"ARISE" is a journal to be published on a quarterly basis. Its aim is to serve as a vehicle for the expression of the Body Of Christ as it relates to present truth. The articles provided are mostly from those of us fellowshipping in the Tampa, Florida area. "ARISE" also publishes pertinent articles of similar concern from those abroad consistent with our general purpose and calling. So now receive the word with all readiness of mind and examine the scriptures every day to see if it is really as we say.
This seventeenth issue of "ARISE" features:
I. "From Poverty To Riches" is provided to us by friend and well-respected
teacher, Brother Ray
Prinzing. He and his wife Doris have been ministering the word of the Lord for many years and
are a blesing to all who hear them. They reside in Boise, Idaho. (Reprint by permission).
II. "The Distinction Of Sonship" is provided by the author of the
ARISE publication. He resides
in Valrico (Tampa), FL with his wife Melissa and baby girl Nicole Anna.
III. "Spirituality Is Sleepless" comes from a dear friend and fine
teacher, Romeo Corsini. He and his
wife Christine live in Brandon (Tampa), FL. They have three little girls.
IV. "From Creation To The Consummation" is made available from our close friend, Brother Jack Jacobsen. This is the fifth of sixteen chapters collected from his dissertation for a doctorate of philosophy degree. Jack and his wife Marjorie has taken residence in New Port Richey (Tampa), FL area. They are originally from Minneapolis, MN.
V. "Someday" is yet one more inspired poem provided by Sister Lori Renee Inge. She and her husband Michael Ray are able ministers sharing the "good news" of Christ to God's people across the nation. They reside in Cape Coral, FL.
VI. "Resurrection, Resurrection" are words given some fifteen years ago in the form of a song.
We are now entering our fifth year of sharing the "good news" of Jesus Christ, our Lord. We pray you have found this publication to be liberating and thought provoking, leading to a closer walk with our Lord. We would like to express a word of gratitude to those who have helped support this ministry, whether it be in the form of prayer, writing, editing, distributing or financial. It would not be successful without your involvement. We know the Father has and will continue to use the journal as He sees fit.
We also would like to take a moment to thank all who have stayed in contact with us over the years, whether it be by letter, telephone or in person. How pleasant it is to have those of like precious faith! We especially enjoy the time of fellowship with local brethren, including our newly discovered kin only five minutes up the road, sister Betty Johnson and the others at Sunshine Cathedral. We recently enjoyed the visit and ministry of Brother Dane Tabor and wife Rita. What a good word! On a more personal note, Nicole Anna is now crawling! We are enjoying every day of this little miracle in our lives.
In His Service
Timothy D. and Melissa Carroll (**Please note new address on front page)
"A R I S E" is free to all as God's way is "Freely you have received, freely give". We trust God to lay it upon the hearts of those He chooses to provide the means for printing and sending out this journal. Please write if you are interested in receiving the journal on a regular basis. Additional copies available upon request. Notification of change of address is appreciated.
Fellowship meetings currently held every first and third Saturday evening in
Brandon, FL. Contact numbers are: (813) 653-3711; (813) 653-1604; (813) 651-0334.
Sunshine Cathedral meetings every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening; contact
number is (813) 737-3966.
From Poverty To Riches
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, Yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich." (2 Corinthians 8:9).
The more the religious world gives their emphasis to natural prosperity, building their vast kingdoms, promoting their many programs, the more we are reminded of Revelation 3:17-18, "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of Me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich."
There is a realm that says they are rich, and yet they are destitute, poor, because they have measured their riches by their goods, by the expanse of their kingdom, the outreach of their program, the numerical counting -- all of these carnal ways that men use to gauge their riches. But there is also a realm of TRUE RICHES which the Lord will bring us into, not measured by natural things, possessions, etc. but of a far higher dimension. Yet before we receive of the fulness of the true riches, there is much training and development needed, while we are prepared for those realms of glory.
"He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much; and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? and if ye have not been faithful in that which is another's, who shall give you that which is your own?" (Luke 16:10-12).
We would be reminded again that "as for man, his days are as grass: as the flower of the field, so he flourisheth. For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more." (Psalm 103:15-16). For in our human state, in this natural realm, man is very little, he is but as grass -- he is born, he flourishes, he is struck down, and soon you have forgotten that he has ever been here. Fame is fleeting, fortune is fleeting, even the memory of some man in his greatness is all too soon forgotten. "For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of Him who hath subjected the same in hope." (Romans 8:20).
Other translations all lend their expression, how that the creature was made subject to frailty, to futility, condemned to frustration, and the very bondage of corruption, the tyranny of change and decay. It is all so very temporary, transitory, and empty. This, I am sure, is well understood.
Everything we have in this natural life is ON LOAN TO US! It is not our own. All these things of the natural, as noted in Luke 16:10-12, are not our own, but they have been loaned to us -- and as we use them we learn FAITHFULNESS, learn our stewardship, learn obedience. And if we are faithful in that which is least, He said that the time would come when He will commit to us the TRUE RICHES which will be our own.
Present mammon is not our own, though perhaps we often think so. But if we lay claim to any thing, and begin to fight for it, to maintain and keep it, it doesn't take long to discover that there is another power that can take it away faster than we can stake out our claims for it. So we learn to hold all these natural things very lightly, as Paul wrote, "And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away." (I Corinthians 7:31). He places a portion of these things in our hand for a while, and we learn by it all, use it for what He appoints, but we cannot lay claim to it, or attach any sense of permanence to it, for God is able to take it away in a moment's time.
It is true that God caused us to lack from the realm of the fulness of His Spirit, He stripped us, emptied us, reduced us to this bondage of vanity where nothing is our own, and everything around us is subjected to the tyranny of change and decay, the flower blooms and soon fades away. Just about the time you think your life is established on an even keel, something comes along to change it all. Why? Because God, in Divine Wisdom, purposed that the creature, having been lowered from the realm of pure spirit into this void and nothingness, would be tested and tried, and out of it all learn lessons which could be learned no other way, all to His glory and praise.
While we perhaps could describe at length our own human poverty, our weakness, etc. yet there is another One, who was TRULY RICH. While whatever riches we might have known, in our pre-existence in Him in pure spirit, all of this was by virtue that we were contained IN God. Yet He who IS, and WAS God, by Whom "all things were made, -- and without Him was not any thing made that was made." (John 1:3). He who spoke the worlds into existence, He who was the glory of the ages past, who is the glory of the present age, and who will be the glory of all that which is to come, HE WAS RICH. "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God." (Philippians 2:6). This One who subsisted in God, and who remembered "the glory which I had with Thee before the world was." (John 17:5). This One who antedates all created form, for He was the Creator who brought this world forth from His own substance, "HE WAS RICH, yet for your sakes He became poor."
Let it be clearly stated - let the emphasis be firmly established, all that He ever did was "FOR YOUR SAKES." Always it was "for" you, He has never worked "against" you. All of the mercy of the purpose and plan of God, to wit, "That God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself..." (2 Corinthians 5:19) has been FOR US, on our behalf. It is a grossly distorted caricature of the love and mercy of God, to ever portray that God was so angry, so against the world, that Jesus Christ had to stand before Him, and plead for God to be merciful to us. God has never been against us, "GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD...' (JOHN 3:16), that HE is the One who gave His Son, indeed, HE WAS IN CHRIST reconciling the world unto Himself. Full redemption is the plan of the Father, the Father who loves us. Jesus did not give His life to appease the Father, He was FULFILLING THE WILL OF THE FATHER, to give His life for us. For our sakes He hath done all these things!
"He spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all." (Romans 8:32).
