Abraham: Called to Renewal

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The Time Has Come to Put the Plan into Action

In our last episode—Episode #4 of Biopic #1 on the life of Abram—we learned that following a life-altering, covenant-making encounter with God, when challenged by the Silence of God test, Abram failed miserably.  Instead of taking God at His Word and waiting for Him to fulfill His promises, he gave into the temptation of trying to solve a spiritual challenge through the use of his own human reasoning and fleshly works.  Just as Adam had done when he was tested in the Garden of Eden, Abram forfeited his position of Headship when confronted by the Influence Power of his wife, and with equally disastrous results.  Here, just as in Adam’s case, we see the evidence that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil was still producing its poisonous fruit…

The Fruit of the Two Trees

With that in mind

God Shows Up Again in Genesis 17 to Get Things Back on Track…

…as once again, the curtain rises on our next episode.  About thirteen years have passed since the end of our previous episode—meaning that it has been at least thirteen years since Abram has been visited by God—something our off-stage Narrator makes us aware us as this scene opens…

Script #5 for Biopic #1
Cast:     Narrator     God     Abram

Narrator:  When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him…

God:  I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My Covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.

Narrator:  Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying…

God:  As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations.  No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.

As for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you. He who is eight days old among you shall be circumcised, every male child in your generations, he who is born in your house or bought with money from any foreigner who is not your descendant. He who is born in your house and he who is bought with your money must be circumcised, and My covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.  And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.

As for Sarai your wife, you shall not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall be her name. And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall be from her.

Narrator:  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed, and said in his heart, “Shall a child be born to a man who is one hundred years old? And shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”   And Abraham said to God…

Abraham:  Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!

God:  No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation.  But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year.

Narrator:  Then He finished talking with him, and God went up from Abraham.  So Abraham took Ishmael his son, all who were born in his house and all who were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house, and circumcised the flesh of their foreskins that very same day, as God had said to him.

Abraham was ninety-nine years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  And Ishmael his son was thirteen years old when he was circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin.  That very same day Abraham was circumcised, and his son Ishmael; and all the men of his house, born in the house or bought with money from a foreigner, were circumcised with him.

With that, Episode #5 comes to a close, leaving us to launch our Review of this latest encounter between God and Abram.

The Critic's Hat

Time to Don our Critic’s Cap and Get this Review Underway

Our Review 

To help us better understand the significance of this episode, let’s look at these three important aspects of it…

The Interlude of Silence
The Clarified Terms of the Covenant
The Sign of Covenant 

The Interlude of Silence

  • Why do you think God waited for 13 years before making another appearance?

He may have been waiting for Ishmael to reach what was then considered to be the age of maturity.  In doing so, He would be keeping the promise He had made to Hagar, as well as taking care of Abram’s descendant whom He had promised to bless.

  • What do you think was going on in Abram’s life during this period?

More than likely, life was going on as usual.  Abram would have been attending to his business interests, Sarai would probably have still been resentful of Hagar, Hagar would have been caring for her son while still serving Sarai, and Ishmael would have been growing up into a young man.

  • Where do you think Abram was spiritually at this time?

He probably thought that he was okay spiritually.  The fact that he hadn’t had another visit from God in thirteen years may have encouraged him to believe that his and Sarai’s plan to obtain a child through Hagar was God’s way of providing him with a son.

  • What do you think Abram’s state of mind was concerning Ismael during this time?

When God showed up to renew the covenant and told Abram that He was going to bless Sarai with a son, Abram didn’t believe it and asked Him to bless Ishmael.  This would seem to indicate that Abram had been operating under the delusion that Ishmael was his promised son and rightful heir.

The Clarified Terms of the Covenant

New Names

In renewing His Covenant with Abram, the first matter that God addressed was the names of the parties involved in the contract.  This was important because, in those days, a person’s name was more than just a form of identification, it also provided some insight into his character—with his name denoting or revealing a quality unique to that person.  So, before implementing the covenant, God revised the names on the contract in order to reflect a change or new insight into the nature of each of its participants…

  • For God—Previously in Scripture, God had revealed Himself through a variety of names…
    • Elohim, in Genesis 1:1—as the Creator God who is Plural in Person but Singular in Purpose;
    • Jehovah/Yahweh, in Genesis 2:4—The Lord, the I AM—the Eternal, Unchanging, Self-Existent, Covenantal God of Revelation and Redemption;
    • Adonai, in Genesis 15:4—The Lord, the Sovereign God;
    • El Elyon, in Genesis 14:18—The Most High God—the God above all gods; and,
    • El Roi, in Genesis 16:13—The God Who Sees Me, ever watchful, ever caring.

Here, in Genesis 17:1, He reveals a new aspect of His Character through the name of El ShaddaiThe All-Sufficient One, the Over-Powerer who is able to overcome every obstacle–even the deadness of Sarai’s womb–and achieve all of His Purposes.

  • For Abram—the one who had previously been known as the Exalted Father, would now be known as Abraham—the Father of a Multitude.
  • For Sarai—whose name meant Princess, as Sarah, she would from then on be known as My Princess. 

El Shaddai is not limited by Sarai’s Broken Biological Clock

The Terms

  • For God—this would be an Everlasting Covenant, with all the Land of Canaan being given as an Everlasting Possession to Abraham and his descendants—descendants from whom future Nations and Kings would arise.
  • For Abraham—he and his descendants must keep the covenant, with the Circumcision of every male child at eight days of age serving as the sign of their pledge to do so.
  • For Sarah—she would give birth to a son of her own, and through him she would become the mother of Nations and Kings.
  • For Ishmael—although he was not the son of promise, God would make him fruitful, with Twelve Princes and a Great Nation coming from him.

The Sign of the Covenant

  • What did circumcision signify?
    • As a blood sacrifice, it was to be a reminder of one’s need for redemption and a sign that a person belonged to God;
    • In the cutting away of the flesh, it was to be a mark of one’s separation from the world, as well as a sign of sexual purity and the dedication of one’s children to God; and,
    • It was a visual reminder that the terms of the covenant were still in force.
  • In what way was Circumcision unique for the Israelites?

In the other cultures where circumcision was practiced, it was usually performed when a boy reached the age of puberty and it served as his rite of passage into manhood.  In Israel, however, it signified that an infant had transitioned from being a child of Adam to being a member of the God’s Covenant People.  Later, after the Law had been given to the people through Moses, it also meant that he would have access to the Torah.[1]

  • What was significant about the 8th day?

In Leviticus 12:2, we learn that when a woman had given birth to a male child, she was considered unclean for seven days afterward.  On the eight day, both she and the child would be considered ceremonially clean.

  • Did circumcision make a person Righteous before God? Was Abraham made righteous through circumcision?

No, for according to Romans 4:11-12, Abraham…

…received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had while still uncircumcised, that he might be the father of all those who believe, though they are uncircumcised, that righteousness might be imputed to them also, and the father of circumcision to those who not only are of the circumcision, but who also walk in the steps of the faith which our father Abraham had while still uncircumcised.

And, in Romans 2:28-29, we are told that…

…he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.

  • What would be a counterpart to circumcision in the New Covenant?

Baptism would be its counterpart in the New Covenant.  Like Circumcision, Baptism does not save a person or make him righteous before God—it is simply the outward sign that an inward decision to trust God for Salvation has taken place.

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In Summary

Now, having examined these important aspects of this episode, let’s use what we have learned to answer the all-important questions of…

  • What Life Lessons can we take away from this episode in Abraham’s life?

When God promises to do something, He will do it.  It won’t happen according to our schedule or timing, but at a time in keeping with His overall plans and purposes.  Any attempts on our parts to “help” hurry the process along will only lead to sorrow and a further delay of our hopes.

  • What Contributions does this part of his story make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption?

As we shall see in upcoming episodes, God’s rejection of Ishmael and His provision of a son through Sarah will provide Abraham and all of his descendants with an incredible prophetic picture of their coming Messiah and our Savior, Jesus Christ.

  • What Revelations of God does this episode give us?

In the revelation of God as El Shaddai, the All-Sufficient One, we are assured that no matter what obstacles we may encounter or how impossible the situations are that we find ourselves in, God is able to overcome them all and keep the promises He has made to us.

For Next Time…

 

[1] Michael Fishbane, Judaism, at https://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Projects/Reln91/Blood/Judaism/circumcision/circumcision.htm

 

Abraham:  Called to Wait

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The Testing of Delay is One of the Hardest Ones to Pass

Last time, in Episode #3 of Biopic #1, we learned about Abram’s latest encounter with God.  It came on the heels of his victory over the four Kings from Mesopotamia, his meeting with Melchizedek, and the temptation presented to him by the King of Sodom.  During this encounter, God expanded upon His revelation to Abram, revealing to him for the first time that he would father a son of his own.  Emphasis was placed on the fact that, at this promise of a Son, Abram believed God and his faith was credited to him as righteousness.

At the time, God also reaffirmed His promise that Abram’s descendants would inherit the land, prompting Abram to ask for some tangible evidence—a guarantee of some sort—that this would be so.  His request was followed by a dream in which God revealed to Abram the future of both those descendants and the land—a dream which was followed by a Covenant-Cutting Ritual in which God bound Himself by blood to fulfill His Promise. 

In reality, this Covenant represented the Marriage Contract between God and Abram, in which Abram pledged his descendants—the future nation of Israel—to be God’s Wife.  As such, it marked Israel’s Official Engagement to God and the beginning of their Betrothal Period—which would last until Moses (acting as God’s Proxy) comes to deliver Israel from her Egyptian bondage and carry her away to Mount Sinai, where their Marriage Ceremony is to take place.  As this was an Unconditional Covenant on God’s part, all that was left for Abram to do was to Believe God and Wait on Him for its fulfillment.

Here, in Episode #4, we will see just how successful Abram was in doing that.  As we await its commencement, here are a few that we need to keep in mind…

  • When this Episode opens, we don’t know how much time has passed since the end of Episode #3 but, because of the ages given for Abram, it probably wasn’t very long;
  • Although Abram has had a faith-producing encounter with God, his wife Sarai has not; and,
  • Not only is Abram at least 85 years old, but Sarai is at least 75—well past the age of childbearing—so the idea that God would give Abram a child through her is humanly impossible.

Episode #4 for Biopic #1
Cast:  Narrator     Sarai     Abram     Angel of the Lord     Hagar

Bearing these things in mind, then, and with the curtain now rising on this Episode, we hear the voice of our off-stage Narrator once again, as he announces…

Narrator:  Now Sarai, Abram’s wife, had borne him no children. And she had an Egyptian maidservant whose name was Hagar.  So Sarai said to Abram…

Sarai:  See now, the LORD has restrained me from bearing children. Please, go in to my maid; perhaps I shall obtain children by her.

Narrator:  And Abram heeded the voice of Sarai. Then Sarai, Abram’s wife, took Hagar her maid, the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan.  So he went in to Hagar, and she conceived. And when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress became despised in her eyes.  Then Sarai said to Abram…

Sarai:  My wrong be upon you! I gave my maid into your embrace; and when she saw that she had conceived, I became despised in her eyes. The LORD judge between you and me.  So Abram said to Sarai…

Abram:  Indeed your maid is in your hand; do to her as you please.

Narrator:  And when Sarai dealt harshly with her, she fled from her presence.  Now the Angel of the LORD found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, by the spring on the way to Shur. And He said…

Angel of the Lord:  Hagar, Sarai’s maid, where have you come from, and where are you going?

Hagar:  I am fleeing from the presence of my mistress Sarai.

