Through the Bible with Les Feldick, Book 4
LESSON ONE * PART I
ABRAHAM, LOT AND MELCHIZEDEK
Turn to Genesis 12, where we left off in Book Three. We've been talking
extensively on the Abrahamic Covenant. I have always maintained the reason we
have so much confusion in Christendom today is that folks just cannot
differentiate between what God has determined to do with the Nation of Israel
and what He did after Israel rejected it. He then turned to the Gentiles aside
from Israel. We cannot begin to put these things together clearly unless we
understand the Abrahamic Covenant. So, I always spend a good deal of time on
it. Genesis, Chapter 12 is where the Covenant is located. From there we'll
review what we covered in our last lesson, and then we'll move on. Remember
that a covenant is always from God to man. Man has nothing to do with the
covenant whatsoever. He may break it, he may do all kinds of things with it,
but that does not destroy the covenant. The covenant is from God and it is
eternal. Nothing that man or even the Nation of Israel can do can change that.
The covenant is forever. It is here where God says to Abram, before he becomes
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless
thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:"
Previously, we looked at the references regarding Israel becoming a separated
nation of people, different from all the other peoples.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that
curseth thee:" The all encompassing part of this Covenant is next:
"...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
I'm afraid when I teach the unique Covenant role of Israel, people may get the
idea I'm saying God has forgotten about the non-Israelites. That is not true!
He will set aside the Nation of Israel, and deal with them. This is a good time
to illustrate this as we have before, showing that all the way from Adam until
we get to Genesis 12, God has been dealing with one race of people - One
ABRAHAM, LOT AND MELCHIZEDEK
Turn to Genesis 12, where we left off in Book Three. We've been talking extensively on the Abrahamic Covenant. I have always maintained the reason we have so much confusion in Christendom today is that folks just cannot differentiate between what God has determined to do with the Nation of Israel and what He did after Israel rejected it. He then turned to the Gentiles aside from Israel. We cannot begin to put these things together clearly unless we understand the Abrahamic Covenant. So, I always spend a good deal of time on it. Genesis, Chapter 12 is where the Covenant is located. From there we'll review what we covered in our last lesson, and then we'll move on. Remember that a covenant is always from God to man. Man has nothing to do with the covenant whatsoever. He may break it, he may do all kinds of things with it, but that does not destroy the covenant. The covenant is from God and it is eternal. Nothing that man or even the Nation of Israel can do can change that. The covenant is forever. It is here where God says to Abram, before he becomes Abraham:
"And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:"
Previously, we looked at the references regarding Israel becoming a separated nation of people, different from all the other peoples.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:" The all encompassing part of this Covenant is next:
"...and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
I'm afraid when I teach the unique Covenant role of Israel, people may get the idea I'm saying God has forgotten about the non-Israelites. That is not true! He will set aside the Nation of Israel, and deal with them. This is a good time to illustrate this as we have before, showing that all the way from Adam until we get to Genesis 12, God has been dealing with one race of people - One Race.
Adam Flood Babel Abram Jew only, with exceptions
One Race Gentiles - Eph. 2:11,12
4004 BC 2000 BC
At the Tower of Babel we had the confusion of the tongues, and the sorting into the various segments of the world population by virtue of Noah's three sons. But at Genesis 12, God lets the main race of Adam continue on like a river. This will be what we now refer to as the Gentile people, or nations, who are going to continue on their way like a mass river. I like to associate it with the old Mississippi, as it finds its way all the way to the Gulf. Then, out of that polluted river of the one race of Adam, God is going to pull out this one man, Abram, and out of him will come the Nation of Israel - or as we know them, the Jew.
He is going to deal with this nation particularly, and usually I go so far as to put it as `Jew only, with exceptions.' I put it that way because God is dealing with Israel all the way from Genesis 12 throughout the Old Testament, but there are exceptions. For example, He told Jonah to go to the Gentile city of Ninevah. Jonah didn't want to go, did he? He did everything to keep from going because he was under the same impression that the God of Abraham was only dealing with the Jew! He didn't recognize that a Sovereign God can make exceptions. So God told Jonah to go and minister to Ninevah. Jonah said, "They are our enemy. I don't want to see Ninevah saved." But God said, "I do." Finally, He forced Jonah to Ninevah.
There was an exception with the Syrian General Naaman, who had leprosy. We'll see that even in the ministry of Christ, that with a couple of exceptions it is `Jew only.' Keep this in mind as we look at this Covenant process. As we leave Genesis 12, this Covenant is going to be a progressive revelation. Within that Abrahamic Covenant we have the promise of:
1) A nation of people
2) A geographical area of land
3) A government
That is implicit, but dormant in the Abrahamic Covenant. It will not all appear at once. The promises of God are so sure, however, that as we move through the Old Testament you'll see all of God's dealing with the Nation of Israel is to bring this Covenant into fruition, where the Nation of Israel will now be a nation of people who are unique, separated, and different from all other nations. God is going to put them into a land He will promise to them. As we move on into Chapter 15, we'll see God actually deed that land promised to the man Abram deed it according to Oriental custom. Then we'll see His promise of a government. That government will be headed up in their King. We know Him as the Messiah, the Son of God. Now, a little review of the land:
"And he said unto him, `I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.'" We'll see where God deeds it in short order.
Turn to Joshua Chapter 1. This will be more in reference to our other references regarding the King. We have the same promises now, not given to Abram, not even to Moses, but given to Joshua.
"Moses my servant is dead; now therefore arise, go over this Jordan, thou, and all this people, unto the land which I do give to them, even to the children of Israel. Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, that have I given unto you, as I said unto Moses." In verse 4 we find the geographical outline.
"From the wilderness and this Lebanon even unto the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites, and unto the great sea toward the going down of the sun, shall be your coast."
It is clearly put there that God is giving to this little nation a particular territory, a particular part of old terra firma. Most of you are aware of the following. Unfortunately, the hierarchy of many of our mainline denominations are, for the most part, saying that the present-day Jew in Israel has nothing to do with the Jew of the Old Testament. (Some 80% of the people in the pews are in opposition to such hierarchy.) You and I know better, but that is the problem when people become wise, as the Scripture says, in their own conceit. They lose sight of the very basic tenants of Scripture. The Jew in Israel today is the same Jew of the Bible. He hasn't lost a thing. Over the years most of my class people have heard me put it, "a Jew is a Jew is a Jew"! He's still a Jew, and after almost 3000 years of being out there amongst the non Jew people, a Jew is still a Jew!
Look at America! We're just over 200 years old as a nation. How many Americans are still pure from their original nationality? Not many. We've all intermarried to where there is no longer a pure Englishman, or pure German, or a pure anything else. We've amalgamated and the Jew never did. This is what makes the Word of God particularly believable. As one has said, "If there is any proof that this is the Word of God it is the Jew, as all of the promises God gave to this nation back in Genesis 12, and through the Old Testament, are still valid promises as the Jew is still a Jew." Now, had he lost his national identification, these promises couldn't hold. The Jew would be gone. But he's not. He is still a Jew. We pointed out in Book Three there are about 3.8 million Jews now living in Israel. Remember, they've been coming in at almost 1000 a day. There are still at least that many in Russia; somewhere between two and three million. There is another million or two scattered around the world. The largest Jewish community today is still in America; somewhere between five and six million! So there are still a lot of Jews who are going to have to find their way back to this Promised Land. But I want you to see that, over and over again, the Bible depicts it as the land that God gave to the Nation of Israel.
Another thing that is hard to comprehend, is how the nations of the world today can debate whether Israel has a right to exist. They're actually debating whether Israel has a right to be where she is. There's no room for debate. God has given it to them. Granted, God, in His sovereignty, more than once over the years took them out of the land; took the ten tribes of the north clear up into Assyria. Later on He took the two tribes of the south out to Babylon for seventy years. But they came back, rebuilt the Temple, and the Nation of Israel was on the scene for the coming of Christ the first time. Then, when they rejected The Christ, and continued to reject all the overtures that Peter and the eleven made toward them forty years after the Crucifixion, around 70 A.D., once again, God saw fit to take them out of the land, let their Temple be ruined, destroyed; and they were dispersed But according to His promises, what is He doing? He's bringing them back and they're coming in from, you might say, the four corners of the world. Now turn to Ezekiel. We just have a couple more Scripture verses to look at with regard to God's promising them the land. Then we're going to look at the government - the promise of their King.
Ezekiel Chapter 37 is the account of the dry bones. We looked at it in Book Three. Ezekiel is given a vision of a valley full of dry bones. They have been there a long, long time and they are well-bleached. Ezekiel is told to prophesy on those bones and what happens? Suddenly they come together and there's a great shaking and rattling before Ezekiel's eyes. But remember, it's a vision. It's a symbolic picture that God is showing us. Then the flesh comes upon them, then the skin, and finally breath comes into them. He writes:
"So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army. Then he said unto me, `Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.'"
Israel has been graves, which is how God refers to the Gentile nations. Israel out of the land is desolate. Remember, Israel out of the land is without a Temple, without a priesthood, without an altar. They are hopelessly out of touch with God when they are out of the Promised Land. So the Word of God refers to these habitations in the Gentile areas as graves. They are like a dead people insofar as God is concerned, but He is bringing them back to life. How? By bringing them back to their Promised Land.
"Therefore prophesy and say unto them, `Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.'"
He's going to bring them back to their homeland. Through the Chapter, He is going to make this very plain with the vision of two broken pieces of sticks. He tells Ezekiel: "Put them together end to end. The one stick will be for the Northern Kingdom, the ten tribes. The other stick will be for the Southern Kingdom, the two tribes." He said, "put them together and it will become one stick." He has now put the two sticks together and they have become one. Let's pick it up in verse 21 where God tells Ezekiel to say to them:
"And say unto them,`Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen,...'"
Most of you know the word "heathen" in Scripture refers to the non-Jew. It doesn't refer to a pagan or someone steeped in idolatry. A heathen is simply a non-Jew. We refer to them now as Gentiles.
"...whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:'" There is no room for argument.
"And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." This should be enough references with regard to the promise of a land.
I trust you study on your own. The only reason I teach is to get you into the Book. Study it! It's not that difficult. When studying, always establish the setting for a particular set of verses. Now to II Samuel, Chapter 7 for the third part of this Covenant, which is the promise of a government. Here we have God speaking to King David through the prophet Nathan. Beginning with verse 14, Nathan, as he addresses King David, says in the words of God:
II Samuel 7:14
"I will be his father,..." He is talking of Solomon, but it goes beyond Solomon. It's about the whole Nation of Israel in her future role. Continuing He says:
"...and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men:"
Note the conditions. In other words, God would use other nations to punish the Nation of Israel. The first word in verse 15 is "but" - the flip side. If they are disobedient, God is going to bring in other nations, downtrod them and maybe even disperse them. In spite of what God may have to do in disciplining Israel, watch the promise, "My mercy shall not depart from them." There is a teaching amongst most of Christendom - Catholic and Protestant as well; that when Israel rejected their Messiah and crucified Him, God did away with all these promises to Israel and gave them to the new Israel - the Church. That is man's idea. That is not what The Book teaches. The Book plainly states that regardless of what Israel does, God says, "My mercy shall not depart from him as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee." Saul is merely used here as an example. Verse 16 gives the promise of a government that is going to rule over this little nation within its geographical area. "Thy house," that is, the Royal house, the Royal line, and "thy kingdom."
Just as I do with the word "Jew," I say, "the kingdom is the kingdom is the kingdom!" When you see the word "kingdom" in Scripture, unless the text definitely shows otherwise, it is referring to the kingdom that will come as the result of the Abrahamic Covenant. It is the kingdom that is going to basically be over the Nation of Israel, who is then in their Promised Land with the government all Scripture points to, when their Messiah will be their King. The Messiah has to be of the lineage of David. (We'll look at that a little further down the line.) So He says, "Thy house." That's where we get the term "the House of David." It's a royal house. It's a royal, kingly line out of which the King finally came. So, "Thy house and thy kingdom shall be established forever." That is why we know God is looking further than just the little kingdom of Israel under David and under Solomon. This is the beginning of eternity's promises. The other thing I want you to always remember is that even though this earthly kingdom is promised here to Israel, the Book of Revelation puts on a time limit of 1000 years. Consequently, we refer to it as the `Millennium.'
It is a definitive period of time, but the 1000-year reign of Christ is merely the introduction for the eternal setting. You get to Revelation, Chapter 21 and what do you have? A new heaven and a new earth! This whole kingdom economy will move right on into eternity. That's why I think most people, after they have been in my teaching for a little while, get what I think is a better concept of what Heaven is going to be. I told one of my classes the other night that when I was young it used to almost scare me to death that Heaven would get boring. My, who wants to just sit some place on a cloud and strum a harp, and do nothing but shout `hallelujah,' or `holy, holy, holy;' and that will certainly be a part of it. Eternity is going to be a viable exercise. Eternity is going to be a place of intense activity, albeit without all of the problems, tribulations, sorrows and the things that we have now. Don't ever look at Heaven as I had looked at it - some place that is going to be boring and monotonous. It is going to be quite the opposite. This kingdom now promised to King David, and which Solomon would extend (although it would be interrupted) will, over a period of time, become a viable reality. God the Son, the Messiah, will become the King, and it is going to be a glorious kingdom! Turn to Psalm 89. I am trying to take these in chronological order so you can see. However, this is by no means all of the references; only a sampling. Drop down to verses 36 and 37. Here the psalmist writes:
"His (David) seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the sun before me." How long is that? - forever! Then verse 37:
It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven. Selah."
That's this coming kingdom! You might say, what has that to do with me? Well, Paul writes, and John writes in Revelation, that when this kingdom is finally set up, you and I, as Church Age believers are going to be a part and parcel of that kingdom by ruling and reigning with Him; that is, with Christ. So it is important that we understand this kingdom that is going to be coming.
LESSON ONE * PART II
ABRAHAM, LOT AND MELCHIZEDEK
We are on a trek through the Scriptures from Genesis all the way through (if The Lord tarries), Revelation. We are presently in the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis Chapter 12), which is divided dormantly (they don't all come out at once) into the promise of a nation; the promise of the land; and now we're in the process of looking at that third part - the promise of a government or a King who will be the Son of God. We'll find those references in Isaiah. Isaiah Chapter 9 verse 6, is a verse that is always well-known, especially at Christmas-time, but it's a prophetic utterance given to the Nation of Israel. I'm certainly not the first nor the last Bible teacher who emphasizes that as you study your Bible, you should always determine to whom a particular portion was addressed. It is evident that most of the Old Testament is addressed to the Nation of Israel. Isaiah the Prophet is addressing the nation and says:
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
The mighty God: Here again, many theologians are trying to tell us that Jesus never claimed to be God. That He was not Deity. That He was not the pre-existent Creator/God. But He is, and He was, and He always will be. So He shall be called The mighty God. These are all terms associated with this coming King, the Messiah, the Son of God to Whom we will be introduced in the New Testament as Jesus The Christ. These are His terms of Deity. The everlasting Father. I didn't see this next part until just a few years ago. I have always taught from John 14 where Jesus told Philip:
"Jesus saith unto him, `Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father;...'"
Here Isaiah says the same thing, and I had never caught it. I was teaching one night and it just hit me. How did I skim over this for years and not see it! This is the beauty of the Scriptures. They are just like an artesian well which never runs dry. Every time you read the Scriptures, every time you study them, you are going to see something you never saw before. Here it is. One of His names shall be "The everlasting Father." Note it is capitalized. The Prince of Peace: I know the Psalms instruct us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. You knew that. That is what Jerusalem means: the City of Peace. But it hasn't been a city of peace for thousands of years, and it isn't tonight. We are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and do you know why? Because Jerusalem will know no peace until the Prince of Peace returns. When you pray for the peace of Jerusalem you are praying for the return of Christ, which is very appropriate.
"Of the increase of his government (this King who is going to come in fruition of the Abrahamic Covenant) and peace there shall be no end,..."
It is going to be a government without corruption, without turmoil, without war; it is going to be a perfect, righteous, peaceful, government. Where is He going to rule? On the throne of David. We read in II Samuel Chapter 7 - that His throne and His family would be a continuing one all the way into eternity.' Now, here it comes. See how beautifully Scripture falls into place:
"...upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
It's going to be the Almighty, Eternal, Infinite God Who is going to bring this all about; this King Who is coming, Who came and was rejected but is coming again. Turn to Jeremiah, Chapter 23. We are not exhausting all these references by any means. We are just picking out the ones that are easiest to understand; the ones that are most appropriate for this kind of a study.
"Behold, the days come, saith the LORD (remember the word LORD in capitals is always `Jehovah'), that I will raise unto David (see that it goes back to king David again) a righteous Branch (the word Branch is capitalized so it is a title; it is a name concerning Deity), and a King (capitalized) shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice (not in Heaven, but where?)in the earth."
Now do you see how plainly all this comes through? This is the promised kingdom that is also going to go right on into eternity. Where is it? On the earth! Few people have any concept of that. They think of Heaven as some place way out there. Well, yes - the Throne Room of God, the very Paradise we think of as Heaven - is `up there' someplace. But the Heaven you and I are pointing to, the Heaven you and I are going to be intrinsically involved in, if we are a believer, is going to be on this earth. Christ will rule and reign upon the earth from the City of Jerusalem, the City of Peace.
