Why Are Ye Fearful…?

Fear is an emotion we all face at times.  There are some who seem to be fearful much of their lives.  I have known some who were fearful of leaving their home, or new home for a night or so; for fear that someone might break in and steal their possessions or do harm to their home.  Now, there is a needless fear.

It would probably surprise us what many people are fearful of.  There are some parents who are constantly fearful that their child or children will fall down, get hurt, be hurt by someone else; well you get the picture.  Children need to learn, and their falling, experiencing pain is part of growing up.  Fear can be dangerous to one’s health.

We live in an era or time when people are fearful of what the economy will do; or how the stock market will perform.  In this post today I want us to look at two portions of Scripture.  First from the New Testament we hear from an event in the life of Jesus’s disciples and the words of Jesus;

“And when He was entered into a ship, His disciples followed Him.  And, behold, there arose a great tempest in the sea, insomuch that the ship was covered with the waves: but He was asleep.  And His disciples came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, ‘Lord, save us: we perish.’  And He saith unto them, ‘Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?’ Then He arose, and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.  But the men marvelled, saying, ‘What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey Him!’”  Matthew 8:23-27 (KJV)

Jesus and His disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee, Jesus is asleep in the boat, a storm comes up, Jesus remains asleep undaunted by the storm; and His disciples are fearful.  Had they forgotten what Jesus has told them?  Do they not know who He is?  Of course it is a normal part of life to get fearful in the midst of a storm; at least for many people it is.  However, when you have the Son of God with you, having heard His words; what is there to fear?  Some wise Christian from years ago said, “If we fear God we do not need to fear anything else”.  Jesus said to His disciples “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?”, then He “Rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a great calm.”  Now, do you suppose that calm was just the ceasing of the wind and the seas?  I think not.  The calm entered the hearts of His disciples as well.

To continue of this thought lets look into the lives of Abraham and Sarah from Genesis;

“And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as He had spoken.  For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.  And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.  And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.  And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.  And Sarah said, ‘God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.’  And she said, ‘Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? For I have born him a son in his old age.’  And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.” Genesis 21:1-8 (KJV)

Now Abraham and Sarah had been promised a son by God.  They had gone to extraordinary means to try and accomplish God’s will in their own way.  First by the surrogacy using Hagar Sarah’s servant.  As a result of this Ishmael was born and Sarah was despised by her servant, and when God did give them the son He had promised this promised son was hated by Ishmael.  Where did this deed come from.  It seems to have been spawned by fear.  Fear that they needed to do something which God had not commanded, nor commended.

Some might think, “Well where does faith fit into the picture with Abraham and Sarah?”  Despite their actions they did believe they were aiding God in giving them a child; but it still was contrary to His will.  Yet God uses this fear and its fruit to later discipline His children.

They believed God in their lives, and God honored their faith.  In Genesis 15:6 we are told of Abram, “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.”

The word for today.  No matter what the devil and life may throw at you; do not fear for God is the Master of your life.  You do not need to use schemes, or the wiles of the world to accomplish the works of God.  He works His plan and accomplishes His will for our good and His glory.  When we do our own plan, our own way, “The chickens will come home to roost”.

“Why are ye fearful…?”

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Will to Discern

God had promised Abraham and Sarah a child; not through a surrogate; not be adoption, but one of their flesh and bone.  One day as Abraham was possibly contemplating this promise of God he and Sarah have some visitors show up:

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way.  And the LORD said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?  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.’  And the LORD said, ‘Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.’  And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.”  Genesis 18:16-22 (KJV)

There are three of what the book of Genesis calls men, but Abraham recognizes one as being the LORD Himself.  So these other two men must have been angelic escorts.  For the LORD of the universe to appear as a man is almost unheard of unless you know of Jesus, of course.

You will notice in the text before the text above there were further promises of a son for the two; the Patriarch of our faith, and his wife Sarah.  Then the two “Men” departed and went toward Sodom; and Abraham went with the three for a little distance, then the LORD considers telling, and does tell Abraham what He is about to do in Sodom and Gomorrah.  Abraham pleads for the cities, and probably due to Lot’s being present in the city of Sodom, so Abraham prays for mercy for the cities in the behalf of any that are righteous in the cities getting all the way down to only 10 people (18:32).

With the passage above we see two of the “Men” angels go on without the LORD.  One thing we can see by this is that the LORD knew Abraham, and Abraham knew the LORD.  That is important for us to know.  One can know the LORD; know all one can know about Him, and still not be known by the LORD.  Now is the time to have the will to discern.  Abraham had the discernment that this was truly the LORD.  He heard the LORD’s word, believed it and pleaded his case before Him.

Note that it was the LORD who came to Abraham and entrusted to him that which He was about to do in the matter of the judgment of  a people.  Is Abraham angry that God would consider such a thing?  It sure does not seem that way to me.  He discerns that God is worthy and has cause to pass judgment upon the people.  Sometimes I do not see that some Christians have the right heart for God in His judgments today.  We hear far too often, “Now, God wouldn’t do that.  He does not judge in that fashion.”  O, really.  Where do you read that in Scripture?  That kind of judgment is based on sinful human emotion, comparing God with their own feelings rather than the truths of Scripture.

We have lost the Will to Discern.  Consider the following verses from Matthew’s gospel:

“Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.  Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?  Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.  A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.  Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  Matthew 7:15-20 (KJV)

Jesus teaching us to beware of false prophets.  False prophets, false teachers, “In sheep’s clothing” teaching things about God that are not true.  The word of God is true, and any teacher, preacher, or spiritual leader who teaches that God does not or will not judge is false; and should not be heard.

God is holy, righteous and just; and because He is love; He also must judge the righteous judgment.  He will not allow His children to sin successfully.  “By their fruits you shall know them.”  Do not throw the words of Jesus (“Judge not…”) at those who know the word of God, because we are also told to make judgments; such as “By their fruits you shall know them”.  You will be putting yourself on a mighty thin thread when  and if you do.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Where Your Treasure Is

“And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, ‘Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.’  And Abram said to the king of Sodom, ‘I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, ‘I have made Abram rich:’ save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.'”  Genesis 14:21-24 (KJV)

“Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21 (KJV)

In our verses today we have Abram (Later Abraham) having returned from a victorious battle to retrieve some captives, his nephew Lot and family, and others with goods that had also been taken by the captors.  The king of Sodom wishes to bless Abram with the “goods”, but Abram refuses, confessing to the king that his blessing comes from the Most High God (El ElYon).  He refused reward for himself, lest the king should say “I have made Abram rich”.  Abram was in fact already “rich”, yet realized where his blessing came from.  Do we?

In Matthew’s gospel Jesus tells us, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also”.  What do we cling to?  What do we cherish most?  Is it our children?  Our grandchildren?  Our income; or lack of income?  What holds our hearts and minds?  We all have a treasure.  However, what is our treasure?

The treasure that matters most for eternity should be the Most High God, and His Son Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Evil; After the Flood

We live “After the flood”.  Was that news to you? 🙂   We all know that.  The flood did not eradicate evil; is what I am saying.  It did however stop the progressive flow of evil that was going on and continuing in the days before.  God would continue to have a people, a nation and a Deliverer and Saviour for His people and the world.

As we look at Scripture from my reading for today I read;

“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, ‘Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, ‘Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’ And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, ‘Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’ So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.” Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV)

In this passage of Scripture, and several years following the flood we see the people gathered together in one place; contrary to God’s command of “Multiplying and filling the earth”.  This in effect was a rebellious act against the Creator; and if the people were not going to cover the earth, then God would do it by confusing their languages.

There is only one way for the people of earth to be one in God, Peace and Unity; and that is through Jesus Christ. It is not through building monuments of human effort such as statues, churches, mosque, temples, or skyscrapers, etc.  Nor, is religion equal to the task.  It is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus that will bring us together, keep us together for eternity.

Pray for peace.  Yes!  First pray for what God has given us guidance and command to pray for; and that is “the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

When the Sons of God Marry the Daughters of Men

In the book of Genesis there is a paragraph of mysterious Scripture.  I say mysterious, because, of the various interpretations that have been given of it.  My interpretation is not an uncommon one, but I do not believe it is the most popular among us.  I think you understand my interpretation by the following commentary on the verses.

“And it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born unto them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose. And the LORD said, ‘My Spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.’  There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.  And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.   And it repented the LORD that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.  And the LORD said, ‘I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth Me that I have made them.’  But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”  Genesis 6:1-8 (KJV)

I will be looking at the “sons of God” as being the sons of Adam who were following the commands of the LORD as much as they were empowered to do so.  However they were enticed by the beauty, and affections of the “daughters of men” who were the daughters of the ungodly; possibly men who were engulfed by evil in so called magical arts, reading the stars, etc.  Christians of today; for the most part; know the commands given by Paul, and from the Old Testament; “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14ff).

The lesson is also taught in the commandments dealing with farming.  See Deuteronomy 22:10; because the ox and the donkey have two completely different mindsets.  The same is true with a believer and an unbeliever.  There will be often excruciating pains and problems related to the differences.  Marriage is tough enough without entering into already fully divided.

There is warning given in the above printed verses that “My Spirit shall not always strive with man…”  Which seems; at least to me; to be saying their time is short.  That mankind of that day had only 120 years until judgment would come on them.  The wickedness had grown so monstrous that the holy and righteous One could not put up with it any longer; yet He gives them time to change their ways.

Some may ask, “What were the “Giants in the earth in those days…?”  They were possibly those wicked men who were known and popular for their demonism, witchcraft, spells, and other kinds of evil practices.  The imaginations of mankind had run wild.  Could we not say that also of the day in which we live?  I certainly think so.

More and more professing Christians see no wrong in participating the speech, behavior and acts of the world around them.  Christians are marrying the “daughters of men”, joining in the practices, and at the same time attempting  to worship the Creator.

When the sons of GOD marry the daughters of men evil increases.  Good is diminished.  The Word of God and the gospel of Jesus Christ is neglected, rejected, and despised.

Christian we might be complaining of losing our rights as citizens of the United States of America; however, we need to be more concerned that we have lost our power with God.  We have lost that because we have joined ourselves with “the daughters of men”, the unrighteous and the unholy.

Thank GOD for His grace.  Just as Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD; so too do we all as we come to Him through His Son Jesus.  I leave this for you to muse on.  God loves you the way you are; however, He loves you too much to leave you the way you are.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Adam’s Race and God’s Word

In the fall of Adam that could have been the end of the human race.  The Creator could have not only cast the man and woman out of the beautiful and bountiful, sustaining garden; but He could have wiped them from history and therefore the whole human event would have been ended.  God, however, loved Adam and Eve, provided them garments made from animal skins (Genesis 3:21) for covering, and drove them from the garden.

Then, we see…

“This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made He him; male and female created He them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam, in the day when they were created. And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: and the days of Adam after he had begotten Seth were eight hundred years: and he begat sons and daughters: and all the days that Adam lived were nine hundred and thirty years: and he died.” Genesis 5:1-5 (KJV)

and we find that the Creator has a plan for the whole race of human kind.  “This is the book of the generations of Adam.”  we are told.  Previous to this we are told of Adam’s and Eve’s two sons, Cain and Abel, and due to sin Cain murdered Abel; then Cain was banished to roam the region as a vagabond, and was no longer able to be a farmer.  All hope may have seemed lost to the first parents.  They had a promise from God (Genesis 3:15) of One who would crush the head of the serpent or Satan.  Since Abel was dead, Cain banished and evil, then, what now?

By the above verses we see God blessed Adam and Eve with another godly son.  It is not by accident that the closing verse of chapter 4 tells us, “…Then began men to call upon the name of the LORD.” and then, goes into chapter 5 with the genealogy of Adam.  Despite the fall, and the evil in man’s heart, God provides a Redeemer, and we will see many redeemers throughout the Old Testament; but each one is only a portrait of the genuine article.

We find that fulfilled in the New Testament in the birth of a baby in a manger, and the young child growing in the care of love of His mother Mary and Joseph.  We also see God working fulfilling every word He has spoken, in and through the life of His only begotten Son;

“But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, ‘Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.’ And he arose, and took the young child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee: and he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.'” Matthew 2:19-23 (KJV)

Even, to the place He would spend His life growing up.  Let us not be fearful, neither be afraid.  God’s will is being done still in the lives of His people and in the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Hearing What GOD Says

“Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, ‘Yea, hath God said, ‘Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?’  And the woman said unto the serpent, ‘We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, ‘Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.’  And the serpent said unto the woman, ‘Ye shall not surely die: for God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.'” Genesis 3:1-5 (KJV)

There are a lot of people making or who have already made what we call “Resolutions” for this New Year.  They usually last until they make us uncomfortable, or until we lose interest; and it just becomes another day, and another year.  As we look at the Scripture above there is one thing we Christians need to learn, and that is HEARING THE WORD OF THE LORD.

Evidently Eve did not hear it right or it was told to her with error, of course by Adam.

Let us ask at least one question here;  Who or what is the serpent?  He was a subtle creature, and the devil, Satan inhabited his body for one distinct purpose; and that was to deceive the woman Eve.  The first thing Satan does it question the word of God.  “Yea, has God said???”  The minute, even the second the devil places doubt in our minds concerning the word of God a “Red flag” of warning should go up in our minds.

It does not help if one does not know what God said.  It seems by the text that she adds to God’s original commandment.  God’s commandment was,

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” 2:16-17

Thus, Eve clearly opens a door of doubt in which for Satan to enter.

In the beginning of this year of 2013; let us who are born of God through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ pray daily for hearing the word of God correctly; and by the Spirit of God live it as we truly believe it.  Let us live it in our family, our play, our work place, our place of business, and at our place of worship.

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Major Moral Issue

The following is an article from Kairos Journal

The Pansexual Appetite

4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.” 6 Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him 7 and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing.”

Genesis 19:4-7 (NIV)

Sociologically speaking, homosexuality ultimately leads to predatory activity. Research has shown that male homosexuality specifically is associated with a ravenous “pansexual” appetite that spawns other, even more heinous perversions. As psychiatrist and physician Jeffrey Satinover has demonstrated, “What we call the ‘gay lifestyle’ is in large measure a way of life constructed around unconstrained sexuality.”1 Wherever homosexuality flourishes and the cultural limits of sexuality are broken, not even children are safe from the effects.2

When the wicked men of Sodom approached Lot’s door and demanded access to his two male visitors, their intent was clear. The phrase “so that we can have sex with them” is synonymous with the rendering “so that we can know them.” The Hebrew verb “to know” used in this context carries with it the connotation of sexual relations (e.g., Gen. 4:17, 25). In verses 7-8, Lot clearly understands the word to be used with a sexual meaning. He calls their desire to “know” the men a “wicked thing” and offers his virgin daughters as a substitute. If their desire were simply to get acquainted with the men over a drink, Lot’s response would be absurd. Seeking to dismiss the matter of homosexuality as the sin in this passage, one modern interpretation insists that evidence in Ezekiel 16:49-50 suggests that God actually judged the Sodomites for their pride and lack of hospitality. But this explanation is weak if not laughable: both of these sins were bound up with a whole city engulfed by a drive for same-gender sexual relations. The sin had been compounded to such an extent that every man of the city viewed mere visitors as prey (v. 4).

Other pro-homosexual biblical interpreters argue that the sin of the Sodomites was not homosexuality per se, but the violence that they coupled with it—that is, their intention of gang rape. Jude 7, however, simply states that the sin of Sodom was that they “indulged in sexual immorality and pursued ‘strange flesh’”—the typical language Scripture uses to refer to homosexual activities. But what those who would seek to find something exceptional about the homosexuality in Sodom do not recognize is this: homosexuality in general opens the floodgates for all sorts of other deviant behaviors. They are inextricably linked. The men of Sodom who had given themselves over to same-sex intercourse eventually became the men who preyed on innocent visitors to their city.

Those calling for the normalization of homosexuality in modern cultures may not realize what they are asking for. Although many homosexuals are not predators like the men of Sodom, the truth is that the general practice always opens up a Pandora’s box to other kinds of deviancies such as pedophilia. Again, Satinover reports that “careful studies show that pedophilia is far more common among homosexuals than heterosexuals.”3 For this reason, those who seek to prevent special “rights” being given to same-sex relationships do not do so out of spite, bigotry, or hatred toward any persons. Rather, they act in the interest of the social good; they realize that if homosexuality is given a “free pass” in society, a host of attending evils will follow in its wake. Long before the fire and brimstone fell, the judgment of homosexuality had already begun within the walls of Sodom and Gomorrah. The same will occur in any culture that permits the practice to spread unabated.

Footnotes:
1     Jeffrey Satinover, Homosexuality and the Politics of Truth (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 61.
2     Satinover warns that the acceptance of homosexuality results in a “general lifting of sexual constraint, which the philosophy that undergirds gay activism necessarily promotes.” Such an environment, he goes on to explain, produces an environment in which pedophilia becomes more acceptable. Ibid., 62-63.
3     Ibid., 64.