Angel of the LORD:  Return to your mistress, and submit yourself under her hand.  I will multiply your descendants exceedingly, so that they shall not be counted for multitude.  ​

​​Behold, you are with child, and you shall bear a son.  ​​You shall call his name Ishmael, because the LORD has heard your affliction.  ​​He shall be a wild man; his hand shall be against every man, and every man’s hand against him.  ​​And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren.​

Narrator:  Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Therefore the well was called Beer Lahai Roi; observe, it is between Kadesh and Bered.  So Hagar bore Abram a son; and Abram named his son, whom Hagar bore, Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore Ishmael to Abram.

A Human Solution is Never a Good Solution

At this, the curtain descends, not only marking the ending of this Episode, but also the beginning of our Critical Review.

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Our Review

So far, in our journey with Abram, we have seen God slowly and methodically revealing Himself and His plans for Abram.  We have also seen that following each of these revelations, there has been a period of testing—with this latest revelation proving to be no exception.  In this case, however, Abram wasn’t being tested by fear for his own safety, the lure of riches, or the threat of warfare, but by the Silence of God as he waits for Him to honor His promises.

The Test of Silence—
or, Learning to Walk in the Light of the Last Revelation

Shhh–The Test of Silence is Underway

I’m inclined to think that after such an exhilarating experience as the covenant-cutting ritual, Abram was expecting to see God act on his behalf immediately.  After all, what would be the point of any further delay…

  • Both he and Sarai were already well past childbearing ages, so the birth of a son now would still be a miracle for which God would get the glory;
  • Having lived in the Land of Promise for ten years and having paid their dues there by now, they had already waited long enough; and,
  • With God having made such a big production of this latest Revelation, wouldn’t this have been a good indication that its immediate fulfillment was all but guaranteed?

So why the silence, why the wait, why the delay?

In order to answer this question, we first need to determine just what God wants to accomplish through our testing?  We can get an idea of His objectives in the following passages of Scripture…

Some of God’s Objectives in Testing

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That being said, let’s now look at the particulars of our Story to see if we can determine what God wanted to accomplish in the lives of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar through the Test of Silence and Delay…

  1. Who initiated the action in this episode and why?

Sarai did—no doubt because she felt like a failure as a woman.  To be unable to bear a child in that culture was considered to be a sign of God’s displeasure.  If Abram had come home and told her all about his encounter with God, thinking that it was her fault that they were still childless, she may have thought it was her responsibility to remedy the situation.

  1. Was Sarai’s solution to their problem a legitimate one?

While it was perfectly legal and culturally acceptable at this time to use one’s servant as a surrogate, it was not God’s solution to the problem.  It demonstrated a lack of Faith in His Promises and His ability to do the impossible.

  1. Abram “heeded the voice of his wife”—what past event does this recall? What was the outcome of that event?

This, of course, takes us back to Man’s Testing in the Garden of Eden.  Here, just as in the case of Adam and Eve, instead of acting as Head over his household, Abram caved into pressure exerted by Sarai—with likewise disastrous results.  In this instance, pleasing his wife (perhaps silencing her complaints and laments) became more important that believing God.

  1. How does Sarai respond to the circumstances which she brought about?

Rather than admitting that she made a mistake and taking responsibility for the consequences of it, she blames Abram.  Like Eve, she shifts the blame—this time to Abram, who then shifts it back to her.

  1. Hagar flees…what kind of treatment should Hagar have expected from people professing to know God?

Since Hagar was Egyptian, Abram and Sarai most likely brought her back with them when Pharaoh kicked them out of Egypt.  As an idol-worshiper who had come to live in the home of “God’s People,” she should have expected to be treated with more consideration, rather than as a baby-making machine.

  1. The Angel of the Lord makes His first recorded appearance here. Who does He appear to and what does He do?

The appearance of the Angel of the Lord here is likely a Pre-Incarnate Visitation of Christ—who, instead of appearing to Abram or Sarai, seeks out the lost and the outcast Hagar.  This is reminiscent of the Good Shepherd who, in pursuit of the one lost sheep, leaves the ninety-nine behind.

  1. What is significant about the Angel’s instruction to Hagar?

It is very much like what we read in 1 Peter 5:6-7…

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

Although Hagar has been treated badly by Sarai, she is told to go back and submit to her authority once again.  In so doing, she and her child would be protected and provided for by the Lord.

  1. What does Ishmael represent? In Galatians 4:22-26, the Apostle Paul explains his spiritual significance in this way….

…that Abraham had two sons: the one by a bondwoman, the other by a freewoman.  But he who was of the bondwoman was born according to the flesh, and he of the freewoman through promise, which things are symbolic. For these are the two covenants: the one from Mount Sinai which gives birth to bondage, which is Hagar—for this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia, and corresponds to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children—but the Jerusalem above is free, which is the mother of us all. ​

As Hagar is a picture to us of the Old Covenant which gives birth to bondage, Ishmael becomes a picture of the Works of the Flesh produced by those living under that bondage.

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Now, to see what the Test of Silence, Delay, and Waiting accomplished or revealed in the lives of the parties involved, let’s assess them in the following way…

A Scorecard for Abram, Sarai, and Hagar


In Summary—

Before leaving this Episode, and in order to complete our Review, we need to ask ourselves these all-important questions…

  1. What Life Lessons can we take away from Abram’s experience here?

One of the most important lessons that we can take away from this is, if we fail or refuse to wait upon God and attempt to accomplish His Will through our own human wisdom and fleshly means, we will…

  • Wreak havoc in our homes and in our relationships;
  • Delay even longer the fulfillment of God’s Promises to us; and,
  • Give our enemies and the enemies of God an opportunity to question our salvation and to bring a reproach upon God.
  1. Does this Episode make any contributions to God’s One Big Story of Redemption?

As a result of his lapse of Faith and his failure to wait on God for His Provision of a Son, Abram‘s self-efforts produced Ishmael—whose descendants have been Israel’s enemies throughout most of her history.

  1. Are there any Revelations of God to be found in this part of His Story?

Although God is noticeably silent where Abram and Sarai are concerned, He reveals Himself to Hagar as the God who desires that all—both Jew and Gentile—to come to Repentance and Faith through His Son, Jesus Christ.

 

Your Assignment

 

Images of Abram, Sarai, and Hagar courtesy of freebibleimages.com.

 

 

Abraham:  Called to Warfare

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Every Believer is Called to be a Warrior

For those of you who are joining us for the first time, we are currently engaged in a study of the Bible, being presented here in the form of a two-act play which we’ve entitled, God’s One Big Story.  In Act 1, Scene 1, we covered Genesis 1-11—the Overture to our story—and now, in Act 1, Scene 2, we are studying the lives of the Four Patriarchs found in Genesis 12-50.  They are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, the four men most responsible for the birth and development of Israel—the nation who would one day become the Wife of Jehovah, and the one through whom Jesus Christ would later come into the world.

We are referring to the stories of these important men as Biopics, short for Biographical Pictures, and in our studies of them, we are looking specifically for the…

  • Life Lessons they have to teach us;
  • Contributions they have to make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption; and,
  • Revelations they provide of God and His Purposes.

During our last visit together, in Episode #1 of Biopic #1, we learned that Abraham—or, Abram, as he was named at birth—was…

Called by God to Wander;
Called by God to Worship; and,
Called by God to Witness.

Following him through his first faltering steps of faith, we watched as he navigated his way through a series of Divine Revelations and Testings—after which, when we left him, he had arrived in a very good place.  He had returned from a disastrous trip into Egypt (a picture or type of the world) where, in a backslidden condition, he had managed to compromise…

  • His relationship with God;
  • His relationship with his wife; and,
  • His witness to the world.

However, once Abram was back in the Land of Promise…

  • He restored his relationship with God through a renewal of Worship;
  • His restored his Witness following his Separation from Lot; and,
  • He was given a renewed and expanded Revelation of God’s will for his life.

Afterwards, Abram relocated his headquarters from Bethel (the House of God) to Hebron (the Place of Fellowship)—which is where we will find him today when Episode #2 of his story begins.  As we wait expectantly for it to get underway, we suddenly hear our Narrator, somewhere off-stage, giving us an update on the events that have taken place in Abram’s world since we saw him last…

Episode #2 of Biopic #1
(Genesis 14)
Cast:     Narrator     Abram     Melchizedek     King of Sodom    

Our Narrator begins…

And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).  All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).  Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

Five Kings versus Four

As our Narrator continues with his report, we can also hear the distinctive sounds of a battle taking place in the background, as…

…the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.  Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

At this, the curtain rises and we see Abram, minding his own business and enjoying his peaceful life in the Place of Fellowship with God in Hebron—when suddenly, his life is turned upside down by this series of events which, on the surface, seem to be totally unrelated to him.  This upheaval begins when…

…one who had escaped [from the war] came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.

Now when Abram heard that he [Lot] was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

Although Abram was greatly outnumbered…

He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus…

…which was over 150 miles to the north of Hebron.  Following his victory…

…he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

And, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

However, there someone far more important who went out to meet Abram first…

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.  And he blessed [Abram] and said…

Blessed be Abram of God Most High, ​​Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, ​​Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.​

In response to this blessing, Abram…

…gave him a tithe of all. 

After his encounter with Melchizedek, the king of Sodom approached Abram with the following offer

Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.

In other words, just return the people and you can keep all the loot—to which, Abram responded without hesitation…

I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

With this response, this brief and somewhat puzzling Episode comes to an abrupt ending.  That doesn’t mean that we are finished with it, though, for there is still much for us to discuss, once we don our Critic’s Caps again and begin our Review of the events which have transpired here.

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The Critics Hat

Time to Put on the Cap Once More

Episode #2–Review

To aid us in this Review, let’s first take a look at the most important points of this story…

I.  The War of the Kings—since this is the first mention of a battle, king, or war in the Bible, it must be significant.

The Coalitions
Why were Kings from so far east interested in the area around Sodom and Gomorrah?

Although this was not the first war in human history, since it is the first one recorded in the Bible, it becomes a template for all the others that would follow.  As in most of those cases, the motivating forces here can be attributed to Egos and Economics—that is, to a Lust for Power motivated by Pride, and to a Lust for Wealth motivated by Greed.  The Apostle James, many centuries later, described these powerful forces in the following way….

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  (James 4:1-3)

So, what was it that Sodom and the surrounding cities had that provoked such lusts in the Kings of the East?  It was their…

  • Position—they were located in close proximity to the major trade routes connecting the East with Egypt, the Bread Basket of the World at the time;
  • Natural Resources—the valley in which they were located was full of asphalt pits, a material highly prized because of its uses in building and road construction, the waterproofing of boats, and even as medicine; and,
  • Wealth—these cities, because of their location and natural resources, had become extremely wealthy—wealth which made possible their lavish and decadent lifestyles.

The Kings of the East and the Coveted Trade Routes

The Conflict
Why did the Canaanite Kings rebel? What made them think they could win? What might God’s motive been in allowing this to happen?

After being bled dry by the Eastern Kings for twelve years, the cities in the Valley of Siddim had had enough.  Having lost the lifestyle to which they had hoped to remain accustomed and tired of being fleeced by foreigners, they—no doubt also motivated by Egos and Economics—must have thought the battle to reclaim that their wealth and lifestyle would be well worth the effort.

As for God’s part in all of this, while it is not spelled out for us here, considering what happens to Lot and Sodom and her sister cities later on, their defeat and looting could very well have been God’s wake-up call to them—giving them the opportunity  to repent and get right with Him, in order to stave off the judgment that was soon to come.

The Conquest–-
What spiritual picture does this paint for us?

