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He Gave Us His Word


This is Chapter 11 by Gary Harbo

11. Crucifixion

The seventh of the eight prophecies that we are studying is extremely powerful and just happens to be one of my personal favorites. It blew me away when I was first blessed by the Holy Spirit to come to know it’s true meaning. It’s been many years since that day, and I am no longer a baby Christian, however the impact and the true significance of those twenty words from God still give me goose bumps. God is telling King David, with a great deal of detail, what Jesus would see in the last moments of his human life. Please keep in mind that Psalms was written by King David nearly 1,000 years before Christ would come to the earth.

Thus far Jesus had been betrayed by one of His disciples, was arrested by His peers, and was illegally tried by the Jewish priests for charges that He was innocent of. He then remained silent and did not defend Himself as He was being charged. He was convicted of crimes He did not commit and was going to be punished in a manner that was reserved only for the most dangerous, violent, and vicious of criminals. He is going to be put to death via crucifixion on the cross by Roman soldiers at Golgotha. In Psalms 22:16 David tries to convey the essence of the vision that God has provided him regarding this hour even though David had never seen a crucifixion. Again, this is 1,000 years before it came to pass.


7. Psalm 22:16 For Dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;


The first part of the prophecy states:

"For Dogs have surrounded Me.”

In the Old Testament, unbelievers are often referred to as dogs. It’s interesting to note, that in some households, we still use that term in a very unfavorable way when someone has done an act that goes against our good will. When you hear the phrase, “You dirty dog!” one would think that this is not out of reverence. However, nowadays, our society is so sick that we celebrate the term by using it as a form of greeting. “What’s up, Dog?” It’s almost a badge of honor, among way too many, to hear themselves referred to as “You dirty dog!” when that person is explaining his mighty conquests.

We know in the Old Testament that these “dogs” or “unbelievers” were Gentiles. Given that Jesus is Jewish, it is a bold statement to predict 1,000 years into the future that the King of the Jews would be surrounded by unbelievers during His death. These unbelievers were quite a group.

The second part is also quite clear:

The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.”

The prediction is a vision of the evil Roman soldiers that constitute the congregation of men that has encircled him. Can you imagine a group of soldiers more evil than those who take pleasure in whipping, torturing and crucifying prisoners. In my mind, the only way one could keep his sanity in this area of service would be if one could actually take pleasure in the outcome. How else could you live with yourself after inflicting the type and the severity of pain that they laid on their victims? Taking solace in a job well done in this line of work would be a great form of evil.

Now for the most stunning part of this prophecy

“They pierced My hands and My feet.”

Josh McDowell tells us in his book, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict “Jesus was crucified in the usual Roman manner: The hands and feet were pierced by large, dull spikes that attached the body to the wooden cross or stake” (McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 186).


In retrospect it is clear that piercing of the hands and feet was a form of punishment which has since become known as crucifixion. There is no doubt that Christ was crucified. It is well documented in the books of history. But guess what? When this prophecy was written by King David, 1,000 years before it occurred, the form of punishment known as crucifixion did not exist! The death penalty for the Jews at that time in their history was stoning to death. This continued all the way up until the time of Christ. Crucifixion was a Roman and Grecian custom, but the Roman and Grecian empires were not in existence in David’s time (1,000 BC). It was not even in existence as a punishment anywhere in the whole world until hundreds of years after this prophecy.

In fact, if Jesus had come to Jerusalem just 100 years earlier, crucifixion would not have yet have been an option in Palestine, as Josh McDowell tells us: “Crucifixion was unknown in Jewish criminal law” (McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 187).

The Encyclopedia Americana records: “The history of crucifixion as a mode of punishment for crime must be studied as a part of the Roman system of jurisprudence... The Hebrews, for example, adopted or accepted it only under Roman compulsion: under their own system, before Palestine became Roman territory, they inflicted the death penalty by stoning” (Encyclopedia Americana, 8:253).

