Thursday, July 29, 2010

The Promise (The Davidic Era)

The idea of Israel as a monarchy was never against the will of God or even contrary to His promise. Israel only had “to wait for the proper time and God’s selection.” The theocratic Israel had God as their king; therefore, it would be logical that if Israel would have a monarch then God Himself would make the selection. The Lord foretold that when Israel would dwell in the Promised Land that they would desire an earthly king like the neighboring nations. “Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother” (Deuteronomy 17:15). The promise of the coming seed would be in that Semitic bloodline. A stranger, or foreigner, ruling the kingdom of Israel would definitely be in sharp contrast to God’s plan.

The search for a king will prove a daunting task, namely because Israel will not wait upon the Lord’s selection. The hasty decision to appoint a king is also a rejection of the Lord’s ultimate appointee. There were nominees that appeared to be natural leaders in human eyes, but turned out not to be God’s choice. After defeating the Midianites, Gideon’s leadership skills emerge showing him as the people’s selection to be the first king. Although Gideon declines the offer, he lives like royalty even naming his son “Abimelech” which means “My father is king.” However, neither is God’s choice.

The people’s demand for a king uncovers a “goodly” person by the name of Saul. Saul stood head and shoulders above everybody else. Saul looked like a true leader. The Lord tells Samuel of a man, that the prophet will meet the very next day, whom will be “captain over my people Israel” (1 Samuel 9:16). “And when Samuel saw Saul, the LORD said unto him, Behold the man whom I spake to thee of! this same shall reign over my people” (1 Samuel 9:17). So, Saul looked like a king, a handsome man with an overbearing figure. And though Saul was God’s anointed and dealt with the Philistines as God had desired of him, he did not obey as the Lord had commanded and therefore, the monarchy of Saul will not continue (1 Samuel 13:14).

The Lord looked for a man “after his own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). Indeed, Saul looked like a king should, so did David’s oldest brother Eliab, but God said, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1Samuel 16:7).

Acting on instruction from God, Samuel travels to Bethlehem to a man named Jesse. God tells Samuel that one of Jesse’s sons will be the next king of Israel. One by one, each son is presented to the prophet, but none are God’s next chosen ruler. Finally, Jesse fetched the youngest son, David, from tending sheep in the field. Then the Lord told Samuel, “Arise, anoint him: for this is he” (1 Samuel 16:12). And David, a man after God’s own heart, becomes the Lord’s anointed.

The Lord gives David another promise in 2 Samuel 7 of a dynasty. Not just another promise, but an addition to the original promise of a seed. “And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever” (2 Samuel 7:16). The theological thread of unity can be traced from the promised seed of Genesis 3:15 to the bloodline of Shem, expanding into a nation through the patriarchs of Israel and into a promised dynasty through the house of David. An everlasting throne is promised for an everlasting seed. An established kingdom is promised for an established seed. The Lord said, “Thy seed will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations. Selah” (Psalm 89:4). Old Testament history is linked together by the ever-expanding promise of God by His will and His plan that will fulfill the prophecy of the coming seed of the Lord Jesus Christ that deal the fatal blow to the head of the serpent.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Promise (The Mosaic Era)

“And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (Exodus 6:7).

The promise extends into this era by way of the patriarchs of Israel. “Jacob’s twelve sons and Joseph’s two children multiplied until they became a great nation during the Egyptian bondage.” The Egyptian bondage was prophesied as early as Genesis 15:13 by God when He said to Abraham that “thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years.” So, the reader is not taken aback by the Egyptian bondage, but by the subtlety of the subjugation. After Joseph’s death, a son of Jacob and a Pharaoh-appointed ruler, Abraham’s heirs multiply in Egypt. While that Pharaoh was still on the throne, he was friends with the Israelites because of what Joseph had done. However, a new Pharaoh did arise that did not know Joseph; the great number of Jews in Egypt were no longer considered friends, but potential enemies.

But this was the people of promise, Abraham’s heirs, God’s chosen people. “Israel was more than a family or God’s son; Israel had also become a goy, a ‘nation’ (Exodus 19:6).” How would God bring them out of this horrible dilemma? What was to become of this great young nation?

