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…?

Given Versus Came #6

Monday, February 27, 2017

“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17 KJV).

One is distant; the other is near.

While we have merely scratched the surface, we conclude this devotionals arc by reading the context: “[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] The same was in the beginning with God…. [14] And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. [15] John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred before me: for he was before me. [16] And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace. [17] For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” Israel did not need Law—hundreds of rules and regulations she could never keep. She needed grace, “grace for grace,” abounding grace—what God would do to make her His people (see verses 12,13).

Long before Israel demanded the Mosaic Law, God had promised her father Abraham that He would make of Abraham’s seed a nation of people for His name (see Genesis 12:1-3). The New Covenant qualifies Israel to receive the blessings of that Abrahamic Covenant. Moreover, that New Covenant cancels the sin debt accumulated under the Old. In the New Covenant, God puts His Spirit in the Jews and causes them to keep His laws. I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people (Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10). “And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them (Ezekiel 36:27).

We see here a glimpse of Israel functioning as God’s “kingdom of priests” in the Millennium, Christ’s Second Coming onward. Messiah’s Law is much stricter than the Mosaic Law (see Matthew chapters 5-7). However, the New Covenant, unlike the Old, provides Israel with forgiveness for her past transgressions and the ability (indwelling Holy Spirit) to never, ever to repeat them!

Our latest Bible Q&A: “What does the King James Bible mean—‘reins?’

God’s Perfect Timing

Saturday, December 17, 2016

“But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4,5 KJV).

As today’s Scripture indicates, the birth of Jesus Christ was no accident—God planned its exact moment from eternity past.

When God placed the first man, Adam, on earth, He purposed that man would “subdue [control] it,” to “have dominion” over it and everything on it (Genesis 1:28). Nevertheless, Adam sinned by joining Satan in his rebellion against God. Because of sin, man was now unable to accomplish on earth what God originally created him to do. God left the human race a promise, however, that there would come a Man, who would do what Adam failed to do. Instead of cooperating with God’s adversary like Adam had, this “seed of the woman” would “bruise [Satan’s] head” (Genesis 3:15).

Traveling up through the Scriptures, we see how God lays the groundwork for that seedline. In Genesis 12:1-3, or 2,000 years after Adam’s sin, we read God’s covenant with Abraham, that through Abraham a nation, Israel, will be born, and salvation and blessing will flow to the Gentiles through Israel. The seed of the woman becomes the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16).

In 2 Samuel 7:12-16, and 1,000 years after Abraham, we read of God’s covenant with King David, that “his seed” will inherit his throne and reign forever. The seed of the woman and of Abraham becomes the seed of David.

About 1,000 years after David, Matthew 1:1 speaks of Christ’s birth, and declares, “…Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” This is exactly what God had promised for thousands of years!

Jesus Christ’s birth was not some haphazard event of nature. God the Father had preplanned the exact moment of the incarnation of His Son, Jesus Christ (today’s Scripture). Over a period of some 4,000 years, the three members of the Godhead worked to bring about the birth of man’s Redeemer, a plan they had even before man was created! Amazing!

While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks #3

Saturday, December 10, 2016

“And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:13,14 KJV).

The fifth verse and the final verse of the classic Christmas carol paraphrase today’s Scripture.

“Thus spake the angel and forthwith
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels, praising God, and thus
Addressed their joyful song:
‘All glory be to God on high,
And to the earth be peace;
Good will henceforth from Heaven to men
Begin and never cease
Begin and never cease.’”

People who know nothing about the Bible carelessly complain that the God of the Old Testament was a “bigot.” They dislike that He dealt almost exclusively with Israel, having almost no dealings with Gentiles. Additionally, they whine that Jesus was a “racist” because He said that His earthly ministry was limited to Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24). What fools and blasphemers!

When JEHOVAH promised Abraham that He would make of him a great nation, that nation was to be the channel of God’s salvation and blessing to reach all the world’s (Gentile) nations. “…[I]n thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). Rebuking ignorant Nicodemus, Jesus said of Israel’s earthly kingdom: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Jesus also said, “…[R]epentance and remission of sins should be preached in [my] name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). He told His apostles to baptize and teach all nations(Matthew 28:19). God was dealing with and converting Israel, that redeemed Israel go to all nations on His behalf when Jesus became their King!!! Read Zechariah 8:20-23 and Isaiah 60:1-3 (yet future).

Hence, the angels sang at Jesus’ birth, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” God wanted everyone“good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people” (verse 10)—to have a relationship with Him in Israel’s kingdom. Of course, Israel’s kingdom is still future. Romans 11:11-13 says salvation is coming to us Gentiles without Israel, through Paul’s ministry and Paul’s Gospel (Christ’s finished crosswork).

NOTE: I want to say a special “Happy Birthday” to my Mom, who will no doubt read this. Thank you for being faithful to Father God in leading me to Jesus Christ and teaching me the Scriptures all those years ago! 🙂