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Thread of Gold

By Richard Gunther


   If you are familiar with the Terminator movies, you will know that the basic theme is time travel, and the main activity of the ‘good guy’ is to prevent the ‘bad guy’ from stopping an event in the past. The reason the good guy goes back is to make sure a certain human lives who will eventually lead the resistance against the bad guys in the future. The reason the bad guy goes back is to make sure the leader of the resistance does not live, because obviously, he does not want the future to play out with his defeat included. A variation on this is the bad guy going back in time to prevent the birth of the future leader of the resistance.


   There have been many, many films made about time travel, and most of them, directly or indirectly, raise the question “What if we could change the past?” What would happen if we went back in time and prevented the birth of Hitler, or Churchill? What if we managed to talk our mother into marrying some other man? Would we have still been born? What if we prevented our own birth – would we disappear? Why would we disappear, since we have already been born? We couldn’t go back to prevent our own birth if we were never born – or could we? How much of the big events of history as we have it today rest entirely on only a few small choices made by people somewhere in the past?


   In amongst these imponderables there is one amazing story which is seldom told, and that is the wonderful thread, like the finest strand of gold, which connects the bloodline of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. The thread of gold runs thick and strong at times, but at other points in history it is as thin as a wisp of smoke, yet God’s care of that thread ensured that it remained continuous despite the savage and brutal attacks by Satan.


   We begin following this thread in Genesis, where, in the very beginning, it is a wide and powerful band of gold, at the time when Adam and Eve have just been created and the world is perfect and beautiful. The first humans have perfect communion with God, Nature and Each Other, and the universe shimmers with harmony. But God knows that this state of perfection will last for but a moment, because the first humans soon make a choice and as a result rebellion and disharmony enter the world. Satan, who wants to destroy his rivals, sees that if he can get the humans to disobey God, God will destroy them for him. “In the day that you eat thereof you shall surely die” Gen. 2:17. And so Satan waits to see his rivals destroyed, but suddenly God makes an announcement: “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15 


   This prophesy contains the first implicit promise of God’s plan of redemption for the world. It predicts the ultimate victory of the human race, and the ultimate victory of God over Satan. But it also predicts an ongoing conflict, or war, between the “seed” of the woman (the Lord Jesus Christ) and the “seed” of the serpent (Satan and his followers).


   If we unwrap this prophesy further we find in it that God has promised the coming of a person who would be born of a woman (see Is.7:14) who would be “bruised”, (as in the crucifixion), yet in the end this person would “bruise the head” or completely destroy the serpent. So Satan here, way back at the beginning of history, has been warned that somewhere in the future some woman would give birth so a human who would destroy him. As in the Terminator movies, the ‘bad guy’ is now focused on destroying the human race, because if there are no humans, the “seed” of the woman cannot be born.


   Satan hung about Adam and Eve, looking for a way of destroying them. He had, after all, only two humans to destroy, so perhaps he was feeling optimistic. God seemed to be helping his cause, because He had already punished these first humans by bringing in sickness, ageing, and death, and along with these menaces there was the disharmony in nature and the less than perfect climate. But soon Eve was pregnant and after a few months Cain was born, followed by Abel.


   Cain chose agriculture as his line of work, while Abel chose shepherding. Cain also chose to turn away from the requirements of God and refused to bring the correct offering for his sins, while Abel brought a lamb as required. This divergence seems to indicate a strong difference between the two men, and probably became a bone of contention between them. The two men became enemies, probably with the help of Satan who is a master at causing friction and enmity between people. Eventually Cain was so at odds with Abel that he killed him


   Now Satan had reduced the thread down to just one possible line, unless of course Eve managed to produce more children, which she did, and soon there were quite a large number of possible lines from which the predicted conqueror might come. Adam and Eve “begat sons and daughters” (Gen.5:4), one of who was called Seth “For God, said she, has appointed me another seed instead of Abel, whom Cain slew.” (Gen.4:25)


   In the years that passed Satan and his angels got busy corrupting the human race, until only one thread of godly people remained. According to Genesis 6:1-4 the evil, fallen angels interbred with humans and produced evil giant humans. This also happened later when angels co-habited with people of Canaan prior to the coming of Israel from Egypt. (This is a much disputed view and by no means unanimously agreed on) The godly thread is listed in chapter 5, beginning at Adam, through Seth, Enos, etc and ending with Noah.