You can find other interesting articles on spiritual and moral issues here and you can receive free email updates from them.

-posted by Tim A. Blankenship

Day 4 – From a Garden to a Grave, and Beyond

I do not believe I have ever read so much of Genesis so quickly as I  have since beginning this reading through the Bible in 90 days.  It is exciting, challenging, and enlightening.

Our reading this morning covers Genesis 43 – Exodus 6.

We have gone from the days of creation; Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, their expulsion, a murderous son (Cain), the flood; the calling of Abraham to father a nation; and we have seen his tests, trials, and troubles.  Abraham’s and Sarah’s trying to do things their own way, and ending up causing a mess.

We see Isaac’s son Jacob practicing deception; he and a whole lot of other people doing the same thing.  Yet, God chooses Jacob to be the “prince with God” calling him “Israel”.  Jacob  has a son named Joseph who is betrayed by his brothers, sold into Egypt, cast into prison unjustly, then, promoted to second in command under the Pharoah of Egypt.  Sin is progressing; and so to is grace.  “Where sin abounds, grace did much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Beginning in a garden of perfection, comfort, and every need provided to a grave in Egypt.

“So Joseph died, being an hundred and ten years old: and they embalmed him, and he was put in a coffin in Egypt.”  Genesis 50:26 (KJV)

One of the things we can see following Adam’s and Eve’s sin in the garden is death seems to dominate the picture; however, it does not rule forever.  Since the fall everything ages, weakens and dies.  The curse of Adam’s sin is upon all of creation.  Not a one of us can rejoice in death, because death is the fruit of sin.  It is a bitter fruit.  It is a separating act.  It divides – separates the  spirit and soul of the human from their bodies.  There is, however, a death worse than physical; and that is the spiritual death which separates God from man.  That death happened instantly when Adam and Eve sinned in the garden

That death is seen when they heard God coming to them; they hid themselves.  Death is not a pleasant thing to discuss, or to write about; but it is a part of our lives.  It is also and foremost “the wages of sin” (Romans 6:23).

From the death of Joseph we go to Exodus, showing us that death is not the end.  In Exodus we find that God hears the cries of the children of Israel crying for help.  He hears their cry, prepares a man from Egypt – one of their own who has grown up with the rulers of Egypt – and sends him back to deliver His children from the bondage that has come about because of lying and deception of the brothers of Joseph.

When God calls a man it is an awesome thing.  And it was for Moses,

“And Moses said unto God, ‘Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?’  And He said, ‘Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.’  And Moses said unto God, ‘Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, ‘The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, ‘What is His name? What shall I say unto them?’  And God said unto Moses, ‘I AM THAT I AM: and He said, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘I AM hath sent me unto you.’  And God said moreover unto Moses, ‘Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, ‘The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, hath sent me unto you: this is My name for ever, and this is My memorial unto all generations.”  Exodus 3:11-15 (KJV)

Life does indeed go on beyond death, and the grave.  And, I do not mean only in the physical realm of life, but also the spiritual.  There is an eternity to shun, and there is an eternity to indulge in, and be filled with the greatness and glory of God.

We find in the verses above that God called Moses to go and deliver the children of Israel from their captivity.  Who was actually doing the deliverance?  Moses was only a man; who had faults, failures, fears and doubts; but was still greatly used by God.

Who was sending Moses?  The “I AM”.  Meaning the “Self-Existing One” the “Self-Sustaining One”.  He needs nothing to be; He is.

He is the LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He is also the LORD God of Jesus the Son of the LORD God [YHWH-‘Elohyim].  Jesus, the God-man who walked in flesh among us.  Jesus the God-man who bled and died on the cross for the sins of mankind as the atonement for our sins.  Those who believe in Him will be rejoined with GOD for all eternity.  That is the only eternity to indulge, and be filled with the presence, greatness and glory of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 2 – Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob and Esau

One of the things that crossed my mind as I was reading this morning was how these men all had something in common.  What is that commonality?  They are all sinners, deceivers, liars and tricksters.  Yes!  Even Abraham the patriarch of Judaism and Christianity.

Abraham had the promises of God for the land of Canaan.  Verse 18 of chapter 15 of Genesis states,

“In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, ‘Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:'” Genesis 15:18 (KJV)

Yet Abraham is fearful for his own life, lies to Abimelech about Sarah only being his sister, causes a curse on the people of Abimelech (chapter 20, Genesis).  He is a man of faith.  God had given him great and precious promises.  Promises of protection, power, wealth, and generations.

Abraham and Sarah laugh at God’s promise of a child, with both of them as parents of the child.  Abraham laughs in 17:17, and Sarah in 18:12.

Ishmael is the offspring of an unholy act of unbelief in the behalf of Sarah and Abraham.  Despite this God gives Hagar many promises concerning Ishmael, and they are fulfilled just as God has promised.

Isaac, the son of promise ends up in a lying mood as well (chapter 26:6-13).

The name Jacob means “supplanter” equaling trickster, deceiver, you can get the message from that.  That name really fits Jacob.  He first trades his elder brother Esau out  of his birthright; which he eagerly sells for a bowl of soup.  Which does not say much about Esau’s character.  Jacob thought more of it than Esau did; or he would not have sought it.

The reason I point this all out is, that, the Bible pulls no punches when it comes to mankind’s need.  Our greatest need is grace.  There is none who is righteous.  We are all condemned in sin.

It is God in His grace who came down to sinful, lying, fearful, Abraham and makes him faithful Abraham, “friend of God”.  It is God in His grace who chose the lying Isaac to be the second patriarch of the faith.  It is God in His grace who chose Jacob, and changed his name from “Supplanter” to later “Israel”.

It is God in His grace who reaches down to liars, cheats, harlots, adulterers, adultresses, murderers, drunks, thieves, and the worst among us; and says to all who will hear,

 “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”  Romans 10:13 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

Day 1 – Genesis 1 – 14

The first day of reading through the Bible in ninety days is here.  I have completed the first 14 chapters.  As I told you in the last post I will be reading the Bible in the New Living Translation, which I realize is a weak “translation”, but it has an ease of reading which the KJV does not have, thus and can read without too much distraction by trying to decipher the days, months and years; lengths, weights  and such.

I did discover in my reading of the first fourteen chapters that there is much with the NLT which I have problems with in interpretation, but as I wrote of one of those problems in my journal, it could be a matter of perspective.

That problem was the NLT’s interpretation of Genesis 10:25,

“Eber had two sons. The first was named Peleg—“division”—for during his lifetime the people of the world were divided into different language groups and dispersed. His brother’s name was Joktan.”  Genesis 10:25 (NLT)

Now the KJV,

“And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.” Genesis 10:25 (KJV)

The problem I have with the NLT here is that it provides and interpretation that is not present in the text.  The word “earth” in the KJV is “eh’-rets” in Hebrew and can mean various things,

“From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land): –  X common, country, earth, field, ground, land, X nations, way, + wilderness, world.”  From Strongs Concordance — e-Sword.

The people had been divided by the change difference in languages, and there could have been a massive moving of the planet earth as well; not only causing a dividing of languages, but also of the land.  That is my thought on the matter.

We find in the reading of Genesis 1 – 14 that God is the Creator; that He created the earth and all things upon it in a seven day period.  On the sixth day having already prepared things for the crowning of creation He creates humanity, beginning with Adam, then his wife Eve.  Things were without problem in the garden God had prepared for them.  He even spent time with them in that garden, at least at one point He came to visit them, and found them hiding from Him.

Here we find the answer for all the ills and problems in our world today.  Why is there killing, sickness, disease, hardships of all sorts?  It comes down to this point that the first man and woman did not listen to God, nor obey His commandment.  That one commandment was,

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ‘Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.'” Genesis 2:16-17

Following their sin of disobedience, God comes to them, finds them hiding from Him and God drives them from paradise; places a guardian at the gate of Eden preventing their way to eternal life at the Tree of Life, and they begin to die.  Adam Eve have two sons Cain and Abel.  Rebellion sets in Cain’s heart even to the point of killing his brother.  God curses Cain.

Adam and Eve have other children.  We find the godly lineage in chapter 5; however there is much evil on the earth, and God destroys the earth and every land going animal; except for those He has chosen to save through the only justified man living.  “Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (6:8).  The flood comes.  Noah, his wife, their sons, and their sons wives are in the ark of redemption with the chosen animals – 7 of each clean animal; 2 of each unclean.  My how God is full of grace and mercy.

From paradise to death to hope through Abram and a new land.  A new people, nation, a Promised Redeemer.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Charles H. Spurgeon 081411

The following is the evening reading from C. H. Spurgeons MORNING AND EVENING devotional readings for August 13.  It is about God’s memory.

Evening …

Genesis 9:15
‘And I will remember My covenant.’

Mark the form of the promise. God does not say, “And when ye shall look upon the bow, and ye shall remember My covenant, then I will not destroy the earth,” but it is gloriously put, not upon our memory, which is fickle and frail, but upon God’s memory, which is infinite and immutable. “The bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant.” Oh! it is not my remembering God, it is God’s remembering me which is the ground of my safety; it is not my laying hold of His covenant, but His covenant’s laying hold on me. Glory be to God! the whole of the bulwarks of salvation are secured by divine power, and even the minor towers, which we may imagine might have been left to man, are guarded by almighty strength. Even the remembrance of the covenant is not left to our memories, for we might forget, but our Lord cannot forget the saints whom He has graven on the palms of His hands. It is with us as with Israel in Egypt; the blood was upon the lintel and the two side-posts, but the Lord did not say, “When you see the blood I will pass over you,” but “When I see the blood I will pass over you.” My looking to Jesus brings me joy and peace, but it is God’s looking to Jesus which secures my salvation and that of all His elect, since it is impossible for our God to look at Christ, our bleeding Surety, and then to be angry with us for sins already punished in Him. No, it is not left with us even to be saved by remembering the covenant. There is no linsey-wolsey here-not a single thread of the creature mars the fabric. It is not of man, neither by man, but of the Lord alone. We should remember the covenant, and we shall do it, through divine grace; but the hinge of our safety does not hang there-it is God’s remembering us, not our remembering Him; and hence the covenant is an everlasting covenant.

I pray it is a blessing to your heart and life today

-Tim A. Blankenship

B F & M – Salvation

Living in this world we  often hear people ask the question, “What do we need salvation from?”  As mentioned in the previous post concerning our Statement of Faith on “Man” we do believe that man is a fallen being; meaning that we have fallen out of fellowship with our Creator, and therefore, we are a condemned race.  We need the salvation which only our Creator can provide us.

Here is our Statement of Faith concerning Salvation:

“IV. Salvation

Salvation involves the redemption of the whole man, and is offered freely to all who accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, who by His own blood obtained eternal redemption for the believer. In its broadest sense salvation includes regeneration, justification, sanctification, and glorification. There is no salvation apart from personal faith in Jesus Christ as Lord.

A. Regeneration, or the new birth, is a work of God’s grace whereby believers become new creatures in Christ Jesus. It is a change of heart wrought by the Holy Spirit through conviction of sin, to which the sinner responds in repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Repentance and faith are inseparable experiences of grace.

Repentance is a genuine turning from sin toward God. Faith is the acceptance of Jesus Christ and commitment of the entire personality to Him as Lord and Saviour.

B. Justification is God’s gracious and full acquittal upon principles of His righteousness of all sinners who repent and believe in Christ. Justification brings the believer unto a relationship of peace and favor with God.

C. Sanctification is the experience, beginning in regeneration, by which the believer is set apart to God’s purposes, and is enabled to progress toward moral and spiritual maturity through the presence and power of the Holy Spirit dwelling in him. Growth in grace should continue throughout the regenerate person’s life.

D. Glorification is the culmination of salvation and is the final blessed and abiding state of the redeemed.

Genesis 3:15; Exodus 3:14-17; 6:2-8; Matthew 1:21; 4:17; 16:21-26; 27:22-28:6; Luke 1:68-69; 2:28-32; John 1:11-14,29; 3:3-21,36; 5:24; 10:9,28-29; 15:1-16; 17:17; Acts 2:21; 4:12; 15:11; 16:30-31; 17:30-31; 20:32; Romans 1:16-18; 2:4; 3:23-25; 4:3ff.; 5:8-10; 6:1-23; 8:1-18,29-39; 10:9-10,13; 13:11-14; 1 Corinthians 1:18,30; 6:19-20; 15:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17-20; Galatians 2:20; 3:13; 5:22-25; 6:15; Ephesians 1:7; 2:8-22; 4:11-16; Philippians 2:12-13; Colossians 1:9-22; 3:1ff.; 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 2 Timothy 1:12; Titus 2:11-14; Hebrews 2:1-3; 5:8-9; 9:24-28; 11:1-12:8,14; James 2:14-26; 1 Peter 1:2-23; 1 John 1:6-2:11; Revelation 3:20; 21:1-22:5.”

Let me try and clarify the meaning of “Justification”.  It is the act of God declaring righteousness on the believer.  It is the same as God’s declaring us as “Saints”.  It is certainly undeserved on our part.  It is God’s declaration and the placing of the righteousness of Jesus Christ on us.  Jesus Himself taking our unrighteousness while on the cross and putting it to death at His death.

It is truly a marvelous salvation.

-T.A.

Will the USA Depart from Support of Israel?

It is not surprising to know that there are those of spiritually feeble mind who would have the United States withdraw from strategic support of the nation of Israel.   “It’s not satisfying to the rest of the world” some of these say.  Let us never forget what God has said, “I will bless those who bless you, and will curse him who curses you; in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed”  Genesis 12:3; and that promise has never been revoked

The following link is an article from the World Tribune.  Would it be the right thing for the USA to pull support away from Israel?  I think not.  Not unless we want to be cursed by the Creator of all the universe.

Let’s continue praying for the peace of Jerusalem (Psalm 122:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Scarlet Thread – Cain and Abel

Throughout the Bible is a Scarlet Thread of Redemption.  A picture which the Creator has brushed onto the canvass of the ages through the pages of Scripture; to give us His promise of salvation; redemption from our sins.  These pictures are painted through true, historical events of people’s lives who have lived, breathed, sinned and died (All have sinned and come short of the glory of God… (Romans 3:23)); with the exception of the One of whom these pictures are only types of the anti-type.  We write, of course, of Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God; who was born, lived, died, was buried, and rose again to life; and one day has promised to come again.

Think today of the picture of Cain the eldest son of Adam and Eve; and their younger son Abel.  The Scripture tells us;

“And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD.  And she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground.  And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD.  And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering:  But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell.”  Genesis 4:1-5 (KJV)

The thing we need to see in this picture today is that Cain was a tiller of the soil – a man of the earth.  Abel was a shepherd.  Now who is it who is the  shepherd of the sheep and they shall not want; [have any lack]?  If you will note also the both of them came to worship the LORD with their offerings.  Cain brought of the “fruit of the ground”  of his own labors; of course; with the exception of God giving the increase; but it does not appear that Cain gives God any notice of that.  Abel on the otherhand, “brought from the firstlings of his flock, and of the fat thereof…”  He brought the best that he had to give to God in worship.

Because of Abel’s worshipful gift the LORD accepted the gift; […the LORD had respect unto Abel…].   Abel is the picture, the type of our Lord Jesus as he was willing to give his best to God, was hated by his brother – Jesus hated by His brethren – and was a shepherd.  “The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want…”

Follow this Scarlet Thread of Redemption, it  leads to Jesus Christ, His cross, burial, and resurrection.  He is coming again.  Are you ready?

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Marriage Of Isaac

It is seen in the study of Genesis that Isaac is the promised son of Abraham and Sarah,  according to the Word of God.  In this study I want us to see the picture of the Christ and His Church which is found in Genesis chapter 24.

I did a short study on this in 2006, and posted it here on Fire and Hammer.  I will repost it here.

We must remember the apostle Paul’s words when he wrote, “In Isaac shall thy seed be called” (Romans 9:7) quoting Genesis 21:12.  We are not wrong in seeing an allegory of the Church in Rebekkah, nor of seeing Isaac as a picture of  Jesus Christ.

“1And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things. 2 And Abraham said unto his eldest servant of his house, that ruled over all that he had, Put, I pray thee, thy hand under my thigh: 3 And I will make thee swear by the LORD, the God of heaven, and the God of the earth, that thou shalt not take a wife unto my son of the daughters of the Canaanites, among whom I dwell: 4 But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. 5 And the servant said unto him, Peradventure the woman will not be willing to follow me unto this land: must I needs bring thy son again unto the land from whence thou camest? 6 And Abraham said unto him, Beware thou that thou bring not my son thither again. 7 The LORD God of heaven, which took me from my father’s house, and from the land of my kindred, and which spake unto me, and that sware unto me, saying, Unto thy seed will I give this land; he shall send his angel before thee, and thou shalt take a wife unto my son from thence. 8 And if the woman will not be willing to follow thee, then thou shalt be clear from this my oath: only bring not my son thither again. 9 And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter.” Genesis 24:1-9 (KJV).

