Archive for category Promise
The rules for the priest’s behavior, marriage, family, and wellness seem to contain the same level of detail that God required in the sacrifices and offerings. I wonder if this higher standard for the priests corresponds to the higher standard God had for teachers in the New Testament as James states in chapter 3. Both of these concepts seem to apply the idea that to whom more is given more is required.
The year of Jubilee would be an awesome concept for any nation to follow. If one’s parents or grandparents lost the family estate, they wouldn’t ruin the family forever. It appears to foreshadow the liberty and inheritance that one receives in Christ. But, I wonder if Israel ever practiced this wonderful command from God. I don’t know of any examples of this occurring in scriptures or history.
I didn’t remember the verses in Lev 25:23-24 that say the land is God’s and that Israel were but aliens and tenants in the land. That is why they couldn’t sell the land, it didn’t belong to them but God. This also appears to be foreshadowing the kingdom of God, where he will prepare a place for us to dwell.
The LORD the God of Israel, Isaac, and Abraham is the God of gods and Lord of lords. I love this section where Moses explains this concept to Israel (Deut 10:14-11:1). Moses explains to Israel that God shows no partiality and accepts no bribes. How then is God’s guidance to Israel not partiality? Moses explains this as well; God loves the aliens, meaning those outside of Israel, and He defends the fatherless and widows, meaning He is actively involved in the lives of everyone. He loves all mankind unconditionally as proven by the love he has for the aliens as well as Israel. And we are not competing for God’s love either as children often do for parents love. He has enough love to share with all people, the only question for us is will we circumcise our hearts, or in other words, will we stop being rebellious children who want what we want when we want it and instead love God and love our neighbor? This is the ultimate challenge God presents to Israel, elevate the importance of others rather than the importance of our desires.
Yet, God will judge all mankind, those who have heard the word of the LORD as well as those who have not. So what advantage is there to hearing the word of God? Paul writes in the book of Romans that there is much in every way. But, Jesus also said that to whom much is given much is required, meaning the more we know the more is expected. In other words the standard by which we are judged changes depending on the knowledge and capabilities with which we are blessed. That also explains why James writes that not many of us ought to be teachers since we will receive a stricter judgment. God judges us on based upon what what we know and are capable of, not a fixed standard or a comparative standard, but a righteous standard for me and you.
Though the love of God is unconditional and the judgment of God always righteous, the blessings of God, are conditional. When we obey He blesses, when we disobey He curses. See Dt 11:26-32. We sometimes wonder why good things happen to bad people and bad things happen to good people, but often the time frame for blessing or cursing has a longer view than one’s life. For example, the blessing of Jesus was promised to Abraham through his descendants, but didn’t happen for approximately 1800 years. Likewise, the curse of exile from the land if Israel practiced idolatry took centuries to be fulfilled in Babylonian captivity. Ultimately the curse of being cast away from God for eternity is the final judgment we hope to avoid.
Remember God is always with you, walk with Him and He will make your way prosper. (By the way, prosperity isn’t always money)
The story of Balaam blessing Israel has so many interesting points that it could take 1000’s of words to bring them out. But I will mention briefly the points I find most fascinating and curious.
Balak, King of Moab, is terrified of a nation, larger in size than his own, moving along side his territory. Remember that Israel is related to Moab, they are both descendents of Abraham’s father. Israel is descendent from Abraham and Moab from Lot his Nephew. Now Balak could have reached out to Israel with a hand of peace and would have been blessed by God because of it, in fact Balaam reiterates the promise to Abraham in Gen 12:1-3 saying that those who bless Abraham will be blessed by God. Instead he seeks to curse them and therefore his nation is cursed by Balaam.
Balaam is a fascinating case. He seems to know and follow the LORD ( YHWH, the specific name of God is used here, not the general) even though he is not from Israel. This is a reminder that many people, in this time period, received messages from God through prophets besides Abraham and Israel. Even though this reading doesn’t bring out that Balaam taught Balak how to tempt Israel to fall into idolatry and sexual immorality, It is mentioned in Revelation 2 to the church at Pergamum. Why would God use a man to prophecy who was practicing divination, a practice God condemns? Why isn’t Balaam shocked when a donkey begins to talk to him?
Why did God tell Balaam to go with the men from Moab the second time they came and then tell us He was angry at Balaam for going? In fact the angel of the LORD says that he would have killed Balaam if not for the donkey moving. After the angel is revealed to Balaam, Balaam says he sinned, is he referring to going or something else? Some parts of this story seem to be missing. But we must remember that God does not reveal everything He could, but only that which we need for edification. And in this story we are reminded that God is in charge, and Balaam says well that he could only say what God had said, he could not go beyond God’s command. A good lesson for all of us, if only Balaam had followed his own advice!
