INTERNAL COMBUSTION

Scripture Study:

  

Jeremiah is an old prophet in this passage of Scripture.  He had not always been listened to by the former kings, but he was somewhat respected.

In chapter 20. just prior to the collapse of the Nation of Judah to the Babylonian Empire. Jeremiah is persecuted and placed in stocks and ridiculed by the people.  I can understand his frustration that may have festered from within.  All of us go through the problems of life that frustrate us.

In Jeremiah’s situation–nobody would listen to him, not even his best friends.  He was angry.

I can understand his despair.  You know that God has called you into ministry, yet, you feel that you are rejected by those who you’ve been sent to minister to.

Jeremiah wished that he had never been born,

He regrets he has been called to preach.

He vows to himself he will never preach again.

He wants to quit life altogether.

Jeremiah 20:9 a. (NIV)

Jeremiah then said,  “I will not mention His word or speak any more in His name.”

When you read this verse in context with the rest of this passage, you can see and understand his frustration, his complaint before God; however, I looked at this verse in another way.  I believe that this verse more than any other statement made in Scripture summarizes who Jeremiah was.

Jeremiah 20:29 (b)

His word is in my heart like a fire shut up in my bones.  I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot!”

One quality that must be present before Internal Combustion can take place in believers is they have completely surrendered everything to God.  Surrender may start with SALVATION, but it certainly doesn’t end there.  Surrender only starts to become complete when we embrace the Cross and fulfill the calling God has for us.

Think about what Jeremiah experienced when he first received his calling from God in Jeremiah 1:4-9.

Then in Luke 9:23,  

Then He said to them all:  “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow Me.”

When Jeremiah answered God’s call, he surrendered everything!  Though he lived hundreds of years before Christ, he certainly knew what it meant to carry the cross!

How God calls us to sacrifice is different for each person.  Many people are eager to embrace the salvation aspect of the Cross but balk at the discipleship end of it.  To embrace the Cross means that we will sometimes have to inconvenience ourselves to answer the calling, but if we didn’t then it wouldn’t be a CROSS.

Sometimes we hesitate at Christian service because we don’t feel that we are gifted enough to serve.  But God doesn’t care about our abilities!  He cares only about our availability!  He only cares if the fire is burning inside of us!

If you are reading this study and feeling that the spiritual fire has dwindled, then ask yourself if there’s any sin in your life.  Sin is like a bucket of water being thrown over the coals.

“Where’s the fire?” 

Jeremiah 1:9 (NKJV)

Then the LORD put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me:  

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.”

Hebrews 4:12

Ephesians 6:17 (NIV)

Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Psalms 37:31 (AMP)

The law of his God is in his heart; none of his steps shall slide.

The verses referenced above speaks of God’s Word as like a sword.  I’ve always been drawn to and fascinated with medieval warfare.  Books like Lochinvar, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table and many others.  In the middle ages, knights battled it out with long swords.  You needed a long sword to do battle effectively in the middle ages.

How much time you and I spend in the Word determines how long our sword is. 

For some believers, the sword is only a nail file.  For others, their sword is only a pocket knife.  Remember that your enemy, the devil, has a long sword.  Remember that you are daily in a spiritual battle.  Remember that you need to arm yourself daily in order to do effective battle.  Arming yourself with God’s Word keeps you sharp!  It keeps you on fire!

On Fire and Broken

Jeremiah 4:19 (NET)

“Oh, the feeling in the pit of my stomach!  I writhe in anguish.  Oh, the pain in my heart!  My heart pounds within me.  I cannot keep silent.  For I hear the sound of the trumpet; the sound of the battle cry pierces my soul!”

The most anointed ministry is one through BROKENNESS. 

Being broken for the lost means being vulnerable.  This involves evangelism, servanthood, and intercession.  All big words.  We read at the beginning of this verse that Jeremiah is brokenhearted for the lost people of his generation.  Are you willing to be brokenhearted for the lost people you know?

“WHERE HAS THE FIRE GONE TO?”

Although Jeremiah’s spirit was in the dumps and seemed to be broken, he couldn’t stay down.  As soon as he was released from the stocks, he opened his mouth up with another sermon.  He had to get back into the ministry.  He would not be silent.  He had a fire in his bones!

I can completely understand why people get frustrated, angry, and filled with despair in ministry.  I know this because I’ve been there.  What I don’t understand is how a person who calls themselves a Christian can stay down.  Every person who has been born-again in the spirit has a fire in their bones.  It’s the same wind and fire of Pentecost.  It’s the FIRE put there by the Holy Spirit.

The world needs your witness.

The Church needs your help.

There is a Heaven!  There is a Hell!  Wake up!  Come alive again!  Let the Holy Spirit awaken you to righteousness!

On-fire Believers are compelled by the LOVE of Christ

“For the love of Christ controls and urges and impels us, because we are of the opinion and conviction that [if]  One died for all, then all died;”                                     [2 Corinthians 5:14] – (AMP)

Thinking back to the times when I was dating my wife to be, it seemed like we talked on the phone for hours during the week.  My conversation with my friends was constantly remarking about her qualities as I was consumed with the topic of my beloved.  I was excited about an opportunity to share about her!

What would happen if we as believers fell head over heels in love with Jesus?  What if we chose to make 2 Corinthians 5:14-15 a cornerstone of our lives.

If every Christian did this, we would shake the world!  Love makes us do some amazing things!

Here’s a truth:  What you love the most is what fills your life the most!  It’s also what stands out the most in your life!

Jesus said:  “For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.”  (Matthew 12:34)

And in Matthew 6:21 – “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  

What’s coming out of the overflow of your heart?

When you are in LOVE with God, witnessing for Christ no longer seems like an obligation, but like talking about someone you love!  The Bible is no longer a textbook you bring to church on Sundays, but a love letter!  Prayer is no longer a chore, but a daily phone conversation with someone you’re in love with!  Giving to God no longer is like paying taxes, but like buying a gift for your beloved.  In avoiding sin, it is no longer motivated by fear of consequence, but fear of breaking God’s heart!

Talent is never enough!

Your life has to be fueled by a love for Christ.

What controls our life?  What guides our decisions?

In 2 Corinthians 4:8-9, Paul writes about how he and those working with him persevere through trials.  Ultimately, it was the LOVE of Christ that empowered them!

When we become passionate, INTERNAL COMBUSTION will become noticed on the outside by others and ask about the HOPE in us [1 Peter 3:15].  

People will be drawn to us because of our LOVE for Jesus!

We become beacons of light in their darkness!

We become radiant with His presence!

Psalm 34

[5]  Those who look to Him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.

Those in darkness are seeking someone with light that will guide them to the ultimate Light!

Are you willing to be that light?  Will your life be one that’s ignited by a burning passion for Jesus?  Are you willing to let your passion shine for all to see?

If you have to find a place on the altar of Faith, then to cry out to God.  Get angry with God if you must.  Make out your complaint.  Cry.  Have tears.  Wait…And let the fire grow within you once again!

Ezekiel 36:26 (AMP)

A new heart will I give you and a new spirit will I put within you, and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.

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CREDITS:

Commentary:  Jerry Depoy’s sermon notes; Where’s the Fire?

Photos/Images:  Google image search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); New King James Version (NKJV).

 

Who Is Melchizedek in the Bible…Or As I Like to Call Him, ‘Mel’?


If one goes to the Internet to answer this question, there are all sorts of claims made in the name of ‘Melchizedek”.  I’ve come across the name, once again, in bible study in The Letter to the Hebrews 7:1-22, and to save me the time of writing down “Melchizedek,” over and over again, I took the liberty of calling him ‘Mel’.

Many religious groups with ties to Christianity make claims regarding Melchizedek.  Ancient Gnostics go to great explanations of claiming Melchizedek was actually Jesus [For more on the term “Gnostic,” go to GotQuestions.org/”What is the definition of the term Gnostic? ]. Others say he was the archangel, Michael.

Suffice to say, I don’t recommend an Internet search answering these sorts of questions.

In Hebrews 7, the information presented gives the most information about ‘Mel’ in the entire Bible.

Of course, Melchizedek first shows up in our Bible in Genesis … 12 pages into my Bible.

  • Genesis 12 contains God’s call of Abram and God’s promise that would make Abram a great nation and Blessed him (Genesis 12:2).
  • Genesis 13 includes the story of Abram (Abraham) and his nephew Lot agreeing to separate and occupy different territories in the new land.
  • At the beginning of Genesis 14, there’s a report of war among several kings.  Caught up in the plunder of war, Lot was carried off by the victory and apparent victim of circumstance, Lot was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • In the middle of Genesis 14, Abram learns of his nephew’s plight, takes a group of 318 soldiers, routs Lot’s captors and liberates Lot, his possessions, and all the people with him.

It was after Abram’s return from the victory that the story unfolds with Melchizedek.  Even though it is contained in just three chapters in our Bibles, it was a significant encounter for Abram.  Mostly because it’s a moment in which Abram acknowledged God’s Blessing on his life:

  • He chose the Blessing of the priest over the spoils of war offered by the other kings.
  • He credited God for the victory won.
  • He tithed, giving an offering in worship to “God most high”.

AND THIS IS THE END OF THE ACCOUNT.

There are no more details about ‘Mel’ to be found in Genesis.

Most history books I’ve run across don’t deny the existence of Melchizedek, but they don’t have much else to add either.

Aside from our text in Hebrews in this study, the only other place I could find in the Bible was Psalm 110.

Psalm 110 is what Bible scholars call a Messianic psalm, a prophecy that describes the ultimate Savior, the Victor that would deliver God’s people for all eternity.

And this particular Psalm describes the Messiah as “a priest after the manner and order of Melchizedek”  (verse 4).  

Sound familiar?

Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.

He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.

This duplication of this specific language presented at the end of Chapter 6 of Hebrews is in the precise language of Psalm 110.

Hebrews 6:20 (AMP)

[20] Where Jesus has entered in for us [in advance], a Forerunner having become a High Priest forever after the order (with the rank) of Melchizedek.

This is to remind us that none of this is primarily about ‘Mel’…it’s all about Jesus!

