Jesus – Son of David

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Luke 1:69 He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David.

Read 2 Samuel Ch. 7  This is God’s promise to David to make his kingdom and his house last forever. 

Read Matthew 1:1-17  This is the genealogy of Jesus Christ from Abraham onward.  So you can see that God kept his promise to Abraham to make his children as numberless as the stars, and to David to make his kingdom and house be eternal, through Jesus.

Read Luke 1:26-33  This is when the Angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells Mary that her son will be called the Son of the Most High, and he will rule on the throne of his father David and over the house of Jacob forever.

Note:  Jesus’s title of the Son of David is a racial title which reminds us that Jesus was a descendant of the Jewish King David who was a descendant of Abraham.  In short, it reminds us that Jesus is Jewish.

Genealogy is very important throughout the bible.  It demonstrates continuity of life.  It also gives us a glance at what a forgiving God we have.  Looking at the people listed in Jesus’ ancestry we see all kinds of sinners.  Yet, those people were so forgiven by God due to their faith that he put them in Jesus’ ancestry to show us how total and completely God forgives you.

We know that God keeps his promises, no matter how long it seems to take him to fulfill a promise…when God makes a promise…he keeps it…you can count on it!

 Look at the number of generations from Abraham to Jesus…Abraham did not live to see the promise kept, but God kept it anyway!

The same with David, King David did not live to see Jesus, hundreds of years later, still representing his throne, his authority, and kingship…yet, Jesus is an eternal King, to a Kingdom without any ending!  How is that for promise keeping?!!  Yes, there were times when the King was not actually sitting on the throne in Israel.  Just because a king is not actively sitting on the throne doesn’t mean there is no king.

Jesus told us that we are to preach the Kingdom come…because the Kingdom is here!   We refer to this as the gospel.   The word gospel means the good news!  The good news is that God loves us and sent his son so that those who believe in his son, Jesus the Christ, and ask for God’s forgiveness of their sins, can receive that forgiveness and begin a new life living for God with the Holy Spirit dwelling within them.  This is a promise that God made to us!  We can count on God to keep his promise!  That is one of the things that knowing Jesus as the “Son of David” means to us!

Luke 9:1-2   When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Psalm 103:10-12 New International Version (NIV)

10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

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Bible Verses listed in lesson from biblegateway.com

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2 Samuel 7 New International Version (NIV)

God’s Promise to David

After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”

Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.”

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:

“Go and tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?”’

“Now then, tell my servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders[a] over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me[b]; your thronewill be established forever.’”

17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

David’s Prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

“Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far?19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant—and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human![c]

20 “What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord. 21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 “How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel—the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt?[d] 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own forever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 “And now, Lord God, keep forever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!’ And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, ‘I will build a house for you.’ So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue forever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed forever.”

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Samuel 7:11 Traditionally judges
  2. 2 Samuel 7:16 Some Hebrew manuscripts and Septuagint; most Hebrew manuscripts you
  3. 2 Samuel 7:19 Or for the human race
  4. 2 Samuel 7:23 See Septuagint and 1 Chron. 17:21; Hebrew wonders for your land and before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt, from the nations and their gods.

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Matthew 1:1-17 New International Version (NIV)

The Genealogy of Jesus the Messiah

This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham:

Abraham was the father of Isaac,

Isaac the father of Jacob,

Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers,

Judah the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar,

Perez the father of Hezron,

Hezron the father of Ram,

Ram the father of Amminadab,

Amminadab the father of Nahshon,

Nahshon the father of Salmon,

Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab,

Boaz the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth,

Obed the father of Jesse,

and Jesse the father of King David.

David was the father of Solomon, whose mother had been Uriah’s wife,

Solomon the father of Rehoboam,

Rehoboam the father of Abijah,

Abijah the father of Asa,

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat,

Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram,

Jehoram the father of Uzziah,

Uzziah the father of Jotham,

Jotham the father of Ahaz,

Ahaz the father of Hezekiah,

10 Hezekiah the father of Manasseh,

Manasseh the father of Amon,

Amon the father of Josiah,

11 and Josiah the father of Jeconiah[c] and his brothers at the time of the exile to Babylon.

12 After the exile to Babylon:

Jeconiah was the father of Shealtiel,

Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

13 Zerubbabel the father of Abihud,

Abihud the father of Eliakim,

Eliakim the father of Azor,

14 Azor the father of Zadok,

Zadok the father of Akim,

Akim the father of Elihud,

15 Elihud the father of Eleazar,

Eleazar the father of Matthan,

Matthan the father of Jacob,

16 and Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary, and Mary was the mother of Jesus who is called the Messiah.

17 Thus there were fourteen generations in all from Abraham to David, fourteen from David to the exile to Babylon, and fourteen from the exile to the Messiah.

Footnotes:

  1. Matthew 1:1Or is an account of the origin
  2. Matthew 1:1Or Jesus Christ. Messiah (Hebrew) and Christ (Greek) both mean Anointed One; also in verse 18.
  3. Matthew 1:11That is, Jehoiachin; also in verse 12

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Luke 1:26-33  New International Version (NIV)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”

29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God.31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

 

 

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Upholding Man’s Freewill

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John 8:34-36 Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” (NIV)

Read John 8:34-36 and 1 Samuel Chapter 8, Jesus talks about being a slave to sin and how to escape that slavery. The people of Israel wanted a king, so Samuel took it to God in prayer, and God told him to give them a king, and sent him to anoint Saul.  God upholds mankind’s freedom of choice, even when we are wrong. 