Throughout Scripture, we find instance after instance in which God raises up someone to fight for right even in the face of overwhelming opposition.  Think of the victories of Gideon and his three hundred men against the Midianite army, David and his five smooth stones against Goliath, and Jonathan and his armor-bearer against the Philistines—who, at the time, rightly declared…

For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).

The spiritual principle for us, then, is that when we are called to warfare—as we surely will be—the battle belongs to the Lord; for, we have His assurances that…

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (Proverbs 21:31); and,

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD. (Proverbs 21:31).

II.  The Rescue of Lot

–Where was Lot living at the time?

Because he was taken prisoner along with everyone else in Sodom, it seems that he was no longer living on the outskirts, but had become a permanent resident in the city.

–What does this tell us about Lot?

It seems to say that either Lot did not share the same faith in God as his uncle Abram; or, if he did, that he had been lured away from that faith by the worldly attractions of Sodom.

–Do you think Lot merited Abram’s intervention? Why or why not?

On the surface, Lot doesn’t appear to have been worthy of Abram’s rescue but, because Abram had “adopted” Lot following the death of his father, he had a moral obligation to go after him and rescue him.  No doubt, he also felt a spiritual obligation to do so, in the hopes of giving his nephew a chance to repent before he lost everything he held dear—that being, his family.

Peter later gives us this insight into Lot’s spiritual condition at the time, when he says, if God…

…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (2 Peter 2:7-10).

–Can you think of a parable that might apply in this situation?

The one that comes to my mind is the Parable of the Lost Sheep, found in Luke 15:4-7…

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Abraham’s Worshipful Encounter with Melchizedek

III.  Abram’s Encounter with Melchizedek

–Who was Melchizedek?

In this episode, we are told that he was the King of Salem (the city that would later be called Jerusalem), and the Priest of God Most High.  The name used for God here is El Elyon, a name which…

…emphasizes God’s strength, sovereignty, and supremacy.  In Genesis 14:20, Melchizedek said to Abram, ‘blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ He understood that the Lord is extremely exalted. Let us say as the Psalmist did—’I cry out to the Most High Elohim, To El who is perfecting all matters for me’ (Psalm 57:2).[1]

–Where did he come from?

Unlike everyone else of significance in the Book of Genesis, no genealogical information for Melchizedek is provided—no record of his birth, his death, or his parentage.

–Where else is he mentioned in Scripture?

In addition to this passage in Genesis 14, where Melchizedek serves in the dual roles of King of Peace and Priest of the Most High God—the one who sets a table of communion before AbramKing David references him in Psalm 110 when he prophesies of the coming Messianic King who will one day come through his line.  This King will be held in higher honor than Melchizedek, because He will sit at the right hand of God and rule over the nations.  He, too, will serve as Priest of the Most High God, something which is elaborated upon at length in Hebrews 7.  There, the writer elevates Melchizedek to the status of a pre-incarnate figure of Christ; who, without father or mother, is eternal and who, unlike those in the Levitical Priesthood, will continue as a Priest forever.

–How do you think a King of Righteous could have come to rule over the ungodly people of [Jeru] Salem?

When we consider that the Canaanites were notorious idol worshipers, it seems highly unlikely that a Righteous King would be ruling over one of their cities.  However, Seth, the righteous son of Noah, was still alive at this time, leading some to think that he could have been Melchizedek (Melchizedek being a title rather than a first name).  However, in addition to Arphaxad, the ancestor of Abram, Seth had four other sons through whom his Faith in God could have been passed on.  So, it is entirely possible that Melchizedek might have been one of them.

–Why are the bread and wine, the tithes, and the blessing an important part of this Story?

As elements of the Covenant, the Bread and Wine represent the Communion that Abram shared with God as part of that Covenant.  In the giving of his Tithes, Abram was recognizing and honoring Melchizedek as God’s Chosen Mediator of that Covenant; and, in his blessing of Abram, Melchizedek was reaffirming God’s Covenantal Promises to Abram.

IV.  Abram’s Encounter with the King of Sodom

–What was the King’s offer?

According to the rules of warfare at the time, the spoils of war belonged to the winner of the conflict which, in this case, would have been Abram, and would have included the people as well as the material objects.  It seems, then, that the King of Sodom was trying to cut a deal with Abram where the spoils were concerned.

–What did it represent to Abram?

Abram had been made extremely wealthy through a compromise of his faith and integrity when he went down to Egypt—a compromise which put him on the “outs” with God, and wealth with brought strife and division into his home.  So, for Abram, this represented another Test—one designed to reveal whether or not he had learned anything from those earlier mistakes.

–What, if anything, do you think is significant about Abram’s response?

For one thing, in using the same name for God that Melchizedek had used—that is, the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth—Abram revealed that the decision to reject the offer of the King of Sodom was made as a result of his worshipful encounter with the King of Salem.  Then, in his speedy response to the offer, he was demonstrating that he had learned that his relationship with God, and his reputation and witness were more important to him than anything the world had to offer.

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In Summary


–What, if any, Life Lessons can we take away from Abram’s experience in Genesis 14?

As we are going about our lives of wandering, worshiping, and witnessing, there will be times when we, like Abram, will be called to do warfare at a moment’s notice.  But, unlike the fleshly battle that he was called to, the warfare that we will be engaged is one that is spiritual in nature.  Like it or not, there will be times when we will be called to do battle on behalf of those who seem to be totally undeserving of our intervention, and those who may not even appreciate our efforts to rescue them.

And, for every victory we experience, we can be sure that the Enemy will be there trying to steal it away through some sort of compromise on our parts.  But, like Abram, we need to settle the issue beforehand of what is most important to us—our walk with God and our testimony before others, or the temporal gratification of material rewards or recognition.

–What Contributions does this Chapter Make to God’s Big Story?

In Melchizedek, Abram was given a preview of the coming Messiah—his very own descendant who even now, is serving as our Great High Priest in heaven, and the One who will one day reign forever as the King of Peace and Righteousness in the New Jerusalem.

–How is God Revealed in this Chapter?

In His relationship with Abram, God reveals Himself as Jehovah-Nissi—the Lord is My Banner—the God who goes before us into battle and secures the victory for us through His own power.  And, in His relationship with Lot, He reveals Himself as the Guardian and Deliverer of His People—even in the midst of His judgment upon the wicked.

So far in this study, we have seen how God has been revealing Himself through His Promises to Abram, and then Testing him to reveal his Faith in and Stewardship of those Promises.  In the next chapter—Genesis 15—we will begin to discover the Purpose behind all of this Preparation.

 

Be sure to check it out!

 

[1] From the website, https://discoveringthejewishjesus.com/el-elyon/.

Map courtesy of Bible History Online.
Some pictures courtesy of Free Bible Images.

Abraham: Called to Wander, Worship, and Witness

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Abraham: A Man of Faith and a Friend of God

Welcome back to Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story.  Although it has been a while since we last met, when we did, we were introduced to Abraham, the first of the four Hebrew Patriarchs who are showcased in Genesis 12-50.  Since these men were the ones most responsible for the birth and development of the Nation of Israel—and, since Israel will be making her first appearance on our stage in the next scene—this one will be given over to an examination of the Biographical Pictures—or, Biopics—of these important men.

As for Abraham/Abram,[1] here is what we have learned so far about the Man who would eventually become known as the Father of Israel, the nation that would one day become the Wife of Jehovah…

  • He was a descendant of Shem through his son, Arphaxad;
  • He appeared on the human stage sometime between 2100-2200 BC;[2]
  • He came from a family of idol worshipers;
  • He was born as Abram in Ur of the Chaldees, left Ur with his family to travel to Canaan but was waylaid for a period of time in Haran, an important trade city about 600 miles northeast of Ur (an area part of southern Turkey today); and,
  • He was married to Sarai, who was childless.

With this brief but valuable background information now in hand, we are ready to launch out on our journey with Abram, just as he is preparing to embark upon his journey of faith with God.  In our travels with him, we will be privileged to share in his Spiritual Transformation, witnessing his growth from Paganism to Faith—from his first faltering steps of obedience to his complete surrender to the will and purposes of God.  This transformation will certainly not be an overnight occurrence but will take a lifetime to accomplish; and, as we shall soon see, it will be achieved through the on-going process of Revelation and Testing, in which…

  • Abram will first have an Encounter with God, when God will reveal more of His plans and purposes for Abram; after which,
  • Abram will undergo A Period of testing (usually an extended one), designed to reveal how faithful a steward he has been with the revelations received so far.

Since this process is in no way unique to Abram, but is the same one God uses in the training of all of His Children, it will serve us well to pay careful attention to Abram’s experiences; for, through them, we will be discovering some valuable Life Lessons, as well as some important insights into the Nature and Purposes of God.

Abram’s Journey from Ur to the Land of Promise

Episode #1 of Biopic #1—Showtime!
(Genesis 12:1-13:18)
Cast:
     Narrator     God     Abram     Lot     Sarai     Pharaoh

Now that Episode #1 of Biopic #1 is ready to begin, let’s get settled in our seats, for the lights in the theatre are dimming and the curtain is slowing starting to rise.  As they do, we can hear the resonant voice of our Off-Stage Narrator, informing us that at some time in the past, God had met with Abram and instructed him to…

Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house, to a land that I will show you.  I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

With the Stage now fully lit before us, we can see a large company of people on the outskirts of Haran, packing up and preparing to leave that bustling caravan city.  And, we hear our Narrator again, as he begins detailing the action taking place on the Stage before us…

It’s Off to Canaan–after too long in Haran!

So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.

Then Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brother’s son, and all their possessions that they had gathered, and the people whom they had acquired in Haran, and they departed to go to the land of Canaan. So they came to the land of Canaan.

Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh.  And the Canaanites were then in the land.

After what must have seemed like an interminable five hundred-plus mile journey, Abram and his company finally arrive in Shechem; and, in spite of the fact that the land is currently occupied by the Canaanites, once he is there, the Lord appears to Abram and makes him this surprising promise…

To your descendants I will give this land.

We watch as Abram responds to this amazing promise by building an altar and worshiping the Lord on the very spot where He has just appeared to him.   But, Abram doesn’t linger in this place for long because, as our Narrator quickly informs us…

…he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.  So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

Now, It’s Off to Egypt!

All is not well for very long, however, for our Narrator soon adds…

Now there was a famine in the land, and Abram went down to Egypt to dwell there, for the famine was severe in the land.  And it came to pass, when he was close to entering Egypt, that…

…we find Abram, motivated by fear rather than by faith, acting very deceptively when he says to his wife, Sarai…

Indeed I know that you are a woman of beautiful countenance.  Therefore it will happen, when the Egyptians see you, that they will say, ‘This is his wife’; and they will kill me, but they will let you live.  Please say you are my sister,[3] that it may be well with me for your sake, and that I may live because of you.

Here, our Narrator interjects…

So it was, when Abram came into Egypt, that the Egyptians saw the woman, that she was very beautiful.  The princes of Pharaoh also saw her and commended her to Pharaoh. And the woman was taken to Pharaoh’s house.  He treated Abram well for her sake. He had sheep, oxen, male donkeys, male and female servants, female donkeys, and camels.

However, God was not at all pleased with this, so…

…the LORD plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.

When Pharaoh discovers the source of the plague, he calls Abram and demands an explanation for his deception…

What is this you have done to me? Why did you not tell me that she was your wife?  Why did you say, ‘She is my sister’? I might have taken her as my wife. Now therefore, here is your wife; take her and go your way.

And, It’s Out You Go!

At this, our Narrator resumes his commentary

So Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him; and they sent him away, with his wife and all that he had…

Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.  Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.  And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai, to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.

Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.  Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.  And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.

