Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
Podcast (livingtruth-com): Play in new window | Download
Chapter 8: The Promised Sacrifice
In case someone might think that I am making things up as I go along, let’s look at another Old Testament story from Genesis. We believe that the New Testament cannot be fully understood without some understanding of the context in which events recorded there took place. The context was a nation that sprang forth from Abraham, whose faith gave him the privilege of being called the Friend of God.
Even before Abraham the Good News from God stated that the evil one who deceived the whole world would be defeated by one who would descend from Eve. (Genesis 3:14-15). Later Abraham set the pattern for all who would follow God by acting on his faith in God’s Word, His promises. His promise to Abraham and Sarah was not only for a son in their old age, but through that son his descendants that would number as many as the sands of the seashore and the stars of heaven that cannot even be counted! Not only that, but these descendants would bring forth one particular “seed” through which all the families of the earth would be blessed! (Galatians 3:8-9,16). This is part of that “Impossible Dream” that I wrote about in the last chapter. And yes, this is also part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Gospel of the Kingdom to be announced 2,000 years later.
When Abraham set out with his wife to find the home God had planned for him, his faith was expressed. But after his son came into the world, his faith would be tested. In this test, we can look back and see another glimpse of what would come to be fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
In Abraham’s day there were no church services to attend, no preaching to listen to or hymns to sing. His primary act of worship was to leave his home and migrate to another land, a land that his descendants would later possess. His faith, his trust in His God was already shown to be real by the great risks he had taken so far. While so many were migrating to the fertile lands of Mesopotamia, this man and his family were leaving their security and journeying into the unknown. This theme of a quest, or a journey into unknown territory would appear again and again in both the old and new testaments, and in the entire history of the church of Jesus Christ.
When the promised son finally came to Abraham and Sarah, he would face his greatest test. Would his faith sustain him?
The God who led Abraham out from his home to become a tent dweller in Canaan and gave him the son that was promised, was now asking him to give that son up as a sacrifice on Mount Moriah. Abraham took his son and before they went up the mountain, he told his servants that both of them would later return. Did he really believe that, or did he mislead the servants? In the New Testament Abraham was seen as a model of great faith. Perhaps he still believed in God’s promise to make a great nation from Isaac. In order to fulfill it maybe he hoped God would raise him from the dead even after offering him. (Hebrews 11:17-19). In another place he made an even greater confession of faith that would not be fully understood for 2,000 years. When Isaac asked his father about the animal that they needed for the sacrifice, he gave us another one of those statements in the Old Testament concerning Jesus! He answered: “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.” (Genesis 22:8).
The death of Isaac was not God’s plan all along, but a test of Abraham’s faith. In the story God intervened and did provide a ram that had his horns caught in a bush. He did provide an immediate sacrifice for Abraham but there is an even higher, deeper, prophetic meaning to his words. 2,000 years into the future God who through His great love for the world would offer His only son Jesus to atone for all of our sins. Through belief in Him we can now have everlasting life! (John 3:16, 1 John 2:1-2, 1 Timothy 2:1-6) Allow me to go even further out on a limb with this declaration. God did not only provide a sacrifice, but He provided Himself as a sacrifice! Is this a play on words or did God actually surrender Himself on the Cross for the sins of the whole world?
If you believe that there is only One God who is revealed and personified as the Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, you might be able to see that He is so at one with Jesus that He suffered with the Incarnate Son, the one Who is fully Human and fully divine — the Great I AM! (John 8:58, 10:30, 14:8-11, 17:5).
So God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting our trespasses against us! (2 Corinthians 5:17-21) This great cosmic and catastrophic event paved the way for the very promise which Abraham received from God, that his descendants would be impossible to count! Through Jesus the wall of separation between Jews and gentiles would be brought down and all of us can become a part of that great family! How? By faith and trust in His righteousness and not our own! (Ephesians 2:12-22). (6 minutes)
God does have a plan for the ages! Paul wrote about this in his letter to the Christians at Ephesis:
8 Although I am less than the least of all God’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose which he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.