Why do you think that the Israelites asked for a King? I mean they already had God personally available to them through his prophets and through prayer. If you think about it, the only thing they didn’t have was the Holy Spirit living within them and salvation through Christ.  However, when Jesus came he died for all who accept him, whether they died before he was born and was sacrificed or not.  

I know, you are say, “How does that work?”  “How could they have accepted Jesus as their savior if Jesus had not been born yet?!!”

I know it seems a difficult concept, but if you realize that God is timeless, and that time is not an issue for Him, then it becomes more easily acceptable.  The main thing is that the Jews were living with the prophets and the prophecies that were being made about the Messiah and they accepted that there would be a Messiah who would come to save them.  Although for the most part they didn’t understand what to expect from that Messiah, and believed that he would form an earthly kingdom in the there and then when he came.  The most important thing is that they had faith that what God said would happen would happen, so they accepted the Messiah, Immanuel – God with Us, would come and save them.  God gave them “credit” for following him and believing in him and his promises.

We are told that God justified those in the Old Testament who followed and believed in Him by their faith.  Habakkuk 2:4 Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith. (NKJV) and Galatians 3:11 quotes Habakkuk in this to reiterate what is said in the Old Testament  But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. In Romans 4:3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” we are further told that it is faith that justifies not anything that we can physically do for God.  However, to show that we love God we are told that the way to do that is to be obedient to him…John 14:23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

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So now, back to the idea of a King…why would anyone want one?  If you look at all the things that God had Samuel tell the Israelites would happen to them when they got a King it is a daunting list of undesirables.  Samuel was heartbroken about them wanting a King, but God told him that it wasn’t his fault..that the one who was being rejected was God himself, not Samuel who was only God’s prophet.  The person who conveyed God’s words to the people.  

So looking at the Bible we were told that the primary reason the Israelites wanted a King was “so that we can be just like everyone else around us….just like our neighbors”  1Samuel 8:4-5 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, “Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” (NKJV)

So if we look at what they are saying, 1) they wanted to be just like the people around them in the neighboring nations, and 2)  they didn’t trust God to provide another good prophet for them.

After all, just because Samuel’s sons were the sons of a prophet and Samuel appointed them to be judges over the people, does not necessarily mean that God would make them his prophets…or let them remain the corrupt judges that they were.  Samuel should have understood that from what happened with Eli’s sons.  They didn’t get to take over for him either…God took care of that situation.  Apparently, Samuel wasn’t any better at parenting and teaching his sons to be honest and Godly than Eli was…they were bribe takers.

Now God, chose Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the people of Israel to be his people so that they could be different from the nations around them.  He wanted them to be in close contact with Him so that they could be living examples of God’s grace and love to the other nations.  So that they could show the other nations the character of God and bring the other nations closer to God.  God wanted them to trust Him and let Him lead them.

By asking for a King they were failing to trust God in all circumstances.  They were not trusting God for the future…they were trying to plan around Samuel’s sons.   They should have done that by praying and then asking Samuel to tell them what God was going to do about the future when he, Samuel, wasn’t there to lead them anymore.  That would have been the correct response of trust in God.  However, they didn’t and so we have the Israelites distancing themselves from God instead of drawing closer to Him.

God is kind enough to warn them of the consequences of their actions…but they don’t listen.  This is kind of like when a parent tells the kid not to eat too much candy, that it will make them sick to their stomach.  Then allowing the kid to eat too much candy anyway because they keep insisting on more candy.  This is a case of the parent allowing the kid to learn their lesson the hard way.

God was doing the same thing, allowing the Israelites their “freewill choice” of accepting or rejecting God.  He was allowing them to have a King and see that it was just as bad as He said it would be.

How many of us in our various nations are still looking for that next “leader” who will “fix” everything?  I know that my own nation is doing that.  Every time there is an election everyone talks about the candidates and what they are and are not going to do.  Although they are elected instead of appointed, they are still our leader….in a smaller vein we find in work places and churches and groups when things are not going so well that people are more likely to look to finding a new work place, church, or group, or finding a new “leader” for that work place, church, or group, than they are to sit down as a group and pray and look to God to see how the group can be made to be functional and unified and Godly again.  So it appears that it is rather hard to sit in “judgment” on the Israelites in this case, as man has not changed…people are still looking in the wrong place for leadership.  God keeps allowing that, because He wants us to voluntarily without reservation choose to follow him. He doesn’t want servants who are reluctant, God wants his people to love him and obey him because they want to do so!  God does not want people who are obeying him because someone else made them do it, but by their own free will.  The choice is always up to us.

Philippians 4:6-7 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (NIV)

Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (NASB)

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If there are 10 Righteous Men…

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Genesis 18:32 Then he said May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only 10 can be found there?

Read Genesis 18:20-33 God tells Abraham that he will destroy Sodom and Gomorrah that their sin is too great.  Abraham prays to God that he not destroy the city of Sodom if 10 righteous men could be found in either one of them.  God agreed, but could only find 1 righteous man, Lot, and so saved Lot and his family and still destroyed  the city.  So although  the city was destroyed, God listened to Abraham, and looked for righteous people first thereby saving Lot.  Without Abraham’s intercessory prayer, God may have destroyed the entire city.  Prayer affected the outcome for Lot.

There is a bunch of history between Abraham and Lot.   Lot is Abraham’s nephew by one of his deceased brothers.  When God told Abraham to pick up and move to a new country with his wife and family, Abraham took Lot along.  He and Lot ended up having to go their separate ways after a while because their family groups were too large and their flocks were too large.  This caused a bunch of fighting between their herdsmen.  Abraham was kind enough to let Lot choose which of the new land he wanted for himself.  Lot demonstrates a bit of his character to us by choosing the best and greenest land, and leaving the desert area for Abraham. Later his area is raided and he and his family members are kidnapped…Abraham goes to the rescue with a few hundred men and gets them back.