So how did this Roman system of punishment come to Palestine? It occurred when Pompey and his Roman legions finally brought the Judean capital under their control in 63 BC. “In 63 BC, Pompey’s legions cut their way into the Judean capital. Palestine became a Roman province, though nominally a puppet Jewish dynasty survived” (Wilson, Did Daniel Write Daniel?, 262).

That’s right, God was stating that His Son would be killed by a form of punishment not yet heard of. Let that truly sink in. If it was up to you to make a prediction about the manner of punishment for your future Savior, wouldn’t you pick out a form of death that was a popular form of punishment at the time of your prediction, or at the very least, existed at the time of your prophecy? But David was predicting that our savior would be killed by a form of punishment that was not yet invented.

This punishment was so horrific, that the Roman empire specifically prohibited any of its citizens from being forced to undergo crucifixion. Regardless of the horror of the crimes committed by a Roman citizen, it was illegal to crucify them in punishment. As a Roman citizen, even if you murdered the Roman emperor, you could not be crucified. Only non-Roman citizens were forced to suffer this punishment. Knowing how disgusting this punishment was, it then becomes nearly unbelievable that the religious leaders wanted Christ crucified for simply threatening their roles as leaders of the Jewish faith.

Let me give you a quick overview of why this crucifixion was the greatest miscarriage of justice of all the ages. To state it simply, the trial was a mockery. It went against the Holy law of the land, which was the great Mosaic law of the Hebrews. This model of justice was the envy of the world, because it was set up to prevent any gross miscarriage of justice. So let’s see how far the best model of justice had to be warped in order to fit this one case. First of all, Jesus was arrested by the servants of Caiaphas, the chief priest. They had no authority to make an arrest. Jesus was not calling for a violent uprising. He was simply teaching the Word of God in the temple. If He was so dangerous, why didn’t they arrest Him while He was in the temple teaching in public view? They also held a private trial which was strictly against the law. Every trial was supposed to be held in full public view so that no misconduct of justice could rear its ugly head. This trial was held in the court of the Sanhedrin, which was made up of the elders and chief priests. They held the trial after dark, which was strictly prohibited. They paid for witnesses to come forth and testify against Christ, however they could not get any two of the stooge witnesses to agree on any specific charge. In the Mosiac law, two witnesses had to agree exactly in regards to the given charges brought forth. In fact, if any witness was testifying falsely, then that witness was supposed to be given the same punishment as the one falsely charged. All of these were obscenely corrupted during the course of those last 24 hours. When they finally got Jesus to claim His deity, they screamed for His death. Even after this tragedy of justice, they had to finally disregard one more legal process. Did you know that if a person was found guilty of a crime, they could not be given their punishment for at least two days? This again was to make sure that there was not a rush to judgement. This was part of the legal process. Want to guess how many days passed between the trial and the punishment? Not even one day. Jesus was crucified the same day that He was wrongly condemned. Surprise, surprise.

Yet a major hurdle still reared its ugly head when you consider the prophecy of the crucifixion. The religious leaders did not have the legal right to put someone to death in Jerusalem! After Pompey had conquered the Jewish territory, the Sanhedrin had voluntarily voted to cede the right for dishing out capital punishment exclusively to the Roman occupiers. Therefore, they were dependent upon the Romans (Gentiles) to administer the death penalty. If the Sanhedrin had not arbitrarily voted to enact this edict, then the best they could have given for capital punishment was stoning to death. That would have blown the whole inspired Word of God which was given through the prophecies in Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22.


Think you are in control?

We are again reminded that God is in control. He set up this strange Roman/Jewish puppet government specifically to fulfill the written word. The Sanhedrin were allowed to turn Jesus over to the Romans for the final criminal punishment. The only problem at this point was that the head of the Roman authority in Palestine, Pontius Pilate, could not find any charges to which Jesus was guilty.

Luke 23:4 So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, "I find no fault in this Man."

Isn’t it ironic that the Gentiles did not want Jesus crucified, however the religious Jewish leaders insisted that it must come to pass?

Luke 23:22 Then he said to them the third time,“Why, What evil has He done? I have found no reason for death in Him. I will therefore chastise Him and let Him go.”