I will not post all 67 verses, but I will put the verse numbers for your reference to check out.

There is a wedding which is going to be celebrated, in what I believe to be the not too distant future. Here in the Old Testament book of Genesis is a picture of the bringing together of the bride and the Bridegroom.

Jesus promised that after His ascension into Heaven He would send a Comforter. This comforter would guide into all truth. He would draw people to Jesus Christ.

In our text we have an unnamed servant of Abraham who is sent to find a bride for his son. It is amazing how the Holy Spirit inspired the writings of Scripture in the way He has here showing forth the glory of God, and His work bringing the lost to Jesus.

The servant went to the assigned place to seek a bride for Isaac. Rebekah was that chosen bride. This bride 1). “Believed a man she had never met before, 2). was asked to go to a land from which she was never to return, 3). was asked to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.” M. R. DeHaan. The journey was about 600 miles on the back of a camel.

When the servant chose Rebekah it was then, a decision for her to make. The decision was one that could not wait (vv. 55-58). So Rebekah chose to go on a journey over hard country – a barren, dry and dangerous country.

When Rebekah saw Isaac for the first time he was coming from Lahairoi, which means, “The well of a Living One”. This is the first appearance of Isaac since the altar of Mount Moriah. Jesus will one day appear to take His bride who has been chosen by the Holy Spirit.

Let’s look at four of the characters in this text, and we will try and focus the picture on the One who is True.

First of all, look at the father. He loved Isaac and wanted a bride for him. He believed that God was faithful and would keep His promise and provide the bride. The bride could not be an outsider. The Father getting a bride for His Son, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day”. John 6:44 (KJV).

The next character we see in the text is the servant. He is a model servant. He does not go unsent (vv. 2-9), he goes where he is sent (vv. 4-10), he does nothing else, is prayerful and thankful (vv. 12-14, 26-27), he is wise to win (vv.17, 21), he speaks not of himself, but of his master’s riches, and Isaac’s heirship (vv. 34-36; Acts 1:8), he presents the true issue, and requires a clear decision (v. 49).

The work of the Spirit of God is the True: the antitype. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me:” John 15:26 (KJV). “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. 14 He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.” John 16:13-14 (KJV).

The third character is the chosen bride herself. She welcomed a stranger, whom she had never seen. This servant came to the well, seeking God’s direction, and Rebekah came and fulfilled the needs of this servants prayer (vv. 18-20, 24, 25). She accepted the servants invitation (vv. 55-58). The invitation was that she return to Canaan to be the wife of Isaac and receive the blessings of what he would inherit. Rebekah and the servant must have spoken much on the journey to meet the Bridegroom. She learned more about Isaac (v. 65) and more as she saw him and was getting nearer to him. She went over hard country in the care of the servant. This “Hard country” is the hardships, trials, and tribulations of living and growing in the Christian life. M. R. DeHaan said, “Rebekah was asked to believe a man she had never met before, to go to a land from which she was never to return, and to marry a man whom she as yet had never seen.”

The final character, but certainly not the least of the four is the son, in particular; his wedding. Weddings are most always a joyous event. It was for Isaac, and it was for Rebekah. When Rebekah came riding up on the camel with the servant she leaped off the camel. It does not say what she did when she leaped off the camel, but I just suppose that she ran to meet him, and their hearts became as one. In leaping off the camel Rebekah had left the last of her worldly possessions behind. Her journey is complete.

When Jesus and His Bride are joined together at last, they will never part, because it will be for all eternity.

The invitation is still extended. “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17 (KJV).

If we have “Eyes to see, and ears to hear” we can see quite clearly the picture the Master has painted for us. We can see Jesus’ death in Isaac at the altar, we see His resurrection and ascension in that Isaac came from the “Well of the Living One”. We can see the work of the Holy Spirit in Abraham’s servant as he sought a bride for Isaac.

God is so good He paints us such beautiful pictures to show us how He is working throughout all of time to draw us to Himself. The Antitype is even more beautiful.

“1And a voice came out of the throne, saying, Praise our God, all ye his servants, and ye that fear him, both small and great. 6 And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. 7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. 9 And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God. 10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” Revelation 19:5-10 (KJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The following is a link to more of Jesus In Genesis.

Land In Possession

In His journeys through the land of Canaan Abraham never owned a portion of the land.  For twenty five years Abraham had the promise of a son before that son was ever born to he and Sarah.  The promise is fulfilled.

In the time when Isaac is around twenty thirty seven years of age Sarah has died, and they own no land in which to bury her.  Abraham is trying to purchase the land, but it almost seems as though they do not want to sell it but give it to him.

One thing we must remember; it is God who owns the land.  He has placed it in our hands – many land owners in the world today.  However, the land owners are really only stewards of the land, and are  to be caretakers of what God has placed in our hands.

In the economy of land, though, land ownership is recognized by deeds and titles.  In the search for a place to bury his dear, and precious bride following her death; and yet owning nothing, but the promise of God for the whole land; Abraham, by faith offers to purchase a cave with some surrounding land from Ephron of the children of Heth.

They have finally reached an agreement.  Abraham now is a land owner in Canaan, and the rest is purely owned by faith.  This was indeed a transaction, a sale of land.  It was agreed to in public, before witnesses, there was an exchange of “money”, and there was a survey conducted to make sure the borders of the land (Genesis 23:17).  Most likely there was some sort of deed given in the transaction to seal the deal.

This was all done based on God’s call and promise that the land would be the descendants of Abraham’s of the seed of Isaac.

“And the field, and the cave that is therein, were made sure unto Abraham for a possession of a buryingplace by the sons of Heth.” Genesis 23:20 (KJV)

When God makes and gives us a promise we can be sure that He will carry that promise all the way to its completion.  Even our salvation. (Philippians 1:6).

-Tim A. Blankenship

In A Foreign Land

Abraham, Sarah and Lot along with some servants had departed Ur of the Chaldees many years before, with a promise from God of a land; a Promise Land and promise of becoming a nation.  Becoming a nation meant having a son.  For years they had waited.  Since departing Ur many things had happened.  Lot and his family had gone their own way, along with his livestock and goods.

Now Sarah had died, and Abraham needed a place to bury her.  Only thing was he was in a land that was not his own.  He was a foreigner and  had to purchase some land or receive it from the owners as a gift.  The following is the narrative of what took place following the event of Sarah’s death:

“And Abraham stood up from before his dead, and spake unto the sons of Heth, saying,  I am a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.  And the children of Heth answered Abraham, saying unto him,  Hear us, my lord: thou art a mighty prince among us: in the choice of our sepulchres bury thy dead; none of us shall withhold from thee his sepulchre, but that thou mayest bury thy dead.  And Abraham stood up, and bowed himself to the people of the land, even to the children of Heth.  And he communed with them, saying, If it be your mind that I should bury my dead out of my sight; hear me, and intreat for me to Ephron the son of Zohar,  That he may give me the cave of Machpelah, which he hath, which is in the end of his field; for as much money as it is worth he shall give it me for a possession of a buryingplace amongst you…”  Genesis 23:3-9 (KJV)

The possessors of the lands knew Abraham, and knew he had been a good and decent neighbor.  They knew him to have been a honorable man, just and fair in dealing with the people of the lands around them.  So we have Heth making suggestion that he bury Sarah in one of their burial places.  This however does not sit well with Abraham.

Abraham desires to have a piece of land, for which he is willing to pay a price; a fair price; and that will have his ownership of it.  Through the purchase of this piece of land, the price paid for it would be security for future generations who would follow.  It would also be a fulfillment of the promise of the land, though at this time a small portion of it.

He had previously “planted a grove in Beersheba” land of the Philistines, and in doing so was placing a claim on that land.  Now he is purchasing a piece of land, and “planting” the body of his wife.  Would that not also be a claim on the land.  Many prayers of Abraham and Sarah had been offered in the almost sixty years of living in the land.  Many tears had been shed, and much blood had been shed as well defending themselves against thieves, kidnappers-slave traders, and cutthroats who just wanted to kill.

Now there would be an actual possession of the land.  The Promise of God was going to be fulfilled, and Abraham’s purchase was evidence of that faith in the promise.

A few years ago one church which I was pastor had an open lot.  Things were not going real well for the church financially, and it was brought up to sell the lot.  Well that was not how I believed the LORD  was leading us.  Financially it made sense to do so, but faith wise I believed we would not be trusting the Lord and His promises to us.  I had read where the prophet Jeremiah was called by God to purchase land as evidence of faith that the people of Judah would return to Israel following their captivity in Babylon (Jeremiah 32).  I believed, and to this day I still believe that it was God’s guidance to keep that piece of land as promise that God was going to bless that church.  I don’t know if the church still has that piece of land or not; but for the time I believed it to be right, and the people decided it would be best not to sell it.

As Christians we are pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, similar to Abraham.  When we purchase, possess, or own a piece of land; it is God’s land.  God owns all land on this earth.  It is His.  The Psalmist has written, quoting God “Every beast of the forest is Mine, and  the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Psalm 50:10), just a picturesque way of telling us that God owns it all.  We are to be good stewards of God’s land while we are here, but this world, this land on which we live is not what has been promised us.  There is a land greater and more grandeur than any land we can imagine here on this earth.

We have been promised the land which is called glory, heaven, with golden streets, gates of pearl, and a city with a foundation made of precious gems.  Even better than that, it is  the place where Jesus is.  Take away the golden streets, gates of pearl, and only Jesus; and that would be sufficient for me.

Do you know Jesus?  He is the one who came to this earth to die, and give His life as a payment for our sins.  The price of His blood was paid to God our Father as the full price of our sin, and made a way of reconciliation between lost, condemned, dead people and the Living God. “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”.

Take care of the land and goods God has blessed you with here.  Use them to honor and glorify His name.  One day when He comes again He will take you to Himself; that where He is there we may be also.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Death Of Sarah

Abraham and Sarah had came to the land of Canaan about sixty two years previous.  For twenty five of those years they  had waited for the promised son, Isaac.  They had been through much together.

Almost from the first day they arrived in the land a severe drought had struck the land, famine had set in, and they went to Egypt leaving the place of promise which had been given them by God [YHWH].  In Egypt they would have probably “picked up” Hagar, and Egyptian slave girl.  The sovereign hand of God is seen in every element of the decisions which they made together.  The LORD of all has a way of teaching us dependency upon Him.

For sixty plus years they had walked together, suffered doubts and fears together, believed together, grew together, and now with Sarah being one hundred and twenty seven years of age, her aged body dies.

We must remember; death is not a friend; it is the fruit of sin, or its wages as Paul says in Romans 6:23.  Death is the enemy of mankind.  God [YHWH] created us for eternity.  He created us with an eternal soul that yearns for Him.  It is a longing that far too many fight and struggle against by denying the existence of God.  Denying the existence of God is almost like denying yourself.  You exist, and since you exist means that you had a designer, builder, Creator, and His name is Jehovah [YHWH].

“And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah.  And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”  Genesis 23:1-2 (KJV)

One of the things which Genesis is clear about is our life and death.  It begins with creation and a garden, and ends with a “coffin in Egypt.”  From creation to the grave.  It is a sad commentary on the beginning and end plight of mankind.  It reminds us that we have an eternal destiny, and that GOD is the one who is in charge, sovereignly guiding, the affairs of all people, and nations.  We see that more clearly through all of Scripture.

Death is not a real pleasant thing to talk about.  With some people you don’t even want to use the word “D-E-A-T-H”.  Let’s be true and faithful about death.  As I have already mentioned it is the enemy (1 Corinthians 15:26), and it is the “last enemy” to be destroyed; and that destruction will be by the appearing of Jesus Christ in His glory.

It doesn’t appear that Abraham or Sarah had a fear of death.  The reason for that being their faith in GOD.  It has been through the life, faith, and testimony of Abraham and Sarah that Jesus Christ has come into the world to save condemned, dying sinners from our plight.  We are born spiritually dead – that means no relationship with God and thus no fellowship with God, because of sin.  Because of the work of Jesus Christ, ie., His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection we can be “born again” into relationship, enabling our fellowship with Him; and receiving eternal life,  living for Him now, and eternally with Him.

The follower of Jesus Christ need have no fear of death because of the cross of Jesus Christ, and His resurrection.  The resurrection of Jesus proves without doubt that the enemy of death has been defeated.  All who are in the faith of Jesus Christ will be raised to life.

Even Sarah, Abraham, all the patriarchs; and those who were before them; and all who came after them unto the cross of Christ will be raised to life again.  All those who have believed following the death of Christ on the cross will also be raised to life.  WOW!!! What a glorious day that will be.

It is a wonderful and glorious thing to know that though Genesis ends with that “coffin in Egypt”, the Scriptures end back in a garden, and in the presence of the LORD in glory – Heaven.

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost…” Titus 3:5 (KJV)

The faith of Abraham and Sarah was looking to the One who would come, die for the sins of mankind, be buried, and rise again from the grave.  Believe Jesus and be delivered from death, and its fear.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Family And Geography

In our world today it is not uncommon for family to become separated by geography, and live hundreds, or even thousands of miles apart.  With our technology we are able to call, write, text, email, and even view one another on our computer screens and never feel that far away.

With Abraham and Sarah and isaac that was not so easy, yet they seemed to have maintained some kind of contact with one another.

“And it came to pass after these things, that it was told Abraham, saying, Behold, Milcah, she hath also born children unto thy brother Nahor;  Huz his firstborn, and Buz his brother, and Kemuel the father of Aram,  And Chesed, and Hazo, and Pildash, and Jidlaph, and Bethuel.  And Bethuel begat Rebekah: these eight Milcah did bear to Nahor, Abraham’s brother.  And his concubine, whose name was Reumah, she bare also Tebah, and Gaham, and Thahash, and Maachah.”  Genesis 22:20-24 (KJV)

This passage of Scripture from Genesis may  not seem that important, however, it does let us know that Abraham maintained contact with his family back in Mesopotamia, and news had came to Abraham and family of the family they had left behind 60 years before.

We will get to the matter of Isaac’s marriage later, however, as we look as this passage today we can see that God is telling us that He has made preparations for a bride for Isaac.  The people of the land of Canaan were ungodly, and knew nothing of Jehovah [YHWH] except what they had seen in Abraham.  They probably admired his faith, but had no use for his God.  He was too confining; too restrictive;  limiting one to worship only one god?  What kind of worship could that be?

The worship of one God, and the true God of gods, is less confusing; much more fulfilling; and accurate, because God has said, “There is no other”.  There is no worship of YHWH, except through the Son of God Jesus Christ.

You will notice in this short genealogy that a young lady by the name of Rebekah is mentioned.  She will later become Isaac’s wife.  God is God, and directs the affairs of mankind; and He will be glorified in us all.

Is family important to our God?  Most definitely.  Through family God’s Word and God’s will is done, and He is glorified.

It is not certain how families maintained contact and kept up with one another in that day.  It could have been by travelling caravans, traders, coming through.  It is unlikely that they made a 600 mile plus trip to keep up on family news.  In this case it was important for the linage of Jesus Christ, for He came through Abraham and Isaac.

Remember Paul’s words, breathed by God;

“Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel:  Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.  That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.”  Romans 9:6-8 (KJV).

-Tim A. Blankenship

Science Needs God

The most recent email update from Answers In Genesis was an interesting one; they all are to me.   Dr. Greg Bahnsen has written some articles concerning the matter of science and their need for God.  There would be no science [knowledge] apart from God’s creating it.

The following is from the AiG email update in its entirety:

Q: Why does science need God?

A: 

It is one of those embarrassing historical ironies that modern science could not have arisen except in the atmosphere of a Christian world-and-life view. Nevertheless, the scientific community today persists in playing the prodigal by assuming an antagonistic stance against the Christianity of divine revelation. Hypnotized by Darwin’s evolutionary scheme and enchanted with the products of scientific technology, modern man has granted science a secularized godship and bows before it in fetish idolatry.

The pitting of science against revelation is certainly odd. For, a certain state of affairs is needed for the scientific endeavor to be meaningful or fruitful. The scientist must believe that the state of affairs is conducive to science, or he would not venture into the scientific enterprise. He must believe that there is a world of things and processes that can be known and that he himself sustains a relationship to this world that allows him to know these objects and events. But then, what reason can the scientist give for his belief that the state of affairs is actually conducive to science? Why is the world such as it is and not otherwise? 