John 3:16-21  

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (NKJV -Biblegateway)

Now in this story we find that the town that Lot is living in (Sodom) is about to be destroyed by God.  God has found the town to be so filled with sin that he considers it irredeemable.  In our society there is a belief that everyone is going to be redeemed.  That is simply not true.  It is purely wishful thinking…however, it is good that we have that desire to see everyone redeemed.  God has the same desire, and wants us to have that desire also.  He wants us to love others to that point where we wish the best for them, and would like to help them achieve it.

2Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

The promise that is spoken about in 2Peter 3:9  is the return of the Lord…he is not slow in returning because he wants us to suffer more, but because more can have time to make the decision to follow Jesus, and gain their salvation and restored relationship with God.  God leaves people here on earth who have already gained their salvation so that they can be instrumental through their knowledge of God, and through the way they live out their faith….in bringing others to the knowledge of salvation also.

Abraham always loved Lot and wanted him to be saved, but he also did not want the people of Sodom to be destroyed either…he was hoping that there would be enough people in the town of Sodom that Lot could continue to live his life there, and that God would not destroy the town.  That there were enough people still in Sodom that they could witness to those who were living in sin and thus help them to repent and return to God.  However, as we know from the Bible, Lot was the only person left in that town whom God considered to be righteous.  If you read more about Lot in the Old Testament you will find that he wasn’t really all that righteous…he had a knowledge of God, but not necessarily a very strong character.  He tried to be obedient to God, but he didn’t seem to cling to him the way he should.  It is a good thing that Abraham was around to look out for his nephew, and to pray to God for him.  God wants us to look out for others, especially for other Christians who may be new to the faith, or weaker spiritually.  We are to lift them up in prayer and bolster their faith as much as we can.

Notice that God never got mad at Abraham for how he questioned him repeatedly about his actions.  God does not get mad at us either for wondering about what his plan is and what he is doing.  God wants relationship with us, if we have a question about what God is wanting us to do, or what is happening or why…we should feel free to pray and ask God to help us to resolve these questions, and to have a closer understanding of him and his plan.  God is gracious and loving and understands us more than we understand ourselves.  Use prayer to relate to him and he will give you answers and contentment about how he is doing things.  When there isn’t prayer/communication..there isn’t understanding either.  So pray and ask God what is going on and how to proceed whenever you are in doubt…it will definitely build your faith up…beyond your dreams!

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Grace for Everyone

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Peter Preaching at Pentecost by Benjamin West 1738-1820

Romans 4:16 Therefore the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s offspring, not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, he is the father of us all.

Read 1Timothy 1:13-15, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 5:14-21, Titus 2:11  God’s grace is extended to all of humanity not just the Jews. You gain access to God’s grace through your faith in Jesus.  All of mankind were condemned through the sin of Adam, who was one man, and all mankind can be saved through the righteousness and obedience of one man (God in the flesh) Jesus Christ.  Where there is no sin, there is no need for grace.  Where there is no law, there is no sin.  The law was given to show us that we are sinful, if we didn’t know of our sin, then we wouldn’t ever feel the need for grace. Grace came about through the righteousness of Jesus.  In the old testament, God’s grace was demonstrated through sacrifice and cleansing from sin was by sacrifice. 

It’s not that anyone could actually be cleansed by the blood of an animal…(Hebrews 10:2-23) it was that God loved his people so much that he gave them a method by which they could obediently do an atonement so that they wouldn’t live feeling guilty.  After all, once a person feels their guilt, the first thing they want to do is do something to get rid of that feeling of guilt.  Until the Messiah came, God gave them a method that would allow to regularly face their guilt and acknowledge that sin had a penalty, and that penalty was death.

Think about it, each time that person had to go and do a sin offering at the temple they were required to think about their guilt during the time of picking out the “perfect” animal, then when they went to the priest to have the offering made they would naturally see the horror of death that their sin guilt brought about.  (Hebrews 9:22, Leviticus 17:11)All of those temple sacrifices in the Bible were precursors to the perfect last sacrifice which would actually atone for the sins of man.

Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice, so any other sacrifices we make now in the belief that they are going to do anything to earn us salvation are insulting to God, because they belittle Jesus’ sacrifice. After all, God gave his son, how can anything that we sacrifice be compared to that sacrifice.  If you have experienced being a parent you know that there is nothing that you wouldn’t do for your children.  You would rather die yourself than to have them suffer.  Yet God allowed his son to die for us because he loved us so much that he wanted us to be cleansed from sin and drawn close to him.

Note: To use the time period before Easter known as Lent as an example; Many times we chose to give up something that is important to us, or that we spend a lot of time doing.  We are doing this not to make an atonement to God, but in honor and remembrance of Jesus’ sacrifice for us.  It is also to give us a feeling of what sacrifice is all about, and how hard it can be.  Therefore if you choose to give something up for Lent, it should be something which is challenging to give up, otherwise giving it up is not much of a sacrifice. You can chose to give something up in honor of God at any time of the year and for any period.  That is just a traditional time period.  The thing about doing this is that if the thing that you give up is something that you really enjoy, each time you are faced with the temptation of it you are also faced with the thoughts of God.  For my part, I have thoughts like, “oh, no, I can’t eat this right now”…then it goes through my head, “Why not?”  Then, “Oh, yeah, because I promised God that I will give up eating this item that I really crave for this particular time period, and I need to honor my promise to God!”  So you see how it is that each time you are confronted with temptation you are also confronted with thoughts of God.  It becomes a way to also put your focus more on God during that time period, all the while understanding more clearly how hard it is to give something up, and how hard it is to resist temptation.  And we are only tempted a little bit.  Jesus was tempted completely and thoroughly day in and day out for 40 days in the desert, and he was by himself. There was no one there to help him by talking to him and advising him how to overcome the temptation.  Ultimately, when we are being tempted we are alone, as we are the only ones who can decide whether to give in to a temptation or not.  What did Jesus use to overcome the tempter?  He used the word of God.  He battle the Devil with scripture.  An important reason to have God’s word written on our hearts and minds.