God had been preparing the world for the coming of Jesus, the Messiah from the very beginning. Even Abraham had a glimpse of Him! (John 8:56) Later, when his descendants found themselves enslaved in Egypt, they had a preview of Jesus in their deliverer, Moses. Amidst all of the miracles and astonishing events that God performed through Moses, He also demonstrated the manner in which an innocent lamb would protect them from the curse of sin and death. Only those who sacrificed a flawless lamb, consumed its nourishment and applied its blood to their dwelling would be spared the plague of death that took the firstborn of all Egypt.
From that time on, Israel would look back on that day every year without realizing they were also looking ahead to the day when God would offer His son not only for their sins, but for the sins of the whole world. (1 John 2:2). Every sacrifice and offering they brought would remind them of their weaknesses and dependence upon God and point to the time when God would more fully take up residence in them to live His righteous and holy life in them! In Christ we are made one and complete in Him! He identified with us in our weaknesses so that we can identify with Him in His victory over sin and death!
2 Corinthians 5:21:
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
2 Corinthians 8:9:
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
All of this takes us back again to the original blessing in Genesis 1:26-28:
26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 And God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
God is still in the process of making mankind into His image. He is determined to fill the earth with His sons and daughters, in order that Jesus would become the firstborn in this great family of God! (Romans 8:28-29) Jesus died on the cross to deliver us from the curse, and also that God’s eternal purpose could be fulfilled in us! Then He sent His disciples out into the world with the Gospel, teaching all the nations His Kingdom principles of faith, hope and love. This was the time to be fruitful and to multiply in a greater and higher order!
While some would postpone this purpose until the afterlife, I find great inspiration in knowing that it can be fulfilled in space and time!
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus; 14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.
So let us not diminish the great sacrifice of our Lord, the spotless Lamb of God. Let us wholeheartedly, as did our spiritual ancestors, anticipate the fullness of what God desires for His creation! Let us honor and cherish His great act of love for us that cannot fail to bring about His plan for His glory!
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
If we can keep in mind that God has not forgotten His original intention for humanity, if we also keep in mind that He cannot fail, then it might become easier to see how His plan continued to move forward in Genesis.
Podcast (livingtruth-com): Play in new window | Download
If we can keep in mind that God has not forgotten His original intention for humanity, if we also keep in mind that He cannot fail, then it might become easier to see how His plan continued to move forward in Genesis. Immediately after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, He informed them of the consequences of their sin. Life would be much harder than before. At the same time He also gave them a promise of the future victory.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
First the Kingdom, Part 7: The Promise of the Kingdom Continued
The New Testament of the Bible begins with a gigantic emphasis on the Kingdom of God. 2,000 years later we are beginning to hear more about the Kingdom of God again, and that excites me. What also really excites me is learning that the ages of time leading up to the First Century were actually the preparation for what was to begin unfolding for the Early Church and is continuing to unfold today!
We are part of God’s great plan of the ages! I have suggested that an important part of that plan is for us to understand the promises God made to many Biblical characters from Adam and Eve, to Noah, to Abraham, Moses and many others.
The New Testament writer and apostle, Paul, made Jesus and His message of the Kingdom the center of his life. He had this to say concerning the Old Testament prophecies:
Having therefore obtained help of God, I continue unto this day, witnessing both to small and great, saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come:
That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should show light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.
In another places Paul explained even further how God’s promise to Abraham was relevant to the Good News of the Kingdom of God.
For instance, Galatians 3:8-9:
The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
When we isolate the message of the New Testament from the Old we can miss the bigger picture. We can easily get wrapped up in our tiny part in God’s economy. Then we might miss the value that it represents when placed along side the other parts. It is like playing with the pieces of a picture puzzle and never attempting to fit them together. And if we do not understand the overall plan that began in the beginning, we are like people working a puzzle without the illustration on the puzzle box!
