Abram Did It Man’s Way

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

“And Sarai said unto Abram, Behold now, the LORD hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her. And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai” (Genesis 16:2 KJV).

Abram “hearkened to the voice of Sarai—the verse does not say, “the voice of God!”

We do not know how long Abram waited to see the promised seed God would give him. The Bible gives us an estimate of at least 25 years (Abram entered the land of Canaan around age 75, Genesis 12:4 says, and Genesis 21:5 claims he was 100 when Isaac was born). Some people speculate that it could have been as much as 50 years (since Genesis 12:1-3 was spoken sometime back in chapter 11—how long that was, the Bible is silent). We will stick by the Bible and say at least 25 years. Friend, imagine waiting 25 years for God to do something He promised you He would do on your behalf!

Beloved, Abram was just as human as we are. He held out for about 10 years, before finally listening to his wife Sarai and having a child with her handmaid Hagar (see today’s Scripture—yea, Genesis 16:1-16). This was not something God commanded but rather something Sarai devised. As it turned out, it was not the “God-taking-so-long-to-work” that resulted in a problem; it was man’s “quick fix” that ultimately proved to be so detrimental to Abram and his family. That child he fathered apart from God’s will (Ishmael) now has descendants (Arabs) who persecute the child God gave him through promise (Isaac) and the little nation Israel descended from Isaac and grandson Jacob. This problem, starting out as a silly woman’s bad idea, has plagued the Middle East for 4,000 years now!

If we can learn anything at all, friends, it is this. It is better to wait on faithful God for decades, Him bringing a result that will actually work and last eternally; than depend on our fellow man, as frail as we, to develop a “quick fix” that will disappoint forever! Rather than doing it man’s way, let us do it God’s way!

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #5

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The offering in the context of today’s Scripture (verses 1-11) is spoken as though the nation Israel has already defeated the inhabitants of the Promised Land. It assumes that the Israelites will go in, conquer all their enemies, and enjoy the fruits of the land God has given to the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God through Moses presents Israel residing in the Promised Land as a fact, even though they will not actually enter it and fight those peoples until Joshua assumes leadership (after Moses dies). As before, God believes that He will give Israel the victory. He expects Israel to believe Him, and to worship Him by offering to Him that fruit when they do arrive in that land of Canaan.

Some 40 years prior, remember again, the Jews had complained that they were unable to enter the Promised Land and enjoy its plenteous food supply. The giants living in the land were just too powerful for them to overcome in war. (Of course, Israel overlooked the fact that God had just vanquished the mighty Egyptian armies, thousands of trained soldiers, using just the Red Sea!) With this new generation of Jews in today’s Scripture, they are to go into the land, dispossess it, and rejoice in God’s goodness. They did not deserve that harvest of enormous fruits, but God had simply given them because of His grace.

“And [JEHOVAH God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God: And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.

Our latest Bible Q&A: “Is Jesus Christ God’s ‘one and only Son’ or ‘only begotten Son?’

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #4

Monday, March 6, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

Forty years earlier, just before entering the land of Canaan, the Jews’ ancestors had spied it out. Numbers chapter 13 explains those scouts actions’: “[23] And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bare it between two upon a staff; and they brought of the pomegranates, and of the figs. [24] The place was called the brook Eshcol, because of the cluster of grapes which the children of Israel cut down from thence. [25] And they returned from searching of the land after forty days. [26] And they … came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land. [27] And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.”

Sadly, verses 28-33 say that 10 of the 12 scouts voiced fear: they doubted Almighty God would give Israel victory over the land’s gigantic residents! Disbelieving and discouraged Israel was thus banned from entering that wonderful land of God. Now, in the context of today’s Scripture, that unbelieving generation has died. A new generation of Israelites will go in and possess that land. That expression “floweth with milk and honey” (Numbers 13:27) appears with today’s Scripture—“And [God] hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey” (verse 9). Canaan is an agricultural paradise: its grape clusters require two men to carry them!

Now, with the firstfruits offering of today’s Scripture, God wants Israel to admit He gave them the military victory to enjoy that fruit of that land….

Rejoicing in God’s Goodness #3

Sunday, March 5, 2017

And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you (Deuteronomy 26:11 KJV).

Israel is to “rejoice in every good thing which the LORD [her] God hath given unto [her].” What are these “good things?”

The special offering delineated in today’s Scripture and its context serves to instruct Israel concerning a most basic principle. Notice: “[1] ….the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance… [2] …thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee,…. [3] …I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us…. [8] And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: [9] And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey. [10] …I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me…. [11] …rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee….”

Friend, do you see the constant emphasis on what the LORD (JEHOVAH God) has done for Israel? By offering this sacrifice, the Jews are reminded of God’s provisions for them. They had not gained that land by their own efforts. Simply in His grace God had promised it to their father Abraham many centuries earlier (Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 13:14-17; Genesis 15:1-21).

Additionally, their father Jacob and his family were ready to die of starvation in Canaan, but God had sent Joseph into Egypt ahead of time so Israel (a tribe of 70 souls) would migrate southward and survive (Genesis chapters 46-47). Eventually, they became Egyptian slaves. The Israelites could not deliver themselves from harsh Egyptian bondage. Forty years prior to today’s Scripture, Almighty God had given their ancestors victory over Egypt and Satan. They had refused to enter the Promised Land and died in the wilderness. However, now, in today’s Scripture, 40 years later, this new generation of Jews can enter God’s land, where Abraham had once lived, to now enjoy its bountiful harvests….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How is Joshua a high priest in Zechariah 3:8 if…?