Although, as a Word Detective, it might be really tantalizing to think of all this in terms of unlocking some great mystery about this baffling Melchizedek.  The main point I find here is to tie Jesus to the prophecy found in Psalm 110.  So we will be best served to look at this passage of Scripture not so much for answers to the question “Who is Melchizedek?”  Rather, what we should really be after are the answers to the greater question, “Who is Jesus?”

The author who penned these words under the leading and inspiration of the Holy Spirit has no interest in leading us as readers to Melchizedek.  We are being led to Jesus!

What is found in this passage of Scripture now is Melchizedek being used as an illustration to help us understand more about Christ Jesus.

Melchizedek’s position is worth taking a close look at in Hebrews 7.

The beginning of the chapter explains that he is both king and priest.  Specifically king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem), priest of God Most High.

Jesus too is both King and Priest.

This mention of genealogy seems curious when it comes to studying this in the context of the Bible, especially the Old Testament historical books.  Unlike almost every other figure in the O.T. historical books, ‘Mel’ has no genealogical context.  He isn’t identified as “the son of” anyone, no begat.

Neither his birth nor death is recorded.

In Melchizedek’s case, scripture is silent about all that made him unique.  In this case, what distinguishes Melchizedek isn’t his genealogy, but his righteousness, peace, his association with God Most High!

Verses 4-10 makes us aware of Abraham’s position in respect to Melchizedek.

Abraham, the father of faith, the one through whom God chose to create a special people for Himself, subservient to Melchizedek.

  1. Abraham tithed to Melchizedek–giving him, in an act of worship, a tenth of what he had.
  2. ‘Mel’ blessed Abraham.

First the blessing and then the tenth. 

The lesser person is blessed by the greater.  Abraham wasn’t BLESSED because he tithed.

He gave because he was already BLESSED!

Jesus, too, is greater than Abraham.

Jesus, through this illustration, is associated in a superior order than all kings and priests, especially all those kings and priests that would come from Abraham.

Verses 11-14 make more of this idea of genealogy and ancestry.

The LAW given by Moses, established the tribe of Levi, the tribe of priests.

But Jesus wasn’t a Levite, as ‘Mel’ wasn’t a Levitical priest; Jesus was from the tribe of Judah.

Under the old covenant, one would be a law-breaker if one claimed to be a PRIEST but not qualified by his genealogy,

If you weren’t a LEVITE, you couldn’t be a PRIEST.

But like Melchizedek, who preceded the Levites, Jesus is a PRIEST superior to the Levitical priesthood not on the basis of RULES or ANCESTRY, but on the basis of the POWER of an indestructible life…a life everlasting! 

So, Jesus makes possible what the imperfections of the old priestly order could never deliver.

Jesus introduces “a better HOPE” as described in verse 19.

In the priestly order, only a select few could dare approach YHWH, but Jesus set aside what “was weak and useless” and made a way “by which we draw near to God.”

The old order of SACRIFICES made in the old order of Levitical priests, in which men continually offered payment for SIN through offerings, was set aside.

There were no chairs in the Temple or Tabernacle, for the work was not done.  But Jesus accomplished for us, once and for all, A NEW HOPE by which we draw near to God.

Finally, these last verses in the passage take our mind and spirit back to the prophecy in Psalm 110.  We have to remember, the point here is that Jesus isn’t merely like a king, like a priest, like a Messiah.  

The POINT here is…Jesus IS that Messiah!

He is sealed with an oath from the Creator (“The Lord has sworn and will not change His mind” Psalm 110:4) and not a priest by association or ancestry, but a PRIEST by declaration.

God said to him:  “The Lord has sworn (made an OATH) and will not change His mind:  ‘You are a priest forever'”

(verse 22 b.) – Because of His OATH. Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.  A whole new order, a new way, a new deal, a better covenant…

“SO WHAT?” you might say.

At one level, the “so what,” is simply the benefit of study.  The illustration found in Hebrews regarding Melchizedek gets a little technical, I’ll admit, but it’s powerful!  There’s a real reward that comes with a clearer understanding of God’s Word.

That understanding draws us closer to God and for this confidence that comes from the Word, we can shout, “AMEN”!

There’s of course, this very practical reminder…to keep our focus on Jesus.

‘Mel’ is one of those figures that has been hijacked and made into something that was never intended by many.

If you were googling Melchizedek, you’d soon find yourself way out in the theological weeds.  You can also go to Amazon.com and find all sorts of books that would want to take you down all sorts of weird roads.

But those “roads” take people away from the plain and simple basics of our faith.

We should take away from this study, a reminder that Scripture points us to Jesus.  We don’t need to search for secrets and mysteries about Melchizedek; the intent of this passage of Scripture is clearly to draw our attention and understanding to Jesus:

He is…

  • King of Righteousness
  • King of Peace
  • Priest Forever.

We’re reminded of the continuity of our faith.  That all ancient history points to the hinge of history, Jesus our Savior.

…that all religious practice, all rules, and law, all sacrifice and worship…ALL of it is trumped (if you will), superseded by a Superior Order, Jesus, the promised priest forever!

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CREDITS

The New International Commentary On The New Testament – The Letter To The Hebrews

PHOTO/IMAGES:  Google Image Search – Settings, advanced.

Bible Translations used:  New International Version (NIV); Amplified Bible (AMP); and other translations used are so noted.

 

 

When Things Seem Insurmountable, Always Remember the Three “C”‘s

BIBLE TEXT:  1 Peter 1:2; Romans 5:1-11

The Apostle Peter’s letter was addressed to the followers of Christ who lived in the area we know today as Turkey.  Peter was writing to Christians scattered far from home, some because of persecution and others because of circumstance.  It included words of encouragement to people who were lonely, afraid and discouraged in their doing.

Have you ever been in this state?  Of course, you have.  We all have.

The words that Peter wrote so long ago are an encouragement to us today.  Look closely at these words in 1 Peter 1:2 (NLT) –

There are THREE THINGS I hope you can see, as I saw in Peter’s words:

#1.  God the Father CHOSE you.

#2.  God the Holy Spirit CHANGES you.

#3.  God the Son CLEANSES you.

Let me take each of the above, one at a time.

GOD THE FATHER CHOSE YOU!

Ephesians 1:4 tells us,  “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight”  (NIV).

That’s an amazing verse:  We’ve been chosen, You’ve been chosen, and I have been chosen.  Chosen because of God’s LOVE for us!

Even before He made the WORLD, God LOVED us and chose us in Christ Jesus to be HOLY without fault in His eyes.

The FIRST “C”:  God has CHOSEN us!

We are special to Him…

We belong to His family…

We are children of the living God.

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago – The GREEK WORD used here is eklektos (ek-lek-tos’), meaning set apart, chosen before, elect, selected.  [Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary]

God is ETERNAL.  He knows the end from the beginning and everything in between.

He knew you from the start of time as we understand time, and loved you and chose you to be His.

God CHOSE those whom He knew would believe and trust in Him.  God has given us all FREEWILL, yet He knew who would willingly REPENT and turn to Him.

In ALL THINGS, especially in SALVATION, God is sovereign!

He KNEW who would believe.

He KNEW who would know their need of a Saviour.

He KNEW who would turn to Jesus as their personal Lord and Saviour.

God the Father knew everything and everyone even before He spoke the universe into existence.

You and I, and all who have FAITH in the one TRUE GOD are LOVED & CHOSEN to be the people of God.

2 Timothy 2:19 REMINDS US,

If you are a Christian, if you have repented of your sin and trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, then you have been LOVED AND CHOSEN by God.

The SECOND “C”:  God the Holy Spirit CHANGED You!

God the Father knew you and chose you long ago and His Spirit made you holy.  The NIV Bible says “through the sanctifying work of the Spirit”.

The Oxford dictionary defines sanctified as “Set apart”, “declared holy”, “consecrated”, “Freed from sin” or “purified”.

As disciples of Christ, we are “set apart” for God’s purposes in this world.

At the moment we give our lives to Christ we are SAVED,  BUT…there’s an ongoing process of CHANGE and SANCTIFICATION that continues in our lives until God calls us to step into eternity.

The Holy Spirit works IN US to be His holy people.  In fact, His command, not His suggestion to us in 1 Peter 1:16 is “You MUST be holy because I AM holy”.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Sanctification is not my idea of what I want God to do for me, sanctification is God’s idea of what He wants to do for me.”

The Holy Spirit Helps Us to Be Obedient to Our Heavenly Father.

HOLY SPIRIT works in us…

  • He helps us FOCUS on God’s plans and purposes for us.
  • He reminds us we are LOVED.
  • He reminds us we BELONG to God.
  • He reminds us we are CHOSEN by God.

The Holy Spirit can CHANGE & TRANSFORM our lives.

Here’s a QUESTION for you to ponder:

Do you allow Holy Spirit to change you?  I mean really change you, your thoughts, your actions, your words.

Do you ever make CHOICES based on what you want rather than what you know God expects of you?

Do you allow God SOME control or FULL control of your life?

The Holy Spirit makes us Holy.  His presence IN us is meant to CHANGE us; to reflect the character and holiness of God to those around us.

In Romans 12, the Apostle Paul encourages us to let our bodies be a living and holy SACRIFICE to God.  I heard someone once say, that “A SACRIFICE is something given that comes with a cost.”  So if it doesn’t “cost” you something, then it’s not a sacrifice.  Deductive reasoning on my part I guess.

The NLT Bible says it this way:  “But let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think [even when things seem insurmountable].  Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”  — (I added the brackets in the verse.)

The “FULLNESS” of God’s Spirit Operating, HELPING, GUIDING, TRANSFORMING, EMPOWERING You in ALL Areas–Each of us needs the Holy Spirit, to daily bring about CHANGE in our lives, to make us holy.

Try squeezing a full aluminium can of soda and then an empty can.  Which is the easier to CRUSH?  The empty can, of course.  Being FILLED with the Spirit of the living God works the same.  Our lives are easily CRUSHED when we are empty, yet when FILLED with the Holy Spirit, we are not “cramped or crushed”.

2 Corinthians 4:7-8 says it this way:

[7] But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 

[8] We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not destroyed.