"Then Thou spakest in vision to Thy holy one, and saidst, I HAVE LAID HELP UPON ONE THAT IS MIGHTY, I have exalted one chosen out of the people..." (Psalm 89:19). The next verse goes on to speak of how David was chosen but David only prefigures, stands in type, of the greater One, The Christ. And it was this MIGHTY ONE who had emptied Himself for us, that God laid help upon Him, and He has become the Saviour of us all. But before He again became RICH TO DELIVER, He has first become POOR, and "made Himself of no reputation." (Philippians 2:7)
We, on this low earthy plane, could not fellowship with Him on the basis of riches, for man was brought low, into nothingness, subjected to the bondage of vanity -- and everything we have is on loan to us, it is not our own -- so we had nothing in common for communion, to base our sharing, our fellowship. The Greek word for 'communion' literally means, AN ACT OF SHARING IN COMMON TOGETHER. "For what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with dark?" (2 Corinthians 6:14). What does light have in common with darkness? You are speaking of two different realms. For light to fellowship with darkness it would have to give up its light and become one with darkness. For darkness to have fellowship with light, it would have to become light also, and lose its state of darkness. Likewise, what fellowship can riches have with poverty? There isn't any basis upon which poverty can fellowship with riches. You are speaking of two different realms. And in our state of nothingness there is no way we can ascend into the heights of glory and fellowship with the riches of Christ. Man was reduced to nothing. Therefore Christ EMPTIED HIMSELF, and entered into our state of poverty, and on this basis He meets with us, right where we are. He came to sit where we sit.
God often causes us to go through certain experiences and situations, and we wonder the why and purpose of it all, until later we find another who is going through a similar circumstance, and we have compassion for them, for we have sat where they now sit. We can sympathize with those who suffer a certain thing, but we do not have the deepest level of compassion for them until we have gone through such a thing ourselves, then we know what it is all about, the grief, the pain, the suffering.
Man was poor, extremely poor, being lowered into this realm of vanity and corruption. Then Christ, for our sakes, emptied Himself and became poor, in the fullest sense of the word, that we might find a basis for fellowship. For our fellowship begins, not on the basis of riches with Him, but true, intimate fellowship with Christ begins on the basis of poverty. We come to that awareness that we are nothing in ourselves, desperately in need of a Saviour, and He comes to us, and says, "I KNOW WHERE YOU ARE. I know what emptiness is. I know what it means to be poor." This is not a poverty that is taught in the religious realms where they think only in terms of money. But it bespeaks of that deep consciousness that "self" has nothing to offer.
Truly HE was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. And while it is not the main thrust of emphasis, there was poverty even in the natural sense, for they had to borrow a manger for a crib when He was born, and they had to borrow a tomb for His burial when He died. When we speak of things being "ON LOAN" to us in this present world, He certainly gave example of that fact. When the crowd pushed on Him, and He needed a place from which to speak, He borrowed a boat. When He wanted to feed a multitude, He borrowed a little boy's lunch of five loaves and two fishes. True, He was both Son of God and son of man -- but the man-part had to borrow, before the GOD WITHIN could perform the miracle, and do the service. As a man He had nothing. "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head." (Matthew 8:20).
So identified was He with man's low estate. And yet there is another aspect of this which was even more crucial than the physical, outward realm. "I CAN OF MINE OWN SELF DO NOTHING: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not Mine own will, but the will of the Father which sent Me." (John 5:30).
Here is the poverty of the soul. He did no works out of human will, by human ambition, human energy-force, all was wrought by God through Him.
"In His humiliation His judgment was taken away; and who shall declare His generation." (Acts 8:33).
The word judgment, in its meanings, also includes the thought of "the ability to render a sentence, involving comparison and discrimination by which an opinion is made." HE who had spoken worlds into existence, by wisdom and wise design so perfect that we cannot grasp the magnitude of His pre-existent glory, so great that we cannot begin to comprehend the rarity and the marvel of His ways. Now, without the help of the Father, He could not even make a decision. That is being stripped, emptied! That is poverty!
We stutter, we stammer, and we cannot come to a conclusion on a matter, and we ask, Why am I so dumb? Ah, "I can of mine own self do nothing." Oh, Thank You, Lord, You do understand my frailty, my weakness, my lack, for You also have partaken of this low estate.
How many times have we gone through this experience, when we felt utterly bereft of any resources. We weep before Him, feeling so completely empty that we have nothing to share with another, cannot make a decision, cannot give an intelligent answer -- it is all gone, and we are POOR. Yet now we begin to see that HE HAS SAT WHERE WE SIT. "For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feelings of our infirmities (or, literally, weaknesses); but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:15-16).
"As I hear, I judge..." If Father doesn't put it in My ear, so that I can tell it forth, I have nothing to say. If Father doesn't reveal His will to Me, I have no will to carry out. In my humiliation I am stripped! For sure, there is nothing weaker, nothing poorer than that. And so all that He did, was by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God that filled Him, and that, without measure, "For He whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto Him." (John 3:34).
And so we learn, we find that our deepest and most intimate relationship with Him now comes in the keen awareness of our nothingness. It is not on the basis, I feel rich. Certainly there are times, when "By Thee I have run through a troop; and by my God have I leaped over a wall." (Psalm 18:29). When the insurge of His life takes over, you feel equal to it all. But in those moments, wonderful as they are, you are not in most intimate contact with Him. You are quite conscious of the power and victory, and you revel in the glory. It is in the light of the fire of testing and trial, as you clearly see your nothingness, that you fellowship with Him Who "became poor." And it is in that arena that He walks with us, talks with us, tells us that we are His own, and begins to infuse strength into us, that we might rise up and go on IN HIS STRENGTH.
How beautifully He stated, "As I hear, I judge..." And our heart cries out, Lord, open our ears to hear what You would speak unto us. Lord, let our experience be like that of the prophet of old, when he said, "The Lord, the Eternal has given me a well-trained tongue, that I may rightly answer the ungodly; morning by morning He awakens me to learn my lesson, and never have I disobeyed or turned away." (Isaiah 50:4-5, Moffatt).
If we desire to have a well-trained tongue, to be able to speak freely of eternal truths, with no error or self in our speaking, no mixture of the natural, then, beloved friend, we need to have Him waken us morning by morning to learn our lessons, until we are developed and trained, and filled with His Spirit, to speak that which HE would have spoken for this day.
Of our Lord it was also written, "He was crucified through weakness." (2 Corinthians 13:4). He had no human strength to withstand the cross. True, He could have prayed for ten thousand angels, but the Father did not direct Him to make this request. Rather, the Father gave Him just enough strength to ENDURE THE CROSS, not to escape it. He would not pray, "Father, save Me from this hour," (John 12:27), because it was God's purpose that He come to this hour. He did not have even enough strength to carry the cross, so "They found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear His cross." (Matthew 27:32). Weakness and strength -- man and God, all was displayed through Him.
He who, "being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well." (John 4:6), while His disciples went into the city to buy bread. And then as the need arose, and the woman came to Him, He imparted the LIVING WATER, freely giving LIFE to this Samaritan. Crucified through weakness, and yet GIVING FORTH HIS LIFE WHICH SHALL REDEEM AND RESTORE THE WHOLE WORLD. The "man" was poor, but the "GOD" was rich indeed.
You come to that morning you feel you cannot possibly crawl out of bed to face another day -- overwhelmed by a sense of weakness. Ah, HE can truly fellowship with you "right there." On the basis of weakness, He knows where "it's at." And then He begins to impart of His strength, and we find there is also fellowship which goes beyond weakness, into the realms of power and more abundant life. Truly it is GOD ALL THE WAY!
How beautifully the Spirit imparts His energy to see us through to victory. Not sending us ten thousand angels to deliver us, help us escape out of the pressure and trial, but giving that "CONTROLLED ENERGY" to see us through to victory. Not explosive energy to blast our way out of it all, but a sufficient inflow to enable us to daily overcome.
