In our study of the infallible Word of God, we ended part 2 with an emphasis on the divine identity of Jesus Christ. We will continue with that theme as we unfold some more unique golden nuggets that God has embedded in His Word to show us there is no other Book like the Bible.
As introduction to what we will discuss below, let’s look at 1 Corinthians 15:3-4:
For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received; that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve.
This passage essentially contains “The Gospel,” that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and then on the third day rose again. These are three of the “absolutes” that are part of the foundation of Christianity. Without them, Christianity would not exist; with them, Christianity is set apart from every other belief system.
One question that is asked has to do with the time period between the crucifixion of Jesus and His resurrection. Tradition brought down to us from the Catholic Church has “Good Friday” as the day of our Messiah’s crucifixion with His resurrection on Sunday. Matthew 12:38-42 gives us a different timetable:
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. 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. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.”
Regarding the question of this three day and three night segment of time, God has embedded many “types and shadows” in His Word to the human race. These are not obvious to the casual reader but become revealed to the serious student of God’s Word. One of these “hidden” nuggets of truth is found in the familiar story of Rahab the harlot, inhabitant of Jericho, Joshua 2:8-18:
…Now before they lay down, she (Rahab) came up to them on the roof, and said to the men: “I know that the LORD has given you the land, that the terror of you has fallen on us, and that all the inhabitants of the land are fainthearted because of you, for we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were on the other side of the Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom you utterly destroyed. And as soon as we heard these things, our hearts melted; neither did there remain any more courage in anyone because of you, for the LORD your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath. Now therefore, I beg you, swear to me by the LORD, since I have shown you kindness, that you also will show kindness to my father’s house, and give me a true token, and spare my father, my mother, my brothers, my sisters, and all that they have, and deliver our lives from death.”
So the men answered her, “Our lives for yours, if none of you tell this business of ours, and it shall be, when the LORD has given us the land, that we will deal kindly and truly with you.” Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was on the city wall; she dwelt on the wall, and she said to them, “Get to the mountain, lest the pursuers meet you. Hide there three days, until the pursuers have returned. Afterward you may go your way.”
So the men said to her: “We will be blameless of this oath of yours which you have made us swear, unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him…”
What we are going to look at is found in verse 15-16, but I wanted to give at least a little bit of the story. For those that are not familiar, several million Israelites had been traveling from Egypt to Canaan. In order to cross into the land of Canaan, which was their promised land, they would have to cross the Jordan river and take the city of Jericho by conquest. The city had an enormous rock wall all around it, as was common in that time. The Israelites really had no weaponry to speak of, but the reputation of what Jehovah GOD had done on their behalf was well known. It was because of this that Rahab spoke so candidly about the fear of the city, and was more than willing to negotiate for the lives of her household. The Israelites, with the help of God, kept to their end of the bargain. In fact, Rahab became part of the lineage of the coming Messiah! Think about that! What a God we serve!
What is really fascinating though is how the original Hebrew recorded this story. This passage of Scripture tells us that Rahab offered a “cord” to let the Israeli spies down from her home within the great wall of Jericho. The original word for “cord” is “chebel” and has two meanings: 1) a rope, or a cord; 2) pain, sorrow, travail. In verse 18, however, the word “cord” is a different word, “tiqvah”. At this point, it is important to recognize that both Hebrew and Greek are very precise languages. Where one word may be used in English, several words may be necessary to express the different ways the word can be used. This is the case with the word, “cord”.
We just looked at the meaning for “chebel”. So what is the meaning for the word “tiqvah” in verse 18? Once again there are two meanings: 1) a rope or cord 2) hope, expectation. Once we recognize the meanings of the two words for “cord”, we begin to see what happens between verse 15 and 18. We have a rope or cord on both ends, but when we recognize the second meanings of both words, we have pain, sorrow, and travail in verse 15, but after three days, we have hope and expectation! We may look at this as insignificant, but in light of the work on the cross at Calvary, in all spiritual reality, before and during the experience of the cross, we as the human race had pain, sorrow, and travail, but after the cross, the empty tomb, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ, which brought us hope and expectation!
1 Peter 1:3-5 expresses this same hope with these words:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
What an eternal difference these three days made! Why was it that Rahab said that the spies should hide for three days? I suspect that she had some inspiration from the Holy Spirit to do so…as a foreshadow of the hope and expectation for us all! The thing that comes up again and again, is the absolute accuracy of the Word of God, even in the hidden nuggets! It never misses!