"In his days (the days when Christ will be ruling from Jerusalem) Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
In some of the translations the words `The Lord Our Righteousness' are also capitalized, and in some they are not. In the Hebrew this is `Jehovah Tsidkenu' which, simply translated, means: `The Lord is our Righteousness.' I like that because in Genesis 2, the very name Jehovah derives from the `I Am.' You are all acquainted with: `I Am that I Am.' This very title of the coming King is the `I Am.' The Almighty `I Am' of creation is going to be The Lord Of Righteousness. He'll be the same God. There will be no sin. There will be no corruption. It will be a perfect government. Oh, how the world longs for that. I have read, and maybe some of you have known it for years, power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Isn't that true? Go back through history. It has always been true that whenever a king or an emperor gets absolute power, he ends up with the most corrupt government on earth. The same is within our democracy. You get an individual who is corrupt and it isn't long until he is corrupt absolutely. It is just human nature. That is not going to be the case here. It is going to be a kingdom of righteousness. Now read on:
"Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt;"
This is being fulfilled before our very eyes. The Jews are coming back to the land from Russia and from Albania. In the last Jerusalem Post I read, there were only 100 or 200 Jews left in Albania. They have all emigrated to Israel. Recently 14,000 or 15,000 Ethiopian Jews were airlifted from Addis Ababa to Israel in 33 hours! The average American never got that. In 33 hours the Israel Air Force airlifted 14,000 Jews! We're going to read the verse that explains it explicitly. During the airlift, several babies were born. Scripture says it would happen. Let's read on:
"But, The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country (Russia, which is due north of Jerusalem), and from all countries whither (what's the next pronoun?) I had driven them;..."
Why did the Jews end up outside of their Promised Land for the last 2000 years? Not because they left voluntarily. God took them out. Again, it was a disciplinary thing, because they rejected everything that was offered at His first coming. They crucified Him. They did not repent of that. After the 40 years of the Book of Acts, God's patience finally ran out. He let the Temple be destroyed by Titus, and the Jew was dispersed into the nations of the world by a Sovereign act of God. The land was left empty, to be taken over by anyone. Now God is ready to bring His people back. The usurpers are going to have to be moved out. They don't like that, but it is still a fact of Scripture, and God is Sovereign.
"...and they shall dwell (where?) in their own land."
This is the land God promised in Genesis 15. Now, almost 4000 years later, it is coming to pass; the Word of Genesis is coming true. Turn to Jeremiah 31. Even though it is a repetition, remember that Scripture has the same rule of thumb which we have in our everyday conversation. If you want to emphasize something to someone, you repeat it! That's what Scripture does. When you see something repeated two or three times within a book, or within a chapter, take notice. God is making an emphatic point. Here is a good one:
"Behold, I will bring them from the north country (this is the third time this is spoken in the Book of Jeremiah), and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither."
Part of that just took place a few weeks ago. But the end isn't yet. They are going to keep coming in from the four corners of the world. How to assimilate all of these Jews is a big headache for the Israeli government. Most of them can't speak the Hebrew language. The Russian Jews are having a hard time amalgamating because of the language barrier. The first thing the Israeli government does is put all these people into a language school so they can function within the society. It is mind-boggling to find apartments for them. Many are living two and three families in a small apartment. The economy has to absorb them. How do you suppose the native Israelis feel about their job security? Many of these Jews, especially those coming from Russia, are highly educated. Israel now has the lowest ratio of people per doctor of any nation on earth because so many of these Russian Jews are medical doctors; they are scientists, engineers. The Sovereign God is behind this otherwise impossible task. Turn to Zechariah Chapter 14: We'll take a glimpse of the whole chapter. I don't like to treat the Word of God lightly, so in your spare study-time, I trust you will read all of these verses carefully. Let's go to the verse dealing with the King:
"BEHOLD, the day of the Lord cometh (His Second Coming), and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee." Zechariah, just like Isaiah, is writing to Israel - the Jew.
"For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle (Armageddon as we know it from the Book of Revelation); and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city."
In other words, it looks like there is no hope for the Jews in the area of Jerusalem and Judea because of the multitudes of Gentile armies surrounding them. We got a preview of that in Desert Storm; it was not Armageddon. It wasn't even close to it, but it was a preview of how quickly the nations of the world can bring their armies to the Middle East. It's going to happen on a full-scale some day; we don't know when. But this is what this Scripture refers to:
"Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle." Back in Israel's history, how many times did God undertake on behalf of the little nation against her mortal enemies?
"And his feet shall stand in that day (the day of His Second Coming) upon the mount of Olives,..." In the Book of Acts, at the time of His ascension, what did the angel say?
"Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."
In other words, He left from the Mount of Olives standing on His two feet and He went up. He's going to come back to the Mount of Olives the same way He left. He is going to come down and stand on two feet. That's the literal, physical Second Coming of Christ as we see it even here in Zechariah.
"And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south."
Don't spiritualize and say there must be a mountain in Heaven by that name. No, it's the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. Then He expresses some of the other things that are going to take place.
"And the Lord (Jehovah) shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one Lord, and his name one."
Jehovah in the Old Testament is Christ in the New Testament. Note that He shall be king not over Heaven, but over all the earth. That is plain English. There's no way you can foul that up. Now verse 16:
"And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations (plural) which came against Jerusalem (the nations of the world)..."
All these things are going to come one right after the other. He is going to come down to the Mount of Olives; He'll be setting up His Kingdom; and everything is going to start moving forward. There are going to be survivors. Someday we'll study prophecy. We'll show you particularly from the Scripture who the survivors are who will go into this earthly kingdom. I'm not talking about us because we are going to be translated before all this takes place. We're going to come back in resurrected bodies. We're not going to be flesh and blood as we know it, procreating, marrying and so forth. But there will be people in that category. They will be flesh and blood and partakers of the earthly kingdom. So it says those who have survived (the awful events of the Tribulation, the Battle of Armageddon) and who are believers, will go into the kingdom.
In Chapter 3 of John's Gospel Jesus told Nicodemus as he was approached by him, "Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom of Heaven." There's the word kingdom, but it's the same kingdom. The kingdom is the kingdom is the kingdom. It is this kingdom that is coming upon the earth. No unbeliever will go into that kingdom; flesh and blood or otherwise. So here we have the survivors of all the terrible events of the Tribulation. They have survived the Battle of Armageddon. Reading on:
"...(They) shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles."
If they don't, they will have no rain in their homeland. Whenever I see these stipulations I always think of other times in the past. For instance, when Israel was given the opportunity to leave Egypt did any of them stay behind? Not that we know of; they all came out. Had they stayed behind, what would have been their lot? Why, nothing! All through Scripture we have these kinds of settings where you have that opportunity, but it just doesn't happen. So I don't think there will be any problem in the Millennium with people not being obedient enough to come and worship the King as stipulated. In any event, there you see very plainly that when The Lord returns He is going to set up His kingdom here on the earth. Now go with me to Matthew Chapter 1.
For any of you who have had any Bible teaching at all, I think you realize that Matthew is the one of the Four Gospels that depicts Christ as the King. (Mark depicts Him as the Servant, John depicts Him as the Son of God, and Luke depicts Him as the Son of Man.) In order to be a King what do you have to have? A genealogy. A king assumes royal throne by virtue of the royal family.
"THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
Then what? Period! Now Abraham isn't the beginning of the human race but that is where this genealogy stops. Why? Because His becoming the King is based upon that promise made to Abraham - not to anyone ahead of him. So, this genealogy will only go back as far as Abraham.
Turn to Luke's Gospel, Chapter 3 where we have, what most people think is, the genealogy of Mary. (In Matthew it is the genealogy of Joseph.) You have to go all the way to the last verse to pick up the genealogy of Mary.
"Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God (or - is began with God)."
Now do you see the difference in those genealogies? Mary's is the blood line of Christ. That goes all the way back to Adam, because we're all sons of Adam. But with regard to His ascension to the royal throne, it only goes back to Abraham, because it is in the Abrahamic Covenant that we have the promise of a king. Do you see how beautifully and accurately Scripture keeps everything? We'll pick this up in more detail in our next lesson, but for now I want you to remember promise of this king over this earthly kingdom all fits with the King of Kings, and The Lord of Lords. In Matthew, Chapter 2 we find that He is to be called by the wise men from the east, `The King.'
"Saying, `Where is he that is born King of the Jews?...'"
LESSON ONE * PART III
ABRAHAM, LOT AND MELCHIZEDEK
In our last lesson we looked at the genealogy of Christ in the New Testament. Chapter 1 of Matthew only went back as far as Abraham, as Matthew depicts Him as the King. As we have discussed, the Abrahamic Covenant has within it, in a latent form, the promise of a nation of people who would be located in the geographical area of land over which God would provide the government in the Person of the Messiah, the Son of God, Israel's King. I want to carry this `king' aspect of the government all the way into the New Testament so you can see God has been continuously, ever since Genesis Chapter 12, moving the Nation of Israel forward to the time when the King makes His appearance.
In Exodus, where Israel receives the Law, we'll find the reason was to prepare the nation for the fruition of this Covenant. She had to be a prepared people. God chose the system of Law to teach them. That's why Paul calls it a `schoolmaster' in the Book of Galatians; a tutor to prepare Israel for a role some time in the future. In light of the third part of the Covenant, the government/king, our New Testament introduces Him genealogically to prove He is the rightful heir to the throne of David over which the King of Kings would rule the kingdom. To review, let's read:
"THE book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."
That's as far as it goes because that is as much as this genealogy is going to concern itself. This one is going to prove that He is the rightful heir to the throne of David by being a son of David; that is, genealogically down through the family tree. Then we looked briefly at Luke, Chapter 3, which is the genealogy of Mary, and which takes us all the way back to Adam.
"Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God."
Even though Joseph was not the physical father of Christ, he was the legal father. Going all the way back to Abraham, coming up to David, and then Solomon, you'll see that at Solomon there's a fork in the family tree. One line will come down and form the genealogy of Mary; the other line forms the genealogy of Joseph. The reason Scripture records this is to prove that Christ was the rightful heir to David's throne by virtue of the bloodline of Mary. Remember, the seed of the woman was spoken of back in Genesis, Chapter 3, and was kept insulated from the curse. There was no sin nature in the seed of the woman as it came all the way down through human history to Mary, so that Mary could conceive of God and still have a child whose blood was Divine; not sinful, not with an Adamic nature in it, because there was no earthly father. We pointed out that the circulatory or blood system of every fetus born of a woman comes from the man and not from the mother.
The virgin birth fits so beautifully physiologically and scientifically, in that the blood system of Christ originated with God, who was the Father, but He was human because He was born of the ovum, or the egg, or the seed of the woman. Consequently, these two genealogies follow all the way down from David to Christ, Joseph proving that he was in the line because he was the legal father of Christ even though he wasn't the physical father. Mary, of course, was the physical mother. So the genealogies, which ended at Christ, both go back to King David. David, in turn, goes back to Abraham. In closing the last chapter, we looked at Chapter 2 of Matthew:
"NOW when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, `Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.'"
It doesn't say three. We don't know how many there were. We don't really know who the wise men were or where they came from. But evidently God revealed to them that the promised King of Israel was now on the scene. This came from all the Old Testament prophecies that He would be born. Let's stay in Matthew, going to Chapter 21, where we come to the Crucifixion.
"AND when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem (that is Jesus and the Twelve), and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass (or little donkey) tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, `The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them (in other words, He won't give you an argument).'"
This is referred to twice in the Old Testament: that Christ would come into Jerusalem as Israel's King; not riding upon the white steed of Roman emperors and generals, but upon a donkey - and not even a full grown donkey, but the unbroken colt of one. Now it's time for it to be fulfilled, so Jesus tells the Twelve, "There's the village. Go and get that little colt."
"All this was done, that it might be fulfilled (because the Old Testament said it would happen, and it had to happen, and it did happen) which was spoken by the prophet, saying..."
So there's that constant thought of the King - the King - the King. I imagine when I emphasize this, most people think I'm out in left field. Paul says in Timothy that this is a faithful saying, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. That is true, but The Bible is a progressive revelation. Everything is chronologically unfolding so there is no mention in the Old Testament of a statement like Paul's (that He came into the world to save sinners). Instead, the whole emphasis is that He is going to come to fulfill this Abrahamic Covenant, and He is going to be the King. Now we're going to add something to this Old Testament format. As parallel, I can possibly draw two lines. We have two thoughts coming through the Old Testament. The one, as we have been seeing for the last two or three lessons, would be the coming of a King and his kingdom. Running parallel with all of those verses is another theme of a suffering Savior. Most of you know Isaiah 53:
"...he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth."
Absolutely that was also promised. There had to be a suffering Savior because, as we mentioned in our last chapter, when Nicodemus began to ask questions concerning the kingdom, what did Jesus tell him? `Except a man be born again he cannot enter the kingdom.' There will be no unbelievers in that kingdom. So there had to be a Salvation. Turn with me to Luke's Gospel Chapter 1. Every once in awhile, someone will say, "Les, are you telling me that this is going to be a political kingdom? I always though it was going to be a spiritual one." I don't like the word political as politics always smack of something less than honorable, and this kingdom is not going to be anything but honorable. However, if that's the word that's needed to emphasize that it's going to be a literal kingdom with a literal king and a literal government, I'll use the term, "It's going to be a political kingdom."
Now, Luke Chapter 1 verse 64. Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, was a priest working at the Temple serving. He had been stricken dumb, and at the birth of John when they asked his mother what they were going to name the baby, instead of using a family name she said, "His name will be John." They were all amazed that they had never heard that before, so they asked Zacharias what the child's name should be. He told them to get him a writing pad and he, too, wrote the name John. All the people were amazed because this was a miracle in the works. The Scripture then says:
"And his mouth was opened immediately (he got his speech back), and his tongue loosed, and he spake, and praised God. And fear came on all that dwelt round about them: and all these sayings were noised abroad throughout all the hill country of Judaea. And all they that heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, `What manner of child shall this be (remember, we are not talking about Christ, but about John the Baptist here)!' And the hand of the Lord was with him. And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,..." Watch verse 67 carefully:
Before you go any further, you must ask yourself a question. If someone is filled with the Holy Spirit as they were in those days, does he speak wishful thinking? No! What Zacharias is going to utter is prompted by the Holy Spirit Who has filled him. This is not just a bunch of wishful thinking from a nationalistic, patriotic, religious Jew. But now look what Zacharias is prompted to say.
"Blessed be the Lord God of Israel;..." Of whom? See what the Book says. Many people just glance over that and figure God belongs to everybody. Well, He does, but in instances we have to remember it's The Lord God dealing with Israel.) , "for He hath visited and redeemed His people." What does redemption speak of? Salvation! So here is the salvation of Israel being offered.
"And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;"
See how Jewish all of this is? No Gentile belonged to the House of David. This was uniquely Jewish ground, and Zacharias is speaking on Jewish ground because he is speaking in fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. Israel is a nation, Israel is in the land, and what does Israel still need? That promised government - that King. Now Zacharias, by inspiration, is telling us it's about to happen:
"As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets (Old Testament), which have been since the world ("age" is a better word) began: That we should be saved from our enemies,..."
Who were Israel's enemies? The Arabs, then, like they are now. The Egyptians were always enemies of Israel, along with the Syrians and other various Mediterranean nations. This is what he has reference to. "Oh that we can be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all that hate us (the Jew/Israel)."
"To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,"
Do you see what I'm talking about and why I started back in Genesis with the Abrahamic Covenant? It just keeps coming, coming and coming, and here it is in the New Testament. For this reason I have learned in my twenty years of teaching that we have to throw off the brainwashing we have all been under that the Bible is divided at the Old and the New Testaments. If you possibly can, throw that thinking off and realize that the first four Books, and even a part of the Book of Acts, are still really more Old Testament than New. These Books are extensions of all the Old Testament promises which looked forward to the fulfillment of the Abrahamic Covenant. In our next Scripture reference you'll see what I'm talking about when I say, "even into the Book of Acts." All of this again goes back to what I said in the last chapter. The main reason we have so much confusion in Christendom is because people refuse to see the difference between God dealing with Israel on the basis of the Covenants, and His dealing with us Gentiles on the basis of His Grace. All of this is going to come in, Zacharias can see, because God made that Covenant with Abraham. Verse 74 tells us what that Covenant guaranteed.
"That he would grant unto us, that we, being delivered out of the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear,"
Look at Israel today. Isn't this what she wants? Every Middle East nation has a vowed statement within their government that they'll not rest until Israel is driven into the sea. What were the words Saddam Hussein used at the height of the Gulf War? - "We're going to incinerate them." And the Palestinians whooped and hollered when they heard it. Why? Because they all want Israel destroyed. It's never been any different. Zacharias knew this and said, "Now we're finally going to be released from this fear; we're going to have the tranquility and peace that the Covenant promised."
"In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life." Now what does that indicate? That this government is not going to be part and parcel of the world system, but is going to be a heavenly government. It's going to be ruled by the God of Heaven. The King of Kings, The Lord of Lords. And Zacharias could see that it was coming; that it was just around the corner.
"And thou, child (John the Baptist), shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;"
The word really implied here, not used here but in other places, is the word `herald.' John the Baptist was a herald. In ancient history a herald would come in maybe a day or two before a great emperor or the leader of an empire, and he would simply begin at one end of the city and would, like a trumpet, announce the coming of his emperor. He would never go back and retrace his steps. He would announce it as he would go through the city, and that was it. It was a one-time heralding. Some have made an illusion that this is where we have really lost sight of propagating the Gospel. I know many foreign mission boards decry the fact that 90% of God's servants are proclaiming the Word of God to only 6% of the world's people. What do they say? Most Christian workers are laboring here in America. Ninety some percent of all the preachers and missionaries of the world labor right here in America, who is only 6% of the world's population. Well, we're not even heralding the Gospel to the nations of the world who have never heard. We know there are millions out there who have yet never heard, and we're probably being remiss. Anyway, John the Baptist was going to be a herald, an announcer of the King. Read on:
"To give knowledge of salvation unto his people (His people at this point are still Jew only) by the remission of their sins, Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace."