God had a man in mind to lead His people from out of the stronghold of the Egyptian kingdom. His name was Moses. In effort to keep the Israelites from multiplying any further, Pharaoh issued a decree to kill all Hebrew male babies. When Moses was born, his Hebrew parents hid him for three months. Once he could not be hidden any longer, they put him in an ark and put him in the river where the Pharaoh’s daughter and her maidens found the child on the river’s edge and decided to raise the baby. So, Moses became the adoptive son of Pharaoh’s daughter.

When Moses is an adult, he witnesses an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. He kills the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. After Moses tries to be peacemaker between two brawling Hebrews, they “reject his authority and broadcast his earlier murder.” What Moses had tried to hide was now known and an informed Pharaoh sought to kill Moses. Moses runs from Egypt into a region of the desert known as Midian where he starts a family and works for his father-in-law as a sheep-herder.

God called Moses from a burning bush. The Lord told Moses, “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (Exodus 3:6). God has not forgotten His people. God has not forgotten His promise. And God has not forgotten the seed. “And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites” (Exodus 3:7-8). The Lord has chosen Moses to deliver the nation of Israel from the bondage of the Egyptians.

This great nation of Israel, led by Moses, would be delivered from the hand of Pharaoh. But, it would be no easy task. Through a series of plagues and miracles and the eventual drowning of Pharaoh and his armies, God frees the Hebrews from Egyptian oppression to thus lead them to the promised land of Canaan.

The inner biblical unity is still centered upon God’s promise in the Garden of Eden, through the Flood, to the promises made to Abraham, and even unto this great nation of over 600,000 freed slaves led by Moses. The Lord is faithful to His people through these calamities and the Lord is faithful to His promise. The unifying thread is never disrupted even throughout the various eras whereby we can form a solid and complete theology built upon His promise. Before we continue into the next era, we should take note of some important events that will factor in the expansion of the Genesis 3:15 promise.

God is holy and therefore His people will be a holy nation. In order for man to continue in fellowship with a righteous god, man had to be “right-standing” with God. God gave Moses the Law to introduce to the people of Israel. The Law showed man that he is not righteous nor could he ever be righteous.

The Ten Commandments were etched upon Mt. Sinai by the finger of God. Its laws of morality were meant to show mankind how to keep a connection with God and how to treat others. Man needed guidance in these areas because the flesh is sinful by nature.

“The same law that made such high demands on mankind also provided in the event that there was a failure to reach those standards an elaborate sacrificial system” Because man is sinful by nature, by birth, and by choice, when laws are broken there must be consequences. God installed a system for forgiving sins. There were burnt, guilt, sin, grain, and peace offerings that involved animal sacrifices in place of the guilty party. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22). The book of Leviticus outlines the sacrifices and ceremonial laws. The sacrifices were intended to keep and restore the covenant relationship between man and God.

God sets apart priests to perform these holy acts of forgiveness. Aaron serves as the first high priest. Aaron, his sons, the tribe of Levi are appointed to be the high priest, priests, and the priests’ assistants. They minister to the people. They perform the holy ceremonies for the people duties within the tabernacle.

Where would the priests perform these duties? God designed the tabernacle to have a place of where to perform the sacrifices and the ceremonies. It was where the congregation would meet and there were the priests, the altar, and the Lord. The tabernacle would be a place where the Lord would dwell. “And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by my glory” (Exodus 29:43). No other place was set aside for the nation of Israel to be in the presence of the Lord, but the tabernacle. No other place was sanctified on earth for God to dwell among men. “And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them: I am the LORD their God” (Exodus 29:46).

Where is the promise, the center of our theological study, found in the Law? Where is the promise in the tabernacle? The Law showed man that they were not righteous. The Law showed that man could never be righteous when sin is ever-present. The Law showed that God is holy and righteous. The fact that mankind needs forgiveness from sin is demonstrated in the Law and that God in grace and mercy will provide forgiveness is seen within the tabernacle. The promise is ongoing even in the wilderness, even among sinful man. Not only is this a picture of the “Lamb of God,” but it is part of the thread of promise that connects the various eras found as early as in the Old Testament.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Old Man

"And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died" (Genesis 5:27).

The oldest man ever! He lived 969 years! Methuselah had a unique position where he could have talked with Adam face to face; Adam died 216 years before the birth of Noah. And he knew Seth who died 34 years after Noah's birth. Methuselah's father was Enoch who walked with God close enough that one God translated him on home. And Methuselah was the grandfather of Noah who was perfect, just, righteous, and found grace in the eyes of the Lord.

Did Methuselah die in the Flood? If you do the math, he died the same year of the Flood. That would mean he was unrighteous like the all the other people that drowned in the deluge.