Read Genesis 17:1-18:15, Genesis 21:1-7  The story of God’s Covenant with Abraham.  This could alternately be called the first covenant, or the covenant of the Old Testament.  It is the covenant of Circumcision.  The Gospel is under the new Covenant which is a Covenant of grace, whereas the Covenant with Abraham was one of the flesh.  The continuation of that covenant of the flesh was passed down with the 10 commandments in the Old Testament after the Exodus from Egypt that became the covenant of the Law.

The Burden of the Law

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This is a pic of the statue of the lady of justice.  The statue is blind folded because Justice doesn’t care who you are or what they see.  It is only the weight of the evidence that they care about.  The sword in the other hand depicts the punishment that is forthcoming if the person on trial is found guilty.  God is not blindfolded, he knows exactly who you are, and he is a God of justice and grace.  Thank God that we don’t have to “get what we deserve” that he provided his grace for us.

Acts 15:11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

Romans 7:21-23  So I find this law at work, when I want to do good, evil is right there with me, for in my inner being I delight in God’s law, but I see another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within my members.

Read Acts 15:1-12, Philippians 1:7  This passage fills in the gap between the old testament and the new testament.  It states that the law was too big of a burden to bear, that the disciples Paul and Barnabas believe that since God settled the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles, through their faith, those who were not circumcised, that it is through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as the gentiles were saved, that there is no longer a difference between the gentiles and the jews in terms of how they are saved by grace.  Grace is for everyone.  If you believe in Jesus Christ as the son of God, then you will be saved. God’s grace is limitless.  

Read Genesis 20:1-7  The story of Abraham being deceptive about Sarah’s status as his wife.  Sarah was his half sister also, but in that time period rules about blood relationships and marriage were different, but rules about adultery were not different from today.  They may have been different because of the lack of understanding of genetic diseases, or it may be that there were not the number of genetic diseases back then that there are today.  Primarily because mankind was closer to the genetic perfection of the Garden of Eden, but that is just a supposition on my part.  They would certainly have known something about animal husbandry and diseases being passed down to the next generation.   Anyway, back to the point at hand….

Abraham lied to protect his own skin, and nearly caused Sarah to commit adultery.  He definitely wasn’t consulting God about his fears.  God visited Abimelech in a dream to tell him not to take Sarah as his wife because she was already married to Abraham.

God forgave Abraham for his deception and protected his marriage in spite of his lies. This is an example of the burden of law being too much for Abraham to deal with because of his fear for his life.  The law said that adultery was punishable by death.  Abraham couldn’t keep the law because he let his fear for his life overwhelm his sense of what was morally right and what was morally wrong.   God recognizes our inability to be perfect under the law, so he gave us his grace through Jesus Christ.

People generally have a view of God where they say, “Yeah, but if we just do more good things than bad things then when we die and go to heaven we should be let in because we are more good than bad.”  I once read something that really gives a wonderful illustration for the “more good than bad idea” and so I will share it with you.  I cannot tell you where it came from, or I would certainly credit the person as this is a great example.

There was once a man whose children wanted to go to see a movie later in the evening with some friends and they requested permission from their father.  While requesting to go it came out that the movie had some violence and a few swear words in it, but as the children explained to their father, “Dad it is only a little bit of violence and just a few bad words.”  Their father said, “well, then, let me have an hour or so to consider this and I will get back with you.”  An hour later he called his children together and asked them if they would like some of the fresh brownies that he had just finished baking.  These brownies looked delicious, so the children were really happy to say yes, but the father said, “there is just one thing about these brownies that you should know before you decide if you want one.”  The children said, “Really, and what’s that, because they look really great!”  The father said, “Well, these brownies have a special ingredient in them…I have added a bit of dog poop into them…but well, there’s only just a little bit of dog poop in them, so you won’t even notice it when you eat them.  Do you still want them?”  Well, it is pretty obvious that no matter how good those brownies looked, no one would want to eat them if they had even a small amount of dog poop in them.  The kids were the same.  So their father made his point quite well, that a little bit of something bad, is as bad as a lot of something bad.

God looks at sin that way too, a little bit of sin in you when you are trying to get into heaven and be close to God is as bad as a lot of sin.  A little bit is too much.  That is why just doing more good than bad things is not enough.  That is why we all need a savior, why we all need Jesus Christ…because by accepting him and his having gone to hell instead as your stand in, you have been wiped clean of guilt in God’s eyes.  (This does not give you a license to keep on sinning and it does not make you a perfect person…if it did then there would be lines of people trying to become Christian so they could be perfect on earth!  What it means is that you have taken full advantage of the grace that God has offered you through his son, Jesus Christ!  You are forgiven, not perfect.  Perfection does not need grace!  All human beings are imperfect, and thus require grace.

The whole idea of good outweighing the bad is a worldly view, not a Godly view of sin.

The God of the Living is the God of 2nd Chances

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Angel statue in the ruins at Ephesus, Turkey

Exodus 33:12-23 Moses found grace in God’s sight and told God that he would like to know him personally, and that if God will go with him he will leave that place, but if God won’t be with him, he will stay where God is.  God assured Moses that He was with him, and knew him by his name.  Also God, let Moses see his backside, when he went to get the ten commandments the second time, after the Golden Calf incident.  The second set was obviously the one which was put into the ark of the covenant.