Zacharias had it straight, and he should have. He was filled with the Holy Spirit. Let's turn to one more Scripture in the New Testament portion that deals with this Abrahamic Covenant. Believe it or not, it goes all the way into the Book of Acts. Turn to Acts 2:22 to the great Pentecostal sermon by Peter. Again, most people just don't stop to realize who Peter is talking to. I'm again giving you little shots at Acts. It'll be a long time before we get down to a verse by verse study of the Book of Acts.
"Ye men of Israel,..." Does that include Gentiles? Not as I understand language.
"Therefore let all the house of Israel..." Who is that then? That's Jew Only! It doesn't include Gentile.
Now let's go to Chapter 3. Peter is preaching his second sermon in the Book of Acts. Remember, this is just shortly after Pentecost - 50 days after the ascension. Come all the way down to verse 20 where Peter is announcing that if Israel would repent and believe Who Jesus really was, that He would come back and set up His kingdom.
"And he (God) shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." God is sending Jesus to be what? Their King! He has been crucified now, so He can now rightfully be their King. This isn't an afterthought or an accident.
"Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." They told prophetically of what days? The appearance of the King, His Crucifixion, His Resurrection, His ascension, but His soon return. Remember, the Bible writers all thought it was going to happen right in order. Read on:
"Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto (what's the next word?) Abraham..."
What is Peter claiming? Abrahamic Covenant! Peter is still claiming no more than the promises of this Covenant. They are already the nation, they are already in the land, but they want the King. They couldn't have the King unless Israel repented to the last person. Everyone had to, and then Christ could have come and set up His kingdom and Israel could have been the missionary force; Israel could have been the evangelist. But what did Israel do with it? They continued to reject it so that God, not by accident or not as an afterthought, but in His foreknowledge said, `I'll go another way.' And He went to the Gentiles with the Gospel of grace. But you see that Peter is still on Covenant ground.
LESSON ONE * PART IV
ABRAHAM, LOT AND MELCHIZEDEK
Genesis Chapter 12. We're going to leave the Abrahamic Covenant for awhile, and move on ahead into the very life and travels of the man. Everything will move ahead now to the bringing about of the fulfillment of this Covenant. The Nation of Israel will have to come on the scene. They will have to get the land. Later they will have the beginning of the kingly line with the appearance of David.
"So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him (remember that Lot was his nephew): and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran."
Haran was in Syria, a few miles northeast of present day Damascus. So Abram, Sarai, Lot and all their flocks came down into Canaan, presently known as the Promised Land, or the Land of Israel.
"And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brothers son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land."
The Canaanite was the offspring of Ham, the second son of Noah, and Canaan was the son of Ham. The curse was placed on that particular individual. So the Canaanites are going to be a wicked, ungodly people from the very time that Abraham comes into their midst, until finally they are more or less destroyed when Joshua and the children of Israel come in some 400 years later. Remember, however, that the Canaanite is in the Promised Land, and Abram is going to have to move in as a nomad.
"And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, `Unto thy seed will I give this land:' and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him. And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Beth-el,..."
Look at the map across the page to help you see where the places are. Notice the Mediterranean Sea coast, and locate Jerusalem and the Sea of Galilee, the River Jordan, and the Dead Sea.
Abraham has come from Syria (up in Haran) and has made his way down into Canaan, and somewhere around (I'm going to guess) about 20 miles north of Jerusalem, we find Beth-el. If you recall from our study in Genesis 1, `el' are the first two letters of `Elohim.' So, they are in reference to God. `Beth' simply means `house.' So Beth-el is what Abram called the House of God.
"...and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord." He doesn't stay there. He's nomadic.
"And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south."
Time goes by as he goes southward. Many times God used famine in the Old Testament to discipline as well as, I think, a vehicle to force people to go where He wanted them. A famine is in the Land of Canaan and Abram went down into Egypt. Some things help in over-all Bible study. I think we can call that `nomenclature.' But in Scripture, Egypt is always a picture of the world. That's why Israel was always instructed to stay in the Land of Promise and not to go to Egypt. These things in the Old Testament are living examples of New Testament doctrine, or teaching.
The same holds true today. As a believer, as a child of God, we are constantly admonished by the Apostle Paul that we are to separate ourselves from the world. Egypt was a picture of the world, so God had implicitly instructed them to stay in the Land of Promise and not to go down into Egypt. But, Abram's faith probably weakened a little bit, and famine came in. First thing you know, where is he? Down in Egypt. But he gets in trouble. Just like a believer who goes into the world, it isn't very long until he is in trouble. Had God depicted these great Biblical characters as sinless, the epitome of righteousness without any mistakes, how would that make us feel? We'd be hopeless. But, the Bible doesn't do that. They were just as human as we are; they failed like we do, and it all shows that a merciful God is always ready to restore. In verse 11, we see this great man of faith, Abram, fail miserably.
"And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt (he's approaching the border), that he said unto Sarai his wife, `Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.'" Has the human race changed much? No.
"Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee."
Abram wasn't a total liar because she was a half sister, but the man is certainly anything but honorable here. So he says, "Lest they kill me in order to have you, just simply say you're my sister and they can take you and I'll go my way." Imagine that!
"And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair. The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaohs house (becoming part of his harem). And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels. And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife."
In the Old Testament days God dealt more directly than He does today. In fact, I was thinking the other day as I was getting ready for this lesson, there is a good book by Sir Robert Anderson entitled: The Silence of God. It is rather hard to comprehend. It is written in Old English, more or less. It seems like an odd title, but Sir Robert Anderson was a Bible scholar as well as the head of Scotland Yard. He must have been a layman. But, he was a tremendous Bible scholar. In his book, he draws this analogy of God constantly dealing in an intrinsic way with the Old Testament characters. But when we get to our Age of Grace, God is comparatively silent because we have The Book. God doesn't have to talk to us audibly. God doesn't have to appear to us in the miraculous. I always have to qualify that. That doesn't mean that I don't believe God cannot miraculously answer our prayers. Sir Robert Anderson makes a point of the fact that in this Age of Grace it is as if God is silent, compared to His dealing in the Old Testament, .
Think about that. We just don't expect angels to appear. I told someone at a class one night, "If all of a sudden on my way home at 11:00 at night I'd see a bunch of angels on the highway, do you think I could take it? I know I couldn't. I don't think you could either!" What if all of a sudden God would just appear as He did back in the Old Testament? It would crack us up. We're not prepared for that. And God doesn't expect us to be. Indeed, God is silent today compared to the days we are reading about. Here, God even appeared to pagan Pharaoh and revealed to him that, "This lady out there is not what you think she is. She is a man's wife."
"And Pharaoh called Abram and said, `What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife (God told him, but Abram had not)? Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.'"
You know what we call that today? Deportation! Abram was deported. He was just simply sent out of Egypt. He should have been embarrassed. He should have felt like two cents and maybe he did. What is the lesson? Well, God had told the man to stay in the Land of Promise and He would bless him. But you see, things got tough, he got a little hungry and he goes down to the world. I want you to remember who is with Abram besides Sarai: the young man, Lot. There was an old World War I song (not that I lived that long ago, but I remember the music from it). It was called, "How're Ya Gonna Keep `Em Down On The Farm After They've Seen Paris?" Keep that in mind when we look at the life of Lot. We smile, but really it was a sad commentary. This also was Abraham's fault. He should have never exposed Lot to the world of Egypt and he is going to reap the consequences in short order. Let's move on:
"AND Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south."
To the south of Canaan, almost due east and still in the land of Canaan, is the desert city of Beersheba which is still there. Today, it is a thriving university city. When we were there in `75, it was a city of 300,000. Beersheba is probably a half million people by now. Beersheba of the Bible is the same Beersheba that is there today, at least in the same environment. It's down in the Negev part of the desert. Abraham's household goes from Beersheba up north and back, sojourning up and down that land of Canaan.
"And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold."
My closing comment of three or four chapters ago was that Israel is the earthly people with earthly promises; the Church a heavenly people with heavenly promises. Nowhere in our Church Age doctrine are we promised that simply because we are obedient to God and faithful in all the things He expects, that God will reward us financially and materially. That is not part of our New Testament teaching. Now if God sees fit, that's fine. I can show you two references of Paul where it is absolutely apropos to establish an estate, and have something for the children. There is nothing wrong with that. Paul also says that a person who doesn't provide for his family, and probably help the kids along, is worse than an infidel.
Don't think that when I say there are no material promises connected with the Church Age, it doesn't mean that we can't be successful and you can't work hard to get ahead. But, there is no promise in the New Testament that God will reward us materially for our spiritual effort. But, in the Old Testament that was part and parcel of it. The more obedient they were, the more God blessed them with physical and material things. Abram was one. He was immensely wealthy. God rewarded him. We'll soon look at Jacob and how he came out of Syria after 20 years with Laban with flocks and herds to no end. And what did Job have? - flocks and herds by the thousands. All of this is intrinsic to understanding the Old Testament economy. If they were obedient, God blessed them materially. They had no concept of a heavenly connection other than that was where God was. They were an earthly people with earthly promises.
"And he went on his journeys from the south even to Beth-el, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Beth-el and Hai; Unto the place of the altar, which he had made there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord."
I think that there is also an interesting parallel. Abram, weak in faith, ends up down in the world. After he is embarrassed in that worldly environment he finds his way back to the place of his beginning, insofar as his walk and his worship are concerned. What's the parallel? Well, for a believer, the same thing. We may get down and be enticed by the world, but there is only one way back into fellowship and where is it? Where we began, at the foot of the Cross. I'm not maintaining you have to have Salvation over again, but the Cross is always the place of a new beginning. So Abram comes back to Beth-el and gets straightened out, getting right with The Lord.
"And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together."
There was a lot of strife arguments. "Are you going to get that pasture or am I?" Human nature has not changed one iota. So finally Abraham, the more godly of the two, said to Lot:
"And Abram said unto Lot, `Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee, and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.'"
Now the monkey's on Lot's back. Abram says, "It's up to you." Lot had been to Egypt, and had seen all the things of a material Egypt.
"And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan,.."
Before Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed, this beautiful Jordan Valley and all the way down to the environs of what is now the Dead Sea, was a beautiful valley. It wasn't the barren rock and desert that it is now as a result of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. But it was beautiful and what does it say?
"...that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar."
In other words, if ever there was an area on earth that was close to the Garden of Eden, it was this Jordan valley. Lot looked at it and said, "That's for me. So he tells uncle Abram, "I'll take the valley," and Abram said, `Then I'll stay in the mountains." So they parted.
"Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other. Abram dwelled in the land of Canaan (amongst these ungodly, immoral Canaanites), and Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent (what's the nest word?) toward Sodom."
Note that he doesn't jump into Sodom with both feet all at once. It is just like sin in the life of every one of us. It doesn't just all of a sudden engulf us. What happens? Oh, we play with it, we toy with it, it toys with us. Then we just start slipping and slipping, and the first thing we know it has got us. So it did with Lot. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom. He didn't just go there immediately, but where did he end up? In Sodom. He wasn't just a resident of Sodom, but he was one of the city fathers. He was one of the `big wheels.'
"And the Lord said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, `Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward:'" We want to remember that down the center of the land of Canaan are mountains. From this mountain view, God could literally tell Abram, "Look in all four directions, I'm going to give it all to you."
"For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever."
The word `forever' in Scripture means time without end. Again, if only our world leaders would believe the Word of God. The land of Israel belongs to the Jew. I always stress I am not a Jew. I've only really known one, I guess, in all my life. The reason I have this feeling toward the Jew is because of what The Book says. This land was given to the Jew and it is theirs forever. Now God again promises:
"And I will make thy seed (offspring)as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee. Then Abram removed his tent, and came and dwelt in the plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron, and built there an altar unto the Lord."
Let's look at the illustration on page 30 again. Hebron is about five or six miles south of Jerusalem. Israel is small and everything is so close. Beth-el is only about twenty miles north of Jerusalem, and now Hebron is about six miles. Off to the southwest about five miles is Bethlehem. Then on down to Beersheba is probably only another forty miles. Then up to Samaria and Nazareth. They're all packed in there close together. There isn't that mileage that we are accustomed to here in America. In Chapter 14 word comes to Abram that some kings from the north and the east have come down, defeated the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, and have taken all the people captive. Abram got interested because that involved Lot and his family, so he put together a small army out of his hired servants, and pursued this conquering king from the north who had overrun Sodom and Gomorrah, and who had Lot and his family with him. Go down to verse 14:
"And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive (we know it wasn't a brother, but a nephew), he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan (which is up in northern Canaan)."
That number gives you a picture of how big Abram's estate really was. He had that many hired servants who were fit to be men of war. If you want to figure the number of Israelites coming out of Egypt, you just sit down with pen and paper some evening and figure out how many people totally it takes to end up with 600,000 unmarried young men, who are between the ages of 21 and 26. You'll very easily come up with anything from 3 to 7 million people who came out of Egypt. That figure shocks a lot of people, but we'll repeat it again when we get to Exodus. Anyway, Abram had enough hired servants to come up with 318 of military age; in other words, they were able to handle the sword.
"And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them (utterly defeated them), and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus (see how far north he has gone). And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people." He brings them all safely back. He utterly defeats the invading kings.
Now, I want to give you just a little bit of a tidbit for our next study. That comes in at verse 17. This will be the next thing we are going to cover. That tremendous individual who has aroused so much discussion, if not controversy, Melchizedek. You have all heard of him.
"And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the kings dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God."
Look at the word `Salem.' What is the word today? Jerusalem! Salem means `peace.' This Melchizedek was the King of the little village then known as Salem, which is Jerusalem in our reckoning. We're going to pick up that verse in the next chapter, but I'd like for you to be thinking about a few things. The bread and wine leap all the way to Paul's writing when he gives instructions for The Lord's Supper. How God has everything in mind! The other thing which is brought out here is that the Hebrew term for `the most high God' is `the God of the Gentiles'; not that He is a separate God, but the name `El Elyon.'
LESSON TWO * PART I
NAMES OF DEITY, MOST HIGH
Please turn with me to Genesis 14 again. For review, we reached where Abraham and Lot had separated. Lot had pitched his tent toward Sodom. Abraham remained up in the central part of what we now know as Israel - up in the highlands. After Lot was settled in Sodom, some kings from other tribes to the east came in and overran Sodom, taking everyone captive with them, and heading north. This is what happened to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abram had enough of his hired help that he could raise a small army out of his own people - 318 men. They pursued these conquerors of Lot and his fellow Sodomites. Abram overcame them, defeated them and took all the spoil. As he is returning to the area of more or less central, or southern Israel in the area where we now know Jerusalem exists, he came across a person the Scripture introduces as the high priest of Salem. The word `Salem' is the last five letters of the word `Jerusalem.' So it is the same area today, although it was not a city back in those days. From the area of Jerusalem comes this priest of the Most High God, Melchizedek. He has aroused more questions over the years from my class than anything in Scripture. So we are going to take the time to identify him, and the purpose of his meeting with Abram.
"And the king of Sodom went out to meet him, after his return from the slaughter of Chedorlaomer, and of the kings that were with him, at the valley of Shaveh, which is the kings dale. And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God."
I'm going to give you the most absurd illustration I can think of because I want to make a point. Imagine that we have a beautiful, very expensive Swiss watch laying on a table; as expensive a watch as you can buy. Expensive, not only because of its gold casing, but because of the inner workings. Picture a watch that is so complicated, and is so meticulous in its makeup that the average watchmaker wouldn't attempt to fiddle with it. Then picture an old $5 Big Ben alarm clock. I don't even know if they make them anymore; that old, big, round alarm clock which you wind up and sounds like a piece of machinery as it ticks off the minutes. Set them side by side on the table. Now, get a vivid picture of this; the tremendously expensive, exquisite, meticulously made Swiss watch over against this old, cheap $5 alarm clock. Now take your imagination one step further. Let's assume that some great, famous jeweler who is known for his trade comes along. With all the arrogance at his disposal, and with all the pomp and circumstance he picks up the watch, lays it down and says, "Well. there's not a nickel's worth of difference between this watch and this clock." And you say, "That's absurd!" It would be! Remember that, we're going to come back to it.
In verse 18 of Chapter 14 that Melchizedek was the priest of Whom? The most High! Since Genesis 1:1 you've never seen that term used before, have you? Remember that the Bible is a progressive revelation. Go back with me to Genesis Chapter 1. All the way through this Chapter we have the three-letter word, `God.' `God' did this and `God' said that. That's the only term of Deity we find throughout the whole chapter. Suddenly, in Genesis 2:4 we come to a different term of Deity. It's no longer just `God', but The `LORD God.' Be careful as you look at the word `LORD;' it is all capitalized. Be aware of this as you go through Scripture as there it a lot depending on this. Beginning back in Chapter 1, the God of that Chapter is known in the Hebrew as `Elohim.' When we were in Genesis 1, we equated El Elohim with the Trinity of God The Father, God The Son, and God The Holy Spirit.
