Jesus in Genesis (5)

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Revelation 19:10c)

We are going to look at a picture of Jesus in Genesis 22 in this study. It is surely one of the clearest pictures of Jesus, the crucifixion, and resurrection that you will ever find in all of the Old Testament.

First of all I want you to put from your mind the old Sunday School picture of Isaac being a small child as he and his father, Abraham went on this journey of sacrifice. It is highly, more probable, that he is a man in his thirties. I will explain that a little later. Now, how do we see the Lord Jesus in the text of Genesis 22.

The command from God to Abraham is,

“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 up one of the mountains which I will tell thee of.” (v.2).

God the Father offered up His only Son for the sacrifice for sin upon the cross of Calvary. Which is said to be the very place where Abraham came to offer Isaac. It was a planned place, “which I will tell thee of”. Abraham rose without question, “early in the morning” maybe to avoid the questions of Sarah, but he went in faith. If you will notice how many times it is stated rather emphatically that it was a “certain place” (vv. 2,3,4,&9).

After Abraham had gathered all the necessary items, his son, a couple of servants, the wood, and the fire they journeyed for three days (v. 4) and “saw the place afar off.” In the heart and mind of Abraham, Isaac had been three days dead. He had been committed to obey God believing according to the eleventh chapter of Hebrews that God was able to raise Isaac from death (Hebrews 11:17-19). From this point on Abraham and Isaac proceed up to the mountain top alone. What is about to transpire can only happen between the father and the son. What happened on Calvary between the Father and Son was such a transaction that no one will ever be able to describe. Three hours of darkness. Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us about the event.SEE Matthew 27:45-46; Mark15:33-34; and Luke 23:44-45.

If you will, now, notice the wood that Abraham, “…laid it upon Isaac his son…” Notice also who took “the fire” and “a knife”. By whose hand was this judgment to fall? The father. See Isaiah 53:4-5ff.

Now, back to something I mentioned earlier. Isaac would have been a grown man, not a child as is often pictured in many Sunday School quarterlies. He could have been 37 years of age. I base that on Sarah’s age at the time of her death (Genesis 23:1) 127, and age of Isaac at the time of his marriage to Rebekkah – 40 (Genesis 25:20; also see 24:67). The reason I mention this is because as a grown man he would have been able to overthrow his father, and not be the sacrifice, but Isaac went as a willing participant in the offering. He was submissive to his father’s will. 1) He took the wood (v. 6); 2) He walked up the hill carrying the wood (v.9); 3) He allowed his hands and feet to be bound (v. 9). Does that sound familiar?

Isaac’s typology of Christ ends here at the altar. He was an unworthy sacrifice for sin. Isaac himself needed a substitute, and that would be the ram. At the point where the “angel of the LORD” stops the hand of Abraham from slaying Isaac, in the heart and mind of Abraham Isaac is alive again. He has been resurrected and lives. Three days dead, now living. On the way, alone with his father, Isaac had asked, “…Where is the lamb for a burnt offering?”, and Abraham responded, “My son, God will provide Himself a lamb for a burnt offering… (vv. 7-8). God has provided HIMSELF as a sacrifice for sin in the person of His own only Son.

I do not think it to be an accident that it says, “…and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns…” In Scripture horns represent power and authority. The ram was held by his own power. Christ “…Stedfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem…” (Luke 9:51).

May they who have a heart for seeing Jesus see Him clearly here. If you cannot see Him here you will miss Him elsewhere.

Jesus in Genesis (1)

This is from near the beginning of my blogging experience.  From May 2006.

In writing previously of LOOKING FOR JESUS I have dealt with future events. I think it would do a great service to see that Jesus can also be found in the Old Testament. He can be found as the Living/Spoken Word of God in Creation; He can be found in direct prophecies concerning His incarnation – God becoming flesh and dwelling among men; He can also be seen in His pre-incarnate manifestations, and many times in types or shadows of persons or events.In the Revelation of Jesus Christ chapter 19 and verse 10 we find these words at the end of the verse,

“…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Now, when it comes to Jesus it has almost always excited me to find Jesus in the Old Testament, and that gives me a better understanding of who Jesus really is. It is the declaration of John the Apostle that prophecy is about Jesus.

Where many sermons and writings in our world today have much to do with our personal problems, anxieties, desires, etc., it seems to me that Jesus is much neglected in our churches. My purpose and aim in writing is to lift up Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God. That is what I pray is done in these writings of LOOKING FOR JESUS, and the others as well. When you get Jesus as Lord of your life, your aim in life will be to glorify Him, and when those problems, anxieties, desires, etc. come along they will not seem so big.

Look in Genesis 1:3,6,9,11,14,20,24,26,29. In these verses it says, “And God said,…” It seems to me that that is the Voice of God, and that Voice is the Person of the Word of God going forth creating the things which God Says.

Now to some who read this you may think me to be a little off base, but read John 1:1,

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

And in verse 14 of John one,

“And the Word was made flesh, and He dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,)full of grace and truth.”

Was Jesus present at the creation of all things? Of course. John even goes on and says,

“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.”

You can also see Paul’s writing in Colossians 1:14-20.

Now look with me in Genesis 3:8-10. This takes place following the rebellion of Adam and Eve.

“And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou? And he said, I heard Thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.”

Who was it that Adam and Eve heard in the garden? It is my conviction that it was the Living Word of God. Who did Adam and Eve have sweet communion with? The One who would be born as the Man Jesus.

Let me take you now to the fifth chapter of Genesis. That is only a genealogy. It is the first of the Bible. It is of the lineage of Seth, the holy line of God, and within this list of generations can be found a message of the gospel by looking at the meanings of the names. You can find these meanings in Strong’s Concordance. That is where I checked it out the first time I heard this. The names begin with Seth which means Appointed, Enos means Mortal, Cainan equals Sorrow, Mahalaleel equals Blessed God, Jared is Came down, Enoch is Experience, Methuselah equals Death which would bring, Lamech means Strength, and Noah means Rest/Comfort. Take those meanings and put them in sentence form – Appointed mortal sorrow, Blessed God came down experienced death which would bring strength and rest/comfort.

Truly God’s Word is inspired by His Holy Spirit. I do not know about you, but that is really WOW!. What is even greater is that God became flesh to take the judgment for our sins, then carry them away in burial and rise again for our justification, and eternal life.

I pray all who read this know this God/Man who is Lord and Savior.There will be more from Genesis later.

Day Three Hundred and Ten

What do I want for Christmas?

In a world where we people are always wanting, even lusting for things and people, I want Christians especially to understand and realize that we; when we truly love Jesus; will want, will desire what His mind and heart desires.

We learn what He wants and desire through the Holy Bible; from Genesis through The Revelation of Jesus Christ.

Jesus said,

“Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.” Mark 11:22-24 (NKJV)

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm 104:1-35 (1-23)

Colossians 1:16;  John 1:1-3

I.  THE CREATOR OF THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH (vv. 1-9; Genesis 1:1-8).

II.  THE CREATOR MEETS THE NEEDS OF HIS CREATURES (vv. 10-18; Genesis 1:11-13).

III.  THE CREATOR PROVIDES THE LIGHTS OF NIGHT AND DAY (vv. 19-23; Genesis 1:14-19).

part 2 –

Psalm of the Creator

Psalm 104:1-35 (24-35);  Genesis 1: 20-31

IV. THE CREATOR MADE THE SEA AND OCEANS OF THE WORLD (vv. 24-26; Genesis 1:20-23).

V.  THE CREATOR CARES FOR HIS CREATION (vv. 27-30;  Genesis 1:24-31).

VI.  PRAISE AND BENEDICTION TO OUR CREATOR (vv. 31-35; Revelation 21:22)

-T.A.

These are sermon points from the sermons preached at Carr Lane Baptist Church on Sunday August 28, 2011.

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 – The Kingdom

There is a kingdom coming on earth which is unlike any kingdom to ever exist.  It seems that the “Crusades” which were foolish “Christian” attempts to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth has brought legend and myth to the idea of a heavenly kingdom.

When Jesus was with us on earth, He said to His disciples as He sent them to preach, “…As you go, preach saying, the kingdom of heaven is at hand”.  That meaning, of course, that it was very near.  The Gospel of Matthew uses the phrase “Kingdom of Heaven”.  “Kingdom of God” is used mostly by the other Gospel writers.  There are some who believe that means it is speaking of two realms of divine reign; and most believe one encompassing the other.

Here is our Statement of Faith concerning the Kingdom:

“IX. The Kingdom

The Kingdom of God includes both His general sovereignty over the universe and His particular kingship over men who willfully acknowledge Him as King. Particularly the Kingdom is the realm of salvation into which men enter by trustful, childlike commitment to Jesus Christ. Christians ought to pray and to labor that the Kingdom may come and God’s will be done on earth. The full consummation of the Kingdom awaits the return of Jesus Christ and the end of this age.

Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Matthew 3:2; 4:8-10,23; 12:25-28; 13:1-52; 25:31-46; 26:29; Mark 1:14-15; 9:1; Luke 4:43; 8:1; 9:2; 12:31-32; 17:20-21; 23:42; John 3:3; 18:36; Acts 1:6-7; 17:22-31; Romans 5:17; 8:19; 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Colossians 1:13; Hebrews 11:10,16; 12:28; 1 Peter 2:4-10; 4:13; Revelation 1:6,9; 5:10; 11:15; 21-22.”

There is one thing we can know for sure and that is that Jesus Christ is the King of the kingdom of heaven, and His kingdom which will come on the earth.

In His kingdom on earth, there will be no more wars, but peace will abound.  There will be no more sickness, health will abound.  There will be only beauty, joy, and love.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom.

Those who refuse Jesus as their King will be cast alive into everlasting fire.  The blessed kingdom reign of Jesus is coming when Jesus comes again.

-T.A.

B F & M – Man

The estate of man is often questioned and discussed.  When it comes to knowing the truth of the matter concerning humankind, there is only one reliable source of information and that is God’s Word – the Bible.  Below you will see the Baptist Faith and Message statement concerning Man:

“III. Man

Man is the special creation of God, made in His own image. He created them male and female as the crowning work of His creation. The gift of gender is thus part of the goodness of God’s creation. In the beginning man was innocent of sin and was endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice. By his free choice man sinned against God and brought sin into the human race. Through the temptation of Satan man transgressed the command of God, and fell from his original innocence whereby his posterity inherit a nature and an environment inclined toward sin. Therefore, as soon as they are capable of moral action, they become transgressors and are under condemnation. Only the grace of God can bring man into His holy fellowship and enable man to fulfill the creative purpose of God. The sacredness of human personality is evident in that God created man in His own image, and in that Christ died for man; therefore, every person of every race possesses full dignity and is worthy of respect and Christian love.

Genesis 1:26-30; 2:5,7,18-22; 3; 9:6; Psalms 1; 8:3-6; 32:1-5; 51:5; Isaiah 6:5; Jeremiah 17:5; Matthew 16:26; Acts 17:26-31; Romans 1:19-32; 3:10-18,23; 5:6,12,19; 6:6; 7:14-25; 8:14-18,29; 1 Corinthians 1:21-31; 15:19,21-22; Ephesians 2:1-22; Colossians 1:21-22; 3:9-11.”

Originally, man was created in the state of innocence, with no sin.  God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and made him a living soul.

In our Statement of Faith (BF& M) we say, “endowed by his Creator with freedom of choice”.  Adam, the first man, used that freedom, sinned against God, thus condemning the whole human race – his children, grandchildren; all who would come from his seed.

Man is a totally depraved race.  Without God’s grace we are a condemned race.

-T.A.

Evidence of a Dead Heart

“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

It is a certain fact that all men are dying.  There have been only two exceptions to this in Scripture, and those two were Enoch of Genesis 5:21-24; and Elijah of 2 Kings 2:9-11.  Even Jesus Christ died; and He did that for you and me; taking all the sins of the world upon Himself, taking the wrath and judgment of the Father; and we by faith are justified through faith in Him.

Paul the apostle says that the evidence of a new heart is bearing fruit, or the evidence,

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law; and they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.   If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.  Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.”  Galations 5:22-26

It is a hard matter, but there are professing Christians who seek to do harm to their brethren, and that is malicious behavior.  Desiring the harm of another is “malice”, and comes from an evil heart.  Peter says that the Christian, follower of Jesus Christ is to lay these matters aside; and you could say “Put them off” entirely.  He includes “Guile” which would be scheming deception to achieve your own way, and or lying to protect you own skin.

