The first verse of Hebrews 11 is one I memorized many years ago in the King James Version. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” The substance of things hoped for; the KJV was written to be read out loud and it’s poetic language, combined with rhythm and cadence, is the reason it is so often read today in public ceremonies and gatherings. In my case it’s what I grew up with so with many important passages of scriptures those are the words I know by heart.Continue reading
It’s a corny joke and I apologize for repeating it but when we see the word “therefore” in the Bible we need to stop and consider what it’s there for. At the end of Hebrews 5, we find a warning against those that have failed to mature. The writer laments that believers who should be on solid food (of God’s Word) still need to be given milk like infants. So 6 begins with a call to move on to maturity, leaving the elementary things behind.Continue reading
Genesis 22 tells the story of Abraham sacrificing his son Isaac. For clarity’s sake perhaps we should say almost sacrificing his son. Abraham was willing, able and just about to offer his son Isaac when he was stopped by the Angel of the Lord.
Abraham believed God and that belief was counted to him as righteousness in Genesis 15:6. Isaac had been born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, so Abraham had no reason to question God’s instructions. Hebrews 11 commends his faithfulness, so great that he believed God could restore Isaac to life. An interesting conversation took place as they hiked up the mountain together. Isaac noted they had wood and fire but asked about a lamb to sacrifice. Abraham said that “God will provide himself a lamb.” When Isaac was spared at the last moment, Abraham saw a ram caught by its horns and sacrificed that as an offering of thanksgiving. He named the place Jehovah-jireh or the LORD will provide.
As we prepare to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ it’s hard to miss the parallels. We have in the Genesis account a father that is willing to sacrifice the son that he loves. They walked up the mountain together. And even though Isaac is ultimately spared we see the ram serve as substitute sacrifice. It was guilty of nothing but its blood was poured out. Now consider the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and recall the words of Abraham; God will provide himself with a sacrifice.
It’s quite a few verses but to get the full context we need read John 8:31-59.
In an oft quoted verse of scripture Jesus tells his followers “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” Many of us are familiar with these words even those who have not read the Gospels. But the audience that day asks how they can be set free, claiming they have never been enslaved to anyone. Let’s think about that claim. The defining moment of Jewish history is the Exodus from Egypt and the way they encountered God at Mount Sinai. They had served as slaves for hundreds of years in Egypt. The nation of Israel was taken into Babylonian captivity and later by the Assyrians. In Jesus’ day their land was a province of the Roman Empire. To claim they had never been enslaved to anyone was an exaggeration at best, but what Jesus really meant was that anyone who sins is a slave to sin. He really riles them up by telling them their father is not Abraham but the devil, and they do what their father does which is try to kill him. They will then claim they have only one father and that is God! Jesus says if that were so they would love him for he came from God, but instead they are the offspring of murdering Satan who is a liar and the father of lies. They accuse him of being a Samaritan and possessed by a demon, and it all comes to a head when Jesus tells them Abraham rejoiced to see them in his day. Continue reading
“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” That’s actually a quote of Friedrich Nietzsche. I guess the bear thing is funny, but… the statement is unnecessary. The original quote creates two categories, things that kill you and things that don’t. Since bears will kill you there is no exception. There are plenty of things that will kill you but the encouragement for survivors is what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Continue reading
As Abraham was on his way to sacrifice Isaac, the boy made an observation: they had fire and wood, but no lamb to sacrifice. Abraham replied “God will provide himself a lamb.” That day he offered up a ram caught by his horns in a thicket, but we can see something of a prophesy in Abraham’s words: “God will provide himself with a lamb.” Abraham could not have been speaking, at least in his own wisdom, of the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. But we get it. Now consider these words of Caiaphas: Continue reading
I like to build to a point, but I’m going to come right to it. Through the Bible God calls people into his service that are, for lack of a better term, screwed up. No one used by God in some great way has their act together. Consider a few examples; there are many others.
In Genesis 15:6 Abraham becomes the first person of faith. He believed God, and God counted it to him as righteousness. He is lauded in Hebrews 11 for having the faith to offer his son Isaac. But before Isaac was born he father Ishmael by the Egyptian servant Hagar. He lied twice about his wife Sarah was his sister. A role model of faithfulness, perhaps not so much for other things. Continue reading
Genesis 22 tells the story of the sacrifice of Issac. Well, Isaac wasn’t really sacrificed but it was a close call. The point of the story is that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son, thus passing his test of faith. As they were going up the mountain, Isaac notices they have wood and fire and actually asks his dad about not having a lamb. Abraham says “God will provide himself the lamb.” (Gen 22:8) After he was stopped – at the last possible moment – from sacrificing his son, he saw a ram caught by the horns in a thicket. That lamb was slain as an offering of thanksgiving. But did Abraham really know? He reasoned that Isaac’s birth had itself been a miracle, and if God chose he could restore Isaac to life. Now think about Jesus on the cross, the lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. Recall Abraham’s words: God will provide himself the lamb. Truer words were never spoken. Continue reading
God had first spoken to Abram when he was about 70 years old, promising him many descendants and lots of land. Abram didn’t hear from God again for about 15 years, but when God reminded him that he would have his very own son, Abram believed him. God counted his faith as rightousness, making Abram the first person made righteous by faith. God explains that although his descendents will be innumerable like the stars in the sky, they will not be given the land for 400 years. God’s schedule is not our schedule; he will speak to Abram again in another 15 years. Continue reading
After 5 posts on Abraham I have decided it’s time to move on. There are a lot more stories there, but Bible Survey kind of turned into a lifetime in Genesis on me. Perhaps I should write a book on Abraham; can’t imagine that making the New York Times Bestseller List.
The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob looks at two aspects of that title. When the Bible uses that phrase (15 times in the ESV) it is for one of two reasons; to either remind the Hebrews who they are and whose they are, or to explain to others outside the Hebrew nation which God it is we are talking about. Head over to Bible Survey and check it out.