Jacob’s Oversight

Saturday, January 21, 2017

“And Jacob said unto Pharaoh, The days of the years of my pilgrimage are an hundred and thirty years: few and evil have the days of the years of my life been, and have not attained unto the days of the years of the life of my fathers in the days of their pilgrimage” (Genesis 47:9 KJV).

Jacob felt cheated. He had lived 130 years, yes, but according to him, days “few and evil.” Why this strange assessment?

Well, Jacob had a point. The rest of the verse said he did not attain to the days of the years of the life of his fathers in the days of their pilgrimage. That is, the Bible says Jacob’s father, Isaac, had lived to age 180 (Genesis 35:28) and his grandfather, Abraham, had died at age 175 (Genesis 25:7). So, here was Jacob, standing before Pharaoh, “only” 130 years old, supposing his death was near. He was 50 years shy of his father’s age at death, and 45 years short of his grandfather’s death-age.

Jacob’s life abounded with grief. Exiled, he escaped his vengeful brother Esau and hid for 20 years (Genesis chapters 28-31). Meanwhile, his father-in-law Laban cheated him out of a wife (Genesis 29:18-30). Laban swindled him out of wages 10 times (Genesis 31:7). Jacob’s daughter, Dinah, was raped; his sons reacted rashly (Genesis 34:1-31). He lost his wife Rachel in childbirth (Genesis 35:16-20). He lost his son Joseph, supposedly to an animal attack (Genesis 37:29-35). Jacob’s family experienced persistent, severe famine (Genesis 42:1,2; Genesis 43:1,2). He temporarily lost his son Simeon to Egyptian imprisonment (Genesis 42:24-36). His youngest son, Benjamin, had been briefly taken (Genesis 42:36; Genesis 43:1-14). Jacob certainly had a tough life!

Twenty years after separation, Jacob was miraculously reunited with Joseph in Egypt. Joseph was able to provide his whole family with food. In chapter 49, Jacob dies. According to Genesis 47:28, he lived 17 years in Egypt (or 17 years after today’s Scripture). Jacob died at age 147. Yes, he fell short of his father’s age and his grandfather’s age. Still, Jacob had seen their God work in a mighty way they had not seen. Planning 20 years in advance, God had saved Israel—Abraham and Isaac’s descendants, a tribe of some 70 souls—from starvation! 🙂

But Not For Ever

Saturday, November 19, 2016

“And I will for this afflict the seed of David, but not for ever” (1 Kings 11:39 KJV).

Such bad news… albeit it is only temporary!

Friend, at some point in your association with Christian circles, you have surely heard the expression “the divided Jewish kingdom.” What had begun as a small tribe with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, exploded into a nation of at least two million people escaping Egypt. Moses, followed by Joshua, and then a dozen judges, all governed Israel for about four centuries. Samuel the Priest-Prophet took over, before Israel demanded the LORD through Samuel give them a king like every other nation had. Saul was Israel’s first king, followed by David, and then David’s son Solomon. Today’s Scripture was spoken in the latter part of Solomon’s reign. The kingdom of Israel will soon be split in two!

King Solomon, although (famously) endowed with divine wisdom, was nevertheless a sinner, a man prone to failure like us all. He had an insatiable desire for women, especially foreign women, those from heathen (idolatrous) backgrounds. Eventually, he had relations with 1,000 (!) women, all of who enticed him with their respective idols. Satan had successfully found a “hole” in Israel’s spiritual life, and he exploited it as much as possible. Read the 38 verses previous to today’s Scripture. While it broke the LORD’S heart to see David’s son so deceived, He had to punish wicked Israel!

The Prophet Ahijah came to Solomon’s servant, Jeroboam, with some shocking news. JEHOVAH God was giving him (Jeroboam) the ten northern tribes of Israel (verses 26ff.—known as “Israel”). For David’s sake, God promised to leave to his sons the two southern tribes and Jerusalem the capital (collectively called “Judah,” after the leading tribe). As soon as Solomon died several years later, Jeroboam returned from Egypt and took over Israel’s 10 northern tribes. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, was made king of the southern kingdom. Israel’s once-united government had lost its Davidic dynasty. But not for ever,” JEHOVAH’S promise echoes.

“JESUS… the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: and he shall reign over the house of Jacob [all 12 tribes] for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:31-33).

His Son #3

Friday, October 21, 2016

“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:1-3 KJV).

What can today’s Scripture teach us?

In a fragmentary fashion and in assorted ways, JEHOVAH God used the prophets to speak to Israel’s patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Jacob’s 12 sons, David, Solomon, et cetera—about His purpose and plan for them. The Book of Hebrews is written to the descendants of Israel’s fathers. It has no relation to us Gentiles or the Church the Body of Christ. Never forget, friends, the Book of Hebrews continues the prophetic program that began in the “Old Testament.” We study Hebrews, but are always mindful it does not speak to or about us.

According to the writer of Hebrews, penning during the Acts period, the God who spoke to Israel’s fathers by the “Old Testament” prophets is not speaking by them anymore. He has spoken to Israel by His Son. As Jesus Himself declared, “The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it” (Luke 16:16). John the Baptist’s ministry was a transition, or “bridge,” from the Law and the Prophets, to the earthly ministry of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. God’s earthly kingdom, long preached by the “Old Testament” prophets as coming, is on the verge of being established during Christ’s earthly ministry. (Hebrews, written during Acts, looks back at Matthew through John.)

“Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand [near]: repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mark 1:14,15). That Gospel of the Kingdom was simply Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16)….