El Elohim is a plural word in the Hebrew. It had to be plural to envelop all three Persons of the Godhead. In Chapter 2, the term is no longer just `God.' but `LORD God,' all capitalized. It would still be Elohim, or as Chapter 1 would call Him, `God.' Now, Who is The Lord God? We have equated it before as `He is Jehovah.' And Jehovah is God the Son. All of this is for a purpose. After the first chapter of the restoration of creation, man now fills the scene. God knows there will have to be a plan of redemption (because God knows what man is going to do); but not only a plan of redemption, but also a Person of the Godhead Who could continue to communicate with His created beings. Remember in those earlier chapters when we were in John's Gospel.
John 1:1 & 14a
"IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."
"And the Word was made flesh..."
That all refers to God the Son, Who now is fulfilling the role of the plan of redemption, and His name becomes Jehovah. LORD and Jehovah are always synonymous. Throughout the Scripture we find that even though Jehovah is the God of all, we see that Abraham addresses Him as Jehovah, The Most High (even in Genesis, Chapter 14). Yet, we must separate them in order to see what the Bible is saying. After Genesis Chapter 2 and God deals with the whole human race in the person of Jehovah, or The Lord, the terminology is always now - The LORD, The LORD. Abraham appears in Genesis Chapter 12, Jehovah then becomes intrinsically the God of Abraham, or the Person of the Godhead Who is particularly dealing with the Nation of Israel. So, when the Bible says, `the God of Abraham,' and `the God of Isaac,' Who is it referring to? Jehovah! Remember, too, He is still God the Son. Continuing in Genesis we find Jehovah becomes everything the Nation of Israel could hope for in all of their physical and spiritual needs.
Turn to Genesis, Chapter 22. We find that Abraham is acquainted with Jehovah with an extra name behind Him. In this case it is Jehovah-Jireh. We've never seen that before. Jehovah-Jireh was the God who provided the sacrifice when He spared Isaac. You remember the story how God stayed Abraham's hand and kept him from sacrificing Isaac. What did Abraham see in the thicket when he turned around? the ram! So, Abraham called Him Jehovah-Jireh because Jehovah provided the sacrifice. Study that whole chapter.
As Israel comes out of Egypt under Moses, the first thing God promises them (Israel) is that if they will be obedient He will be their healing. You'll find that as Jehovah-ropheka, Who would be their Healer. This would be predominately in the physical area; as He said, "None of these diseases that were in Egypt will come upon you." So He became their Healer; however, it is implied for the spiritual as well. We find that in Exodus, Chapter 15. In Exodus, Chapter 17, we find the term Jehovah-Nissi. Israel has finally come up against their first opposition - the Amalekites. Having left Egypt they were on their way to Sinai, and were fighting the Amalekites. As long as Moses held his arms up, the battle went for Israel. As soon as they came down, the battle went against Israel. Who came to his aid? Aaron and Hur held his arms up until the battle was won. When it was over they declared that God was their Jehovah-Nissi. He was their banner. I guess today we could say He was their flag. He was the very One who gave them the emotional uplift. He was the One who kept them pressing on.
As we continue in Scripture we come to the term Jehovah-Shalom, which in Hebrew is peace. That is given to Gideon in Judges, Chapter 6. Again, Israel has now come to a point of decline. They have gone after false gods - and the Midianites from the east are overrunning their crops, and taking their children captive. So Israel began to cry to Jehovah for help. You know He raised up Gideon. He told Gideon the only way to achieve peace was to turn back to Jehovah and defeat the Midianites with His help; then, indeed, they could have `Shalom,' and `peace.' In Psalms 23, the word is `roi.' - Hebrew for shepherd. You know the verse: "The Lord is my Shepherd." In the Hebrew it is Jehovah-roi; I am your Shepherd. Again, it is an intrinsic need of the Nation of Israel.
We come to two more: Jehovah-tsidkenu - He is their Righteousness. They had none without Him. He would one day be all the righteousness Israel would need as He would set up His kingdom. Study Jeremiah 23. You'll see these as you read that particular chapter and setting. The final one of the seven is that He would be Jehovah-shammah. This has reference to when He sets up His kingdom, He will be present. You'll find that in Ezekiel 48. God does everything in sevens, doesn't He? Seven distinct needs of Israel all fulfilled by a seven-fold operation of Jehovah:
Jehovah-Jireh Jehovah-ropheka Jehovah-Nissi
Jehovah-shalom Jehovah-tsidkenu Jehovah-roi
In the Gospel of John, there are again seven instances of Jesus using the `I Am.' Remember, Jehovah stands for the I Am:
I Am your Provider I Am your Healing I Am your Banner
I Am your Peace I Am your Righteousness I Am your Shepherd
I Am present
Jesus uses the same `I Am' seven times in the Gospel of John. I won't tell you where they are but I'll give you a little hint. I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. (I'll call that `one' I Am.) I Am the Bread of Life. I Am the True Vine. I Am the Resurrection and so forth. You'll see that again seven times, even as He fulfills the need in Israel, Jesus speaks of fulfilling those same types of seven things. Then, eight in Scripture always speaks of the finality after the seven of completion. You'll find the eighth one in the Book of Revelation, Chapter 22. Close to the end you have the final `I Am.' I Am Alpha and Omega, the Bright and Morning Star. When do you see the morning? In the Book of Revelation, it is the dawning of the eternal day. Chapters 21 and 22 are dealing with eternal things. You can follow this from Genesis all the way through the Old Testament. Jesus picks it up in the New Testament and then it finally ends at the dawn of eternity, the Bright and Morning Star. Let's go back to Exodus, Chapter 3 where Moses is at the burning bush. I'm trying to build the basics for explaining my ridiculous illustration at the beginning of the lesson.
"And Moses said unto God, `Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them?'" Moses could anticipate their asking what His name was because in Egypt every god had a name. Moses was correct - "Yes, they will ask me Who this God is You're talking about and what His name is."
"And God said unto Moses, `I AM THAT I AM:' and he said, `Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.'" See the `I Am' again - the `Jehovah' - `I Am That I Am?' Turn to John's Gospel Chapter 8. The Jews have been trying to get Jesus in a corner, trying to trick Him to prove He was an imposter, a blasphemer, and not Who He said He was.
"Then said the Jews unto him, `Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?' Jesus answered, `If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye (remember He is talking to the religious leaders of Israel) have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.'" Watch this next verse: "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad."Then the Jews clearly realized that He was claiming to be the very God of Abraham, the I AM, and it infuriated them! "Then said the Jews unto him, `Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?'"
Now, Who is He claiming? He's Jehovah! He's the same I AM Who has been eternally existent. I want to make my point on my illustration before we close this chapter. Go back to Genesis 14, where we have another term of Deity. Only now instead of LORD God or Elohim, it's The Most High. We haven't seen this before, but this Melchizedek is the priest of The Most High, and is the king of Salem. Israel is not yet on the scene. She has been promised in the Abrahamic Covenant, but as yet, there is no Israel. So who are the people dwelling in the area of Salem? Non-Jews, or Gentiles. So this term Most High God is always associated in Scripture with the Gentile as opposed to being associated with Israel. Turn with me now to Deuteronomy, and let me make a point.
"Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee. When the Most High divided to the nations (plural - not Israel, but to the Gentile nations) their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lords portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance."
I'm trying to point out the term `Most High' is applying to whom? The non-Jew; the Gentile world! Go to the Book of Daniel. Daniel is a book of prophecy concerning the Gentile nations. You can almost anticipate what I am going to tell you. The constant reference to God in Daniel is The Most High. Here are a couple of examples, concerning king Nebuchadnezzar - Daniel is speaking.
"This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones: to the intent that the living may know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men (not Jehovah - the Most High)..."
"This is the interpretation, O king, and this is the decree of the most High,..." Now come over to Chapter 5.
"O thou king, the most high God gave Nebuchadnezzar thy father a kingdom (Gentiles)..."
What I want you to understand is that as Jehovah is intrinsically and primarily the name of God with regard to Israel and redemption; this term Most High (which in the Hebrew is El Elyon) is applying to the non-Jew, or the Gentile world. We're not going to have time to explain any more in this lesson. So, in the next chapter, I will be explaining my absurd illustration.
LESSON TWO * PART II
NAMES OF DEITY, MOST HIGH
If you recall, I began last lesson with an absurd illustration, but I had a reason for my madness. My illustration was that if you had a tremendously expensive, intricately designed Swiss watch, and beside it you had a plain, old, cheap alarm clock, and then you had some well-known, famous jeweler come along and tell you there is no difference in them, it would be absurd to the extreme. I'm going to make my point in this lesson, so stay with me. In our last chapter, we were following the changes of the names of Deity up through Scripture, and were in Genesis 14:18 talking about Melchizedek, the king of Salem, a Gentile community. He was the priest of the Most High God. Israel is not yet on the scene.
"And he blessed him, and said, `Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:'"
"And Abram said to the king of Sodom, `I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord (that's all capitals, so Who is that?...Jehovah), the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth,
Go, if you will, to Matthew 28. In our last chapter we showed that Jesus definitely referred to Himself as the `I AM,' or the Jehovah of the Old Testament account. In Matthew 28 He alludes to this title, The Most High, by virtue of what He says in verse 18:
"And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, `All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.'" He is the possessor of Heaven and earth. He is not only the Jehovah, but He is the El Elyon.
Before we go back to Genesis 14, I want to explain my ridiculous illustration. Repeatedly I will read or hear `so-called' theologians (I use the term loosely - not all of them, but too many of them) who will refer to the Bible as nothing but a compilation of Jewish myth and legends. I remember reading one who said that all this `stuff' (as he put it) in the Old Testament began as the ancient Jews sat around their campfire and exchanged stories; that after several generations someone got the idea they should be writing this stuff down. Result? The Old Testament. That's just as absurd as the illustration I gave you. When seminaries and educated men with degrees who have written their dissertations, make a statement like that, it is just as absurd as the jeweler saying there is no difference between a multi-thousand dollar Swiss watch and a $5.00 alarm clock. It is just as ridiculous.
I remember a few years ago reading that the president of one of our more well-known seminaries made the statement that the account of Moses and the burning bush was just a figment of some good Jew's imagination. I don't know that he has ever retracted his statement. That's absurd! Hopefully, I have shown you how the Bible is so meticulously put together that the theme is never lost. It comes all the way through from start to finish. Everything is in its rightful place. How in the world could 44 men, living over a period of 2000 years, do that without the supernatural? They couldn't.
What I try to emphasize is that you and I can rest on this Book. It is letter perfect (in the original). I realize that all we have are translations and there have been some slight errors in translation. But God has so brooded over His Word that He hasn't allowed any gross error to come in, not even in our translations, so that we can rest on this as the inspired God-breathed, Word of God. When we can just believe it without doubting, whether it is the account of the creation, the Flood, the call of Abraham, the Covenant with the Nation of Israel, the Gospel of the Cross, the writings of Paul or the Book of Revelation, what do we say? - It is the Word of God! It is miraculous from start to finish and we have no room for doubt.
Here is another good example of what I am talking about. Clear back in 2000 B.C. when no one in Scripture had any idea of God the Son going to a Roman Cross to purchase mankind's redemption. Oh, it was there in latent terms as in Genesis 3:15 where the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. Now we know what He was talking about, but they didn't. Even the writers of Scripture didn't understand these things. But God so put all these things into His Word, that it fully assures us that He knew everything from start to finish before it ever happened.
In the middle of Genesis 14:18 we find that Melchizedek brought to Abram bread and wine. They certainly used bread in the worship in the tabernacle - the table of shewbread. The wave offering was the sheaf of grain. Another time they would have drink offerings of wine and they would pour that out, but never was bread and wine associated in combination throughout the Old Testament economy. In the Age of Grace, what does the bread and wine speak of? The Lord's Supper; the Communion Table. The only way we can really identify that is to go back to Matthew's Gospel where we have The Lord's Supper. Jesus instituted The Lord's Supper at the Last Supper, at the Passover.
"Now when the even was come, he sat down with the twelve."
"And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body.' And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, `Drink ye all of it;'"
I'd like to ask a question. Did the disciples understand what all of this stood for? They didn't have the foggiest notion. They followed His directions, but there is no explanation by The Lord Jesus, or even by the writer of this Gospel account, that they had any idea what He was doing. So, we have to wait until we come to the writings of the Apostle Paul. Now we understand what it was all for. Turn with me to I Corinthians, Chapter 11. Here, again, is progressive revelation. The eleven there at the night of the Passover didn't understand it. Jesus didn't explain it; it wasn't time yet. The Lord's Table of the bread and the cup is a memorial of His death, and on the night of the Last Supper His death hadn't taken place yet.
I Corinthians 11:23-26
"For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, `Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.' After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, `This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.'" Verse 26 gives us the explanation. "For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lords death till he come.'"
This is the purpose of The Lord's Supper. It is remembering what Christ accomplished on the Cross; that just as in ignominy and shame His Body was broken, the bread is broken. The pouring out of His Blood is, of course, in the cup. Back in Genesis we have the picture of His death, burial and Resurrection, but that's all. All of this is to reassure us that the Word of God is so true. It is so supernatural. Now back to Genesis 14 to answer the question of who Melchizedek was. The Scripture tells us he was the king of Salem, or the City of Peace which we now know as Jerusalem. He came as the priest of the Most High God.
We learned in our last chapter about the term El Elyon. In the Hebrew the ordinary word elyon means the highest, or the most high. But when it is elevated to the capital, then it equals God's title of The Most High God. That's the way so many of these titles of Deity are used. In the ordinary vernacular they are just another Hebrew word out of the Hebrew language. But when it is elevated into the realm of Deity, it becomes something unique and special. Now, Melchizedek. Who was he; what was he? Turn to the Book of Hebrews, which is the only answer we have. Remember as I previously pointed out, this Melchizedek was a Gentile priest insofar as the symbolism is concerned; there was no Israel on the scene. He was a representative of the Most High God, which is the term used for God by the Gentiles. Now then in Hebrews (I'm sure that Paul wrote Hebrews; at least that's my view) Paul writes:
Hebrews 6:20 - 7:3
"Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec. FOR this Melchisedec, king of Salem, priest of the most high God (see how Paul is in perfect accord with the books of Genesis and Daniel, Keeping Melchizedek as priest of the Gentile term for God), who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him; To whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King (what sets that word apart? It is capitalized) of righteousness (which now sets Him up as Deity), and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace; Without father, without mother, without descent (or genealogy), having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.
I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but I maintain that Melchizedek was Jehovah, or God the Son, in a theophany (that's just a big word that means God appeared in human form). This was God in the Person of Jehovah, the Son, appearing to Abraham in a role that would define our whole New Testament economy. That is, that as Gentiles, we have to have a high priest who is not tied to the Law of Israel. That is why the Scripture points out so clearly that this Melchizedek was not a high priest of Israel, he was a high priest of a Gentile community. Let's go on. Since he had no genealogy, no beginning or ending, I have to feel that it was Christ appearing to Abraham in human form just for the sake of laying the groundwork for our High Priest - for us as Gentiles.
"If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) "
Beginning with Aaron (the very first high priest of Israel back just before they came out of Egypt), out of what tribe did every priest have to come? - the tribe of Levi. They couldn't be a priest unless they were of Levi, and Aaron was the first one.
"what further need was there that (why did there have to be another priest?) another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?"
What is the answer? We Gentiles couldn't approach God through a Jewish high priest. We have to have one who represents us Gentiles. That, remember, is what Melchizedek was in 2000 B.C.
"For it is evident that our Lord (The Lord Jesus) sprang out of Juda (not out of the tribe of Levi. He was not eligible to be a priest out the order of Aaron, having come out of the tribe of Judah); of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchisedec there ariseth another priest, Who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life. For he testifieth, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
All the way from start to finish we have the connection of the High Priest of the Gentile and The Most High God. The Lord Jesus is not only The Most High, the possessor of Heaven and earth, but He is also the High Priest of the Gentile God so that you and I can rest assured that we have a High Priest interceding for us at the very Throne Room of Heaven itself. Not a high priest after the order of Aaron, but a High Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
On the day of atonement in Leviticus 21, the high priest once a year would take the blood of a sacrificed animal, make his way through the front part of the tabernacle, go in behind the veil, and sprinkle the blood on the Mercy Seat, which was the very presence of God under the Shekinah Glory. Israel's sins were then covered for that next year. Now that was the role of the high priest on behalf of Israel. Our High Priest had to do the same thing. Go to John's Gospel, Chapter 20. We cannot get a comprehension of Christ's role as our High Priest unless we can understand what He has done to fulfill that role. It is Resurrection Sunday morning. Mary Magdalene came to the tomb, saw it was empty, and ran back and told the disciples, who couldn't believe. Then Peter and John came running. I believe that although verse 9 tells us so much, most people are not enlightened on this. As Peter and John saw all the evidence there at the empty tomb, verses 8 and 9 tell us:
"Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. For as yet they (the Twelve, and Peter and John in particular) knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
They had no idea He was going to rise from the dead until they saw proof of it; however, that isn't the point I want to make. Come down to the account of where Mary saw the tomb was empty. And she said, "Oh, where have they put my Lord?" As she turned, there stood The Lord Jesus, only she didn't know Him.
"And they (the two angels) say unto her, `Woman, why weepest thou?' She saith unto them, `Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.'"
"Jesus saith unto her, `Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou?' She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, `Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.' Jesus saith unto her, `Mary.' She turned herself, and saith unto him, `Rabboni;' which is to say, Master."
What do you think Mary wanted to do? Embrace Him! He was alive! But what does He do? He holds her at bay and says:
"Jesus saith unto her, `Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.'" Now back to Hebrews, if you will. Then I think we can put all this together.
