The Good News, Part 1
We want to take a closer look into the good news and we want to start with the announcement of Yeshua’s (Jesus’s) birth.
And the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which shall be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you; you will find a baby wrapped in clothes,and lying in a manger. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God saying,”Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased. Luke 2:10-14
The birth announcement of Yeshua (Jesus) was quite the fanfare with angels filling the sky singing praises to God. What these lowly shepherds experienced was a little glimpse of the heavenly temple. So what was this good news that was to bring joy to these shepherds? It was the long awaited Savior, the Messiah, whom Israel had been waiting for, this surely was good news for all of Israel.
Luke tells us what the angel told Mary when he reveals God’s plan to her, in verses 32-33 of chapter 1. “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end.” Let’s continue to read about this new King to be.
Isaiah prophesied about this child in chapter 9:1-7;
“But there will be no more gloom for her who was in anguish; in earlier times He treated the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali with contempt, but later on He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light; those who live in a dark land, the light will shine on them. Thou shall multiply the nation. Thou shalt increase their gladness; they will be glad in Thy presence as with the gladness of harvest, as men rejoice when they divide the spoil. For Thou shalt break the yoke of their burden and the staff on their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor as at the battle of Midian. For every boot of the booted warrior in the battle tumult, and cloak rolled in blood, will be for burning, fuel for the fire. For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest upon His shoulders,and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over His kingdom,to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this.”
What we have seen from Isaiah and the angel, is that this child that was to come, will be a mighty warrior and He will defeat His enemies and He will rule and reign on the throne of David , which is in the city of David, which is Jerusalem. When we read this we do not see anything about the Messiah dying for our sins and rising again on the third day.
So can this be the good news?
When we see the words good news, we must understand where we get that translation from.
It comes from the old English word godspell which we interpret today as gospel. The gospel message is the good news, and it was this good news or gospel message that the people of Israel were waiting for. You must realize that only the Jewish people were waiting for the Messiah because the Gentiles, other than a few God fearers, were pagans who worshiped other gods. We all know this Scripture of Isaiah 52:7 because we always quote it from Romans 10, when we are talking about the gospel.
“How lovely on the mountain are the feet of him who brings good news, who announces peace and brings good news of happiness, who announces salvation and says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!”’
And of course we all know this Scripture from Isaiah 61:1-4 because Yeshua quotes it in Luke 4:18-19,21 and tells His listeners that today this Scripture has been fulfilled by Him.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent Me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to captives, and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable Year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord. Then they will rebuild the ancient ruins, they will raise up the former devastations, and they will repair the ruined cities, the desolations of many generations.”
When John the Baptist sent his disciples to Yeshua to ask Him if He was the expected one to come, Yeshua replies in Matthew 11:5-6;
”Go and report to John what you hear and see; the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the
good news (gospel) preached to them, And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.”
Again we see that the good news has to do with the restoration and healing of Israel but we also see that it was Yeshua the Messiah, who would bring this all about. So as we celebrate the birth of this “Child” let us remember that we are celebrating the future restoration of Israel, and to the future King who will sit on the throne of David or should I just say, “We are celebrating the coming of the Messianic Age.”
The angel tells Mary at the Annunciation of the birth of Messiah, “And behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall call Him Yeshua,(Jesus)” Luke 1:31. Yeshua is the Messiah’s given name. Jesus is a translation from the Greek. Yeshua means Salvation. The angel goes on to say that He will bring salvation to the people and save them from their sins. So we see that the Messiah’s name comes directly from God the Father and the meaning of His name is His calling in life. Let’s take a closer look at Yeshua’s name and its meaning that was prophesied in the Hebrew Scriptures. In Genesis 49:18, Jacob blesses his sons before he dies. When he is done blessing his son Dan, he ends by saying,”For Thy salvation (Yeshua) I wait, O Lord.” The Psalmist writes in Psalm 14:7, “Oh that the salvation(Yeshua) of Israel would come out of Zion!” Isaiah writes in 49:6, “He says,’it is too small a thing that You should be My servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation(Yeshua) may reach to the end of the earth.’” Again in
52 :7,10, “ How lovely on the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news (gospel), who announces peace and brings good news(gospel) of happiness, who announces salvation, (Yeshua) and says to Zion,’Your God reigns!’” We see that Yeshua is the salvation that was to come. In Luke 1:68-71 we read, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited us and accomplished redemption for His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation (Yeshua) for us in the house of David His servant, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old. Salvation (Yeshua) from our enemies, and from the hand of all who hate us.” In more proper English, Yeshua saved us from our enemies and from all who hated us. This is surely good news (gospel). Zechariah writes in 9:9, “Rejoice, greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you: He is just and endowed with salvation(Yeshua), Humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” This was fulfilled when Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on a donkey right before Passover and His crucifixion. The people knowing this verse began to cut palm branches and waving them as He rode by.