The Christian is to be real.  Hypocrisy is found where ever there are people.  The Christian might be hypocritical at times, but should not be a hypocrite.  Being a hypocrite is one who dwells in that way; always pretending to be something they are not.  It is the hypocrite who goes to church, speaks the theological language on Sunday, at Sunday worship; appearing holy, yet curses his fellow employees, employer and others the rest of the time.  It is “Envy” which caused the religious rulers to crucify Jesus (Matthew 27:18).  Envy is a form of jealousy which will do anything, even murder, to get what they want.

These things which control a life are not the fruits of the Christian.  They are the Evidence of a Dead Heart.

The “Newborn babe” desires the word of God, and grows in it.  The Christian is not perfect, nor sinless, yet we are growing into the image of Christ; if indeed we have “Tasted that the Lord is gracious”.

-T.A.

The Scarlet Thread – Fire

There are many times in Scripture where God answers by fire from above.  Today we look at one of those in the book of Leviticus:

“And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: which when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces.”  Leviticus 9:24

What does the fire have to do with the scarlet thread of redemption which flows throughout all of Scripture?  It has much to do with it; but I will probably not begin to touch the surface of its true power, and instruction.

Most likely the first time it was seen, though not mentioned directly, is in the sacrifice offered by Abel in Genesis 4:4 and God had respect unto Abel’s offering, but not Cain’s.  The LORD probably answered by fire to show His approval of the offering.

In our text for today God is showing His approval on the leadership of Moses and Aaron in their worship and upon the worship in holiness.  The fire shows us the holiness of God and His acceptance of holiness when He sees it.  We cannot manufacture the fire of God; His acceptance.  There is much in worship today that is manufactured; put on and forward as worship which is more a show, entertainment, than worship; and with that I am sure the LORD is not well pleased.

The sons of Aaron; Nadab and Abihu; found out that “strange fire” was not accepted by GOD.  They died as a result of their own attempt at fire.  The fire, excitement of the flesh which we manufacture is not holiness, but unholiness before the Almighty, and Holy One.

We must always keep in mind that holiness is from God.  We cannot manufacture it.  It is revealed in the Person of Jesus Christ.  He is holy.  We see in the Revelation a revealing of the Son as He is now;

“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.  His head and His hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and His eyes were as a flame of fire;  and His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and His voice as the sound of many waters.”  Revelation 1:12-15

Notice particularly “…His eyes were as a flame of fire; His feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace…”  He could be called the living fire of God.  Those who may be reluctant to accept this image of Christ will be reluctant to receive His as Lord and Savior of their lives as well.  For the apostle Paul writes,

“For our God is a consuming fire.” Hebrews 12:29

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Ignorance Of Scripture

“Then come unto him the Sadducees, which say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying,  Master, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.’
‘Now there were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed.   And the second took her, and died, neither left he any seed: and the third likewise.   And the seven had her, and left no seed: last of all the woman died also.   In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.   And Jesus answering said unto them, Do ye not therefore err, because ye know not the Scriptures, neither the power of God?   For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.   And as touching the dead, that they rise: have ye not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?   He is not the God of the dead, but the God of the living: ye therefore do greatly err.”  Mark 12:18-27 (KJV)

IGNORANCE OF SCRIPTURE.

Remember the Sadducee’s did not believe in the spiritual.  They did not believe in angels, and I suppose even the devil himself, nor did they believe in a resurrection of the dead.  Everything is material.  If you look at it that way, they could not, really, even believe in God.  He is Spirit.  So, this question and story they tell is to try and get Jesus twisted up and “confused”.  They are trying to show people that He is a fraud.  With Jesus it does not work.

It is no wonder that they are ignorant of Scripture.  Not believing in the spiritual world, and most likely in God, why would they want to know the Word of God.  The Sadducees accepted only the writings of Moses.  The “Prophets” meant nothing to them, and that is why they and the Pharisees did not get along, except at times in political matters.  It makes me wonder how they viewed the “disappearance” of Enoch in the fifth chapter of Genesis; the plagues in Egypt; the crossing of the Red Sea; the provision of water from the Rock; the daily provision of “Manna” from heaven; the judgments of the family of Korah by the ground opening up and swallowing them and all who followed them, the serpents in the camp because of excessive complaining, and their deliverance by the lifting up of the bronze serpent on a pole.  These are all in the books which Moses wrote, and they have to do with the spiritual power who made them come about.

The hypothetical question posed by the Sadducees was based on what is called Levirate marriage.  In Deuteronomy 25:5-6 we see the law of Moses giving the levirate marriage law, and where the question of the Sadducees came from.  According to their story a man married a wife, and died without having children,  the second brother took her to wife, and so on until they all had her as wife with no child.  Their question,  “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?”  My question, Who said they would be in the resurrection?  At least the first one.

Not knowing the Scripture is a sad state for these men of the Sadducees.  They were supposedly knowledgeable of the first five books of Scripture, but they would not believe the spiritual, nor anything having to do with resurrection – living again.  I suppose they must have thought that anything having to do with “Living forever” only meant in a continued family after one’s death, or something.

Anyway Jesus said, “God is the God of the living.”

There is a great tragedy in being ignorant of Scripture.  One can miss out on eternity with Jesus Christ, and/or be the cause of others missing out.

-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.

Full Joy

Full Joy

1 John 1:1-4

OUTLINE –
I.  THAT WHICH WAS FROM THE BEGINNING (v. 1).
II.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HEARD (v. 1).
III.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN  (v. 1).
IV.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HANDLED (vv. 1-3).
V.  WRITTEN THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL (v. 4).

The time of John’s  epistle was probably at or near the beginning of the influences of the Gnostics who appeared to have a “deeper understanding” of God and spiritual things.  At least they thought they did.  Their “deeper understanding” even exceeded that of the prophets and apostles; so they stressed.
These Gnostics, however, equated the physical as being evil, and God as good, thus God and evil, ie., the physical were not compatible; thus, God could not dwell in the flesh.  This denied the physical body of Jesus.
John does not deal directly with this by naming, however, he does approach it from his own experiences with Jesus and by the Holy Spirit.  The apostle is one who gives us quite clearly, in John’s gospel, that Jesus is God incarnate (John 1:1, 14).
John deals with the evil gnostics by calling the churches to remember the things written, and other, concerning the Christ called Jesus:

I.  THAT WHICH WAS FROM THE BEGINNING (v. 1).
A.  In the beginning God created… (Genesis 1:1).
B.  In the beginning was the Word… (John 1:1).
C.  …And the Word was made flesh… (John 1:14).

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”  Gen 1:1 (KJV)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”  John 1:1 (KJV)
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”  John 1:14 (KJV)

II.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HEARD (vv. 1, 3).
A.  His sheep “hear His voice” (John 10:3).

  1. His sheep know His voice (10:4).
  2. His sheep follow Him (10:4).

B.  His sheep will not follow a stranger (10:5).

  1. They “know not the voice of strangers” (10:5).

C.  He knows those who know His voice (10:27).

  1. They follow Him (10:27-28).
  2. No one is able to pluck them from the Father’s hand (10:29).

D.  Those who love Him hear and keep His words (John 14:21-24).

“3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.”  John 10:3-5 (KJV)

“27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29 (KJV)

“He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. 22 Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world? 23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. 24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.”  John 14:21-24 (KJV)

III.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN (v. 1).
A.  Jesus knowing Nathanael before meeting Him (John 1:43-51).
B.  Jesus cleansing the temple (John 2:13-17;  Matthew 21:12-13;  Mark 11:15-19) two times.
C.  Calming storms on the sea; as well as Peter walking on the water (Matthew 8:23-27; 14:22-33).
D.  Jesus turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).
E.  Jesus feeding thousands (John 6:5-14).
F.  Jesus gives them transportation (John 6:16-21).

“And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.”  John 6:16-21 (KJV)

IV.  THAT WHICH WE HAVE HANDLED (vv. 1-3).
A.  John could have Thomas’ experience in mind (John 20:24-29).
B.  Peter’s experience of walking on the water, beginning to sink, and the Lord taking his hand (Matthew 14:31).
C.  The woman with the impurity for 12 years reached out and touched [handled] His garment (Mark 5:25-34).
D.  Holding fast the faithful Word… Word of life (Titus 1:9;  Philippians 2:16).

“And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”  Matthew 14:31 (KJV)

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.”  Titus 1:9 (KJV)
“Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.”  Philippians 2:16 (KJV)

V.  THAT YOUR JOY MAY BE FULL (v. 4).
A.  Real Joy is only with the Father.

  1. Joy which no one takes from you (John 16:22).
  2. Joy which is full [complete] (John 16:24).

B.  According to Nehemiah  “the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
C.  Found only in the work of Jesus Christ on the cross (John 6:29).
D.  Freedom is related to Joy; Joy is related to freedom – Freedom’s Joy is through Jesus Christ (John 8:36).
E.  Full Joy comes when we see God and His Son Jesus for who they fully are.

“And ye now therefore have sorrow: but I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you.”  John 16:22 (KJV)
“Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”  John 16:24 (KJV)
“Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”  John 6:29 (KJV)
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.”  John 8:36 (KJV)

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Discipleship – The Pursuit Of Godliness

Hebrews 12:14-17

“Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: 15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; 16 Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. 17 For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”  Hebrews 12:14-17 (KJV)

OUTLINE –
I.  A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).
II.  TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v15).
III.  BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15). Deut. 29:18
IV.  THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).
V.  THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).

In previous verses of Hebrews 12 we are told not “to despise the chastening of the Lord”.  The chastening of the Lord could be called His discipline, correction, or discipling.  After reading something I believe was Charles H. Spurgeon saying, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”, that has been in my mind from the day I read it.  I believe it to be a true saying.  Though you will not find those words spoken or written that way in Scripture; it does seem that the principle of that is spoken of in the verses we look at today, and those few preceding them.

A brother in Christ has called it “God’s Discipleship” when he is making us holy, and pursuing peace.  One great achievment or failure to succeed in the Christian life would be to fail at sin.  Now, wouldn’t that be a great achievement as a child of God?

People are pursuing all sorts of things.  Success in employment, success on the job, a bank account with money left over after the bills are paid, health, personal recognition, popularity, prestige, power… you get the idea.  Godliness is not so much sought after, even by those who profess to be Christians.

A PURSUIT OF PEACE AND HOLINESS (v. 14).  Peace is a topic of much talk, and use of many words; however it doesn’t seem real close in the realm of the political world, and at times the religious world.  One thing I think I know and that is those who know the Prince of peace – Jesus Christ are at peace with God, and one another.  It is the “peace that passes all understanding” which “Keeps our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7 KJV).

“G1515
εἰρήνη
eirēnē
i-rah’-nay
Probably from a primary verb εἴρω eirō (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication prosperity: – one, peace, quietness, rest, + set     at one again.” From e-Sword Strongs

Being at peace with God, “at one” with God, “walking with God”, in agreement with Him (Amos 3:3) is the greatest and best thing that has ever happened to mankind.  Anyone who has not made peace with God will not be at peace with anyone else.  That tells us much about ourselves. Doesn’t it?  “Turning the other cheek” can only come from an individual at peace with God.  Loving the unlovable comes from a heart at peace with Jehovah.  Those who are truly merciful, and have obtained mercy have the peace of God.

It is because one has been “Justified by faith” that one can “have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 5:1).  This peace will also lead us into holiness; and the penman of the Hebrews Letter tells us “without which no one shall see the Lord”.  The word “Holy” is given this meaning in Strongs

“G38
ἁγιασμός
hagiasmos
hag-ee-as-mos’
From G37; properly purification, that is, (the state) purity; concretely (by Hebraism) a purifier: – holiness, sanctification.”
From e-Sword Strongs

Peace and holiness are God’s to give.  They come from the death, burial and resurrection of His Son Jesus Christ; paying the price for our sins Himself, taking their guilt, condemnation, and power away; rising to life victorious over them, declaring Himself to be whom He said He was and is; the Great I am.

TAKING OVERSIGHT OVER ONE’S LIFE IN MATTERS OF GRACE (v. 15). We are living in a day very much in need of personal oversight.  Many not wanting to take personal responsibility for their actions, behavior, words, or otherwise.  Those who are Christian need very much to be leaders in this matter.  Taking the oversight in matters of grace.  Lest we be the cause, or a catalyst of others falling.

The duty of the Christian; leader, teacher, person in the pew; is to be on watch, guarding one’s own heart and life, and the lives of others.  Part of “shepherding” is to keep the younger from straying, and going over the edge endangering their lives and/or the lives of others.

If we see any of the brethren straying we can, should, and will guide them back to the straight and narrow path that is the right one.  The path is not without effort, nor pain, but it is a path with destination and that destination is into the presence of God for all eternity.