But wait a minute...

The name Methuselah means "his death shall bring." In fact, the names that were recorded as Seth's descendants are actually very interesting.

Adam means MAN
Seth means APPOINTED
Enosh means MORTAL
Kenan means SORROW
Mahalalel means BLESSED GOD
Enoch means TEACHING
Methuselah means HIS DEATH SHALL BRING
Lamech means DESPAIR
Noah means RELIEF

If you out it all together, God had planned it all from the very beginning. Methuselah's name was a warning for all people of the coming judgment of God. The judgment did not begin until the death of Methuselah. He did not die in the Flood; his death brought the Flood.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Promise (The Abrahamic Era)

The seed of promise would be a descendant through Shem even unto a man named Abram. The name Abram means “exalted father,” however, in Genesis 17 the Lord would eventually change Abram’s name to Abraham meaning “father of many nations.” God’s original promise in Genesis 3:15 would come through Abraham furthering the progressive thread of unity found throughout the Old Testament.

“Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-3).

When God called Abraham, three significant promises were directly issued to him. First, the Lord promised that He would make Abraham a great nation. Next, God promised that He would bless Abraham. Third, God promised that He would make Abraham’s name great. It is with these blessed promises that God expands the promise of the coming seed that will bruise the head of the serpent. Within these three verses, God continued the Genesis 3:15 promise by expanding into a promised people, the personal blessings of father Abraham, and therefore making a great name of renown among the whole world. Why would God choose this man Abraham to father a nation? What benefit would the blessings be? Verse 2 answers those questions in that Abraham receives a blessing so that he will be a blessing. To whom will he be a blessing? God said in verse 3, “In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The one to be blesses will be a blessing to all nations. “The one who was blessed was now himself to effect blessing of universal proportions.” God stands by His man and God stands by His people. God cinched the blessing in assurance with the promise of He would bless those that bless Abraham and the nation and He would curse them that curse Abraham and the nation.

Abraham was promised a seed. In Genesis 12:6-7, God directed Abraham into the land of Canaan and said, “Unto thy seed will I give this land.” Among the Canaanites, Abraham is a stranger in this land, but the God of glory is with him and promises Canaan to his seed. To make a great nation, Abraham would need an heir and with that, the heir would need an inheritance. In verse 7, the Lord reassures Abraham with the promise of a seed as an heir and land as an inheritance.

Abraham was promised an heir. But after years pass, Abraham and Sarah begin to doubt they can have children, so they use Hagar, Sarah’s handmaiden, as a surrogate mother. Hagar bares a son named Ishmael. Could this be the seed that God had earlier promised? No. Thirteen years later, the Lord appears to a ninety-nine year old Abraham and reiterates His promise with a few addendums. God changes Abram’s name to Abraham and Sarai to Sarah. The Lord then states that He will bless Sarah with a son and calls her “a mother of nations” (Genesis 17:16). Sarah laughed; therefore the name of the promised child was to be Isaac. “Not even Abraham’s attempt to preserve this seed was to count, for the whole life of this child (and each one that followed him) was entirely a gift of God.” God blesses Ishmael, but it is Isaac that is the promised heir to continue Abraham’s seed.

Isaac would grow up and have a child to continue the seed. Jacob, whose named would be changed to Israel, would “be the marked heir to carry the line of ‘seed.’” We learn in the election of Isaac, even in the selection of Jacob to receive the blessing, it is specifically God’s choice and not a decision made from man of who is to carry the promise. Each son of promise would continue the unifying thread of God’s blessings to all people.

Abraham was promised an inheritance. Even from God’s initial communion with Abraham, the Lord mentioned a promised “land” (Genesis 12:1, 7). And again, when Abraham was ninety-nine, God made His promise an “everlasting covenant” (Genesis 17:7, 13, 19) and the land an “everlasting possession” (Genesis 17:8). The Lord tells Abraham that this land is “from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18). It is a land full of different peoples, but God promises it to the seed of Abraham. God tells Abraham that it is a “land wherein thou art a stranger” (Genesis 17:8). Even though it is a land of other nations, it is an everlasting inheritance to Abraham and his seed.