We have seen that Yeshua is the agent of Salvation to Israel, which is the good news or gospel message. Let’s now see how Yeshua went about bringing this good news( gospel) to the people. Let’s start by looking at John the Baptist. Isaiah tells us, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.” John was the forerunner of Messiah. He was to bear witness of His coming and he was to prepare the way of the Lord. We see in Luke 1:76-77, Zechariah speaking about his son John says, “ And you child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; For you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation (Yeshua) by the forgiveness of their sins.” Remember, Yeshua called John the greatest prophet of His day. So how did John do this? We see in
Matthew 3:2 that he cries out, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He tells the people to repent of their sins. To repent means to turn yourself around and go in the opposite direction. Simply, to stop sinning and follow the Word of God. We see that Yeshua (Jesus) when He began to preach, Matthew 4:17, He cried out, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” When Yeshua sent out His disciples, He told them in Matthew 10:7, “As you go, preach saying, ‘Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand.” Throughout the book of Acts we see the disciples telling the people to repent, (Acts 2:38, 3:19; 8:22,17:30,26:20). Now if John the Baptist was going to teach the people the way of salvation, we see that the message of salvation, which is the gospel message (or the good news) starts with repentance. Yeshua’s name means Salvation, so we know that He was going to teach the people the way of salvation, and He preached the same message. Yeshua even tells the churches in Revelation to “repent”. So this is not just a Jewish matter, but a Gentile or Christian issue; and that issue is that the way of salvation comes through repentance, a coming back to the Word of God as a way of living. We see today that even the Ten Commandments are a thing of the past, let alone the whole counsel of God’s Word. We must remember that Yeshua is the Word made flesh, and if we do not follow God’s Word, how then can we follow Yeshua ,the Messiah? But repentance is only the first part of the message. The second half is “for the Kingdom of God is at hand.” So what did John and Yeshua and the Apostles all mean by this phrase, “the Kingdom of God (or sometimes of heaven) is at hand”? The people of Yeshua’s day knew exactly what this phrase meant.
You see the people had been waiting for their Messiah to come and deliver them. They had been waiting for their King. All of this was promised through the prophets. So now they hear the words, “it is here”, the kingdom is here, it is at hand. So now they realized that Yeshua was the fulfilment of all of this. Or did they?
We see the Apostles ask Yeshua , “When will you set up Your kingdom?” John sends his disciples to ask Yeshua, “Are you the One we have been expecting?” Yeshua asks His disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” Yeshua tells the people to believe in Him or at least believe in the works that He did. You see, if we do not truly believe in Yeshua as the Messiah and as the coming King who will sit one day on the throne of David, in Jerusalem, we will not believe that His Kingdom is here, right here, next to us. We will not take hold of it and become part of it, right now, today. We will not operate in Kingdom principles,nor will we live in the victory of our King and the work He did on the cross for us.
The Mysteries of the Kingdom
Yeshua tells the people several parables regarding the kingdom. He begins in Matthew 13, telling the story of the sower who sowed his seed, and how some fell beside the road and the birds ate up the seed, and how other seed fell upon the rocky places and the seed sprang up immediately; but because of lack of soil the sun scorched it away. Yet other seed fell among thorns, and the thorns choked out what grew. But other seed fell on good soil and it yielded a crop, some a hundredfold others only sixty or thirty. He who has ears let them hear. How important it is for the seed to fall on good soil, one who is ready to listen to the truth, one who is ready to take on the yoke of the kingdom. Then He tells another parable about how a man sowed seeds in his field, but when he was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed tares also among the wheat. So when the wheat grew and bore fruit the tares also grew. So the man could only leave them both to grow till harvest, when he would then gather the wheat and burn the tares. How important it is to realize that the enemy of the kingdom has planted his lies among the truth, and both have grown to bear fruit. But one day, God will come and separate those that are truly His from those who are not. Next, Yeshua tells the people that the Kingdom of Heaven is like a mustard seed which a man took and sowed, and how this, the littlest of all seeds, grew larger than all the other plants in the garden; so large that it became a tree and the birds made their nests in its branches. Yeshua compared the kingdom to the growing agent of leaven, and the hidden treasure that one finds in a field; and he sells all that he has to buy the field. Or the merchant seeking fine pearls, and finds one of great value and he sells everything to buy it. How important it is for us to have faith like a mustard seed and for us to search for that hidden treasure of God’s Word, that pearl of wisdom and cherish it above all, even our own lives. For one day, God will separate the wheat from the tares, the good from the bad, the truth from the lies. So then, why did Yeshua say that the kingdom was now, when He also says that it is still coming?
