Theme: All Victory to Jesus
In this week’s lessons, we learn about God’s triumph for his people over persecutions.
Scripture: Psalm 129:1-8
In this week’s study, we have been looking at a great deal of specifically Jewish history, but enough of that for now. Whenever we think of anti-Semitism, which is what we have been doing, we cannot miss saying that the ultimate cause of it is not just hatred of a people who have been set apart by God to be different—there are many unique peoples on earth, after all—but rather Satan’s hatred of Israel as the people through whom God promised to send the Messiah and so destroy both the devil and his works. We have a picture of this connection in Revelation, where the devil is pictured as a terrible dragon, standing before a woman who is about to give birth “so that he might devour her child the moment it was born” (Rev. 12:4). Clearly, the woman stands for Israel, and her child is Jesus Christ.
In this prophetic picture the child is saved by being “snatched up to God and to his throne” (v. 5), which is where Jesus is now. But when we look at this picture in the light of the entire Bible we understand that although Jesus has defeated the devil and is victorious, Satan nevertheless “got his licks in” on Jesus. It was prophesied that he would do so as early as God’s words to Satan, recorded in Genesis 3: “He will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (v. 15). Satan struck at Jesus throughout his entire life, even when he was a child in Bethlehem when he goaded Herod to murder the infants of that city in an attempt to exterminate this alleged pretender to his throne. At last Satan succeeded in having Jesus beaten and killed at the time of his arrest, trial and crucifixion.
This brings us back to the third verse of Psalm 129, which I passed over earlier, the verse in which Israel describes her former mistreatment, saying, “Plowmen have plowed my back and made their furrows long.” This is a powerful metaphor, combining the idea of a vicious, painful scourging with the painstaking and thorough effort a farmer would make to plow a field.
Doesn’t this describe Jesus, the Messiah, as well as the Jews from whom he came? Jesus was beaten literally. The prophet Isaiah, who anticipated this harsh treatment, wrote, “With his stripes we are healed” (Isa. 53:5, KJV). Even more, “He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him….We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way, and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (vv. 5, 6).
This attack on Jesus was a real oppression, to use our psalm’s word (vv. 1, 2). Like Israel, Jesus might well have said, “They have greatly oppressed me from my youth.” But if these words are about him and if he did say them in some sense, then Jesus would certainly have added also, as the psalm does, “but they have not gained the victory over me.”
How could they? Jesus is God, the only sovereign ruler of the universe. Therefore, although Satan and even the united kings of the earth should gather together “against the LORD and against his Anointed One” (Ps. 2:2), God the heavenly King only laughs at them, as he accomplishes our rescue from sin by Christ’s death and then raises Jesus from his dark tomb on the third day following the crucifixion. Finally, the resurrection is followed by the ascension, causing God to announce triumphantly, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill” (Ps. 2:6).
The victory we are speaking of here will never go to Satan. It goes to Jesus. In fact, it is his already. For he has triumphed, and we now shout, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever” (Rev. 11:15).
Why has there been so much anti-Semitism?
Explain the metaphor of the plow.
Why is the crucifixion not a point of sorrow for Christians? What followed, and what is the significance of it for us?
Prayer: Thank God that he sent Jesus Christ to gain the victory over Satan. Whom do you know who needs to hear the message of salvation from you today?