The THIRD “C”:  God the Son CLEANSES you.

God the Father knew you and CHOSE you long ago and His Spirit has made you Holy.  As a result, you have OBEYED Him and made CLEAN by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

Peter tells us so because we have been SET APART by our OBEDIENCE, living our lives as children of God, DISCIPLES of Jesus.

You might be thinking, “Well, not exactly living my life in TOTAL obedience.”

Remember, “Transformation” isn’t a one-time event that happens when you are SAVED.  It’s an ongoing process enacted by the Holy Spirit.

Casual, convenient Christianity isn’t OBEDIENCE to God.  God wants us to be FAITHFUL…NOT FAITHLESS!  It’s about commitment.

So our “OBEDIENCE demands something from us–that we give it without regard to circumstances or results” (quote by Chuck Colson).

You have OBEYED Him and have been CLEANSED by the BLOOD of Jesus Christ.

In Old Testament times, people were sprinkled with some blood from an animal sacrifice to remind them of their vows to God and God’s great promises to them.  It was a COVENANT relationship, an agreement that was SEALED with BLOOD.

In the New Covenant, God has established with us, the PERFECT SACRIFICE, Jesus: We are CLEANSED, SET APART and PLEDGED to OBEDIENCE.

When we turn to Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, when we REPENT… turn completely in a different direction from our sinful life and ask God to forgive us, and because of our FAITH in Jesus, WE ARE SAVED!

Our SINS, past, present and future are FORGIVEN because Christ shed His blood for us on the Cross.  Jesus has washed away the PENALTY for our sins by His BLOOD.  We have been purchased, bought and paid for with a price and our lives are not our own, God has SAVED us and the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within us.

READ the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-11

ENDURANCE Provided When Things Appear to be Insurmountable.

The verses here in Romans tells us to “REJOICE in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance” (Rom. 5:3).

The KEY to pick up here is to find JOY “IN” our trials, our problems, our sufferings and not “for” them!

This is where ENDURANCE comes from (Rom. 5:4).  It produces HOPE, the strength of character; and CHARACTER strengthens our confident HOPE OF SALVATION.  And this HOPE will not lead to disappointment for we know how dearly God loves us, and He has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our innermost being with His love.

When we were utterly helpless, Christ Jesus came at just the right time and died for us sinners.  And since we have been made right in God’s sight by the CLEANSING BLOOD of Christ, He will certainly SAVE US from God’s condemnation.

God loved you then, loves you now and will continue to love you!

Despite your faults, despite your imperfections, and Lord knows, we all have plenty, God knows you and He loves you.

  • God CHOSE you.
  • God has CALLED you.
  • God has SELECTED you.
  • God has a PLAN for you.

God wants you to DISCOVER this plan, your destiny He has ordained for you.

The Holy Spirit lives IN you.

He has CHANGED you, is changing you while I write this POST, and will continue to work IN you and THROUGH you.

JESUS DIED for you and me.

JESUS SAVED you.

JESUS CLEANSED you.

The SACRIFICE Jesus made on the Cross was made on our account and set us free from the penalty of your SIN.

May God help us to become the people He has called us to be!

“Chosen, Changed, Cleansed” and committed to discovering our destiny!

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CREDITS HONORED –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings: Advance search.

Dictionary:  Oxford Dictionary.

Sermon Notes:  Dean Courtier, Pastor at Estuary Elim Church Group.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV) and Amplified Bible (AMP), except where noted in the text.

 

Christmas In October, Really?

Scripture Study – NUMBERS 24:17

Okay, it may be a bit early for a blog-POST about A “STAR” at Christmas, especially since I’ve been reading and studying in the Book of Numbers in the OT of the Bible.  I don’t believe in ‘happenstance,’ so before venturing down a dead-end road I prayed and asked God for some answers to the timing of this POST.  Why had God’s Spirit given me this particular verse at this particular time?

Here is how He answered my questions:

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV Bible)

[8] “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  [9] “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

So after meditating on God’s answer from His Word, I began to consider our Saviors birth and the details knowing that Jesus’ birth is amazing at any time of the year and not just during the Christmas holidays.

CONSIDERING THE DETAILS OF JESUS’ BIRTH…

Would we have planned it that way?  None of us would choose to lay our newborn in a trough where animals had fed.  I wouldn’t have.

BUT THAT WAS GOD’S WAY FOR HIS SON!

Maybe we would have thought, “Yea!  Let’s send some angels!”

Would we have sent them to no-name shepherds, out in the country where no one else could see them?  I wouldn’t!

GOD’S WAY IS NOT OUR WAY!!

But God’s Way Does Not Fail!

That’s something for us to take heart to, especially when tragedies in the world recently make us want to cry out,  “Why God, why this way?  It’s too hard for me to understand!”  But His Way doesn’t fail!

With that thought in mind, look closely now at this PROPHESY from NUMBERS 24.  I think you’ve heard this Prophesy many times before and you know how it’s fulfilled in JESUS.

But after looking at the CONTEXT of the verse, God’s Way becomes all the more AMAZING!

His Way Amazes!

This PROPHECY didn’t come about in the usual way.  It wasn’t spoken directly by the LORD when He promised the Savior to Adam and Eve or to Abraham.  The words weren’t unspoken by a BELIEVING PROPHET of Israel–Isaiah or Micah.  It was spoken by someone whom we would call a Sorcerer.  His name was Balaam, son of Beor.

As the story begins, the LORD had brought ISRAEL out of Egypt about 40 years earlier.  And now was the time to enter the Promised Land.

On the east side of the Jordan River, Israel’s armies had defeated Sihon, king of the Amorites and Og, king of Bashan.  So when the people of Moab saw this, they became terrified!  Can you imagine over 601,000 combat-ready troops approaching the city where you live?

Then king Balak, son of Zippor took action.  If the Amorites couldn’t stand against Israel, he figured he couldn’t either, so he tried another tactic.  He sent an envoy to Balaam, son of Beor in Pethor.  He wanted to employ Balaam to CURSE Israel.  If they were CURSED, perhaps the outcome of the battle would be to their favor.

That night the LORD told Balaam not to go and he sends the envoy back to king Balak the next day.  But Balak was persistent and sent more princes who were more distinguished and promised Balaam with even greater rewards.

That night the LORD allowed him to go, IF, and only IF, he did exactly what the LORD would tell him.  As Balaam sets out, he apparently had decided in his heart, not to do what the LORD would tell him.  You know, the old crossed fingers behind the back tradition.

The angel of the LORD stood in his way and would have killed him on the spot, except Balaam’s donkey saw the angel and went off the path around him.  Since Balaam couldn’t see the angel, he became angry with his donkey.  Finally, for the third time, there was no room for the donkey to go around and it sat down and Balaam beat the poor animal.

AND THEN THE DONKEY SPOKE:

“Am I not your own donkey, which you have always ridden, to this day?  Have I been in the habit of doing this to you?”  (Numbers 22:29 NIV)

And the LORD opened Balaam’s eyes to see the angel, agreeing to speak ONLY what the LORD told him.

Now King Balak readied seven altars with sacrifices in preparation for Balaam to curse Israel.  But instead of a CURSE, Balaam spoke a BLESSING instead since those were the words of the LORD.

King Balak had Balaam try again at another place and again he blessed Israel.

They tried a third time and instead of resorting to SORCERY as he had on previous occasions, Balaam continued to BLESS Israel as the LORD had told him.  By now, King Balak was furious!  But before he left, Balaam spoke some more words with a BLESSING and PROPHECY, including the Text for this BLOG-POST in Numbers 24:17 (NIV) – 

“I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near.  A STAR will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.  He will crush the foreheads of Moab, the skulls of all the people of Sheth.”

His Way Brings Hope!

People have looked to the STARS for hope throughout the ages past.  Ancient astrologers tried to predict the future from the Stars.  Modern science looks to the Stars to find new planets, a new hope when the earth is dried up.

Then we have celebrities, movie stars, and people look to them for hope and inspiration.  But how they disappoint!  All those different kinds of STARS are FALSE Hope.

But these words in Numbers 24:17 are spoken from such an unlikely source, these words were spoken almost three and a half millenniums ago, these words are THINGS spoken that don’t disappoint.

For God’s Ways Do Not Fail!

That STAR did come at the right time and was laid in a manger.

 

How many years had passed for God’s way to work out according to His schedule of GRACE, not our schedule of instant gratification.

“I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not now”

Numbers 24:17 (NIV).

Almost 1500 years after these words were spoken before THAT STAR came.

But He did come!  The LORD keeps His Word!  And that should bring us all HOPE.  Hope doesn’t disappoint or prove false.

For the LORD keeps His Promises.

In Moments of the Darkness of Sin…what does the Hope of the Star Bring?

How dark the night can be!  But even in pitch-blackness of night, doesn’t even compare to the DARKNESS of Sin… the shroud of DEATH.  And since everyone is born into this DARKNESS [Romans 3:23; 5:12; Genesis 6:5; Psalm 51:5], our natural self-thinks that it’s normal.

But God didn’t make us be creatures of the night; rather, He wants us to be His children of the Light.  Now, this goes against our inherited nature.  We don’t want to be seen by others as naked; our hearts laid bare, our secret sins exposed, our self-imagined goodness.  We cling to artificial lights to make us feel good by our own efforts, running from the TRUE LIGHT.

BUT DARKNESS AND SELF-IMAGINED LIGHT….end in Death and Hell.  NO HOPE, NO JOY.  Only the weeping and gritting (gnashing) of teeth [Matthew 13:42].

BUT LOOK!  A STAR HAS RISEN!

And this STAR shines into the DARKNESS…THE TRUE LIGHT!

This Star has worked a marvelous change in you and me–that worked a NEW BIRTH in us– A REBIRTH!  We who had been born children of darkness, we were reborn:

John 1:13 (The MESSAGE Bible)

“The Life-Light was the real thing.  Every person entering Life, he brings into Light.  He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice.  He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him.  But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves.  These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.”

SO THIS STAR brings you and me HOPE!