Read Exodus 32 This is the story of the Golden Calf.  Notice that God allowed everyone a chance to repent and come back to him, and if they did then he forgave them, but those who didn’t accept his grace were put to death.  This is symbolic of Christianity’s grace, in which you live your life, and if you accept God’s grace, and recognize your sin, and ask for forgiveness, God is faithful to forgive you, and accept you back to Him.  However, if you don’t repent and accept God’s grace, then when your life is over it is too late, and you will die the eternal death,  instead of living in Heaven in the presence of God.  That is why we have this phrase:  “Where there is life…there is hope.”  Hope for redemption…hope for a return to the side of God.  There is all manner of hope when we are alive.

Truly death is a hopeless state of being, unless you are dead in Christ.  Mark 12:26-27 tells us that God is a God of the living and not the God of the dead.  Jesus says this in answer to the Pharisees’ question about the the woman who was married to one brother after another, so when they would be resurrected whose wife would she be?  Jesus starts the statement about God being a God of the living and not the dead with the statement that God spoke to Moses at the burning bush and said “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.”  Then Jesus makes the statement that “God is the God of the living and not the God of the dead.”  Reading that line in the Bible,  there is a detail that I always missed…  The statement made by God to Moses is in the present tense…not the past tense.  How does this fit with what Jesus is saying?  Jesus is saying that these people who in Moses’ time had been dead from the earth for more than 400 years were still alive in God and with God.  God was telling Moses the same thing, that although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were no longer alive on this earth, they were yet alive with Him.  We know this is what God meant because of Jesus statements in Mark 12:26-27…Logically speaking…God cannot be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the present tense if they are already dead…because He is not a God of the dead!

There is no other way to take this statement when they are combined like this because otherwise they would be in conflict.  Usually, when we read that God is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob..we don’t really hear the tense.  We think of this as God stating that he is an eternal and generational God.  We think that he is simple identifying himself to Moses in terms of: “I am the God of your ancestors…”

While it is true that God is the God of Moses’ ancestors, that is not what God was trying to convey to Moses.  As Jesus tells us, this is one of those “ears to hear, eyes to see, and heart to understand” moments.  A moment when you go…”ah ha!  So that’s what he means!”  or in Sherlock Holmes version, “By jove, Watson!  I think I’ve got it!”

So this is what it means when we are promised “eternal life in Christ Jesus” John 3:16.  Right about now, you are probably thinking, but Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were dead before Jesus was born, so how does that work for them?  Well, they lived under the old covenant, which was a covenant of the law…they followed what God had told them to do faithfully, and were obedient to him…they were saved and considered righteous by their faith.  (Genesis 15:6)  As the Apostle Paul said, they lived and died and never saw the promise fulfilled, but their faith was credited to them as righteousness…(Hebrews 11) Jesus said that the disciples were those who had seen and believed, but so much more honored is the person who has believed, but has not seen. (John 20:29)

We can rejoice in the fact that God is the God of the living…so much so that in the fact of our death we need have no fear as long as we are in Christ during our life…we will continue to be in Christ in our death.  My favorite verse in the Bible is this:  1Philippians 1:21  For me to live is Christ and to die is gain!  Paul goes on to explain that while living this life we can serve Christ, and when we are dead to this life we will be living with Christ so that as Christians we have nothing to lose either way.  This is the grace and promise of God.

Grace Defined

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The empty cross is a reminder of God’s grace toward us that he wipes our sins clean as though they never existed to him. 

Grace Defined:   Grace is when you are forgiven for something which you should have been punished for, and you have done nothing and there is nothing you can do to deserve not being punished.  It is simply a demonstration of grace that you continue to not be punished in spite of your wrongdoing.  You must accept the fact that you were forgiven, and that something happened in the person’s or God’s eyes which mitigated your sin, but was not of your own doing.  You cannot get to heaven by doing good things.  You only get there by accepting Jesus as your Savior who died for your sins, which mitigated them because he already paid for them.  Then by accepting Jesus, you are living under God’s grace.  You may still fall into sin, but as long as you continue to genuinely repent, and accept God’s gift of his son in your life, you will continue to be saved by Grace.  As you grow in grace you will find that your old self is put aside, and that many things which you enjoyed which were sinful are not things which you want to do now.  With God’s help and the Holy Spirit living within you, you won’t want to do things outside of God’s approval. In the old testament, people lived under the law of Moses, not under Grace.  However, there were times when God demonstrated grace towards old testament people.  For instance in Lot’s case, Abraham used intercessory prayer and God spared Lot as a righteous person out of Sodom.  The Old Testament shows us that grace can be a synonym for mercy.  Traditionally by Christian definition there is no grace without Jesus Christ.

Note:  When I say you may still fall into sin and you will repent…it is not to say that sin is acceptable if you just plan to repent later…the Bible clearly warns against doing that sort of thing.  

1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

Read:  Genesis 18:17-Genesis 19:29.  This is the story of Abraham praying for Sodom and Gomorrah.  It was evident that Lot was the only righteous man in Sodom.  Therefore, due to Abraham’s prayer Lot was spared along with his family.

Remember that Lot was only marginally righteous at best, he was Abraham’s nephew, and when given the choice of land he chose for himself the “green land” and left Abraham the desert.  This speaks to Lot’s character of greed, and his need for personal comfort which makes you believe that he probably didn’t go to any great lengths to discipline his children.  However, he did stand up for the angels in Sodom, when the crowd came to harass them. 