By the provisions of God, Abraham and his seed formed a great nation. As a result of these fulfilled promises, the seed of Abraham develops a great heritage and a great name, as God also promised. “In contrast to the nations who sought a ‘name’ for themselves, God made Abraham a great name so that he might be the means of blessing all the nations” The faith of Abraham and his trust in God, led to the culmination of a great nation that would be God’s own and a “mediator of life” to all the nations of the earth that would receive the blessings of the Lord.

The Promise (The Noahic Era)

The second word of promise came in the days of Noah. Because of disobeying God and heeding the deception of the serpent to eat the forbidden fruit, man knew of the good and now, also the evil. Banished from the Garden of Eden, mankind had grown and populated in this cursed world, but so had sin. The Lord said, “My spirit shall not always strive with man” (Genesis 6:3) for He “saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). What a sorry sight it must have been for the Lord to look upon the people He had created and to see the wickedness and the darkness that was in man’s heart! “It grieved him [God] at his heart” (Genesis 6:6).

Because He saw the great wickedness of man, because every thought of man was constant evil, the Lord said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them” (Genesis 6:7). At this point, a question immediately arises concerning the original promise. If God destroys all of man, how will the woman’s seed of Genesis 3:15 come to exist? Is hope for the One to come that will bruise the head of the serpent in jeopardy? Not so! Be assured that the answer can be found in the following verse, “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD” (Genesis 6:8).

Noah was a just man (Genesis 6:9), a perfect man (v.9), an obedient man (v.22), and a righteous man (Genesis 7:1). Like Enoch, Noah walked with God (Genesis 6:9). Hope can even be found in his name. By definition, the name Noah means [he] “shall comfort us concerning our work and toil of our hands, because of the ground which the LORD hath cursed” (Genesis 5:29). According to the book of Hebrews, Noah was a man of faith and feared the Lord (Hebrews 11:7). Noah’s faith, in action, brought him to obedience to build the ark.

Noah was set apart from the rest of his generation. The Scripture states that Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8). Because of Noah’s righteousness and faithfulness, God used him as an instrument of His will. God instructed Noah to build an ark in preparation for the flood that He was about to bring upon the world. The Lord gave him the exact details on how to construct the three-storied vessel including the material, dimensions, and cargo. Among the freight were to be seven clean males and females of every beast and fowl, also pairs of every unclean beast and fowl on earth, as well as his family. Noah did as God commanded him.

The judgment of God rained down for forty days and forty nights as God had declared. In essence, the ship was a type of Christ being that is was salvation from the judgment of God. By the mercy of the Lord, eight people were saved from the flood: Noah, Noah’s wife, Shem, Ham, Japheth (which were Noah’s sons), and their wives. Everything else on earth perished in the flood. “All in whose nostrils was the breath of life, of all that was in the dry land, died” (Genesis 7:22).

After the rain stopped, the waters stayed on the earth for one hundred and fifty days and then began to recede until the land was dry. Noah built an altar an offered the clean beasts and fowls as burnt sacrifices to the Lord. “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1) as He had blessed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. It is here that the Lord made a covenant that everything living on the earth would never again be destroyed by a flood. God said, "I do set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between me and the earth." (Genesis 9:13) So, the rainbow is a sign of the solemn promise God had made after the flood.

What about the promise of Genesis 3:15? What of the seed of promise? Did it wash away in the flood? What happened to the promise of the coming Messiah who would bring deliverance from the power of sin and the serpent? Did God change His plan seeing the continual evil hearts of man? Where is the theme of promise which is our an inner unified center and basic building block of the foundation to this method of Old Testament theology?

The continuity of the promise lies in the exegesis of Genesis 9:25-27. After Noah awoke from an alcohol-induced slumber, he learned that Ham, the father of Canaan, had saw Noah’s nakedness and informed his brothers, Shem and Japheth. While Shem and Japheth went into the tent backwards to cover their father’s nakedness, Ham did not. Therefore, we have this refrain:

“And he said, Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant” (Genesis 9:25-27).
The seed of prophecy did not drown in the flood. Nor was the promise abandoned in light of an unrighteous world. Each son of Noah is referenced in all three verses in the aforementioned refrain of Genesis 9:25-27. Because of what happened in the tent, verse 25 speaks of Canaan, the son of Ham, to be cursed as a “servant of servants” to his brothers. Shem and Canaan are both noted in verse 26. Whereas Shem obtains a blessing, Canaan is cursed to be his slave. And in verse 27, Shem, Canaan, and Japheth are all discussed in a composite of a blessing and a curse.