“G1983
ἐπισκοπέω
episkopeō
ep-ee-skop-eh’-o
From G1909 and G4648; to oversee; by implication to beware: – look diligently, take the oversight.”  e-Sword

BE AWARE – BE WARNED OF THE “ROOT OF BITTERNESS” WHICH IS PUFFED UP TROUBLING YOU (v. 15).  Moses wrote by the Spirit of God on this same matter when he penned, “Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood…”  Deuteronomy 29:18 (KJV)

I grew up around trees.  We have had trees all around us.  Oak trees (of various kinds), cedar trees, maple trees, apple trees, peach trees, Walnut trees, Hickory trees, Ash and elm trees, and if I could name them all I probably would.  The thing I want to illustrate here is the root system.  In many cases these trees have more of what cannot be seen under the ground, supporting through the feeding, providing foundation, and strength against strong winds; than that which can be seen above ground.  What the writer of Hebrews and Moses of Deuteronomy is warning about is that which cannot be seen if in bitterness is very destructive.

This “root of bitterness” is a poison which can suddenly come to the surface and ruin you.  If the root of a tree gets something poisonous it will kill the tree.  This bitterness, this bane can lead to all kinds of immorality and evil in one’s life.  Evidently that is what the writer is saying concerning Esau.

“All it takes for a grudge to grow is for the one who is holding it to keep nursing it.”  I am not sure that this is a correct quotation, or who said it, but it is still the truth.  Bitterness is the root of evil, and for evil grudges to grow they must be nursed.  Feeding, coddling, cherishing those bitter feelings.  Saying things like, “I can never forgive that person”.  Anyone who has ever said that was mistaken, and/or have never been forgiven.

This “bitter root” nursed, and cherished by its holder will one day have this poisonous root spring, explode onto the scene, and it will not be a pleasant scene for the holder of that grude.  As long as that grudge is nursed, cherished, coddled like one’s baby there will be no relief from guilt, sin, shame, or anger, and destruction.

THE EXAMPLE OF ESAU/EDOM DESIRING GOD’S BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 16).  Esau, the first born son of Isaac was a man with a bitter root, and he never let it die.  It was passed on to his children (Genesis 36:8, 19).  How do we know this?  Because of Edom.  Edom  hated the children of Israel (Numbers 20:17-21).  Where did this innate bitterness, anger, envy, and hatred come from?  There is one conclusion to that; and that is from their father; Esau.

Esau had not only given up his birthright for a “bowl of beans”, but he had evidently been a very immoral rascal.  Giving himself to various immoral activities with the women of foreign tribes whom his people had been forbidden to have relations with.  John Gill wrote this concerning Esau,

“Heb 12:16 – Lest there be any fornicator or profane person,…. The first of these is guilty of a sin against the second table of the law, as well as against his own body; and which is opposed to the holiness the apostle had before exhorted to; such who are guilty of it, are not to be continued in the communion of the church; and it is a sin, which, lived in not repented of, excludes from the kingdom of heaven: the latter is one who is a transgressor of the first table of the law; who is an idolater, a swearer, a despiser of public worship and ordinances, and who behaves irreverently in divine service, and mocks at the future state, as Esau; to whom both these characters seem to belong: and this agrees with what the Jews say concerning him: they have a tradition (w), that he committed five transgressions on the day he came out of the field weary.

“He committed idolatry: he shed innocent blood; and lay with a virgin betrothed; and denied the life of the world to come (or a future state); and despised his birthright.”

It is elsewhere (x) a little differently expressed.

“Esau, the wicked, committed five transgressions on that day: he lay with a virgin betrothed; and killed a person; and denied the resurrection of the dead; and denied the root, or foundation, (i.e. that there is a God,) and despised his birthright; and besides, he desired his father’s death, and sought to slay his brother.”

It is common for them to say of him, that he was an ungodly man; and particularly, that he was a murderer, a robber, ונואף, “and an adulterer” ”
The (w) being (“Targum Jon. ben Uzziel in Gen. xxv. 29.”), and the (x) being (Shemot Rabba, sect. I. fol. 89. 3. T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 16. 2.). From e-Sword Commentary by John Gill.

THE TRAGEDY OF BLESSING WITHOUT GOD (v. 17).  Esau lived on in immoral conduct.  He had sought forgiveness from his father Isaac for his selling of the birthright, and with tears, but to no avail (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).  His “repentance” was not a real repentance which would get forgiveness, but only sorry he got caught with his “hands in the cookie jar, and still wanted the cookie”.  He wanted the blessing of God without wanting God.  That is typical of many who profess Jesus as Savior today and probably in any era of time since the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  As long as things go well; as long as the blessings pour in; as long as there is good health; as long as there is wealth at their disposal; and no sorrow, then all is well with the “faith”.

Because of the sin of Edom, Edom has no place in the future (Ezekiel 32:29;  Joel 3:19).  That is not the desire of God’s heart to have His children pass along the envy, hatred, bitterness, and anger to our children and/or to the rest of the world that is already perishing.

SUMMARY –

i.  The pursuit of peace and holiness is the pursuit of all Christians, and one obtained only through faith in Christ the Lord.

ii.  Those in pursuit of peace and holiness will take oversight of their behavior, words, actions; and feed themselves daily in the word of God, prayer, and holy life pursuits.

iii.  The ones in pursuit of peace and godliness will be aware of the root of bitterness, guard against bitterness, and its poisonous, disastrous, death which it brings with it where ever it springs up.

iv.  Peace and holiness leads to peace and life; and makes for peace with all people (Proverbs 16:17).

-Tim A. Blankenship

This is the my study notes for the message for Sunday morning September 13, 2009

The Early Church and the Testimony of Scripture

Acts 7:1-60

Stephen, a spirit filled deacon, a servant of the early church, and serving tables; had stood up and preached the message of Jesus Christ, and was being called a “blasphemer”.  In Acts 6:8-15 we see the beginning of chapter seven and Stephen’s sermon of the testimony of Scripture and the history of the Jewish people.

The charge of “blasphemy” is a serious charge, especially in Israel, during these early days.  In some countries it is still a serious charge and often paid with the death of the accused or guilty.  Blasphemy is the calling someone God who would be human, or using the name of God to proclaim a message that was not of God.  In Stephen’s case all he had apparently done was quote the words Moses had written concerning the Prophet who was coming, and proclaimed Jesus as the Prophet, and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

When the true gospel of Jesus is preached it reveals Him in His true character, ie., God-man.  How could a man stop storms, walk on water, raise the dead?  No mere man would willingly go to a cross of death in the place of a sinful world; Jesus did.  No mere man has ever been raised to life in His own power; Jesus has.  To these Jewish leaders Stephen was a blasphemer, because He had proclaimed Jesus as deity – the God-man.  Thus, they sought to put Stephen on trial.

In verse eleven of chapter six we find them bringing in false witnesses against him.  Sound familiar?

THE TESTIMONY OF ABRAHAM AND THE PATRIARCHS (vv. 1-8).  Stephen, filled with the Spirit of God confronts them with their own Scriptures and history.

The history of Abraham is one of the nation of Israel.  Without Abraham there would be no Israel.  Abraham is the man whom God chose to use to birth the nation.  He was a man of faith, and his faith grew.

Called out of Ur of the Chaldeans he left the life he knew to go to a land he had never seen, and did not go where he was going.  All he knew was that he had met God, and God told him to “Get”, and he got going.

Stephen is not answering to the charge of blasphemy; he just gets into the Scriptures proclaiming to them, what they probably do not want to hear.  He gives it to them anyway.  Some preacher I once heard made this statement after telling about being caught in a mob, “When you have an angry crowd, and they are trying to do you bad; then preach”, at least something along that line.  I would not say that is what Stephen is doing, but even if he is, it does not negate the message.

The land was promised to Abraham and he never so much as received one acre of it; with the exception of a tomb for Sarah, and himself (Genesis 23).  Yet, he still believed, trusted the Lord and is an example of great faith to all followers of Jesus Christ today.

Isaac was/is the promised son of Abraham’s faith.  Isaac also received the promise of the land, and of being a great nation; as did his son Jacob as well.

The message of Abraham is faith.  The history of Abraham is faith.  He left all to go where he knew not where.  He faced famine in that land almost immediately upon arriving, yet even though he left the land, he returned and is called the “friend of God”.  The ultimate test of his faith was when God called on him to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice, and in that he was faithful.

THE TESTIMONY OF THE PATRIARCH’S ENVY, JOSEPH, AND EGYPT (vv. 9-16).  When we find that Abraham was counted righteous by God, according to Scripture, we also find that God gave Abraham a bit of prophetic knowledge.  In Genesis 15 we read,

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance.”  Genesis 15:13-14 (KJV)

In verse 6 of Genesis fifteen we find these words,

“And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”

He was not counted or reckoned “righteous” because of his good works, or for anything he had done, but because God had spoke and he acted on it believing God.

Joseph, the son of Jacob, the first born son of Rachel; Jacob’s beloved wife; was a dreamer of dreams.  These dreams were not brought on by eating too much pizza, or from some dose of crazy weed, but they were from God.  As a dreamer of God dreams he also had an understanding of dreams.  Because of some of his dreams the other brothers got jealous of him.  According to his dreams the brothers and the whole family would one day bow at his feet.

Joseph may not have realized the significance of his dreams.  The significance was that what he was dreaming was going to be the fulfillment of God’s promise/prophecy to Abraham in bringing a nation out of Egypt.  The significance was that God was working through the evil conduct of his brothers.  You may flinch at that thought, but God is sovereign over all things, and so don’t think for a minute that evil thwarts the will of God; in fact He uses it to accomplish His purposes and will.  That in no way means He approves it, causes it, or empowers it; it only means that man has a freewill, and God uses man’s freewill to accomplish His own.

The Psalmist wrote of Joseph:

“He sent a man before them, even Joseph, who was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” Psalm 105:17-19 (KJV)

Verse 19 in particular is the one we need to see.  “Until the time that his word came the word of the LORD tried him.”  From the time Joseph was sold by his brothers into slavery, into Egypt, to Potiphar, then to prison, then freed; there was probably a total of about twenty years.  Do you think Joseph had ever dreamed that he would go through all these trials?  I really doubt it.  Joseph, however, remained ever faithful.  There appears to be no doubts, no complaints, no anger toward God, no heart of vengeance against his brothers (though some may want to disagree with that when he comes face to face with his brothers).  All the time Joseph was waiting for the word of the LORD to come to pass.  Oh, how the Christian today needs that type of faith; that “waiting faith”; that faith that waits on God, and His time and place.

THE TESTIMONY OF MOSES, THE RED SEA, AND THE WILDERNESS (vv. 17-36).  The time between the last verse of Genesis and the birth of Moses, recorded in Exodus 2 is near to 400 years; nearing the promise and prophecy of God to Abraham in Genesis 15.

The descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have grown to quite a large number in those 400 years.  They have become so numerous that the Pharoah who rules at the time of Moses’s birth is a tyrant toward Israel, has no memory of Joseph, and doesn’t care for the people at all; but fears their numbers.  This tyrant Pharoah orders the death of all baby boys born to the Hebrews.  The mother and father of Moses hid him for a period of three months, and then finally put him in a “ark of bulrushes” placed it in the Nile River, along the shore, and floating down near the place where the princess of Egypt bathed; was found and adopted by her.  Only the sovereign LORD could work something like that out.

The Hebrew people were enslaved, and treated like livestock or worse.  They were not allowed to worship God; and maybe only a few really knew about YHWH [YaHWeH].  We know that they did have homes to live in, though what condition we are not aware.

Moses was taken out of the water of the Nile and named Moses by the daughter of Pharoah.  “Drawn out” is the meaning of his name and it is a perfect fit for him.  We see him all his life being “drawn out”.  He was “drawn out” of the water.  He was “drawn out” to his own people.  He was “drawn out” to the desert/wilderness.  He was “drawn out” to serve Jethro for forty years.

For forty years Moses was in Egypt learning the ways of Egypt.  For forty years he was in the desert with Jethro learning the ways of the desert/wilderness.  After delivering the children of Israel from Egypt he spent forty more years in the wilderness preparing  them for life in the Promised Land.

We complain if we must wait a minute or two at a traffic light.  Lord help us.  How we need to learn to wait, and trust the LORD with His word, His church and His people.  Moses had to learn the lesson of waiting on God.  He supposed that when he killed the Egyptian that the people would know that he was God’s deliverer, but it was not the time, and Moses had to leave Egypt to be prepared.

