Welcome to Volume 3 of Seven Miles From Jerusalem. As we continue this journey through the Old Testament Scriptures looking for Jesus, we must recognize the theme of self- sacrifice. This theme is central to the Gospel where we see Jesus lay down His life for ours. Let’s begin with Ester. A young Jewish woman is forced to take part in what is essentially a beauty pageant to find the king of Persia a new queen. Ester wins the heart of the king and becomes the queen while keeping her Jewish identity hidden. A plot to annihilate all the Jews from all the king’s providences is unleashed by one of the king’s servants. Ester must now make a choice between remaining silent and bringing death to her people or going before the king unannounced and facing the death penalty for breaking the king’s strict protocol. After a 3 day fast, not knowing her fate, she selflessly goes before the king. Finding favor with the king, she avoids the death penalty and saves her people from the evil plot.
The Book of Judges gives us a unique story about a man named Jephthah. Being an exiled outcast, Jephthah surprisingly gets recruited to lead the armies of Israel. He makes a vow to God, saying that whatever comes out of the doors of his house to meet him upon his return from the battle he will offer as a sacrifice if he is given the victory. To his dismay, his only child, a virgin daughter is the one who comes out of the house to celebrate his victory. After a time of mourning, she willingly agrees to the sacrifice to honor her father’s vow to God.
When looking for Jesus in the Old Testament Scriptures, there are times when Jesus points us directly to them. Jesus said in Matthew 12:40 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” While Jonah is on a ship running from God, it’s determined that he is the reason that a tempest storm is about to destroy the ship and all it’s passengers and crew. Jonah selflessly gives himself up to be thrown into the sea. His sacrifice saves all onboard the ship.
Notice how all three of these historical events point to the redeeming work of Jesus. Not only is the theme of self-sacrifice key to what God has done for us but it’s also key to our relationship with God. Jesus said “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? Luke 9: 23-25
Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. John 15:13
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