Thought questions:  Were there times when you were forgiven for things you did wrong when you weren’t expecting it.  How did that  make you feel?  Think about times when you have been unforgiving!  How did being unforgiving toward others affect you?  Did you feel bad or good about still harboring a grudge?  Was it easy to keep harboring a grudge, or was it hard work?  How do you feel when someone is unforgiving to you?  Grace, and mercy and forgiveness are all linked together!  God directs us to forgive.  We are to forgive repeatedly as God forgives us repeatedly.  Even when the person  doesn’t deserve forgiveness.  You forgive in obedience to God.  He forgives you repeatedly and you don’t deserve it either. 

Do you know that being unforgiving toward others and toward yourself stands in the way of your relationship with God and also stands in the way of your happiness and contentment in life?

Matthew 5:22-24  “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, ‘You good-for-nothing,’ shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ shall be guilty enough to go into the fiery hell.“Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.…(NIV)

Faithful Obedience and Total Commitment

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This is the house of Mary the Mother of Jesus in Ephesus.  John the Disciple took her there to live on top of a hill after Jesus’ commended her to his care from the cross, and at some time after Pentecost, there Mary and John lived out the remainder of their days in Ephesus.  I was skeptical but then I entered the house, and it made me cry.  Mary, of all people, would have best understood what Abraham was thinking when on his way to sacrifice Isaac. 

Read Genesis 22, Hebrews 11:17-19, Genesis 12:1, Genesis 15:6, Romans 4:20-21, Hebrews 7:27, Mark 8:34, Matthew 22:37-39, 1John 4:20, Matthew 12:50, Isaiah 43:18-19, Leviticus 18:21, Deuteronomy 12:31, Matthew 19:26-26

Matthew 19: 16-26 (KJV) And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?  And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and they mother, and Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.  And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.When his disciples heard it, they were exceedingly amazed, saying, Who then can be saved?But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Genesis 22 (Abraham/Isaac Sacrifice) Some time later God tested Abraham.  He said to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied.  Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love, and go to the region of Moriah.  Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains I will tell you about.”  Early the next morning Abraham got up and saddled his donkey.  He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac.  When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about.  On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.  He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the goy go over there.  We will worship and then we will come back to you.”  Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife.  As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”  “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.  “The fire and wood are here, “ Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together.  When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it.  He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood.  Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.  But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”  “Here I am,” he replied.  “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said.  “Do not do anything to him.  Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.”  Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns.  He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son.  So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide.  And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.” The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore.  Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me.”  Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba.  And Abraham stayed in Beersheba.  Some time later Abraham was told, “Milcah is also a mother; she has borne sons to your brother Nahor:  Uz the firstborn, Buz his brother, Kemuel (the father of Aram), Kessel, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph and Bethuel.”  Bethuel became the father of Rebekah.  Milcah bore these eight sons to Abraham’s brother Nahor.  His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also had sons:  Tebah, Gaham, Tahash and Maacah.

**God wants us to focus on him, so we must be willing to give away/ or set aside all we have and be obedient to God.  Let nothing or anyone come between you and God.

Just as a parent removes toys of children in order to discipline and teach them to pay attention and be obedient – God works likewise as our Father.

Here are some questions for you to think about: (I will publish the answers I have found through research and prayer the next day and you may compare to yours.  Please remember, these are questions to think about, my answers are not always the only way to look at it, you may disagree now and then and if you do, please feel free to do so.  You will learn just by wrestling with the questions.

1.) What is the first thing that God asks Abraham to do to demonstrate his faith to God?

2.) How does Abraham respond to God in this situation?

3.) We find that after many years Abraham and Sarah have the long awaited son of promise, Isaac.  They had to wait about 25 years from the time of the promise that they would have a son who would be the father of a great nation.  Now God is asking something else of Abraham.  God tells Abraham to go and sacrifice his son Isaac on an altar on Mt. Moriah (which later becomes Jerusalem).  What is Isaacs response to this?

4.) Why do you think God asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac?

5.) What do you think went through Abraham’s mind when God asked him to do this?

6.) How do we know that Abraham knew that everything would be all right even when he was heading toward Mt. Moriah?

7.) What is so unique about Abraham’s faith in this situation?

8.) For what reason did God give Abraham credit for righteousness?

9.) What does the Bible say about child sacrifice?

10.) What parallels do you see between Abraham’s offering Isaac, and God’s offering of Jesus?  How are they similar and how are they different?

Who is Melchizedek?

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This is a picture from the area of Ephesus as seen in modern times.  The Region is similar to where Lot and Abram settled, with many of the same plants Olives and Grapes growing as the main crops.

 

Read Genesis Chapters 13-15.

In this narrative of Abraham’s life we find more insight into Abraham’s character (he is still being called by his original name “Abram”).  Abraham and Lot have become very wealthy yet are still dwelling in tents, not “houses” as we know them.  This being the case the herdsmen of Abraham and the herdsmen of Lot have started to fight over grazing rights as the land cannot sustain them and also the original inhabitants of the land.  This is a big problem.  Since Abraham and Lot do not wish to fight with each other, they decide to separate.  Abraham said told Lot to take his pick of the land, that whatever Lot chose, Abraham would go the the other direction and settle.  Now, it turns out that Lot just naturally took the best greenest looking place that he could see, which happened to be the well watered plain of the Jordan river (right next to Sodom).

After a while due to his closeness to Sodom, Lot is embroiled in a war and taken as a captive.  Abram hears about this from a survivor who got free, and gets together 318 trained men born in his household to go after Lot and his family and all of Lot’s possessions and rescue them.  Abram follows them to Dan, and succeeds in one night to rescue Lot, his possessions and the women and other people who had been taken captive.