A THOUGHT:  Joseph, by God’s providence, was in Egypt to prepare Egypt for the world famine, and to prepare Israel to become a nation.  Moses fled from Egypt to be prepared to return to Egypt, and deliver the people from the world.

In the wilderness the new nation saw the mighty hand of God the LORD.  When they did not see a way God made a way across the Red Sea.  The LORD delivered them from their enemies by causing the Sea to collapse in upon the soldiers of Egypt, killing them all.  The Almighty provided them water, meat to eat and He provided them with bread from heaven – “Manna” meaning “What is it?”

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION, REBELLION, AND CAPTIVITIES (vv. 37-50).  Moses testified of One who would come, a Prophet, the Prophet of prophets.  Stephen reminds his listeners, persecutors of the prophecy of Moses and his teachings.  Hear the words of the prophet Moses concerning the Prophet;

“The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken…” Deuteronomy 18:15 (KJV).

While Moses was in the wilderness with the people we find them many times rejecting his leadership, such as while he went up on Mount Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from the Lord.  They built a golden calf to worship in the place of God.  Our impatience is somewhat astonishing.  God says something and we do the opposite.

We Christians have been accused by some who refer to themselves as atheist or agnostic of being “makers of our own god”, and they mean that of the world religions as well.  With the latter I would agree.  The God of Creation who created all that is is not a god of man’s own making, however.  No man has ever imagined a god who is Almighty, All-Knowing, All-Present, All-Powerful, and Immutable.  No man has ever invented a god who condemns sin and wickedness, and provides a means of fellowship, relationship, justification, sanctification, and  being glorified together with him in an eternal home.  No man has ever created a god that would send his only son to die for the sins of the world.  The God of Christianity is the Creator of the universe, and all that is in it; and He loved us so much He did send His Son to die on a cross for our sins, was buried, and He rose again bodily from the grave and was witnessed by over 500 eyewitnesses.

All the gods of man’s creation allow them to behave and act any way they choose.  The god’s of men cause the immorality of all the world.  The god’s of men’s own making is what causes wars and strife.  Every individual without Jesus Christ is their own god; and will one day crumble, fall at the feet of Jesus, and be cast from His presence into eternal fire.

The “golden calf” for those people of Israel was a reminder of their lives back in Egypt.  They had been freed from its bondage, yet they still cling to it, even to the point of desiring to return and continue as slaves.  Even the gods people worship today, the images, are images which puts no guilt on them, or would make them question their actions.  The world hates any guilt, or shame.  That is one of the things, however, which is needed in the world; ie., guilt and shame. It can be the “straw that broke the camel’s back” and turn them toward the only One who can cleanse them and forgive all their sin.

When people turn to Wall Street, Dow, or other stocks and bonds, etc. for their security; then they have turned their back on God.  Christian we may be in a financial crisis in this nation [USA], however, there is a greater crisis that many do not even realize.  That crisis is a Spiritual crisis.  With greed ruling the day through the lies of satan; there is a genuine spiritual need for God.  Whether it is believed or not; there is only one way to God and heaven, and that is the way He has provided; and that way is by way of the cross of Jesus Christ, his burial and resurrection.

Oh, how we need to understand the fulness, power, vastness, and glory of our God.  The nation of Israel is still in rejection of their God, His Son and their future foretold by God.

THE TESTIMONY OF ISRAEL’S REJECTION OF JESUS AND THE HOLY SPIRIT (vv. 51-54).  These men to whom Stephen was speaking were just as the prophets which foretold the coming of the Prophet, the Messiah, their Deliverer.  “Stiffnecked and uncircumcised heart” shows a rebellious attitude and an unclean heart of these people.

All Stephen did was proclaim to them the truth of their own history, confront them with Jesus, their betrayal of him, and how they had “murdered him” (v. 52).

THE TESTIMONY OF STEPHEN A PERSECUTED, MARTYRED SOUL FOR JESUS CHRIST (vv. 55-60).  When the angry men heard the message delivered by faithful Stephen they proceeded to kill him.

The Word of God works as a sword, a “twoedged sword”.  In the book of Hebrews we read,

“For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 (KJV)

In other words; that means God will make things uncomfortable  for you until He gets you where He desires you to be; if you are His own.  When you are God’s He will not allow you to remain in sinful behavior.

These men hated Stephen and his words that he spoke, then, they proceeded to kill him.

The deacon never sought to strike back.  His last words before his dying breath was, “Lord, lay not this sin to their charge”, and then he “fell asleep”.  The stones which were hurled at Stephen, hitting his body, were stones of identity.  It is not without merit to mention that in the Revelation is mentioned a stone,

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:17

Stephen had his stones, and they were stones of blessing because as he was dying he looked into heaven and could see glory;

“Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.”

O, for the passion of our people like Stephen had.  For a fire to burn in our hearts for people who are bound in religion, but hate Jesus Christ, and refuse His death, burial and resurrection, by continually trying to earn their way to God’s presence and favor.  Preaching to the religious may not get you any popular vote, but you will see God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

These are the study notes for a sermon preached on October 05, 2008.

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

Resting Is For Man…

“And it came to pass, that he went through the corn fields on the sabbath day; and his disciples began, as they went, to pluck the ears of corn.  And the Pharisees said unto him, Behold, why do they on the sabbath day that which is not lawful?  And he said unto them, Have ye never read what David did, when he had need, and was an hungred, he, and they that were with him?  How he went into the house of God in the days of Abiathar the high priest, and did eat the shewbread, which is not lawful to eat but for the priests, and gave also to them which were with him?  And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:  Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.”  Mark 2:23-28 (KJV)

“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.” Gen 2:2 (KJV)

Thus God gave us a sign even in His creation work that we are to have rest.  It was instilled into creation before it was in the law.  It was given to benefit us, to care for our health and well being.  God never intended it to be a crippling thing to keep us from having needs met or meeting others needs.

Even more importantly is the day of rest of which the writer of Hebrews speaks of

(“For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.  And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest.  Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:  Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts.  For if Jesus [Joshua] had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.  There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.  For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.   Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.  Hebrews 4:4-11 (KJV)”).

There is a rest which everyone needs, and that is the rest which can only be found by faith in Jesus Christ.

-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

Spirit Bearing Witness

Romans 9:1-5

A burden is a heavy thing to bear.  As we begin reading this “parenthesis” in the letter of Romans we find Paul with a heavy heart.  What has grieved his heart?  What is this burden?  It is the weight of the state of anathema which is on his countrymen – brethren – the Israelites.

A question could be asked why are they in such a curse?  Due to their unbelief at the coming of Messiah.  Their crucifixion, and putting to death the One who was foretold by the prophets, and the Law.

Another question comes to my mind;  Am I, would I be willing to be accursed that another might be saved from that curse?  Let us keep in mind this is a nation of people who have received many a blessing from the One whom they crucified.  Those blessings are listed in verses four and five; and those are not exhaustive.

This “parenthesis” covers chapters nine through eleven.  The ninth chapter shows us how God has dealt with Israel in the past; up to and including the time of Jesus Christ.  The tenth chapter shows us how God is working with them in our current age – the Church age.  The eleventh chapter shows us God restoring Israel in His future work with them.

I was once asked, “Why is this a parenthetical statement?”  My answer is that Paul has through chapter eight been dealing with the sins of mankind (chapters 1-3); the wonderful work of the grace of God (chapters 4-8); and then in chapters 9-11 he begins dealing specifically with the nation of Israel.  Then in chapter twelve he begins dealing with the fruits of grace in the believer’s life.  I hope that explains it.

It seems to me that this parenthesis is used by the apostle to show quite clearly, that since God gave many unconditional promises to Israel, and His will to fulfill them; He gives His body – the Church – evidence that He doesn’t quit, or give up on His people.  I like that kind of assurance.  Israel is evidence of God’s fulfilling His Word.

OUTLINE –

I.  THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).

II.  THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).

III.  THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).

IV.  THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).

THE WITNESS OF CONSCIENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF GOD (v. 1).  Paul seems to have been quite aware of the problems of relying on conscience alone to make right and godly choices.

The conscience of an individual can be shaped and molded to reflect one’s culture; and not necessarily what is right and wrong according to Scripture or Christ.  The conscience which is subject to the Spirit of God, and the Word of God will make Biblical, conscientious, godly decisions; and if they don’t the conscience will be burdened with guilt, until the transgression has been forgiven.

Paul’s conscience and the Spirit of God bore witness that he had a heavy burden for Israel concerning their curse.

The reason some people can make evil choices concerning right and wrong, or godly and ungodly decisions is because their conscience is not in tune with God or His Word.

Paul’s conscience was clear.  He was burdened for his nation of people.  They are his brethren “after the flesh” – meaning these are the people he was born into.  What the apostle is about to say is one of the most profound statements he will ever make.  This is the most Christlike statement anyone could make.  It is even more Christlike to show it, and Paul demonstrates it quite vividly in the book of Acts when he is willing to give his life to be sure the people of Jerusalem hear the message of their Messiah.

THE GRIEF, AND SORROW OF HEART FOR THE PEOPLE (vv. 2-3).  It is certain that from this statement that Paul knows of the curse on the nation due to their unbelief and rejection of Jesus as their Messiah.  This word [accursed] is the word “Anathema”, and it conveys to us the most horrible and vile of cursing.

The MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE note states,

“9:3 accursed. The Gr. word is anathema, which means ‘to devote to destruction in eternal hell’ (cf. 1 Cor.12:3; 16:22; Gal.1:8,9).  Although Paul understood the exchange he was suggesting was impossible (8:38,39; John 10:28), it was the sincere expression of his deep love for his fellow Jews (cf. Ex. 32:32).”

Paul knew that he himself was not spotless, holy, undefiled to be that sacrifice, and that the sacrifice had, indeed, already been given by Jesus Himself.  The only spotless Lamb to ever be offered for the sins of man, and complete the offering was the offering of the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world (John 1:29, 36).

Could I love so deeply that I would be willing to take another’s  place in hell?  In the love of Christ I can.  Isn’t that the essence of the love of Jesus Christ?  To be willing to give one’s life that another might live.  As Isaac was led by his father up the mountain, he went faithfully.  When he arrived he allowed Abraham to bind him, and lay him on the altar.  He had given his life for his father, and seemingly without any explanation; just trusting the father (Genesis 22).  Three of King David’s chief men, went through enemy lines, hazarding their lives so their king could receive a drink of water from Bethlehem’s well –

“And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.  And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it.” 2 Samuel 23:16-17 (KJV)

–  Why not give one’s life for another?

Our lack of love is seen today in that we don’t tell others the gospel of Jesus because we are fearful we may not be accepted, we may not have time.  How much time does that one God gives us opportunity for witness have?.  We may not be popular.  We might even be attacked physically, or at the least verbally.  How is that for loving to give our lives?  I cannot say with Paul, “I would wish myself accursed…”  Even knowing that my “sacrifice” would be of no benefit.  I am unworthy and unable to save myself.  How can I save others, except through giving them the hope that is in Christ Jesus alone.

THE BLESSINGS OF A CONDEMNED PEOPLE (v. 4).  “Israelites” were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and these were children of the promise.  From the fall of Adam and Eve, yea, even from creation, and before in the heart of God there was the nation of God who would be the progenitor of the Savior of the world.  Many nations would come to God, believing Him, calling on His name, worshipping Him, and glorifying His name.

The blessings of Israel were God’s “adoption” of them to be His witness nation to a condemned world.  The Israelites were recipients of the covenants of God, the law of God through Moses, the service of God in the priesthood, the tabernacle furniture, and tools; the pictures and types of the future Messiah – the promises; and they were the one’s by whom came the Blessed One through the virgin Mary.

We must learn from the blessing of Israel as Gentiles who are believers in the Messiah Jesus Christ.  They became hard hearted due to their “security” of the temple, arrogance in having the law, the adoption, the covenants, and believing the blessings were of the flesh, and not of the Spirit of God.  We cannot follow their path to destruction in unbelief.

Followers of Jesus Christ are not to evilly think we have it made because we have earned the  place of forgiveness, love, peace, and grace of God.  We are not any different than any other individual upon this planet.  We have sinned.  We have transgressed the commandments, the laws of God, and He has given us forgiveness and grace through the finished work of His Son.

We are commanded to take this wonderful message of salvation to the world.  When we don’t do that we fail, and become similar to the nation of Israel.  Jesus Christ built, and continues to build His Church upon the confession that Jesus is the Christ, Son of the Living God.  Every confession of faith in Christ adds another living stone to the building of His Church, and nothing can prevail against her.  However, should we become arrogant, disobedient as individual believers or even as a local church; He can, He has, and will raise up another local church or individual to take our place.  We do have His assurance that we are saved; “Yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

That is not something we should or would look forward to.