Next, we hear Abram—the epitome of grace and generosity—tell Lot

Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.  Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left.

To which, our Narrator adds…

And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.  Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.  Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.  But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.

With Lot’s separation from Abram, we hear the LORD addressing Abram once more, telling him to…

Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever.  And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered.  Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.

At this, our Narrator closes out this episode with these fitting remarks…

Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the LORD.

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Episode #1—Review

The Critics Hat

It’s Been Way Too Long!

With this first Episode of Biopic #1 now behind us, it’s time for us to pull out and put on our trusty, albeit somewhat rusty, Critic’s Caps, and begin our Review of this segment of Abraham’s Story.  Given that it’s been so long since we last did a review of this sort, let’s take a moment to remind ourselves of what we will be looking for.

From the beginning of this Study Tour, it has been our practice to examine each Bible Story on the following three levels…

  • First, we approach it from an Earthly Level, analyzing the everyday events taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, looking specifically for any Life Lessons that we can take away from it;
  • Once we understand the practical significance of these events, we then move on to a Heavenly Level examination, where we seek to identify the contributions they have to make to the One Big Story taking place simultaneously on the Heavenly Stage above us; and,
  • Finally, we re-examine these events on an Eternal Level, looking for any Revelations of God that they may provide.

The Earthly Level Review

Revelation #1…

For reasons known only to Himself, God chose Abram and initiated a relationship with him while he was still a sinner, living in a family of idol worshipers, and living in a culture completely given over to idolatry.  Then, in order to get Abram to the place where He wanted him to be, both physically and spiritually, God met with him three times during this one episode—each time revealing a more expansive view of His Will and Purpose for Abram’s life;

During their first meeting, God gave Abram a very specific set of Instructions and an incredible set of Promises—these being…

God’s Initial Instructions and Promises to Abram

While it may not be readily apparent, these Instructions  are actually God’s Short-Term Goals for Abram, and were meant to move him from where he was to the place where God would begin fulfilling His Promises—or, His Long-Term Goals for Abram.

For these Long-Term Goals to be realized in his life, though, Abram would have to learn…

  • To live a life of Separation—from the evil influences that he had known in his homeland, influences which would hinder him from living a holy life;
  • To Wander, walking by Faith and becoming totally dependent upon God (because it was going to take a lot of faith on his part to meet the challenges that would be waiting for him in the future);
  • To Worship, something we have no record of him doing while he was in his homeland;
  • To become a Witness of God’s Grace and Mercy to the people already living in the land.

…in Progress

Test #1—When called to a Life of Separation, Wandering, Faith, Worship, and Witness, what was Abram’s Response?

While he succeeded in separating himself from his country and his extended family, he failed to leave his immediate family behind—a decision which not only delayed his arrival in the land, the beginning of his worship and witness, as well as the Fulfillment of God’s Promises to him, but which revealed how immature his faith was at this point in his journey.

Revelation #2…

In spite of this failure, however, once Abram arrived in the Land of Promise, he was blessed by another visit from God.  As brief as it was, this encounter served as a confirmation that he had indeed arrived in the place of God’s choosing—and, it was also an opportunity for God to add to His earlier Revelation to Abram.

In this newer Revelation, in spite of the fact that the Canaanites were already occupying the Land, God promised to give it to Abram’s descendants.  This surely must have come as a shock to Abram because, at this point in his life—at seventy-five years of age—he didn’t have even one son to carry his name forward into the future—or the hope of ever having one!  Since it was going to take a lot of faith for Abram to believe this promise, and since his faith was still so immature, a lot more testing was going to be required.

…In Progress

Test #2—What was Abram’s Response when promised Descendants to possess the Land?

His immediate response was to build an Altar and Worship God, first at Shechem and then at Bethel.  Later, however, when faced with a Famine in the Land, and seeming to forget all of God’s Promises, Abram abandoned the Land and his new Walk of Faith, and headed for Egypt—a picture of the World—in an attempt to deal with this situation on his own.

However, this proved to be a costly decision, because it…

  • Caused him to break fellowship with God and to stop worshiping;
  • Caused him to jeopardize not only his relationship with Sarai, his wife, but more importantly, her life;
  • Destroyed any witness he may have had to Pharaoh and the Egyptians;
  • Brought him so much wealth that it later created strife and division within his household.

So, after being unceremoniously booted out of Egypt, Abram chose to do the best thing possible, and that was to go back to Bethel and start over again.  When he did, his fellowship with God was restored and he became a worshiper once again.

Revelation #3…

Even though Abram’s relationship with God was restored at Bethel, his problems didn’t automatically disappear.  In fact, they only increased.  Because both he and Lot had become very rich in Egypt—not just in gold and silver but in livestock, too—when they returned to the Land and it couldn’t support their greatly increased flocks and herds, conflict arose and the two men found it necessary to separate.  (This would have been unnecessary had Abram let Lot remain in Mesopotamia, as God had originally instructed him to do.)

While Lot’s choice to relocate to the suburbs of Sodom would later prove to be a disastrous one for both him and his family, the decision to separate turned out to be a blessing for Abram, as it resulted in a third visitation from God.  In this latest encounter, God expanded on His earlier Revelations even more; this time marking out the boundaries of the Land He was giving to Abram, to as far as his eye could see in all directions—and by increasing his descendants to more than could ever be numbered.

…In Progress

Test #3—What was Abram’s response to this latest Revelation?

He packed up and left Bethel, the place of repentance and restoration, and moved on to Hebron, the place of Fellowship with God.

Life Lessons from the Earthly Level Story

In this first Episode in the Abram’s Story, it should be relatively easy for us to see that our Life Lessons closely parallel the Short-Term Goals which God had established for him.   Like Abram…

  • Those of us who have come to Faith in God, have done so because of God’s gracious intervention in our lives, and not because of any merit of their own;
  • We, too, have been called to a life of Wandering, Worshiping, and Witnessing;
  • We have also been called to Walk by Faith, not by sight, learning to depend upon God and His provision for us;
  • In our walks with God, we are going to be Tested so that the faithfulness of our Stewardship of God’s Revelations can be revealed;
  • Disobedience on our parts will not only delay the work that God wants to do in and through us, but also the fulfillment of His Long-Term Goals for us;
  • God will not give us any New Instructions until we have obeyed the last things He told us to do; and,
  • Even though God watches over us during our periods of disobedience, He will not negate the poor choices (and their consequences) that we may have made (and incurred) during that time.

Heavenly Level Review

In the reviews of the Bible Stories we’ve studied so far, we have learned that in addition to their valuable Life Lessons, the people and events in each one were also intended to paint a Spiritual Picture for us.  This is certainly true of the Story of Abram; for, when we backup and look at God’s Big Picture of Redemption, we can see that in this Episode…

  • Abram was being prepared to step into his role as the Exalted Father of Israel, who, at the appropriate time, would enter into a Marriage Contract or Covenant in which Israel would be Promised to God.
  • Abram was being re-located to the Land where God would eventually make His home, where he would live among His People in an Earthly Tabernacle.
  • God, from this Pivotal Piece of Real Estate, would establish a Witness to the World through Israel.  As long as she remained faithful to Her Husband, He would bless her to such a degree that she would become the Light of Truth to all the Nations of the Earth; and through her, God’s Son would come into the World to provide for its Redemption.

Eternal Level Review

In the past, we have described the Bible as the Progressive Revelation of God, in spite of the fact that He rarely gives us a verbal description of Himself in Scripture.  Instead, He has chosen to reveal Himself through the things He does and the ways that He relates to people.   So, if we are going to uncover the Truths about God hidden in this Episode, then we will have to look closely at His actions and His relationships with the people involved in this portion of the Scriptures, if we are to discover that…

God Reveals Himself in Everything He Does

As you can see, there is a lot to be learned about God and about Living a Life of Faith in this one Episode of Abram’s Story.  But, there is even more to be discovered when we get into Abram’s Call to Warfare coming up next, in Episode #2 of Biopic #1.  In anticipation of that, please read through Genesis 14, asking yourself the following questions…

  • Why is this Episode important enough to be included in this Story?
  • What part does it play in the Life of Abram?
  • What Life Lessons are there to be learned from it?
  • Does Worship, Witness, Separation, or the Principle of Expanded Revelation play any part in it?

Something to Ponder…

Have You Been Able to See God Creating Faith in You through Your Trials?

 

* Some illustrations courtesy of Free Bible Images at http://www.freebibleimages.org/

[1] For clarity’s sake, we will use the name Abram until the point in the story when God changes his name to Abraham.

[2] Note on Calculations—In 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that the 4th year of Solomon’s reign—966 BC—was 480 years after the Exodus [966+480=1446], and from Exodus 12:40-41, we learn that the Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years.  So 1446+430=1876, making that the year that Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.  Since Jacob was 130 when he appeared before Pharaoh, Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 75 when he entered the Promised Land, this would mean that the total time spent in Canaan would have been 215 years [130+60+(100-75)=215]. Adding 215 years to 1876, then 75 (for Abraham’s age until then)—the year that Jacob and his family moved to Egypt—we arrive at a date of 2166 BC for Abram’s birth.

[3] In Genesis 20:12, we learn that Sarai is Abram’s half-sister—the daughter of his father Terah and another mother.

 

Stage #2–At Last!

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Now that we have arrived at Stage #2, the time has come for us to exit the Truth Train and make our way into the theatre, where Act 1, Scene 2 of God’s One Big Story will soon be getting underway.  As we leave, let’s remember to take with us the Program Guides we were given on the first leg of our journey.  These will prove to be helpful because, while we are watching the smaller stories taking place on the Earthly Stage before us, they will help us keep in mind the larger story that is taking place on the Heavenly Stage above us.

In the event that you have misplaced your guides—or, if you are new to this study tour—here are some extras that you can take with you.

Guide #1

Guide #2

As you can see from Guide #2, in Act 1, Scene 1, God was the Celestial Suitor who, in anticipation of His upcoming betrothal, created the earth as the ideal home for His future wife.  We watched in awe as He, through the 9 Vignettes in Genesis 1-11, created the world full of nations out of nothing, making ready the Earthly Stage for the imminent appearance of His Bride, Israel.

So, now that our stage has been set, where does that put us in our Story?

It is here, at Act 1, Scene 2, in Genesis 12-50, that we will be introduced to the four men most responsible for the creation and development of the nation of Israel. They will be introduced to us through the use of Four Biographical Pictures—or, what we will be calling, the Biopics of the Four Patriarchs.  They are…

Biopic #1—Abraham

The first Patriarch we will be studying is Abraham, known today as the Father of Israel.  He plays such an important role in the story of Israel that, of the fifty chapters in Genesis, fifteen are dedicated to him and his earthly pilgrimage of faith.  By comparison, only eleven chapters of this first book of the Bible were used to cover all the major events of the world from its creation to the dispersion of the people into nations following God’s judgment at the Tower of Babel.

As for when his part in our story takes place, if we calculate the years given in the genealogy of Shem in Genesis 11, when he makes his entrance upon our stage, approximately 1946 years have passed since the Creation, 288 years since the Flood, and—if the division into nations took place during Peleg’s lifetime—anywhere from 27 to 266 years since the episode at the Tower of Babel. As a result of that incident, and God’s confusion of the one universal language there, people have dispersed into different nations, taking with them the false religious beliefs they had adopted at Babel. 