Here the scientist, who depends on the self-sufficiency of his logico-empirical procedures, is in a predicament. His response is usually to make various hypotheses about the world and then point to the beneficial results that flow from such hypotheses; he gives, can give, no reason for those hypotheses—they just are, because they work. If pressed, or if he is philosophically inclined, he may even go so far as to say that his “working hypotheses” have no reason unless it be “chance.”

In other words, the consistent naturalistic scientist seems to hold to an irrational set of beliefs about the state of affairs simply in order that his “rational” scientific endeavor may get off the ground. It is rather obvious that prior to any scientific endeavor we must begin either from speculation (about “chance” hypotheses) or from revelation. The Scriptures (of the one Person who knows) reveal how it is that this world, and man in it, are such as to make scientific endeavor meaningful. The state of affairs that exists is due to the creation and providence of the sovereign God. If science (so-called) could actually refute the truths of Scripture, then there would be no actual basis for science at all. The desire of the scientific community to pit its enterprise and conclusions against Christian revelation is ultimately suicidal.

Revelation, Speculation, and Science, the first of our articles by Dr. Greg Bahnsen.

If the link above does not work then maybe this one will.  Thanks to Ken Ham and all at Answers In Genesis.

-T.A.

The Renewed Covenant

Abraham’s faith is really amazing.  He believes God to within inches of taking the life of his son Isaac.  We must not overlook, though, the faith of Isaac; the trust he places in his father, and in God.  The two, father and son have gone that journey up the mountain which the LORD told Abraham of, and they have gone alone.

The man of faith built the altar, tied the hands and feet of his son, laid him on the wood, then took the knife to slay his only promised son.  His hand is stayed by the angel of the LORD; and the LORD speaks to Abraham:

“And the angel of the LORD called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. So Abraham returned unto his young men, and they rose up and went together to Beersheba; and Abraham dwelt at Beersheba.” Genesis 22:15-19 (KJV)

The “angel of the LORD” speaks as being the LORD Himself.  “By Myself have I sworn…”.  The beginning covenant is renewed.  His son has been restored to him, and totally given to the LORD at the same time.  He gave up what he could not keep to gain what he could never lose.  This “angel of the LORD” is most certainly, again, the preincarnate manifestation of the Living Word of God; the Son of God who would become flesh and dwell among us.  He spoke as God, for God, because He is God.  This was no created being who was speaking; this was God speaking.  This was God who spoke with authority.  It was God who made, and renews the covenant with Abraham.

It is sad to see that in our day many nations are turning against Israel, the people who have been given this covenant.  In the end it will mean certain judgment upon any and all nations who will not be a blessing to Israel.  All the nations have been blessed through Israel.

It is through Israel that we have the written word of God; from Genesis through the Revelation these have been written and preserved by the people of Israel; their priests, prophets, kings, fishermen, with the exception of maybe one; and that is the doctor Luke who penned down the Gospel of Luke, and the book of  “The Acts of the Holy Spirit” or “Acts”.  We have also received from Israel the One who has done more for Israel and the nations of the world than all the men and women who have ever lived; and done more for every individual who has ever lived – He is Jesus.

The final verse of our text for today tells us that only Abraham returned to the servants who were left while Abraham and Isaac went to the mountain top alone.  Where is Isaac?  There is another picture given us here by the silence, and the absence of Isaac in the text.  He is not mentioned, nor seen again until chapter 24.  There Isaac is mentioned as father Abraham and his servant prepare to find a bride for him.

The picture given is of our resurrected Lord Jesus Christ from the grave, ascended to glory in the  presence of His Father, while the Father and the Servant who glorifies our Lord, seeks for Him a bride.  Isaac is not seen again in the text until Genesis 24:62-67, and it is when Rebekah is brought to him to be his bride.

The Father  and the Holy Spirit are working today in the absence of our Lord Jesus preparing a Bride for our Savior, the Son of the Living God.  While He is absent from us in body, we; those of us who know Him; have the promise of His soon appearing to claim His chosen Bride.  We are daily being prepared to appear before Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Substitute

Isaac, son of Abraham, the only promised son of Abraham was an obedient, trusting son.  He went all the way with his father to the place “afar off” to a mountain which the LORD showed him.  The faith of Abraham has been seen since Genesis 12, and he has been faithful to God.

Faithful to God does not mean there has not been some times of failure, disobedience or sin; it does mean that in all his faults he always trusted the LORD;  he always returned to God.  Those of us who are Christians are called to a faithful life, a life of faithfulness, and that does not mean there won’t be times we do not fail or fall into sin; it does mean we won’t stay there.

Our study today will include verse 10 once again:

“And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me. And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the LORD it shall be seen.” Genesis 22:10-14 (KJV)

Abraham, believing God would keep His promise of making a great nation through Isaac continues with an obedient act to the LORD God, takes the knife to slay his son, and then hears the “angel of the LORD” call his name.  It seems that the “angel of the LORD” stops the hand of Abraham from its downward motion.  It does not seem too far to say that the LORD stopped Abraham’s hand from slaying Isaac.

There are some things in this event that we must consider.  First of all, Isaac was not a worthy sacrifice (Psalm 14:2-3; Romans 3:10, 23).  He was human, with the uncleanness of sin, as we all are.  No sinful human being can pay the sacrifice for their sins, nor anyone else’s.  Secondly, God has actually forbidden mankind from offering human sacrifice.  Human sacrifice was the practice of the people whom Abraham left in Ur of the Chaldees, and the practice of the people in the land of Canaan, and God’s people are forbidden to practice the evil of the Canaanites.

It seems that we have sacrifice of children in the USA, and in other nations of the world.  We see no value in the unborn so in the past 36 years we have sacrificed 48,000,000 (48 million) unborns to the gods of pleasure and convenience.  Their blood cries out to the thrice  holy God, and condemns the people of the nations who have practiced this unholy act.  The blood of even these is insufficient to atone for the sins of those who committed the acts of treachery and murder.  The unborn children that have been treasonized by their mothers cry out against them, and the “doctors” who have committed treachery against the medical profession.

Abraham’s hand is stayed by our LORD from carrying out the sacrifice showing himself faithful to God.  Abraham turns and sees a Ram caught by his horns in a bush.  Now, how many times would that happen.  On a hill top far away from any other flocks of sheep, God provides a substitute for Isaac.  We are all in need of a Substitute for our sins; a Substitute who will take our place.  If we were to die for our own sins that would mean an eternity apart from God, because our death does not suffice the take away our sin; it also does not provide for us eternal life; but eternal death, apart from God; suffering eternally for our sins.  That is what we deserve.

As the Ram was the substitute for Isaac, so our Substitute is the Lamb of God.  The Ram whose power was yielded to His Father, and was willing to subject Himself to the evil hands of men, be the sacrifice for the sins of all mankind, offering forgiveness to all who will call on His name.

There is forgiveness to all the women who have killed their unborn children, and to the “doctors” who have committed the treacherous acts against the children, the mothers, and the medical profession by their acts of abortion.  Jesus Christ is our Substitute for our sins.  He died on the cross to take away our sins, cleanse us from sin, to be the atonement for our sin, to be the one who took upon Himself the wrath of His own Father, having become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him (2 Corinthians 5:21).

“Jehovah-jireh” our God has provided well for us through His Son Jesus.  “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).  Be saved, be cleansed of all your sin through faith in Jesus Christ; our Substitute; today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Trusting, Obedient Son

I want us to remember what was told in the last study of this chapter; that Isaac could have been as much as 37 years of age.  He asked Abraham, “Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” (v. 7).  It is a legitimate question.

Abraham and Isaac have made the journey to the top of Moriah alone, father and son together.  The sacrifice was only something the two could do alone. The following is what takes place on the mount;

“And they came to the place which God had told him of; and Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son.” Genesis 22:9-10 (KJV)

This place was a place which would be in years to come the place the temple was built (2 Chronicles 3:1), and near the place another sacrifice was to take place hundreds of years later, ie., the sacrifice of Jesus the Son of God.  It was the place of God’s direction, the place of God’s design, the place of meeting the One and only living God.

When they reached to top Abraham began gathering stones and built an altar; a place to lay the wood for the fire and the sacrifice.  Abraham is set on obedience to God Everlasting (21:33) for he is fully trusting that God will not go back or against His covenant with him.

Something that is overlooked is the trust and obedience of Isaac.  A young man, no more than 37 years of age, could very easily overthrow an old man of about 137 years (that would be about the age of Abraham at the time of Sarah’s death) if he were not a trusting and obedient son.  Seeing his father lay the “wood in order” on that altar, and then his father taking the ropes to bind the sacrifice; taking Isaacs hands, his feet, then laying him on that altar; there was most certainly tears in both sets of eyes.

This reminds me of the statement of the writer of Hebrews, “Though He were a Son, yet learned He obedience by the things which He suffered; and being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him…”  (Hebrews 5:8-9).  These verses speaking of course, of the Lord Jesus Christ who went with His Father to Mount Calvary, and gave His life as a ransom for the sins of the whole world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

…Both Of Them Together

In our study of Genesis 22 we have saw the faith of Abraham.  God’s call to him to sacrifice the promised son on a hill far away.  This wasn’t the first time Abraham was called to go to a place “he knew not of”.  He had heard and obeyed as many as 60 years previous to this in leaving Ur.

At the point we get into this journey, Abraham and Isaac have left the servants, and Abraham saying to them, “I and my son are going to worship God over on that hill, and then, we both will return to you here”.  The faith of Abraham still in the forefront.

Have we ever considered the faith of Isaac?  In many artists renderings of Isaac at this scene is depicted as only a child, completely under his father’s authority and power.  There is evidence that Isaac could have been as much as 37 years of age.  I will get to that later in this study.

“And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together. And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering? And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.”  Genesis 22:6-8 (KJV)

Looking at this text we see that Isaac was going to carry the wood.  The wood was the means by which the fire would burn; it was the fuel.  This would not have been a small load, but a bulky, heavy load.  This first sentence of the text ends with the phrase, “…they went both of them together”.  They were not alone, and  without the other.

The size of the load tells us that this was no small child.  He was a man.  Sarah, his mother was still living, but seems to have died shortly after this being 127 years of age, making Isaac around 37 years, having been born when Sarah was 90 years of age.  I know there is no time given between these events, but it does seem a great possibility that Isaac could have been, at least in his thirties when he went with his father as a burnt offering to Moriah.

Abraham brought all the tools necessary for the offering, with Isaac carrying the load of the wood.  He had the fire, a knife; and Isaac poses to him a question; “Father, we have the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”  Abraham answered, “Son, God will provice Himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”  At this moment it seems as though Abraham is believing God will not let him go through with the killing of his son, but even if He does, Abraham is believing in the power of God to resurrect and restore his son to him again.  We are told again, “…they went both of them together.”  Father and son.

Just as Abraham and Isaac walked the way to the hill far away, together, alone as father and son, so too, hundreds of years later; God the Father and His Son Jesus walked up that hill, to do a work that only two persons of perfection could do.  Jesus God’s Son in complete obedience to His Father took the weight and wood of His cross, carried it to the top of that hill, and became the offering for sin, for all people, of all times, and glorified His Father; as no other man could have done.

God did provide Himself a Lamb for the burnt offering.  That Lamb is Jesus Christ, His Son.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 01/07/09

…Or maybe two or more thoughts.  In dealing with the book of Genesis we see the creating hand of God, and the journey leads us to death.  Now, that does not sound so pleasant, but it is the destination which we all face.

From the first chapter to the end of chapter two we see the wonders of the creating hand of God.  Placing Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, giving them dominion over all the created order, and giving them one lone commandment – not to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. 

The temptation was too great for Eve, and for Adam, and then begins that journey of death, and a journey of life which continues throughout all of Scripture.

In chapter 22 we have seen the faith of Abraham tested even to the offering of the only son who was to be the fulfillment of all of God’s promises to him.  Offering Isaac as a burnt offering unto God.

For three days Abraham, Isaac and servants had travelled going toward the place God would show Abraham.  On that third day Abraham sees the place “afar off”,  and here is what the Word of God says,

“Then on the third day Abraham lifted up his eyes, and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said unto his young men, Abide ye here with the ass; and I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you. And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.” Genesis 22:4-6 (KJV)

Without question, Abraham has journeyed without informing Isaac of this test.  He has brought all the necessary items, the knife, the wood for the fire, the fire; and Isaac [the sacrifice].  For three days thought has been flooding the mind of Abraham (I am only assuming this because I am a father too), and he must have been thinking, “Surely, if God allows this to go through, He will rasie Isaac again, or He will provide a substitute when we arrive”.  We have no way of knowing his thoughts, but can only put ourselves in that same situation.

That “…place afar off” became the city of Jerusalem, and it is believed that this same place, this same mountain [hill], is the place where Jesus was crucified.

Oh that the believer of today had the faith of Abraham.  Notice his words to the servants, “I and the lad will go yonder and worship, and come again to you.”  Abraham’s heart was set on worshipping God, even in the sacrifice of his son Isaac, yet fully believing that they both would return together.

The father and the son went “…both of them together,”  but alone up that mountain to worship, and do the work that only they could do.  Many years later God the Father and His Son Jesus would make the journey up this hill for the judgment of all sins.  The Father struck His Son in our behalf. 

Read Isaiah 52:13 – 53; and Matthew 27:45-46.  Jesus Christ is the only sacrifice for sin.  He died, was buried, and rose bodily from the grave three days later.  Call on His name; trust Him and believe.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Just A Thought 01/01/09

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!   To one and all who may read Fire and Hammer, and welcome to 2009.

The thought I have for today is concerning faith, and I want us to consider the “faith of Abraham” when the LORD called him to sacrifice Isaac.  When I last wrote of this event covering verse two, we saw that it was THE TEST OF A LIFETIME.  This time let us look at verse 3:

“And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him.” Genesis 22:3 (KJV)

This was something completely new to Abraham.  God had promised Isaac from since before entering the promised land from Ur, and now God was saying “Sacrifice your son…”  It seems as though Abraham does not question, but rises early the very next morning, following the command from God, makes all the preparations, saddling his donkey, gathering servants to help him; getting his son Isaac up and about, cutting the wood, then heading off for “the place of which God had told him”

From the time Abraham left he was being obedient to the “heavenly vision”, following God’s direction.  He had no clue how this was going to end, but Abraham journeys on in the direction he was to go.  In the mind and heart of Abraham Isaac was dead, but he believed in the power of God and bodily resurrection (Hebrews 11:17-19).  After all, God had promised him to be a great people, and nation.

As we begin this New Year, we are somewhat like Abraham.  No we are not called to sacrifice our children – sons or daughters – but we are entering a time when we do not know what is ahead, and of course, every new day is like that. 

As a Christian I have been called to give my life a “Living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to Him” (Romans 12:1).  Christians are also called to go in the direction of a place which God has told us of.  With our eyes on Jesus we will make it.  That faith of Abraham is our faith.  It is the faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross of Calvary.  Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself; that where I am there you may be also” (John 14:2-3).

Are you going to that place Jesus is preparing for you.  If so abide in that faith that comes through Jesus Christ.  If not, look to Jesus Christ and begin that journey today.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Test Of A Lifetime

The very thing which Abraham and Sarah had hoped and prayed for all their lives; their promised son; was about to become an object of sacrifice. God does not require human sacrifice for redemption, justification, sanctification, or glorification. Humanity has been corrupted by sin, therefore would not meet the strict qualifications of purity required for the sacrifice. Death was the result of original sin come down through Adam, and all are guilty.

The Word from God to Abraham;

“And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” Genesis 22:2 (KJV)

The son of promise. The son for which Abraham and Sarah had prayed and waited for a long time. For twenty five years they had waited for the promise, and for many years, possibly 30 – 37 years they had enjoyed the presence of Isaac; their son of laughter. Now God’s message, His Word, His command is “…Offer him for a burnt offering…” What a wonderful, glorious God. Doesn’t God know when you are dead, you’re dead? He knows no such thing. He is God of life, not death. When you give to God what He commands you lose nothing; you gain the life of obedience and faith.

The only son whom Abraham loved was Isaac, of course. Now, Abraham had another son by Hagar (chapter 16) a servant from Egypt. This union was without God’s blessing, thus a sinful relationship, and God yet promised to bless Ishmael, and make him a nation of people. He, however, was not the promised son. Isaac, “Laughter” is the promised son. The promised son is the son of Abraham and of Sarah, as God had promised. In being the “only son” is meant that he is the “only son” of God’s promise. Abraham loved Isaac, and God knew this, but did Abraham know that he actually had a greater love for God than he did for Isaac? Did Abraham realize the measure of faith he himself had for God, His word, and His will?

It was most likely very early in the morning when Abraham heard the Word of God. The place, to Abraham is not revealed, but God tells him “…upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” It was in the land of Moriah, which some believe to be in the area of Jerusalem, and the mount upon which Calvary was to be later. The thing is God knows the place and the time that is involved, and we will see that a little later. The thing is we hear a Word from God that is challenging, may even cause some doubt; and when it comes to faith, if there is no doubt what is the need for faith? Faith works through the doubts and fears of life, as Abraham worked through it as he obeyed.