We read, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13). And we note that the word "strengtheneth" comes from the Greek word "endunamoo", and literally means: "to make powerful inwardly." The root word is "dunamis," from which we also get our English word "dynamite" and the word "dynamo." The flesh would like to speak of DYNAMITE, that explosive power which blows the situation away, and leaves us free. But HE would use all of our trials and testings for a purpose, and so HE becomes in us that DYNAMO, daily imparting that measure of energy sufficient to just bring us through, yet "not somehow, but triumphantly." Praise God!
To ENDURE, to remain under. For "It pleased the Lord to bruise Him." (Isaiah 53:10). He sought no escape from the bruising. He would walk it out day by day, doing only the will of His Father, living by the strength which the Father imparted to Him, for "Thou turnest man unto a bruised thing, and sayest, Turn back, ye sons of men." (Psalm 90:3, Young's Literal Trans.). Truly, He has a plan whereby we shall all return, He placed the inherent call within the bosom of every man, that desire, however covered over for a time, shall be awakened, and man shall return to his Creator. But FOR A TIME, it is GOD who has turned us to be a "bruised" thing. Yet, praise His name, "A bruised reed shall He not break, and smoking flax shall He not quench, till He send forth judgment unto victory." (Matthew 12:20). And HE is using this PROCESS OF BRUISING for a purpose, in our development into His image and likeness. And in that "nevertheless afterwards" it shall be to His praise.
Since it was GOD who subjected us, the creature, "to vanity," (Romans 8:20), then we remain under that subjection till His purpose is accomplished. And "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, THAT YE MAY BE ABLE TO BEAR IT." (1 Corinthians 10:13). Lest there appear to be a contradiction in the two phrases, "way of escape" and "able to bear it," we note the Amplified translation for its clarity," -- with the temptation He will always also provide a way out -- the means of escape to a landing place -- that you may be capable and strong and powerful patiently to bear up under it."
He has not purposed that we escape OUT OF IT, only that He will always provide a way to A LANDING PLACE, where He becomes the undergirding for us, so that we are able, by the inner dynamo of His energy supply, to be able to bear up under it, till He has accomplished all that He purposed through it. He will sustain us through it all, until that hour of release, the redemption which He has appointed.
The same God who has subjected us unto the bruising, is the God who holds us there until that hour of victory. And then HE works in us the power of resurrection -- that rising up and steadily advancing until we stand before Him, partakers of His divine glory and fulness of life.
Jesus Christ was "Declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead." ( Romans 1:4). It was "the working of His mighty power, which He wrought in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and set Him at His own right hand in the heavenlies." (Ephesians 1:19-20). The resurrection was an ACT OF GOD, not of man. Though He had the power (Greek, right) to lay down His life, and to pick it up again, the power for this working was the power of God, the work of God. It pleased the Lord to bruise Him, and it pleased the Lord to make Him whole again -- with the power of resurrection life.
Now, HE, "for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be rich." Rotherham gives, "In order that ye by His destitution might be enriched." For with the emptying out of Himself, He freely gave of His life and riches to us, for us, that we might be enriched, empowered, and filled with new life. Indeed, with the result "that you may be filled through all your being unto all the fulness of God -- that is, may have the richest measure of the divine Presence, and become a body wholly filled and flooded with God Himself! - superabundantly, far over and above all that we dare ask or think -- infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, hopes or dreams." (Ephesians 3:19-20, Amplified).
Nevertheless, "Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matthew 7:14). Strait -- which literally means restrained, contracted by pressure. Pressed together from all sides, for we must "through much tribulation (PRESSURE) enter into the kingdom of God." (Acts 14:22). There is no other way. Pressurized is the way, strait and narrow, THROUGH HIS POVERTY, on the basis of "I CAN OF MINE OWN SELF DO NOTHING."
Of the riches, who can speak? Full well we are learning the depth of the poverty, weakness. "For we also are weak in (or with) Him, but we shall LIVE WITH HIM by the power of God toward you." (2 Corinthians 13:4).
"Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory (inner self) rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For Thou wilt not have my soul in hell; neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in Thy presence is fulness of Joy; at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore." (Psalm 16:9-11).
There is a spiritual progression being made, it is taking us from the depths of poverty, into the eternal riches of Christ. "That in the ages to come He might shew the EXCEEDING RICHES of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. " (Ephesians 2:7).
"The blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and He addeth no sorrow with it." (Proverbs 10:22). "For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither have the eye seen, O God, beside Thee, what He hath prepared for him that waiteth for Him." (Isaiah 64:4).
There is a waiting -- but it must be done with a single eye unto Him. No "do-it-your-self" programs will bring us into His riches. It is totally GOD "which worketh in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure." All we can do is offer Him our weakness, our poverty, our nothingness. And then because HE has shared this realm with us, He shall also SHARE HIS RICHES, that we might BE enriched with His grace, love, life, beyond all measure.
"And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work." (2 Corinthians 9:8). From poverty to ALL SUFFICIENCY, truly this is the mercy and grace of God given without measure. The outflow of His love. "He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Romans 8:32). Praise His holy name!
The Distinction Of Sonship
The inspired author of the book of Hebrews put forth the ever so challenging statement, "have you lost sight of that piece of advice which reminds you of your sonship in God" (Heb 12:5). Never has the Spirit of God dealt with me more recently than on the distinction of sonship. Such a dimension is reserved for those of spiritual maturity. No longer in an elementary stage of our walk in Christ, but rather grown up. Indeed, our stages of growth in the natural have various descriptive designations which can also be used to indicate our degree of maturity in the realm of Spirit. Such descriptions include babes, children and adults. The portion of Christ in which we aspire is that of adulthood which is reserved for sonship.
Before John the Baptist was born, he was called a "babe". "And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost" (Luke 1:41). The shepherds found Jesus himself as a "babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger". Scripture also bears record of babes having been brought to Jesus to touch; babes slain by the king of Egypt; and from an infant Timothy had been acquainted with the holy scriptures.
Figuratively speaking, the same writer of our opening text wrote, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe." (Heb 5:12-13). Likewise, Peter wrote to the elect of God the Father, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (I Peter 2:2).
Some translations use the word 'minor' rather than 'babe' for Hebrews 5:13, however, I find no difficulty with the word 'babe' based on the following premise: The same Greek word is translated 'babes' in Matthew 21:16 when Jesus said "out of the mouth of babes....". Jesus quoted from Psalms 8:2 which also used the word 'babes'. It is obvious that Psalms correctly translated the word 'babe' by comparison of the same Hebrew word having been used by Job when he spoke of untimely births "as infants which never saw light" (Job 3:16). Furthermore, Paul's reference of milk would most likely apply to babes rather than minors.
Paul also used the same phrase on several occasions. Once he had to tell the boastful church of God at Corinth, "And, I brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with the milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able." (I Cor. 3:1). Paul also spoke regarding himself, "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things." (I Cor. 13:11). According to the Englishman's Greek concordance, the word 'child' from this text is the same Greek word rendered as 'babe' used in other verses. (I believe that Paul used this word with the idea of his babyhood while under the law and not of his natural upbringing nor of his conversion experience in Christ. This would follow the same thought as Timothy's exposure to holy script from his infancy). Paul also wrote to the church of Galatia, "even so we, when we were babes, were in bondage under the elements of the world" (Gal. 4:3). And to the saints at Ephesus, Paul admonished them to no longer be babes, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine.