THE ONE’S THROUGH WHOM CHRIST HAS COME INTO THE WORLD (v. 5).  Through the mercy of God Mary, a virgin was chosen to bear the Son of God and birth Him into the human race.  This was not an accident, a fluke of nature.  Virgin births, little lone virgin conceptions do not happen by accident.  They can only be planned by God, and that is what makes a miracle. The unnatural, impossible, and glorious happens by the hands of God.  It happened as the fulfillment of His promises to send, this King, this Savior, this Messiah, this Great Physician, this Great High Priest, this Prophet of prophets; this God-man; the incarnate Son of God.

This One was born into this nation who would reject Him, make a false judgment of Him, crucify Him, put Him to death, bury Him in a borrowed tomb, and three days later rise from the grave; conquering sin, hell, death, and the grave.

Paul, here in this fifth verse is affirming the sovereignty, and the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ – “…The eternally blessed God. Amen.” (v. 5).

The Christians of today, the Body of Christ, the Church is the means of taking the gospel of Jesus Christ into the world.  Let us be faithful with the message, the only message that will save and change the world; for the glory of our Lord and God.  I am to be the messenger of the gospel of Christ Jesus that God has called me to be.  I can do no better or worse than my love for Him.  The same is true of all who have been called in Christ Jesus, “saints” (Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1; Ephesians 1:1).

O for a heart like Jesus who was willing to endure separation from the Father to become sin for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and to give His righteousness to us; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.  To have a heart like Paul we must know our Savior as Paul did.

O Lord our God; give us your heart, and a heart like your servant Paul; that souls who are lost might hear of YOUR wonderful grace and mercy displayed on the cross of Calvary.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Jesus – The Eternal

There are a lot of voices today saying things concerning Jesus; and many of them don’t know the real Jesus.  To many Jesus was only a good teacher, a prophet, a good man, or a good example to follow.  To others he never really existed; he is kind of like the legend of king Arthur; leaving a question or questions of like, “Did he really exist, or is he just folklore and legend?”

According to many scholars, historians, archeologists and others there is more evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ, His life, death, burial, and resurrection; than there is for the existence of George Washington, the first President of the United States of America.  The purpose of this message is not to present these evidences, but to just take what John the apostle wrote as fact, and present it as truth, the truth of God; and let God speak for Himself.

Purpose – To introduce Jesus Christ to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word – to see what God is like; God’s communication of Himself to bring us to Himself.

INTRODUCTION –

The writer of the notes in the PILGRIM STUDY BIBLE says, “Words reveal thoughts and character; and just so the Lord Jesus expressed God’s thought and showed us what God is like.”

Jesus is introduced to us in the beginning of John’s Gospel as the Word.  We are told by John that “the Word became flesh and dwelt amon us…”  In chapter 12:20-21 there were some Greeks who had come to a feast of Israel.  They came to Phillip and said, “Sir, we would see Jesus.”  That is what I pray we get from this message from the Gospel of John.

If the world could get a clear picture of Jesus, and follow Him, it would help us all.  The following story gives us the wisdom of a child;

“One day a father was sitting in his easy chair enjoying reading the daily paper.  His young daughter came up to him saying, ‘Daddy will you play house with me?’  He would say, ‘Not now sweetheart. I am reading the paper rightenow.  Please go a play without me.’  His daughter was persistent, though and kept coming back.  Finally, after seveal  approaches by the girl the father took a page of the peaper with a picture of the world on it, tore it into several pieces and gave it to her saying, ‘Here, see how long it takes you to put the pieces of the world  together like a puzzle.’  She took that page and was gone a very short time, and returned to her father, and said, ‘Daddy, I got it all put together.’  He looked at the page, and asked her, ‘You finished so quickly.  How did you do that?’  Her response  was one that really should have an influence on us all.  ‘Daddy’, she said, ‘There is a picture of Jesus on the back of the page, and when I got Jesus together the world came together too.”

John has some favorite words – “Life”, “love”, “witness”, “believe”, “truth, “know”, “light”, “darkness”, “world”, and “flesh”.  you will notice these words in the reading of the gospel and his other writings.

“Jesus Christ as the Eternal Word is a revelation of God to man.”  KJV BIBLE COMMENTARY

None of the Gospels are more clear on the Deity of Jesus Christ than is John’s Gospel.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  John 1:1-5 (KJV)

OUTLINE:

I.  JESUS IS THE IMAGE AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD (v. 1;  Hebrews 1:3).

II.  JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF THE GODHEAD (v. 2;  Colossians 2:9).

III.  JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT OF THE WORLD (v. 3-4,  3:19; Colossians 1:16;  Genesis 1:1-3).

IV.  JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS THE DARKNESS (v. 5; 8:12; 12:46; Ephesians 5:8)

JESUS IS THE IMAGE OF AND REPRESENTATION OF GOD.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”  Hebrews 1:3 (KJV)

He as the Living Word was creating from the beginning of all things (Genesis 1:1).  A person’s words reveal their character, their hearts, their thoughts.  You can trust God’s Word.  In God’s case His Word is His character.

Jesus as the Living Word is revealed seven times in the first chapter of Genesis.   In verses 3, 6, 9, 14, 20, 24, and 26 it reads, “And God said…”.  What God said was His Word was going forth creating.  All things that are were made by His Word – the Word who “was made flesh”.

Let’s hear what Jesus said of Himself;

“Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”  John 8:19 (KJV)

“Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?  Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.”  John 8:57-58 (KJV),

and who is “I Am”?

“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.”  Exodus 3:13-14 (KJV)

JESUS IS THE FULNESS OF ALL THE GODHEAD – SO HE WAS WITH HIM AND ALWAYS HAS BEEN WITH HIM.

“For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9).

The Scriptures tell us that “God is Spirit” meaning, basically, that we cannot see God.  “God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God in His love revealed Himself to us through His Son Jesus who is the Living Word.  When we see Jesus we see the Father.  When we hear the words of Jesus we hear the words of the Father.  When we trust Jesus we trust the Father.

JESUS IS THE LIFE AND LIGHT TO THE WORLD.  The implication is that the world is in darkness and in need of light.  In the beginning God gave light for the earth.  Where did the light come from?  God is the light of the world.  Jesus later said, “I am the Light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5)  The light was divided from darkness.  One thing we must realize is, that, where there is light is no darkness at all.

Darkness is a way of hiding all that is evil and evil evidently does not realize that nothing is hid from God.

“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.”  John 3:19 (KJV)

Jesus is the light that shines in darkness, and darkness cannot overcome His light.  The world and the devil may think He is defeated.  We hear reports of Christianity slipping in growth, yet those who genuinely trust Jesus Christ are growing and the Body of Christ is still strong, and growing in faith; knowing that the return of Jesus Christ is soon.

The devil, that ole serpent, knows he has been defeated; but has many convinced that the battle has not yet been decided.  Anyone believing that is a fool, and pawn of evil.  The cross of Christ and His resurrection is the sure sign that the battle for the souls of men, has been won, and Jesus Christ is the Victor.  Light has overcome the darkness.

JESUS IS THAT LIGHT WHICH DISPELLS DARKNESS – HE DRIVES IT AWAY.  Who ever follows Jesus will not walk in darkness, but in the light.

“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” John 8:12 (KJV)

People who walk with Jesus will not abide in darkness – we are of the light, because He is the Light.

“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.”  John 12:46 (KJV)

When you are trusting Jesus, walking with Him, He drives all the darkness away; or will walk with you through it (Psalm 23:4).  If you are having a dark moment in your life, just look to Jesus, the One who endured the darkness of the cross for all our sin.  Paul tells us to walk as children of the light.

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light…”  Ephesians 5:8 (KJV)

SUMMARY –

i.  To see God just look upon Jesus.
ii.  Everything God is; Jesus is:  Everything Jesus is God is.
iii.  Where Jesus is there is no darkness at all.
iv.  In the presence of Jesus there is no need for fear, unless you are on the wrong end of his judgment.

-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.

When God Is Not King

Judges 17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25

This is going to be a overview of chapters 17 through 21.  It seems that these chapters tie together very strongly in showing what happens when God is not the One ruling individuals, and national life.

The key to understanding these chapters appears to be the phrase, “There was no king…”, and that would certainly mean that even God was not the rule of their hearts and lives.  At least they were not submitted to His rule and reign.  We know and believe as Christians, of course, that God is sovereign, and in complete control of every nation, ruler, and individual.

OUTLINE chapters 17 – 21 –

I.  THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE NATION WAS IN SHAMBLES (17:6-18:31).
II.  LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT, AND COMMITMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21).
III.  SEEMING UNRESTRAINED ANIMAL LUST, AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28).
IV.  WARS BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48).
V.  UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24).

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THE SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP OF THE CHURCHES, COMMUNITIES, AND NATIONS CRUMBLE (17:6-18-31).  This as a matter of fact is the ultimate reason that nations crumble and fall.  When the spiritual, moral leadership fails, nations are left without a foundation on which to stand.

In this text we have a young man (unnamed) from the  priestly family (Levi) who goes to serve as a priest for one man [Micah] and his family.  He is basically selling the office of priest.  It isn’t long until some group more powerful, with more means comes and buys him away.

This was a young “priest” who was selling his services for gain, to live, and not giving spiritual guidance, or any life guidance what so ever.  Right priestly, spiritual leadership will confront, rebuke, exhort (2 Timothy 3:16-17) through Scriptural counsel.

Right spiritual leadership begins with the priesthood of the home.  The priest of the home is the husband of the wife, father of the children.  This is one of the appointments of God for the Christian man of the house.  That is not to say he is the only priest of the home, the wife, the mother, and each of the children who are Christians are also priests under Jesus Christ, and have the authority to approach the very throne of God.

God has placed the Christian man as the head of spiritual leadership of that home, and when this begins  to fail the foundation begins weakening.  When the husbands and fathers are not leading the homes spiritually, that will show up in the local church, the community, the State government, and the National governments.

This responsibility begins with every Christian.  Make God King of your life through faith in Jesus Christ and His cross.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE A LACK OF LOVE, RESPECT AND COMMITTMENT IN MARRIAGE (19:1-21)  We have in these verses a Levite who has a “concubine” who has forsaken him and returned to her father.  For all practical purposes we see her here as the only “wife” he has.  He does seem to have a love for her, because he pursues her to her father’s home.

The wife had been unfaithful (v. 2), and went to her father’s home in Bethlehem-Judah, and was there for four months.  He goes to her father’s house to bring her home.  He meets his “father in law” (v. 7) for the first time, and they begin communicating , creating a bond with one another, and the “husband” stays the night;  and it wasn’t until the late afternoon of the fifth day that the man and his ‘concubine’ departed.

She  has shown a lack of commitment in her marriage, by being unfaithful.  He has shown some love for her by  pursuing her to her father’s home, to bring her back with him to their home.  He does not however have much respect for marriage, because a concubine was only for the purpose of man’s pleasure or service, and God actually commands a man have one wife.  We are not told anywhere that she was his “wife”, but only concubine.

It seems that the man made bad choices.  This is certainly evidence of the time of spiritual darkness of that day and time.  She is not his wife, she is his wife.  She is not his wife in the traditional sense of that day; she is his wife in the sense of his responsibility for her.

Just as this issue with the Levite and the concubine is confusing so too has the marriage issue of our day become quite confusing.  God ordained that a man leave his father and mother, and cleave only to his wife (Genesis 2:24).  He has ordained that one man and one woman wed, and be together until they are parted by death.  Because of sin God has given allowances for divorce;  Jesus said, “Because of the hardness of your hearts…” (Matthew 19:8;  Mark 10:5).

When God is not king in marriage, then there will be confusion about the rights and wrongs of marriage, divorce, and remarriage.  There will be arguments over authority, rights, and all kinds of family issues; similar to whether a woman should have children if she is not married, and especially if an unmarried woman should be allowed to have fourteen children, through medical means.

When God is King we follow His plans for life, love and marriage and family.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNRESTRAINED LUST AND HUMAN DEPRAVITY (19:22-28).  This Levite showed same careless attitude of many people, including many Christians of our day;

1. Any judgment that may be coming is somewhere around the corner in another time and place;
2. Still longing for more fun, more partying and more amusement.

He took no thought for his or her own life when he decided to leave her father’s home so late, and found himself on the streets of an unholy place.

A fine, courteous man invites them to his home for safety, and shelter.  The man accepts the invitation, and they are soon approached by the “sons of Belial” (v. 22), and they sound much like the people who approached Lot’s door requesting to “know” the men he had in his house (Genesis 20:4-5).  Only these were not struck with blindness or later destroyed by fire and brimstone.