As I read about the Passover I cannot help thinking about the true Passover Lamb, Jesus. The blood of the lamb protects believers from judgment, this explains Jesus’ statement about coming to save the lost. The use of the term firstborn in the New Testament is better understood when we remember the plague upon Egypt’s firstborn. Notice that Israel’s firstborn males were consecrated to God, because the firstborn are God’s.
I often forget that when Israel left Egypt many other people left with them. I can imagine that the other poor, slaves and oppressed people in Egypt would take advantage of the plagues destructive effects to escape their plight. I wonder whether they continued to live among Israel or left for another nation?
The message of Israel’s exodus from Egypt was meant to be preached by all Israelites to their children and strangers, just as the message of the cross should be spoken about by all Christians to their children and strangers.
Last Days of Abraham
Abraham ended up having 8 sons, though most only remember Isaac and Ishmael. The sons he had with Keturah were sent away much like Ishmael was, except that Keturah’s sons appear to leave with some wealth other than some food and water.
Ishmael’s descendants, who become known as the Arab people if I remember correctly, lived in hostility toward all their relatives from the other sons of Abraham. Has this ever changed?
Jacob & Esau
Isn’t it amazing that Jacob’s name means deceiver, it might have come to mean that because of his deception of Isaac, and he is the one that the promise of God comes through. Neither Esau nor Jacob always conducted themselves well, but it is clear that the birthright of Isaac meant much more to Jacob than it did to Esau.
Like Father Like Son
Isaac lies to Abimelech just like his father did and for the same reason, their wives were so beautiful they were afraid other men would kill them to have them. It sounds like their wife’s beauty was both a blessing and a curse to them. People often ask me if it is the same Abimelech that Abraham dealt with or could it be his son, since so many years appear to have passed. I have never found anything to answer this question, if you have any insight please comment.
Abraham faces more trials that test his confidence in God: He appears to fail again in his fear of man, when he lies to a king because of his wife’s beauty for a second time, this he lies to Abimelech whose entire household was barren, from the time that Abimelech took Sarah into his household. It seems to me this must have lasted for a number of months in order for Abimelech’s household, even as large as it must have been, to discover they couldn’t have any children. Doesn’t it also seem strange that God rebuked the kings in these cases involving Sarah rather than Abraham, maybe there really was something to fear from these men, yet either way, God protects Abraham and Sarah, not because of their great faithfulness in this case, but because of His promise.
The promised birth of Isaac brings more conflict into Abraham’s household, Ishmael mistreated the child and Sarah wants Hagar and Ishmael sent away. It doesn’t appear Abraham would have done that, which I think most parents could sympathize with, if God had not told him to do it. God promised Abraham He would care for them.
This entire story reminds me that God’s purpose of bringing Jesus Christ to bless mankind came through Abraham, the father of the faithful, but it wasn’t because of Abraham’s righteousness,but it was God’s righteousness that provides for those who believe. It brings me a great deal of comfort to know Abraham was a faithful man yet burdened with the same kinds of doubt and fears that come upon us all. May God help us all to overcome fear with courage and doubt with trust.
The destruction of Sodom & Gomorrah appears to be justified by the behavior of the people living there. But what makes me really curious, is why God wanted to tell Abraham about it first? Did God want Abraham to bargain for the lives of the righteous who lived there?
Why did Abraham stop asking God if He would save the city if there were 10 righteous? Did Abraham assume there would be 10? or was he afraid to ask specifically if God would save Lot and his family? Whatever the case, what do you think Abraham felt when he saw the rising smoke from the destroyed area? There is no record that Abraham ever saw Lot again. Did Abraham think Lot was dead since God had not preserved the city. I think that would have been my conclusion after the meeting they had the day before?
Ho appropriate that Abraham’s and Sarah’s son is named Isaac meaning “he laughs”, since both Abraham and Sarah laughed when they heard God tell them they would have a child together. It’s a reminder that Isaac is a child of promise and a miracle of God rather than just any other child. This seems to foreshadow the other Child of promise Jesus, who would also be a miraculous birth rather than just any other child.
The heritage of the Moabites and Ammonites wasn’t one anybody would want to brag about, but it does demonstrate the lengths some will go to have children, especially women of that era, when having children was a protection in your advanced years.