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Pastor's Blog

The Witness
Friday, April 12 2019
                                              
The role of the witness has always played a vital part in the court systems across the world in determining truths that would otherwise be unknown to the authorities. As is often the case people lived or died depending upon the credible voice of the witness. So it was imperative of a witness to be truthful in their delivery of events as they would provide sworn testimony to its validity. We have heard such terms as; witness tampering, wherein certain unscrupulous folks would in some way, shape or form, threaten a witness to prevent certain truths from becoming known. Obviously when these facts were to be found out it further substantiated the guilt of the criminal, thus bolstering the witness’ voice. It’s common practice in our day and time to discredit the witness, albeit in some cases a person’s credibility may be suspect, thereby making his/her testimony in-valid or inadmissible as evidence. There is one piece of evidence that is critical in our quest to obtain truth and that is not silencing the testimony of the witness. To discount the words of the credible witnesses of certain facts is to undermine the very foundation of truth for which one stands. To cast aside verifiable evidence is not only folly at its highest level but total deception or delusion on a grand scale.
One may think the testimony of the witness is a relatively new thing, however that is not the case, it goes back to Biblical days. The Lord says; in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established (Matt 18:16). A last thought on this should be taken in account, being a false witness had severe penalties. It is with this backdrop I want to present some incredible accounts of events past that that have taken place whereupon the attendant crowds that witnessed it never perceived the significance of it. I dare say that multiple thousands were on hand as the events unfolded, but seemed oblivious to the truth that played out before their very eyes. If as they say, hind-sight is 20-20, we in our day and time should with great visibility perceive the significance of not only this historical event, but as an event that affects our very own lives.
The first event is an event that has taken place in Israel for millennia, so called the Day of Atonement as it took place once every year. In 1490 BC God would give the Nation of Israel explicit instructions concerning the atonement (covering of one’s sins) for the sins of the people for a whole year. This physical act would forever be an “object lesson” to the people of Israel in how the Lord would deal with their sins, in other words, there has to be an atonement. On this great day, once a year, the High Priest would take two goats and stand before the door of the Tabernacle of the people with a goat on either side. At that point he would reach into a small box or bag and retrieve two lots, one for each hand. Each lot had a different word inscribed on it, of which he would place one on the head of the goat to the right and the other on the head of the goat to the left. One goat would have the stone about his neck that said sacrifice and the other the word, scapegoat. The goat that had the word sacrifice would be slain and sacrificed upon the Alter in the Tabernacle/Temple that day. The other goat would have the sins of the people confessed over it and become the scapegoat to be released into the wilderness (Lev. 16). The importance of this ceremony cannot be overstated, as God received the sacrifice, the sins of the people were covered for the year. Now let us journey into distant future and view another event that would take place. At the trial of Jesus before His countrymen and rulers an event would play out that seemed to miss the attention of those at hand. At a certain point in Jesus’ trial, two individuals were presented to the crowds at hand, Jesus and Barabbas. Before we go further a point needs to be made, Jesus said God was His Father, and the Father proclaimed it so, when at Jesus’ Baptism a voice was heard from Heaven saying; “This is My Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:17). It would seem Barabbas has a story to tell too, Bar in Hebrew means; son of, and Abba means father. To put this together, Jesus was the Son of His Father, accordingly Jesus lived a sinless life and Barabbas was the son of his father who lived a life of sin. As mentioned prior concerning the Day of Atonement, two goats were to be presented to the people, one to be marked sacrifice and the other marked scapegoat. At a certain point leading up to the Crucifixion, Pilate would declare; whom will you that I should release unto you? Barabbas or Jesus which is called Christ? (Matt 27:17). The Priests and the attendant masses would say; give us Barabbas, multiple times in fact. Thus marking and/or identifying the one who would die upon the alter/cross and the other who would be set free. Jesus would become the sacrifice and Barabbas would represent the scapegoat. In my mind it seems incredible these folks at hand didn’t pick up on the events and realize that they have been re-enacting this very event for over 1500 years with goats. We may surmise, a credible witness should be able to discern what he is seeing also.