After this, Abram returns home.  The King of Sodom comes out to meet him in the Valley of Shaveh (aka The King’s Valley).  Then we have this mysterious person suddenly show up in the story by the name of Melchizedek (Mel-key-zed-ek) who is named as the King of Salem (aka Jerusalem).  Melchizedek is also identified as priest of the God Most High.  Anyway, Melchizedek brings out bread and wine and he blesses Abram, saying, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth, who delivered your enemies into your hand.”  Then an amazing thing happens…Abram gives him a tenth of everything.  The king of Sodom tells Abram to give him the people and to keep the goods for himself.  Abram tells him no, that he will accept none of the goods belonging to Sodom as he has made a promise to God not to so that the King of Sodom cannot say that “he made Abram rich”.  He would only take a share for the men who were with him and for his allies, and what his men had eaten.

After all of this we read in chapter 15 that God blesses Abram and promises him an heir and a land.  God tells Abram that he will get a “son from his own body.”  Abram had long given up on having a son from his own body and had declared his heir to be Eleazar who lived in his household.  God told him this was not going to be the case.

Now there is a lot of info about who people think Melchizedek actually is, but nothing is listed in the Old Testament other than this, and then in Psalm 110:4, which is identifying the Messiah as being from the order of Melchizedek and a priest forever.  We also read about Melchizedek again in Hebrews in the new testament. Hebrews chapters 5 thru chapter 7.

In Hebrews it is explained that Melchizedek is obviously the greater person when dealing with Abram because the lesser person is always blessed by the greater person.  We are also told that his name means “king of righteousness” then also, “king of Salem” which also means “king of peace.”  Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son  of God he remains a priest forever.  The writer of Hebrews (no one is really sure who wrote this letter to the Hebrews) goes on to remind us how great Melchizedek must have been that Abraham would give him a tenth of the plunder.  The writer also reminds us that in the Law handed down after Exodus to the Israelites the Levite priests were ordered to collect a tenth from their brothers, and that by virtue of being descended from Abram… Levi was in a sense present when Abram made the offering of a tenth to Melchizedek. (This is a reference to the idea of being present because the genes from Abram came to Levi through his genetic relationship with Abram.)

Then we are told that Jesus is a perfect priest in the order of Melchizedek one who has become a priest not based on regulation as to his ancestry (all priests per regulation after Exodus were from the tribe of Levi), but one who came to priesthood on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.  Meaning Jesus was to be a priest forever in this order of Melchizedek.  All of the former priests are human and fallible and had to first make an offering to atone for their own sins, before they could make an offering for the sins of the people.  Jesus is sinless, and therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. (NIV paraphrased)

Now the prevailing thought about who the Old Testament Melchizedek, King of Salem, would be is that he is Shem, son of Noah.  If that is the case, then he would definitely still be alive at the time of this story of Abraham’s encounter with Melchizedek…he was 390 years old when Abram was born, and lived to be 500 years old in total.  I am willing to follow this line of reasoning, as Noah would have died in Abram’s father Tera’s life time before Abram was born.  Shem would have been the elder of mankind who would be living at that time…we know that Noah was a man who raised grapes and made wine…Shem presented the group with bread and wine (I found this interesting in relationship to Jesus and the Last Supper).  Shem was the only person of Noah’s sons, who we are given a definite life length of in years, and can calculate that he would be there.  He also was not a Levitical priest, but would definitely be the “tribal” leader and a “priest” trained by Noah, and selected by God.  Considering his age and that he was the probably the oldest man alive at this time, his priesthood had been “forever” to the others alive on earth in Abram’s time.  Although we are given a finite age for him he still lived another 110 years after this meeting with Abram.  We are never told whether Abram met him again, or before this time.  If it really was Shem,  then he probably was very familiar with him, otherwise, we would be wondering how Abram would know to even make an offering to him.  So when we look at Jesus and compare him to Melchizedek, we know that Jesus was to be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.  It is hard to say whether the Melchizedek in the Old Testament was actually Shem who at some point since the flood had been give the name Melchizedek which I will mention again means “King of Righteousness”.  We are told by the author of the book of Hebrews that this Melchizedek is “Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life, like the Son  of God he remains a priest forever.”  We know that this cannot be Jesus because we are given very specific lineage for Jesus’ ancestry.  This Melchizedek is a precursor to Jesus’ priesthood because of his non-Levitical standing, and that he is the “Priest of the Most High God” he however, unlike Jesus has an end of life that is clearly given in the Old Testament.  Most of the time in Hebraic prophecy there is a two fold time component….a “this is going to happen soon in your life time so you can witness it” part of the prophecy, and a “this other part is going to happen later own, and you won’t live to see it” part of the prophecy.  The reason God does this with prophecy is so that the witnesses to the first part can attest to its fulfillment in documentation to the people who will witness the 2nd part of the prophecy..so that the people (like us who are awaiting Revelation) will be able to trust that the prophet is a true prophet of God.  It is to help us to tell the difference between a false prophet and a true prophet.  For the writer of the Hebrews the Old Testament and also for us, Melchizedek was certainly a person without a specific genealogy…we will not know exactly who he was beyond that he was a priest of the Most High God, Creator of the Universe, who lived and interacted with Abram.  Someone whom Abram thought enough of that he gave him an offering in gratitude for the victory God gave him when he went to rescue his nephew Lot.  Considering that Abram was God’s chosen, we really have to wonder…who exactly is Melchizedek of the Old Testament?  Logically speaking, Noah’s son Shem is an excellent candidate.

Abraham the Liar

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This is the bud of an apple tree…satan’s lie started it all…God’s revelation started with Abraham

7 Things God hates:

Proverbs 6:16-19 (NIV)

16 There are six things the Lord hates,
    seven that are detestable to him:
17         haughty eyes,
        a lying tongue,
        hands that shed innocent blood,
18         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
        feet that are quick to rush into evil,
19         a false witness who pours out lies
        and a person who stirs up conflict in the community.

