new field in which he plans to graze his flock. The shepherd doesn’t just turn them loose; he inspects the field for vipers—small brown adders that live underground. They frequently pop up out of their tiny holes and nip the sheep on their noses. The bite from these natural enemies sometimes causes an inflammation that can, on occasion, kill the stricken sheep. Knowing this danger, the shepherd restrains his sheep from a new field (which may be infested) until he can inspect it. He walks up and down, looking for the small holes. Upon finding these holes, he takes a bottle of thick oil from his girdle. Then, raking down the long grass with his staff, he pours a circle of oil at the top of each viper’s hole. Before he leads the sheep into the new, green field, he also spreads the oil over each sheep’s head—in that sense he “anoints” them (rubbing their heads) with his oil. When the vipers beneath the surface sense the presence of sheep and attempt to attack from their holes, they are unable to do so. Their smooth bodies cannot pass over the slippery oil—they become prisoners inside their own holes. The oil on the sheep’s head also acts as a repellent, so if a viper does manage to come near, the smell drives the serpent away. Therefore, in a very literal sense, by oiling the vipers’ burrows, the shepherd has prepared the table—the meadow—and the sheep are able to graze in abundance right in the enemy’s presence.” (Charles R Swindoll, Living the Psalms: Encouragement for the Daily Grind, 78 (Kindle Edition); Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publications)

Thanks to Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, we have the promise of victory through the Lord.

The Exaltation Of The Messiah (Psalm 24)

Finally, noticed with me the promise of the Lord’s Ascension. At the end of Psalm 23, the Lord declares:

Psalm 23:6-Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

The Messiah here is announcing His journey into the house of the Lord. Psalm 24 picks up this theme by telling us that He has the right to enter because He is holy.

Psalm 24:3-7-Who may ascend into the hill of the LORD? Or who may stand in His holy place? 4  He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to an idol, Nor sworn deceitfully. 5  He shall receive blessing from the LORD, And righteousness from the God of his salvation. 6  This is Jacob, the generation of those who seek Him, Who seek Your face. Selah 7  Lift up your heads, O you gates! And be lifted up, you everlasting doors! And the King of glory shall come in.

None but Jesus can fulfill this amazing prophecy.

Furthermore, we are told about the Divine identity of this Messianic King very clearly.

Psalm 24:8-Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, The LORD mighty in battle.

Psalm 24:10-Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, He is the King of glory. Selah

We are told in several passages how Jesus ascended to Heaven after His resurrection:

Mark 16:19-20-So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20  And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.

Luke 24:50-51-And He led them out as far as Bethany, and He lifted up His hands and blessed them. 51  Now it came to pass, while He blessed them, that He was parted from them and carried up into heaven.

Acts 1:9-11-Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10  And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, 11  who also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Acts 2:33-Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.

Hebrews 10:12-13-But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13  from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.

Psalm 22, 23, and 24 form an amazing unit of God’s Word. They remind us that our only hope is in Jesus. Thanks to Him, we can have confidence and courage, even in the face of death. When we face death, we can have he confidence of the Apostle Paul who said that he was ready to depart and be with Christ:

2 Timothy 4:6-8-For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7  I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8  Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.

Or, we can be like the famous antichrist named Voltaire.

“VOLTAIRE, the noted French infidel and one of the most fertile and talented writers of his time, used his pen to retard and demolish Christianity. Of Christ, Voltaire said: “Curse the wretch!” He once boasted, “In twenty years Christianity will be no more. My single hand shall destroy the edifice it took twelve apostles to rear.” Shortly after his death the very house in which he printed his foul literature became the depot of the Geneva Bible Society. The nurse who attended Voltaire said: “For all the wealth in Europe I would not see another infidel die.” The physician, Trochim, waiting up with Voltaire at his death said that he cried out most desperately: “I am abandoned by God and man! I will give you half of what I am worth if you will give me six months’ life. Then I shall go to hell; and you will go with me. 0 Christ! 0 Jesus Christ!”” (Herbert Lockyer, Last Words of Saints and Sinners: 700 Final Quotes from the Famous, the Infamous, and the Inspiring Figures of History, 133 (Kindle Edition); Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications)

The choice is ours (Acts 2:37-47).

May we choose wisely.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

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