Concerning Shem’s descendants, according to the Jewish historian, Josephus, his five sons settled in the areas making up much of today’s Middle East.  There…

  • Elam became the father of the Elamites, the ancestors of the Persians (Iran).
  • Ashur became the father of the Assyrians (northern Iraq).
  • Arphaxad became the father of the Arphaxadites, later called the Chaldeans (southern Iraq).
  • Aram became the father of the Aramites, or Syrians, as they were known by the Greeks.
  • Laud became the father the Laudites, later called the Lydians (Turkey).[1]

Given that Abram was a direct descendant of Arphaxad, it should come as no surprise to learn that at some point in his life, he and his family had resided in Ur, a prominent city in the land of the Chaldeans, and a land wholly given over to the worship of idols.  In fact, we are told later in Joshua 24:2 that even Abram’s family had, in the past, been numbered among them…

Your fathers, including Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the River [Euphrates] in old times; and they served other gods (Joshua 24:2). 

Although you may not remember it, we actually met Abram/Abraham back in Genesis 11:27-36, at the end of Scene #1—where we learned that…

Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran. Haran begot Lot.  And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 

Then Abram and Nahor took wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and the father of Iscah.  But Sarai was barren; she had no child. 

And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.  So the days of Terah were two hundred and five years, and Terah died in Haran.

From this brief introduction, we are told several important things about Abram/Abraham…

  • At this stage in his life, he was still being called by his given name, Abram, a name meaning exalted father–and, a meaning made all the more ironic by the fact that at this point, and for many years to come, he and his wife were childless;
  • He and his family had left their hometown of Ur for reasons which, for now, still remain a mystery to us; and,
  • When he left Ur, Abram’s original destination was Canaan but, also for reasons unknown, his journey there had been put on hold and they were currently living in the city of Haran.

Before delving any deeper into the life of Abraham, though, let’s first take a few moments to discuss why theses things are so important to our Story…

  • As we learned back in More Blessing, Cursing, and Big Time Rebellion, being a descendant of Shem meant that Abraham was among those who had been charged with the Stewardship of God’s Revelation to the world; plus, being a descendant of Arphaxad placed him in the generational line leading directly to the Redeemer who had been promised back in the Garden of Eden.
  • As for the exact date of Abraham’s appearance on the earthly stage, we are not sure.  A number of different dates from 1800-2200 BC have been suggested, however, if we do some calculations using other scripture references, we will arrive at a date of 2166 BC.[2]  This was a pivotal time, not only in human history but also in God’s Story of Redemption because…
    • By and large, the other nations of the world were now in place and the peoples were worshiping a host of false gods, rather than the one True God;
    • While the other nations had been formed naturally through their common languages and shared cultures, Israel would soon be created supernaturally in response to the Word and Promise of God, as the nation through whom God’s Son would one day be born into the world, for the purpose of reconciling that world to God;
    • With human government(s) then in place (and because of its corruption at the Tower of Babel), this not only marked the beginning of the nation of Israel but also the beginning of a whole new dispensational period in God’s Redemptive Story—the Dispensation of Promise.  As this chart illustrates, dispensations are merely the periods of administration or stewardship of God’s revelation to Man, taking him from the period of innocence of the Garden to the kingdom rule of Christ in the Millennium.
  • The fact that Abram/Abraham came from a family of idol worshipers is a reminder to us that, in spite of his spiritual heritage and the part he was about to play in God’s Redemptive Plan, he was himself a sinner—and a member of a family of sinners who were comfortable living in a sin-saturated culture.  As such, he had done nothing special to merit God’s favor but, like everyone else who has or who ever will become a member of God’s Family, he was merely the beneficiary of God’s Grace.
  • Being born in Ur of the Chaldees meant that Abraham…
    • …had been accustomed to living in a prosperous industrial, commercial, and agricultural center with a population of about 360,000 people; a great city-state enclosed by a wall 2 1/2 miles around and 77 feet thick, and one dedicated to the worship of the Moon God.
    • …was most likely a member of an upper class family living in a spacious home in town and, because the sons of the upper class were the only ones allowed to go to school, he was sure to be an educated and literate person.  Since the government didn’t allow most people to just up and leave Ur, for Abram and Terah to have been able to do so, they most likely would have been free merchants or high officials.
  • Because Abraham and his family stopped for an indefinite period of time at Haran, and Haran means Caravan City, it is likely that they were involved in and prospering from the lucrative caravan trade linking Mesopotamia and the Far East with Egypt.  We know that such a trade existed because the ancient Egyptian texts speak of such caravans at this time numbering 500, 600, and even 1000 donkeys.
  • At this point in our Story, the reason why Abraham would choose to leave all of this prosperity behind and go to Canaan is still a mystery to us.  Unlike Ur or Haran, Canaan was pretty much a rural backwater with no major cities or city-states, and no governmental bureaucracy to offer him any economic opportunities or protection.  Patriarchal Rule was the law of the land and central to every aspect of life there; with the head of each clan having absolute power—even the power of life and death—over every member of his clan.
  • Probably the most important fact we have been given so far is the one concerning the barrenness of Sarai.  This is important to our Story for several reasons…
    • It was an embarrassment to Abraham and made a mockery of his name(s);
    • It was a reproach to Sarai–because God’s original blessing was that of having children, this would have seemed to indicate that she, for some reason, had lost favor with God;
    • It meant that Abram/Abraham would not enjoy the natural immortality (immortality which came from having one’s name carried into the future through succeeding generations) or care in his old age that a son would have provided; and, most importantly,
    • It meant that God’s promise of a coming Redeemer would not be realized through him.

Now that we have a better understanding of the dynamics operating withing the life and times of Abraham, it is time for us to get on with the Story of the Man himself—and, to do that, we need to return to where his story started in Genesis 11: 27-32.  Before the curtain rises on that scene, though, let’s pause briefly to mull over all of the information we have just been given.


[1] Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews: Book 1 (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Kregel Publications, 1960), 42.

[2] In 1 Kings 6:1, we learn that the 4th year of Solomon’s reign—966 BC—was 480 years after the Exodus [966+480=1446], and from Exodus 12:40-41, we learn that the Israelites lived in Egypt 430 years.  So 1446+430=1876, making that the year that Jacob and his sons went down to Egypt.  Since Jacob was 130 when he appeared before Pharaoh, Isaac was 60 when Jacob was born, Abraham was 100 when Isaac was born, and Abraham was 75 when he entered the Promised Land, this would mean that the total time spent in Canaan would have been 215 years [130+60+(100-75)=215]. Adding 215 years to 1876, then 75 (for Abraham’s age until then)—the year that Jacob and his family moved to Egypt—we arrive at a date of 2166 BC for Abram’s birth.

Spiritual Warfare: Evolution and Education

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Education is One of the Most Important Pillars in Satan’s Cultural Landscape

In our last Workout Session, as part of our on-going effort to map out Satan’s Kingdom, we began surveying the Landscapes of the Terrestrial or Earthly Division of his realm.  Given the amount of territory to be covered in this exercise, it will no doubt prove to be one of the most strenuous ones we have undertaken to date; so strenuous, in fact, that it must be spread it out over the course of four sessions, with…

Session 1—Covering the Political and Financial Landscape of Satan’s Kingdom;
Session 2—Covering the Educational Aspect of Satan’s Cultural Landscape;
Session 3—Covering the Media Aspect of Satan’s Cultural Landscape; and,
Session 4—Covering the Religious Landscape of Satan’s Kingdom.

Since the subject matter of these sessions is also progressive—with the first one laying the groundwork for the second, etc.—to help prepare us for the additional stretching we will be doing in this second session, let’s pause briefly to review what we learned about these landscapes during the first of these sessions.  So far, we know that…

  • Just as the human body is made up of a Body, Soul, and Spirit, Humanity as a whole also has a Body, Soul, and Spirit.
  • In order to keep Humanity under his control, Satan—as the ruler over this world’s systems—has designed these systems to not only satisfy the needs and wants of Humanity’s Body, Soul, and Spirit, but to do so in ways that allow him to maintain his domination over of every aspect of its being…
    • Through the ubiquitous Political and Economic Systems, he can control what human beings do and where they can go;
    • Through the multifaceted Cultural System, he can control what human beings think and how they feel about any given issue; and,
    • Through his counterfeit Religious System, he can control what human beings believe and what or whom they worship.
  • As for the Political and Economic Landscape, over the past century Satan has used it to establish the framework for the coming One World Government—over which he will one-day dictate—through the creation of the Federal Reserve System, the United Nations, the Bilderberger Group, the Council for Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, and their assorted subgroups.

Although most people have no know idea what these groups do—or, that they even exist, It is essential that we familiarize ourselves with them and their activities because, as we shall eventually see, they are, in effect, being employed as Satan’s puppet-masters who, from behind the scenes, are pulling the strings that determine what we see, hear, and read in the media, what we or our children are being taught in school, and what we as a people are supposed to believe about the nature of Family, the World, and God.

To understand the necessity for such control and coercion, we must remember that Satan’s ultimate goal is to be like God—that is, he wants to rule the world and receive the worship which should rightfully go to God.  He made a giant leap in this direction when he successfully wooed and won Man away from his Creator in the Garden of Eden; however, given his own experience with willful rebellion, and knowing all too well that Man, also endowed with a mind and will of his own, could one day choose to reject him and follow God once again, he has remained ever-vigilant in his control over the systems which might otherwise be used to reveal the Truth about God to those under his dominion, and expose him as the lying, thieving murderer that he is.

So, with this ultimate goal in mind, Satan has designed…

  • The Political and Economic Structures of the world’s systems to be the external controls which will eventually be used to coerce the masses into worshipping the Beast, the Antichrist, and, ultimately Satan himself;
  • The Cultural Structures of the world’s systems to reprogram our minds and emotions; using every form of social interaction to transform the masses into willing, or at least cooperative, “citizens” (slaves) in his New World Order; and,
  • The Religious Structures of the world’s systems as the ultimate deception, and the best counterfeit of God’s Kingdom; using them to convince the masses that they are part of the one great “Brotherhood of Man,” and, the gods and the masters of their own destinies, while simultaneously alienating them from the One True God and conditioning them to worship him instead.

Now, having established in our previous session that the Political and Economic Structures are the legs upon which Satan’s future kingdom stands, it is time for us to learn how, through the Cultural Structures he has erected, Satan is filling out the torso of Humanity’s Corporate Body, and using its soulish aspects to deceive the masses into accepting and supporting the ideals espoused by that kingdom.

The Cultural Landscape

Since the Human Soul—both the Individual and the Corporate one—is the seat of our Personality, or our Mind, Emotions, and our Will; and, since the Thoughts and Feelings produced by our Mind and Emotions are what determines the things that we Will to do, in order for Satan to direct our actions, he must first gain control of the way we think and feel.  To do that, he has fashioned an entire Cultural Landscape through which he and those whom he empowers work relentlessly to…

Change the Way We Think About the World;
Change the Way We Feel About Family; and,
Control the Things We Will to Do…

As a Man Thinks, So Will He Do

…a necessary course of action if he is ever to realize his goal of world-wide rule and worship.  As he is (and always has been) incapable of creating living beings in his own image over which he can rule, his only option has been to take those created by God for His glory and, through the systematic eradication of the Divine Image within them, as well as their knowledge of the Divine Plan for them, remold them in his own distorted image and in accordance with his own devilish plans.  To accomplish this, he has become a master manipulator of every form of Media–Art, Music, Theatre, Films, Television, Books, Magazines, Newspapers, and Social Media—as well as the curriculum at every level of Education, from Preschool through Post Graduate Work, to slowly and insidiously redefine, in the minds of men, what it means to be a human living on planet Earth.