He has shattered the DARKNESS OF SIN, bring the LIGHT of forgiveness.  Thar was God’s Way to save you and me, namely to send His Son into our DARKNESS, so that He took our guilt upon Himself and died in our place as the SACRIFICE for our sin, and so ransomed us with His blood.

How far above our ways!  God’s Way doesn’t fail!

His Way Prevails!

COMFORT comes with this Prophecy when it talks about the SCEPTOR.

God’s Way will not fail, for that STAR who shines into the darkness to SAVE US, is the SCEPTOR.  He, JESUS, is the KING who has redeemed us to be His people.

HE IS YOUR KING…for He ransomed YOU with His blood!

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He has conquered SIN, Satan, and Death for you, risen from the grave in Victory and Glory for you.

He carries the SCEPTOR, for He is the Almighty God and He reigns over all at the Father’s right hand.

I thought about that for a minute.  Think of it when said and done.  When a foreign King. a pagan Sorcerer plotted to undermine God’s plan for His people, the LORD used a dumb donkey to set things right.  GOD’S WAY DOESN’T FAIL!

He even used that pagan sorcerer to speak a wonderful promise of the Savior.  A PROMISE that stirs HOPE in our hearts still today…each and every day of the year.

So whatever you are facing right now, whatever the circumstance you find yourself in, look to the STAR in the manger. see His Scepter, follow Him in HOPE!

“The peace of God that surpasses all understanding

keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”  Amen.

Philippians 4:7

 

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You might enjoy this Music Video at the end of this Blog-Post from YouTube:  A STAR IS BORN!  “Mary Did You Know?”

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CREDITS –

Photos:  Google Image Search – Settings, Advance search.

Bible Translations:  New International Version (NIV), unless stated in the text.

Is Finding the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” A Big Deal?

Numbers 19:2 (NIV Bible)

“This is a requirement of the law that the LORD has commanded:  Tell the Israelites to bring you a red heifer without defect or blemish and that has never been under the yoke.”

How many of you have ever heard of the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER”?  Usually, not many have.  I could only find 2 mentions in Scripture – Numbers 19 and Hebrews 9.

In my last Blog-Post in the Book of Numbers, https://theworddetective.wordpress.com/2017/09/27/dont-let-your-ashes-put-out-the-fire/, was about disposing of the ashes.  But here in Numbers 19, the ASHES were to be a “Perpetual Statute” to the nation of ISRAEL.

The Purpose Of The Ashes – NUMBERS 19:9

[9]  “A man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and put them in a ceremonially clean place outside the camp.  They are to be kept by the Israelite community for use in the water of cleansing; it is for purification from sin.”

This God-given statute was during the time of wandering in the wilderness for 40 years–approximately 600,000 Israelites (not counting women and children) died of their failure to TRUST God and enter into the Promised Land–Canaan–(about 40 people per day) over the age of 20 years.  During this time, there was the serious ceremonial defilement of Israel who had to bury the dead.

In the Mosaic Law, there are 613 laws that were given at Mt. Sinai; 248 Mandatory Laws and 365 Prohibitionary Laws.  There were 18 Mandatory Laws alone that dealt with “Ritual Purity.”

This brings us to Numbers 19:14-16 – “touching the corpse of a dead person, or even their bones or on the grave”  CAUSED DEFILEMENT.  

This DEFILEMENT lasted 7 days:  Numbers 19:2-9 gives instructions to the Priests and the children of God in the process of PURIFICATION OF SIN which involved the use of the “Ashes of the Red Heifer.”

Jewish History of the Red Heifer (Talmud Histories) –

The Talmud is a Jewish History written by former Rabbis:

  1. Heifer was chosen and sacrificed/burned.
  2. Ashes collected and put into a crock-pot (2-3 gallons).
  3. The priest would take a hyssop, place in fresh, running water, take a pinch of ashes, place on the hyssop, sprinkle the sprig of hyssop upon the “unclean person” seven times, on the 3rd and 7th day.
  4. On the 7th day, the ceremonially unclean person was declared clean.
  5. When the “Ashes” were nearly consumed, another Red Heifer was sacrificed, burned, and its ashes “added to” the ashes of the previous heifer or heifers (perpetual statute).

From Numbers 19 until AD 69, there have been 9 such HEIFERS sacrificed.  [See Footnote [i] ]

IN AD 70, Titus of Rome destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple and looted the city.  Many of the furnishings of the Temple were removed, including the Ark of the Covenant and…the Ashes of the Red Heifer.

The Archaeology Findings of 1947

A young Arab boy found the Dead Sea Scrolls in a cave, including a “copper scroll.”  The scroll gave directions of a cave between Jericho and Saccachar.

Vendel Jones, an American archaeologist, found the cave, and after three digs and the beginning of the fourth dig, uncovered many artifacts.  Then for a second time, the money ran out and the permit to continue was refused.

The Significance of the Findings –

Temple worship cannot be established without the ASHES OF THE RED HEIFER being used to cleanse the priesthood of unrighteousness.

Today, in ISRAEL, a school is already in the process of training men named Cohen, Levy, and Levi from the Tribe of Levi.  The Chief Priest, the holiest man in Judaism, can ritually PURIFY himself, then the students into the PRIESTHOOD as soon as they find the “Ashes of the Red Cow”.  Why is the such a “BIG DEAL” when this happens?

The Church will be gone!  RAPTURED!

TYPOLOGY OF THE RED HEIFER – Old Testament/New Testament Comparisons.

  1.  Numbers 19:2 infers that the HEIFER came from among the people.  Christ came from among the people (John 1:11).
  2.  HEIFER brought as a SACRIFICE for others.  JESUS came as a SACRIFICE for others (John 3:16, 17; ! Timothy 1:15).
  3.  HEIFER was to be without spot or blemish (Numbers 19:2).  JESUS was also!  (1 Peter 1:18, 19).
  4.  HEIFER knew no yoke of bondage– a symbol of sin (vs. 2).  Christ knew no BONDAGE of sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).
  5.  HEIFER was a “Female” – the price for a female slave was 30 pieces of silver, male slaves were sold for 50 pieces of silver.  Christ was sold (betrayed) for 30 pieces of silver.
  6.  HEIFER was given to the Priest, Eliezer (Numbers 19:3).  JESUS was arrested and taken to Caiaphas, the High Priest.
  7.  HEIFER was taken outside the camp for SACRIFICE.  JESUS was also taken to Caiaphas, Pilate, Herod, then back to Pilate, then outside the camp (gates) of Jerusalem to Calvary.
  8.  HEIFER was slain BEFORE the Priest, but not by the Priest (Num. 19:4).  Christ was SLAIN before the Priest at the Cross.
  9.  HEIFER’S neck was “double jointed”.  One swift blow could kill.  JESUS too died in only 6 hours – He died at will swiftly.

While researching and looking up Scripture references this past week, Holy Spirit gave me a revelation from The Death, Crucifixion, and Burial of Jesus Christ.  And in that revelation, 2 men entered the conversation–

THE NICODEMUS & JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA DILEMMA – John 19:38-42

These two men came from two theological directions, totally opposed to each other.

JOSEPH had believed in salvation by good politics where Nicodemus had taught obedience from 613 rules which the Pharisee’s thoughts summed up the Old Testament Law of Moses.  But coming from two opposite directions, both came to believe JESUS was the MESSIAH!

So when they heard Jesus was going to be CRUCIFIED…they knew something would have to be done for decent disposal of His body.  If nothing was done, the Roman soldiers would leave the corpse to rot on the Cross.  And time was short because the PASSOVER celebrations would begin at sundown.

So the two men who were opposed to each other in doctrine together carried the body into a garden tomb laying the body not just in any tomb, but in Joseph of Arimathea’s recently carved out family tomb.  Previously, Joseph went boldly into the palace of Pilate the Roman Governor, asking permission to remove Jesus’ body from the Cross.

With Numbers 19 in mind, I believe Joseph of Arimathea must have sent his family a message that he would be defiled by touching a dead body and that the Passover Seder celebration would have to be delayed a month (according to my study on the rule given (Numbers 9:6-11).

Since of the importance, the Gospels give to these two men, an assumption can be made that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea must have joined the Christian community.  As the Holy Spirit began teaching them they soon discovered that Jesus’ Resurrection made nonsense of the Sadducee explanation that death of the body was the end.  JESUS’ SACRIFICE on the Cross replaced the cleansing of the Ashes of the Red Heifer once and for all!  Therefore, the significance of being cleansed by the “Ashes of the Red Heifer” was doctrinally important in the Jewish Law of Moses, but Jesus Himself had said, “I’ve come to fulfill the Law” (Matthew 5:17)

HIS BLOOD SACRIFICE FULFILLED THE LAW!

The Ashes of the Red Heifer – Numbers 19

In the Old Testament, the Priest sprinkled the “Blood of the Heifer” before the entrance of the presence of God (Numbers 19:4).

If you’re reading this POST and you’re not sure of your SALVATION…KNOW THIS:  If you would come to Christ, it will only be by the BLOOD of the Son of God, Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:22).

CONNECTING THE SACRIFICE OF THE HEIFER WITH CHRIST (Numbers 19:7, 8-9).

In these verses, we find that a person was “Unclean until made clean”.  So like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, how can we, who are born in sinful uncleanness (Romans 3:23), become CLEAN or RIGHTEOUS before God?

The ANSWER is found in 2 Corinthians 5:21.

 

And what happened to those who refused Cleansing?

Numbers 19:20 (AMP)

[20] But the man who is unclean and does not purify himself, that person shall be cut off from among the congregation, because he has defiled the sanctuary of the Lord…

Those who refused CLEANSING were “cut off” – separated from God.

What about YOU?  Have YOU ever come for a “cleansing”, not from the “Ashes of the Red Heifer”, but from the BLOOD of the Lamb, Jesus Christ that He shed at Calvary?

Why not come today and be cleansed while there is still time in the last days.

 

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CREDITS & FOOTNOTES –

Footnote [i] :  Encyclopedia-Judacia: Red Heifer – Jewish Virtual Library.

Commentary:  Robert Brow – John 19:38-42, JOSEPH OF ARIMATHEA AND NICODEMUS.  

Photos:  Google Image Search, Advanced Settings.