The phrase 'babes' is not intended to be degrading nor should it be belittling for God has chosen to hide His truths from the wise and prudent while revealing such things to babes. And Psalms reads, "out of the mouth of babes and sucklings hast thou ordained strength". Praise the Lord for BABES! The Lord has recently blessed my wife and me with a beautiful baby girl. At this time, she is now nine months of age. What a joy! My heart has been touched to degrees in which I've never known before. We never would think of making fun of her because she is only a baby. She loves her milk and baby food, we would never give thought in forcing dada and mama's food upon her. She has just recently started crawling, we would never frustrate her and expect her to walk, run and jump before she is ready. I respect and honour those who understand this principle. About seven years ago while living in Orlando, FL, I observed a friend and dear brother delicately feed and care for the flock entrusted to his stewardship. Although very able to teach otherwise, this brother wisely fed the people with the milk of the word rather than strong meat. And so, one day my daughter will no longer do those things I find her doing today. The things I call cute and adorable today will no longer be called as such tomorrow.
Likewise, Paul had experienced this with those who should have progressed more than what they had. He said that they were yet carnal because of the envying and strife and divisions among them. We see this among the brethren on all sides around us. Even those professing the deeper Christian life still walk as men. Brethren are unable to reconcile their differences. Splits, divisions, offenses and such are rampant. Negative attitudes and gossip are on the increase. Men coveting the ministry of others. I receive 'tons' of literature and tapes across my desk every month and it appalls me to observe the childish behaviour which is still among many, especially those who should know better. I agree that doctrinal differences ought to be corrected, even Paul withstood Peter to the face. But let us never forget that we are known by our love for one another, not our differences! Many have separated out of religious organizations, denominations and sects, which are Mystery Babylon the great, thinking they have done God a great service, yet they have done nothing other than taken on another religious spirit. Such ones constantly dwell on the negative, exalting themselves, usually at the expense of tearing down and "bashing" others, particularly brethren. Such have never read the words of James, "Speak not evil one of another, brethren." Yet, if a person never leaves babyhood, never grows up in the Lord, never moves on in the Spirit, never moves beyond the elementary principles to follow onward in Christ, they are yet infants!
Some time later, Jesus was no longer considered a babe but rather a small boy or child. Troubled by the news of the birth of Jesus, King Herod had enquired of the wise men what time the star appeared to determine the age of Jesus. Judging by Herod's actions, Jesus could have been nearly two years of age for Herod had all the male children killed "according to the time which he diligently enquired of the wise men." (Contrary to popular tradition, three wise men were not present when Jesus was born. Such fables we ought to discard). So, Herod sent the men to diligently search out the young child. No longer a babe, but rather a little boy. Finding the child in the house with his mother Mary, they fell down and worshipped him.
We find the word 'child' over fifty times in the New Testament and 'children' several hundred. Jesus fed the multitudes, including children; Jesus called a little child unto him to use as an illustration when teaching his disciples; Jesus raised the child of Jairus; and Jesus grew as a child and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him.
Scripture also refers to babes as children in some instances. The story of John the Baptist according to the gospel of Luke serves as one example while the dedication of the child Jesus as but another. The latter would be the observance of the required forty days of purification, according to the law of Moses (ref. Lev. 12:2-4). In the natural, we know that this also is the case as babies can be children, however not all children are babes.
Figuratively speaking, Jesus taught his disciples that "except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3). Paul also used this word when he dealt with the church of God at Corinth, "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men" (I Cor. 14:20). John had also said, ".....I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father."
A son can also be the child of a Father as noted by the words of Peter in Acts 3:13 "... the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son (child) Jesus" and "unto you first God, having raised up his Son (child) Jesus" (Acts 3:26). Again, the same word is used when the child Jesus tarried behind at the age of twelve sitting in the midst of scholars in the temple both asking and answering questions. These three references seem to carry the idea of service for the word 'child' and could be viewed as a young servant or boy and probably should not be rendered as 'son'.
Isaiah said "Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanual." Jesus was born a son and yet this very one was "God with us". Many had been given the place of a son, but never like this one, this carpenter's son. More so than the sons of God who shouted for joy when the morning stars sang together, more so than that son of God who walked in the Garden of Eden, more so than the nation who was honored as sons of the living God. He was more, much more. He was Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God. Quoting one, "He was a Son in a way that no other man has ever been a son of God. He was begotten by God. He came from the bosom of the Father." - endquote. (ref. Job 38:7; Luke 3:38; Hosea 1:10; Ex. 4:22).
The significance of Christ's relationship to God as a Son cannot be ignored. When he was baptized in Jordan and the voice of the Father said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased", it becomes evident to me that this recognition was not based on some service performed for the past thirty years. Nay, it was but rather from the vantage of a loving tenderness and attachment due to a Father's affection towards His Son. Praise the Lord!
In one of Paul's epistles, the term "sonship" was used regarding the privileges of the nation of Israel. He stated "my brethren, my relatives according to the flesh, who are Israelites, whose is the sonship and the glory..." (Rom. 9:3-4). They represented the Lord here on earth. This held no reference to their origin but rather their position or standing in the Lord. Yet at the same time, as individuals, they were under the law, under guardians, under an administration. "Now I say, that the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father." (Gal. 4:1-2). But there came a time when the realm in which they served was brought to an end, a time when things would be fulfilled in sonship. God sent forth his Son to redeem them. And for what purpose? That they might receive the place of a son! Unlike Israel of old, we have much more than merely a designated position of sonship. We now have an origin of having been placed as a son. God had sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts in order that we experience sonship. The great Apostle Paul experienced this transition from the law to one of sonship. He said, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen...." (Gal. 1:15-16).
Our Father would not have us remain as children under the law, but rather be sons. He has chosen us in Him that we become holy and flawless in His sight, designating a place of sonship. Yet, we do not have to wait until we are fully mature in order to claim the place of a son. James said, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God." And indeed we are sons, His sons. Yet, in a sense, it is restricted to our spirits at the present. We have only the firstfruit of the spirit. In fact, James continued "and it doth not yet appear what we shall be." Paul said, "For we.... which have the firstfruits of the Spirit" (Rom. 8:22-23).
We are sons and yet are becoming sons, that is, full mature sons, sons to glory. "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God..." (John 1:12). And again, "in bringing many sons unto glory" (Heb. 2:10). As Brother George Hawtin once wrote, "We shall yet see on this earth a great company of begotten sons who have been born of God even as Christ was born of God. These sons will be completely incapable of sin in any aspect or in any sense of the word. I am sorry to say that, though I have been a believer for many years, yet I am still capable of sin in thought, word, and deed. But I think I can truthfully testify that I am far less capable of sin now than I was when I first believed, and I see such a growing hatred within of all that pertains to sin's realm that sin rendered well nigh impossible. Those who thus walk are in the process of becoming sons of God and, when that birth is complete, they will have this testimony, "They cannot sin because they are born of God." "Beloved, now are we the children of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when He shall appear we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself even as He is pure." (I John 3:2,3). We speak too lightly about the deep and sacred things of God. We speak flippantly about such divine eternal wonders as the new birth, sonship, the fulness of the Spirit, transfiguration, and the manifestation of the sons of God." - endquote.
Pertaining to the sons of God, Brother L. Dane Tabor writes, "For many years, those who spoke of the ministry of the sons of God, of their manifestation, seemed to think that these sons were individual superstars of the church who speak to multitudes, either in great amphitheaters or cathedrals, or by means of radio or television. Most have thought of them as having great miracle-working powers and affecting the masses with signs and wonders. We dare not say that true sonship ministry will never participate in such wondrous work, however, most who have at this point participated in these endeavors do not understand that God's plan is to save all. Most, if not all of them, impute sin to all whom they attempt to lead to Christ. These statements are not for the purpose of casting aspersions toward any servant of God. The point is, the sons of God who shall set creation free will be partakers of the divine nature, the unconditional love of God. They will possess understanding of what it means to participate in the priestly ministry of the Melchisedec order reconciling all unto God, not imputing their trespasses unto them."