"But Christ being come an high priest of good things to come (not after the order of Aaron, remember, but after the order of Melchizedek, the priest of the Gentile name of God), by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building (where is it? - in Heaven);"
Remember what you just read in John; that Jesus, on that Resurrection morning, said to Mary Magdalene, "Don't touch me until I have ascended to the Father." This is on Resurrection morning. We're not talking about the ascension of Acts. This is in John's Gospel on the Resurrection morning. Why did He have to ascend?
"Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in (to the very throne room of Heaven) once into the holy place (the very presence of God, and as He presented His Blood...), having obtained eternal redemption for us.
What role was He fulfilling? - High Priest! Not the high priest of Israel, but the High Priest of all. We don't have to leave the Jew out insofar as His High Priesthood is concerned because now, as a result of the Cross and the power of His Resurrection, He is the High Priest of all. That, of course, is what Melchizedek represented. Please go back with me to Romans, Chapter 3. I am always stressing that Paul is the one who has received the final part of our progressive revelation, except the Book of Revelation. But Paul brings everything to a head by asking the question:
"Is he the God of the Jews only? is he not also of the Gentiles? Yes, of the Gentiles also:"
See, nobody is left out. As a result of the work of the Cross, as a result of the work of His presenting His own blood in the very Throne Room of Heaven as our High Priest, everything has been satisfied. Everything is done that had to be done.
LESSON TWO * PART III
NAMES OF DEITY, MOST HIGH
Please turn with me in your Bible, to Genesis, Chapter 15.
"AFTER these things the word of the LORD ("Jehovah," all capitalized) came unto Abram in a vision, saying, `Fear not, Abram: I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward.' And Abram said, `Lord God,...'"
What is different? The casual reader won't ever notice that the word `Lord' is not all in capitals in verse 2. Typographical error? - No! Again, it is another name of Deity. In this case in the Hebrew it is "Adon," or in some places it is Adonay or Adano. In England, and various other European countries, the headmaster of a school is called the don. The very term "adon" in Hebrew is "master." If it is in small letters, that means "master" is also small letters. But here it is capitalized. "Master," then, is equal to the title of a person of the Godhead.
*adon=master * Adon or Adonay=Master * Adonai=Master=God
"And Abram said, `Lord God (Master God), what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus?'" In order to follow up on this Master concept, we must again compare Scripture with Scripture. Turn with me to Exodus 4, to the account of God appearing to Moses, and telling him that he is to go back to Egypt and approach Pharaoh.
"And Moses said unto the LORD (capitalized, so he said to Whom? Jehovah), 'O my Lord (now what? Small lettered Lord),...'" See the difference? The capitalized LORD is the Scripture reference that Moses is speaking to Jehovah, but Moses doesn't address Him as Jehovah, but rather as Adon/Master. What do we call those under a Master; servants! That is exactly what we have here. Read on:
"...I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue."
Whenever you see the word `Lord' with a capital `L' only, this refers to Adoni as Master, and the Master, is going to be over his servant. Watch for that in the Old Testament. Another good example is in Isaiah 6:
"IN the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord (small letters, so Isaiah is saying he saw the Lord, Adoni, his Master) sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." No doubt it is God in all His fullness, but why does Isaiah use the word "Master?" What follows several verses down?
"Then said I, `Woe is me for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King (capitalized - God in all His glory), the Lord (all caps - The Jehovah) of hosts.'" So why, then, did he approach God in verse 1 as Master? Let's go to verse 8:
"Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, `Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' Then said I, `Here am I; send me.'" What is Isaiah becoming? - The servant. Watch for this as you study Scripture; whenever there is a master and servant relationship it won't be LORD in all capitals, it will begin with a capital `L' only.
When educated men, theologians, (that's what they claim to be) take the Bible and say it is nothing more than a bunch of Jewish legend and myth; or, as others have said, there may be some of the Word of God in it, but not all of it is; as soon as you take out part of it you would lose the fabric of this beautiful threadwork that goes all through Scripture. The main reason for my teaching throughout the last few lessons, is to show that this Book is so supernaturally woven together, we never have to doubt that it is the Word of God. I'll admit that all we have today are translations. The King James (I still like it) is a translation. When I say the Word of God is letter perfect and word perfect, I am referring to the original manuscripts before anyone ever touched them. Portions of every book of the Old Testament were found in the Dead Sea Scrolls; the Book of Isaiah being almost totally intact. Those are the oldest copies of the Word of God that man has come up with so far.
When they translated the Book of Isaiah out of the Dead Sea Scrolls, the King James Version was almost letter perfect. This is when I was assured that I would stay with the King James Version. Even after all the translations and copying, we have a Bible that is nearly error free. Sometimes I'll say I think the King James translators could have used this word or that word, but for the most part it is so accurate that we can just rest upon it. The other aspect of that same word `master' comes down into not only the human level as such, but into the very social fabric of the husband and wife. The same word in small letters can also apply as a husband with regard to the wife; not that she is a slave under a master, but I wanted to show this application. Go to Genesis 24. Abraham is sending a servant to Syria to get Isaac a wife.
"And the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and sware to him concerning that matter."
Turn with me to Genesis 18 where the same word `adon' is now used in regard to Abraham and Sarah as husband and wife, when The Lord told Sarah she was going to have a child.
"Therefore Sarah laughed within herself, saying, `After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'" Note the small letters in `lord.' It comes from the same root word adon, only now it is "my husband" as she speaks as the wife. Now one more New Testament reference. We find that even Paul, writing to us Gentiles, refers to Christ as Master, and we as His servants.
"Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters (employers), do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."
In John's Gospel, Christ referred to Himself saying, "You call Me Master and you do well." We are, then, responsible to our Master Who is in Heaven. In Colossians 4 and we have the same illustration that Christ is our Master, and we are His servants.
"Masters (capitalized, because it is the first word of the sentence), give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."
There is one more reference in the human realm concerning husband and wife. I'm want to show that this theme of Abraham calling God his Master, by virtue of his being His servant, also drops down into the human element into man's relationship with The Lord; and to the husband and his relationship with his wife; so also, then, up into the spiritual with Christ as the spiritual Husband and we in the Body as the spiritual wife or the bride.
(23)"For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body."
(25) "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;" See that analogy?
(31)"For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh."
What Paul says is he is trying to teach something higher than that, as he says that he speaks concerning Christ and the Church. Christ is the Husband and we are the bride. Come back to II Corinthians where Paul is writing to the Gentiles concerning Christ's bride.
II Corinthians 11:1,2
"WOULD to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband (The Lord Jesus), that I may present you (the Body of Christ) as a chaste virgin to Christ."
That's our role as a believer. We are in the Body, which is pictured as the bride of Christ, and He is the Husband. It all goes back to Genesis 15 when Abraham brought in the new term of deity as Master and His relationship with His servant.
"And Abram said, `Lord God (Master or Adoni God), what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless, and the steward of my house (or the manager of my estate) is this Eliezer of Damascus?' And Abram said, `Behold, to me thou hast given no seed:...'" Remember the Abrahamic Covenant. This Covenant now comes back into Abram's thinking. And he said, "Now Lord, You have promised me a nation of people, You've promised me a land; a kingdom, and I haven't even got a child!" He said, "Oh wait a minute! I do have an heir born in my house." Read on:
"...and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir." Who is he referring to? Lot! He's the only flesh and blood relative he has. God forbid that Lot would have been the one. You know what he was. So what does God say?
"And, behold, the word of the Lord (capitalized) came unto him, saying, `This (Lot) shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels (innermost being) shall be thine heir.'" I have used the words `innermost being' in the Scripture above as most of us don't like the word from the King James Version. And the heir wasn't even born yet! How old is Abraham - 80 some years old, and Sarah isn't far behind him.
"And he brought him forth abroad, and said, `Look now toward heaven, and tell (or count) the stars, if thou be able to number them:' and he said unto him, `So shall thy seed be.'"
Unbelievable? Of course. They're way up in years and haven't even had a child. He says to God, "You're telling me I'm going to have that many offspring?" In verse 6, however, Abram's faith comes through and he believed. This is why God had such high esteem for Abram. We already saw that he wasn't perfect; oh, he pulled some shenanigans. But he was a man of faith, even though it seemed so impossible that he and a wife who had never had children could now be the beginning of a multitude of people.
"And he believed in the Lord (Jehovah); and he (Jehovah) counted it to him for righteousness."
Come with me to Romans 4. In a couple of our other lessons we spent a lot of time in Romans 4. Let's review. In verse 1, Paul is using the faith of Abraham as an example of what God is expecting of us today. Remember, Paul writes primarily to the Gentile, but he gets back into the Old Testament economy to show the whole principle of what it is to take God at His word - faith plus nothing added.
"WHAT shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified (or made right) by works, he hath whereof to glory (he could brag about it); but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it (his believing)was counted (that's a bookkeeping term) unto him for righteousness."
Do you see why I left Genesis 15 up to this point? Romans 4:3 is the verse it is referring to. It was put to the account of Abraham for what? Righteousness! Not because he did anything. He didn't earn it. He believed God. What do I call that? Faith plus nothing Faith plus nothing! Galatians 5 tells us that as soon as we add something to faith, we cancel the work of the Cross. I'm afraid millions, upon millions of church-going people over the centuries are going to miss Heaven's glory because that's exactly what they've done.
"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not (who does nothing for salvation), but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly (what kind of people?), his faith is counted for righteousness.
How many times have you heard someone say, "If I could just straighten up my life, if I could just clean up my act, I'd get it right with God." But those aren't the kind of people with whom God can get it right. God has to take that sinner right where he is, and He has to perform the miracle of Salvation. Then, of course, there is going to be a dramatic turnaround. There will be a change in lifestyle. This person is going to be a new creation, but he cannot do it himself. If he tries, then he is not in the area of faith. He has now done something on his own. We have to be so careful that Salvation is totally the work of God. Come with me again to Genesis 15. I wanted to get into what I call Israel's Deed in this chapter, but I will save that for a full lesson.
"And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be."
There is another instance in Genesis 13 when He first called Abraham. God has just began to deal with this man Abram, making the Abrahamic Covenant, and He now says:
"And I will make thy seed (offspring) as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered."
Remember that ever since we started in Genesis, I have made an analogy that we have the concept of God dealing with earth and Heaven all the way from Genesis 1:1. (In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.) As we come to Israel's role, remember that Israel is always God's earthly people, whereas we of the Church Age are God's heavenly people. We have to keep those two concepts totally separated. Israel is God's earthly people; the Church is God's heavenly people. Now then, when Abraham is promised that his offspring would be as the dust of the earth, what people is He referring to? The earthly. Dust is earthly.
In Genesis 15:5 we don't have the dust, but another analogy - the stars. What is that referring to? The heavenly. Many people are confused, thinking that when we become a Christian we become a child of Abraham, and we become a Jew. Bless their hearts. They are way out in left field. We become a child of Abraham by virtue of the spiritual connection; that as Abraham was saved by faith plus nothing, we're saved by faith plus nothing! Never confuse the issue. When we become a child of God we do not become a Jew. A Jew is a Jew. A Gentile is a Gentile. This whole idea of faith plus nothing began with Abraham. That's our connection. That is why God could tell Abraham that he would have a multitude of spiritual seed as numerous as the stars in the universe. But, the Nation of Israel is likened to the dust of the earth.
LESSON TWO * PART IV
NAMES OF DEITY, MOST HIGH
I call Genesis 15 "Israel's Deed." You might write it in the margin of your Bible in Chapter 15. This is Israel's deed. It is just as valid today as it was the day God issued it.
"And he said unto him, `I am the Lord that brought thee out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.'"
Obviously, Abram was just as human as we are. We take the promises of God by faith, but, being human, we say, "God, prove it." So, understandably, here is Abram with all these promises. God says, "I'm giving you the land." Abram asks, "How do I know?
"And he said, `Lord God, whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it (inherit the land, which is implied in the word `it')?'"
Few people realize what God does next. Sacrificial animals being parted is the exact custom of transferring real estate in ancient time. From the Tower of Babel, everything was steeped in paganism and animal sacrifice. That wasn't unique just to Israel. Their system of transferring title deed was exactly what God is doing here on behalf of Abram. What is the reason? - To prove to Abram that God meant what He said. Now God answers Abram and says:
"And he said unto him, `Take me an heifer of three years old, and a she goat of three years old, and a ram of three years old, and a turtledove, and a young pigeon.'"
They were to divide the carcasses and lay them with a space in between them. In other words, an alleyway between these carcasses.
"And he took unto him all these, and divided them in the midst (he split the carcasses as a slaughterhouse does, hanging the beef on the rail and splitting it down the middle), and laid each piece one against another: but the birds divided he not." Naturally, as these carcasses were lying in the open air, birds of prey came in. "And when the fowls came down upon the carcases, Abram drove them away."
Occasionally, you'll find a situation very humorous, even though it is serious. The birds were starting to devour the very thing necessary to the transfer of the title deed. What do you suppose Abraham thought? - "Oh, it's all going to get muddled up!" So he drove them away. I can see him going up and down trying to scare them away. After all, this is what he had to have for God to transfer deed. So God put Abram to sleep and took care of the situation.
"And when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and, lo, an horror of great darkness fell upon him." Abram was out of it! Now to verse 13 which becomes a vision experience for Abram; however, it doesn't take away the reality of it.
"And he said unto Abram, `Know of a surety (this is absolute) that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs,...'"
I usually refer to this as the very first statement of prophesy in the Bible. God is telling something before it happens. What is He talking about? - Their sojourn in Egypt, and Abram doesn't even have his first child! God is already telling him that at some point in time, generations of Abram's seed would be in Egypt.
"...Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;" How long was Israel in Egypt? - 400 years. "And also that nation (Egypt), whom they shall serve, will I judge:..."
I admit if there's anything in Scripture I have a hard time understanding, I just say that God is Sovereign. He makes no mistakes. God can raise up a nation to punish Israel, then turn around and reveal His wrath to that nation for misusing the Jew. I can't comprehend it. When did it happen again? - with Nebuchadnezzar. He got the empire of Babylon rolling. God used him to take Israel out of the land which He had been promising to them for years and years by His prophets. He told them what would happen if they didn't straighten up, and they didn't. Along came Nebuchadnezzar who took them out, and took all the Temple wealth with him. So what did God do? He came down on him in His wrath because he misused Israel. I can't explain it. Likewise, Egypt was the fulfillment of this prophetic statement. Egypt misused the Jew, and then the Jew got in that place because of the bad deportment of the eleven brothers (or at least ten of them). Yet, God came back and literally destroyed the nation of Egypt for the way they handled the Jew. I can't explain it, but God is Sovereign; He makes no mistakes!
"And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they (the children of Israel) come out with great substance." Did they? Why, they spoiled Egypt. You know that. It was all in God's sovereign plan.
"And thou shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age." We know Abraham lived a long time. Verse 16 gives us more prophecy from Abraham's point in time.
"But in the fourth generation they (the children of Israel) shall come hither (Canaan) again:..."
Think of a generation in terms of 100 years here because it is 400 Years; 430 to be exact. Unless you understand the economy of God, you won't know what He's talking about in the next statement.
"...for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full."
What is He saying? Studying this map will help us a little bit.
Here, again, is our Mediterranean Sea coast. Down a way is Egypt and the Nile River. Up along the Nile was Goshen. Up to the Sea of Galilee, the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea, is the land of Canaan. Remember that Abram came down from Haran in Syria into the Land of Canaan. He sojourned up and down the highland. Lot, of course, went down to the area of Sodom. But, as Abram is now receiving title deed to the land of Canaan, God is telling him it is going to be 400 plus years before they can actually come in and occupy it. There was a purpose in God not permitting the Canaanites, referred to here as the Amorites, to be removed from the land until the 400 years had gone by. What was that purpose? Their iniquity had not yet reached the full.
It is hard for us to comprehend the patience of God. Remember who the Canaanites' forefathers were? - Ham and his son, Canaan. These Canaanites started on an immoral plane right off the bat, and kept going down, and down, and down. God is telling Abram He is going to give them 400 years; that by that time they will have gone down so far that in all justice He will be able to tell the children of Israel to clean them out and not spare one; that the land was theirs (the Israelites).
Did God do it? Yes! Do you remember when Joshua came in from the east and made that circuitous route out of their wilderness journey? They crossed the Jordan River just above the Dead Sea. The first city they came up against was Jericho. But before they crossed the River Jordan, God gave explicit instructions to the Nation of Israel not to leave a single Canaanite alive. Unfair? Unjust? No, because they have had 400 years to clean up their act. But instead of cleaning it up they degenerated down, down, down until finally God, in justice, could tell Israel not to spare one; that unless they cleansed the land of them, in just a little while they would be just like them. What happened? Israel got softhearted. Israel just couldn't put those people to death, but saw the better part of making servants of them. They assimilated the Canaanites into their very lifestyle.
A couple of generations later they turned their backs on Jehovah, and were headlong after the gods of the Canaanites. We know their god as Baal. Let's look at an example. Turn with me to Jeremiah. It is absolutely unbelievable that Israel, this Covenant people, with all the miracle working of God as a fabric of their lifestyle, would come to this place. This is exactly what God knew would happen if they spared the Canaanites. In the following verse the Israelites are responding to Jeremiah's plea to come back to Jehovah.
"As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the Lord, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven,..."
When you see the term `queen of Heaven' it immediately tells you it was the worship of the female goddesses. Whenever it got into the worship of the female goddesses, the immorality hit new lows for some reason or other.
"and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then (while they were in active worship of these female goddesses) had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil." That was a lie. It was just the opposite.