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible (AMP); New International Version (NIV)

A “KODAK MOMENT” of Calvary

In photography, a snapshot concept was introduced to the public on a large-scale by Eastman Kodak, which introduced the Brownie box camera. Kodak encouraged families to use the Brownie to capture moments in time of perfect images seen through the viewfinder.

And I remember receiving the gift of a Kodak Box Camera, a Brownie Hawkeye, no less,  from my parents before going on a family vacation one summer.  It was easy to operate, even for a young boy–point, look through the lens at the object to be photographed, and “SNAP!” No fancy adjustments.  Just point and shoot!

So here I am in this blog-Post, taking a snapshot of a moment in time by viewing the biblical landscape in Genesis 22.

An ‘Abraham and His Son’ moment:  Genesis 22:2, 6 and 8.

“Take now your son”…”Abraham took the wood…laid it on Isaac his son”…and Abraham said, “My son”.

Just as Abraham had a son, so God the Father has a Son.

  • God the Father offered His Son, by the POWER of the Holy Spirit:

“How much more then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!”  (Hebrews 9:14 ~ New International Version – NIV).

So you can see that the TRINITY (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) is plainly in view and involved in our SALVATION–

The FATHER PLANNED it…

The SON PROVIDED it…

And the SPIRIT APPLIED it.

Furthermore, by sharpening our FOCUS, we can see He was the Father’s lone Son – “your only son”.

Of course, Abraham had other sons, but the only one like Isaac–he was his unique son.

Next, we see through our lens, the Father’s LOVE for His Son.

“Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love” (vs 2)

  • The LOVE Abraham had for Isaac was only a subdued love, compared to the LOVE God had for His Son.

This is the FIRST MENTION of LOVE in the Bible and a VIEW of God’s LOVE for His Son:

The first mention of LOVE in the Gospel of Matthew is “This is my Son, whom I love, with him I am well pleased”  (Matthew 3:17).

The first mention of LOVE in Mark’s Gospel is again, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased” (Mark 2:11).

And Luke… “and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove.  And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased”  (Luke 3:22).

And finally, the first mention of LOVE in John’s Gospel, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

SPURGEON: “JESUS was God’s Son, his only-begotten Son, whom he loved more than any of you can ever love your sons or daughters, for the love of God towards him is ineffable, immeasurable.  It is not possible for me to tell you how much God loved his Son, but that Son who had always given him delight, in whom he was well pleased, that Son must endure shame, and agony, and death, if sinners were ever to be saved.  How could the Father give up his Son for such a purpose?  I have felt sometimes as if I could almost rush in, and say, “No; it must not be, the price is too great to be paid for the rescue of such worthless worms as we.”  Yet, to ransom every one of us, the Son of God must be sacrificed, and sacrificed, as it were, by his Father, for thus it is written, “It pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief.”  This, there is one point of resemblance between the offering of Isaac and the propitiatory sacrifice of our Lord, Jesus Christ, it was the father who had to offer up his son who he loved so dearly.”

A SNAP-SHOT of the Landscape–The Land of Moriah (Gen 22:2;  2 Chron. 3:1).

Genesis 22, Verse 2:  “go to the region of Moriah”

The importance of Mount Moriah is established by a number of KEY historical events which have taken place there:

  • Abraham offers Isaac (Gen. 22:2)
  • The Site of Solomon’s Temple.  King David was instructed by God to erect an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite which occupied this site.  So David purchased the land which later became the site of Solomon’s Temple.
  • The Crucifixion of Jesus.  On the very mountain where Abraham was asked to sacrifice his “only son”, God sacrificed His only Son.

The LAW of the Burnt Offering (22:2).

This LAW was spelled out in Leviticus (Lev. 1:3-9), much later than what we see here in Genesis 22.  Actually, the term is first used of the sacrifices of Noah (Gen. 8:20), predating Abraham’s day.

The LAW spells out that the SACRIFICE is not to be a Second-rate offering:

#1.  It must be sacrificial–from the herd or flock that is domestic not of a wild animal.

#2.  There was to be a relationship between the OFFERING and the one offering it ~ “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.”

#3.  The SACRIFICE must be the Strongest of the flock–a male animal (John 1:29).

#4.  It must be Spotless–without blemish (1 Peter 1:18-19):

[18] You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold.  [19] But [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ (the Messiah), like that of a [sacrificial] lamb without blemish or spot.”  [Amplified Bible].

JESUS WAS SINLESS!

#5.  AND…It must not be Stiff-necked; used of an uncooperative animal–it must be a VOLUNTARY Offering (John 10:17-18)

A SACRIFICE was made to BALANCE our account (Romans 4:35 & 2 Corinthians 5:21).

Romans 4:25 (AMP): 

Who was betrayed and put to death because of our misdeeds and was raised to secure our justification (our acquittal),  [making our account balance and absolving us from all guilt before God].

The SACRIFICE was SLAIN by the one who brought it.

Ultimately, it was God the Father who brought Jesus to CALVARY who slew Him for our sins (Matthew 27:45-46). 

The BLOOD from the SACRIFICE had to be Sprinkled (Hebrews 12:24):

[24]  And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy] a better and nobler and more gracious message that the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]  (AMP).

The SACRIFICE was a Sweet Aroma to Father God (Ephesians 5:2):

[2] Walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.

A Lapse of Time occurred…(Genesis 22:3)

ABRAHAM rose early in the morning…on the THIRD DAY–he did not offer his son immediately but had to wait for 3 days.

Those had to be 3 difficult days and mindful of what he was about to do.

  • JESUS waited some 3 years before going to the CROSS and it was ever before Him!  (John 2:4; 7:30; 12:27).

LOOKING FOR A RESURRECTION (Hebrews 11:17-19):

Abraham came to the conclusion that he was going to see a MIRACLE because God can’t lie!  God had previously said this son of his, Isaac, would be the one whom He would fulfill all His promises (Gen, 12:2, 3 – “The Abrahamic Blessing”).  Therefore the son must live or God would be found as a liar.  And yet God commands that THIS SON (Isaac) be put to death.  Since there is no contradiction in God, He must be planning on raising Isaac from the dead.  All this…a SNAPSHOT of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

All this…A VIEW of what JESUS would actually do–die and then be raised back to life!

The Laying Of Our Sins Upon Christ –

The WOOD that is laid upon Isaac (Gen. 22:6) becomes a PICTURE of Jesus carrying His own cross (John 19:16-18).

The FIRE (Genesis 22:6-7) that Abraham carried in the fire-pot for the “burnt sacrifice” becomes a snapshot once more of God’s Holy wrath upon Christ (Isaiah 53:4-6).

The KNIFE (22:10) depicts His being pierced with nails and the spear in His side…

And FINALLY, the LAMB (Genesis 22:8; 11-14).

GOD DID PROVIDE A LAMB FOR HIMSELF AT CALVARY (Romans 8:32):

[32]  “Certainly not God. who did not even keep back his own Son, but offered him for us all!  He gave us his Son–will he not also freely give us all things?”  (GNT- The Good News Translation)

Why did God tell Abraham to offer his son?

Abraham was an Old Testament PROPHET (GENESIS 20:7)–one who by the grace of God have us a glimpse into future events.

JESUS said ABRAHAM hoped for “My day [My incarnation]; and he did see it and was delighted”  (John 8:56).

This MOMENT, this event in history becomes a SNAPSHOT taken to illustrate God offering His only Son at CALVARY.

From 1935 to 1962, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt had a daily newspaper column writing her opinion on various world events.  One quote I especially took to heart is from an article she wrote in 1946:

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.”

God will never ask us to do something He is not willing to do Himself–and that includes SACRIFICE.

ISAAC is the beginning of the CROSS, and a shining example of how God will always do the same thing He expects of us.

Isaac was the RESULT of A PROMISE, through his birth that allowed God’s presence to reach a new nation of people–ISRAEL.

And JESUS was also the RESULT of a PROMISE, and through His DEATH, BURIAL and RESURRECTION allowed God’s presence to reach the entire world!

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CREDITS FOR THIS POST:

Genesis: A Devotional Exposition by Donald G. Barnhouse.

Commentary:  Pondering Scripture – An Uncommon Commentary, Genesis 22:5.

Kodak Brownie photo:  Snapshot (photography)–Wikipedia.

Other PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations used for this blog-POST:  New International Version (NIV), except where noted.

 

 

A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND

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Last week I participated in a political discussion group on social media where the attacks got pretty hot and heavy.  And, I have to confess, my “flesh” got in the way of my heart and I had to repent from my reciprocal reactions.  

Was I right in making a “political” point? Perhaps, but my thought process and reaction to unbelievers wasn’t.  I’ve since disconnected with the group.

The Holy Spirit directed my repentance, to a study in 1 Peter–and so here I am: A CALL TO HOLINESS IN A HOSTILE LAND–“But as the One Who called you [MEL] is holy, you [MEL] also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living” (1 Peter 1:15 AMP). Now that’s…personal!

A BIBLE STUDY IN 1 PETER 1:13-21 –

PETER begins his letter to the churches, in the northern part of Asia Minor in the first twelve verses to the future of the Christian.

[13] “THEREFORE, prepare your minds for action…” and this is a good place to start from.

I capitalized the word “THEREFORE” for emphasis.  When reading the bible, it can become a tired old saying, but true–and it’s there for a reason.

In the Amplified bible, verse 13 reads “So brace up your minds; be sober (circumspect, morally alert)…”

PETER is about to make a transition from the FUTURE HOPE of the Christian, to the PRESENT HOPE…Peter wants Christians to understand, since God has given us a living HOPE, our incorruptible Inheritance and His promised of PRAISE, HONOR and GLORY, and there is a certain way He expects believers–that’s us–to conduct ourselves publicly, in our homes privately, or anywhere we travel in this life.

This takes us to 1 Peter 1:15, “as the One Who called you holy…be holy in all of your conduct and manner of living.”

So Peter in essence is saying–no, what Jesus said in Luke 12:48,  “For everyone to whom much is given, of him shall much be required; and of him to whom men entrust much, they will require and demand all the more.”