   God predicted the destruction of the whole earth, and gave the world 120 years to repent, but of course it didn’t. Satan and his followers did everything they could during this time to lead humans away from obedience, and no doubt they used much the same tricks as they do today – false teachings, philosophies, entertainment, religion, all the beguilements of the flesh and so on, and eventually God could not hold back the flood any longer. Only one family was saved – Noah and his wife and his three sons with their wives. For a whole week the door of the Ark stood open, an invitation to any human who wanted to be saved, but not a single human entered, and finally the door shut. Only eight people survived the enormous deluge, which covered the entire planet with surging, rolling waves.


   When the flood ended, Satan had a thread of only eight possible lines left, so, with renewed efforts, he tried to organize yet another rebellion against God. God had promised to Noah that He would never destroy the earth again with a flood (Gen. 9:11) so Satan knew he would have to change tactics. He seems to have decided on setting up an independent, centralized dictatorship, ruled by humans under his control – much the same as Hitler ruled by creating millions of clones of himself. “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (Gen.11:1) and while God had commanded the humans to spread over the earth and populate it everywhere, Satan tried to keep them all in one place. Thus the building of the tower began.


   “Let us build . . . let us make us a name.” 11:4. In these words we hear the main aims of the people. They wanted to dominate the earth and steer their own destiny apart from God through their own Man-centered organization.    They wanted to elevate themselves by their own power and accomplishments. These were all aims which are based on pride and rebellion against God. It is also highly probable that the human race was immersed in astrology, idolatry, sorcery and sexual impurity, because these things always appear where unsaved people gather. Fed by Satan’s suggestions, the human race because just as bad after the flood as it had been before, and so God moved to punish the people by creating a diversity of languages. Suddenly finding themselves incoherent to each other, they gathered into their respective language groups and set off into the world to set up their own civilizations, and it is the ruins of these past civilizations which archaeologists have been digging up ever since.


    Sometimes, on TV or perhaps at the movies, we see the relics of past civilizations – and what do we see but little statues, astrological signs, buildings used for religious ceremonies, temples and tombs. Ancient Egypt is an outstanding example of all other fallen ancient civilizations. Its entire culture was saturated in religion and idolatry. And why are these civilizations gone and buried? Because in time God has moved against them, bring them to ruin as a punishment for their rebellion against the truth. Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome, Israel, Judah, the Jews, Egypt, Tyre, Sidon, Japan, Russia, Aztecs, Incans, Easter islanders, and dozens of other nations have been brought down eventually, because God has a time limit on His tolerance of sin.


   Coupled with the flood was the Ice Age which followed it. This lasted perhaps some 300 years, as the warmer seas evaporated rapidly and dropped snow on the newly-formed continents. Volcanic activity and earthquakes probably shook the earth more frequently in those years after the flood, and then with the retreating ice came the droughts. Vast areas of the planet which used to be lush and green with lakes and rivers, began to dry up, and today the remains of vast inland lakes can still be found, but the water has long gone. The weather was hostile too, with storms, hail, hurricanes, local floods and so on, and the sun beat down through a thin atmosphere, bathing living things with far more ultraviolet than they experienced before the flood – when there had been no rain at all and a milder climate.