"....... As He is love, they are becoming love. As He is merciful, they are showing mercy. This firstfruits unto God and the Lamb are being changed into His image from glory to glory as they experience transformation from the earthly into the heavenly. The divine attributes of the Father are being infused into this people. They shall ultimately become His substance in the earth for the purpose of manifesting His nature and glory." "....... God has purposed to conform every man to the image of His Son. He has begun this great feat by forming an ecclesia who are perfectly joined to the headship, Jesus Christ. Until the day this body of sons function in singleness of mind, purpose, spirit and nature, Jesus will continue to sit at Father's right hand, but with confident expectation. It is gratifying to see certain attributes of this unity now in our midst. There is an acute awareness that this is a corporate ministry wherein all are interdependent. There are no "Lone Rangers" or "Super Stars" in this one corporate man." - endquote.
I have found the vision of many "would-be" sons of God to be carnal. Their concept of sonship is a jam-packed stadium of people, with themselves at the center stage. The only thing they can see in sonship are the crowds flocking to hear them, numbers larger than the flimsy "Promise Keepers" movement of today. Yet, I cannot help but to consider sonship in a much different way. It has a much larger picture and can only be seen when the self-serving agendas are put aside. It reaches every creature that ever has been or ever shall be created. It reaches far beyond the galaxies. Paul said, "For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body." (Rom. 8:22-23).
Haven't you experienced a deep lament within? Not only a groan to experience the fullness of sonship, which includes the redemption of our bodies. Oh no, it goes way beyond our own personal release. But for all of creation to be delivered from the slavery of corruption. Although our sonship is now concealed, it shall then be revealed. When the sons are unveiled, creation shall be freed and from that point there will be a continual progress until all are led by the Spirit of God.
Paul said that he put away childish things when he became a man. After his letter to the Romans, he affirms that "for as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Rom. 8:14). I hear many use the phrase 'led of the Spirit' to do such and such. I suppose that sometimes, not always, divine guidance is actually assisting them, but this is not what Paul meant by being 'led by the Spirit'. To be led by the Spirit means being subject to and governed by the Spirit at all times, to be under divine authority, having our wills in complete submission to the will of God. To be a son of God is more than a casual leading on this day and not again for another several weeks. A person is a son insomuch as we fellowship with our Father on a daily basis, displaying His character to others.
As did our brother Paul, we would likewise do well to press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Jesus Christ, to be crowned with glory. We would do well to hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of our expectation (hope) firm unto the end, to be crowned with honour. And yet, our pattern Son had been lowered into humanity and suffered death, even the death of the cross. "Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered" (Heb. 5:8).
Many aspire full sonship but have become oblivious of the exhortation which reasons with them as a son. In our opening text verse, the encouragement is addressed to those who are no longer children but rather sons. Another translation reads, "Have you forgotten that encouraging test in which you are addressed as sons? - My son, when the Lord corrects you, do not treat it lightly; but do not get discouraged when he reprimands you. For the Lord trains the ones that he loves and he punishes all those that he acknowledges as his sons" (Heb. 12. 5-6 Jerusalem). Becoming a son involves the discipline of the Lord. Neither should one be discouraged when reproved by the Lord, for He scourges every son whom He receives. His love towards us, as a Father to a son, does not cater to our every whim. Oh no, His love is much more meaningful. His love instills holiness into our character. As our heavenly Father is holy, we can also be the same in all manner of thought, word and deed.
One must come to realize that if they aspire the holy calling of sonship, they no longer belong to the world, to others, nor even to themselves. We only belong to the Lord! And if we belong to another, we ought to find ourselves yielding in obedience unto righteousness!
"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and HE SHALL BE MY SON."
Spirituality is Sleepless
Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gesthemane, and said to His disciples, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, "My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me." And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as Thou wilt." And He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak." He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, "My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done." And again He came and found them sleeping , for their eyes were heavy. And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. Then He came to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. Arise, let us be going; behold the one who betrays Me is at hand!...Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? How then shall the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen this way?" Mat 26:37-53.
I have been pondering the significance of Jesus being accused by His own people, and then, though they wanted to be the ones to kill Him, His having to endure the death meted out by the world's method: the Roman crucifixion and the world being the one to use it against Him. I have also wondered what it was that Jesus was being grieved and distressed about. Was it actually the death ahead of Him? All things point to His being resigned to be in the hands of the Father. He knew it was the Father who was involved because He kept referring to the Father's will to be done and not His own. Mat 26:39 and 42. He had never before demonstrated any trepidation while He walked the dangerous road of blasphemy and heresy, which welcomed stoning to the death. Yet now, at this hour of inevitable betrayal, He showed signs of sorrow and anguish over what He was about to endure...this man, who had lived a life of righteousness, who loved the way of the Lord to the extent that nothing offended Him...(Psa 119:165 (KJV) Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.) Now, however, He was facing the prospect of having to become sin, having not known sin, 2 Cor 5:21 (KJV) For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. Jesus knew what the Father was about to do. This was the great anguish: the perfect suffering the consequences of the imperfect (Isa 53:6 (KJV) All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.)
I yearn for the righteousness of God to be strong enough in me to weather the storms of oppression, to withstand the wiles of temptation. I yearn to love the Lord so much that I would sweat blood at the thought that I would have to endure a sinful experience. Would that I could hate sin that way! Heb 12:4 (KJV) Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. How can I achieve the life of Jesus that was so intense in His zeal for the Father's will that He ultimately faced it all because of what He knew? Heb 12:2 (KJV) Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. I yearn to be so discerning that I will know why I must endure that which is ahead of me without fear. Paul said, 1 Cor 15:55(KJV) O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? There is a place in His Spirit where peace is so abundant that time is irrelevant and need is meager and simple to meet. I yearn to know that place.
How much I admire Jesus, my Lord!
I admire Him for being the one who did succeed in His resistance; for being a man without guile; for being disciplined and orderly; for keeping His life simple to the degree that vanity did not interfere with responsibility; for being committed and dedicated; for being gentle and firm; for knowing what He wanted; for knowing the Father so well that He loved Him immensely! I admire Jesus for being strong at heart; for being prepared to answer with the truth; for courage under fire; for strength against temptation; for having such a great sense of values that he would weigh each action and reaction beforehand. Oh, that I could grasp such wisdom and remember it! Eccl 7:19 (KJV) Wisdom strengtheneth the wise more than ten mighty men which are in the city. Jesus knew about being balanced. He did not shake his head at the prostitute. He rather encouraged her by not condemning her and by leading her in the direction of righteousness. John 8:10-11 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, no man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. "I am more interested in you doing better and succeeding and not in condemning you." How focused and clear-minded of Him! More precious than punishment is redemption! I love the peace and confidence I feel in the Lord. Yet, I still need Him to remind me that I need Him.
There are times when I fall asleep, forgetting the dangers around me of temptation or deceit or spiritual laziness. In that sleep, I can become unaware of the approaching capture of my self to be cast into the realm of worldliness , delivering me to the consequences of worldliness, crucifixion, even by that which seemed righteous. Mat 26:47-50 (KJV) And while he yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now he that betrayed him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss, that same is he: hold him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and said, Hail, master; and kissed him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took him. It can happen in your own home when you assume that because it is a relative you don't need to remember the presence of the Lord and thereby fail to honor Him with your behavior. It can happen when you take on the attitude that something is a small thing and can't do much harm. Song 2:15 (KJV) Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines...
What has been happening to many is this: the holiness of the Lord and His presence have been diminishing in our considerations. The awe of Him is many times missing and causes us to ignore Him completely. We sleep away, carelessly, and fail to guard His precious presence in our midst, in our selves. He is always returning to us, as symbolized by His thrice urging of Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, to remind us to tarry and watch. This proves His faithfulness to us. But we continue to prove ourselves undisciplined and selfish. Should we not be learning the strengths of His character? The Lord has been teaching me how to grasp the good points of people I know and keep them for myself. If a man is organized, (the opposite is my worst nemesis!), then I grasp that man's ways as I can. If he is kindly and knows how to react righteously, I will study his way and try to make it my own. Right is right. Good is good. These things are God and they are not patented by any man: they belong to all of us. How many times I have regretted not having reacted the way I know a good friend of mine would have! There I was asleep, not giving care to protect the Lord's presence within me! It took one kiss and the world descended upon me.