The children of Abraham did multiply greatly. By the fourth generation they settled in Egypt during a famine. Eventually there were millions of them but now they lived as slaves to Pharaoh. So God raised up Moses to be their leader and through demonstrations of supernatural power they were led out of Egypt and began their journey to the land promised to Abraham.
Moses delivered the people from bondage in Egypt, but he looked forward to a deliverer who would save them from themselves. He foresaw the next individual who would also demonstrate supernatural power and words of incomparable truth. Where Moses saved the people from slavery to men, Jesus would save them from their sins. (Deuteronomy 18:15, John 6:14, Acts 3:19-26, 7:37, Matthew 1:21).
Israel finally occupied the promised land and David eventually took the throne. Being also a spiritual man, he was given understanding of the Kingdom that would come. David wanted to build a house for God, a resting place for the Ark of the Covenant. The prophet Nathan agreed, but God visited Nathan with His Word on the matter. David would not build a house for God, but a house would be built.
1 Chronicles 17:11-15:
‘And it shall come about when your days are fulfilled that you must go to be with your fathers, that I will set up one of your descendants after you, who shall be of your sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build for Me a house, and I will establish his throne forever. I will be his father, and he shall be My son; and I will not take My lovingkindness away from him, as I took it from him who was before you. But I will settle him in My house and in My kingdom forever, and his throne shall be established forever.”‘ ” According to all these words and according to all this vision, so Nathan spoke to David.
David’s son Solomon built the beautiful temple in Jerusalem, but his throne did not last forever. Hidden in this prophesy concerning Solomon is another glimpse of Christ and His Eternal Kingdom!
One of the most intriguing stories is that of the prophet Daniel and his interpretation of King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Daniel explained that God was revealing how four great kingdoms were described in the dream, symbolized in a great statue made of gold, silver, brass, and iron mixed with clay. we know them as Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece under Alexander, and Rome. In the dream a rock was cut out of a mountain without hands, which struck the stature and destroyed it, to become a great mountain that filled the earth. (Daniel 2:31-45). Then Daniel declared that the mountain was the Kingdom of God!
“In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed, and that kingdom will not be left for another people; it will crush and put an end to all these kingdoms, but it will itself endure forever. “Inasmuch as you saw that a stone was cut out of the mountain without hands and that it crushed the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold, the great God has made known to the king what will take place in the future; so the dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.”
This prophecy and others in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Micah, and Malachi would be remembered by the people living under the Roman occupation of Israel and Judah. They believed that the promised Messiah-King would free them as Moses did from Pharaoh centuries before. However, many could not see the deeper deliverance that would come. His name would be called the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace. The nations will willingly come to learn about the Lord, beating their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, to no longer war with one another. Many of them failed to see that righteousness, peace and joy can only come from the Holy Spirit living within us! (Isaiah 9:6, Micah 4:1-4, Romans 14:17)
God through Jeremiah foretold of a change of heart that would change everything. The people who worshiped God would no longer measure their success according to their performance, but they would begin to relate to God in a way that only a few had understood until then. He said He would write his laws upon their hearts and minds, and that they would know Him for themselves. Ezekiel spoke a similar word from the Lord where He would give them a new heart and His Holy Spirit would live in them so they could do His will from a pure desire. (Jeremiah 31:31-34, Ezekiel 11:19-20, 36:25-27)
Is it possible that these prophecies are relevant today? Do some of God’s people need to return to that fresh innocence when they first received a new heart towards Him?
Please consider these things and stay with us as we move from the Old Testament times of promise to the New Testament times of fulfillment! Is is easy to “like” and “follow” our Living Truth Facebook page or subscribe to our blog on https://livingtruth.com
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
First the Kingdom Part 6, The Promise of the Kingdom
One of the great blessings of my life was to be born into a family of believers, and into a church family that values the Scriptures in both the Old and New Testament. They understood how the New Testament was concealed in the Old, and how the Old Testament was revealed in the New. To put it in another way, Christ was concealed in the Old and revealed in the New!