This could seem as a dark event in the life of Abraham, but it is not. It is rather an event of challenging faith. Faith that will prove the heart of a man. Faith that will prove the promise, the power and grace of the Everlasting God. We must remember that in all things God is soveriegn, and will work out all things for our good and His glory. Faith is not “A leap into the dark”, but a walk in the Light.

You may be going through what you deem as THE TEST OF A LIFETIME, just keep walking in the light of the promises and grace of God. Give up all to God, and you gain, and never lose. Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 10:39 (KJV). Also read Mark 8:35; Luke 9:25; and John 12:25. That TEST OF A LIFETIME may just be the power of the glory of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Here I Am

Abraham had made an agreement/covenant with Abimelech of the Philistines, the inhabitants of the land, and the greatest thing I see in the previous chapter is and he “…called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.” The land to which God had called Abraham was the land of the Philistines, it was not yet the land of Israel, but it was the promised land.

God calls out to Abraham again,

“And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am.” Genesis 22:1 (KJV)

The great response of Abraham should be the response of everyone who knows the “Everlasting God”. The promises of God are good and grand. The promises of God are as good as God is good; they are as grand as God is grand. The promises of God are eternal. The promises are as eternal as God is eternal. “Behold, here I am”. This response was not to let God know where he was but to give God himself.

When he left Ur he left believing God was leading him to a land; in that land he would become the father of a mighty nation; to become a father of a mighty nation means that there would be a son born. The promise was true; the years passed; and eventually in God’s timing the son was born.

Abraham had grown over the years in his faith. He had grown to believe that the land which God had promised was going to belong to his children through a son that was to be born to him. He had grown to accept the fact that the conception, and birth of the promised son would be in God’s own timing; and not in his own. Abraham probably didn’t understand why it was taking “so long” in his estimation, but he had waited and continued believing; even after he and Sarah’s sin with Hagar. Now God was going to call on Abraham to do something that would stretch faith to the limits.

God, the “Everlasting God” (Genesis 21:33) only had to call his name, “Abraham”, and he responded in faith. Not knowing what lay in store again, he answers, “Behold, here I am.” This “Here I am” was not to let God know where he stood, lay or walked; but to give himself to God and His will. “Here I am; ready to go where YOU go.” “Here I am; ready to do what YOU want me to do.” Or, “Here I am; do what YOU will with me. I am in YOUR hands.” It was notification of submission, not information of his location.

The first test of faith is our response to God’s call. Do we respond, “Oh no! Not again!” or do we respond as did Abraham, “I am here LORD. I am willing, and ready to fulfill YOUR bidding.”?

-Tim A. Blankenship

A Neighborly Conflict

“And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear. And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech’s servants had violently taken away. And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day. And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant. And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves? And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well. Wherefore he called that place Beersheba; because there they sware both of them. Thus they made a covenant at Beersheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines. And Abraham planted a grove in Beersheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God. And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines’ land many days.” Genesis 21:22-34 (KJV)

The writer of Proverbs has written, “When a man’s ways please the LORD; he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7). Abimelech would probably be considered and enemy. He does not believe like Abraham. He does not live like Abraham. He does not believe in the God of Abraham, therefore would be the enemy of God. However, Abraham is a faithful witness. We have previously with Abraham and Abimelech seen Abraham act without faith, when he lied concerning Sarah, and going back to the old lie of Sarah being only his sister. In this deed Abraham sinned, and could have very easily set up an account of hateful vengeance by Abimelech, but God is sovereign and overruled in the matter.

Abimelech notices that God is with Abraham, “…in all that thou doest”; and goes to Abraham seeking to keep a treaty between them. It seems that Abimelech is knowledgable concerning the land on which he and Abraham are living. He asked Abraham to “not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son” – only three generations – and to treat those generations with the kindness that he had shown Abraham. An agreement was reached by both men, and Abraham kept the agreement as did Abimelech.

Before the agreement was reached Abraham had a complaint to bring before Abimelech’s attention. Abraham tells Abimelech, “I will swear”, then proceeds to inform Abimelech of a combative action which Abimelech has known nothing about. Some of the servants of Abimelech had “violently” taken a well which Abraham’s servants had dug. Abimelech claims to not have known about the violent actions of his servants. We are not told why the servants did what they did. They may have believed their master was being cheated out of a good well of water by this foreigner who had just recently came into their land. Water was a very precious commodity in that land, as it still is. Therefore, they may have just seen it as an opportunity to gain the water, and their masters approval.

A gift was given by Abraham to Abimelech to seal the deal – the covenant. It is not said that Abimelech gave any gift in return; maybe because Abraham and his people were only pilgrims, visitors, traveling through the land. One day it would become the land of Abraham. The Promised Land that God would give to His people. This well, taken by the servants of Abimelech, was named “Beer Sheba” meaning the “Well of the oath”. Abraham named it. He had the right to do so. He and his servants had dug the well, they lived on that land, as Abimelech had given them right to it (20:14-15). By naming it that gave Abraham ongoing authority to the land. At least, in the context of the Bible, giving the name to an object, thing, and sometimes people gave dominion or authority over it or them. Adam named all the animals which came before him. God says, “…Have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” (1:26). With that dominion and authority he names them, when God causes all the animals to come before him (2:18-20).

Now, with Abimelech and Abraham anytime there was a potential for battles between them, anytime there was misunderstanding they could look at the well of “BeerSheba” and remember the oath they had both agreed upon.

It was here at this well that we are told once again, “Abraham…called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God”. “El Olam” speaking of God as being of an indefinite time or age; eternal, everlasting, never ending, without beginning and without end. Therefore, because God is everlasting, eternal, He can be trusted to carry out all His promises, in His time, in His way, and for His own glory.

We Christians, like Abraham, are only pilgrims, visitors in a foreign land. We are; as much as is possible; to live peaceably with all men (Romans 12:18). Sometimes that is a chore, but if we keep our eyes on the cross, and remind ourselves that we are only strangers in a foreign land, that our home is with the King of kings, then, surely we can be at peace with our neighbors, and one another as brethren. When there is peace in our own hearts with God, and things are right with us and God, then, in most cases we will be at peace with others. It has nothing to do with agreeing doctrinally, spiritually, or morally; but mostly the neighbor seeing that you are a man or woman of your word, that you live what you believe, that you are a good neighbor, they see Christ in you, and they see the hand of God on you; though they may not realize that is what it is.

Christian stand for Christ, preach the word, believe and live the word, exalt Christ in your life, and your neighbors will be at peace with you. They will have no means of bringing a legitimate charge against you. God help us and forgive us when we don’t live for Him and love our neighbors as we love ourselves. We too dwell in the land we are in for many days, but one day we will go home.

-Tim A. Blankenship

 

Women and Intelligence

It seems that there has been for many years a debate over the origins of the human race.  I have never made any secret of my personal belief that we are created in the image of God, both male and female.  I have also never made it a secret that I believe what the Bible says concerning the order, means, and days of creation.

When the Bible tells us God created the stars, planets, moons, the plants, the animals, then the man and woman in six days, then I believe that is what God meant.  I know some view me as being of lesser intelligence because of that, but the non-theist who holds to the theory of evolution seems to be of lesser intelligence in my mind.

I have written on the matter of Creation in previous articles on this blog.  If you desire to read them you may go to Fire and Hammer and click on the category Creation, or click on either of these links to find days 1-4 of Creation.

The reason I am writing this article is because I received the weekly email from Answers in Gensis (AiG), and they had read an article from “Answers” magazine dealing with the book by Darwin, “Origin of the Species”.  In the book he gives reference to the “Inferiority of women”.  Darwin, as many of you know supported the view of “Survival of the fittest” and women are not the fittest according to Darwin.  They have apparently survived because the men have always protected them.  From what I have read, that seems to be his implication. 

According to the article:

“According to Charles Darwin, the central mechanism of evolution is survival of the fittest. In this concept, inferior animals are more likely to become extinct while the superior ones are more likely to thrive.1 The racism that this idea has produced has now been both well-documented and widely publicized.2 Less widely known is the fact that many evolutionists, including Darwin, taught that women were both biologically and intellectually inferior to men.”

And the reason “women are inferior to men”?

“women were less evolved than men, and because of their smaller brains, they were “eternally primitive,” childlike, less spiritual, more materialistic, and “a real danger to contemporary civilization.”3

Why do many women support the idea of evolution when the “father of their faith” believed women to be inferior.  The Bible begins by putting the woman [Eve] on equal par with the man [Adam].  Both made in the image of God.  Adam was the head of the woman because he was created first, and that is what God ordained.  It in no way makes man superior, and the woman inferior no more than, as a man, the General is superior to the private.  Only in order of rank is the General superior.

Like men, there are many women who are very intelligent; and there are some men and women who need much help when it comes to intelligence.  When it comes to God and Creation, anyone who believes all we see, touch, hear, feel, smell and taste “just happened”, needs help.  Anyone who believes that those things which cannot be seen, touched, heard, felt, smelled and tasted, such as the atom, “just happened” needs help in the area of intelligence as well.

I am not the most intelligent man, but I have enough to know that anything that has order, design, and purpose had a designer.  I also know that Designer to be God when it comes to the Creation.  I also know that there are many women, most of them as a matter of fact, who can survive quite well without a man.  However, where would the world be without the two loving and caring for each other?  Especially as God has designed it.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Accuser Sent Away

“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking. Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac. And the thing was very grievous in Abraham’s sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called. And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed. And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba. And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs. And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept. And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer. And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.” Genesis 21:9-21 (KJV)

Hear the words of the apostle Paul concerning this event:

“For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar. For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children. But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. For it is written, Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband. Now we, brethren, as Isaac was, are the children of promise. But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now. Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman.” Galations 4:22-30 (KJV).

Abraham and Sarah had gathered the whole family to celebrate the weaning of Isaac. It was at this celebration that the heart and attitude of Ishmael is seen for what it is. He had the belief that he would be the promised son, the heir of all that was Abraham’s; that is what is implied by this story. The child named laughter relating to at least three different forms of laughter; 1) Sarah’s laugh of unbelief or frustration; 2) Abraham’s laugh of “I can’t wait”; and 3) Ishmael’s laughter of mockery, and a fourth would be and is certainly the meaning “laughter of joy” which was the expression of both Abraham and Sarah at the fulfillment of the promise.

The mother’s heart of Sarah could not endure the mockery; which was most likely inspired by Hagar, and done by Ishmael; and realized they both would need to leave – Hagar and son Ishmael. Ishmael would have been at least sixteen years of age at this point in his life, and here he is as a sixteen year old mocking at least a two year old boy. The age of Ishmael can be determined by seeing the age of Abraham at the time of the boy’s birth [Ishmael’s] which was 86 (Genesis 16:16) then Abraham’s age at the time of Isaac’s birth (21:5) 100, then if Isaac was two years of age at the time of his weaning that would make Ishmael 16. Once before Sarah had became angry with Hagar, mostly from jealousy, because Hagar was expecting by Sarah’s husband (Genesis 16:5-16), Sarah had probably flogged her, or beat her, threatening her, and Hagar fled; and at that time the LORD appeared to her, told her to return, and submit to Sarah as her head; and God promised to make from the son [Ishmael] a nation. At no time had Hagar been given the promise of receiving the inheritance of Abraham, nor would her son. She had received a promise from the LORD, which is seen in verses 10 – 12 of chapter 16.

There is no doubt that Ishmael is an adversary. He is, however, an evidence that we reap what we sow. Because of a lack of patience, of failing to wait on the LORD’s time and place, Sarah convinced Abraham to go against the promise, by supposedly hurrying it along. One thing we all can learn is that God’s promise is not averted, or aborted because of our sinful, impatient behavior. Thus, Hagar becomes a symbol of the condemnation, and bondage of the law. Hagar as a bond woman gives birth contrary to the promise, and according to the understood law the first born was to be heir to the inheritance of the father. The son of promise [Isaac] was God’s heir to the promises of God. We are not being wise when we try to help God fulfill His promises through weak, fleshly, human efforts and means. Only the flesh can be glorified in such case; and not the LORD.

Is Paul the apostle telling us that the Law [Ten Commandments] is of the flesh? God gave them to Moses. Does that answer the question? If any man or woman, boy or girl could keep the law, fulfilling the will of the LORD for their lives, then they would have much to boast of; however, the law condemns us in the flesh, because none can keep it to the letter; only Jesus could, and did.

Isaac is a portrait of the Christ; who is Jesus; and that is seen as he is a son of promise. Jesus is the anti-type, because He is the fulfillment of the portrait. A picture, or portrait is not the real thing, but only an image of the real thing. If you have a picture of your child, or grandchild and the live child standing beside you which would you choose, if you had to make a choice between the two? You would choose the real, living child standing beside you. The picture is good for when they are away to remind us of their being, and person, their love and warmth.

Hagar is part of the “allegory” which gives bondage, because she was a bond woman put in the place of promise; but that was not to be. Sarah is part of the “allegory” which represents Jerusalem and the promise; “Rejoice, thou barren that bearest not; break forth and cry, thou that travailest not: for the desolate hath many more children than she which hath an husband” Isaiah 54:1 as quoted in Galations by Paul.

Abraham is instructed to listen to his wife; “Listen to her voice”. This casting out is a God thing though may not be understood, by Hagar, Ishmael, or their descendants; and many others. Remember this: God is just in doing whatever He chooses concerning His people and His creation; to accomplish and bring about His purposes and will.

We must note that Abraham did not just send Hagar and Ishmael out without food and water leaving them at the mercy of the elements. He gave her freedom, and she could go where she pleased; her life was at the mercy of the LORD. That is far better than being at the mercy men.

Hagar finds herself without water and fearful for her son. She thinks Ishmael is going to die of thirst. This is a trial of faith for Hagar. Doesn’t she remember the promise of before, when Sarah has ran her away, because of her impudence, and disobedience? The LORD appears to her again, and reminds her; “fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.” (vv. 17-18). The LORD had not forsaken her, but was going to fulfill His promise to her. God never breaks His Word. Even when we sin He still keeps His promises.

We know; and all too well how this promise has been fulfilled. The descendants of Ishmael still hate and persecute the children of the promise. Ishmael the accuser, the one who hates the promised child of Abraham. Paul’s words of this matter,

“For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Romans 9:3-8 (KJV)

They are the children of Abraham, but according to flesh. Isaac is the child of promise, and all who will believe by faith, in the Living Promise of Jesus Christ.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Laughter Comes

“And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac. And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.” Genesis 21:1-8 (KJV)

It seems that the original promise had only been given to Abraham, yet it is reasonable, profitable, and Biblical to believe that Sarah was the woman through whom a “great nation” was to come (Genesis 12:1-3ff.). Abraham is assured of this promise many times, and I am sure he gives assurances to Sarah concerning this promise, that God has promised them a son, or children. Sarah knew of the promise when she presented the Hagar idea (Genesis 16:1-3ff), and Abraham followed her insistent pleading. In the seventeenth chapter God renews the promise to Abraham, and for the first time mentions the name of Sarai; changing the names from Abram to Abraham, and Sarai to Sarah. Yet, only Abraham hears the voice of the LORD.

It is not until the eighteenth chapter that we have the LORD, in person, speaking directly to Abraham. and Sarah nearby hearing the promise “I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.” (Genesis 18:10a). It is at this point that she laughs. Is it a laugh of unbelief, or a laugh of frustration with the thought, “Yeah, right, like a ninty year old woman could have a baby”? It could be a little bit of both, yet knowing well God’s promise has not yet been fulfilled.

The first verse of our text tells us “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said…” Remember what the LORD has said, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son“. Oh, how precious to have a visit from the LORD. Mary, the mother of Jesus, could tell us much about that. The birth of Isaac and the birth of Jesus are both precious miracle births. The first due to the age of the woman, and the second due to the fact that she was a virgin. Some would allow and argue that all human births are miracles, but I would beg to differ. These were also miracle conceptions, because God alone determined the person who would be born. I could agree with all conceptions being a miracle of God. There are a couple more miracle births mentioned in Scripture; the birth of Samson, though we are not told of her age we are told that she was barren (Judges 13:2-3), this birth is a miracle because God said it, brought it to pass and named the boy; another is the birth of John the Baptist to elderly parents who had been barren, similar to Abraham and Sarah (Luke 1:5-25). You could add one more and that being the birth of Samuel in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:11. Samuel came as a result of believing prayer on the part of his mother.

The conception of Jesus in the womb of His mother was different from them all. His mother was a virgin at the time of conception, and remained a virgin until after Jesus was born; “Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” Matthew 1:24-25 (KJV). The Father of Jesus is the God of Creation. That is not true of Isaac, Samson, Samuel, or John the Baptist. No one can say they have God as their Father, except Jesus Christ alone.