"But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?"
Jeremiah goes on and almost bewails the fact, that Israel could sink to such a low spiritual condition that they would burn incense and pour out drink offerings to this female goddess. Not too much later they got so involved in idolatry that they actually offered their own little children into the fire as offerings and sacrifices to these pagan gods. This is why God tells Abraham in Genesis 15 that the children of Israel would have to wait 400 years, so that these Canaanites would finally reach the epitome of their wickedness. Then God, in justice, could tell Joshua to not spare one. But, the Jews did. The result is as we saw in Jeremiah 44. Let's continue. Turn with me back to Genesis:
"And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down, and it was dark, behold a smoking furnace, and a burning lamp that passed between those pieces."
Who is that burning lamp? It is The Lord. He goes down between the halves of those carcasses. By doing so, He is fulfilling the ancient ceremony of transferring title deed. When Israel tonight says the land has been deeded to them, this is what they come back to. Although I have not heard the present day leadership say anything, when Prime Minister Menachem Begin was in power he would constantly refer to the fact that the land had been deeded to them, and that it was theirs. I agree. You cannot refute the Word of God. This is God's Title Deed to the Middle East for the Nation of Israel.
"In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given..."
The verb is past tense, meaning it was done; it was accomplished in the previous verses. Look what God has deeded to Abraham.
"...I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizzites, and the Kadmonites," And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites."
According to the tribes listed in this Chapter, Israel will have everything from northern Lebanon, out to the Euphrates River, cutting across the Arabian Peninsula, and all the way over to the River of Egypt. I don't think it is referring to the Nile. I think there was another river a little bit east. But it doesn't make that much difference. Do you see how much of the Middle East God deeded to Abraham? The whole shebang! Not just to the Jordan River, not just without the West Bank, but it has all, already been deeded. It is theirs; however, Israel will not enjoy this to the full until the Millennial Kingdom when Christ returns and Israel will finally get all of the land promised to them. They are not going to get it all now. I think they will be lucky to hang on to everything west of the Jordan River in the foreseeable future. Nevertheless, don't forget the fact that when it is all done, Israel is going to have a homeland that goes all the way to the Euphrates River, and all the way down to the River of Egypt, and all the way up to Northern Lebanon. It has all been deeded. God never goes back on His word. This is a Covenant He made with Abram that is all part and parcel of that Abrahamic Covenant.
Watch the Middle East. Right now there is a lot of pressure to get Israel to come to a so-called Peace Conference. There can be no peace in the Middle East until Christ returns. There may be a pseudo peace. There may be a makeshift peace of some kind, but there is not going to be any genuine peace in the Middle East. It is absolutely unforeseeable in the light of Scripture. Israel is going to have to stand her ground. The Arabs can do all they want to. I have said many times before that we can identify, we can empathize with the Arab people. It is home to them now. We know that. The fact remains that it is promised, it is deeded to the Nation of Israel. Look again at our map of the land promised to Israel on page 59.
Let's go into Chapter 16. Again, we don't want to go too far because the main thrust of this lesson between Ishmael and Isaac is going to take this full chapter.
"NOW Sarai Abram's wife bare him no children: and she had an handmaid, an Egyptian, whose name was Hagar."
File that in your computer because this is going to tell you something in regard to the present day Middle East situation.
"And Sarai said unto Abram, `Behold now, the Lord (Jehovah) hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.' And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai."
Today we would call that surrogate motherhood. It was nothing new. It was a prevalent custom in the Orient. In the ancient cultures, to be childless was anathema. There was nothing a woman dreaded more than to be left childless. To compensate for it their custom allowed that if a woman could not bear on her own, she could have a slave girl actually bear a child on her behalf. This is exactly what happens here. It is not that they were being unduly sinful or immoral. They were acting according to custom, even as we saw the Title Deed transfer according to custom in our last chapter. There is one thing I want to emphasize. Who have they left out? God! God has not said one word about having a child by way of a slave girl. This is what we call the energy of the flesh. This was Sarai's idea, and Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai.
"And Sarai Abram's wife took Hagar her maid the Egyptian, after Abram had dwelt ten years in the land of Canaan, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife."
You can see the human side, can't you? For ten years they have been waiting for God's promise to come to fruition. Ten years ago God promised that Abram and Sarai would have a child, by which the Nation of Israel would come on the scene. Nothing has happened, so they take things into their own hands.
"And he went in unto Hagar, and she conceived (that is when Hagar realized she was now pregnant): and when she saw that she had conceived, her mistress was despised in her eyes."
Again, you must get the mentality of the people. When this little slave girl realized she had accomplished something her mistress could not, she got puffed up, arrogant and impossible.
"And Sarai said unto Abram, `My wrong be upon thee (she saw what a horrible mistake she made): I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee (Abraham is going to pass the buck right back).' But Abram said unto Sarai, `Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.' And when Sarai dealt hardly (harshly) with her, she fled from her face."
Sarai must have really made life miserable for that little Egyptian girl, who has to flee in order to get out from under Sarai's harsh behavior.
"And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur."
Whenever you see the term `the angel of the LORD,' it is Jehovah. I stick by that because in Chapter 48, the term is used `the angel of the LORD who redeemeth me.' There is only one Redeemer in Scripture. It is God the Son; Jehovah in the Old Testament, Christ in the New Testament. When you see the term `angel of the LORD,' or `angel of God,' it is God the Son, the Redeemer. Never lose sight of that as it will come up every once in awhile.
LESSON THREE * PART I
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
Let's turn to Genesis, Chapter 16 and back up to verse 1 just for review. Pick up your Bible and a pen. I trust you will learn with us.
For years, God has been promising Abraham and Sarah they would be the progenitors of a nation of people. The wheels of God grind slowly but surely, and Abram, as he is still called here, and Sarai are now getting impatient (We must keep the names of Abram and Sarai as such until we see a change, which I will explain). We've learned previously, that without any instruction from God, Sarai reverts to the custom of their day. The custom goes back to the laws of Hammurabi, who was one of the ancient Babylonian writers of their so-called moral law. Within the laws of Hammurabi it was perfectly legitimate for a woman who could not bear, to have what we call a surrogate mother by way of a servant. Sarai, I imagine, is getting as impatient as Abram with regard to having a son. Verse 2:
"And Sarai said unto Abram, `Behold now, the Lord (Jehovah) hath restrained me from bearing: I pray thee, go in unto my maid; it may be that I may obtain children by her.' And Abram hearkened to the voice of Sarai."
Hagar becomes pregnant in verse 4 and realizes that she has done something Sarai can't do. She becomes arrogant, puffed up, and impossible to live with, so Sarai begs Abram to send her away.
"And Sarai said unto Abram, `My wrong be upon thee: I have given my maid into thy bosom; and when she saw that she had conceived, I was despised in her eyes: the Lord judge between me and thee.' But Abram said unto Sarai, `Behold, thy maid is in thy hand; do to her as it pleaseth thee.' And when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face." Hagar leaves. Now verse 7 again.
"And the angel of the Lord found her by a fountain of water in the wilderness, by the fountain in the way to Shur."
Now to Genesis 48:16. I will qualify my statement wherein I said the angel of the LORD was another manifestation of God the Son, or Jehovah. Or as we know, The Christ of the New Testament as He was revealed in the Old Testament. Jacob is speaking in verse 16, and refers to "the Angel who redeemed me." I think it is a basic statement that there is only One Redeemer in Scripture - God the Son; not some angel; not anyone but God the Son. When you see that term in Old Testament, it is referring to Christ. I previously mentioned that Balaam, the false prophet, was confronted by an angel of the LORD. Again, it was Christ in that Old Testament appearance. Come back to Genesis 16. The Angel of the LORD, or Jehovah, in another manifestation, says to Hagar:
"And he said, `Hagar, Sarai's maid, whence camest thou? and whither wilt thou go?' And she said, `I flee from the face of my mistress Sarai.'"
God doesn't have to ask questions to get information. He asks merely to get the person to respond. In Christ's earthly ministry He always comes back and answers with a question. I think we can learn from that. When you are talking with people, instead of just hitting them with something, put them on the soapbox by asking them a question. Then you start getting feedback. It is amazing what you'll find out. The Lord does that over and over. He did it with Adam. He didn't have to ask Adam what he'd done. What did He do, though? He asked Adam, "Have you eaten?" He did the same thing here in verse 8, asking, Where did you come from?
"And the angel of the Lord said unto her (now this is God speaking, `Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands.'"
The question we should be asking ourselves at this point is, why does God demand that Hagar go back to the dwelling place of Abram and Sarai when we know full well what is going to happen in fourteen years? She's going to be sent out again, only this time for good. I hope this question is answered before the next three or four chapters. There was a particular sovereign, omnipotent reason for God to have Hagar go back to the home of Abram and Sarai. We'll pick it up later. God is demanding and commanding that she go back and submit herself to Sarai for something that is going to take place fourteen years later. When we get to that I'll show you another instance in Scripture where God does the same thing. For now, let's leave her there - going back to Abram and Sarai. Now The Lord makes some statements. Remember it is the Sovereign God Himself who is speaking.
"And the angel of the Lord said unto her, `I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude.' And the angel of the Lord said unto her, `Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction.'" Here is one of those instances when God calls the shots before the child is even born.
Verse 12. This is the Bible speaking - not me. God already foretold the very personality makeup of the Arab people before the first one was ever born. Remember, now, it is out of Ishmael that most of our Arab people have come. I didn't say all, I said most as we have other branches which feed into the Arabian peoples. Here, however, He gives such a vivid description of their makeup.
"And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every mans hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."
Do you see now why the prospect for peace in the Middle East is pretty dim? These people are hard to deal with, and they always have been. I've talked to businessmen within the last few years who have had dealings with the Middle Eastern people who said this is a problem. They're just hard to deal with. It was a very intrinsic prophecy of God Himself that this would be their personality.
"And she called the name of the Lord that spake unto her, `Thou God seest me:' for she said, `Have I also here looked after him that seeth me?' Wherefore the well was called Beer-lahai-roi (remember she stopped here to get water); behold, it is between Kadesh and Bered (down in the Sinai area - southern Canaan)." Then time elapses between verses 14 and 15, and Ishmael is born.
"And Hagar bare Abram a son: and Abram called his sons name, which Hagar bare, Ishmael." Abram, in complete obedience with God's instructions to Hagar, called the lad Ishmael.
"And Abram was fourscore and six (eighty-six) years old, when Hagar bare Ishmael to Abram."
Abraham will be one hundred when Isaac is born, which means that Ishmael is going to be fourteen. Now go to Chapter 17:
"AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine (the year before Isaac was to be born), the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, `I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.'"
Here is another name of Deity - a good example of how this particular name will carry all the way through Scripture. It always refers to God as being the All Sufficient, but also the One Who Enhances Fruitfulness. Whenever you see the term `Almighty God,' it is going to be associated with fruitfulness. Look how it is used here. He appeared to Abram and said, Walk before me, etc. The word `perfect' in Scripture, whether Old or New Testament, never means a sinless perfection. It means a spiritual maturity. I don't care whether Paul uses the word or we see it back here. He is telling Abraham to just become spiritually mature.
"And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly."
We purposely spent a lot of time on the Abrahamic Covenant in Chapter 12. I'll continue to refer to it because the Bible does. Throughout Scripture there is constant reference to the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12. We have another reference in verse 2. God states He will multiply him exceedingly. In other words, he would be physically fruitful based on the term `The Almighty God,' which in the Hebrew is `El Shaddai.' This word translated is `The Almighty God,' or `The God of Fruitfulness.'
"And Abram fell on his face:..."
I imagine that at 100 years of age he was awe stricken that God was still talking about him having children. I can understand how he felt. He has been waiting a long time. As I said in the opening remarks, God's wheels grind slowly but surely.
"...and God talked with him, saying, `As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee (Abram), and thou shalt be a father of many nations.'" I think Abram was still human enough that he still had to keep asking, "But Lord, how? When?" Verse 5:
"Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee."
We now have the introduction into his name, primarily of the letter `h,' going from Abram to Abraham. In verse 15 you'll see God does the same thing with Sarai's name. I've been cautious in pronouncing the names Abram and Sarai anticipating of these two verses.
"And God said unto Abraham, `As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.'" What letter has been added to her name? The letter `H.'
Though I don't dwell much on numbers in Scripture, it is an interesting subject. The number five is the number of grace. The number five will continue to come up in Scripture, designating God's grace. The letter `H' is the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. All of the main events of Abraham's life are in years which can be divided by the number five. He left Ur at the age of 75. At the age of 100 he had Isaac. He lived to the age of 175. Over and over throughout Abraham's history you'll see numbers divisible by five.
As we get to the Book of Exodus you will see the same holds true in all of the instructions of building the tabernacle in the wilderness, which is going to depict the grace of God toward His people. Watch for it. All the dimensions are divisible by five; 45 cubits long, 15 cubits wide, etc. The boards were to be made so many cubits, and all numbers are divisible by five. I constantly point these things out to enhance the fact that the Bible is a supernatural Book. Men could never have thought of this; only the mind of God could have. So Abraham becomes the letter `H' and Sarah becomes the letter `H' referring to the tremendous grace of God which will be part and parcel of their lives. Verses 6 and 7 (repetition for emphasis.
"And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee and to thy seed after thee."
Here is an interesting tidbit. It used to bother me how you could determine when the word seed was referring to the children in generations, or when it was referring to the seed of the woman in Genesis 3:15, which we know is Christ. It has been hard to determine. The word seed in the Hebrew is the word "zera." It is like our word sheep. Now our word sheep, whether it is singular or plural, is still sheep. It is the same with this Hebrew word "zera." The only way you can determine if it is singular or plural is by how it sets in the text. It is the same with our word sheep. If you were reading a sentence which talked about a flock of sheep covering the mountainside, you would immediately know the word is not singular, but plural. On the other hand, if you were shown a picture of someone shearing a sheep, by context what do you know? - that we are talking about `one.' Whenever the context refers to a vast number of people who are Abraham's seed, we are not talking about Christ, but about the generations of Israel. Turn with me to Chapter 21 where we will see the singular use of the word.
"And God said unto Abraham, `Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac (one person) shall thy seed (singular) be called.'"
Turn to Galatians, Chapter 3. I want you to be mindful of Genesis 3:15 (without having you turn there), where as soon as Adam and Eve had fallen, God made the prophetic promise that the seed of the woman would be the Redeemer and the One who would make the way back to God possible. Now in Galatians, Paul writes:
"Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds (plural), as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed (singular), which is Christ."
Is it falling into place? In the Old Testament whenever we have the singular approach to the seed of the woman, it speaks of Christ; but when the plural is used with the generations following Abraham, then that is what it's referring to. Back to Genesis 17:
"And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed (plural) after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God."
They can say what they want about God being through with the Nation of Israel, and about God transferring the promises made to Israel to the Church. But that flies in the face of what the Scripture says. The Bible plainly teaches that no matter what the Israelite or Jew may do, God is still going to maintain the Covenant He made with Abraham clear back in 2000 B.C. If you are watching the Middle Eastern situation with an open mind, you realize the present day Jew is still the offspring of Abraham. Although we are not yet into the Jewish aspect of the Tribulation, etc., it is all coming. Everything in the Middle East is setting the stage for when the curtain will rise, and God will again pick up where He left off with His Nation of Israel back in the Book of Acts.
"And God said unto Abraham, `Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations (again we are talking about the line of people). This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.'"
Remember this is years after that original Covenant. This is even some time after that Deed we saw in Chapter 15. But now God is going to, you might say, cement this whole thing with a blood Covenant. I think that is the best way we can look at it. Have you ever watched movies of the ancients where they made a covenant with one another? They would take a knife blade and put a little slit in each hand. They would then shake hands and literally mix their blood; it was a blood covenant. I think this is the whole aspect of the institution of circumcision. God now has a blood Covenant with the Nation of Israel, or the children of Abraham. So Abraham was given all the instructions of how circumcision was to be instituted even though he, himself, was ninety-nine. From then on, every child of Abraham was to be circumcised at the age of eight days.
I believe medical science will back me up that an infant's blood coagulation reaches its peak at the age of eight days. In this present day we get our young mothers in and out of the hospital so quickly, that circumcision is accomplished before the child reaches eight days. When my mother gave birth to my little sister, the hospital stay for delivery was fourteen days. That gave the doctors ample time to circumcise the boy babies at eight days of age. This is all Scriptural. We'll move on now to verse 15 where we just saw that Sarai's name will be changed to Sarah to incorporate the `H,' the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet. God comes back and promises again that He will bless her.
"And God said unto Abraham, `As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.' Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed (not a laugh of scorn or ridicule, but I believe of joy and worship), and said in his heart, `Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?'"
After all, Abraham is 99 years old and it's going to take nine months of gestation for Sarah to give birth. So he knows even if something were to happen shortly, he would be at least 100 by the time that child would be born.
"And Abraham said unto God, `O that Ishmael might live before thee !'"
There is more in that verse than meets the eye. With such a faith in what God was going to do by bringing about the promised child, coupled with the fact that he had brought Ishmael on the scene without any instruction from God, what does Abraham fear God is going to do with Ishmael? - Take his life! Abraham is pleading for the life of Ishmael when he says, Oh let Ishmael live! God replies:
"And God said, `Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.'"
If you haven't done so before, underline now that part where God says He is going to establish His Covenant with Isaac, the child He promised Abraham.
"And as for Ishmael, I have heard thee: Behold, I have blessed him (God has already made up His mind that He isn't going to take Ishmael's life), and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly (look at the promise); twelve princes shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation."