   But God preserved a godly line, which is listed in chapter 11. “These are the generations of Shem . . .” (11:10) The line continues until it reaches Terah, who has a son called Abram and  a daughter in law called Sarai, whi is childless, so Satan has only this one woman to work on, in order to prevent the coming of the future conqueror. The call of Abram sets the seal on the chosen thread of gold, because God makes it perfectly clear that it is through Abram that the chosen one will come. (Galatians 3:8, 16 and 18 explain this)


   Abraham (We will use his later name for convenience) did not have an easy vocation. He was called by God to do many difficult things. First he had to separate himself from his family, his friends, and his country. (Gen. 12:1) He had to become a stranger and a pilgrim on earth (Heb.11:13). He had to believe that one day God would make of his children a great nation and a company of nations and that through these people God would bless all the other nations of the earth (Gen. 12:2,3). He had to travel to some other far away place to live. And he had to believe that the land of Palestine would one day belong to his descendants. Acting on faith, Abraham obeyed God – this is what pleased God. Abraham did what he was told to do, even though the fulfillment of the promises looked impossible.


   Much has been made of Abraham’s faith. It is held up as a great example to all believers. He responded to God with faith and obedience in spite of all the circumstances around him. His friends and family might have held him back, his wife might have talked him out of traveling so far, his difficulties might have sent him running home again . . . see Rom.4:1-5, 16-24, gal.3:6-9, Heb.11:8-19, James 2;21-23. Put another way, if someone SAYS they are a Christian but does not LIVE the Christian life, then they cannot be true Christians. Saving faith is expressed in obedience, i.e. the godly life.


   Satan saw that if he could kill Abraham, or cause him to sin, the golden thread would be broken. Satan already had an advantage - Abraham was already seventy five when he left Haran, where he had waited for his father Terah to die, so the chances of him having children through Sarah was already quite slim. Soon Abraham arrived in Canaan, only to find that there was a famine in the land. He turned and went south to Egypt. The hardships had begun. Satan may have been pleased about this change of direction because he already had a firm base in Egypt – a land soaked in astrology, religion and false teachings. Perhaps he could entice Abraham or his wife away from the Lord and into the popular culture of Egypt?


   Abraham, naturally, did not want to die of famine, but as he approached Egypt he thought of another danger. His wife Sarah was, apparently, quite beautiful despite her age, and there was a possibility that the Pharaoh might take her, and kill her husband, so Abraham thought up a ruse. He told Sarah to tell the Egyptians she was his sister, which was true because she came through his father’s other wife, so technically she was a sister but through a different mother. There was, of course, no need for this ruse, because God had promised to raise up a nation through him and Sarah, so there was no way the king of Egypt could spoil things. However, Abraham went ahead with his scheme and as a result God plagued Pharaoh’s household until the king finally sent him packing.


   “Abraham was very rich, in cattle, in silver and in gold.” (Gen.13:1) One of the big problems which rich people have to deal with is the temptation to be self-sufficient. Why need God when you can buy anything you want? But Abraham was focused on God despite his wealth, and even though he was, in a sense, a sort of king in his day, he had the good sense to avoid the temptations of the world. Not so his nephew Lot, who was interested in personal gain. Lot was given a choice between settling in a broad area of good farmland, or living near and in a city called Sodom, and he chose the latter. (Gen.13:10-12). If Lot had loved righteousness and hated evil, he would have stayed separate from the wicked ways of sinful people, but instead he tolerated it for the sake of what he could get. Perhaps he thought of such things as “cultural advantages”, or “business opportunities”. Perhaps he thought he would feel more important if he collected a bunch of worldly friends, and “sat in the gate” as the Bible puts it – the place where people came and went through the city gate, where they stopped to talk?


   Lot was captured by an invading army under the leadership of four kings (Gen.14) and as a result Abraham went to Lot’s rescue, but he returned safe and was met by Melchizedek, to whom he gave a percentage of his takings from the battle. But when Abraham was offered a reward by the king of Sodom, he refused it saying, “I will not take . . . any thing . . .” (14:23), which shows the godliness of Abraham. It would have been easy to concede and allow the king of Sodom to compromise God’s standard of dependence on Him alone, but the gifts would have come with strings attached – fame, obligations, importance. Abraham was not going down that road. Again, Satan’s attempt to drag the golden thread down was defeated.