Lust was in the hearts of these people.  They had no self restraint, no fear of God, and no care for anyone but self.

The sad part about it is that the Levite and his host seem to have no love for anything but self either.  The “good guys” are not so great after all, are they?  Now, I know all the arguments about this; and I clearly see it, but no man who is right with God in any time or culture would sell their wife, daughter; nor any other man’s wife or daughter for their life.  We will not cast them out to the savages for our own benefit, and to leave them lying dead on the “thresholds” after having wanted back in.

When God is King there is love in the marriage, the home, and respect for one another; and a heart for what is right, wrong, and responsibilities for guidance and protection of that home.

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE WARS AND UNREST BETWEEN BRETHREN (19:29-20:48).  Though rightly angry over the death of this woman; I cannot help but believe that part of his actions in cutting up her body is from guilt.  Why didn’t I stand my ground?  Why didn’t I stand to protect her and the man’s daughter (19:24)?  So now he wants to get all the people of Israel involved in his sin.  The rush to judgment, though they had consulted God in the matter, led to the eventual destruction of the tribe of Benjamin.   Though God had given approval for the first two attacks He had not promised them victory until the third attack.

The nation needed to learn from this event.  Their sins, their lack of trust in God, and dependence upon Him was their major offense.  Now they have come to God these three times, it would seem, as only a crutch, or a spare tire.

How should it have been handled?  Should they have been obeying God’s commandments, God’s laws?  YES!  Should they have had only one wife?  YES!  Sometimes even at all times when we just insist on having our own way God allows us to do it.  Then we suffer the thorns and thistles of the life we chose.  That young lady who was counselled by her pastor she shouldn’t marry that non-christian boy, but went ahead with it and, is now troubled by a drunken husband who beats her, cheats on her, and abuses the kids and won’t bring home the check for groceries and rent, but gambles, and drinks it away; she now wants to blame God for her choice.  You were warned young lady.  God gave you the word and you didn’t hear it, you rejected it for your self desire, and will; now you are paying.

When God is King there is obedience to His commandments, and prayer and right choices lead to a life of blessing.  Do we who are Christians ever make wrong choices?  Most definitely.  We pay for our wrong choices.  When God is King it will not lead to unrest between brethren.  He is not a crutch or a spare tire; to be only called upon when in dire straits.

When God is King His Word will be believed and practiced and feared.  When God is King there will be no conflict over whether the Word of God is inerrant, infallible, and eternal

WHEN GOD IS NOT KING THERE WILL BE UNHOLY COMPASSIONS (21:1-24).  The tribe of Israel had basically been destroyed.   Now they suddenly grow concerned about that one tribe, and begin doing all kinds of compromising things to justify their actions.  A plan, a scheme of kidnapping women, and joining of the kidnapped with the living Benjamites, and the kidnapped women being from a city of Judea which has been destroyed due to their lack of participation in the war.  When God is not King man schemes, plots, and eventually loses out on the blessings of God.

Compassion is a good, and sometimes even godly thing.  Any compassion that is based on godlessness is not godly.  It may have been right to preserve the tribe of Benjamin, but the plots and scheming was not right.  It would not have need to be done should things been done according to God’s Word, guidance and direction.

When God is King there will be holy compassion and holy unions, all without schemes, and plots around the desires of God.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Our Love For Jehovah

OUTLINE for Deuteronomy 5:6-21;

I.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).
II.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).
III.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).
IV.  LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15)

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART (vv. 6-7).  God [YHWH or YaHWeH] is the One and only One who delivered Israel from Egypt.  Delivered from the house of bondage He calls His delivered people to trust only in Him.

To LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART is to love only Him.  When a man is  in love with a woman, he grows more in love with her with each passing day.  The same is true with knowing and loving God.  In the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy we are told, “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart…” (v. 5); and in Matthew, Mark and Luke Jesus is quoted saying the same thing (Matthew 22:37;  Mark 12:30;  Luke 10:27).

When God speaks here He is not authorizing us to put Him at the top of the list of gods to worship.  His heart’s command is to worship Him alone, and there is no other.  Would a man tell his wife “As long as you have me at the top of the list, you may see all the other men you want”?  No man in his right mind, and with any moral character would say that.

The heart is the seat of who we are.  The heart of the one who worships God alone will have his/her heart filled with God.

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR SOUL (vv. 8-10).  Mankind is the only one of God’s creation which is made in His image and after His likeness.  We are told that when God had made Adam, “…and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.” Genesis 2:7 (KJV).

When we LOVE GOD WITH ALL OUR SOUL we are loving Him from who we really are.  He breathed into our nostrils the breath of life, and that is not said of any other creature of creation, but mankind.

When we worship and love gods of our own making we denigrate ourselves.  Even when we worship self through selfishness, atheism, agnosticism, or in science, technology, or any other means of self worth garbage; we do not lower God we lower ourselves.

It is certain, at least in my mind, that everything which God has made obeys the ordinances and laws of God set down for each of them with the exception of one; and that one is man.  The one made in His image has sinned, rebelled, and seeks other things as their god.  The worship of other gods is demon worship;

“What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils. Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? are we stronger than he?” (1 Corinthians 10:19-22).

Man is the only part of God’s creation of which God has said is made in His image and after His likeness. Remember, everytime you look at another human being you are looking at the image of God. Though this image is darkened by sin; there is light for thier soul. To murder the unborn in the womb is to murder the image of God. To curse another human being is to curse the image of God. To lie about another is to lie about the image of God.

The greatest, purest, and clearest Image of God was the One who walked on earth as God’s Son.  His name is Jesus.  He said, “If you have seen Me,  you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR MIND (v. 11).  It is certain, at least to me, that many people of our society need a renewed mind. I know that Jesus also said that, “…From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh…” (Matthew 12:34; Luke 6:45), but is it not the mind that gives the mouth the ability to speak. And, we do often “Speak our mind”. We say things like, “…I will give them a piece of my mind…”, and usually when we cannot afford to give them any.

God’s name is often used, even by professing Christians who use His name without thought. It has been said that the Hebrew scribes, when writing the Scriptures would change “pens” to write the name of God. It was so special that the name of God is not even clearly revealed in the original languages. In the Hebrew language all we know of the name God is YHWH. That name has been transliterated to Jehovah or YaHWeH. The best name we have for God is J-E-S-U-S. And, how often we hear His name used vainly.

The heart that is abundant with the things of God and Jesus His Son will speak from that abundance. An abundant heart will have a clear, thinking mind. The abundant heart will speak things which will glorify the Father and the whole God-head. When your heart and soul are filled with God, are you going to speak vainly of God? No way.

There are those who use God’s name in vain by cursing and swearing. What about those who speak God’s name, seemingly in a reverent manner on Sunday at church, but the rest of the week live like the world in the way they speak? It seems to me to be the height of hypocrisy. Not just a hypocritical act but the act of a Hypocrite.

There is nothing that turns off a someone away from God quicker than someone who professes Christianity on Sunday, but imbibes in the world the rest of the week. This is a taking of God’s name in vain as well. God help us to guard our minds, by always speaking reverently of God. “He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9).

What about those who do all the churchy, traditional things, but overlook doing right toward their neighbor?

“Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:” (Isaiah 29:13).

“This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” (Matthew 15:8-9).

“And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say? Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like:He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.” (Luke 6:46-48).

LOVE GOD WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH (vv. 12-15).  This is the fourth and final commandment having to do with our relationship with God. It is important to have this relationship. We are born into this world with that relationship in deadness. There is no spiritual heart for God. The law is pure evidence that this is so. There is no human being who has obeyed the law of God completely, except the Son of God Himself – Jesus Christ.

In the first place the Sabbath was initiated by God after the sixth day of creation when His work was finished.

“Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” (Genesis 2:1-3).

In creation God established a work cycle for mankind. Contrary to some beliefs work is not a part of the curse. Laziness is a sin and is a part of the curse. God made it where every hard working person would have a day of rest and worship. It is still necessary to have a day to rest and to worship the Lord our God. It is a shame on our society in which people work seven days a week and never give God a thought. The only god some people worship is the “Greenback” which can do absolutely nothing for peace or joy.

For Israel it was a day for renewing their strength after six days of laboring, and for worshipping God. The Christian is not bound by this commandment. We find our strength and rest in Him. He is in fact our rest and strength. That does not mean that we are to forsake the day of worship. It does mean that our worship is to be everyday, and when we join with our brothers and sisters on Sundays to lift up the name of our Lord and Savior, and God.

The Christian and the Sabbath is shown us in Hebrews 4:1-11. There we are told,

“Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief…”.

Because Jesus fulfilled this and all the law by His complete and perfect obedience to God, His Father, we are privileged and honored to join together on the first day of the week to do so, “And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.” (Acts 20:7). “One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks.” (Romans 14:5-6). The reason we worship on Sunday is because of the fulfillment and completion of the law in Christ Jesus and His resurrection on Sunday morning. The Christian’s rest is in Jesus Christ, “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: Therefore the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.” (Mark 2:27-28). Jesus said this before He died and was buried and rose again. That means it was so in the beginning as well.

Our strength is God’s.  He gives every breath we breath.  He gives every beat of our heart.  He gives us every step we take.  Our sole allegiance ought to be to Him and to Him alone.

Loving God We Love Our Neighbor

OUTLINE vv. 16-21

I.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).
II.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).
III.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).
IV.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).
V.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).
VI.  LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR BEGINS AT HOME (v. 16).  Without our mothers and fathers we would not be present in the world.  That should be a good thing for us.  It is a sad thing that many a child grows up never knowing their dad, and sometimes their mom.  One of the most dreadful things is that some of those who do grow up with both parents is the disrespect many have toward them.

Usually, when a child does not honor and respect their parents, they have less respect, if any respect, for law enforcement, and for any in places of authority; thus getting themselves into a multitude of troubles.  God intended children to have their parents.  Mom’s and Dad’s; you are not ordained by God to be a friend to your child; you are called, ordained to be a parent, giving them guidance, correction, love, care, providing for them as they are growing and learning.  Friendship with your son(s) or daughter(s) will come when they are grown, then, you will have a friendship which you will cherish.

This is the only commandment of the ten with a promise.  One reason for the Babylonian exile was Israel’s disrespect for parents;

“In thee have they set light by father and mother: in the midst of thee have they dealt by oppression with the stranger: in thee have they vexed the fatherless and the widow”. (Ezekiel 22:7);

“Behold, therefore I have smitten mine hand at thy dishonest gain which thou hast made, and at thy blood which hath been in the midst of thee. Can thine heart endure, or can thine hands be strong, in the days that I shall deal with thee? I the LORD have spoken it, and will do it. And I will scatter thee among the heathen, and disperse thee in the countries, and will consume thy filthiness out of thee. And thou shalt take thine inheritance in thyself in the sight of the heathen, and thou shalt know that I am the LORD.” (Ezekiel 22:13-16).

Could it be that many of the problems of the society within the United States is much related to the disrespect of children toward parents, many authority figures, and God Himself?  That may have started with adults having a disrespect for human life.  Which would have began with a turning away from God.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS LOVING AND RESPECTING HUMAN LIFE (v. 17).  This sixth commandment is given to protect life, human life.  We are to cherish, and respect all human life.  The human baby in the womb of his/her mother, or even the embryo in the glass dish, or frozen in storage.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Pocket Dictionary defines “embryo: a living being in the earliest stages of development–”,  and we have “Scientist” who want to cut up and destroy human embryoes for the purpose of “life saving” stem cell research.  These are not “Scientist”; they are butchers.

Let me get one thing straight.  This commandment is a commandment against cold-blooded murder.  Willful, pre-meditated, planned taking of a human life.  It is not commandment against protecting one’s own life.  It is not commandment against the execution of a murderer.  The execution of a murderer is surely the surest form of respect for human life.  Capital punishment of the murderer shows all that every human being is equal before God.  When we allow a convicted murderer to live; we count her/his life more precious than the one they killed.  When we put to death the one who killed maliciously; we  show not only respect for human life, but also show the respect that is due God’s commandments.

Here is some Scripture to reconcile the sixth commandment with capital punishment –

“And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’ brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.” (Gen. 9:5-6).

“And he that smiteth his father, or his mother, shall be surely put to death.” (EX. 21:15).

“And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be thoroughly healed.” (EX. 21:18-19).

Then a New Testament passage,

” Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Romans 13:1-7).

