Dear Mormon, Why Isn’t Jesus’ Baptism Good Enough?

This came up in our Bible study tonight.  Mormons believe that baptism is required to enter the kingdom of God, and that you can be baptised for someone else by proxy.  So it raises the question, why wasn’t the baptism of Jesus sufficient?

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Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — “Not for Price nor Reward”

I’ve saved this for the last in this series on the Cyrus prophecy because it has become my favourite part of the prophecy.

Isaiah 45:13

I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts.

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Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — The One True God Against “the gods”

Sometime around the year 700 BC, the prophet Isaiah gave an amazing prophecy, in which he stated that God would use someone named Cyrus to deliver His people from captivity.  This was fulfilled in 536 BC, perhaps 150-160 years later, when Cyrus the Great of Persia invaded Babylon, took the city, and released the Jews who had been taken captive by the Babylonians, with instructions to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple.

I’ve been writing on this prophecy for a couple of weeks (and the series of articles is already longer than I’d planned), but I’d like to take time for two more articles.  This one isn’t so much about the fulfillment but just to emphasise why this prophecy was given.

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Genesis and the Seven-Day Week

The seven-day week is almost universal, across diverse cultures.  It has no basis in astronomy (or anything else) that anyone can identify.

Different cultures vary on almost everything.  What people eat (and how), standards of dress, etiquette, hospitality, all of these things can differ.  But somehow, a week of seven days is found across the world, and has been for as long as anyone knows.

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Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — Not THOSE Gates!

The Bible in the British Museum

Balawat Gate Gallery

© The Trustees of the British Museum

Welcome to Room 6 of the British Museum!  This picture appears to be taken at a time when the Museum was not open, with the Black Obelisk moved to where it could be in the picture in front of the Balawat Gate, with the winged lions of Ashurnasirpal II on each side.  The gate is a reconstruction of gates on a palace in northern Iraq.  Obviously, the original gates are decayed, but the brass bands, some 2800 years old, are still with us.

I’ve been writing about the famous Cyrus prophecy of Isaiah.  The Balawat Gate actually has nothing to do with the Cyrus prophecy, but I’d like to write about the two of them in this article anyway.  This article, then, is dual purpose — it’s part of the Bible in the British Museum series, and part of the Cyrus prophecy series.  Two for the price of one!

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Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — Summary

This is a summary (for the sidebar menu) of a series of posts on some of the details of the prophecies in Isaiah related to Cyrus the Great, the Persian emperor who would be used by God to return the Jews from captivity, and his part in the rebuilding of the temple.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — Cyrus Named — Some 150 years before he rose to power, God through Isaiah named Cyrus as the conqueror of Babylon who would free the Jews from captivity.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — The Context in Isaiah — The deliverance from Babylon is actually the focus of 9 chapters in Isaiah, from 40-48, and thus we should not be surprised other references to Cyrus in these chapters.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — “The Gates Shall Not Be Shut” — Isaiah 44 and 45 prophesied several fascinating details about way Cyrus’ army was able to take Babylon.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — “A Ravenous Bird From The East” — The one who will deliver the Jews from captivity is mentioned as coming from the east and from the north, fulfilled in the Median-Persian invasion.  Isaiah spoke of “a ravenous bird” and the battle flag of Cyrus was an eagle with spread wings.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — “The Hidden Treasures” — Isaiah prophesied that Cyrus, when he took the city, would capture immense treasures, and so it was in Babylon.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — Not THOSE Gates! — Isaiah prophesied that the gates of brass would be broken.  It’s not the famous Balawat Gates, whose brass bands are in the British Museum.  It’s the gates of solid brass of Babylon.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — The One True God Against “the gods” — God tells us repeatedly in this section of Isaiah His reason for giving this prophecy.  He wants to show that He alone can pre-declare history, that He is the One true God.

Isaiah’s Amazing Cyrus Prophecy — “Not For Price Nor Reward” — The best part of the whole thing — it’s not just an amazing, wonderful prophecy, it’s also a wonderful picture or illustration of what Christ has done for us.

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The Lamb in Revelation

Some thoughts from last Sunday evening, for those who weren’t there.

The name “Jesus” with His title “Christ” occurs exactly seven times in the Book of Revelation.  Five of those seven are in the first chapter.  The last is in the last verse in the book (Revelation 22:21), which is the only place in the book He is called “Lord Jesus Christ.”

The name “Jesus” without His title “Christ” also occurs exactly seven times in the Book of Revelation.  All of these come after the sixth reference to “Jesus Christ”, and before the final reference to “Jesus Christ.”  The last is in the next to the last verse in the book (Revelation 22:20), which is the only place in the book He is called “Lord Jesus.”

That is all interesting, but despite the prominence of the number seven in Revelation, I’m not sure that it has any great significance here.

I am sure this does have significance, though.  Jesus is called “the Lamb” 28 times in Revelation, twice as often as He is called “Jesus” (with or without the title “Christ”).  The first reference is in chapter 5, with continuing references all the way through to the last chapter.  It’s evident that God wants to remind us, repeatedly, of Christ’s redeeming work as we read Revelation.

Perhaps this is because the Lamb of God is portrayed as being very active in the judgment of an unbelieving world in this book.  It is because He came, as a man, to become the Lamb, the Redeemer, that this authority to judge is given to Him:

John 5:26-27

26 For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;
27 And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

 

Chapter 5 A LAMB AS IT HAD BEEN SLAIN Worthy
Chapter 6 THE LAMB OPENING THE BOOK Judging
Chapter 7 THE LAMB IN THE MIDST OF THE THRONE Feeding
Chapter 13 THE LAMB SLAIN Life-giving
Chapter 14 THE LAMB ON MOUNT SION Leading
Chapter 15 THE LAMB OF THE SONG Ruling in Justice and Truth
Chapter 17 THE LAMB IN BATTLE Overcoming
Chapter 19 THE LAMB OF THE MARRIAGE SUPPER Loving
Chapter 21 THE LAMB OF NEW JERUSALEM Giving Light
Chapter 22 THE LAMB OF THE THRONE Reigning Forever
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