It’s all in the meaning of the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Kingdom of God, which are both the same thing. For the kingdom is not just a place, but also a time; the Messianic Age. We think of the Kingdom of Heaven to be in heaven, but the Jewish people would use the word heaven as a reference to God instead of invoking His name. So the Kingdom of God is the coming kingdom that the Jews were waiting for, which is the Kingdom of Messiah. We must understand that the Bible was written by Jewish people to Jewish people, and Yeshua was Jewish along with His disciples, including Paul, who said that he was a Jew, and a Pharisee, at that. So to read and interpret the Bible, we must understand that things we consider to be Christian sayings are actually Jewish sayings. That is why we are considered Judeo-Christians. The kingdom which Yeshua did not establish in His first coming but will in His second, is the Messianic Kingdom where He will gather the exiles of Israel and defeat their enemies, and He will sit on the throne of King David in the city of David, which is Jerusalem. The Hebrew Scriptures are full of Messianic imagery. Leviticus 26:5, Jeremiah 31:34,33:8, Ezekiel 34:29, Joel 2:24-26, Isaiah 11: 6-10, to mention a few. We even see Yeshua teaching His disciples to pray , “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are to be praying for this coming kingdom; and not only praying, but waiting with a readiness and an alertness to its coming. OK, so the kingdom is the Messianic Age, then why does He say one time “it’s here” and then the next time “it’s coming”? Luke 17:20-21 says, “ Now having been questioned by the Pharisees as to when the Kingdom of God was coming, He answered then and said, ‘The Kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say,’Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold the Kingdom of God is in your midst.”
In Yeshua’s first coming, He gave us a down payment , a pledge, so that if we take hold of this kingdom and live by its principles, we can operate now in the kingdom. As we have read we must first repent and return to the Word of God, the whole counsel of God, we can not have two foundations. God’s Word, like God, is one.
So we must ask ourselves, “If all of this is the gospel message, the good news, then where do we fit in and what was the crucifixion all about?” We want to take a closer look, but first, let’s lay some groundwork.
To get a complete understanding, we must go back to the beginning with a brief history lesson. We see in Genesis 22 that God tests Abraham and asks him to offer up his only son, Isaac, on Mt. Moriah. So Abraham and Isaac go on a 3 day journey. As they go, Isaac asks his father, “Where is the offering?” Abraham says to his son in verse 8, “God will provide for Himself the burnt offering.” When Abraham binds Isaac and puts the knife to him, God calls to him and tells him not to harm the boy, for He now knows that Abraham was truly faithful to Him. God did provide a ram for the offering, and Abraham called the place “The Lord will provide,” or “In the mount of the Lord it will be provided.” Yeshua tells the people, “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” God opened Abrahams eyes and allowed him to see that this mount, Mount Moriah, would one day become the temple mount, and God would provide the burnt offering, which was His only Son, who died on the cross to redeem us. But for now, that’s all I’ll say. God tells Abraham that He was going to give him the land and bless him, and that their covenant would be an everlasting covenant. But He also tells Abraham that his people would be in exile for 430 years, but after that time, He would bring them back to the land. Joseph, one of Jacob’s 12 sons, was sold into slavery by his brothers. Through the course of time, Joseph becomes second in command of Egypt when a severe famine comes on the land. Jacob sends his sons to Egypt to get food, and there they discover their brother Joseph, who has his family move to Egypt. Through the course of time, the Egyptians make slaves of the Jewish people, and so God has to send a deliverer. He raises up Moses, who had been brought up as an Egyptian. God reveals Himself to Moses in a burning bush that was not consumed, and spoke to Moses, telling him that He would be the deliverer of His people, which he was. The plagues come upon Egypt, and finally, Pharaoh lets the people go. They cross the Red Sea, and all of Pharaoh’s army was drowned in the sea. Exactly 430 years later, Israel is redeemed from their enemies. I know that this was a very brief history lesson, and a lot of history is missing in between. But we want to take a closer look at this story to better understand the redemption of Israel, and how it all relates to the crucifixion and the gospel message. I want to jump ahead and take a closer look at how Christians became part of this Jewish message.