All human life is precious.  Our neighbor’s life and all in his/her household are precious in the sight of our Lord.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR MEANS CHERISHING THE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE (v. 18).  This commandment, the seventh, is a decree of respect and honor for the marriage of every man and woman.  Marriage is not a right it is an institution of God.  It is decreed by God that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24), and this definitely means a man and a woman.

The First Institution God Ordained. This first institution is MARRIAGE. This blessed institution is falling by the wayside in our modern society. Our government penalizes married couples by charging them more  taxes in some cases. Elderly couples can receive more Social Security benefits by living together without marrying. This, in essence, is government, our government of the United States; rewarding immoral behavior.

Young couples are living together more and more without marriage. They want to “Test drive” the relationship, similar to test driving a car they want to purchase. This is a relationship not a piece of property. If you test drive a car and buy it there will come a day in a few years, at the most, where you will get rid of that car. If you “Test drive” that relationship, that is what most likely will happen to the relationship too. Why? Because there is need for commitment, and where there is no commitment, there is no power or permanance to the relationship. Either party in the relationship can leave at any time. It is with sadness that I must admit, there are many who enter marriage with this attitude as well. If you are not prepared to spend a lifetime with someone do not marry, but do not make a sham of marriage by living in rebellion to God’s law by cohabitating. There is little to no respect for the institution for marriage, and it seems due to the fact of no respect for God and that which is holy, righteous and good.

Marriage is more than, “Just a sheet of paper…”. It is in fact the bringing together of two – one man and one woman – before God and they two become “One flesh” (Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31). It is in fact a life-time commitment with binding vows that promise one another, and God, that whether “…rich or poor, in sickness or in health, loving no other, until death do we part.” That is more than a sheet of paper; it is a “binding contract” with God, and has serious repercussions if the bond is broken any way other than by death.

THERE IS FORGIVENESS (John 8:1-11). In the Bible the penalty for adultery is death. The Scripture given previously to the last sentence shows this was what was in the heart and mind of this woman’s accusers. Quick to pick up the stones of accusation, slow to mercy, slow to forgiveness. With this woman caught in the act of adultery, Jesus gives her forgiveness.

Notice Jesus’s words, “…Go, and sin no more”. It was not just a blanket forgiveness without responsibility. She had been forgiven, and now her life would reflect the cleansing and forgiveness she had received. Muse on these questions for awhile. Where was the man who was caught in the act with her? What did Jesus write in the dirt on the ground? Why didn’t they throw the stones?

The only one who could have stoned her forgave her instead. THERE IS FORGIVENESS FOR THE SIN OF ADULTERY. There is forgiveness for all sin, when you put your faith in Jesus Christ.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR RESPECTS PRIVATE OWNERSHIP (v. 19).  For some reason there are many  who think society owes them something so they take what they want, when they want it, and often at great cost to someone else.  Some people who work in some business think they have a right to take a little something which belongs to their boss.  It could be “just a box of paper clips”, or only showing one’s self busy when the boss is watching.  It is theft.  It is stealing.

* Of the first seven commandments; death is the penalty for the violation.
* This eighth commandment does not call for the death penalty – it calls, rather for restitution (Ex. 22:1; Luke 19:5-10).
* There is one exception, that is if they “Kidnap” – steal a human being (Ex. 21:16). This called for the death penalty.

If we love God and one another we will not desire what another has, and take and steal. We will practice what Paul taught the Ephesians, rather, “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth” (Eph. 4:28). There will be no need for gambling, stealing from those who are more needy – doing it legally. When one loves their neighbor there is also a love for God and for being a faithful steward of God’s resources He has put in our trust. Also there will be the need to see that all debts are paid in full, especially the debt to our neighbors that could be the redemption of their souls.

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE BEAR WITNESS OF THE TRUTH (v. 20).  This commandment is a decree against lying against your neighbor.  Bearing false witness to condemn, to elevate one’s self, to unjustly bolster one’s self image over another, or to bring condemnation before a court.

The Truth is precious, and we should be truthful with our neighbors, with our families, and most of all with God.  When we love God and our neighbors the truth will be precious to us.

The law of God says, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” What exactly does this involve. Is it for the individual who is witnessing in court? Yes! Is it for the individual who is witnessing to a neighbor? Yes! You are witnessing as you share a word of gossip. You are witnessing as you defame the character of someone you do not care for. Is this a good witness? No! This is as true in politics. When one candidate charges the other with things they have heard, but are not proven. When one charges the other with something they know is not true.

J. Vernon McGee writes,

“Did you know that there are more words for breaking this commandment than all the other commandments put together?….some of them – lying, mendacity, prevarication, slander, backbiting, defamation, detraction, belittling, censoriousness, gossip, depreciation, derogation, rumor, vilification, aspersion, forgery, mudslinging, falsehood, guile, hypocrisy, insinuation, innuendo, railing, whispering, talebearing, libel, fib, fable, equivocation, disparagement, fabrication, aberation, deceit, trump up, forswear.” (From LOVE, LIBERATION, & THE LAW by J. Vernon McGee pg. 150).

That is a terribly long list of bad words, which are words in action to destroy another.  Should we not consider that when we are guilty of that it is almost certain that it will not be long and they will come back to get us.

Just a few Scriptures will bear out for us the lies destination.

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall not escape.” Prov 19:5 (KJV).

“A false witness shall not be unpunished, and he that speaketh lies shall perish.” Prov 19:9 (KJV)

“Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.” Psalms 101:5 (KJV)

Now look in the New Testament,

“And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life” Rev 21:27 (KJV)

“For without are dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie.” Rev 22:15 (KJV)

“But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.” Matt 12:36 (KJV)

LOVING OUR NEIGHBOR WE DESIRE THEM TO BE BLESSED (v. 21).  When we have real desire for others [our neighbors] to be blessed we will not have the audacity to desire, lust for, covet the property which belongs to them; or the persons which are in their love and care.

Though this commandment is the final of the ten, it could be the KEY COMMANDMENT.  Think about this; if we disobey this commandment we can very easily and are breaking every one of the other nine.

James tells us, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” James 2:10 (KJV). Get that, “Guilty of all”. Now that can be said of all the others too, but here, I hope you can see why it is important to realize that covetousness is a seed of evil, that breeds evil, and leads to the decay of the whole law in the hearts of people.

According to the book of Colossians it is Idolatry to covet. “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:” Col 3:5 (KJV). Even the book of Ephesians backs this up by saying, “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” Eph 5:5 (KJV). Note that Paul has written there, “Nor covetous man, who is an idolater…” O, the sad thing is there are many, many, too many people who live for the grasping and holding on of things, or people, or positions, or power; do I need to go on. I think you get the point.

The following verses are the words of Jesus:

”Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.” Luke 12:15 (KJV).

Again Jesus says,

“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?  (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek: ) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.  Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Matt 6:31-34 (KJV).

Now if this is not a word for those who covet things and such, I am mistaken about the whole issue,

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Matt 6:21 (KJV).

If your heart is on the things of the world, that is your treasure. However, if your heart is on the Lord and His righteousness and glory, that is your treasure. If you are going to covet; covet the godly things, that will glorify the Savior.

When our treasure is our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, then we have these laws written in our hearts, and our desire is to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and love our neighbor as we love ourselves.  No one I know of wants any of these negative acts conducted against them.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Error Of Balaam

Numbers 31:16

There are some in the work of the ministry for the ministry of keeping, or getting into others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  Maybe it should be called the taking of others wallets, billfolds, and purses.  This is not a new thing.  The man who is called by God to proclaim the message of God’s word can find himself in many temptations.  One of the strongest is that of obtaining all the wealth of this world he can.

That tends to be the problem with Balaam.

The Bible says;

“Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core.” Jude 1:11 (KJV)

There are two other men named in this verse; Cain of Genesis 4, and Korah [Core] from Numbers 16.  Cain killed his brother; Korah verbally attacked and led a rebellion against Moses and Aaron.  What is the “error of Balaam”?  Greed for reward.  And that is not only gold, silver, precious stones; but it can be power, prestige, position, performance, and/or profit.

Let’s look at Balaam, and his life, his acts – both good and bad, and his demise.

I.  KNOWN TO BE A PROPHET; HE IS REQUESTED TO CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).

II.  SEEN TO BE AN ANXIOUS PROPHET TO CURSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (vv. 15-21).

III.  GOES TO BALAK, BECAUSE HE CANNOT SEE (vv. 22-35).

IV.  BALAAM EVIDENTLY HAS THE RIGHT WORDS; BUT NOT THE RIGHT HEART (23:7-12, 18-24).

V.  BALAAM’S EYES ARE OPENED TO THE TRUTH OF ISRAEL (24:2-9, 15).

VI.  BALAAM PROPHESIES OF ISRAEL AND THEIR FUTURE BLESSING (vv. 15-24).

VII.  BALAK BRINGS A CURSE UPON THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL (chapter 25).

VIII.  WHAT BALAAM DID TO AID IN THE CURSE UPON THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL (Numbers 31:16)

NO ONE CAN CURSE THOSE WHOM GOD HAS BLESSED (Numbers 22:6-14).  God has previously told, and promised, “I will bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you” (Genesis 12:3).  What Balak was requesting was a curse on himself, but then, they were already cursed by their own fear, hatred, and rejection of God’s people.

Balaam seems to be a sorcerer that was well known among the people of the land of Moab.  His sorcery is spoken of,

“And when Balaam saw that it pleased the LORD to bless Israel, he went not, as at other times, to seek for enchantments, but he set his face toward the wilderness.” (Numbers 24:1)

He dealt with “enchantments”, “ritual”, or “performance”, and this is probably the very first time God has intervened in his greedy pursuits; and because it was going to relate to His people.  It can only be but by the mercy and grace of God that He intervened.  This could have been nothing more than God showing them, ie., Balaam, Balak, and the Moabites the power of the One True God of Israel.

The thought of Balaam’s face being set toward the wilderness is that he may find a way to curse them.  He at least desires that he may find a cause for God to judge them.  In other words he is not interested in doing the will of YHWH; he is interested in lining his pockets from the wealth of Moab, and their king.

TOO ANXIOUS, FROM GREED FOR WEALTH, LEADS TO THE ATTEMPTED CURSING OF WHAT GOD HAS BLESSED (22:15-21).  Remember Esau, and Jacobs stew (Genesis 25:29-34)?  Esau had gone to hunt or something; may have been gone for a day and without any game on returning.  He is hungry, tired, and the scent of Jacob’s stew makes his mouth water.  At what price will Esau feed his stomach?  At what price will Balaam feed his greed?  At what price will a pastor sell out his calling, ministry, family, or church?  At what price will the Christian man sell his faith and home for that woman at work who pays him more attention than his wife at home?  At what price will that Christian woman sell her faith, her children, her husband, for that more lavish lifestyle?

Is our faith something we can sell?  Some seem to think they can.  When Balaam set out on the journey which was fanned by the flames of greed and fear; the voice he heard louder than any other was the jingle of the gold and silver coins in their purses, the position, power, prestige and profit he could receive if he would just “curse” these people wandering in the wilderness.

He did the right thing in turning down Balak the first time.  He heard the word of the LORD there.  Then, the servants of Balak returned with a better offer, and if he would have been the man of God he should have been; his answer would have been an immediate, NO!

When God has given a clear answer in the negative; especially in this type of situation; there is no need to seek God’s advice again.  He is simply wanting God’s approval to go with the men (Numbers 22:1-21).  God in his patience with Balaam gives him a clear message which he disobeys (vv. 20-21).  Balaam is one of those who merely use God for his own means.  He is a sorcerer (he uses enchantments (24:1)), and he is also known for using all other kinds of sorcery, thus seeking the guidance of the devil as well.  He is a man, a prophet, with a divided heart, and no loyalty to God, holiness, righteousness, or justice.

What price did Esau pay?  He paid the sum of his birthright.  What price will Balaam pay?  That will become apparent by the end of the message.

WHEN THE DUMB CAN SEE AND SPEAK THE LORD MAY COME AND OPEN BLIND EYES THAT THEY MIGHT SEE (vv. 22-35).  Balaam, being anxious to sin against the will of God, and to get him his wealth arises early the next morning saddles his donkey, and gets himself ready to go.  Did Balaam not hear what God had said?  Hear God’s words to Balaam:

“If the men come to call thee, rise up, and go with them; but yet the word which I shall say unto thee, that shalt thou do.” 22:20 (KJV)

The text tells us nothing of the men coming to him;  he just rises up and gets ready to go.  His mind, his heart is not on God but wealth.