WOW!  Living a holy life in the expectations of a HOLY GOD, can that be a reality in today’s world?  It’s a hostile land out there!

THE CALL TO HOLINESS –

God calls His people today to HOLINESS.  A “HOLY PERSON” isn’t an odd person but a distinct person.

A holy person has a quality about their life that is separate; and their present lifestyle is not only different from the past way of living, but is different from the way of living of unbelievers around them.  They are real, genuine, authentic people and they should be representing the likeness of Christ Jesus to the watching world.

We have been commanded to live a holy life–energetic and blazing with holiness.  

Someone once said, “We may choose a married life or a single life, but it is not left to us to choose whether, or not, we live a holy life.”  It’s what marks us as God’s followers.

Why don’t we then, want to heed the call?

“Wait just a minute,” someone might say, “This holiness thing is just a little bit too much for me!”

The problem becomes, we don’t want to be different–to stand out of the crowd.  We have become an assembly line society…and YES, churches today are part of society in case you forgot.  We’re terrified of being set apart.

We visualize a caricature of “holiness”; we think the whole idea of holiness communicates an attitude and displays actions that become known as “holier-than-thou”.

We discredit spirituality and behavior that puts one on a pedestal of being better than the rest.  Jesus despised this type of mentality and morality that the Pharisees displayed and we agree with Him.

We often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY!

After READING AND STUDYING this passage of Scripture, I found that Peter gives some answers, or KEYS to a holy living that should help us to be what God wants us to be. HOLY.

KEY #1 – VERSE 13 “GIRD UP”:

The King James Version (KJV) reads, “Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind” and I thought, “Huh?”

gird-up-your-loins-2

In biblical times robes were usually worn–and robes tend to get in the way if you’re doing certain kinds of work or you need to get from POINT A to POINT B, in a hurry.  So “girding up your loins of your mind” is a metaphor for being prepared in your mind…being alert.

Being ALERT mentally–

Is when we see and process the information in the world around us in a different way because of the understanding we should have through the Holy Spirit.

How many times in my life as a Christian, I’ve fallen down by not adhering to this aspect of “holiness.”  Things that others see as the normal way of doing things, or at least the acceptable way of doing things, are not so acceptable when you have a PREPARED MIND–seeing things through the POWER of the Spirit of God.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (NIV):

[14] The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.  [15] The spiritual man makes judgments about all things, but he himself is not subject to any man’s judgment;  [16] “For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct him?” (Isaiah 40:13)  But we have the mind of Christ.

“GIRDING UP OUR MINDS” means being ready and able to recognize and reject the worldly influences around us.  My unspiritual banter in a political forum became foolish, just as their argumentative ‘banter’ was foolish.

The 2nd Key to holy living I happened to notice is to LIVE A CHANGED LIFE!

KEY #2 is found in VERSE 14, where Peter tells us to be “obedient children…”

[14]  [Live] as children of obedience  [to God];  do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel].

The word OBEDIENCE seems to raise the hair on the back of one’s arms.

Colossians 3:20:  “Children, OBEY your parents in everything”…

Or, this gets to the ladies sometimes…“SUBMIT to your husbands…Colossians 3:18.

Some of us become rebellious when we hear those words in conversation.  But as those verses in Colossians are brought to mind, the apostle Paul is saying wives, husbands, children…ADAPT to your role in life because it is your service in obedience to not your husband, your wife, your parents BUT…THE LORD!

Peter is telling us that, even though before we knew the LORD, we considered it alright to do certain things, and now, it is no longer acceptable to use our “ignorance” concerning spiritual things.

The apostle Paul gives us a whole list of things that ought not be found in the life of a Christian.  READ 1 Corinthians 6:9-11:

DON’T BE DECEIVED; NEITHER THE…

  • impure and immoral,
  • NOR idolaters,
  • NOR adulterers,
  • NOR those who participate in homosexuality,
  • NOR cheats,
  • NOR greedy graspers,
  • NOR drunkards,
  • NOR foul-mouthed…

The list GOES ON!

What I found interesting in reading this passage was, if your LIFESTYLE is a LIFESTYLE that is displeasing to God, and you have no desire or intent to change it, you are probably kidding yourself if you call yourself a CHRISTIAN.

As a student of the Bible, I’m not making up the rules for your living, or my living, neither do the church leaders in place, nor any particular church member.

BUT…if you don’t feel the call of God to change from your former way of life to the life of an “obedient child of God,” then you need to see if that once “confession of Christ as savior” in your life is a genuine one.

KEY #3 – KEEPING YOUR HEART, MIND AND SOUL, FIXED ON JESUS TO BE HOLY 

1 PETER 1:17-19 (The MESSAGE):

[17] You call out to God for help and he helps–he’s a good Father that way. But don’t forget, he’s also a responsible Father, and won’t let you get by with sloppy living.  [18] It cost God plenty to get you out of that dead-end, empty-headed life you grew up in.  [19] He paid with Christ’s sacred blood, you know.  

[Bible Study Tools-the Message bible, 1 Peter 1:17-19]

Keeping your heart, mind and soul, fixed on JESUS–to be HOLY, not only do we need a PREPARED mind and a CHANGED LIFE, what Peter is saying here, as Christians, we are to claim Almighty God as our Father–not simply as our Creator but as our Father.  And, to understand this, it is through the precious BLOOD of Christ Jesus that allows us to call Him, FATHER!

The BLOOD of JESUS
The BLOOD of JESUS

So Peter is telling us, that if we are going to make that claim of God, we better focus on the SACRIFICE of God’s one and only Son, Jesus, and, that knowledge needs to be reflected in everything we do and say.  Even as we share our comments, or others’ comments, on Social Media, “as is right and fitting and your proper duty to the Lord” (Col. 3:18 (b) AMP).

As Christian witnesses, we often misunderstand what it means to be HOLY.

Today, the WORLD has a desperate need for people who are different.  As in Genesis 17, Abraham was to circumcise himself, his household and his slaves as a mark in the flesh of an everlasting COVENANT between God and His people–His children.

Like CIRCUMCISION was a mark of the flesh in the Old Covenant, Christians should have the spiritual mark of HOLINESS.

Like circumcision, it won’t be easy, in fact, at times it will be painful.  But it will make a difference!

We need people who will be JESUS at the office, in Congress, in Society, in the Classroom…ALL in a HOSTILE LAND.

People who live their FAITH in boldness, even though the rest of society thinks we are different.

Will you make a commitment as I have made, to be serious about truly being repentant when we sin, not to take SIN lightly…after all, our SIN is what caused Christ’s death, after all.

THINK ABOUT LIVING A “HOLY LIFE” THIS WEEK, IN CHRIST’S NAME!!!

 


 CREDITS:

Photos:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations, as noted in the text:  King James Version (KJV); The MESSAGE Bible (MSG); The Amplified Bible (AMP).

 

I’m Dying

Bible Study verses:  John 12:24-25  (NIV & The Message bible)

john12-24
King James Version

New International Version –

[24]  “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.  [25] The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”

The MESSAGE –

24-25  “Listen carefully:  Unless a grain of wheat is buried in the ground dead to the world, it is never any more than a grain of wheat.  But if it is buried, it sprouts and reproduces itself many times over.  In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal.

THE SEED PRINCIPLE –

“If you keep the SEED out of the ground, all you have is the SEED.  But when that SEED is planted and then it grows…end of story.  Bury it and it rises.”  [“Are You Dead Yet?” by Michael Walker]

Sounds a lot like RESURRECTION to me!

1 Corinthians 15:36-37 (NIV):

1 Corinthians 15:36
1 Corinthians 15:36

“What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed…”

DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE!

JESUS knows at this point this is His last week on earth.  He knows He is going to be betrayed, beaten, crucified and will die by weeks end.

Since JESUS knows this will be His final week through His preaching, teaching and example, JESUS decides He will take His disciples into some deeper water; make them dive into the deep end of the pool.

JESUS presents not ONE, not TWO, but THREE examples of a Dichotomy for us all as Disciples, followers of Christ Jesus to examine.  So lets all ‘jump in the pool.’

So what is a “DICHOTOMY”?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary,  [4] : something with seemingly contradictory qualities; a paradox (synonym) is a statement or proposition that seems self-contradictory or absurd but in reality expresses the truth.

In verses 24-26, Jesus shares three important principles of “dichotomy’s” pertaining to our lives.

John 12:24 (AMP):

I assure you, most solemnly I tell you. Unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth and dies, it remains [just one grain; it never becomes more but lives] by itself alone. But if it dies, it produces many others and yields a rich harvest.

THE FIRST DICHOTOMY is introduced to the crowd.

DEATH can produce LIFE!

Jesus is trying to let the listeners know that His time is short; He is not going to be the type of Messiah they were expecting.

In the following verses of John chapter 12, verses 27-34, Jesus speaks of His impending departure and when you drop down to verse 34, the crowd seems obviously confused.

“We have learned from the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; how then can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up on the cross’?”

The DICHOTOMY presented in this verse is the FACT that DEATH CAN PRODUCE LIFE.

JESUS uses the example of a grain of wheat.  For it to produce fruit, it has to be put in the ground–then has to DIE in order for it to produce visible fruit.

In context, Jesus is speaking of Himself; how His impending DEATH and subsequent resurrection will be a fruitful event for ALL who will follow Him.

Jesus must DIE giving His life to bring LIFE to us today.

  • When a SEED dies, it produces fruit.  
  • LIFE comes by DEATH.

This principle is true not only in nature but also true spiritually.  When you take a moment and meditate on Jesus’ words, it is directed to our spiritual life.

We must DIE in Christ in order for us to become FRUITFUL spiritually.

Certain changes occur when seed is planted underground.

  • The HARD dry shell softens.

the_seed_by_paweljoncaWhen we are separated from God because of our sin, we need to be born again. The old self (the ‘outer hard shell’) needs to DIE.

Romans 6:5-7 (NIV):

If we have been united with Him like this in death, we will certainly also be united with Him in His resurrection.  For we know that our old self was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin–because anyone who has died has been freed from sin.

This is spoken in context of one who has been BAPTIZED in to Christ Jesus.

When we are immersed into Christ, our old body of SIN is crucified and DEATH frees us from SIN.