A few chapters ahead is the genealogy of Ishmael. How many sons did he have? - Twelve! Exactly as God said he would. And the Arab nations have become great. They far outnumber the Jew.
"But my covenant will I establish with Isaac (named before he was born), which Sarah shall bear unto thee at this set time in the next year."
Never lose sight of these two tremendous verses, wherein God stated:
(1) I will establish My Covenant with Isaac.
(2) I will bless the offspring of Ishmael, but my Covenant is going to be with Isaac.
LESSON THREE * PART II
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
Let's begin in Genesis, Chapter 18. We're going to skip a few of those last verses dealing with the rite of circumcision. I like to remember Chapter 18 as one of the most vivid chapters of God appearing in human form to the Old Testament patriarchs.
"AND the Lord (Jehovah, God The Son) appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day (it was summertime evidently); And he (Abram) lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground, And said, `My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:'"
What Abraham is doing here is typical of ancient Middle Eastern hospitality (there were no McDonald's or motels every few miles). The desert was harsh and custom demanded that if you were a native and had ample provisions, then wayfaring strangers would be fed and their water supply replenished before you sent them on their way. So really that is all Abraham is content to do at this point in time. I know in verse 3 the "L" in the word Lord is capitalized in the King James. But I believe in some of the other translations (possibly in the Revised) a small `l' appears. I would tend to agree with the latter, because I don't feel that as these three men approached Abraham's tent he knew one of them was Jehovah. If he did it should be capitalized as it is. However, I find nothing in the next few verses which would give us a hint that, although The Lord was one of the three men, Abraham understood that He was.
"And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on:..."
If Abraham knew this was Jehovah, would he be so ready for Him to just pick and go? I don't think so. He thought these were three wayfaring strangers who merely needed a rest and some sustenance before they could go on their way. If you want to maintain that Abraham knew Who that was, I have no argument with that either.
"...for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, `So do, as thou hast said.'" In other words, go ahead and prepare the food. We're ready to partake.
"And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, `Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.' And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetched a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it (This is a Middle East banquet). And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did (what?) eat."
Remember these are spiritual beings; this is The Lord and two angels. Nevertheless, Abraham sees just three men. This would be a good time for us to go back for a moment, and look at the life of The Lord Jesus after His Resurrection. Turn to Luke, Chapter 24. Some of these things are good to comprehend as there is a lot of ignorance even on the part of believers as to our spiritual state when we get to eternity. Remember we aren't going to spend eternity in some ethereal, invisible soul state. We are going to be bodily involved. I think as such we are also going to enjoy a lot of the good things which God is going to provide; among them - eating.
In Luke 24 we have The Lord Jesus in the forty-day period after His Resurrection. He has now approached the eleven; He has also talked with a group on their way back to Emmaus. They invited Him in, and He sat at a table with them. It isn't clear if He actually partook of food, but in Genesis 18 it says it as plain as day.
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, `Peace be unto you.' But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, `Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me (touch me), and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.' And when he had thus spoken, he shewed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy (even though their hearts were filled with joy), and wondered, he said unto them, `Have ye here any meat?' And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them."
This is in His resurrected body. A lot of people don't realize this. Some commentators maintain that the Four Gospel writers don't always write about the same events. Consequently, if they aren't exactly the same, they are not a contradiction but are all different events. I think Luke 24:36-43 might be a corresponding event. Do you remember when He approached the eleven, and they'd been fishing all night? Sure you do. That's in John's Gospel. Turn to it.
"Simon Peter saith unto them, `I go a fishing....'"
What caused him to say something like that? Peter as yet didn't comprehend that things weren't all down the drain. There was still much to be done, but he was ready to go back to his old profession of fishing on Galilee. So the rest of them said they'd go with him.
"...They say unto him, `We also go with thee.' They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing."
"But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, `Children, have ye any meat (any fish?...anything to eat?)?' They answered him, `No.' And he said unto them, `Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find....'" They got so many the net almost broke. Now to verse 10:
"Jesus saith unto them, `Bring of the fish which ye have now caught (get the correct time frame - this is after His Resurrection).' Simon Peter went up, and drew the net to land full of great fishes, an hundred and fifty and three: and for all there were so many, yet was not the net broken. Jesus saith unto them, `Come and dine.' And none of the disciples durst ask him, `Who art thou?' knowing that it was the Lord. Jesus then cometh, and taketh bread, and giveth them, and fish likewise."
It doesn't say here that He partook with them, but I think He did. I think they had a glorious breakfast on the shores of Galilee. I don't think The Lord had to wait for the fish out of Peter's net. I think The Lord already had fish cooking on the fire when they arrived. All of this is just to indicate that it is not some horrible thought that we are going to be able to eat and partake of food when we get to the new resurrected body, because the lesson is here, clearly and plainly. Jesus ate! Come back with me to Genesis 18 to these three spirit characters, who are all spirit beings but in human form. It is The Lord, and two angels, as we'll see in the next Chapter. But, they sat down and feasted! There is nothing unusual about that.
"And they said unto him, `Where is Sarah thy wife (I imagine the Lord is speaking)?' And he said, `Behold, in the tent.'"
We have to get the Middle Eastern setting back in those days. The old patriarch had his own tent. His wives, if he had more than one, had tents out in the back. When Iris and I were privileged to go to Israel many years ago, they let us stop out in the desert at the camp of an Arab Sheik, and that's how it was set up. He had his tent and out behind were the tents of his four wives and twenty-four kids. I can picture that so vividly here; them asking Abraham where his wife was, and Abraham replying that she was out back in her tent.
"And he said, `I will certainly return unto thee according to the time of life; and, lo, Sarah thy wife shall have a son.' And Sarah heard it in the tent door, which was behind him."
Now, what are these two people finally realizing? - Who is speaking? You see, for years God has been telling them they are going to be the beginning of a nation of people; kings are going to come out of them.They must have known that only one person had ever said something like that - and, that was God Himself, The Lord. Now I am sure that Abraham, perhaps nor Sarah completely yet, knows who is talking. Sarah heard it and what did she do?
"Now Abraham and Sarah were old and well stricken in age; and it ceased to be with Sarah after the manner of women (Abraham is now 99 and Sarah is 89). Therefore (in spite of all that has been promised) Sarah laughed within herself, saying, `After I am waxed old shall I have pleasure, my lord being old also?'"
There the small `l' is correct. She is using the word `lord' with reference to her husband. In so many words she is saying, "Shall I have pleasure, my husband also being this old?"
"And the Lord (Jehovah) said unto Abraham, `Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I of a surety bear a child, which am old? Is any thing too hard for the Lord? ...'"
When I read something like that, I try to get my class people to put themselves into a New Testament situation. Do you remember when The Lord said it was almost impossible for a rich man to be saved? He said it would be almost as hard to put a camel through the eye of a needle. The disciples responded by saying, "Then it's impossible for a rich man to be saved?" What did Jesus say? "Why of course not, because with God nothing is impossible." Nothing!
In light of our present-day science, I am amazed that scientists have such a hard time believing. They can scoff at so much of what the Bible claims to be the supernatural, such as this - a camel passing through the eye of a needle. Yet, scientists tell us that there are black holes out there in space. They claim that these black holes are stars, larger than our sun, which have literally collapsed in on themselves, and have become so dense that they are not any bigger than the head of a pin. They believe that! Yet you can come to a verse of Scripture that simply states something that is no more impossible, and that they can't believe. Always remember that with our God, nothing, nothing is impossible. You can't dream of something that is impossible in the eyes of our God. Referring back to Genesis 18:14, if God can do the things that He has already done, is it too hard for him to cause a woman of 90 and her husband of 100 to have a child? Why, it's nothing!
"...At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son."
Remember he is already 99, so this is going to take place within the next year as Abraham is going to be 100 when Isaac is born. We're getting close, now, to the time of the conception.
"Then Sarah denied, saying, `I laughed not (she has to backpeddle, saying she hadn't laughed, for now she knows Who she is dealing with); for she was afraid.' And he said, `Nay; but thou didst laugh.'"
This is all within God's sovereign will. What does the name Isaac mean? - Laughter. That's what the word `Isaac' actually means translated out of the Hebrew. He would be a child of laughter.
"And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way."
Let's put a little bit of geography on the map again. Remember that this isn't according to scale, but should help a little bit. See the map on page 59 again. The Mediterranean Sea coast; the Sea of Galilee, and the Jordan River; the Dead Sea, and notice that the Jordan Valley at the lower end of the Dead Sea, it was well watered. Just a tremendous place for cattle and livestock, whereas up here in the center part of Israel were the mountains. It is up in the mountainous area that Abraham agreed to stay with his flocks, whereas Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom because it appealed to him. It was beautiful and had all of the possibilities for increasing his herds and flocks. So from that vantage point then, from the highlands, The Lord says as He looks toward Sodom:
"And the Lord said, `Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do (referring to destroying Sodom);'" He wants to bring Abraham in on this because he's been such a man of faith.
"Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?"
Isn't that something? All the nations in the world, Gentile as well as the Hebrew, can trace their great men back to this man Abraham. From the Old Testament we know that the kings of Israel - Saul, David, Solomon and all the kings, (be they good or bad) were all from the loins of Abraham. But the children of Abraham branched out and encompassed more than just the Nation of Israel. We have already seen that Ishmael is going to be the beginning of the Arab nations. These are all children of Abraham.
In modern history, even our own democracy of the last 200 years, many of our great government men have been Jewish? I can remember from when I was in high school, that there was one Jew who went through president after president. His name was Bernard Baruch. A Jew through and through. Every administration kept Bernard Baruch as an Advisor, I think, from World War I. The same thing happened in the European governments. Some of their great men were direct descendants of this man Abraham. So the Word of God is not stretching the point one bit when it says that all of the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him; but, of course, God was looking beyond the politics and the economics. He was looking to the Salvation He would bring about through The Lord Jesus Who, of course, was born a Jew. All of these are foretelling what God is going to do down through the ages of time.
"For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment; that the Lord may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the Lord said, `Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous, I will go down now, and see (or prove) whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.' And the men (that is, the two) turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the Lord."
Now, take your three men who appeared in verse 1. Two are going to start heading toward Sodom, but the third one (or the first one - The Lord) is going to stay with Abraham and finish out the Chapter. These other two men, however, are making their way to the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We are not going to read verse by verse on the next series of verses. You can do that on your own, however, you have all heard sermon, after sermon, after sermon on them. Here Abraham pleads with the LORD concerning the inhabitants of Sodom. Why is he so concerned? Lot, his beloved nephew, and his offspring are now living in Sodom. So Abraham begins to `bargain' with God, (I guess is a safe word), saying, "Now Lord if there are fifty righteous in Sodom will you spare it?" Yes. "Forty?" Yes. "Thirty?" Yes. He came all the way down to ten, and The Lord even agreed to spare Sodom if there would be as few as ten believers in that city. But there weren't!
I think you and I as Bible believers can take comfort in the future of our own beloved land. As long as we still have a relatively strong Christian community which continues to send the Gospel to the ends of the earth, and as long as our nation is still a friend of God's Covenant people, I think we stand a pretty good chance of surviving. However, any time any of those three things go down the tubes, America has had it. America is ripe for judgment as surely as Sodom and Gomorrah were. We know she is. But you see, if we can take a lesson from this, I think God will spare judgment because of His own people. I know that we who are ardent believers in the Gospel are getting fewer and fewer percentage-wise by the week. Nevertheless, we still have a strong Christian influence in America. As I have already said, we are the lighthouse for sending the Gospel to the ends of the world. Europe doesn't, Great Britain certainly doesn't, and we can't expect the Orient to because they're saturated, of course, with the eastern religions. So America is the only possible hope of continuing to send the Gospel to the regions beyond. Thirdly, as I have said, as long as we take an official stance of being a friend of Israel, and we do nothing to stab them in the back, I hope and trust that God will continue to grant us our freedoms for a little longer. My prayer is that The Lord will grant me and my wife health and strength, and keep America free until the trumpet sounds. One day soon I think The Lord is going to leave Heaven with a shout and the sound of a trumpet, and we';re going to be caught up to meet Him in the air. What happens after that is not so much my concern.
In this chapter, I'd like to at least start Chapter 19. These two men, who have now left off with Abraham and The Lord, now make their appearance to Sodom where they are identified. What are they? - angels! The two angels who were part of the three in Chapter 18 now come to Sodom just at evening time. The sun is probably setting, and it is approaching darkness. Lot, Abraham's nephew, is sitting in the gate. For those of you who do not understand, in the Orient or in the time this setting is taking place, to `sit in the gate' meant they were the city leaders. So Lot, if he is not the city manager, is at least on the council. We can put it that way. He has become a great man in Sodom. He is sitting in the gate. We can pick this up in secular history as well as in other Bible references. Now he has become an important man in Sodom.
"AND there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them (not realizing they were angels); and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; And he said, `Behold now, my lords (small `l' again, meaning a reference to `master' or `sir'), turn in, I pray you, into your servants house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways....'"
Do you see that hospitality coming through? Lot knew the Sodomite people had even more at stake than Abraham as he entertained the three. But this was still in accordance with the custom. So he said, "Come in, spend the night in my home, be refreshed, and in the morning you can be on your way." But poor Lot has a curve thrown at him. What's the answer? "No, we're not going to sleep under a roof. We'll spend the night in the street."
"...And they said, `Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.'" How would you like to be in Lot's shoes?
LESSON THREE * PART III
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
Take your Bible and trace the references with us. I want you to be able to study and understand how exciting it really is. My desire is to teach the Bible in such a way you can take it into a Sunday school class, or enlighten some people regarding Spiritual things. Now to Genesis Chapter 19. In our last chapter we saw Lot, who had left his uncle Abraham up in the mountains, and he pitched his tent toward Sodom. Here, Lot is a perfect illustration of a backslidden, carnal believer. The Bible calls him a believer, which is hard to imagine, but we'll look at the Scripture that prove he was.
Lot has not only pitched his tent toward Sodom, but he is in Sodom. He has been so much a part of the city that he has become one of the city leaders. He is sitting at the gate, which indicates his important position. Back in Chapter 18, two angels had accompanied The Lord. Although they appeared as three men, it was The Lord and two angels. The two angels have now approached Lot at the gate. It is almost sundown. Lot, realizing what the people of Sodom will attempt to do to two strange men, quickly invites the men into his own home. I mentioned before this gesture indicated the hospitality that Abraham also showed back in Chapter 18. More than that, however, Lot realizes what may happen. So he invites them in, but they refuse. My closing remark in the last chapter was, "How would you like to be in Lot's shoes?" knowing what would befall these men if they spent the night in the street. Lot now says:
"And he said, `Behold now, my lords (`lords' here being merely a term of address), turn in, I pray you, into your servants house, and tarry all night, and wash your feet, and ye shall rise up early, and go on your ways.' And they said, `Nay; but we will abide in the street all night.' And he pressed upon them greatly; and they turned in unto him, and entered into his house; and he made them a feast, and did bake unleavened bread, and they did eat."
The unleavened bread must have some significance. The only thing I can surmise is that Lot associates this unleavened bread with his spiritual state of believing. I can't be sure. But unleavened bread, especially in the Law, indicates something special - the absence of sin is always represented by leaven.
"But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:"
We can't imagine a city that had the moral climate of Sodom. We may have areas that are getting close, but at least does not envelope an entire city. However, Sodom is not nearly the size of San Francisco or New York. But Sodom had come to the place where the whole population was wrapped up in this immoral lifestyle.
"And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, `Where are the men which came in to thee this night (see how fast the news spread)? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.'" "Know them'" is the Scriptural term for intimate relations. They actually wanted these two men for their lustful purposes. "And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him,"
Lot stepped out on the front stoop and began to plead with this crowd of Sodomites. This shows us how far down the ladder Lot had slipped. I have a hard time comprehending how he deals with these ungodly citizens of Sodom, saying:
"And said, `I pray you (or beg you), brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man;...'"
Lot's girls were probably late teenagers - young, virgin women. Imagine a father willing to throw his daughters "to the wolves." He said, "You can have them, but leave these two men alone."
"...let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof. And they said, `Stand back.' And they said again, `This one fellow came in to sojourn, and he will needs be a judge (meaning Lot. They know he's an outsider who came in long after Sodom had been established. They are castigating him for taking a place of authority when he never was really one of them): now will we deal worse with thee, than with them.' And they pressed sore upon the man, even Lot, and came near to break the door."
I think Lot's life was in danger. In spite of offering his own daughters, his own life was in danger. So the angels use their power.
"But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door. And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door."
For years I would almost try to circumvent Chapter 19. I didn't even like to bring it up, especially in a mixed class. Now it is in every page of our newspapers and magazines. We are being confronted with the `so-called' alternative lifestyle of the homosexual. Beloved, the Scripture never gives it that much credibility. It is not an alternative lifestyle: it is wickedness, an abomination, and sinful to the 'nth degree. For that reason God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. There may be those who say, "Wait a minute - this is Old Testament!" Well, let's see what the New Testament says. Turn to Romans Chapter 1, which doesn't paint a pretty picture. Paul is writing to the Gentiles, but he could very well be writing to us now.
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;"
We are living in the time Paul refers to as the Age of Grace. Paul makes it clearly evident that where sin abounds, grace is always greater. I want to say to any homosexual that homosexuality is still a sin that the grace of God can overcome. Things have not changed in that God hates the sin, but loves the sinner. Never lose sight of that. Look at what Paul says here, "The wrath of God is revealed against ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who hold the truth in unrighteousness." The truth here refers to the Word of God. I don't care how sophisticated men may claim to be. (When I use the word men, I'm indicating the whole human race.)