In the conception of Isaac God came to Sarah and opened her womb, caused the seed of Abraham to fertilize the egg of Sarah, and designed the male baby, that would grow to become a man of faith. There is a promise here to all people who believe God; that promise being that He will fulfill His Word, and His promises. There should be no doubts about that.

Laughter was the name of the son who was born to them. The happy, joyous couple must have danced with joy upon knowing she was pregnant, and then, they were filled with joy, excitement waiting for that son to be born. Laughter and joy fills mothers and fathers of every era of time and parents of different ages too. As I write this I am in the fifty fourth Summer of my life, and I could not begin to imagine having children at that age. Our children are all in homes of their own, with children, with the exception of our youngest and his wife. The grand children are a joy. I would not want to think of having to diaper, feed and clothe, and care for everyday, a newborn baby of our own. There are couples who are waiting till they are older to have children, then, are having more difficulty conceiving. When they do conceive, they are really joyous about it, and may God bless them.

How Sarah’s heart must have yearned those nine months to hold, and suckle that baby boy, as she was waiting for his birth. The anticipation, the waiting, the excitement, and the exuberance that must have flooded her soul, and that of Abraham’s too. The Church has been given the promise of the return of our Lord and Savior; but where, oh where, is the anticipation, the waiting, the excitement and the exuberance in the Church for His return? It is hardly even mentioned in the pulpits of today. It is given rather to being spiritual, not real, but having to do with a person’s salvation, or their death. “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” Hebrews 9:28 (KJV). If you will notice, the promise of Hebrews 9:28 is for them that “Look for Him”, and that means far more than just looking toward the sky. Abraham and Sarah were looking for Isaac – their laughter, their joy, their anticipation, excitement, and exuberance; and even before that final nine months when the promise was nearing fulfillment. The hearts of many professing believers are growing cold toward the aspects of the return of Christ.

It seems that if Abraham could speak to us today, he would say, “Hold on, keep believing, keep trusting; God’s Word will come to pass. He will not fail.” Abraham carried through with the covenant of circumcision as God had spoken concerning his household (Genesis 17:2). The weaning age of children in the day of Abraham has been stated to be from age two all the way to ages of eleven and twelve; which eleven and twelve seems to be rediculous; and as late as the age of seven, though possible seems a bit stretchy as well. Abraham called for celebration when the boy reached the age of weaning and was weaned, ie., from his mother’s breast milk, and onto solid foods. This causes me to think of Peter’s statement, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.” 1 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV).

Laughter comes when the promise is fulfilled, and we are standing in the presence of the Lord of all creation, who is the Lord of our salvation.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham – The Backslider

There are times it seems we never learn from previous mistakes, or previous sins. We must remember that earlier in Abraham’s journey of faith, and after arriving in the Land of Promise there was a famine which came into the land, and Abraham doubted and went down into Egypt. We read in the twelfth chapter of Genesis that it was in Egypt he conspired with Sarah to deceive the king of Egypt into believing that Sarah was a half sister, which was a half truth.

Why the deception? Because of fear of his life. Why was there fear in his heart? He was out of the place of God’s blessing, though still in the borders of the Promised Land.

“And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.” Genesis 20:1-7 (KJV)

There seems to be no apparent reason for Abrahams journeying to the “south country”, and Gerar. The man of faith has had a great experience with the LORD. He and Sarah have received a renewed promise of a soon to be born son. He has prayed and his nephew Lot has been delivered from destruction, though by coercion. In their first moving away event it was due to a trial of drought and no food, but what is it now? Could it be that the patriarch has grown comfortable, and at ease and just desires to get away. We have nothing of him building an altar, or anything concerning his worship of God, but of the deceiving of a ruler.

Whatever Abraham’s reason for the move he was putting himself into a dangerous position. He had not moved from the land of promise; he was still within its borders, but near the edge. He was placing himself in Philistine territory. We need to remember Abraham was born a sinner just as we all were, and though he had been justified by faith [15:6], he, as do we, still struggled with the old flesh. When Abraham arrived in Gerar he began walking by sight, and fear set in. Warren W. Wiersbe wrote, “Fear of man and faith in God cannot dwell together in the same heart. ‘The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trust in the LORD shall be safe.’ (Proverbs 29:25 NKJV). Abraham forgot that his God was ‘the Almighty God’ (Gen. 17:1) who could do anything (18:14) and who had covenanted to bless Abraham and Sarah” From BE OBEDIENT by Warren W. Wiersbe, p. 87.

The reason sins are usually committed over again, and sometimes again and again is probably due to the fact of not forsaking that sin. Abraham and Sarah had confessed their sin, maybe even asked forgiveness from Pharoah of Egypt, and from God; but they were still clinging to it; they had not rid their lives of it. For nearly twenty five years they had clung to this deception, and now they use it again.

At this deception Abraham is certainly not a good example of faith. For Abimelech or for believers of all ages his faith stinks at this stage. A man who has for twenty five years awaited the promised son, and has just recently received renewed promise that the birth is going to take place. He jeopardizes the purity of a son. He jeopardizes the life of his wife and her purity too. This king of Gerar has more integrity at this point in Abraham’s life. This king is more honest, and certainly is more forthright, and generous than Abraham. Who appears to be the best neighbor? Who would be the better witness for the power and glory of God at this point? It certainly was not Abraham.

Why does God not come to Abraham and convict him of his wrongdoing? That is something which puzzles me. Could it be because Abraham had convinced himself, and Sarah had convinced herself that they had not lied; that what they had told was the truth; thus, they had not deceived anyone? When we get into that state of mind even the Spirit of God cannot bring us to the truth. At such times God will use the unusual to get our attention. God can use the ungodly to rebuke us, and correct us just as he did with Abraham, here in Gerar.

God appears to Abimelech in a dream by night, and condemns him for taking Sarah from Abraham. Abimelech pleads with the Lord, and reminds the Lord that Abraham has deceived him and the people by claiming Sarah as his sister. For some time Sarah had been in his “harem”, but he had never touched her, and that was God’s doing we see from the words, “I also withheld thee from sinning against Me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her”. When the sins of God’s people forsake His holiness and purity, He does not, nor will He.

Abimelech is to restore Sarah to Abraham, and in doing so God will spare the king and the people he rules. Over and over again through the Bible we see that our sins are never just personal; but they will affect every life we touch.

“Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid. Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake. And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother; and she became my wife. And it came to pass, when God caused me to wander from my father’s house, that I said unto her, This is thy kindness which thou shalt shew unto me; at every place whither we shall come, say of me, He is my brother. And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife.” Genesis 20:8-14 (KJV)

There is a confrontation which takes place. Can you imagine, to Abraham’s horror, as the king summons Abraham to come to him, and then he finds out that God has revealed to this man the secret he and Sarah have been concealing? God has revealed to Abraham secrets; such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah as a prophet; but now the prophet has his secret revealed to the king by God. God is a revealer of secrets. Every secret of men will be shouted from the roof tops. Read Mark 4:22; Luke 8:17. Oh, how embarrassing it can be for the child of God to be found out, and chastised rightly by the ungodly.

When Abraham expresses his fear (v. 11) to the king what does that say of his faith? It says to the king that his faith still needs to grow, or this God of his can’t be much. Anytime we allow the appearances of men, and their power or perceived power, prestige or influence to cause us to fear we are poor witnesses of the power of Almighty God.

Abimelech shows great generosity, and gives back Sarah to Abraham, and also gives him sheep, oxen, and male and female servants. Blessings come from God. Even when Abraham has schemed and deceived, and would have ruined the purity of his own lineage, and the purity of his wife God preserves them, delivers them, and does so with blessing.

“And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved. So Abraham prayed unto God: and God healed Abimelech, and his wife, and his maidservants; and they bare children. For the LORD had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah Abraham’s wife.” Genesis 20:15-18 (KJV)

As Abraham journeyed around the borders of the Promised Land he would encounter various “kings” and rulers of the various nations within. Some were friendly, as was Abimelec and he was extended the welcome of dwelling where he would choose. When such and invitation or welcome is extended there are some who might take great advantage of that and move right in to one’s own abode. Abraham was a courteous man, and excepted the invitation in the manner in which it was meant, I am sure. As Christians in our neighborhoods, and places we live, we too are to be good neighbors, and not to take advantage of our neighbors, or our friends, and if there is to be anyone having advantage taken of them, then, let it be us.

The rebuke which Abimelech gives to Sarah shows that he knew she had part in the deceptive lie she and Abraham had both concocted many years ago. There has been “a thousand pieces of silver” given to Abraham somehow connected to Sarah’s release to him. It seems to be connected to this rebuke of her by the king. One commentator said that it could be the means of purchasing material for the making of veils to cover the faces of Sarah and her servant girls. John Gill commenting on the following verse writes,

but it seems best to refer this to the gift of the thousand pieces of silver, and read the words, “behold, this is to thee a covering of the eyes”; so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; for the words are a continued biting sarcasm on Sarah; as Abimelech twits her with calling Abraham her brother in the preceding clause, so in this he tells her that he had given him so much money to buy her a veil with, and to supply her with veils from time to time to cover her eyes, that nobody might be tempted to lust after her, and that it might be known she was a married woman; for in these countries…” From e-Sword.

It does seem that Abraham and Sarah have gone all these years with the lie in tact and able to use it on a whim. O, how foolish we human beings can be when it comes to covering our fears; especially when we have God defending us, and caring for our every need.

Even at Sarah’s age she is evidently still a “Knock out” in appearance. She is around 89 years of age at this point of her life. What 89 year old woman would be expecting to have a child, but Sarah had God’s promise of it. By the word of Abimelech Abraham “thy brother” [using their lie], is the covering of the eyes. Could it be that because of Abraham being her half brother this could mean that Abraham would protect her and her maids as though a brother. Men would think twice before looking upon Sarah with evil intent.

Finally we have Abraham praying for Abimelech. It would appear that because of Abimelech’s taking of Sarah that God has caused all the women of the kings household to have no children. Abraham’s relationship with God is seen in that the women began to bear children shortly thereafter. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). By the answering of Abraham’s prayer we see that there was a wonderful testimony of faith left, and that God cares, gives mercy and grace to all.

Even though we sin, and at times offend others with our sin, we can still seek their forgiveness, receive their rebuke, and pray for them. God can bless despite our sin; when we have sought His forgiveness and grace.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World (2)

“Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.” Genesis 19:24-26 (KJV)

With Lot and what there is of his family safe in Zoar the LORD sends down the rain of fire and brimstone. This brimstone could refer to sulfur which will itself burn, with an unseen flame. It could refer to several different flammable substances. The picture we are given seems to be that of falling substance from the skies. It was in the form of visible flames, and hot, with hard substance as well forming a crushing effect as it hit the cities, and the lands, of the plain. No living person would want to remain in that kind of tragic environment. It would mean certain death.

Some have located the previous area of the cities of Sodom on the Southern end of the Dead Sea. The area is evidently under water. That would actually mean that the judgment was what formed the Dead Sea, or at least a portion of it. According to some archaeological people these cities were destroyed by volcanic eruption or something along that line of thought. It seems that no one wants to acknowledge that God judges sin and rebellion.

The Bible says, and this is our final authority, “Then the LORD rained upon Sodom…” When will those who profess the name of Jesus begin to realize that God still judges sin. When we live in a profligate nation, where sin is more a joke than a problem, and we start seeing tragedies of all sorts begin, surely that should make us wonder. It seems that when sin is on the increase, and mocked at, and promoted as being a normal part of life, then earthquakes will increase, wild storms of wind, and rain continue to increase, but the “scientist” will tell us these are only natural phenomena and is due to today’s popular event called “global warming”. Whether we want to admit it or not all these things are due to sin in the first place; from the sin of Adam and Eve to our sins today; we all stand guilty before God. It is only His hand that keeps this world from flying apart, and when these things begin happening; it is due to His hand gradually being removed. Gradually being removed so as to warn us, and turn our hearts toward Him.

There was not much warning for the cities of Sodom, except what Lot provided for his sons-in-law. The people of Sodom and the plains had the testimony of creation, ie., the stars, the sun and the moon, the singing birds, and all flying fowl. As the Psalmist wrote, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament showeth His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1). They had the witness of Lot and his family, though it may have been a weak one; he was still a witness, which can be used against them. Lot was evidently afflicted by the sins of this city, “And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:” 2 Peter 2:7. We can see that Lot did have a hatred for the sins of his culture. Remember how he sought to protect the visitors from harm by the people of the city.

God so hated the sins of Sodom and cities of the plain that He destroyed all the inhabitants of those cities. They were polluted by immorality, and they were full of themselves, as we saw in Ezekiel 16:49-50. When people get too full of themselves they have no room for God, and God, according to His Word is a jealous God; no matter what Oprah thinks. Nothing much grows where these cities once stood.

One woman has been immortalized by Jesus in a far different way than anyone would want to be. Her name was lost with Lot and His daughters, because we don’t know it. God had warned Lot, his wife, and their two daughters, “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee…”, and it was after they were all safely in Zoar, the city that was protected because of Lot’s plea with the visitors, that the judgment fell upon their city. For whatever reason she “looked back”, and became a “Pillar of salt”. Jesus refers to Lot’s wife in the Gospel of Luke: “Remember Lot’s wife.” (17:32). It is not mentioned why she looked back, and I don’t think we can go far wrong in bringing some things to light concerning her backwards look. First of all, her heart was still in Sodom; maybe it could be daughters who never came with them, the sons-in-law, and maybe grandchildren. Secondly, her heart could have still been there because of the power and popularity she and Lot had in the city, and she just couldn’t leave that behind. A third thing, could have been their wealth; by this time, the years they had spent there they could have achieved much material gains, gold, silver, jewels, precious garments, and the lifestyle they lived was comfortable; she was leaving it all behind. Remember Jesus’s words, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matthew 6:21. Someone has said of Lot’s wife, “She became in death, what she never was in life. Salt.” The warning of Lot’s wife stands for all time to all who will cherish the physical and material over the Word and will of God.

“And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace. And it came to pass, when God destroyed the cities of the plain, that God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow, when he overthrew the cities in the which Lot dwelt.” Genesis 19:27-29 (KJV)

The morning of Lot’s deliverance, and at about the time of the destruction of the cities, Abraham got up early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood with the LORD probably just the day before, and looked toward the direction of Lot’s location; the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, and he saw the smoke billowing up through the air and the sky. I am sure Abraham’s heart must have sped up and skipped, and practically stopped. There were surely tears in his eyes knowing the hundreds, thousands of human lives that were given in judgment that day. Abraham surely believed that Lot and his family, or at least some of them had been spared; he was trusting the LORD for that matter and God would not fail.

Is there anything wrong with godly people grieving over the loss of human life even when it is known to be the judgment of God? It would seem to me to be ungodly not to grieve. Though “God is angry with the wicked everyday” (Psalm 7:11); He does not desire to destroy them but to save them. Hear the prophet Ezekiel: “Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways and live?” (18:23), and once more, “For I have no pleasure in the death of him that dieth, saith the Lord GOD: wherefore turn yourselves, and and live ye.” (18:32). It seems quite clear that God grieves in the judgment too. We can rejoice in that God is glorified in the judgment of sin. We can rejoice when justice is carried out, and God is glorified. We must remember this world and this life is not about us; it is, however about Almighty God, and His glory.

“And Lot went up out of Zoar, and dwelt in the mountain, and his two daughters with him; for he feared to dwell in Zoar: and he dwelt in a cave, he and his two daughters. And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, et us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night: and the firstborn went in, and lay with her father; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. And it came to pass on the morrow, that the firstborn said unto the younger, Behold, I lay yesternight with my father: let us make him drink wine this night also; and go thou in, and lie with him, that we may preserve seed of our father. And they made their father drink wine that night also: and the younger arose, and lay with him; and he perceived not when she lay down, nor when she arose. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father. And the firstborn bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day. And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.” Genesis 19:30-38 (KJV)

 

Zoar was a city of the plains which was spared from the judgment of God. To those in “science” who would proclaim that “This was just a volcanic eruption” would have a hard time explaining how this city was kept from the judgment, and it is just a short distance from the Southern end of the Dead Sea. God’s grace is truly sufficient.

Why Lot feared dwelling in Zoar we are not told. It does tell us that he was fearful there, so he went and lived in a cave. Maybe he was fearful because the people there thought Lot was responsible for the deaths of so many, or at least he may have thought they were thinking that, and fled for his life. We often do not realize it but fear has a very crippling and disabling affect on us. It causes us to flee when nothing pursues us. The writer of Proverbs wrote, “The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.” (28:1). When our hearts are not with God, that is usually when we are fearful. That is our weakest time, and that is when we flee. To what we have no idea, we just must flee, and it is most likely into more fearful surroundings, and into sin.