In Psalm 22 we find a passage that reads like it could have been dictated by Jesus as He was going through the horror of the crucifixion. In verse 6, He made a strange statement that most skip right over because the meaning is not obvious. Jesus said: “I am a worm, and no man.” What in the world is this? Some might try and explain this away and say that Jesus was just experiencing depression, but not when one really studies the original Hebrew. Let’s take a look at the passage and then go a little deeper.
“But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised by the people. All those who see Me ridicule Me; they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, ‘He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”
Bear with me now as we take a closer look. The Hebrew word for worm is “Tolaa”, which means worm, or scarlet; in fact, it is translated as scarlet 38 times.
In the Israeli Common Oak, also called the Palestine Oak, which is a low-growing shrub-like tree, there is an insect often found which is known by the modern name of Kermes vermilio. “Vermilio” means that it is considered a worm, even though it doesn’t look like one. Although small and seemingly insignificant, and not particularly looking much like a worm, this little insect was the key source in ancient times for the precious dye color called “crimson.” An interesting aspect of this creature is what it goes through in order to birth its young. While the insects are born with legs, the females eventually lose the use of their legs, which is apparently why they were given the designation of a “worm.” Shortly thereafter, the following amazing events happen:
When the female of the scarlet worm species was ready to give birth to her young, she would attach her body to the trunk of a tree, fixing herself so firmly and permanently that she would never leave again. The eggs deposited beneath her body were thus protected until the larvae were hatched and able to enter their own life cycle. As the mother died, the crimson fluid stained her body and the surrounding wood. From the dead bodies of such female scarlet worms, the commercial scarlet dyes of antiquity were extracted. (Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science, Baker Book House, 1985, p. 73)
Here we find that the female worm literally gives her life so that her young can live. This is significant because the Messiah, as He was dying on the cross, was making the claim that He was not to be understood merely as what He was in appearance–a man–but rather, what His true purpose entailed. The kermes vermilio had to die in order to be of any use to humans. The crimson color could not be extracted without the death of the worm. In the same way, Messiah’s purpose in His first coming was ultimately to die so that man could benefit from His life-long faithfulness to the Father in all things.
Additionally, this “worm” must sacrifice itself to bear offspring. It cannot bear offspring without dying, for it forever attaches itself to the tree in order to protect its young while they wait to come forth at their proper time. Additionally, these young feed on their mother for their initial sustenance before going into the world. These facts directly parallel the Messiah, who had to die in order to see a harvest. It is Him whom we are told to partake of symbolically in the Passover meal, as well. Jesus said this in John 6:
“Most assuredly I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down from heaven–not as your fathers ate the manna, and are dead. He who eats this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)
The fact that this sacrificial aspect of the worm happens on wood is itself intensely significant. The death of the Messiah took place on the wood of the cross, prophetic due to His hands being “nailed” to the cross.
There is one more interesting aspect to the story of the “worm.” Even how the word “TOLAA” appears in verse 6 of the 22nd Psalm, speaks of the sacrifice in a telling manner: there it is spelled “TOLAAT.” With the addition of the letter “Tav”, this provides the reader with a powerful imagery to behold. In ancient pictographic Hebrew, often called “Old Negev”, the letter “Tav” actually was depicted exactly like the Christian cross. The word as it appears in the passage from Psalm 22:6 truly could be said to promote the idea of a sacrificial worm connected to the cross. This factor maintains the link of the Messiah’s purpose of giving everything He had to bring forth a seed for the Father, and doing it by sacrificing Himself for our own future.
So, when we read that the Messiah called Himself a “worm”, it is far more than a statement of self-pity, as many would accuse, but a powerful proclamation of his purpose for the redemption of mankind. He took upon Himself the nature of a seemingly insignificant insect that gave of itself for man and for the future of its own offspring. The worm is a perfect example of the selfless giving of Jesus’ life for the entire world. The statement that Jesus made on the cross about this insignificant little worm could only have been made by the worm’s Creator! Isn’t the Bible amazing?
Now, let’s take just one more step with the story of this little crimson worm that the Messiah referred to while dying on the cross. As the worm has completed its task of feeding its young from its own lifesource and then dies, it leaves a little crimson spot. This spot dries out and in three days, it changes to white as it flakes off! Let’s now take a look at Isaiah 1:18:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” says the LORD, “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”
I don’t know how this affects you, the reader, but this gives me a whole new appreciation for the Word of God, and also for the length, as well as intricate detail our God went to in order to provide a remedy for our hopeless condition, permanently “stained” with sin, except for the power of the Blood of Jesus!
To be continued in Part 4