The apostle Paul struggled with this principle in his life as many do today as well.

Philippians 1:20-25 (NIV):

[20] I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. [21] For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. [22] If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! [23] I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; [24] but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. [25] Convinced of this, I know I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,…

PAUL was well aware that the end of his physical life was not the end of his existence,  He also knew that he was here on earth for a purpose.

Our life isn’t about getting through it as shortly or quickly as possible, it is about savoring every moment along the way, making sure that we maximize our life for Christ.

VERSE 25 is our next Paradox –

“In the same way, anyone who holds on to life just as it is, destroys life.  But if you let it go, reckless in your love, you’ll have it forever, real and eternal”  (The Message).

We have a tendency to think that if we hold on to something really tight we’ll not lose our grip or… that we will do better by holding on tightly.  We do this with our possessions at times, and our relationships.  We can hold on so tight…that we smother the other person, even driving them off.

Jesus tells the crowd that whoever loves their life will lose it.  Now that sounds a bit awkward at first reading. 

This phrase reflects the ‘hard coating of the seed’ and denotes someone who lives only to serve themselves.

Jesus is not telling us not to enjoy life, but He is calling us to a high calling.  Think about that for a moment.  The one who loves his life is the one who only lives to serve themselves.  The presented issues here is…

  • WHO IS FIRST IN MY LIFE?
  • WHAT IS MY PRIORITY?

Your priorities reveal who you really love.  When we live for self, we risk the danger of losing the very thing we are trying to hold on to.

When we LOVE SELF more than we LOVE GOD, we will come up very short in the end.

LOVE is SACRIFICIAL–

Many people look at the word SACRIFICE as being a four-letter word.  When you look at the other end of the bible verse (v. 25), you see Jesus speaking of hating (King James Version) their life and how that will gain them life.

When you LOVE God and willing to lose your life, then the things of this world are hated in contrast to the things of God.  JESUS doesn’t mean we are to HATE our life, but rather OUR LOVE for God is so great…our LOVE of life pales in comparison!

This VERSE is a play on the Greek term psyche, which refers to the essence of a human’s personality or life force (Matthew 10:39; 16:25).   [see FOOTNOTE [i].]

Once someone TRUSTS CHRIST, they are given a NEW Life.  And this NEW LIFE is a gift from God for service, not for personal use.

BELIEVERS are STEWARDS of this new life.

We are freed from slavery to sin and to become SERVANTS of God.

“If any person wills to come after Me, let him deny himself [disown himself, forget, lose sight of himself and his own interests, refuse and give up himself] and take up his cross daily and follow Me…”  (Luke 9:23 AMP).

PAUL goes even deeper.

“I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me  (Galatians 2:20 AMP).

THIS LEADS RIGHT INTO VERSE 26 –

John 12:26 The MESSAGE:

“If any of you wants to serve me. Then you’ll be where I am, ready to serve at a moments notice. The Father will honor and reward anyone who serves me.”

Being a SERVANT in this life gives you the highest honor.

The DICHOTOMY is this:  When you look around, it seems those who are being served have made it in this world.  Who doesn’t want an entourage around them to take care of all their needs.  Those are the folks who seem to get the highest honor.  In this life that may be true.

But in ETERNITY…

JESUS is telling us the one who will be honored is the one who serves.  

Look at Matthew 23:11-12:

[11] “The greatest among you will be your servant.  [12] For whoever exalts himself will be humbles, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”  (NIV Bible).

John 12:26 gives us some insight on how we can tell if we LOVE self more than Jesus.

JESUS equates SERVING Him with following Him with our words, and our physical bodies in continuance.  Jesus’ words in verse 26 speaks to our ongoing RELATIONSHIP that leads us to follow!

We FOLLOW Jesus by serving Him, and by SERVING…we maintain our relationship with Him.

The issue of SERVING comes down to our commitment, love and priorities.  When these line up we are in good shape.

When we live for SELF, we are living with an empty existence which eventually leads you to a dead-end! 

dead end sign

THE PARADOXES OF LIFE

JESUS shares the Paradoxes with us, now we have to decide what to do with them.

IGNORE them or EMBRACE them.

In verses 35-36, Jesus is calling the crowd gathered to BELIEVE in Him:

[35] “You will have the Light only a little while longer.  Walk while you have the Light [keep on living by it], so that darkness may not overtake and overcome you. He who walks about in the dark does not know where he goes [he is drifting].  

[36] While you have the Light, BELIEVE in the Light [have faith in it, hold to it, rely on it]. that you may become sons of the Light and be filled with Light…” (AMP).

WILL YOU ANSWER THE CALL?

 

 


FOOTNOTES & CREDITS –

Footnote [i]:  Bible Hub/Strong’s Concordance #5590, ‘psuche’; psyche.

Commentary:  Tony Abram Abundant Life Crusades 11 Jan. 1996 notes on “CORN”

PHOTOS:  Google Image Search.

Bible Translations as noted:  NIV- New International Version; AMP – Amplified bible; MESSAGE – the Message Bible; KJV – King James Version 

 

OUR NAKEDNESS REVEALED

Several years ago, as an adult Sunday School teacher, I was asked this question during a bible study in Genesis 3: 

Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness
Genesis 2:25 Unashamed Nakedness

“Why was it, that after Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, the first thing they noticed was that we’re NAKED?  Weren’t they ALWAYS naked?”

“Well yes,” I answered.

“But before they ate of the tree…they didn’t think about it.  They were innocent; their hearts were pure.” 

Genesis 2:25 (AMP):  

“And the man and his wife were both naked and were not embarrassed or ashamed in each other’s presence.”

Have you ever noticed little children?  Sometimes they strip off all their clothes and begin running naked all through the house.  They’re not worried about being naked, one bit.

They have no shame.  But why?

One commentator noted:

“Two-year-olds don’t see any difference between (their) face, (their) knees, and the parts of (their) body which we adults insist that (they) cover. Only adults feel that certain parts of the body must be covered. Because those parts are connected with physical lust and passions”  (Chaya Sarah Silberberg, Chabad.org).

You see, before Adam and Eve ate of the fruit, their hearts were PURE–nothing needed to be covered.

But once they ate of the FRUIT…that all changed.  Their HEARTS–MINDS were now tainted by sinful thoughts they had never considered before.

JESUS said “…out of the heart come evil thoughts (reasonings and disputings and designs)…”

You see, there were NO evil thoughts inside them UNTIL…they ate of the FRUIT.  

But afterwards, the KNOWLEDGE they gained…SHAMED them.

But it gets worse!

The couple’s new-found knowledge separated them from God.

THE FINAL PUNISHMENT from their disobedience of God’s command (Gen. 2:17) upon Adam and Eve was for them to leave His presence (Gen. 3:23,24):

23  So God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and sent them to work the ground, the same dirt of which they’d been made.  24 He threw them out of the garden…

Yep! God kicked them out!!!  He evicted them from their home.

But God didn’t completely turn His back on them.  Before God sent them away, He gave them a SPECIAL GIFT:

Genesis 3:21:  “…the Lord God made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now when I read the words here, I thought this was interesting:

 1st, Adam and Eve ALREADY had clothes–FIG LEAVES.

Genesis 3:7 tells us that “…they knew they were naked and they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves”  (English Standard Version – ESV)..

You know, I’ve seen many different kinds of leaves over my lifespan; I even once tried toFigLeaf grow a FIG TREE in the backyard BUT I have yet to see any LEAF that I’d feel very comfortable with wearing out in public.  And apparently, these particular leaves didn’t do much more for Adam and Eve.

When GOD comes walking in the Garden and finds the couple hide themselves…and when GOD calls out and asks Adam where he’s at, look at how Adam replies:

“I heard the sound of You [walking] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was afraid because I was NAKED; and I hid myself”  (Genesis 3:10).

Think about that!

Up until that moment they thought their fig leaf aprons were doing the job.  But suddenly the LEAVES…leave them feeling NAKED…EXPOSED.

SO WHEN did Adam realize his fig leaves were not enough; making them feeling NAKED?  (when God came visiting)

It was when Adam found himself in God’s Presence that he realized his man-made coverings were not enough.

NAKEDNESS has been the symbol of our sinfulness ever since the Garden.  

Whenever a person’s SINS are discovered, we say they have been EXPOSED/REVEALED.

JESUS warns us NOT to be found “naked and exposed” when He comes again:

“BEHOLD, I am going to come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake (alert)  and  who  guards  his clothes, so that he may not be naked and [have the shame of being] seen exposed!”  (Revelation 16:15 AMP)

I think most people understand this reality of “being exposed”.  

They know their “nakedness”…they know their own sin/shame personally.  They even may be merrily living their lives, working out in the garden one day, doing something in the house, or working at the local grocery store and suddenly…it hits them out of the blue; A THOUGHT will overcome them reminding them of a something they’d said, done or thought in the past that brings a sudden wave of SHAME over their lives.

Genesis 3:11:  And GOD SAID,  “Who told you that you were naked?”

I just love that verse, which brings me back to the peruvial “THE GENESIS QUESTION” presented in Genesis 3:1:

And he [Satan] said to the woman,

“Can it really be that God has said…?”

In Henry M. Morris’ book, The Genesis Record, he writes this commentary:

The approach of Satan (through a serpent) to the woman was a masterpiece of effective subtly.  Catching her when she was alone, without Adam to counsel and warn her, probably one day when she was admiring the beautiful fruit trees in the garden, he first insinuated something which neither she nor Adam had even imagined before, namely, that it was possible for a creature to question God’s Word, “that God has said?”  In other words, “Did God really say such as that!”  Note the slightly mocking superior condescension to Eve’s “naive” acceptance of God’s command, a technique followed by Satan and his human emissaries with great success ever since. This first suggestion that God could be questioned was accompanied by an inference that God was not quite as good and loving as they had thought.  “He has not allowed you to eat the fruit of every tree, has He?  Why do you suppose He is withholding something from you like that?

If one studies each situation closely, you will find that SIN always begins by questioning either the Word of God or the goodness of God, or both.