Sometimes I relish getting into deep thoughts and explanations, of Hebrew and Greek, etc. Yet, most often I find the Lord wants me to work on my character that I might not so easily fall asleep at crucial times. For this to work well in my life, I know that I must continue to develop in the spiritual gifts that I know I possess. 1 Cor 14:12 (KJV) Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Consider that you too are the church and that the instruction is for you to be zealous of spiritual gifts that you may excel to the edifying of yourselves. It is easy to know what you are to work on. The things external point to the things internal. It is easy to spot me at my most undisciplined self; Look at my mess! It is easy to notice my sleeping; Look at my laziness! It is easy to see where I stand; Listen to my anger! Want to know how spiritual I am or am not? Look at how complicated I am not or I am! These things I say now because the more I try to delve into deep things!, the more, instead, I seem to want to be likening myself to Him. The stronger my discernment of things spiritual the stronger the forces coming after me to counter my resolve. I say these things because I know that if I am going through them, so are others and the Lord would have us hear. This too is being a witness.
Acting and reacting seem to be the very things the Lord avoided that night at Gesthemane. He allowed things to go their way because the Father was in full control. The turnout was to be His doing. He could have reacted by arguing for His defense or fighting His way out. He could have acted by calling on a host of angels. Mat 26:53 (KJV) Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But let the will of God, the Father, be done! For the glory of the end of it is far greater. Put away the sword of contention and defense and learn the strength of the Father's will. Mat 26:51-52 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword. He is my glory and the lifter of my head. Psa 3:3 (KJV) But thou, O LORD, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter of mine head.
From Creation to the Consummation - Part V
The call of Abraham begins with what is called the Patriarchal Age. These Patriarchs include besides Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph. They were all men of considerable wealth and prestige. With Abraham, we think of the Covenant, God made with him; with Isaac, we think of him as the son of Promise; with Jacob, we think of him and his twelve sons (later Israel and twelve tribes); and with Joseph, we think of him as the Deliverer. The Bible reference begins with Genesis 11:31 and continues to chapter 50:26. The time that is covered is from about 2000-1600 B.C. The Dispensation of Promise begins with Abraham's call. There are thirteen main events, which we shall cover in this chapter. These are as follows:
1. The call of Abram in Ur.
2. The journey of Abram to Haran, then Canaan.
3. The birth of Isaac.
4. The city of Sodom is destroyed.
5. Isaac married Rebekah.
6. Jacob and Esau are born.
7. The Birthright is sold, the blessing is stolen.
8. Jacob's flight, his vision and his vow.
9. Jacob marries and has twelve sons.
10. Joseph is sold into slavery, also imprisoned.
11. Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream.
12. Joseph is made second ruler in Egypt.
13. Jacob and Joseph die in Egypt.
In a sense it can be stated that with Abraham, a new nation has begun. Following the dispersion of the nations following the episode at the Tower of Babel, the nations of the world have turned their backs on God. They go their own way and turn to the worship of idols. So God chooses a man, Abram, to start a new nation. He calls him by saying, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:... and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed;" (Genesis 12:1,2). To get a background on Abram, let us make mention of his father Terah. Terah was a descendant of Shem, son of Noah. Terah lived in Ur of Chaldees and had three sons; Abram, Hahor, and Haran. Haran died at Ur of the Chaldees, leaving a son named Lot. This was the son in whom Abram took special interest. After the death of his son, Terah took his family along with Abram and moved to the city of Haran in Mesopotamia. But Terah served other gods. It was at this time, that Abram received the call to separate from his family and to go to a new place.
Abram leaves his home in Ur of the Chaldees, a land with a high degree of civilization but filled with idolatry, and goes to Haran 600 miles away. After his father's death there, he goes to Canaan. Famine sweeps over the land, and Abram leaves this territory and goes to Egypt. He becomes very rich in Egypt. While in Egypt, he tried to deceive Pharaoh, telling him that his wife was his sister. Since his wife, Sarai, was beautiful, Abram thought the Pharaoh might want her as his wife and would kill Abram. So Abram tried to cover up his true relationship with Sarai. Finally, the truth came out and Abram and company were sent away in disgrace. God forgave this man this sin and blot on his character. Upon his return to Canaan, he separates from his nephew, Lot, because of the strife between their herdsmen. Abram lets Lot choose the area where he wants to dwell. Lot chose Sodom and the Plain of Jordan. And, as one Bible writer states, "Lot moved toward Sodom and Sodom moved toward Lot". The citizens in Sodom were exceedingly wicked and God will destroy it soon. First, four kings of Mesopotamia had banded together to attack the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah. The four prevailed and took everything they could including Lot. When Abram heard this, he took 318 trained servants and attacked at night. His ruse was successful. He chased the enemy all the way to Damascus and rescued Lot, his family, and all his goods. Abram also took all the spoil, which the four kings had taken from Sodom and Gomorrah. Upon his triumphal return, Abram was met by the king of Sodom. This king said, "give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself". But Abram would take nothing from the king lest he would say that he made Abram rich. Abram said, "I have lift up mine hand unto the Lord, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take anything that is thine, lest thou should say, I have made Abram rich".
It was at this time, that Abram met Melchizedek, King of Salem. This king brought forth bread and wine in honor of the occasion. This Melchizedek was not only a king, but was the "priest of the most high God". When Melchizedek saw Abram, he said, "blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be the most high God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand." Abram gave tithes of all, which means that he took a tenth of all the goods he had recovered and gave it as a thankoffering to this man of God.
Abram dwelt in the Plain of Mamre, which is in Hebron. Here the word of the Lord came with this great promise, "Fear not, Abram; I am thy Shield and thy exceeding great reward." Abram looked and said, "Lord God, what will You give me, seeing I go childless?" And then God had him look at the stars and said, "so shall thy seed be." We read these marvelous words, "and Abram believed the Lord; and He counted it to him for righteousness. The covenant which God made with Abram was when he was ninety-nine years old. God appeared to him and said, "I am the Almighty God; walk before Me and be thou perfect. And I will make My covenant between Me and thee and will multiply the exceedingly." (Genesis 17:1,2). Prior to the birth of the promised son, Sarai appears to have lost hope that God would perform the miracle so she could and would conceive. So, at her urging, Abram takes her handmaid Hagar and has a child with her, named Ishmael. By our standards, this conduct is inexplicable and not acceptable. One source says that Nuzu cuneiform tablets makes it clear that the purpose of marriage was the bearing of children. In that day, if a marriage did not produce offspring, then the wife is to provide a handmaid through whom children may be born to the husband. The position of the wife is protected in such contracts since they state that the handmaid continues in a servile status even after she has borne children. Sarai's reaction is no different than Rachel's action when she suggested that Jacob have children through Bilhah, her handmaid (Genesis 30:3). And so Abram with Hagar became parents of a son, Ishmael, whom God rejected as the promised son and through whom would eventually come the Saviour.