Changing the Way We Think About the World

Before we can grasp the changes that Satan wants to make to our worldview, we must first understand what God has to say about the World—for the former will be in direct opposition to the latter.  From the revelation He has given us in Genesis 1-11, we know that…

  • God created the world ex nihilo—that is, out of nothing;
  • The world came into existence in an orderly and progressive manner over the course of six days, in response to the spoken Word of God;
  • The world was created to be the home for Man, and was especially designed to sustain his life and to meet his physical needs;
  • The world was meant to be ruled over and blessed by the Righteous Rule of Man—both Male and Female—but instead, it came under a Curse and the Right to Rule over it was transferred to Satan as a result of Man’s Sin; and,
  • Because of Man’s Corruption of it, the primeval world was destroyed by a catastrophic and Universal Flood, which permanently altered the Earth’s Climate and Geologic Features.

Of course, this Worldview, as a God-Centric one, is one that demonstrates God’s great Wisdom and Power, His Love and Grace toward Man, and Man’s High Calling and Superior Standing in and over the created world—something which Satan is determined to eliminate from the Mind of Man.  From the Garden of Eden onward, he has been busy feeding Lies about the World and its Origins to every gullible person who has ever rejected the revelation of God—for, in his rejection of the Truthful testimony of the only Eye-Witness present at the time of the Earth’s inception, Man has been left with no other choice but to come up with his own explanations for how it and he came to be.  And, throughout his history, he has managed to come up with some real lulus.

Apart from the Truth of God, We are Clueless

For example, in one of Man’s earliest civilizations in Sumer of Mesopotamia, near where the fresh waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers merged with the Persian Gulf, he concluded that the earth originated when two creator gods emerged from the eternal and sacred primordial waters.  Apsu, the god of the freshwaters, and Tiamat, the goddess of the salty waters of the sea, came forth from the primeval chaos, merged their waters together and, in the process, brought into being the other gods who made up the Sumerian pantheon, or household of gods.

Unfortunately, life in this household did not remain divine for very long, for the younger, rowdier gods soon became too noisy to suit their father.  In an effort to get some peace and quiet, Apsu came up with a rather extreme solution—he decided to kill the “kids” to ensure that he could get a good night’s sleep.  Before he could carry out his plan, though, one of his sons, Ea, found out about it and killed Apsu first.  Ea then took his dad’s place as ruler; after which, he and his wife, Damkina, gave birth to their own wonder-son, named Marduk, who later became the sun god.

Relationships in this family of gods went from bad to worse when Tiamat, the mother of the younger gods, decided to avenge her husband’s death.  Taking the form of a dragon, she gathered together an army of monsters for the purpose of waging war against her own children.  Marduk, her grandson, went to the other gods and offered to fight Tiamat on their behalf—but, only if he could become their ruler.  Once they agreed to his terms, Marduk went into battle, first defeating the monsters, and then Tiamat.  After killing his grandmother, Marduk cut up her body, using half to make the sky and the other half to make the earth; then, with some leftover parts, he created other features such as rivers and mountains.

Following a period during which he whipped the rest of the universe into shape, Marduk decided to create man.  The motive behind this decision was in no way benevolent, however, for Marduk and the other gods were just so tired of doing all of the dirty work needed to maintain order on the earth that they decided to create a race of people who could do the work for them.  Their plan became a reality when Marduk, after killing Tiamat’s consort Kingu, mixed some of his blood with dust to create man as a servant for the gods.[1]  It would seem, then, that to the ancient Mesopotamians, the earth came into existence because the loser in a family fight among the gods was hacked up by the winner and then hung up to dry; with the earth’s human residents being created solely for the purpose of doing the earth-related housekeeping chores—chores considered too menial for the gods to do.

Pan Ku Chiseling the Universe into Existence

As far-fetched as this explanation might seem to us today, it is no more fantastic than those found in many other ancient cultures.   Take, for example, one of the early Chinese creation myths which began with the cracking of a giant “cosmic egg.”  Contained within the egg were the two forces of Yin and Yang, the universal but opposing principles of masculine and feminine.  As these forces struggled inside the egg, they caused it to break in two, making it possible for the creator god, Pan Ku—usually described as the child of Yin and Yang—to emerge.  As he did, the “light” or masculine part of the egg, the Yang, rose to become the sky, while the Yin, the feminine or the “heavier” substance, dropped down to become the earth.

For 18,000 years, Pan Ku held the earth and sky apart, while he busily worked on the creation with his hammer and chisel.  When he thought the sky was finally secure and wouldn’t fall down, he laid down to rest, but died instead.  As he expired, Pan Ku’s body morphed into the various elements of nature:  his voice became the thunder; his breath the wind and clouds; his eyes the sun and moon; and his limbs the mountains.  Additionally, the fluids in his body turned into the rivers and the rain, while his body itself became the soil; the hair on his head became the stars, the hair on his body changed into vegetation, and his teeth, bones and marrow became the minerals in the earth.  Lastly, the bugs on his body became human beings—a rather inauspicious beginning for humanity, to say the least!

Sadly, in the absence of the Truth provided by God, and when left to their own devices, these are the kinds of crazy stories concocted, in all seriousness, by men of old, from cultures all over the world, seeking to explain the origins of Life.  Each story is a reflection of the unique culture which produced it, and of the environmental conditions impacting the lives of those within that culture; and yet, as dissimilar as these appear on the surface, when examined more closely, there is a detectable pattern—a methodology, if you will—in the way they were created; one requiring their…

  1. Observation of the then-current environmental conditions around them;
  2. Projection backwards in time in an effort to come up with a theory as to how those conditions came to be; and,
  3. Creation of a story around those natural elements which might explain events happening before their time.

In other words, those responsible for the creation of these myths arrived at their conclusions by trying to explain the unknown past through their observations of the natural processes occurring in their present time—something which men have continued to do until this day; with the one difference between then and now being, that those in earlier times typically made gods out of the elements they observed, while those who came later sought to eliminate any reference to god in their explanations.

A Modern-Day Creation Story

British Naturalist Charles Darwin

Probably the best and most successful example of this—and, by successful, I mean the most well-known and universally accepted one— is the explanation produced by a British Naturalist, living in the nineteenth century, named Charles Darwin; a man who, like the men preceding him, set about trying to explain the unknown past by first observing the natural processes at work in his day.  In 1859, he presented those observations, and the suppositions which he had drawn from them, to the world in a revolutionary book entitled, On the Origin of Species—a book which laid the foundation for the modern-day Creation Story we commonly refer to as the Theory of Evolution.    Although it has been touted as fact and embraced by most of the scientific community, in reality, this evolutionary theory is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific religion; one in which God has been eliminated and Man reduced to the status of a highly-evolved species of animal.

In sharp contrast to what we have already established about the world’s origins from God’s Word, Darwin’s theory was predicated upon four basic principles…

  1. …the first and most fundamental one which states that all life originated from one single cell. If true, this would mean that all forms of life are related genetically, and that all plants, animals, and humans are derivatives of the same original substance.[2]  Although this principle has come to be regarded by most as scientific fact, no one—not even Darwin—has ever been able to say just when, where, or how this single cell came to be.  In fact…

… “Darwin himself speculated that spontaneous generation of life may have occurred by chance formation of proteid in ‘some warm little pond’ with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat and electricity (emphases added).”[3]

  1. The second principle, as an outgrowth of the first, proposes that life, since its origination from that one primitive cell, has been a progressive development from the simplest of life forms to those of the most complex. This upward movement resulted from the on-going struggle of the cells, and their subsequently produced organisms, to survive in the natural elements; with their survival being made possible through the changes, modifications, or mutations taking place in some of the life forms.  The surviving cells or organisms—those proven to be the “fittest’ for survival—were the ones having undergone genetic mutations or random changes in their makeup, changes which gave them advantages the other organisms didn’t have. In short, the organisms with mutations were the ones that survived, while those without them died.
  2. The third underlying principle supposes that, as a result of this natural process of selection, the struggling, upwardly-mobile organisms became more and more complex, more numerous, and more adaptable to their environments. As they did, somehow they were able to come together to form the earth as we know it, and the various life forms that came to exist upon it.
  3. Closely related to this is evolution’s fourth principle—which states that, since these random mutations take so long to occur, the earth would have to have been in existence for millions of years in order for them to have taken place.

Is There Any Evidence that We Are Getting Better and Better?

According to these principles, when it comes to understanding our origins, evolution would have us believe that, as human beings, man is nothing more than the accidental product of millions of years of genetic mutations.  Having originated from the same cell, and being genetically linked to all other forms of life, including the animals, means that he need never aspire to being anything more than the most highly-evolved form of animal life—a species which, through self-effort and chance alone, has happened to work its way to the top of the food chain. 

In its classification of him as an animal, evolution has provided Man with a rationale for eschewing accountability to any and all forms of externally imposed laws or codes of conduct.  The one exception to this would be the “the law of the jungle,” the one code permitting humans to act beastly with impunity.  In its reduction of men to mere brute beasts, without any codes to guide or control their behavior, humanity is also relieved of its need for any morality or religion in life.

With these restraints removed, man’s purpose in life becomes focused on the pursuit of physical or fleshly gratification, with the highest ideal of this gratification being the mating with, and the reproduction of, the most genetically superior humans possible.  In this way, he can continue to produce offspring with the most favorable mutations, insuring that in the future, the species will become even more highly-evolved than it is now—and, with the expectation that these more highly-evolved humans will be better equipped to solve life’s most perplexing problems. Given enough time, perhaps a few more billion years, they may even evolve into perfect human beings, or physically superior specimens of male and female who are absolutely devoid of any soul or spirit.

As for satisfying the basic human question concerning life after death, evolution promises us that there won’t be any afterlife to worry about; our animalistic bodies will simply return to the earth from which they came, with our only lasting contribution being in our service as the most genetically superior fertilizer to date, for the soil of all future generations of human animals.

What we’re presented with, then, are two diametrically opposed ways of looking at the World—the Biblical Worldview originating with God, or the Secular Worldview, produced by Man’s Enlightened Thinking…

A Comparison of Worldviews

This certainly begs the question, that given the more meaningful and hopeful nature of the Biblical Worldview, why would anyone (most of the world, in fact) choose to buy into the meaningless and fatalistic existence offered by the Secular Worldview?  Well, two reasons immediately come to mind; there is…

  • The Theoretical Reason—this being the same reason Adam and Eve chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil over the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden—because they fell for the Big Lie promising them their independence from God and divinity on their own terms; and,
  • The Practical Reason—because this Big Lie has been promoted world-wide through the Cultural Landscape set up and managed by Satan.

Selling the Lie

When it comes to selling people a Lie–big or otherwise–nobody does it better than Satan, and the method he continues to use is the same simple one he has been using since his initial success with it in the Garden of Eden.  As he did with Adam and Eve, when it came to convincing the masses to buy into this Secular Worldview, all Satan had to do was…

Discredit the Word of God; and,
Replace the Truth with a Lie.

And, the best way for him to do this on such a massive scale was with a masterful manipulation of the Educational System and the Mass Media. 

Because we will be discussing Satan’s use of the Media at length during our next session, what’s left of this one will be given over to highlighting how he has been working through the Educational System to discredit the Word of God and replace the Biblical Worldview with a counterfeit one.  His strategy for this, like his Lie, has been simple yet highly effective, and is based upon the three-pronged approach of…

  1. Promoting an Alternative Worldview—Offering the Intellectual Community an Appealing Alternative to the Biblical Worldview;
  2. Compromising Biblical Scholarship—Infiltrating Seminaries with the New Worldview in order to Compromise Biblical Scholarship;
  3. Corrupting the Public School Curriculum—Infiltrating Teacher Training Schools, then the Public Education System, and gradually but systematically changing the Curriculum to promote the Alternative Worldview.

