Thursday, June 12, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Jesus was a Jew. Who knew?

More precisely: Jesus chose to be a Jew. In fact, Jesus invented Jews. I believe Jesus invented everything. Jesus is the Creator.

As Jew, Jesus perfectly fulfilled the Law and then became the perfect sacrifice, as only He could do as the perfect Man. To understand the New Testament better, we need to know what it means to be a Jew, and Jewish scholars have written books on the subject. But, what does the Bible say about what it means to be Jewish? And what laws came even before the giving of the Law? Murder comes to mind. Noah was commanded not to murder. And Noah came years and years before Abraham. To understand being a Jew and being a Christian, we need to know Abraham’s story, because there is a New Testament verse about Christians being Abraham’s. (spiritual children)

Galations 3:25- “But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all ov you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise…(4:4) But when the fullness of time came, God sent forth His Son, born of woman, born under the Law, in order that He might redeem those who are under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’”

Quickverse shows that Abraham appears 309 times in 277 verses starting in Genesis 11.

The book of Genesis telescopes down to Abraham’s family. Abraham was born Abram and in Genesis 12 the Lord said to Abram: Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you ALL the families of the earth shall be blessed. (emphasis mine)

The very next verse tells us that Abram went forth as the Lord had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. Now Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran. Abram’s father, Terah, died in Haran, and Abram is now the head of his family.

God spoke to him. Amazing, eh?

Seventy-five years old, too.
God’s promise includes: a special, specific land, the promise of descendants, a nation, blessings, a great name, reputation, and how GOD will make him great, prosperous, and a blessing and how GOD will protect him and his descendents. And the promise that all the families of the earth shall be blessed---for from Abraham will come the future, promised Messiah, Redeemer King.

It is interesting to me that God did not slap a lot of rules and laws on Abraham first thing. First, God calls him out of his old culture, away from the influences of his old family of origin. God is about to make something new. And in God’s wonderful sense of humor, promises him descendants and then make it obvious that even the child of Promise will be a miracle from God when Abraham is one hundred years old, and has the new name God gives Him. The Jewish race is truly unique, special, blessed. And with this comes satanic attack, as the enemy will seek to destroy the Promised One all the way to the Cross.

The story of Abraham from age 75 to 100 is a fascinating one. See Genesis 11 to 18.

Genesis 12 Abraham and his wife and nephew and entourage set out for the land of Canaan. And we learn that Abram passed through the land as far as the site of Shechem, to the oak of Moreh. And God appears to Abram and restates the promise: “To your descendants I will give this land.” So Abram built and altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him.

This oak of Moreh will be the future burial site of first Sarah, then Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Altar building and worship harkens back to the beginning, and it was the way God showed Adam and Eve how to worship. Abel to Noah knew how. The altar with a perfect lamb forshadowed the future Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.

Abram proceeded from Shechem to “east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, …and there he built an altar to the Lord and called upon the name of the Lord.”

After a detour to Egypt and flunking a test, Genesis 13 tells us the story of Lot, and how Lot settled in the cities of the valley, and moved his tents as far as Sodom. Genesis 13:13 says: “Now the men of Sodom were wicked exceedingly and sinners against the Lord.”

There is a topic all by itself. Wickedness existed and sinners are against the Lord. Too often we gloss over the subject of sin. Sin is against God. God can’t stand sin, and judges sin. The Dead Sea is the covering for what was a beautiful, green valley. And while Genesis telescopes down to the family of Abraham, God still cares and is very much involved in the whole world. God intervenes when sin reaches a point that a civilization or country or city becomes self-destructive. We need to remember that as a nation under God. There is God’s Way of doing things, and all else is sinful. Our country was founded on Biblical principles. We are responsible to know what the Bible says. And as Christians, we need to know why we no longer worship altar-style.

Genesis 13:18 says that Abram moved his tent and came and dwelt by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and there he built an altar to the Lord.

Oaks of Mamre versus the Oaks of Moreh---can someone help me here? Geographically? Which one becomes the burial place? I think it’s the Oaks of Mamre.

God told Abram to walk about the land, and promised that all the land which you see would be God’s gift to him and his descendants forever. The true Holy Land. And it’s a much bigger piece of real estate than the Jews today know. In God’s perfect timing, God will restore, and bring peace when He comes back to rule. I like to think that God enjoyed showing Abraham this special land. And Abraham camped out on it his whole life.

Abraham did not build cities as had been the custom. And from Abraham’s tents to God tabernacling way before a temple is built, all in God’s perfect ways and perfect timing.