So the 1st thought-provoking thing that came to me about the story of ADAM & EVE was that they ALREADY had clothes; they just weren’t very good clothes and were man-made.

The 2nd thing that’s thought-provoking here was God supplied their clothing.  He gave them clothing that He made for them.  GOD DID IT ALL–they did nothing.  All they did was to put on the clothes and even more interesting was the KIND of clothing God supplied–ANIMAL SKINS.

Genesis 3:21 says, “…the Lord made long coats (tunics) of skins and clothed them.”

Now where would God get skin off an animal?  It’s got to die!

When God called these animals to cover Adam and Eve’s NAKEDNESS–their Shame–it became the beginning of animal sacrifices.  Animal Sacrifices were made throughout the Old Testament to pay for SIN.

The LAW OF MOSES repeatedly taught the Israelites that every SIN that they committed was punishable by DEATH.  But since everyone sinned, God allowed them to PAY for their sins by OFFERING UP a Sacrifice a pure and spotless animal in their place.

Hebrews 9:22 tell us  “..without the shedding of blood there is neither release from sin and its guilt nor the remission of the due and merited punishment for sins.”

Leviticus 17:11 taught  “…for it is the blood that makes atonement, by reason of the life [which it represents].”

In order for God to give mankind forgiveness…something had to die.

But why would God have an animal die for ADAM & EVE?  Well, God had created the animals FOR them.  One of these gentle companions God had given them had to DIE to cover their NAKEDNESS.

A PRICE had to be PAID for their SIN and BLOOD, which is the life of the sacrificial animal was the dearest price that could be paid.

And so, the animals that God used to make Adam and Eve’s garments are the FIRST DEATHS on earth.  Nothing else had ever died before this.  They were literally the FIRST SACRIFICES ever made in man’s history.

One person has rightly noted that God made the FIRST and the LAST Sacrifices for man’s sin.

Here in the Garden of Eden, God sacrificed the FIRST innocent animal to cover sin.

And it was on Mount Calvary, God made the LAST sacrifice, His sinless son, to COVER sin. 

In the garden, God supplied Adam and Eve with garments.  His GIFT to them involved the DEATH of an innocent animal.

His GIFT to us, involved the GIFT of His Son…a PURE & SPOTLESS OFFERING to cover our NAKEDNESS.

Genesis tells us that God sacrificed those first animals to cover man’s NAKEDNESS. And today, the SACRIFICE of Christ on the Cross covers our NAKEDNESS.

BUT HOW?

The answer is found in Galatians 3:27:

“For as many [of you] as were baptized into Christ  [into a spiritual union and communion with Christ, the Anointed One, the Messiah]  have put on (CLOTHED yourselves with) Christ.”

When we were buried in the waters of our BAPTISM, we were literally wrapped in JESUS and His righteousness COVERS us like a garment.

BUT THE GARMENT we received through Jesus Christ is far better than the ones that Adam and Eve were given.

  • Their garments would eventually wear out.
  • Their garments would eventually be torn and stained.
  • And their garments would ultimately become shabby and not worth wearing.

But worse than that…the GARMENTS God had made for Adam & Eve would never allow them back into God’s presence.  No matter how long they wore them, they would never be allowed to re-enter the beautiful Garden that He had prepared for their home.

But when you and I put on JESUS, that all changed.

Hebrews 10:14-23:

“…by one sacrifice (Jesus) has made perfect forever those who are being made holy…Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more…Therefore brothers, since we have the confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the BLOOD of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having out hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.  Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful”  (NIV Bible).

Unlike Adam and Eve, the GARMENT Jesus supplied us with gives us the privilege of BOLDLY COMING to God’s presence and enjoying His love and compassion on a personal level.

No more NAKEDNESS–no more SHAME!  We have been made innocent in God’s eyes by the BLOOD COVERING of His One and only Son, Jesus Christ.

stock-photo-cross-with-a-man-kneel-in-prayer-on-a-beach-at-sunset-138903485

 

 


CREDITS:

The Genesis Record by Henry M. Morris – Baker Book House Grand Rapids, MI 49506 – Copyright 1976

Photo Images:  search Google Images; Shutterstock.com

Bible Translations:  Amplified Bible, except where noted.

 

 

 

 

“Soul Fasting” (Part One)

TRUE FASTING–

Is there a difference between REGULAR FASTING and TRUE FASTING for the Believer?  When pastors call for a church to fast during the year, do we understand the differences, or are there differences?  Is the idea of FASTING an Old Testament practice and not for todays Church?

Isaiah 58:3-12 NIV translation:

“Why have we fasted, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife, and in striking each other with wicked fists.  You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high.  Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself?  Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?  Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?”

A Bending Reed
A Bending Reed

“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?  Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear, then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the LORD will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say:  Here am I.  If you do away with the yoke  of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will become like the noonday.  The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame.  You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.  Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.” 

GOD’S CHOSEN FAST:

I’ve been re-reading a terrific book written by one of my favorite authors, Mr. Don Nori: SECRETS OF THE MOST HOLY PLACE.  He asks a question that really caught my attention (pg. 175),  “Are you content to fast food, or is your desire to become God’s chosen fast?”

He goes on to say “Most of us know what the Scriptures call the true fast,” but few of us know the power and significance of this most unusual form of fasting.”

Now I don’t know “most Christians,” but I know I was unfamiliar with this form of fasting.   So, the Word Detective investigation into God’s Word began.

Over my Christian life, I’ve heard many times by different pastors who call for an annual “CHURCH FAST”; not a mandatory ritual, but a strongly suggested activity for a week or two in January.

Being a DIABETIC for over 56 years, ‘doing without food’ and adjusting my insulin wasn’t an option, so I just passed.  Now my actions might be an excuse or just a misunderstanding of the term FASTING, in either case I simply ignored the pastor’s request (I do pray!).

FASTING FOR WRONG MOTIVES:

In Isaiah 58:1-2, we can see the seriousness of the people’s self-absorbed religious practices.

[1] CRY ALOUD, spare not.  Lift up your voice like a trumpet and declare to My people their transgression and to the house of Jacob their sins!

{2] Yet they seek, inquire for, and require Me daily and delight [externally] to know My ways, as [if they were in reality] a nation that did righteousness and forsook not the ordinance of their God.  They ask of Me righteous judgments, they delight to draw near to God [in visible ways].  (Amplified Bible)

The people delight in the nearness of God; they thought of themselves as righteous–right with God.

THE PEOPLES PRESSURE (3-5):

In Verse 3, the people now voice their complaint in difficulty, though they were doing what the Law required.

Why have we fasted, they say, and you have not noticed?  Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please and exploit all your workers.  (NIV translation)

The people present how they view their RELIGION.  They were observing the activities as laid down by the religious leaders (priests), even engaging in FASTING (Lev. 16:29; Zech. 7:5-6).  They thought their FASTING in and of itself was humbling before their Lord.

Their FASTING though, was thoughtless or done as an attempt to obtain a selfish conclusion.  It was employed only for RELIGIOUS SHOW or to engage God to act on their behalf (See Mt. 6:16-18).

THE ACT OF SELF-DENIAL IN OUR FASTING:

Self-denial is a process to draw us closer to God, allowing us to hear Him better.  The prescribed annual fast, the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29) was to afflict one’s soul for the purpose of mediation on the seriousness of one’s sins and the greatness of God in making ATONEMENT for them.  (See Footnote [i]).l

They saw FASTING as denying themselves of God so they might gain something worldly from God in return.  Neither FASTING nor REPENTANCE should be to get something from god in return.  REPENTANCE nor FASTING should be to get God to do anything.  They are expressions, the conviction that my ways are wrong and God’s ways are right whether He does anything for me or not.

Their FAST was simply an affliction of body, not an affliction of soul.

REAL MOTIVES BEHIND OUR BEHAVIOR IN FASTING:

VERSE 4 continues to lay open real motives behind the people’s behavior:

Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist.  You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.  (NAS)

The reason for their FASTING was to make their iron-fisted, controversial acts more successful.

Fasting was to be the cause for God to effect or enact their covetous desires.  When it became obvious that their FASTING wasn’t having the desired effect in their lives, they FASTED to know why not.

So God told them that the purpose of their RELIGION was to acquire more and not to improve their closeness, their relationship with Him, as it was originally intended.

VERSE 5 relays that their motives, their purpose for fasting focussed on the external rather than on the realization that they need to be changed:

Is such a fast as yours what I have chosen, a day for a man to humble himself with sorrow in his soul?  [Is TRUE FASTING merely mechanical?]  Is it only to bow down his head like a bulrush and to spread sackcloth and ashes under him [to indicate a condition of heart that he does not have]? Will you call this a fast and acceptable day to the Lord?  (Amplified Bible)

Because they had been focusing on their selfish ends (even their fasting) rather than a change of heart, attitude, and action…their prayers went unanswered.

The SACRIFICES of God are a broken heart and a contrite spirit.  If they call their bodily sacrifice alone a FAST, they were badly mistaken.

Bowing one’s head like a reed was a sign of humility; putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes were symbols of FASTING and signs of submission. But unless they go hand-in-hand as an inward submission to God and turning away from sin, they mean nothing!

THE ABSENCE OF THE BLESSING:

During the days of ISAIAH, God’s people were not experiencing the Lord’s Blessing–His favor on their lives.

They went through the MOTIONS OF WORSHIP and couldn’t understand why God wasn’t noticing their religious efforts.  But while they were FASTING, they were also exploiting their workers and fighting among themselves (vv 3-4).

8222922317_2cce0295b3Isaiah condemned their HYPOCRISY and told them they needed to change.  If they would free the oppressed, share with the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked, God would BLESS THEM with…

 

HEALING,

ANSWERED PRAYER,

GUIDANCE,

STRENGTH,

JOY!

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY is no substitute for an OBEDIENT HEART.

THE PROPER PATTERN, 6-7:

FASTING is to let go of the normal and natural daily nourishment of this world in order to reach out and grab the empowering of God that is needed and to live righteously in this world.

In VERSES 6 & 7, we learn the desired outcome of FASTING:

Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:  to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke?  Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter–when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not turn away from your own flesh and blood?

-GO TO PART TWO TO CONTINUE-

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