   In Genesis 15 Abraham reminds God that he has no heir, and suggests that he adopt one of his servants, but God rejects this idea and promises that Abraham will one day have children.


   We follow the lives of Abraham and Sarah until they are very old. Abraham is now 99 and it has been 13 years since Ishmael’s birth (a son of Abraham through Hagar), Sarah is 90. There is no way that she can have children, yet Abraham still believes it will happen, and Satan quite possibly thinks he has finally broken the golden thread, because, outside of a miracle, Sarah’s body is too feeble to bear a child. But the thread does not break. Sarah becomes pregnant, and God restores her body to the extent that she is able to carry and bear a son – which she did, and he was named Isaac.


   At this point we might like to jump into another area of thinking, the spiritual role of the Christian. Christian parents, unless they are called by God as missionaries, should never expose themselves or their children to the ungodly influences of the world. Lot did a terrible thing when he took his daughters into Sodom. He lost them both to ungodly men, and his wife came to love the city more than God. Lot sat in the gate of Sodom, and although he was distressed by what he saw and heard (2Pet.2:7,8), he was willing to tolerate it in exchange for the cultural, social, and material advantages he could gain. He probably did not think through the consequences – the family tragedy which followed.


   When Abraham was even older, he decided to find a wife for his son, and knowing that God had called him and his descendants to live a life of separation from the people around them, he wanted to find a suitable woman for Isaac from his own people, and not some ungodly Canaanite. Here the thread narrows again to just a single strand, because there was but one suitable young woman, Rebekah, the only daughter of Bethuel. (Gen.22:23) Abraham sent Eliezer his godly servant to fetch Rebekah, who obediently left everything and came into a foreign land to marry Isaac. Thus the two thread were woven together, but Isaac was 40 years old when he married, but Rebekah was barren (Gen.25:20,21) so Isaac prayed for her and she conceived twins, but this did not happen until 20 years later! (Gen.25:26).


    Out of Rebekah came Esau and Jacob, who grew to be two very different characters. Esau liked hunting. He was “a man of the field”, while Jacob preferred “dwelling in tents.” There was some rivalry between them too, which came to a head at the time of the birthright blessing. Esau, the firstborn, was not spiritually suitable to maintain the golden thread of promise, but Jacob was God’s preferred thread, even though he was born second. Jacob tried to outwit Isaac by disguising himself as Esau and thus gained the birthright – this meant that he received leadership, headship, a double portion of the inheritance, and title to the covenant blessings. But God had already revealed to Rebekah that her oldest sone (Esau) would serve her youngest son (Jacob) so God had already selected Jacob as the one who would carry the line.


   While it could be argued that Jacob had to trick his father to get the birthright, the fact remains that God would have given it to whoever He chose, and no amount of trickery would have gained it against God’s plan. It is just unfortunate that Jacob had to use dishonest methods to get what God would have given to him anyway. This is a lesson to us too, in that we should simply trust God and allow Him to give, or promote as He sees fit. We should never need to grasp at power or material gain.


   Esau showed his disinterest in the spiritual blessings when he exchanged some soup for the birthright, and later he showed even more disinterest by marrying not one but two women who were not followers of the True God. But Jacob wasn’t squeaky clean either, because at first he tried to get where he wanted to go by his own ingenuity, and it wasn’t until later on that he finally obeyed God’s command (Gen.31:13) and left Haran to return to Canaan, and more specifically went to Bethel (Gen.35:1-7).


   After many more years Jacob became the husband of several wives, and from them came the heads of the 12 tribes of Israel, so now Satan had twelve threads to snap. He knew one of them was a vital link in the unbroken chain, but which one? More obstacles stood in the way, but God broken through each one - Rachel had trouble conceiving, and Joseph was nearly killed by his brothers, but God preserved all twelve sons though all kinds of troubles, including a famine, and eventually Joseph was second in command of Egypt. 