There is as they say another piece to the puzzle. Israel was given another “object lesson” just prior to receiving of the Day of Atonement instruction. These instructions were for the daily sacrifices that would be offered upon the Alter of the Tabernacle/Temple day by day, continually. They were to take two lambs of the first year, one was to be sacrificed in the morning, the 3rd hour, and the other in the afternoon or the 9th hour (Ex. 29). Any/all other sacrifices were offered between these two main early and late sacrifices. This event would take place for millennia. Now we fast forward to another time and event way in the future, the Jewish Priests were still performing their duties in offering up lambs twice daily as God instructed. However on this particular day it was the Passover. On this great day they were to call to remembrance their miraculous deliverance from Egypt. As you may know the blood of a lamb was placed upon the door’s mantle to their home, top and both sides. When the death Angel passed through that dreadful night in Egypt, if he saw the blood he passed over you (Ex. 12). It was at this Passover that there stood one before the crowds who had been tried and found guilty of crimes for which He was innocent. As previously discussed they would choose a known felon named Barabbas to be set free, thus the scapegoat, but the other, Jesus would become the sacrifice. Something very interesting would transpire before their very eyes. It was while the Romans were busy taking Jesus through the streets for all to see and ultimately to the Golgotha, then the cross, that the Temple Priests were busy preparing the morning sacrifice in the Temple of Jerusalem. And what was that sacrifice, a lamb, without spot or blemish. The Temple lamb was slain for the morning sacrifice at the 3rd hour or nine a.m. at the same time exactly the Lamb of God was placed upon the cross for the sins of mankind. There is more, Jesus’ life was poured out, His blood was shed and when His mission was complete He yielded up the Ghost, died. When Christ died some amazing things happened in the Temple, the huge rug/veil was torn from top to bottom, locomotives couldn’t have ripped that thing apart. Something else very significant also happened, Jesus died at the exact time the Temple Priests were offering up the 9th hour, 3p.m. sacrifice of another little lamb. This information is incredible; this can be no accident of events that portray exactly what the Ministry of Jesus came to fulfill. Couldn’t they have connected the dots and seen something very unique is going on here? How about us in the 21st Century? Do we see the relevance of these great witnesses of historical facts? I have one more witness to bring to the table of truth, this is from an outside source.
One of the main players in the trial of Jesus was Pilate, a Roman Governor at the time. He was an important figure in Roman politics and much could be said of his role overall in his governing of affairs between Rome and the Jewish Nation. As always the case when important people say or write something it is usually written down and kept for future posterity or reference in an archive or chamber vault. In many cases these written words have been found from various safe storage places and placed in museums across the world. It may amaze most folks to know that Pilate had written letters of his time in office. Many of those letters are in safe storage at the Vatican, Rome and Constantinople, Turkey. From a book written in 1887 by Dr. Mahan titled; The Archko Volume, a trove of information concerning letters written by Pilate’s own hand to Caesar. A few of the many excerpts concerning his take on Jesus.  This is the only time I ever read where someone ever gave a description of Jesus. Pilate’s take on Jesus leaning against a tree, he said he had no doubt who He was, he looked celestial with His golden colored hair and beard. In another letter Pilate would speak of his encounter with the Lord in his basilica, he said upon meeting Jesus there face to face, he (Pilate) trembled in every limb as does a guilty culprit, though the Nazarene was calm as innocence itself. On the occasion of the day of the Crucifixion, Pilate would note the crowds assembled demanding the death of Christ. He said he never witnessed such mass frenzy of howling screams and shrieks being delivered to anyone. In another letter he describes a great noise which he thought borne of the winds seemed to announce an agony such as was never heard by mortal ears and the darkness that appeared over Golgotha. One of the Romans would exclaim; either the author of nature is suffering or the universe is falling apart at the time of Christ’ death. In another letter from Pilate to Caesar; the words from Ben Isham, a sentry at the tomb of Christ. He said at the beginning of the fourth watch, they saw a soft and beautiful light over the sepulcher. While giving thought to what that might be all of a sudden the whole place lit up, there appeared crowds of the dead in their grave clothes. All seemed to be shouting and filled with ecstasy while all around was filled with the most beautiful music he had ever heard. The whole air was filled with the praises of God. I wonder what Caesar thought when he read that report? One more letter of note from Pilate’s concluding remarks to Caesar, I am almost ready to say, as did Manlius at the cross, “Truly this was the Son of God”!
Where do we go from here? Historical facts bear record as a witness of truth. Was Pilate as a hardened Roman Governor lying in his words to Caesar or was he another credible witness to the facts? There can be only one responsible conclusion; Jesus is who He says He is.
Pastor Thomas Nosworthy
Light the Way Ministries.
lightthewayministries.org
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