Genesis 14 tells us about Abram’s army and rescue of captive Lot and the story of Melchizedek, king of Salem.

Why didn’t God make Melchizedek the first Jew? The Bible says that Mel was a King Priest of God Most High. When Mel meets Abram, bringing bread and wine, he blesses Abram and proclaims: “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.” And Abram gives Mel a tenth. A tithe.

Mel reminds Abram that everything---success, protection, possessions, purpose, comes from God Most High.

We will see more about Melchizedek in the New Testament as in the “order of Melchizedek” so his lesson and example is not over. Some believe Mel was Shem who could have still been alive during Abram’s time. (Noah’s three sons, Shem, Ham and Japeth. Abram was a descendant of Shem)

Genesis 15 After these things the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision saying, “Do not fear, Abram, I am a shield to you; Your reward shall be very great.”

Abram brings up his childlessness, and asks if Eliezer of Dmaascus could be his heir, but God says, NO. God says that your heir will come forth from your own body. And God took him outside and said: “Now look toward the heavens, and count the stars, if you are able to count them…so shall your descendants be.”

The very next verse, Genesis 15:6 says: “Then he believed in the Lord; and He (God) reckoned it to him as righteousness. And He (God) said to him: “I am the Lord who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”

Next comes the curious question Abram asks, and God’s even curious-er directions to “Bring Me a three year old heifer, and a three year old female goat, and a three year old ram, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.”

Abram obeys, and God warns Abram that “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But, I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

And we see in Genesis 15:17 the miracle of the smoking oven and flaming torch pass between the pieces of the animals Abram had cut in two. God gets very specific with the boundaries of the Promised Land: “From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates…”

As you and I know when we look at a map, this land includes what is now Egypt and as far as Iraq. I’d be pretty nervous if I lived there because God never lies. God is going to fulfill this Promise in His Perfect Time.

Even after all these visions, talks, promises, miracles, and proclamations, in Genesis 16, we read how Abram’s wife gets the bright idea of taking the literal, “from your body” to mean not her, but maybe Hagar?? And the gift of Arab nations that plague Israel to this day. Thanks, Sarah. If only Abram had asked God first before acting on the voice of his wife.

God is so gracious to Hagar, and shows that He can work no matter what crazy ideas we humans come up with. God turns cursing to blessing in how He handles the Hagar situation. God appears to Hagar, and I think we will see her in heaven someday, don’t you?

Genesis 17 Now when Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said to him: “I am God Almighty; walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you, and I will multiply you exceedingly.” And Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying, “As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be the father of a multitude of nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be ABRAHAM; for I will make you the father of a multitude of nations. And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you andkings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasing covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” God said further to Abraham, “Now 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 among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. And every male among you who is eight days old shall be circumcised throughout your generations…and Sarah shall be her name…I will bless her, and indeed I will give you a son by her. Then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” Then Abraham fell on his 99 year old face and laughed, and said in his heart, “will a child be born to a man one hundred years old?? And will Sarah, who is 90 years old, bear a child?”

Abraham even asks about Ishmael but God says, NO. God says again that Sarah is the one --- Genesis 17:19 “But God said, NO, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac (means laughter) and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.” God makes promises about Ishmael, but again, God repeats, that “MY covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah will bear to you at this season next year.”

Let’s review: God tells Abraham that he will have a miracle baby, a son, and what he is to call him. God names Isaac. God tells Abraham to cut off his foreskin and the foreskin of all males over eight days old (NEVER FEMALES) and every time a circumcised Jew sees his circumcised member, he is to know that he is special, a descendant of Abraham, a miracle baby, set apart, under a special covenant with God.

Jesus was a Jew. Jesus was descended from Abraham through Sarah. Jesus was circumcised on the eighth day.

Abraham became a Jew at age 99. Jesus was born a Jew.

I'm so thankful God uses flawed, old people. I'm so glad God repeats Himself. I am so glad God gives us these stories that never get old, this hope, and these promises.

Next, in Genesis 18 comes one of my favorite stories. But, we will leave that for tomorrow.

1 comment:

jennifer said...

Joyce, I read about half and had my kiddos at my elbow the whole time, NEEDING. I love them but summer time is not condusive to reading blogs! I'll be back later on, tonight when they are asleep!

What I read was SO GOOD. I want to be able to concentrate.

I am also going to tell Tiz to check it out!

Be blessed.

Jennifer