The inner unity is found in verse 27 where the Bible says “and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem.” Who is the he the Bible is referring to in this verse? “The word for ‘dwell’ is related to the later concept of Mosaic theology of the Shekinah glory of God wherein the presence of God over the tabernacle was evidenced by the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night.” A careful exegesis of verse 27 reveals that the Hebrew word for “dwell” is associated with the presence of the Lord, therefore giving Shem the special blessing of which the seed that was promised in Genesis 3:15 would be a derivative of his bloodline. God’s plan was never discarded, but extended through the blessing of Shem. Blessed be the Lord God of Shem.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Promise (The Edenic Era)

In the beginning, God spoke “the world and all things therein” (Acts 17:24) into existence. God created the heavens and the earth by His word. Under His plan and by His design, creation was a direct response to His word. The Creator made all of creation for His sixth day creatures – Adam and Eve. Together they were built by God. Adam, the first man, was created from the dust of the earth and Eve, the first woman, from Adam’s side. “God made but one male and one female, that all the nations of men might know themselves to be made of one blood, descendants from one common stock, and might thereby be induced to love one another.” Man was the only creature made in the likeness and image of God Almighty. This was not an act of chance, but an act of divine design according to God’s plan. The omniscient God saw through the annals of time, through all the events and circumstances of history, and had His plan in place from Genesis 1:1 even unto the end of the world.

All had been made in six days and God sanctified the seventh day for rest. By a series of actions, a series of blessings, everything that God had designed was complete. All of creation and the creatures were spoke into existence by the powerful word of God. He looked upon them and saw that they were “good,” however, “this was all an untested goodness.”

The Fall of Man happened in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve disobeyed God after following the deception offered by Satan, who was in the form of a serpent. Man was deceived by the great deceiver, Satan, to take from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and therefore directly violated God’s command to not eat the fruit of this particular tree. And from a pool of free will and temptation, sin entered into the world. Sin must be judged. As a result of this transgression, God introduced the curse. In Genesis 3, the serpent (v.14-15), the woman (v. 16), and man’s habitat and living (v. 17) were cursed by God. Sin brought forth sorrow, shame, pain and death upon all of mankind. “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

At this point, the cause and effect of sin seemingly looms large and hopeless for man. But, God’s plan was not sidetracked or derailed by these turn of events. God was not taken aback by the results of temptation and free will. God, full of grace and mercy, promises a seed.

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel (Genesis 3:15).

“And I will put enmity between thee and the woman,”

God is speaking directly to the serpent, which was Satan, the chief instigator to the introduction of sin into the world. As a result of this deception, God states that the devil will be hated by all of mankind. God put enmity between good and evil. Even to this day, there is a constant struggle between God’s people and Satan and there always will be this opposition. “Heaven and hell can never be reconciled, no more can Satan and a sanctified soul.”

“…and between thy seed and her seed;”

Not only enmity between God’s people and the devil, but also, between the Messiah and Satan. “Her seed” refers to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not natural for women to have seed, but this is a prophetic word spoken of the supernatural virgin birth of Jesus Christ. There is hostility between the serpent’s seed (Satan) and the woman’s seed (the Lord Jesus) ordained by God as He declared in this prophetic verse.

“…it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.”

“It,” the seed of the woman, will crush the head of the serpent, even though, the serpent will bruise its heel. A fatal blow will be dealt to the devil by the Messiah. “Bruise his heel” refers to the suffering of the Lord Jesus and His people, but not a mortal wound. This part of the promise was fulfilled at Calvary when Jesus suffered and died for atonement to all sinners. Although Jesus Christ was mocked, ridiculed, persecuted and tortured, it was for the sinner’s deliverance and Satan’s defeat. Even though God’s people are mocked, ridiculed, persecuted and killed, it is all just as a bruise on the heel compared to the victory won at Calvary by our loving Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. “Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14).

In the midst of man’s despair, God graciously decrees the first word of promise. His prophetic promise is that the Messiah will come to deliver the people from the curse which was divinely set as a result of having sin enter the world. The promise is an answer of gleaming hope of the Messiah to come and deliver “fallen man from the power of Satan.” The curse was warranted and resulted in apparent hopeless with the individual affliction and the expulsion from Eden, but by the mercy of God, the promise of a seed of the Redeemer was a blessing to fallen man. The promise of a coming Savior is the continuous theme that will provide an inner unity throughout the OT to form a solid theology that is under the authority of the Bible.