   Then came the period of oppression in Egypt. Which lasted several centuries. Including Joseph’s 30 years, Israel was in Egypt for 430 years, but God kept His people separate enough to call them as a separate entity out of the Egyptian people. Satan had hundreds of thousands of threads to choose from when Moses led Israel out of Egypt, but God indicated which tribe was the carrier – Judah. Gen.49:10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” This promise indicates that he was given the blessing of the firstborn, and that he carried the blessings promised to Abraham (Gen.12:1-3) The essence of this promise is that all nations would be blessed through him by the “seed” of the woman.

   “Until Shiloh comes” means “Until He come to whom it belongs” – see verses 8 and 9. Judah was told his descendants would live in a position of general superiority to his brothers, which was partly fulfilled by the royal line of king David, a descendant of Judah. Shiloh is another name, ultimately, for Jesus, under whom all the nations will one day be subject (Rev.19:15)


   Before the exodus, Satan gathered his forces and tried to destroy Israel, by using the oppressive dictatorial power of Pharaoh. “The Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigor, and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in mortar, and in brick , , ,” and the king also instructed the midwives to kill all newborn male Hebrew babies. The midwives refused. The reason being that one of those babies could have been the next length of golden thread, and Satan did not want it to survive.


   The deliverer of Israel almost did not make it through childhood, because the soldiers were marching even as Jochebed laid the child in a basket and hid it in amongst the papyrus. But the princess of Egypt heard the baby crying and spared its life, adopting it into her own family – right under the nose of Pharaoh. Thus by the slimmest of margins, Moses survived and became the leader of Israel, along with his older brother Aaron, and Miriam his sister. Ironically he was protected, fed, educated, clothed and trained by his enemy. Meanwhile, the persecution and oppression of Israel actually helped to weld them together and prepare them to follow Moses. It gave them an identity and worked in their favour when it came to delivering them from Egypt. Because they started to cry out to God for freedom. If Moses had not suddenly realized he wasn’t an Egyptian, God would have needed some other plan, but despite the resounding defeat, Satan did not give up.


   All through the 40 years of wilderness wanderings Satan tried scheme after scheme to bring Israel down. Ten time he managed to cause the people to rebel. He dragged them into calf-worship. He fomented rebellion against Moses. E raised up the people of Korah and led a massive rebellion. His work caused God much grief, and many thousands of Israelites fell my serpent bite, by fire, by chasm opening, and by many diseases. At one point God declared that not a single Israelite, from among those who had left Egypt, except Joshua and Caleb would enter the promised land. This meat that the children who finally did make it in must have seen their parents and relatives die prematurely. Yet despite this demonstration of God’s anger, they brought with them foreign gods and started the same process of rebellion in the covenant land for which their parents had died in the wilderness. But when they lived in the covenant land they were operating under the Law. This was an “if” and ‘but” covenant. If the people kept it, they would be blessed in every way, but if they broke it, they would be cursed in every way. See Lev.26. Disobedience had its consequences, just as in the garden of Eden, and God warned His people clearly about what would happen if they turned away. Satan, once again, saw an opportunity, because if he could turn the people to rebellion, God would be forced to honour His Word and destroy the people.


   The history of Israel which then follows is a mixture of success and failure. Judges came and went, bringing a little deliverance now and then, and prophets went about trying to persuade the people that “righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Prov.14:34)


Then came a Moabite woman called Ruth, who left her own country and travelled a long way in order to fulfil God’s plan to link with a man in Bethlehem. When one reads Ruth with an eye on the preservation of a certain bloodline, it is amazing how thin it becomes, yet God does not allow it to break.