1. Promoting an Alternative Worldview

Before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, the Biblical View of Creation was the most widely-accepted one—at least, as far as Western Civilization was concerned. For some time before that, though, the scientific community had been searching for an alternative theory; the reason being, that for centuries the institutional church, in its zeal to prevent any potential heresy, had routinely suppressed scientific inquiry and persecuted those who were engaged in it.  The intellectually curious, who had long suffered under this type of oppression, were ready to cast off the teachings of the church and pursue a more rational, enlightened explanation for the Earth’s Origins.  They had a big problem, though—which was, how to explain the more dramatic features of the earth’s landscape, like its mountains and canyons, apart from any reference to supernatural catastrophes which may have taken place in the past.  This belief was called Catastrophism, and it…

…was accepted as the only possible explanation until about the 18th century.  Catastrophism taught that the geologic rock strata were primarily a result of catastrophes like the world-wide flood of Noah.  At that time James Hutton and Sir Charles Lyell proposed an alternative explanation of uniformitarianism.  The theory of uniformitarianism taught that the present was the key to the past and exactly the same slow process that we see today is the one responsible for the formation of all the geological rock strata.

Since deposition with the uniformitarianism theory was so slow, long eons of time were required.  This meant that the current biblical beliefs at that time of a young earth, the recent history of the life on earth and the worldwide flood of Noah were discredited.  In addition, uniformitarianism laid the foundation for Darwin’s’ theory of evolution, which also needed an old earth to be credible.

So uniformitarianism dethroned catastrophism and evolution dethroned biblical creationism and both became the dominant theories in academia and science until the present time.[4]

“Higher Criticism” is the just another version of the SOL–the Same Old Lie!

2. Compromising Biblical Scholarship

Given the speed at which it was embraced by the academic disciplines, it would seem that Satan had picked the perfect time for the publication of Darwin’s book because…

…his book seemed to provide support for a point of view, a world outlook that was just what the intelligentsia of his day wanted.  What Darwin wrote was evidently just what the ‘mainstream’ of academia in England, and subsequently in nation after nation, were waiting for.[5]

Not surprisingly, then—given who was pulling the strings behind the scene—one of the first disciplines to be affected by this broad-based acceptance of Evolutionary Theory was Theology, with the person most responsible for its application to Biblical Scholarship being a German rationalist scholar named Julius Wellhausen…

Wellhausen was an Old Testament scholar, an intellectual, and a theologian…and produced a colossal change within the church by presenting to the Christian community a new, and he would say better, way of understanding the Bible.

He held…that human reason was totally dependable and insisted that it was the Bible that could not seriously be trusted.  He presented the idea that the Bible, far from being the Word of God, was in fact a sublime collection of human documents.  For instance, he insisted that we must not hold that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.  Rather, this history of early man was given to us by a number of writers, whose views were compiled to form what we now call the Pentateuch.  Therefore, the story of Adam and Eve is a lovely myth that can illustrate certain truths, but it surely does not represent the actual story of people whom God called ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve.’

Exodus, he thought, was completely historical; prior to that, all was myth.

During his career as a theological professor, Wellhausen published many books in the German language on the subject of biblical criticism.  Over the years, his reputation grew as the leader of a school of thought concerning a method of interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures.  This school of thought came to be called Higher Criticism…[6]

…a school whose scholars…

…’seek to explain Old Testament belief in God in terms of evolution.  They would have Old Testament monotheism be the resultant from lower stages, or from polytheism, or regard it as a peculiar instinct of the Semites, or as borrowed from neighboring nations.’[7]

The lasting effect of all this was…

Wellhausen’s scholarship became an important contribution to liberalism as it sought to demythologize the Bible by taking God and spiritual things out of it.  Through this means, Wellhausen opened the door for subsequent scholars to expand the base of liberalism and add to it their own interpretations of biblical truth.  Some found the Bible to be an endless round of allegories rather than necessary historical truth.

The logical consequence of all this speculation was a defection from sound doctrine by the church and its leadership, as well as a fundamental shift in religious allegiance from Christianity to an empty humanist religion.[8]

Satan’s Plan is to “Train up a child in the way…(Prov. 22:6)” he wants him to go.

3. Corrupting the Public School Curriculum***

With the seminaries no longer producing ministers who believed the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, the Church lost much of its spiritual power and was fast becoming more of a social institution, preaching a social gospel.  As such, it…

…abdicated its responsibility to be a corrective within society and instead cooperated with the golden promises of the secular humanists.  Moving with the tide, the church quickly changed its message of salvation through the cleansing of the blood of Christ to a message of salvation through the improvement of the social structure…

…thus, leading to the conclusion that…

If man is no longer a sinner, all he needs is education and inspiration, and the flame of bright possibility will burn brilliantly in all society.[9]

Of course, Satan had a man ready to step into the situation—one who would revolutionize the educational system that was training new teachers, and the one that was shaping the minds of the children in the Public Schools of America.  This man, known as the “father of progressive education,” was John Dewey—a socialist and one of America’s leading atheists—who wrote…

There is no God and no soul.  Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion.  With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable (unchangeable) truth is also dead and buried.  There is no room for fixed, natural law or permanent moral absolutes.[10]

Dewey viewed public education as being…

…a massive behavior-shaping tool and enterprise.  Dewey knew that that you could sway the beliefs of a generation in the classroom and thereby alter the course of society.  He saw the public school system as an ideal platform to proselytize his radical socialistic view.  Regardless of what the parents believed, it was only a matter of time before the successive generation took over.

But John Dewey’s ideas did not just come out of a vacuum.  He was influenced by an insider group of intellectuals in England known as the Fabian Socialists…an elite intelligentsia of world socialists who envisioned an end to war and poverty by a united world order dedicated to the ideals of socialistic humanism.

Unlike Marxists, who advocated bloody revolution for world socialism, the Fabian Socialists of Britain advocated a more gradualist path to socialistic globalism.  The plan of these early one-worlders was to use intellectual penetration, from the top of the pyramid down, into key areas of influence on society.  Elite minds were to influence and change the social order.[11]

A brief resume for Dewey reveals that…

  • He began his career teaching classics, science, and algebra to high school students.
  • From there, he went to John Hopkins University, where he earned his doctorate in 1884.
  • That same year, he became a professor at the University of Michigan, where he stayed for ten years.
  • Then, in 1894, he became chairman of the Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education at the University of Chicago. While there, he ‘…founded the Laboratory School, which then became known as the Dewey School, and wrote a number of important books on education.’
  • In 1904, he took on his longest and most influential position as chairman of the Education School at Columbia University in New York City; and…

…from this position of influence, he labored until his retirement in 1930, gaining international prominence for his radical views in education and philosophy.  The Columbia Teacher’s College soon became a training center for teachers from around the world, thereby spreading Dewey’s education philosophy literally to the ends of the earth.[12]

The Effects of Dewey’s Progressive Education

So, how has Satan used Dewey’s views on education and his tenure at Columbia Teacher’s College to transform the mindsets of students and teachers across America?

Dewey knew that to penetrate the existing social order a united front of educators, who embodied the new viewpoint, needed to emerge from graduate schools.  These teachers of teachers would then influence future teachers.  Among the new views was a national self-criticism that spurned narrow patriotism for a broader globalism.  At the same time all traditional values were to be questioned, from parental authority to the validity of established religion.

Rather than equipping the child to handle the demanding academic and moral standards of the old order, with its McGuffey Reader and its implicit moral virtues, Dewey’s progressive education considered behavior-shaping as its highest education priority.  ‘Socialization’ was now defined as a type of learning at least equal to traditional learning.  Now the old morals and ethics could be replaced by situational ethics or ‘values clarification.’  Reading, writing, and arithmetic took a backseat to an array of experimental programs such as ‘sensitivity training.’  The virtues of hard work were replaced by new permissive standards that would pass a failing child rather than ‘harm’ him by labeling him a failure.  Total equality was the new ideal…[13]

Now, if we go back to our question of why anyone would choose to buy into the meaningless and fatalistic existence offered by the Secular Worldview, we have our answer.  It’s because they have been duped by the master deceiver into thinking that it is the only viable one out there—which is why, for a lot of people…

It’s more comfortable to feel that we’re a slight improvement on a monkey thin a fallin’ off from the angels.[14]

 


I, on the other hand, would prefer to believe that I am a unique creation of my Heavenly Father’s Love, rather than anything remotely similar to a monkey…

 

*** I am well aware that there are many fine, godly educators in the public school system–my husband being one of them–so in referring to the corruption of public education, I am referring to the system and not to those ministering so faithfully as teachers–so often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.  I am also so grateful for the truly dedicated teachers who have taught all five of our sons over the years.

[1] Information on the creation myths of ancient cultures is summarized from these sources:
Philip Wilkinson, DK Illustrated Dictionary of Mythology (New York: DK Publishing Inc., 2006), 22-23, 46-47.
Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much about Mythology (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005), 137-150, 370-373.

[2] A.E. Wilder-Smith, Man’s Origins, Man’s Destiny (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers,1975), 33.

[3] Professor H. Enoch, Evolution or Creation (London, England: Evangelical Press, 1967), 86.

[4] Taken from an article, with no author or date given, on the website https://www.allaboutcreation.org/catastrophism-versus-uniformitarianism-faq.htm.

[5] John N. Moore, M.S., Ed.D., 1977. The Impact of Evolution on Social Sciences (http://www.icr.org/article/impact-evolution-social-sciences), Acts & Facts.6(10).

[6] Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 91-93, 95.

[7] Breese, Seven Men, 93.

[8] Breese, Seven Men, 95.

[9] Breese, Seven Men, 153.

[10] Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 1991), 60.

[11] Tal Brooke, When the World Will Be as One (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), 100-101.

[12] Breese, Seven Men, 157-158.

[13] Brooke, When the World Will Be as One, 103-104.

[14] Finley Peter Dunne, “On the Descent of Man,” Mr. Dooley on Making a Will and Other Necessary Evils; 1919.

The image of Pan Ku provided by Wikimedia.

 

Thursday’s Gift…

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Thursday’s Gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a return visit to…

“Mapping Out the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”

Map and compass

Some Map Making Tools

Now that we have unloaded as much baggage as we can bear to part with at the present time, let’s leave Booth #2 behind and make our way on over to Booth #3—still here at the  Welcome Center of the Word—where we will find maps of the land we are preparing to visit.  As will any map for any traveler venturing into any new territory, these maps will prove to be great aids to us as we continue on our journey through the World of the Word. That’s because, through their clear delineation of boundaries, we will be able to determine the extent of, or the limitations imposed upon, the knowledge that will actually be made available to us on this visit to the land of the Bible.

The need for such limitations will become obvious to us once we stop to consider the entire scope of existence presented to us within the context of the Bible.  That is, if we take into account all of the activity that has taken and will take place from eternity past to eternity future, as well as all of the activity that has occurred throughout the various realms of existence—from the deepest depths in the underworld to the highest reaches of the heavenly places—it shouldn’t be difficult for us to see that the overall knowledge produced as a result of all of this activity would be so staggering that, when given the limits imposed upon us by our finite minds and fallen natures, it would be way beyond our abilities to take it all in.

Fortunately for us, though—and because He is so keenly aware of the frailties imposed upon us by our humanity—when God crafted His plans for the Bible, He very wisely and graciously chose to limit the  knowledge that would be presented in it to the revelation of Himself and of His redemptive purposes for mankind.  And, as for how this knowledge was to be revealed to us, once again, God very wisely and graciously chose not to hit us with it all at once, but to present it incrementally, through the gradual and progressive unfolding of it over time.  Since God considered this revelation knowledge to be important enough to make it the message of His Word, then it stands to reason that the acquisition of this knowledge must be the primary goal of this and every other trip through this land.