Luke 23:23 But they were insistent, demanding with loud voices that He be crucified. And the voices of these men and of the chief priests prevailed.

Luke 23:24 So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested.

Even Pontius Pilot was shocked that the priests were insistent on this form of punishment for this particular crime.

It made no sense whatsoever. Jesus had committed no crime. Pilate knew that and so did the others. The priests were simply intent on removing this voice of authority who was spreading His word about the true way to salvation. This voice was taking them out of the equation and their pride was not about to allow that to happen. Remember, pride is the greatest of sin and it all begins with its center letter. Pride causes us to put “I” in the middle of everything we do. When I, or me, takes center stage over God and our fellow man, then the devil has lots of opportunities to work his magic. Let me make this perfectly clear; the devil will take a free ride on pride as a means to get between you and the Lord. He will also use pride to get between you and your best friends, your spouse, or even your children if you give him the opportunity. Search your history and I’m sure you can come up with many examples of how this played out in your life. Unfortunately, I know it has in mine.

Given the priests’ ability to stir up the crowd, Pilate now felt like he had no other choice but to give them what they wanted. He ordered that Jesus be handed over to the priests so that they could crucify him. Pilate couldn’t understand why the priests would demand this, but of course he did not know that it must happen to fulfill the prophecy of God which started all the way back in the garden of Eden. Remember Genesis 3:15?

Only through the will of God could such a scenario play out. God knew that His Son was the only way that the redemption of mankind could be accomplished through the Grace that is beyond understanding. Christ redeemed us from all of our sins if we choose to believe and follow in Him. We can see this in the inspired Word of God from Hosea who prophesied 700 years before Christ.

Hosea 6:2 After two days he will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in his sight.

Hosea is telling us that Christ will restore us back to the pre-sin nature we once had in the garden of Eden. That is the only way that we can live in God’s presence. That is how we will spend eternity. That was the original plan of salvation through Jesus Christ. Let’s go back to Hosea to see how it will be fulfilled.

This picture was drawn by my 6 year old son, Gavin at Easter.

 

Hosea 13:14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.

Is there any doubt who is being referred to here? It is Jesus and us sinners. Since the downfall of Adam, we have been under the power of the grave, but now we are redeemed from death. Who redeemed us? It was Jesus. And how did we become redeemed? Through the blood of Jesus. If you break the law, you must suffer judgement. You know the saying, “If you do the crime, you do the time.” Since the fall of Adam, we all have been born sinners and we grow up listening to Satan and falling into sin. We simply can’t save ourselves. We therefore have earned our just punishment, which has been the grave. However, we now will be ransomed from the power of the grave. That means someone has paid our ransom. Satan no longer holds the mortgage on our eternal lives. All we have to do is to believe Christ with all our heart. That sounds simple enough, however it sadly remains undone for many. We still have free will after all, and unfortunately we have many in our society that choose to utilize their power of free will to the detriment of their eternal salvation. They think that they are not yet ready to give their lives to Christ. Perhaps they want a few more years of unbridled sin. Or maybe they don’t want to give up control of their lives. Perhaps they like being master of their own destiny. I personally was in the camp of all of the above excuses, which is detailed in the chapter pertaining to my personal testimony. What I didn’t realize was that by my choices, I wasn’t in control of my life. I had simply ceded control to the temptations of Satan. He owned me and I was his stooge. I pray to our Savior Jesus Christ, that many will come to their senses and allow the Holy Spirit to work in their lives through the Word of God. It is the only way to the Kingdom of Heaven.

As you can once again see, God does not make weak statements. His prophecies are nothing less than strikingly bold. So much so that it would be literally impossible to believe the content of the statements if one were to hear the prophecies during the time frame that they were given. Dr. Missler gives the odds of a death by crucifixion at one in 100,000. Since it was prophesied prior to it being invented, I would have to say that this prophecy is nothing less then a miracle in coming to pass. Praise be to God!

Click here if you'd like to read the foreword

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 1

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 2

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 3

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 4

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 5

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 6

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 7

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 8

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 9

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 10

Click here if you'd like to read chapter 12

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