   The story opens with the death of Naomi’s husband, her two sons, and a famine in the foreign land of Moab. The godly woman Naomi feels as if God has forsaken her, and so she sadly decides to return to Bethlehem, but, out of selfless love she asks her daughters in law to stay in Moab. Ruth refuses, and comes back with her. Ruth then finds work gleaning in a field, and discovers that the owner, Boaz, is second in line in responsibility to marry her. The other man bows out, leaving the way clear for Boaz. He marries her and they produce Pharez, who continues the blood line down to Jesse and then David.


   The conquest of the promised land was fraught with danger. As the Bible says, “There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” Genesis 6:4  The words “and also after that” refers to the time after the great flood. Satan, apparently, prepared a welcoming committee amongst the Canaanint nations, and readied himself to destroy the approaching Israelites.


   The report brought back by the spies bears this out: “And there we saw the giants, the sons of Anak, which come of the giants: and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight.” Numbers 13:33 Goliath and several other giants in the Old testament are named, and special words were coined to describe these huge men, such as Nephilim, and Emmim, and Zamzummim.  However, with God’s help, all the giants were killed.


  It was through David that the golden thread was to pass, yet many times David himself came close to death. For example, when minding sheep he had fought and beaten a lion and a bear (1Sam.17:37) When he stood before Goliath he expected to win, despite how dangerous the situation looked. When he was close to king Saul, the king tried to pin him to the wall (twice) with a javelin. David fled from Saul and lived as a fugitive for a while. David also marched into battle many times and risked his life on many battlefields, yet God preserved him through them all. At another time he fled his own city because Absalom his own son was after him (2Sam.15:13-16:14) but eventually he became the father of Solomon.


   Then follow the many different kings of Israel and Judah, the infighting, the invasions, and the captivity of the northern tribes to Assyria and the southern tribes to Babylon. According to the terms of the Law, these final stages in Israel’s life were to be the final ones, because God said, “You shall perish among the heathen, and the land of your enemies shall eat you up.”(Lev.26:38)


   At one point it seems that there was only one surviving member of the royal blood line, a small boy, who narrowly missed the cut of a soldier’s sword.

   “And when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal. But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons which were slain; and they hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bedchamber from Athaliah, so that he was not slain. And he was with her hid in the house of the LORD six years. And Athaliah did reign over the land.” 2 Kings 11:1-3 


   Another interesting preservation of the golden thread is found in the story of Coniah, or king Jehoichin. (Jeremiah 24: and 29:2) He was a bad king, as as a result God made a solemn promise, “Write this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah.” (Jer.22:30)


   This means that no bloodline descendant of Coniah could ever be a ruler over Israel, yet when we look at the family tree of Jesus in Matthew 1 we see that “Jeconias” is included. The royal line goes through to “Jacob (who) begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.” (Mat. 1:17)


   Matthew establishes that Jesus was a legal descendant of David by tracing the genealogy of Joseph, who was of the house of David. The list follows the paternal (of male) line. Although Joseph was not the biological father, he was the legal father. Since God had promised that the Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham (Gen.12:3, 22:18, Gal.3:16) and David (2Sam.7:12-19, Jer.23:5), Matthew traces Jesus’ legal lineage back to these two men in order to demonstrate that Jesus had the proper genealogy to qualify as the Messiah.


   Luke, on the other hand, (Luke 3:23-38) traces the lineage through the males in Mary’s line (she was also from the family of David). Luke stresses that Jesus was the flesh and blood offspring of Mary. Thus the Bible asserts the legal and the biological right to Messiahship.


   The cursing of Coniah’s line was the result of Satan’s efforts to break the Thread, and the virgin birth was God’s ay of circumventing what was, apparently, an unbreakable roadblock. But even here, the idea of a virgin birth is hinted at in Genesis where the express “seed of the woman” is used, since it was the woman who supplied the human ‘part’ of Jesus. Against all odds, the threads remained intact.