Even if one decides to start their reading of the Bible at the beginning of the New Testament, this will become evident. In the Gospel according the Matthew there are so many references to events in the narrative that fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament. I submit that the New Testament cannot be fully understood and appreciated — that Christ Himself cannot be fully understood and appreciated without the foundation that was laid in the these ancient scriptures, which Jesus referred to as the Word of God, and that Jews today recognize as their Bible.
When John the Baptist and Jesus came preaching, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand,” the people of their day already had a sense of anticipation and enthusiasm built in them for the Kingdom. The prophets of ancient times had planted the seeds for that anticipation. Looking back we have the advantage of understanding their perspective better, but more importantly we have God’s perspective of the message that John and Jesus brought!
We have looked at the “Original Blessing” that the Creator spoke over the Creation and the humans He created. Then we saw how David, the King of Israel wondered how humanity could be worthy of this high calling to rule the creation and be reflections of God’s divinity. This is the context within which the entire Bible was written. In the Old Testament there is the promise and the mystery concerning how it will be fulfilled, and the New Testament is where the fulfillment begins to come into view.
First let us look at some of the outstanding promises found back there.
From the fall of Adam and Eve, things became progressively worse. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord, and was warned of the great flood that was to come upon the whole earth. (Genesis 6:8, 13).
After the Lord saved Noah and his family along with all the animals in the ark, He renewed the Original Blessing to be fruitful and to multiply.
Then Noah built an altar to the LORD, and took of every clean animal and of every clean bird and offered burnt offerings on the altar. The LORD smelled the soothing aroma; and the LORD said to Himself, “I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.”
And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, ” Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. “The fear of you and the terror of you will be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given.”
So while sin had entered in and death because of sin, God was still intent upon blessing us! As we continue, the plan to fulfill that blessing is revealed a little more each time. Until then He reassures us that a cataclysmic judgment to destroy every living thing will never happen again!
In Genesis chapter 12 we see the call of God to Abram, who would later be called Abraham.
Now the LORD said to Abram,
“Go forth from your country,
And from your relatives
And from your father’s house,
To the land which I will show you;
And I will make you a great nation,
And I will bless you,
And make your name great;
And so you shall be a blessing;
And I will bless those who bless you,
And the one who curses you I will curse.
And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. “ (Genesis 12:1-3)
Abram believed God and followed Him. Little did he know how these promises would come to pass. This was an early indication that the full original blessing might still be available. Abram would both be blessed and a blessing! He was to be fruitful and multiply in the way God had originally planned. Of course we know that things were not perfect for him and his descendants. This is still the time of promise.
Isaac would be born to Abraham and Sarah in their old age, and Abraham’s faith would be tested through him. Abraham proved willing to obey God by offering his promised son, and would make a powerful prophecy himself. He declared that the LORD would provide Himself a sacrifice instead of Isaac, and 2,000 years later God would provide His only Son Jesus to sacrifice for our sins to restore the Original Blessing to humanity!
Abraham’s descendants were to be as innumerable as the sands of the seashore and the stars of heaven! This foreshadowed the 2 groups that would inherit his faith. Those descendants that were born from the natural process and followed in his footsteps, and those who would come later through Christ and their trust in Him! (Galatians 3:16, 26-29; Ephesians 2:11-22)
This great nation of both Jews and gentiles is God’s instrument for blessing all the families of the earth. It is a nation that incorporates every member in the world-wide Body of Jesus Christ! Do you see yourself as a recipient of a blessing, but also as a blessing to the nations of the world? If not, maybe you need to dig into the Old Testament a bit more!
We hope you will stay tuned until the next installment, as we continue to explore the wonderful promises presented from Genesis through Malachi! It is easy if you simply “like” Living Truth on Facebook, or subscribe to our blog at livingtruth.com
© 2023 Living Truth
Theme by Anders Noren — Up ↑