As far as we are concerned, then, the Bible will be regarded as the Land of Revelation Knowledge; a vast and often challenging land through which to travel, and yet a land that is filled with the richest of all treasures, just waiting to be discovered by us—the Revelation Knowledge of God.  Before we can venture any further into its heartland, though, we will need to pause for a brief but careful study of its map.  This map, through its outline of the borders which have been fixed upon God’s Revelation Knowledge, will help us determine just how far we can travel in any direction.  Even a quick glance at the map will let us know that:

  • To the North, we will only be able to go as far as the Purposes of God have ordained;
  • To the East, we will only be able to go as far as our Positions in Christ empower us;
  • To the South, we can only go as far as our Personal Purity will permit; and,
  • To the West, we can only go as far as our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God will take us.

Here, then, is a section by section breakdown of this map.

Our Northern Border—The Purposes of God 

Compass and Map

True North Must Be Determined First

When beginning an analysis of any map, the most logical place to start is in the north.  That’s because, before any real mapping of an area can be undertaken, its position relative to “true north” must be established; then, once that has been done, each of the other directions will naturally fall into place.  Our “true north” is none other than God Himself, and upon our recognition of Him as such, we will discover that the northern border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been laid out nicely in accordance with His redemptive purposes for man.  These purposes have been spelled out quite clearly for us in Ephesians 1:3-11:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him, we have redemption through his blood…according to his purpose…In him, we have obtained an inheritance…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.  

From this brief passage, it should be easy enough for us to see that:

  1. God had a purpose in our creation—that is, before the foundation of the earth, God’s purpose was to have a family, and it was for this purpose that we were created;
  2. God had a purpose in our redemption—that is, in order for us to be adopted His sons and daughters, we would first have to be redeemed—or “bought back” from our lives of slavery to sin—by the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; and,
  3. God had a purpose in our glorification—that is, once redeemed, and for His glory, we would become the children of God, and the heirs of all His riches, just like Jesus.

And, it was through these purposes that the orientation for the rest of our map has been determined.

Our Eastern Border—Our Positions in Christ 

Eastern ArrowWith our northern border thus established by the redemptive purposes of God, our eastern border immediately becomes visible by its provision of the gateway to redemption that was called for by those very same purposes of God. This gateway is the salvation that was made available to us by Christ’s death on the Cross, and it is this doorway that we must enter by faith, if we are to move into our new positions as the sons and daughters of God.

However, just moving into these positions is not the “be-all and end-all” of God’s purposes for us.  That’s because, at this point in the process, our mindsets, characters, and behaviors are still those of children born originally as slaves to sin.  Since God’s purposes also call for us to be transformed from these sin-saturated children into the sanctified children of God, it is here that that a Helper—the Holy Spirit of God Himselfcomes along side of us and becomes our tutor—teaching us how to think, speak, and act like children of God—and the source of divine power that we will need if we are to overcome the power of sin in our lives.

In John 14:15-16 and John 16:8, 13-14, Jesus gives us some insights into the work of this wonderful Helper when He says:

If you love me and keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive…And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but …He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.   

And, as a result of His faithful ministry on our behalf, we will learn what it means to…

“…walk by the Spirit, and [you will] not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal. 5:16-17” 

Our Southern Border—Our Personal Purity 

Southern ArrowThis work of empowerment by the Holy Spirit—made available to us through our positions in Christ—and our successful appropriation of this power is what now leads us to the identification of our Southern Border;  for, this is the border that is formed as a result of, or in response to, the level of Personal Purity that we choose to maintain in our lives.

In Ephesians 4:30, we are told, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  You see, if and when we tolerate sin in our lives, we will actually be grieving, or hurting the heart of the Holy Spirit who is living within us, and quenching, or extinguishing through our disobedience and questionable practices, the work that the Spirit desires to do through us.  Once that happens, our minds will become darkened and unreceptive to the Revelation Knowledge that God desires to share with us.

According to Colossians 3:1-10, as the sons and daughters of God who should be growing in the Revelation Knowledge of their Father, we are to:

…seek the things that are above…set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on the earth…put to death what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Our Western Border—Our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God 

So far in this little map study, we have learned that:

  • The Northern Border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been fixed in accordance with the Purposes of God;
  • The Eastern Border has been fixed in accordance with the Positions in Christ provided for us by His redemption; and,
  • The Southern Border has been fixed in accordance with the degree of Personal Purity that we maintain in our lives through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Western ArrowThis, then, leaves us with one border—the Western one—that remains to be defined.  But this is a hard thing for us to do right now because, unlike the other three borders–which were firmly fixed and are constantly being monitored by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit–this fourth border is one which we will have to define for ourselves.  That’s because, this border will be determined by our Passionate Pursuit of the Revelation Knowledge of God, demonstrated through a dedicated and disciplined study of His Word.  In other words, the limitations created for this border will be directly proportional to the hunger we have in our hearts for the knowledge revealed in God’s Word, and to our diligent efforts to obtain it.

This principle is clearly set forth for us in Proverbs 2: 3-6 and 9-10, where we read:

…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God… for the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

So, given that the definition of this Western Border is entirely up to us, let’s make a commitment here and now to extend it as far west as we possibly can—by dedicating ourselves to seek as much Revelation Knowledge as possible during our upcoming tour through the Bible.

Smiley Face with Earphones2
As we begin to make our way through the Land of Revelation Knowledge, let’s do so with this prayer, as offered by Steve Green in “Oh, I Want to Know You More…”

 

 

 

Vignette #5: Our Lineup to the Flood

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Genesis 1-4: The Story So Far

A Review of Our Story So Far…

Now that we have completed our critique of the story of Cain and Abel, it is time for us to move on to the next Vignette, or mini-story, in our presentation of “God’s One Big Story.”  In order to put things into perspective, and as a benefit to those who may be new to our group, I think it is a good idea to do a brief recap of our story so far.

Here at His Truth, My Voice, we are currently undertaking a guided tour of the Bible, a tour which we have been referring to as “The Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”  We have named it this because, in going deeper into the Word of God, we will be traveling to places where the priceless revelations of who God is, who we are, and the parts we are to play in His wonderful Love Story of Redemption will be made known to us.

In order to aid us in our understanding of this Story, it is being presented to us in the form of a Play, consisting of Two Acts, each containing Six Scenes, which are separated by one long Intermission.  The Scenes and Intermission are being acted out on a series of Fourteen Stages and, at present, we are at Stage #1 where Vignette #5 of Act 1, Scene 1 is about to get underway.

In Scene 1, we have been introduced to God in His role as “The Celestial Suitor”—the Supreme Being whose ultimate goal is to have a spiritual family to love for all eternity.  Since a family is naturally made up of a Husband and a Wife who have children, in this scene (covering the first eleven chapters of Genesis), God will create the world of nations, from which He will choose one—Israel—to be His Wife.  It will be through His relationship with her that His Son will eventually be born into the world; and, it will be through His Son that God will one day obtain the family He has always desired.  Thus far, this is what God has done toward the realization of His goal:

  • In Vignette #2/ Genesis 2He created Man and Woman to bear His image on the earth, and to multiply and fill the earth with that image of His glory. He also made them overseers of His creation, and charged them not to do one thing—eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • In Vignette #3/ Genesis 3…He allowed a malevolent spirit named Satan, who appeared in the form of a serpent, to test the first couple’s obedience to His will. In the serpent’s temptation, Adam and Even were presented with the only two real options in life—either to do things God’s way and live, or to go their own way and die.  When Adam and Eve chose the latter, sin, disease, and death passed upon them and all of their descendants.  But, when their sin resulted in their separation from God, He graciously showed them that their relationship with Him could be restored if their sins were atoned for through the blood sacrifice of an innocent substitute.
  • In Vignette #4/ Genesis 4…When the time came for Adam and Eve’s sons to offer their own sacrifices to God, on one such occasion, Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected. This made Cain so angry that he murdered his brother.  Then, when he refused to acknowledge and repent of this sin, God’s judgment led him to separate himself from God, and enter into a life of wandering.  God later provided Adam and Eve with another son, Seth, to take Abel’s place; and with his arrival, we see a division of humanity into two distinct groups beginning to take place—with Cain heading up the line of the wicked, and Seth at the head of those in the righteous line.  At the end of this Vignette/Chapter, and in keeping with the scriptural practice of identifying the members of the rejected line first, we were given the genealogy of Cain—an incorrigible line that would ultimately succeed in corrupting society, and one which would eventually end in the Flood.

This brings us up to date in our Story, and to Vignette #5, which covers the material contained in Chapter 5 of Genesis.  While there are many who would consider this to be one of the most boring chapters in the Bible, I hope to show you that there are some important things to be gleaned from its rather repetitious presentation of information.

Now Playing

Now Playing…

With that being said, the time has come for the next installment of our Story to begin—and for the lights in the theatre to dim and the curtains to part once more.  As they do, we find ourselves looking upon a Stage that is pretty much in the same state as when Vignette #4 ended.  The major difference is that Cain and his line of descendants have moved from the front of the stage to the back, forming a line across the rear of the stage.  The spotlight, which was previously on our right, has moved to our left, and is once more focusing on Adam, as we hear our off-stage Narrator begin his recitation with…

This is the book of the generations of Adam.  When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and blessed them and named them Man when they were created.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image and named him Seth.

Biblical Characters

Seth

Biblical Character

Adam

At this, we see Seth walk across the stage and stand next to his father.  As the spotlight moves to highlight him, we hear the Narrator speak again, saying…

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. 

This scene is then repeated five more times, with only the names and years being changed, and with our Narrator continuing in his very formulaic fashion…

When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh.  Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Kenan

Biblical Character

Enosh

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan.  Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 days, and he died.

When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel.  Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Mahalalel

Biblical Character

Jared

When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared.  Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.

When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch.  Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. 

Up to this point, everything has been going along monotonously well, but it is here—at the seventh generation from Adam—that we find something unusual taking place.  Our Narrator explains this, using the most economical description possible, by saying…

Biblical Character

Enoch

Biblical Character

Methuselah

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. 

In other words, unlike his predecessors, Enoch did not die but was translated out of his earthly realm of existence and into the heavenly realm of existence with God!  Then, without offering us any more to go on, and just as though this revelation was of little or no consequence, our Narrator once again resumes his narration with…

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech.  Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

But, just as he seems to be falling back into the same droning pattern of…

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah… 

…and the spotlight comes to rest on Lamech, we are surprised to hear a sudden outburst from him, as he makes this prophetic statement about his son…

Biblical Character

Lamech

Bible Character

Noah

…Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands…

…after which, our Narrator continues, as before, with…

Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The Line of the Righteous from Adam to the Flood

The Righteous Lineup

And, with the line of the righteous stretched out on the stage before us, Genesis 5 or Vignette #5 abruptly comes to a halt.  The curtains close and the lights in the theatre come up again–and, we are provided with yet another pause in our production for the purpose of critiquing what has just taken place in the presentation.  Although it is tempting for us to think that there is nothing worth critiquing in this very abbreviated episode, there is quite a lot that has been revealed here that will need to be discussed.  So let’s  take a moment and change once more out of our Theatre Patrons’ Hats and into our Theatre Critics’ Hats, and get ourselves ready to analyze the People, the Patterns, and the Precedents being established in this one, seemingly uneventful, passage of Scripture.

Smiley Face with Earphones2
As Steve Green reminds us, let’s pray that when our lives are recorded  in God’s lineup of the Righteous, may all who come behind us find us faithful…