One day by this tent, Abram saw three men stand by him. Some Bible scholars suggest that this was the Son of God and two Angels. Abram attends to their need; he washes their feet, and gives them food. The question is asked by the three men, "where is Sarai, thy wife?" Abram says that she is in the tent. Then the one says to them that he would return in a year and that Sarai shall have a son. Sarai hears this and laughs. The Lord asks why did Sarai laugh, and Sarai responds that she did not laugh. The Lord asks them the question, "is anything too hard for the Lord?" Along with the promise was the change of their names with God taking a letter, "h", from His Name and adding an "h" to Abram so that it is now Abraham and the "i" in Sarai is changed to "h" so that it is now Sarah. After this conversation, the three Heavenly visitors arose and looked toward Sodom. The Lord asked the question, "shall I hide from Abraham the thing which I shall do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him?" (Genesis 18:17,18). The Lord then told Abraham that He was going to see Sodom and Gomorrah because of their grievous sins. Because Lot lived there, Abraham went into a period of intercession. He asked the lord if 50 were found to be righteous would He spare the city? And the Lord said, "yes". But there were not 50 and so Abraham asked for 40, then 30, then 20 and then 10. At 10, Abraham stopped and the two Angels went into the city to be with Lot. The wickedness of the city was so unspeakable that then men wanted evil relationships with the two Angels. Lot offered his daughters, but that did not satisfy them. The Angels warned Lot and his household to leave the next day as the city would be destroyed. Lot's two sons-in-law refused to go, and so Lot and his two daughters escaped. Lot's wife turned back to take a fleeting glance of the burning city and turned into a pillar of salt.
With the birth of the promised son, Isaac, Abraham is told by the Lord to put forth Hagar and Ishmael since the son of the promise and the son of the flesh cannot be in the same household. With great sorrow, Abraham sends Hagar and Ishmael out. God has mercy on them and gave unto them a well of water in the desert and they lived there as Ishmael grew up and became a strong man.
As Isaac grew older, Abraham faced his most difficult test. The Voice of God commanded him to sacrifice that promised son. In Genesis we read of the account when God said to him, "take now thine only son, Isaac, whom thou lovest and get thee to the land of Moriah and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I tell thee of". (Genesis 22:2). We read in the Genesis account how Abraham got up early, saddled his donkey, took two young men with him, Isaac and wood and went to the place where God told him. After two days of traveling, Abraham looked up on the third day and saw the place in a distance. Abraham told the young men to stay with the donkey while he and Isaac went to the distant place to worship. At the place where God had directed Abraham, Abraham took the wood, fire and knife. It was then that Isaac said to his father that behold we have the fire and the wood, but where is the burnt offering? The answer of Abraham was that God Himself would provide the lamb. (A prophetic statement, "God will provide Himself a Lamb", which pointed to Calvary when the supreme sacrifice for the sin of the world was accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ.) As Abraham laid his son on the altar, he took out his knife to kill his beloved son, that God spoke and told him to do the child no harm. As we read the account of the test, which Abraham faced in the sacrifice of his promised son, Isaac, we can feel the pathos of Abraham's feelings as he contemplated this reality. The reality of giving up a child whom he and his wife had waited for so long. And to give up his most precious possession and yet faith responded to God's call to give that precious son to his God and Creator. Scripture points out that the faith of Abraham was so great that he was willing to offer up that son in whom was the seed of the promise of the inheritance of a blessing to all of mankind; Abraham knew that God was able to raise him from the dead (Heb. 11:17-19). And with such a faith pleasing to God, God will bless mightily the household of Abraham afterwards. The account in Genesis states that after God had stopped Abraham from slaying his son, they looked up and saw a ram caught in a thicket by his horns. Abraham took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering. Abraham called the name of the place Jehovah-jireth, God shall provide. A wonderful testimony to his faith and of God's provision.
The next event of the note in the life of Isaac is his marriage. This followed after the death of his mother, Sarah. Abraham uses his servant, Eliezer, to go forth and find a wife for Isaac. Isaac's wife is not to be of the daughters of the Canaanites, but to go to Mesopotamia to the city of Nahor. Eliezer went and came to a well. It was the well for the city and a place where the women came to draw water. The servant asks God for a sign to know which woman is the choice of God. His prayer is let it be the damsel to whom I shall say let down your pitcher that I may drink will say to me that I should drink and she will give water to my camels also. After his prayer, Rebekah, a daughter of Bethuel and a citizen of Nahor came to the well. After Eliezer said, "let me, I pray thee, drink a little water of thy pitcher." (Genesis 24:17), she said, "drink, my lord, and I will draw water for thy camels also until they have done drinking." (Genesis 24:19). Eliezer gives her a golden earring and two golden bracelets. He asks her to whom did she belong and if there was room for lodging in her father's home. She tells him that she is the daughter of Bethuel and that they have room for him that night. The rest of the story is one which ends well. Eliezer is well received by the brother and father of Rebekah and when he tells them of his mission, they ask Rebekah if she is willing to go and when she said that she was, they bless her and send her back with the servant of Abraham. Rebekah comes to dwell in the tent of Isaac, becomes his wife and his new companion. After the marriage of Isaac and Rebekah, Abraham gives all that he has to Isaac and dies at the age of 175 years. His sons, Isaac and Ishmael bury him in the cave of Machpelah at Hebron.
Isaac had two sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was red in color and had much hair. He became a hunter and was a man of the field. Jacob was a plain man who dwelt in tents. Isaac loved Esau and Rebekah loved Jacob. An incident which changed the course of history was when Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of pottage of lentils and bread. Thus, Esau despised his birthright and at the age of 40 years, took 2 wives from among the Hittites which was a grief to Isaac and Rebekah. One day prior to his death, Isaac called Esau in to bless him. Isaac was dim in his eyes and old. Knowing that it was his time for his demise, he wants to give the patriarchal blessing to his oldest son. Isaac tells Esau to go and kill a deer and give him some venison before he died. When Rebekah hears these words, she tells Jacob to go and get 2 good young goats and she will make a savory meal for Isaac. Rebekah makes a good meal of the young goats and puts the hairy skins of the goats on the arms and neck of Jacob. Isaac seems suspicious when the time comes for him to bless his oldest son. The voice was that of Jacob, but his arms and neck was that of Esau. And so, after being assured that Jacob was Esau, he blessed his son, Jacob, with the words of blessing, "God give thee of the dew of Heaven and the fatness of the earth and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be every one that curseth thee, and blessed be he that blesseth thee." (Genesis 27:29). Later on, Esau comes in to receive the blessing from his father and when he hears that his father had already given it to Jacob by default, he (Esau) goes out and weeps. Hebrews 12:16 and 17 tells of the remorse which Esau had after he realized that he had sold his birthright for just a meal at a time of hunger. Hebrews warns us not to sell our spiritual values short and uses Esau as an example. Esau asks if Isaac has but one blessing, is there not more? It is then that Isaac says, "behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth and of the dew of Heaven from above; and by the sword shalt they live and shalt serve thy brother. And it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck." (Genesis 27:40).
The hatred of Esau for his brother Jacob, drove Jacob into a foreign country. His mother tells him to go to her brother, Laban in Haran. Prior to his leaving, Jacob is told by his father, Isaac, to take a wife from one of the daughters of Laban. Isaac blesses him with the words, "God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful and multiply thee that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham." (Genesis 28:3,4). On his journey, Jacob came to a certain place and had a dream. In the dream, he saw a ladder set up on the earth and ascending into Heaven. The Angels of God were ascending and descending on it. One scholar suggests that this ladder pictures the union of God and man, which will be established by Jesus. In the dream, the Lord stood above it and said, "I am the Lord God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it to thy seed; and thy seed shall be as the dust of the earth; and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed;" (Genesis 28:14). Jacob awakes and says that surely God is in this place and I knew it not. How awe-inspiring is this place, this is none other but the house of God and this is the gate of Heaven. And Jacob called the place Beth-el. Jacob makes a vow, "if God will be with me and will keep me in this way that I go and will give me bread to eat and raiment to put on, so that I come again to my father's house in peace, then shall the Lord be my God; and this stone shall be God's house." (Genesis 18:20-22).