Several years ago I was reading a magazine that had a lady editor. The magazine had an article written by a lady. I use the term loosely. In describing activities in New York City, she made a derogatory statement regarding those of us in rural America; saying that we couldn't comprehend that kind of lifestyle because we're not as sophisticated as they. I'm a farmer, and I make no apologies for it. I've been acquainted with barnyard morality since I was old enough to walk. Yet, our country has reached the place where the people who live a barnyard morality are the ones who think they are sophisticated. They're not sophisticated. They're right down in the mud. We have to look at what the Bible says, not what sociologists say. I don't care what the psychologists say. The only thing that counts is the truth of The Word of God, and the truth of the Word of God is that God hates sin. People try to explain away homosexuality as an alternative lifestyle, but the Bible says it is sin. Continue with verse 21. Read the surrounding verses at your leisure.
"Because that, when they (the human race, who have always had a witness) knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened (by a judicial act of God, believe it or not). Professing themselves to be wise (educated with degrees behind their names; but as far as God is concerned...), they became fools,"
When so-called highly intellectual people spout these ridiculous statements, don't be shocked. Is exactly what God says will happen. In verse 23 we have the downward progression. I think it is safe to say that in Romans Chapter 1 we have not only the track record of the human race in general, but empire after empire in particular; then to nations in particular, and finally the individual.
"And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things."
This began at the Tower of Babel when idolatry and worship of images arose. It has been downhill ever since. Empires have started with something better than that, and they, too, end up on this downward track. Verse 24 tells us that when mankind began to turn his back on the One True God and began to worship idols, and things made with men's hands (watch the language), then...
"Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:"
God gave them up. That is an `act.' He didn't give them up to something higher; He gave them up to something lower. So He gave them up to uncleanness. When I teach Romans verse by verse, I indicate that in verse 25 we still have immorality heterosexually (between the sexes). In verse 26 we see yet another step downward.
"Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:"
This is just plain English! God gave them up again, not to what might be considered `common immorality' between the sexes, but this time to a lower level - to `vile affections.'
"And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly (unnatural), and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet."
You can't explain this away. Yet, we have denominations having problems whether or not they want this kind of people in the pulpit! We have to call sin, sin! The Bible does! I'm still being loving. I want you to remember that God hates the sin, but He loves the sinner. God is ready in a moment to offer Salvation to them. In verse 28, this becomes the whole preoccupation in their thinking.
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient (natural or normal);"
Verse 29 gives a vivid description of their community. This is what Sodom was, and this is what any community will become when homosexuality takes over and becomes the norm.
Romans 1:29 & 32
"Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication (immorality), wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers," Those are sober words. Now verse 32.
"Who, knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them."
One commentary says they applaud (have pleasure in them). The Greek seems to imply that not only do they agree with that kind of lifestyle, they actually promote it and applaud those who practice it. Enough said. In II Peter, Chapter 2 we get still another picture of the environment of Sodom with regard to Lot. Some of you may ask how in the world I can make a statement to the effect that Lot is a believer. Well, I don't make it, The Bible does. I can't understand it but I don't argue with The Book. This chapter deals with false teachers who have turned their backs on the truth of the Word of God. They are increasing, and no doubt we are living in the days of apostasy. Peter, in verse 1, is addressing these false teachers. Let's go to verse 5:
II Peter 2:5
"And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly (we had much the same thing in Genesis Chapter 6);"
I've learned to be very, very careful. If I put a word in verse 5 and it's not there, I'll get calls telling me that I'm adding to the Scripture. I'm not adding to, I'm clarifying because God is used in verse 4, and the same God is referred to in verse 5.
II Peter 2:6
"And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow (for what purpose?), making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;"
People better wake up. God is still the God of Heaven. God has not changed, and what He has previously done as an example, He is ready to do again.
II Peter 2:7
(In the process of destroying Sodom and Gomorrah...) "And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:"
(1) `Just' doesn't mean only as we would use the term, it means `that justified," `that righteous' man as it says in verse 8.
(2) Lot was `vexed.' You bet it bothered him, but he continued to overlook it. He was vexed with the filthy conversation, the manner of living, the behavior (all words out of the Greek).
II Peter 2:8
"(For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)"
How can Lot be righteous? He was a believer. He believed what Jehovah said as Abraham had believed, so the Scripture declares him a righteous man in spite of all he's agreed to. I don't know if Lot practiced Sodom's lifestyle, but he was interwoven with it for monetary gain and his sumptuous lifestyle. But he was vexed in his righteous soul from day to day with the Sodomites' unlawful deeds. I don't know how you can make that mean anything different.
A verse comes to mind. Turn to Revelation 9. I've mentioned that I'm not a date setter. I don't know what year The Lord is going to return, but I know that in the light of all that is taking place around the globe it is getting close. We'll see wickedness and unbelief continue to mushroom. We can be a tiny voice in the wilderness, so to speak. Even in my small effort we are reaching people. I have been privileged to see hundreds of people get interested in The Word, and a fair number come to know The Lord. But for the most part, we will see the world wax worse and worse. Revelation 9 comes right out of the Tribulation period, when the judgments of God are being poured out on the human race. I point this out to show that what was described in Romans is a perfect picture of end-time humanity. Although some of the judgments have already been poured out on them and a goodly percentage of the earth's population is already gone, the next Scripture says:
"Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication (immorality), nor of their thefts."
The word `sorceries' in the Greek is `pharmakeia.' Unfortunately they translate that word as `sorceries.' What word do we get from `pharmakeia'? Pharmacy. And what is pharmacy? Drug. So it is going to be a world literally saturated with a drug culture. Just recall any account you have read in Readers Digest, or any magazine, about particular events which took place as a result of drugs, and what have you got? Exactly what you have here! People on drugs have to steal to support their habit. In the process of stealing they'll murder whoever they have to murder. Along with that they come into gross immorality of all sorts. This will continue to mushroom until the whole world is living under that kind of environment. Aren't you glad the Scripture gives us hope that there is an end to it? I am. If The Lord didn't return, it would get worse than it was at the time of the Flood. Back in Genesis Chapter 6, murder was so prevalent that no one knew how they would live until their life was snuffed out. We're getting closer to those sorts of things.
I think you can see why I would just as soon skip over Genesis 19. I don't like to teach it, but it's in the Book and we must. Remember that human nature hasn't changed one iota. God hasn't changed. The things that God hated back in the Old Testament, God still hates today. Just because we're living under Grace and not under the Old Testament economy, that doesn't change it that much. No matter how vile the sinner, God's is still desirous to bring him to a knowledge of Himself.
LESSON THREE * PART IV
SODOM AND GOMORRAH
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Now then, if you'll pick up with me in Genesis, Chapter 20. The children of those two daughters who had children by their father Lot, also joined the ranks of the Arab nations who became the enemies of Israel. In our next lesson I'll try to chart the family tree, showing everyone who came out of Terah, the Father of Abraham. This will help you see, as they intermarried with these forefathers up in Syria (who were really the family of Terah), how the whole Middle East and all of these enmities are within the family.
Mark Twain said statistics could lie like the dickens. But if you are aware of statistics at all, something like 75% or 80% of all murders take place within the family. You have it here; the intense hatred of all the kinfolk associated with Abraham. Remember, this is Abraham's 99th year. Just before we got to Chapter 19 we saw that Ishmael was 13 years old. As I reckon time, Chapter 20 has to be the time when Sarah is about to have Isaac. Ever since the Garden of Eden, Satan is going to continually try to thwart God's plan of redemption by prohibiting the appearance of The Messiah. That means he is going to do everything he can to destroy the Jewish people. If you wonder why the Jewish people have gone through such terrible times in their history, it is the satanic effort to keep the Messiah from coming. The one you remember the best, is when Herod made the decree to kill all the boy babies. What was the purpose? To kill the Messiah. In the Book of Esther, Haman, that Jew hater, had convinced the king (Esther's husband) to annihilate the Jewish people. Without realizing what he was doing, the King put out the decree. So you see there has been this constant effort, satanically inspired, to thwart God's plan of redemption. In Genesis Chapter 20, although Abraham was a man of faith, I think the power of Satan so beset him that we almost see Sarah lose out.
"AND Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar."
Gerar was a boarder town between Canaan and Egypt. Abraham had learned his lesson once that he was not to go into Egypt. He doesn't go into Egypt, but he gets as close as he can by sitting on the border. I call this "fence dwelling." This is a picture of some Christians. They want one foot in the world but they want one foot in The Lord's business, so they are `on the fence.' It won't work. But Abraham goes down and dwells in the border town of Gerar.
"And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, `She is my sister:...'"
There are lots of interesting tidbits here. Sarah is ninety, and is still so attractive that old Abraham knew the minute these pagans saw her (and in perfect accord with the Laws of Hammurabi) they could take Sarah into the king's harem. At ninety! So again, Abraham is going to use the same ploy, "Well now, Sarah, if they come for you, don't tell them you're my wife; tell them you're my sister." He avoided a total lie as she was a half sister. The Scripture doesn't say it but according to the time element, she must be pregnant with Isaac. This is why I think Satan is going to use every opportunity to prevent his birth.
"...and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah."
Well, Abraham wasn't worried for nothing. But God will intervene now, as He is intensely interested in this promised child, Isaac.
"But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a mans wife." Remember, he gets this by way of a dream. "But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, `Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation?'" In other words, Abimelech is pleading, "I'm not guilty; are You going to put me to death anyway?"
"Said he not unto me, `She is my sister?' and she, even she herself said, `He is my brother (she went along to protect Abraham):' in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, `Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her.'"
We'll not finish the Chapter. You can do that in your leisure. But, Abraham and Sarah now take off back to where they belong, which is in the main area of Canaan. Beersheba, in the southernmost part of Canaan, is where Abraham takes up his major dwelling place. Now to Chapter 21. This is one of my favorite lessons in all of Scripture. I have a lot of them, but this one is the epitome of how all of Scripture fits together in order to teach a New Testament truth. Previously, we read that Hagar fled from Sarah, and God told her to go back and dwell with Abraham and Sarah. I told you that God had a reason for it, and here it comes.
"AND the Lord visited Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did unto Sarah as he had spoken. For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him."
With God there are no if's, and's, or but's. Everything is concise. So Sarah's about to have her promised child, precisely when God said.
"And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac."
Scripture is very careful to show us that even though this birth is miraculous, this is the way it happened. Now in verse 4, according to the Covenant that God had instructed in previous chapters:
"And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him. And Abraham was an hundred years old (divisible by 5, remember) , when his son Isaac was born unto him. And Sarah said, `God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.' And she said, `Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.'" Who would imagine at the age of ninety that she would not only have a child, but nurse it!
"And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned."
I don't like to imply things that are not, but especially back then, and I think even into the present time, many of the tribes in the Middle East wean their children at three, four and sometimes even five years old. So, when these lads were weaned, they were of a pretty good stature and had a pretty good understanding.
"And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian (Ishmael, who was fourteen years old), which she had born unto Abraham, mocking."
This got at the heart of the true mother. She couldn't stand to see this teenage lad torment her own child. So Sarah gets all upset.
"Wherefore she said unto Abraham (underline the next two words), `Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.'"
She is speaking from a mother's heart, but also speaking the truth of God. For didn't God say, "Oh, this son that will be born, the promised son, is the one in whom the Covenant will continue." There is more here than meets the eye. Ishmael and Hagar were sent back and have now spent some twelve or thirteen years under the roof of Abraham's tent. But now Isaac arrives, becomes a little lad, and now the instruction is to cast Hagar out. Continue on so you'll see that this is not just a human dilemma. From Abraham's point of view it was grievous as he had come to love Ishmael.
"And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son. And God said unto Abraham (I want you to realize that God is instructing now), `Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee (what did she say? Cast them out), hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.'"
Remember a couple of chapters ago we showed you that the Greek word `seed' used here is singular, and refers to Galatians 3:16; where it says, that seed "is Christ." So it will be through this Covenant line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, David, Solomon and all the way until finally we come to Mary, and The Christ is born.
"And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation (God making the promise He made before), because he is thy seed." Even today the Arab people still adamantly claim that Abraham is their father.
Please go to Galatians, Chapter 4. This is the beauty of studying, especially Genesis, how Genesis fits so wonderfully with all the New Testament; in particular, I think, with the writings of Paul. As you read the Book of Galatians, remember the reason it was written. Paul wrote it under extreme circumstances. He had an eye disease problem, and normally had a scribe take dictation. Now, however, word was coming back to the apostle that the churches he had established in Asia Minor (which is present day Turkey), were being besieged with Judaizers saying they couldn't be saved unless they kept the Jewish Law; circumcision and the rest. They fell for it. After all, you know that works always appeal to the human intellect. When Paul got news that these Galatian believers were turning back under legalism, he didn't wait for his scribe to come. Apparently because of the urgency of the hour, belabored as he was and with poor eyesight, he wrote this letter himself.
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you, I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice (I think He is saying, "I'm going to have to shout at you to get your attention."); for I stand in doubt of you. Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law (you who want to go back under legalism), do ye not hear the law? For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid (Ishmael by Hagar), the other by a freewoman (Isaac by Sarah)." Isn't it amazing that we come here to those events which took place 2000 years earlier, and Paul now says "But he who was of the bondwoman (Ishmael) was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman (Isaac) was by promise."
Remember I pointed out to you in Genesis 17 that God had nothing to do with the birth of Ishmael; that it was all man's idea. Now here it comes. Ishmael was born of the flesh but he, Isaac, of the freewoman was by promise. For twenty-five years God had promised Abraham, "You're going to have a nation come from you; you're going to have a son." You see, this was the son of promise.
"Which things are an allegory (a living illustration of something): for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage (which is Hagar), which is Agar."
Let's use the following illustration and maybe it will help.
Ex. 19 & 20 -God -Law -Moses -Law to Israel
Gal. 1:17 & 4:25 -God -Grace -Paul -Grace to Gentiles & Jews
Way back here at Mount Sinai, after Israel had come out of Egypt, they had crossed the Dead Sea and encamped around the mountain. God called to Moses and told him to come up into the mountain. There, God gave Moses the Law - the Ten Commandments. Now Moses comes down off the mountain and who does he give the Law to? Israel. See? Now, answer my question. Who did God use to give the Law to the Nation of Israel? A man!
He gave it to Moses up there on the mountaintop. Moses came down off the mountain and gave God's Law to the Nation of Israel. This is a comparison, then, with Ishmael because Israel, as I have been pointing out since we came up through Genesis, is God's earthly people with earthly promises. Everything concerning them is earthly. So Ishmael, also, was of the flesh by way of the slave girl. Consequently, the allegory is that the Law given to Israel through Moses was fleshly; it was carnal. Don't get me wrong. The Law was spiritual. It was God's perfect Law, but in its setting, its usage and its practice, it was fleshly. It depended upon the activities of the people who were under that Law.
"For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children." At the time Paul is writing Galatians, about 58 A.D., the Temple is still operating in Jerusalem. Israel is still under the Law. They are still practicing it. Sacrifices are being offered by the thousands. "But Jerusalem which is above (heavenly) is free, which is the mother of us all."
He is now referring to Sarah, who was the freewoman who had the child by promise, and who stands in contrast to the Law as it was given to Moses at Sinai.
"But as then he that was born after the flesh (Ishmael) persecuted him that was born after the Spirit (Isaac), even so it is now."
Throughout human history, religionists have been the biggest persecutors of the true believers. Religionists - in the name of religion they persecute the true believer. Paul indicated here in verse 29 that, "so it has always been and always will be."
"Nevertheless what saith the scripture (not what some denomination says; not what Judaism says; not what anyone else says, but what the The Word of God say?)? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free."
Study the diagram on page 92 again. Standing over against Sinai and the giving of the Law we have the same God who now speaks from Heaven to the Apostle of the Gentiles. He gives to Paul those doctrines of grace. Paul comes from that three-year, Mount Sinai experience, and now comes to the Gentiles with this message of grace; not to the Nation of Israel, but to the Gentiles. It is all heavenly connected, whereas Israel was earthly. Turn to Romans Chapter 6 and maybe we can put the frosting on the cake. Beloved, the whole world of Christendom is constantly trying to subjugate us to legalism. Even good men are writing books trying to convince the Christian of legalism. Legalism is simply anything we can do in the energy of the flesh as against the finished work of the Cross, which is by faith, and by faith alone. I think the following Scripture says it all. Plain English! There is no getting around it. Paul states:
"For sin (`old Adam' - or old sin nature) shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under (what?) grace."
Do you see the big difference? I have been amazed that so many people come into my classes and say they have never heard there was a difference between Law and Grace. There is all the difference in the world. It's like daylight and dark to come out of the darkness of legalism, and to step into the light of God's grace. Remember that grace is unmerited favor. Nothing that I can do will count with God. It is all based on what He has done on my behalf!
"What then? shall we sin (shall we let old Adam control our lives?), because we are not under the law, but under grace? God forbid."
See the difference? Paul is constantly reminding us of this very thing; that our Salvation is based on the grace of God, and not on anything that we can merit. Legalism - God hates it! That's why He told Abraham to cast out Hagar and Ishmael. I always point out when teaching this to notice that He didn't tell Abraham to give Ishmael a separate tent so he wouldn't have to go too far. That isn't what He said. He said to cast them out. Sarah said it all when she said, "He shall not dwell under the same roof with my son." Now, put that into the context. Law and Grace cannot mix.
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