   The importance of the virgin birth cannot be overemphasized. In order for our Redeemer to qualify to pay for our sins and bring salvation, He had to be, in one person, fully human, sinless and fully divine (Heb.7:25,26) The virgin birth satisfied all three of these requirements. 1. The only way Jesus could be born a human being was to be born of a woman. 2. The only way he could be sinless was to be conceived by the Holy Spirit (Heb.4:15) 3. The only way he could be divine was to have God as his Father. As a result we have Jesus, a man with two natures: divine and sinless.


   We have passed very quickly over four thousand years of history, and we have seen how, against incredible odds, the bloodline of Jesus has remained intact. If it had been broken at any point, the world would have remained dead in sin, because God’s promises would have failed, but God preserved the line, even though there were times when it was as thin as tissue paper. But having reached the Messiah, the line had to continue, and this is where the relevance of the four Gospels and Acts comes in, because they record the life of Jesus and then the continuation of that life through the Church.


   In the years of Jesus ministry, Satan revealed his utter depravity, and in some ways his total ineptness. It seems he really believed he could cause the Son of God to sin! We presume that his attacks began when Jesus was young, and just a child, continuing through the years until the final blow, when he organized the crucifixion. Temptations would have been thrown in Jesus’ path all along the way, providing him with tests of courage and resolution, but of course Jesus was God, and could not be anything but God. All the errors which young people are prone to were not found in Jesus life. As a child, and as a teenager, he was the living testimony of godly obedience and a perfect revelation of the Ten Commandments in action. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but (he) was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” Hebrews 5:8  Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;” Hebrews 4:15. He lived for about 30 years without a sin, and then he began his public ministry, and we must not for a moment discount those unrecorded years of Jesus’ life before his ministry began.


   There were hundreds, or perhaps thousands, of defining moments during the Lord’s public ministry period when he could have made a small mistake. He went through times of hunger, tiredness, stress, anger, dismay, and the sense of abandonment, which for any other human could have been an opportunity for a faithless word, or at best a thought which would have caused regret. But Jesus withstood every test and made no mistakes.


   Satan of course saw the situation as ideal. Jesus apparently laid himself open to temptation by refusing the life of a hermit. Instead, he mixed with the uneducated, the gamblers, the drinkers and smokers of drugs, the people who lived immoral lives, the cheats and pimps, and he frequented the homes of ‘low-lifes’ and ‘no-hopers’, yet not once did he pick up any of their ways. The Christian, on the other hand, is warned to beware of bad company, and to avoid it unless on specifically missionary work “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” 1 Corinthians 15:33  (Paraphrased: Don’t try to fool yourself, mixing with people with bad lifestyles will eventually rub off on you.) Or, as we know, if you put a healthy apple into a barrel of rotten apples, the good apple will not spread its health to the bad apples. Jesus, on the other hand, was so full of God’s Spirit that he was able to spread His ‘health’ to the ‘bad apples’ around Him.


   Matthew describes an attempt by Satan to divert Jesus from His mission. In chapter 4 we are told that Jesus fasted 40 days, fighting his body’s normal appetite to the extreme level when most people would have tried to eat anything to satisfy the deep craving for energy. Satan suggested that Jesus turn some stones into bread. How easy this would have been for the Creator of the universe, but he had decided to win the battle over his body, and with a blunt response he rebuked Satan.


   Satan manipulated the Word of God when tempting Jesus. At times worldly people will use Scripture in an attempt to persuade believers to do something they know is wrong or unwise. Jesus, of course, knew the Scriptures perfectly. He knew the meaning of the words and their context. Once again we marvel at the stupidity of Satan in actually thinking he could outsmart the Author of the Word of God!