We would surely mostly admit that a cave would not be as comfortable as a home in a city. There is much evidence of what happens when we start living with fear. The people of the city of Zoar may have despised Lot, thinking that he was responsible for the demise of the other cities, and maybe accusing him of that, and he may have had just a paranoia thinking such things. Even though he was delivered to this city by God he grows in fear. Fear in the heart shouts loudly and clearly that things are not right with you and God. When you are in the Spirit of God, walking with Him, and doing His will there is no fear, but rather “peace, love, joy…”. John the apostle tells us, “Perfect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18), and we need to know that when we have the proper fear of God, there is no need to fear anything else.

This fear led him to withdraw from the city. Some of the fear may have been that God would destroy this city too. If that be true then Lot’s faith is certainly wavering, and he is gravely in doubt. God had brought him here and saved this city from destruction, why would he now destroy it? He went to a cave with his two daughters. The daughters determined that they needed to have babies, if their race of people were to continue. They devised a plot of getting Lot drunk, getting him in their beds or them into his. Lot may have not noticed the special treatment, the wine, the excess, because he was hurting from the death of his wife, and most of all he was fearful. Fear mixed with sorrow are two of the strongest emotions that can ruin and take control of our thinking. They can get us to the place of amusements; and it would do us good to do a word study here. The word “Muse” means “thought” or “thinking”. When you add the “a” to a word it usually means basically “No”. When you put these two together you have the meaning of “No thinking” or “No thought”. Amusement is usually for the purpose of taking our minds off of problems, and thus that is what has happened to Lot. From Lot we should learn how our fear, our emotions, and our amusements can so easily detract us from the direction and path of holiness, and righteous living in Christ our Lord and Savior.

There is a lot to be said for sobriety, and sober thinking. Without it you end up with fathers having incestual relationships with daughters, mothers having incestual relationships with sons, cars careening out of control killing an innocent family driving down the highway, on their way to grandma’s house. Without sober thinking you will have step fathers raping and killing their step daughters, and /or their sons. There is really no limit to what evil can come from drunkenness. As a result of this debauchery Lot fathers two of his own grandchildren. One of them is Moab which becomes a nation which hates Israel, desires to curse Israel, hires a false prophet to do so, brings immorality into Israel and a plague ensues (Numbers 22-25). The other son/grandson born to Lot by his younger daughter is named Ben-ammi and these are the Ammonites which also hated Israel. But, then, these were only personal choices; no one was hurt by them were they??? Think again.

Moses, in his writing the Pentateuch wrote, “Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). I think he knew what he was writing.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Perils of Friendship With the World

According to the New Testament and the writings of the Old Testament too, God knows how to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the unrighteous. In 2 Peter 2:9 it is written, “…Then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment…” We should understand that the Lord is not surprised by our sins, but He is offended by our sins. He is the offended One. He is the one to whom the debt was owed for sin. There is still sin in our world. Even though that sin debt has been paid in full by the life, shed blood of Jesus Christ it yet needs to be put away.

As Christians we face our sin, others sin, and corporate and national sin each day of our lives. We can choose to deal with it by the flesh; which is to just give in to it, go with the flow, never rock the boat, never speak a word against it, and even at times participate in a little bit of it which gives us some pleasure. We also have the choice of choosing to be like Jesus Christ, standing up, giving our lives, making a difference, being a difference. Being a fresh drink of cold water in a dry, barren desert of sin is far better for the world and us, than to just be part of the barren and dry desert.

What happened to Lot and his family? Lot may get a little more bashing than he deserves, but I do see Lot as being a compromiser. Yet God tells us that He calls him “Righteous” (2 Peter 2:7). A majority of Christians probably fit in with Lot more than with Abraham. Lot representing a “carnal” Christian. Abraham representing the faithful Christian.

“And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;” Genesis 19:1 (KJV)

 

We should notice in this first verse that the LORD who was with these two, when they were visiting with Abraham, is no longer present with them. He has sent His ministering spirits into the pits to deliver the righteous and rain down justice upon the unrighteous (Psalm 104:4). Their arrival at the gates to the city of Sodom is evidently the same day in which Abraham is pleading for the righteous. There are those who would blame God for sin. God cannot look upon sin, nor is He the author of it. It is blasphemy to call Him the author of sin. He does not lead anyone to sin. He delivers us from sin, and can often deliver us from its judgment.

It is quite apparent that Lot has become stable with the world in which he lives. He is in a position of authority and power. “Lot sat at the gate of Sodom” implies that he is a leader of the city. Now, let me assure you that it is good for Christians to have leadership positions in places of authority, such as city, State, National government, but never at the expense of one’s honesty, integrity, character, or Christian witness and testimony. There is nothing that tells us that Lot had done any of these things, but we will see later that even his family had no respect for him or his words.

There are two positions we can take in life. One is like that of Abraham who chose to live in tents; and there is the life similar to Lot’s who chose to live in a permanent dwelling in Sodom. Abraham was trusting in a celestial home, and Lot’s was a temporal home. Abraham had built many altars in his worship to the Lord; there is no evidence that tells us that Lot ever built a single altar.

It is evident that Lot was familiar with the spiritual. He did recognize the strangers when they arrived in Sodom. He did invite them to his home for the evening to get them off the vile and mean streets. He bowed before them implying humility, though true reverence is reserved for our LORD.

“And he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways. And they said, Nay; but we will abide in the street all night. And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat.” Genesis 19:2-3 (KJV)

Lot’s hospitality was genuine. He had probably learned much of this from Abraham his uncle. Lot knew the condition of the town, and the town’s people; and that was why He would not except the thought of these two staying out on the street. What kind of hospitality would that be?

Lot “pressed upon them greatly” that they would come to his home, wash their feet, and get in off these streets. It is a great Christian quality to be hospitable, and have people in our homes. Everyone will accept family into there homes, but not everyone will accept a stranger. A stranger being someone we have never met before. Most of the time when we see forms of hospitality in the Bible we see they spare no expense. They “kill the fatted calf” so to speak to be sure that there is plenty to eat. Possibly realizing that these two were special strangers he only gives them “unleavened bread”. They did eat it.

It is almost as though Lot realized that the mission of these two guests was one of haste. It was upon the departure, the night previous to their departure, that God instructed Israel to make only “unleavened bread” because they would be leaving in one big hurry, so needed to have all their things together. They would not have time for the rising of the dough. The guests of Lot also, had no time to waste. The night was about to become even more in need of an expeditious act.

“But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, Stand back. And they said again, This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge: now will we deal worse with thee, than with them. And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door. But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.” Genesis 19:4-11 (KJV)

It was the time of the evening that most people would be thinking of laying their heads down on their pillows for a night’s rest. As Lot, his family and the guests of the house were preparing for their complete rest and trust in the LORD; their night’s sleep; there must have been quite the ruckus at their door. O, how the evil and stench of Sodom must have formed and stank in heaven on this evening.

There is perversion in the hearts of those who come knocking at Lot’s door. They have fallen far from the presence, power and grace of God. They plead with Lot, “bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” In Lot and this situation we can get a good glimpse at what happens when believers/followers of Jesus Christ compromise with the world, thinking, “If I can be a little more flexible with my beliefs, and my convictions, then I can have an influence in their lives”, then we lose the respect of any convictions we may have, and the respect of the people we pretend to be helping, we lose respect for ourselves, and most of all lose the power of God.

One of the things that to me shows the backslidden state of Lot is that he offers his two unmarried, virgin, daughters as replacement for the guests. I understand the culture of the day was a low view of women, but it is never seen, or is rarely seen in the godly of the Bible, and that only seen in the godly when they have a lapse in faith. It was the culture with Lot. He had became one with it, and had no impact against it. Abraham had the greatest impact on Sodom outside. With his prayers, at least three were delivered.

We Christians often have said that God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of the sin of homosexuality, but that is only partially true. The prophet Ezekiel gives us a fuller message on the matter. “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom, pride, fulness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty, and committed abomination before me: therefore I took them away as I saw good.” Ezekiel 16:49-50 (KJV). The basic sin of Sodom was they turned away from God. When people turn their backs of God, His Word, His messengers, His grace, and His mercy; sin begins to rage in the hearts of the unbelief. The depravity of man begins to roar against all that is holy, and turns the mind and body against the love of God. All that seems to come out when sin is on its rampage against God is more and more perversity.

The only father and/or mother who could sell their child for sexual exploitation are one’s who have fallen from the mercies of God. They at one time have heard the voice of God, turned their backs on Him, and arrogantly chosen to go their own way. As more and more people turn their backs on God, and choose their own gods, or no god, sins power will begin to get worse and worse. It will reach its climax, and then, Jesus will come and put an end to it.

When the rebellious, licentious men of Sodom were at Lot’s door trying to press their way through Lot, the guests pulled Lot inside to safety, and then, struck the eyes of the “small and great” with blindness. They certainly had no eyes to see and understand the plan and will of God concerning their lives and behavior, and no eyes to see who these two visitors were. The sins of Sodom and surrounding cities of the plain would end on this evening. The judgment of God was about to fall; but what about Lot and his family???

O, God, let us not be a part of our culture or society, but in it as a light, and salt, but distinct from it, that they all may know that there is one God, one LORD and one faith, and that is through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us hear Your Word when You say, “Come out from among them and be separate.”

“And the men said unto Lot, Hast thou here any besides? son in law, and thy sons, and thy daughters, and whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it. And Lot went out, and spake unto his sons in law, which married his daughters, and said, Up, get you out of this place; for the LORD will destroy this city. But he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law. And when the morning arose, then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city. And while he lingered, the men laid hold upon his hand, and upon the hand of his wife, and upon the hand of his two daughters; the LORD being merciful unto him: and they brought him forth, and set him without the city. And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that he said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: Behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight, and thou hast magnified thy mercy, which thou hast shewed unto me in saving my life; and I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: Behold now, this city is near to flee unto, and it is a little one: Oh, let me escape thither, (is it not a little one?) and my soul shall live. And he said unto him, See, I have accepted thee concerning this thing also, that I will not overthrow this city, for the which thou hast spoken. Haste thee, escape thither; for I cannot do any thing till thou be come thither. Therefore the name of the city was called Zoar. The sun was risen upon the earth when Lot entered into Zoar.” Genesis 19:12-23 (KJV)

 

It was the task of the angelic visitors, Lot’s guests, to deliver all of Lot’s family where possible. No one would leave under duress though, and when Lot went to warn his sons-in-law they only saw him as a mocker of such a message. How many sons-in-law did Lot and his wife have? We are not told. There are evidently other daughters other than the ones in the house, and which left with them. These sons-in-law had witnessed the life of Lot and his family. They had evidently seen no difference in his life and the lives of the people who lived there, so when Lot came knocking at their door they saw only a man mocking, thus, they would not believe, therefore they stood condemned with the rest of the city, including Lot’s other daughters.

The angels had warned Lot of imminent judgment coming upon the cities. “Whatsoever thou hast in the city, bring them out of this place: For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.” The judgment would be imminent because it was dependent upon the departure of Lot and all who would leave with him. Lot had no power, no right or authority to say to the angels, “Just let me stay and I will see them converted”. The time had passed for that. Lot was not near to the LORD, and needed delivered.

Great haste was in the voice of the visitors as they spoke to Lot, “Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city.” There was, however, no haste with Lot, or his family. When family, be they daughters, sons-in-law, sons or daughters-in-law, will not heed the voice and warning of God, and/or His messenger, and judgment is imminent as in NOW; it is too late to linger. The time required haste in getting out of town.

It becomes quite clear in looking at this story of Lot, and his family, that the teachings of the God of Abraham had not been in this family. Lot, his wife, and their servants had been more consumed with the elements of the material world. Maybe it was pursuing his career as a judge of the city, and having that high position. Other things became more important than pursuing God, His Word, His way, His righteousness, and His grace. Had these things been taught, then the married daughters upon hearing the message of judgment coming on Sodom, would probably have went with their father. It seems they must have had the heart and attitude of their husbands instead. I realize that this concerning these daughters is only an assumption on my part, but I believe it to be a good one. The hearts attitudes is later seen in the hearts of the two daughters who were delivered.

Lot and his family were very hesitant about leaving. That can be understood when we know that there was family they were leaving behind, and knowing the fiery judgment of God was about to fall, destroy, and kill every living being within this valley. Nevertheless, the angelic visitors grabbed the hands of Lot, Lot’s wife, and his two daughters and practically dragged them out of the city, and pointed them in the right direction. They are told to “escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed”, but Lot had no desire to go to the mountain. He still wanted a city. The notes of the MacArthur Study Bible says of this:

19:17-21. An urbanized lifestyle was apparently superior to a lonely one in the mountains and might be why Lot, playing upon the mercy already shown him, negotiated for an alternative escape destination–another city! The angel’s reply (v. 21) indicated that this city included the original judgment plan, but would be spared for Lot’s sake.” THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, (NKJV), p.41.

If you look at verse 21 it was the original intent of the judgment to destroy this city. For Lot’s sake, however, it is spared, and the lives within it as well. We will see later that Lot never stayed there; he ended up living in a cave, probably in the mountain.

The journey must have been a long arduous one, because it took them the whole day to get to Zoar; the city spared for Lot; and then the LORD (v.24) destroyed the other cities. The LORD delivers those whose hearts are in Him. Though Lot was not one who was walking with God; God certainly was with Lot.

Why would God deliver a man whose heart was not entirely true to Him? Why would God take the time to send messengers to a family who has lived in despite of God to gain the world’s favor and its goods? There is only one answer to that question, and it most certainly is grace. Someone had paid the price of Lot’s and his families redemption. God was the One who took that task upon Himself, and due to the prayers of Abraham, and his faith; God delivered “Just Lot”.

“And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds; ) The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished…” 2 Peter 2:6-9 (KJV)

 

Lot is decreed “Just” by God. He had not earned it. It was a gift. He certainly did not keep it by his goodness, and kind deeds. He is decreed “Just” by God, and thus we have the record of “Just Lot” given to us by God. Our justification is by God, from God, given to us a gift for all time and eternity. No one can ever take that away. It is certain that God will not.

(…to be continued…)

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Work of Intercession

The Work of Intercession

“And Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right? And the LORD said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes: Peradventure there shall lack five of the fifty righteous: wilt thou destroy all the city for lack of five? And he said, If I find there forty and five, I will not destroy it. And he spake unto him yet again, and said, Peradventure there shall be forty found there. And he said, I will not do it for forty’s sake. And he said unto him, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Peradventure there shall thirty be found there. And he said, I will not do it, if I find thirty there. And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty’s sake. And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” Genesis 18:23-33 (KJV)

The word “Intercession” means, according to the MIRRIAM/WEBSTER DICTIONARY, “1: MEDIATION 2: Prayer or petition in favor of another.” The word is not used in these verses of our text, and according to some hermeneutical professionals we are not allowed to use it in the discussion of the text either. That may be a bit of an overstatement, but it can get quite picky with some folks at times.

When Abraham heard of the condition of Sodom and in particular Lot, His nephew, he began to petition the Lord concerning the city. That was the place where Lot had chosen. Remember Lot had lifted up his own eyes and determined the place he wanted by its richness, and the way it appeared to be already blessed; but he did not determine by the conditions of the hearts of the people who lived there. There are many professing Christians of our day who see what they think is a “Mission field”, they may have their heart truly on seeing the conversion of the people, but they can, if not very careful find themselves in a situation similar to Lot’s. They had best be very strong in the Word of God and faith of Christ, and guard their own hearts concerning the teachings and beliefs of the group of people to whom they are witnessing. Too many times “Christians” have turned away from their faith in acceptance of the beliefs of others. No, they may not accept the belief of that group, but they begin thinking that they are okay with God, they believe something. In doing that they have turned from the faith of God.

Whatever Lot’s motive for going to Sodom, and the cities of the plain, he had soon lost sight of the situation. Lot would have been in a desperate situation were it not for the grace of God. Nowhere in our text does Abraham even mention Lot, or his family. It is for the people. The Intercessor begins pleading for the people, believing in the righteousness of God, “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?” That is really where true intercessory prayer begins; ie., with God. It is He who is offended by wickedness. It is He who will deal with the wicked. It is God who must be approached, petitioned, and given requests from the heart. It should also be done for His name sake. In Abraham’s prayer/petition he addresses the righteousness of God. The Intercessor is not as concerned for the outcome of the wicked as he is the outcome of the appearance of God’s righteousness. Too much prayer is done in the name of the one praying – that meaning; give me what I want- and when we pray in His name we pray as He wants and directs.