 

Read Genesis Chapter 12:1-20 and chapter 20

Genesis 12 and 20 tell us that  Abraham was a liar.  Lying is listed as one of the things that God hates, so why did God choose him?  Oh, well, you might say, “he hadn’t lied yet when God chose him!”  or “it was only a little white lie, after all Sarah is his half sister in truth.” (After you get done thinking..ooh, yuck…he married his sister – just remember in Biblical days a half sister was okay for marriage probably because a person’s genetic code was still close to perfect, with no mutations!)  So, now, back to the problem at hand….why did God choose someone like Abraham?  (Oh and yes, I know that Proverbs were written after Genesis happened…still it is a statement of God’s character which is true and God does not change, so even in Abraham’s time God hated the same things, just as he hates lying still today!)

So we are back to, Why? Why? Why would God choose someone like Abraham?  To answer this question we have to back up the story a bit….

Abraham was just a normal guy, living his life in his homeland, and raising his dead brother’s son, Lot, as his inheritor because he and his wife, Sarah, had no children of their own.  One day, God comes to him and says, “Hey, Abram, I want you to pack up your family and go to this land far away and I will give it to you.  Also I will make you a great nation!”  What does Abraham do in the face of this request from God? He simply just goes and does exactly what God tells him he wants him to do….he packs up and goes off to this strange land, that he has never been to before, and doesn’t really even know how to get there, or what is waiting for him there!  He just goes, anyway!  He takes that step of faith when God asks him to do so.

At some point Abraham and Sarah are entering a land that Abraham thinks is a land that does not respect God, so he gives off his famous little white lie.  Not only that, he gets Sarah to lie right along with him.  So in Abraham’s mind, if the land is ungodly, then the people might kill him and take his wife because she is beautiful.  Abraham was more concerned about their survival than about the “sinfulness” of lying…and as I pointed out…the idea of exactly what sin was in God’s eyes had not been defined yet for Abraham…the law had not yet been formally given. So for Abraham, this lie was a survival strategy. He and Sarah are in a new land, an unknown land, where they are landless, and think that they are powerless.  Abraham doesn’t understand God’s power.

I think about the statement that Sarah is beautiful and then look at the age given for her at this time, and boy am I impressed!  She was 65 years old and yet, Abraham was still worried that she was so beautiful to look upon that someone might kill him to get her.  Isn’t that incredible, especially in light of the fact that there were no face lifts back then!  Yes, I know that the desert preserves things, but people don’t hold up as well in the desert as scrolls do!  Usually people get all dried out and ugly looking because the climate is so harsh!  It is hard to picture this, isn’t it?!!! Sarah’s continued beauty is probably also because of the lack of mutations in her genetics.  Genetically she was still close to the created perfection of Adam and Eve.

However, that is the truth told to us in the Bible…Abraham was scared…he felt that in a godless land God couldn’t or wouldn’t protect him….he was able to step forward in faith in a huge way, but then stumbled on his fears!

Abraham did not really understand God at all, did he?!! Abraham apparently viewed God as someone to listen to, and that God was promising him something…but he seemed to think that man could interfere with God’s plan for him.  So…he lied!

Did God abandon Abraham because he lied?  No, God took the situation in hand, and made sure that Abraham’s wife was protected, and that Abraham came away from the situation better off than when he started out.  Despite the fact that Abraham lied to protect his own skin…he was even willing to give up his wife to protect his own skin!

So in the end, God arranged things that Abraham got Sarah back, and continued his journey with God.  Abraham learned something about God…he learned that God would be there for him, even when he did the wrong thing, and even when he was scared.  He learned that God was more powerful than any man that Abraham would meet.  God could take a situation that seems out of control, and not only fix it and get it back on the right track, (which through Abraham’s free will it had gotten sidetracked) but God could also make that situation better than ever.

Why would God do this?  God is a God of promises, he is faithful to keep his promises, and more importantly for us to know:  God knew who Abraham was, inside and out…as it says in Genesis 18:19 (KJV):

1 For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

God chose Abraham because he “knows him” not just the outer person, but the inner person.  God knew that Abraham was descended from Shem the first of Noah’s son’s.  That is where we get the term “Semite” as a term synonymous with “Jew”.  Shem was one of the sons who covered his father’s nakedness. (Genesis 9:25-27) God knew that Abraham was “begotten” in the lineage of Noah…the term “begotten” means to be the same as, or sharing all the characteristics of the father you came from.  It is not just a term about who sired you.  It has much more meaning that just who your Dad was…it is a meaning that says, “they are me…they are all the things that I am” whenever, this term is used it is saying in our modern day terms, “they are a chip off the old block!”  God knew that Abraham was just like his father, who was just like his father, who was just like his father, and so on back to Shem who was just like his father, Noah.  God knew Abraham’s lineage, and he knew that Abraham would not only follow God, but he would teach his children to follow God.

God just needed to teach Abraham, who he (God) really was.  Abraham is the beginning of the story for all of us really.  He is the one who God chose to reveal himself to.  He is the one who God decided to use to show us all of his character and all of his plan for the salvation of man.  It all started with this simple man…who stepped out in faith, but then stumbled with a lie.

The point here is that although God despises lies, he is still able to use and develop someone who is faulty and sinful and lies.  Abraham doesn’t continue to lie…he turns from his lying ways, and learns to draw ever closer to God…he keeps stepping out in faith continually…to the point that the Bible calls Abraham who did something that God despises, “a righteous man.”