   The Gospels describe a series of tasks for Jesus, which he accomplished, despite the pressure of crowds, hot, dusty streets, shouting hecklers, devious scribes and Pharisees, tiredness, masses of sick people following him around, ignorance, unbelief, angry opposition, and a small band of men with murder in their hearts. But Jesus reached the end of his work and then, in accordance with the plan, allowed wicked men to arrest and try him in a Roman court on false charges. He then allowed himself to be whipped, struck, spat on, ridiculed and manhandled to Golgotha. He controlled his power, holding back his armies of angels, and surrendered his hands and feet to the nails, then he hung on a cross until the specified time was complete. At the exact and precise moment he cried “It is finished!” - a statement which covered many different areas. It was the end of the Old Testament Law for believers, the end of the prophetic “weeks” of Daniel 9, the end of all Sacrifices for sin, the end of his own life, and the end of Satan’s opportunity to prevent the redemption of Israel and the world.


   The irony of the situation for Satan was that by venting all his hatred on the Son of God he became an instrument in God’s hands to establish the everlasting kingdom and the complete restoration of all things. Logically, the best thing Satan could have done was PREVENT Jesus from dying, but evilness and madness are often so close together there is hardly any difference. In Satan’s case, what looked like his greatest triumph was in fact his greatest defeat.


   The thread of Gold is traced in Mathew and Luke, giving the paternal and legal ancestral bloodlines for Jesus, and although the details are not given, we can be sure that at every step along the way God has been deeply involved in guiding and protecting the people who formed each link. The same can be said for the Christians who have followed Jesus since His resurrection. Although Christians do not form a bloodline connected with Jesus, they do form a continuous line of spiritual children, who have passed the gospel on to each new generation over the last 2000 years. The Church has never been extinguished, though there have been times when it has been decimated. Roman persecutions, and terrible destructions by the Jesuits and Roman Catholics, through to today’s many destructions in non-Christian countries around the world have all taken their toll, as Satan tries to prevent the Kingdom of God from being established on earth.


   One group of people in particular have come under tremendous persecution. The Jews. God has made many promises to this small remnant of the house of Judah. Long ago, when the house of Judah was in captivity in Babylon, God predicted that a remnant would return to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls and the Temple. This they did during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. Satan, of course, opposed this return, and raised up many points of opposition. Just as during the time of Esther, Satan tried to organize his human lackies to wipe out the Jews, because with them out of the way God’s Word would have failed. (Mark 13:28, all Zechariah) But Esther saved the Jewish people in her day, despite the opposition by Haman, and in Ezra and Nehemiah’s days the Jewish colony was established in Jerusalem despite the persistent attacks by non-Jews. 400 years later the Messiah came “unto his own, but his own received him not” but instead they crucified him.


   Jesus predicted the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Jewish people, but he also promised a time when they would return. All through the last 2000 years Satan has tried to prevent the Jews from returning. He has launched many attacks on Jewish communities through the centuries, and then, in the years 1939-45 he tried to destroy them all during the time of Hitler – the figure of 6,000,000 is often quoted. But with the liberation of Palestine by the Allies, and the coming of General Allenby to liberate the city, the Jews saw their opportunity, and began to work towards establishing their own homeland. The surrounding countries opposed their return bitterly and, during the ‘Six day War’ it seemed that there was no chance the Jews could win, when they launched a multi-pronged, massive military attack, but win they did and since then they have made amazing progress. Cities have been built, national forest planted, millions have settled in secure commune-style villages, and there is no doubt that the Jews are back.


   Whatever God has predicted, Satan has tried to prevent it. On the issue of the thread of gold, the opposition is fairly obvious, but in the details, that is, in the minutiae of events within each person’s life, there are many mysteries. For example, consider your own life. Have you ever come close to death? Has there ever been a time when, if some small thing had been different, your life would have taken a completely different path? Some would put this down to luck, or chance, some talk of ‘Fate’, but behind all we see is a spiritual reality, another dimension, in which related activities occur, but in the invisible realm. What do we really know about the timing of events, the rise and fall of various individuals, the changing aspect of cultures, religions, and politics? While we see the surface, we must understand that behind it all, everything that happens is part of an ongoing war between God and Satan. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Ephesians 6:12 

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