Along with this vow, Jacob reiterates the promise of Abraham of giving a tenth of his possessions to the Lord God. Finally, Jacob arrives at the home of his uncle, Laban. He begins a period of service in his uncle's employment and notices Laban's one daughter, Rachel. He makes an agreement to work for seven years, a marriage takes place and Laban tricks Jacob by giving him Leah and her hand maid, Zilpah instead of Rachel. Laban explains the trickery by saying that it is the custom not to give the younger before the firstborn, and so Jacob must work another seven years for Rachel. In due time, Jacob wins Rachel and her handmaid Bilhah. From the union of his wives, Jacob becomes the father of twelve sons. They are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin. Leah gave birth to Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, and Zebulun. Bilhah gives birth to Dan and Naphtali. Zilpah gives birth to Gad and Asher. The latter two were born of Rachel. Jacob worked another six years for wages receiving much cattle for his income. And God blessed Jacob. One day the Lord told Jacob to return to the land which the lord had given to his fathers and the Lord would be with him. Early one morning, Jacob rose and went away. And when Laban heard of his departure, he cursed Jacob and overtook him at Mount Gilead. In a dream, Laban was warned not to hurt Jacob. And so, when the two met, Laban told Jacob of the dream and the two made a covenant with each other to live in peacefulness. On his way from meeting Laban, Jacob met the Angels of God and he called that place, Mahanaim, meaning "this is God's Host". No doubt this was to prepare Jacob in his meeting with Esau; knowing that God's Host would be with him. Prior to meeting Esau, Jacob wrestled with a Man, the Son of God, who did not use His divine power to overwhelm Jacob, but to test him, touched the hollow of Jacob's thigh. This caused Jacob to limp. Jacob was told by the Man with whom he wrestled, that his name would be no longer Jacob, but Israel. Israel means he who prevails with God and he is now a prince who has power with God and men. And Jacob was blessed by his Spiritual counterpart. Later, as Jacob meets Esau, Esau runs to meets Jacob and kisses Jacob and weeps before him. Jacob offers gifts to Esau, but Esau refuses and the two become friends.
Jacob had one son, Jospeph, which was his favorite. Because the other sons are jealous, they eventually sell him as a slave to a company of Ishmaelites going with their spices, balm and myrrh to the land of Egypt. To cover up for their crime, the brothers kill a little goat and put Joseph's coat of many colors into the blood and tell their father that Joseph was killed by a wild beast. Jacob mourns for his beloved son. In Egypt, Joseph is put into the household of Potiphar, an officer of Pharoah. Joseph's purity is tested by the wife of Potiphar. When Joseph refuses immorality with her, he is falsely accused and put into prison. We can imagine the consternation of this young innocent man. His honesty with his brothers about his dreams had led him into slavery, his purity had led him into prison. Evil seemed to prevail in his life and he must have felt that he was forsaken by God and man. While in prison he interprets the dreams of a baker and butler. What he interprets for the butler turns out well, but for the baker turns out for his physical destruction. The dreams of Pharaoh were used of God to rescue Joseph from prison and to set him with great power in the court of the Pharaoh. Pharaoh dreamt that he stood by a river and there came up seven well-favored and fat cows, and they fed on a meadow. And seven other cows ill-favored and with leanness came up out of the river and ate the first seven fat cows. His second dream dealt with seven ears of corn, which were full and very good. And then came seven thin ears of corn, which had been withered by hot winds and the seven thin ears devoured the seven fat ears. And Pharaoh awoke and wondered about the meaning. He called for the magicians and all the wise men of Egypt but none could help him. The chief butler to Pharaoh mentioned Joseph as the young man who gave interpretation to his dream and that of the baker while they both were in prison. Pharaoh calls for Joseph, and Joseph gives the true meaning of the dreams, which are that there is to come to Egypt and to other parts of the world seven good years followed by seven years of famine. Joseph suggests that Pharaoh take up a fifth part of the land of Egypt, and gather food of the good years and to store it in the cities. And Joseph was exalted in the eyes of the Pharaoh and made him a ruler in his house. In a sense, Joseph was elevated to be as a secretary of agriculture in Eqypt. Pharaoh have him a ring and arrayed him in fine linen and put a golden chain around his neck. Joseph rode in the second chariot behind Pharaoh and the men. But, as the famine continued, Jacob let them go and Judah said that he would be a surety for Benjamin of Jacob would let him go. When they arrived in Egypt, Joseph feasted with his brothers and mystified them by seating them at the table according to their ages. Joseph had released Simeon to his brothers. He set dishes from his own table before them, but to Benjamin, he set five times as much as what the rest had received. Joseph wanted to test his brothers to see if they still yielded to jealousy as they did when his father gave him the many colored coat. As Joseph saw his brother, Benjamin, he yearned for him with all his heart, but refrained himself from revealing himself. The final test was when Joseph commanded the steward of his house to fill the men's sacks and to put their money into the sacks. But, in Benjamin's sack to put his silver cup. After the men had left, Joseph had them pursued and searched them. The money was found in their sacks and the cup in the sack of Benjamin. As they came back into Joseph's presence, Joseph said that the one who had his silver cup would be his servant and that the rest could leave. Then Judah pleaded with Joseph saying that his father's life was bound up in the lad and if his father did not see Benjamin, he would perish with sorrow. Judah asked to be the surety for his brother, Benjamin; to be the bondman instead of his brother, Benjamin. Then Joseph could not refrain himself and cleared the room except for his brothers and then revealed himself with the words, "I am Joseph, your brother". And they rehearsed all that had taken place when Joseph was first sold into slavery. Then Joseph said these famous words, "you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good". Joseph enquires about his father and tells his brothers to go and fetch his father and the rest of the household. On the way to Egypt, God revealed Himself to Jacob and said to him, "fear not to go to Egypt, I will go down with you and I will surely bring you back again". At the command of Pharaoh, the descendants of Abraham now called Israelites are given the land of Goshen; a land of good pastures for their cattle.
Before his death, Jacob gathers his sons around his bed for a word of farewell. He prophesies that Judah would be the royal tribe from which Christ would come. He says that the scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet until Shiloh come. Unto Shiloh shall the obedience of the peoples be. Shiloh means the One who is peace and brings peace. Later, Isaiah calls Him (Jesus) the Prince of Peace, one of the Names of Christ. After Jacob died, his body was brought to Canaan for burial. Joseph requested that at his death that his body be embalmed and kept until Israel returned to Canaan. Joseph added that God would bring them to the country He had given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The body of Joseph would remind the people from generation to generation that their future home was Canaan, and not Egypt. And so, the people of Israel settle down in this new country. They became satisfied in this new land and the appeal to go to the land of Canaan became less and less appealing. And so, God uses oppressions and sufferings to make His people, Israel, willing to leave Egypt. The next chapter will deal with their carrying of burdens.
Some scholars have put the time of Job at this time when Isaac and Jacob lived. Job lived in the land of Uz, which was at the northern end of the Red Sea and also eastward. His loyalty, love and commitment to God is legendary. After losing his children, wealth, and health, he trusts God still. Even at the urging of renouncing God and dying, Job refuses. Even though he was falsely accused by his "friends", Job keeps his integrity. His testimony of trust is stated by this man of faith as he says, "even though He (God) slay me, yet will I trust Him." After Job kept the faith, God blessed him with children and wealth. The Book of James says that Job's latter end was greater than his previous state of being. Job stands in the tradition of faith as Abraham.
To be continued.................Dr. Jack E. Jacobsen
I've had good days and I've had bad days,
Seeing double with the mind.
Peace, love and joy,
It seemed I never could find.
To and fro I was tossed,
Up and down I went.
Until I began to realize,
In my heart, the Son He sent
Then my vision became single,
Stedfast for the throne.
A path the vulture's eye hasn't seen,
A place to call my own.
I lift you up, you lift me up.
Together we drink,
Of that golden cup.
A trumpet I hear sounding loud.
I'm not waiting for someone,
To come riding on a cloud.
(note: poem was wrote during initial salvation in 1983-84 at which time "golden cup" was viewed as positive item by author and having little knowledge of book of Revelation)