Intercessory Prayer is best defined as To plead with God in behalf of others. Even to provide a wall between God’s judgment and the lost, the sick, the backsliden, etc. In Ezekiel 22:30 we read, “And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” Ezekiel 22:30 (KJV). Intercessory Prayer can be seen as the power of God at work in His child, and a release of that power in the one for whom intercession is given.

When Abraham prayed for Sodom he received more than what he asked for. It was by the sheer mercy and grace of God, that Lot, and his two daughters were delivered (See Genesis 19:15-29). It seems that in Abraham’s prayer at the beginning he may have thought in the time Lot had been in the valley, with the people, having developed a name for himself, that there might just be more than the family. Sadly, there were not, and Abraham gets all the way down to the number of ten, stops, and the LORD says, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” We know there were not ten righteous people living in Sodom. In our eyes we would not even have called Lot righteous, nor his daughters. It is by the mercy and grace of God that Lot and his daughters were saved. The city was not spared, but Lot was; after being forced to leave.

It could be asked, What is the purpose of intercession? To that we would find the answer throughout the pages of Scripture; to be; to exalt the justice and righteousness of God in the intercessor. This first of all shows us that the heart of Abraham was set firmly on God, and not on having his own way. The highest act of prayer is to depend upon the will of God being done, and that was at the heart of Abraham’s prayer. Another thing concerning the purpose of intercession is to plead God’s mercy in behalf of others (vv. 24-32) and in James 5:13-20 we see prayer being offered for things such as sickness, forgiveness, afflictions, calling for the elders to pray, and even praying for rain or no rain. One other purpose for intercession would be to know and receive the will of God concerning unholy practices. The Word of God tells us to avoid the unholy, but sometimes there may be some things that are not really clear; so we must seek for guidance. Most likely if you must pray to find out it is probably not good or right.

There are results we receive from intercessory prayer. The first one is the intercessor will accept God’s will for how it turns out. The heart of the intercessor will be at rest with God. The Lord’s “Place” and the intercessor’s “Place” is much the same “Place”. People are saved and God’s justice, righteousness, and holiness is fulfilled and done. The intercessor will have and put greater trust in the Lord.

There is really no great secret in being an Intercessor for others. The secret is revealed in the pages of God’s Word, and they are seen in these verses of our text. First, to know God, and to be known by God (v. 19); Abraham was known by God and he knew God, ie., he had a personal relationship with Him. To know God means we know His heart, His thoughts, His righteousness, His holiness, His justice, and we don’t want to do anything to offend these. To be known by God is the best. When He knows you He will never cast you out of His presence. He knows you as His own. Secondly, to know His secrets (v. 17), and in John 15:13-15 we read, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.”; and in Amos 3:7 it is written, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”; and in Psalm 25:14 the Psalmist has written, ” The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him; and he will shew them his covenant.”. A third matter of being an intercessor is you have a burden to share (v. 23), and you are caring for what the will of the Lord is concerning others, “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 (KJV). Last of all; but this list is not exhaustive; is the intercessor is of humble spirit. Always humble before the Lord, never seeking their own, always jealous for the Lord’s will, and not that of the flesh (v. 27). The truly humble are lifting up the name of the Lord, and never notice their own humility. It is of a genuine heart and pure motive.

You will notice in the final verse of our text, “And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place.” This shows us the LORD was pleased with His time with Abraham, and Abraham was content to leave the outcome in the LORD’s hands. When we cannot sleep at night because of fear for the one we pray, it is because we have not gained peace in the matter. We have not trusted it to the LORD’s hands and will. It is quite possible that we fear our desire and will is not going to be done. That was not true of Abraham or God in this case. Nor, should it ever be in ours.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

Abraham, Prophet and Priest

The LORD had come to visit Abraham and Sarah and to reassure them of the fulfillment of the promise, and that promise was a son. It seems quite likely that Sarah’s faith was improved, strengthened by the appearance of the LORD.

When the LORD’s visit had come to an end they began to journey away from Abraham’s camp, and Abraham went with them for a distance. When the LORD comes and puts in a personal visit with you, shares the promise, and renews it who wouldn’t want to go on with Him? As they go walking the LORD contemplates sharing with Abraham something further that He is about to do. He shares it with Abraham. From this part of God’s visit we learn much about intercessory prayer.

“And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? 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.” Genesis 18:16-19 (KJV).

It would not be wrong to call Abraham a prophet. I am not sure there is anywhere in Scripture which calls him “Prophet”, but we know that he walked with God, even though there is no specific verse which tells us that. He is doing it right here in verse 16. “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” Amos 3:3 (KJV). We also have the Lord revealing secret things to Abraham which would place him in the category of a prophet. “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets.” Amos 3:7 (KJV). Is the LORD not here revealing a very secret thing to His friend Abraham? We must answer in the affirmative. According to the word of the LORD spoken above, He is giving to the descendants of Abraham and his children, that, “they shall keep the way of the LORD…” They are being given the oracles of God at this point. It is being given, and was given to them to do justice and judgment, and they were the people whom God used to born the Messiah, our Lord and Savior, into this world.

Prophets for the most part are messengers of God; warning God’s people, and in a lot of cases even the heathen of the coming wrath of God. In Abraham’s case he is not given the opportunity of being a prophet with a message to warn people, but he is given a message to pray for the people. It is especially a message to pray for Lot and his family, because they are living in the cities which are about to be destroyed.

We see in these the LORD’s confidence in Abraham being faithful to become what God has told him that he will become. God even says here (v.19), “I know him”. What a endowment of praise and encouragement that is to hear the LORD say of His friend, “I know him”. If the LORD knew Abraham, we have an assurance that He can know us too. Does the LORD know you? There is coming a day of judgment which we read of from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Himself, and He says, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you workers of iniquity” That is not the words I desire to hear from His lips. That is not the desire I have to hear from His lips for any of my friends, family or any of those who might be seen as my enemies. I do not desire to hear that from His lips for debtors or creditors. The best and sweetest phrase I want to hear on that day is, “Enter into thy reward, thou good and faithful servant”. And, that for all who will hear and follow Jesus.

“And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.” Genesis 18:20-22 (KJV).

It was the LORD who had came to Abraham, visited with him, ate with him, and had wonderful fellowship with him. He has now sovereignly determined to reveal to Abraham what He is about to do. It is in verse 20 that the LORD speaks, and reveals to him what He is planning to do. We can know from the testimony of Scripture that God already knows the spiritual and moral condition of Sodom and Gomorrah.

It is indeed, a very merciful thing for God to come down and appear to men. Three “men” had come and appeared to Abraham, and one he recognized as the LORD. The other two were inevitably angels. The LORD has remained behind to speak with Abraham, and reveal to him what He is about to do in the cities where Lot; his nephew and family are living.

By what we have in these three verses it seems that there is a “cry” from evil. Does evil have a voice, a cry? It must. According to Strong’s

H2201 = za‛aq ze‛a^qa^hzah’-ak, zeh-aw-kaw’ (Feminine): from H2199; a shriek or outcry: – cry (-ing).”

 

No one rejoices when evil rules a land, a city, a home, or a family. And the person who is practicing evil, has no form of joy or peace. It is their way of ‘Thumbing their nose’ at God, His Word, His Son, and His people. There is a cry from evil. Even evil hearts sooner or later will cry for justice, and they shall have it. Surely we can hear the cries of evil in our Country of the USA. Surely the scent of the blood shed in homes, cities, States, and our Nation is a putrid scent to all decent, law abiding people. Or, are we so, “law abiding”, that we don’t smell the scent, because we think we are a nation which has been built solely on man made laws? That is a stench in the nostrils of Holy God.

We as the people of God ought never forget that evil is “grievous” in the sight and sound of almighty God. With him there is no little immorality. It is all vile in His sight, and it cannot dwell in His presence. Apart from the grace of God no fallen man can dwell in His presence, unless, the price of sin, ie., the sin-debt has been paid in full. God owes no accountability to the devil. He is not accountable to the devil. God’s Word is not answerable to the devil. The sin-debt is owed to God; He is the One who is the offended party.

When evil people are in authority people mourn. In the Proverbs we find the wisdom of Solomon saying, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” Proverbs 14:34 (KJV). And we also find more wisdom from this wisest of men, “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.” Prov 29:2 (KJV). The cry of wickedness was horrific to the ears of holy God. The cry of wickedness is still horrific in the ears of God. They should be horrific to the ears of every child of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Lot’s Drunkenness

Lot’s Inebriation

In this study of beverage alcohol and its usage I have given you one example of its bad usage; and now I give you another. As I stated in an earlier post, there is more evidence against the usage of beverage alcohol than there is commending the use of it in the Scriptures.

The nephew of Abraham [Lot], and his family have been delivered from the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, as God has rained down judgment upon a vile and wicked people. The only thing that has saved Lot and his family is the wonder grace of Almighty God. Lot’s wife never made it, because she turned and looked back toward the city despising the warning of the angels not to do so. She has turned into a pillar of salt.

Now the daughters of Lot conspire together to sleep with their father, because they possibly believe that there are no men left, and that they will never bear children unless they do this vile deed. Their conspiracy is to get their father drunk on wine, the elder daughter sleeping with her father the first night, and the younger the second night. Read Genesis 19:32-38.

“Lot departed from Zoar and lived in the mountains along with his two daughters, because he was afraid to live in Zoar. Instead, he and his two daughters lived in a cave. Then the firstborn said to the younger, “Our father is old, and there is no man in the land to sleep with us [as is] the custom of all the land. Come, let’s get our father to drink wine so that we can sleep with him and preserve our father’s line.” So they got their father to drink wine that night, and the firstborn came and slept with her father; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. The next day the firstborn said to the younger, “Look, I slept with my father last night. Let’s get him to drink wine again tonight so you can go sleep with him and we can preserve our father’s line.” That night they again got their father to drink wine, and the younger went and slept with him; he did not know when she lay down or when she got up. So both of Lot’s daughters became pregnant by their father. The firstborn gave birth to a son and named him Moab. He is the father of the Moabites of today. The younger also gave birth to a son, and she named him Ben-ammi. He is the father of the Ammonites of today.” Genesis 19:30-38 (HCSB)

This man Lot would have never agreed to sleep with his daughters if his mind would have been clear to make the judgment. It was not. Lot was surely grieving for his wife, and the alcohol in the wine was surely having a numbing effect on his hurt and pain he was feeling, but that is still no excuse for his drunkenness. This act by Lot, or these acts by Lot and his daughters were acts against God and mankind. How? The sons that were born to Lot became trouble for the people of Abraham; a throne in their sides. One drunken act, or two in this case resulted in the moral failure of a nation –

“While Israel was staying in Acacia Grove, the people began to have sexual relations with the women of Moab. The women invited them to the sacrifices for their gods, and the people ate and bowed in worship to their gods. So Israel aligned itself with Baal of Peor, and the Lord’s anger burned against Israel. The Lord said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of the people and execute them in broad daylight before the Lord so that His burning anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses told Israel’s judges, “Kill each of the men who aligned themselves with Baal of Peor.” An Israelite man came bringing a Midianite woman to his relatives in the sight of Moses and the whole Israelite community while they were weeping at the entrance to the tent of meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, saw [this] , he got up from the assembly, took a spear in his hand, followed the Israelite man into the tent, and drove it through both the Israelite man and the woman—through her belly. Then the plague on the Israelites was stopped, but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000.” Numbers 25:1-9 (HCSB)

You might take that drink thinking, “Oh, one drink is not going to hurt me, or anyone else.” You may be in control as you take that drink, but somewhere, you surrender your will to the will of the drink. Then, the power of the spirits take over. At what point does this happen? Does anyone know? If they believe they know, are they sure? I don’t know, and I really don’t think anyone does, except the Almighty. Do you want to surrender your mind, your body to the control of a substance which will ruin your life, your family life, and the lives of others who know and don’t know you? When you don’t know where drunkenness takes place, why even take that first sip or drink, if that might be even the slightest possibility of drunkenness?

Christians, we are to be sober in our thinking. That is, we are to have a clear mind and able always to make clear decisions. I don’t know about the rest of you reading this, but I have a hard enough time making clear and godly decisions without drinking any alcoholic beverage. I sure do not need any help from alcoholic beverage to numb my thinking.

We are to always be “sober” as Christians. In the epistle of First Peter is written, “Be sober” (1 Peter 1:13; 5:8), and I know this is speaking of a spiritual mind, but can we be sober spiritually if we are not sober physically? Not in my thinking. Every drunk I have ever spoken with knows all there is to know about God, Jesus, salvation, and living, but none of these are having an influence or changing affect in their lives.

Can any Christian honestly say that even one drink of wine at a meal has absolutely no influence in their thinking, and thinking soberly, clearly, and godly thoughts? It seems to me, that even one drink can influence one’s thought processes in the negative, not the positive. If so, then, would that not be sin against God?

In this I am an advocate for Christians to have a clear and sober mind. Think on Christ Jesus. We do not need the mind numbing affects of beverage alcohol. Remember what happened to Lot.

As a fallen race we have problems enough; and as being redeemed through faith in Jesus Christ what place has alcoholic beverage for those who have the New Wine in Him? It seems to me that the Christian who chooses to drink the wines of men, has so little faith in the one who desires to fill us with Himself. With Jesus we will have clear and sober minds, clean hearts, and good deeds.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Is Anything Too Hard for the LORD???

Is Any Thing Too Hard For The LORD???

 

“And they said unto him, Where is Sarah thy wife? And he said, Behold, in the tent. And he said, I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son. And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him. Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women. Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also? And the LORD said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son. Then Sarah denied, saying, I laughed not; for she was afraid. And he said, Nay; but thou didst laugh.” Genesis 18:9-15 (KJV).

The three guests had been served, had received the meal, and had eaten. We are not told this by the text itself, but it seems to be quite clear that the reason these had come, was to bring this important, encouraging message to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham was 75 years of age when they departed Haran, and Sarah would have been 65, yet they had believed the promise of a son. It seems though, that that promise had been given solely to Abraham, and Sarah went along believing Abraham, and this was the first time she had heard it from the mouth of the LORD. If it is true that this is the first time she has heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then, we can better see why she suggested Abraham take Hagar as wife, and they had Ishmael. It might give us better understanding of why she laughed when she heard the words, “Sarah thy wife shall have a son”.

At the time of this visit Abraham was 99 years of age and Sarah was 89. Now, if the preceding scenario is correct, and Sarah had not heard the promise from the LORD Himself, then she has now. The laughter can be understood from this perspective, though it may not have been appreciated by our LORD. Her laughter may have been done in stark surprise at what she had just heard coming from the mouth of this special Stranger.

Then, she heard the words, “Is any thing too hard for the LORD?”, and she believed that the previous words were the word of the LORD. Sarah is not the only one who laughs at the immediate promises of God. We have heard the promises for years from the mouth and lips of others. We have heard them from the mouths of our pastors, our Sunday School and Bible Study teachers; and we have heard them as we read the Scriptures for ourselves, but they just seem distant at times, and not really applicable to us. Then, at a time of our need; at a time when we are discouraged, thinking that God doesn’t care, feeling like God has just forsaken us, and left us to fend for ourselves; one or two of those promises just leap off the page at us; then we kind of laugh, not really meaning to, but we do until it sinks in, then we know God has spoken; we are no longer laughing, but praising. There is a different form of laughter. A laugh of joy, of praise, and of worship.

Why Sarah denied that she laughed is not clear. It may be that she was not that well acquainted with the LORD, and was afraid that He might judge her harshly. The LORD understands our humanity better than we do. He despises unbelief, but what Sarah had was not unbelief, but a lapsed judgment, maybe even a shortage of knowledge, concerning the way of the LORD. Abraham would have probably taught her and led her in their worship of the LORD. She had heard of the promise over and over from Abraham, but now she hears it from the mouth and lips of this Stranger, whom we know to be the LORD in person.

We learn from this that each individual Christian needs to know and worship God on their own, and with others. What we learn in our private times, our “Quiet Times” with the LORD we can share when we are in public with other believers. The wife cannot depend on the faith of her husband to save her. The husband cannot depend on the faith of his wife to save him. The child born into the home with Christian parents cannot be saved by the faith of their parents, then grow up and say, “I am a Christian, because my Mom and Dad were Christians”. If you were born in a garage, does that mean you are a car? Maybe an even more pertinent question would be, If you were born in a hospital does that make you a doctor or nurse? The answer to those questions, of course, is NO!

Did Sarah have faith and believe the LORD? Most definitely. We find in the book of Hebrews these inspiring words, “Through faith Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged Him faithful who had promised.” 11:11 (KJV). In her fear, and denial of her laughter, there seems to be faith that God would do just what He said. The LORD leaves her saying, “Nay; but thou didst laugh”, letting her know that He knew her heart, and her thoughts. He does know our heart and our thoughts, and He knows the heart and thoughts of unbelivers as well. “IS ANY THING TOO HARD FOR THE LORD?”

-Tim A. Blankenship