Why is it that we can get out of the will of God, then blame God for not working in our lives?  “I can’t see God doing anything anymore”; someone might say.  “What have you done to shun God or His Word?” would be my first question.  Have you gone your own way?  It could be that God may have some “donkey” to speak to you so as to spare your life.  And He might for me when I am in a similar situation.

Here are some signs of the blindness of Balaam:

1. It is quite clear that the first approach was from enemies of God’s people;
2. Their payment method of divination, shows us that he was viewed by the haters of Israel as connected with sorcery;
3. He listened to them and their payment a second time without reservation;
4. When God tried to stop him, or at least to get his attention, he could not see it.

When it got right down to the truth it was his lowly donkey who saw the “angel of the LORD” standing in the way, which would have killed him had it not been for the donkey.  Balaam could not see the hand of the Lord ready to slay him; he only thought it to be his donkey.

THOSE WHO SAY THE RIGHT THINGS; BUT DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT HEART (vv. 23:7-12, 18-24).  Can a  prophet or preacher say the right words without being in right relationship with God?  Is it possible for the preacher or prophet to know the Gospel of  Jesus Christ without knowing the Jesus Christ of the Gospel?  It is certain that Balaam knew the right words to say, and evidently God was giving him those words to say.  So the answer to those questions must be; YES!

That can go for the Sunday School Teacher, the Deacon, the Elder, the church Treasurer, or the pastor to the man and woman in the pew.  There are many professors in our churches who are not possessors of the person of Jesus Christ, ie.,  His Spirit within.  They know the right words to say in a personal word testimony, but their life bears no fruit.

Balaam’s life bore no fruit of righteousness.  Even John the apostle writing to the church of Pergamum,

“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.” Revelation 2:14 (KJV)

This plot between Moab, and the Midianites prove too that it doesn’t matter who is in your family line.  Moab is the eldest of the incestual sons of Lot [Nephew of Abraham] (Genesis 19:36-38).  The Midianites come from Abraham as well; through the wife named Keturah (Genesis 25:1-5); whom Abraham married following Sarah’s death.  Moab gets the Midianites to join them in trying to overthrow Israel.  It is not the bloodline that counts; it is the blood of Jesus Christ that cleanses all our sin.

WITH EYES WIDE OPEN; YET CONTINUE TO DENY THE TRUTH FOR SAKE OF LUST (vv. 24:2-9, 15).  It is the confession of Balaam himself that says his eyes were opened.  It is the LORD who opened his eyes (v. 4) to see Israel for who they were.  Yet, this man, who divines, who deceives, who has the revelation from the only true and wise God of the identity, work, and uniqueness of this nation, still hungers, craves, lusts for power, prestige, position, and profit.

Jesus said;

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)

and the “things” He speaks of is not wealth, riches, power, prestige, position or profit.

There are many who say they know Christ, but have a greater heart for making wealth than they care to know the One who makes wealth.  All things are in His hands, and no one can take them away from Him.  We are, as Christians, “seated with Christ in heavenly places” (Ephesians 1:20; 2:6).  The thing is the soul that is with Jesus does not have their hearts on the things of the earth.  Those who do fit into the same category with the “earth dwellers” of the Revelation.

Many of these know the truth of the Gospel, may profess to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior; but they bear no fruit for Christ, thus are eternally lost.  These fit into the same type relationship with Balaam.

THE FUTURE OF ISRAEL, AND THEIR BLESSINGS (vv. 24:15-24). God has opened the eyes of Balaam.  Remember he couldn’t even see the “angel of the LORD” that would have killed him, but his donkey saved his life; thus the LORD was merciful to this false prophet.

His eyes have been opened to the blessing of God upon the nation of people called Israel.  This term [“eyes open”] is used by the prophet himself in a parable he speaks; and uses it at least three times (vv. 4 third parable, 15, and 16 fourth parable).

In this “parable” is a prophecy of the Lord Jesus; “there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel…” (v. 17).  Moab and Edom had been sources of conflict with Israel; even though related; and the coming King would and will deal with them according to His power and might.

The prophecies of Balaam are promises of Israel, and Balaam never fully realizes the truth of what he has spoken.  The mere mention of his name throughout Scriptures seem to indicate that he was false in his life, and that is one of the keys to the recognition of the man of God.

1. The man of God is true to God;
2. The man of God is faithful to God and His Word;
3. The man of God lines his life with the Word of God;
4. The man of God speaks and the Word of God comes to pass.

There are two examples of these in the five books of Moses (Deuteronomy 13:1-5; 18:20-22).  Both of these examples speak of turning the hearts of God’s people to other gods (which are not gods at all), and the worship of demons (1 Corinthians 10:19-20).

The God of Israel is the Holy One; He is the only One;  He is the righteous One; beside Him there is no other.  He is known as Father, Son and Holy Spirit; working in the flesh of His Son.  One day all of Israel will turn from their unbelief; and see their God through their Messiah.  The King of kings is coming to rule on His throne in Jerusalem.

AN EVIL THAT CAN BRING GOD’S CHASTISEMENT UPON HIS CHILDREN AND THE ANSWER (Chapter 25).  When God’s people sin it causes grief in the heart of God.  Yet, as the loving, forgiving God and Father that He is He desires to bring them back to Himself.  I have said it many times, and believe it to be a quote from Charles H. Spurgeon, “God will not allow His children to sin successfully”.  His children, His people are those who believe Him and His Son Jesus Christ; and live their lives for Him and His glory.

Since Balaam could not curse the people of Israel; he did one of the worse things that a pretender, hypocrite can do; cause evil to come into the heart of God’s people.  There are those in 2009 who believe that just because they are descendants of Abraham they are God’s children; even John the Baptist and Jesus has something to say about that:

“And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.” Matthew 3:9 (KJV) [words of John Baptist.]

“I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.” John 8:38-40 (KJV)

Notice those words of Jesus; “If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.  Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:3; Galations 3:6; James 2:23).

The only righteousness of God available is that righteousness which comes through the shed blood of Jesus on Calvary’s cross.

Though the death of Jesus Christ has paid the price for our sins we still sin; but as a child of God we have the power, and ability through Jesus Christ not to sin.  When we sin God is not pleased, but He does want us to know that we have and Advocate with the Father (1 John 1:9 – 2:1).

The deception of Balaam brought evil into Israel, and a plague destroyed many of the people, and Phineas acted jealously for God, and stopped the plague.  Some of the people of Israel had fell to the lust of other gods which involved prostitution, and it is the worship of demons.  In this plague 24,000 people died.  God will not, and does not allow His children to sin successfully.  There may be times that it seems; at least in our eyes; that He is letting some things slip by.  If you profess to be a child of God and can sin without guilt, shame, or fear of God’s judgment; you are not His child.

We are not to live in fear, but in peace and love and contentment with God.  You cannot have that if there is sin in your life.  Deal with it.  Paul said, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5).  Deal with sin quickly.  “Keep short accounts”.

THE HEART OF BALAAM WHICH WORKS RUIN (Numbers 31:16).  Now, we come to the opening Scripture verse.

“Behold, these caused the children of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to commit trespass against the LORD in the matter of Peor, and there was a plague among the congregation of the LORD.”

We see the trespass which Moses mentions in chapter 25, the wrath and judgment of God; the plague upon Israel taking the lives of 24,000 people; and some dying due to God’s commandment to slay all the guilty.

Though the heart of Balaam was with the Moabites and the Midianites; and for the wealth and perks that went along with it; there is in the midst of this immorality, and debauchery; many people who are grieved by the sins taking place in the camp of God.  These are found at the “…door of the tabernacle of the congregation”, and weeping because of this great sin against God and the people of God.

As the people of God we are to seek to bring good and blessing into people’s lives; not ruin, and harm.  We are to be springs of living water – cool and fresh; refreshing the weary soul.  We are to be hotsprings for healing, renewing and strength.  We are to be especially so to our brothers and sisters in Christ.

If we do things to cause a brother to sin; or to stumble and fall; then we fall into the category of the error of Balaam.  If we do or say something that causes us to look good while harming another; then that is the error of Balaam.  You may think, “I am not doing or saying it for pay?”  Oh!  You’re not?  You have taken away something that belonged to another.  You are in the “Error of Balaam”.  The heart of Balaam was to work ruin in the people of Israel.

Let’s always to seek to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ, glorify His name; and we will not be tearing others down to build up ourselves.  Nor, will we be leading others into sin.  Balaam died at the hands of Israel, along with the kings of Midian (Numbers 31:8).  Though the child of God cannot sin successfully; neither will God overlook those who treat His children poorly.

-Tim A. Blankenship

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

Stand Upon The Rock

“O, that will be glory for me, Glory for me, glory for me.  When by His grace I shall look on His face; that will be glory, be glory for me.”  So goes the words of the song “That Will Be Glory”.  This should be the hearts desire of every child of God; to see the glory of our God.

Peter, James and John witnessed the glory of Jesus when they were on the Mount and Jesus was transfigured before them (Matthew 17:1-11).  We will see the significance of this a little later in this message.

In Exodus 32 Moses had been up on the Mount getting the 10 Commandments on stone tablets,  by God, and the people took it on themselves, using Aaron, to build an idol called the golden calf, to worship.  The people had already heard the commandments (20:1-17),  ”Thou shalt have no other gods,’ and ‘Thou shalt not make any graven image”.   When he returned with the tablets of stone the people had rebelled against the LORD’s commandments and worshipped another god, and built a graven image to worship.

Moses breaks the tablets of stone; the whole law was shattered; ground the calf into powder, poured it into a stream, and made the rebellious ones drink the water (32:20).  Moses also called for those who were on the LORD’s side to come to me (32:26).

The heart of a shepherd/pastor is seen in Moses as he prays, “Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin–; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Exodus 32:32 (KJV).  Moses spends time setting up a special place outside the camp which represented the place to meet God the “Tabernacle of the congregation” (33:7).  You will notice that everytime Moses went to the tabernacle the men stood at the door of their tents and watched as the “cloudy pillar descended on the door of the tabernacle”.  When they saw this “cloudy pillar” descended to the door “they worshipped (v. 10).

Moses, the man of God, longed for the  abiding presence of the LORD, and sought it diligently.  He prayed to see God in His glory, and that if God was not with him and the people that they would go no farther (vv. 13-15).

OUTLINE OF Exodus 33:21-23 –

I.  THERE IS A PLACE NEAR TO GOD TO WHICH WE ARE CALLED (v. 21).  This is a place that is provided by God.  It is God who provided the rock for Moses, on which to stand.

God desires for all those who know Him to come near to Him.  “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you” (James 4:8).  God has always provided a place for His people.  He provided a garden for Adam and Eve (Genesis 2:8).  He provided an ark for Noah and His family to escape a flood (Genesis 6-9).  The Lord Jesus Himself said, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:1-3).

II.  WE ARE TO STAND ON THE ROCK, AND HIDE IN THE CLEFT WHICH GOD PROVIDES (vv. 21, 22).  The rock of course represents the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God.  “That Rock was Christ”, says Paul the apostle (1 Corinthians 10:4).  He even says that Rock followed them.

There is no surer foundation than the Rock which is Jesus Christ.  He is the Rock upon which His Church is built (Matthew 16:18), and there is no other foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11).

When we come to the place God has provided for us, He hides us in the cleft of the Rock.  God passed by Moses with His hand over Moses’s eyes protecting him from the glory that would have slain him.

III.  IN THE CLEFT OF THE ROCK; COVERED BY THE HAND OF GOD (v. 22).  Even though we may be in the place God has placed us we still need His  covering hand to protect us from His glory.  His hand is on display in the person of His Son.  Jesus said to Phillip, “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus Himself was the incarnation of God.  God became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:1, 14), “(and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:14 (KJV).  Jesus came veiled in human flesh, and though a man never sinned, never transgressed the law of God or man, but was obedient to the Father in all points, even unto the cross.

“Rock of Ages, cleft for me; let me hide myself in Thee”.  Hidden from the glory of God that could and would consume us if not in that cleft of the Rock.

IV.  THE GLORY OF GOD FROM THE BACK (v. 23).  We are not given any description of the back of God by Moses.  Therefore we are left to believe that this was completely satisfactory to Moses.  He knew he had been in the presence of holiness, righteousness, and the awesome wonder of His glory.

One day we are promised that we shall behold the face of our Lord.  All will look on Him whom we have  pierced with thorns, nails, spears, and our sins.  When we appear before the throne of Jesus Christ He will see only the garments washed clean by His own blood, and the judgment received will be for our rewards, for good or bad we have done (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 4:12-15).

Where are you standing today?  I pray you stand on the Rock which is Christ, and that you are hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3).  When your life is “Hid with Christ  in God” you are Standing On The Rock.

-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

 

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