Chapter 15: Thanks to the Patriarchs

Israel exists today and many of us live in the most blessed, prosperous nations on earth because of the promises God made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and their faithful obedience” (Deut. 7:6-8).

Picturing Jesus Christ & His Church

To have the promised descendants, the son of promise first needs a wife.  Abraham sent his trusted servant, probably Eliezer (“God his help”), a type of the Holy Spirit (the parakletos Helper, John 15:26) (Gen. 24).   Rebekah is a type of the Church, the ecclesia—called out ones.  Isaac served as a type of the Bridegroom, whom the bride had to accept unseen, who goes out to meet and receive his bride.  Isaac gets married at age 40—which was very encouraging to me when I was in my 30s still trusting God to bless me with the right mate.

Years passed, with the couple never complaining or resorting to handmaidens.  But finally Isaac “pleaded with the Lord for his wife” (Gen. 25:21).  In the Bible “fervent” prayers “avail much” (James 5:16).  They had patiently waited in faith 20 years for Rebekah to give birth when Isaac was 60.

Maybe they were too fervent because Rebekah delivered “two nations” when Esau and Jacob came out (Gen. 25:23).  From birth they would compete for supremacy right on down to our day today.  Jacob (“supplanter”) grabbed Esau the firstborn (“red, hairy”) by the heel!

Their relationships were strained by Isaac loving his hunter son Esau and Rebekah favoring Jacob the family businessman who was a cunning manipulator of people and events.


The deceitful Jacob tricked Esau into selling him the birthright.  The faithless hunter “profaned” the spiritual blessing (Heb. 12:16) and valued it less than a hill of beans.  All he got was a bowl of lentils.

Showing how a bad example keeps on going, ever ready to batter,  Isaac blatantly lies to King Abimelech that Rebekah was his sister.  The ruse was working until the King saw them “sporting” (Gen. 26:8, King James Version).  The “siblings” weren’t expecting any spectators!

After Philistines would stop up one of his wells, Isaac demonstrated “turning the other cheek” by having his servants “Dig Another Well” (Paul Overstreet’s country song).

Later Rebekah pushed Jacob into tricking Isaac to give the family blessing to him while Esau was out hunting Dad’s favorite wild game.  Goat skins wrapped around his arms and neck felt hairy enough to deceive the old blind patriarch even though he could hear it was Jacob’s voice (Gen. 27:22).

So the promises were passed on to the second-born Jacob like they were to the second-born Isaac.  Rebekah said “Let your curse be on me, my son” (v. 13), and she never saw Jacob again after he fled from Esau’s threat to kill him.

Jacob saw a ladder in a dream that had angels ascending and descending it.  God reiterated the Abrahamic promises to him.  Jacob’s pillow became a sacred pillar stone—the Stone of Scone—which resided under the coronation throne in Westminster Abbey for 700 years but has recently been returned to Scotland on display at Edinburgh Castle.  Jacob promised to tithe to God. (Gen. 28:22).


Jacob met his match in the wily Laban, Rebekah’s brother.  After Jacob diligently served his uncle for seven years for the reward of  Rachel’s hand in marriage, he wakes up the  morning after his wedding night to discover it was Leah lying in his bed!  How could he not notice! … Jacob must have been muttering to himself for the next seven years as he resiliently double-downed for Rachel.

When Laban said he couldn’t “give the younger before the firstborn (Gen. 29:26),” the word “firstborn” must have rocked Jacob for what he did to Esau.

The two women waged a baby race, enlisting their handmaids to conceive one daughter and 12 sons who would become the 12 Tribes of Israel.  At last God removed Rachel’s barrenness and she delivered Joseph and Benjamin, Jacob’s two favorites.

God underscored His miraculous involvement with the Abrahamic Covenant by the fact that all three women (Sarah, Rebekah and Rachel) were healed so they could give birth to the promised lads.

Jacob followed Isaac and  Rebekah’s bad example of favoritism and suffered a highly dysfunctional family.

For 14 years God had blessed everything Jacob did to make Laban rich.  Now it was time for God to bless Jacob with herds of cattle and sheep as a reward for his maturing development in right character.   Jacob started with only white sheep so Laban figured there was no way he could come up with spotted or speckled ones.  He couldn’t.  But Jacob understood that “my righteousness will answer for me” through God’s blessing (Gen. 30:33).   Even as Laban changed his wages 10 times (Gen. 31:41), God changed the sheep born to be appropriately speckled or spotted to fleece the wily uncle and give his livestock to Jacob (v. 9).

On the way home to meet and reconcile with Esau, at Mahanaim (“This is God’s camp”), Jacob found himself wrestling with God—the preincarnate Jesus Christ.  You’d think it’d be no contest,  but to win the Word put Jacob’s hip socket out of joint.  Still Jacob refused to quit until the Word would bless him! (Gen. 32:26).

The Word changed Jacob’s name to Israel (“prevailer or prince with God”).  Jacob said “For I have seen God face to face” (v. 30).

God gave Jacob this huge promise that is a key to Bible prophecy and part of what the key of David (Rev. 3:7) means:  Israel would become the greatest nation and a company of nations (Gen. 35:11).  Spoiler alert:  People can’t figure out why small nations are identified in the Bible but nothing is said about the greatest nation that has ever been—-the United States— and the greatest company of nations that has ever been—the British Commonwealth.  Duh!  That’s because people don’t believe what God plainly promised Jacob and what history shows He worked out!

And people haven’t been taught that Anglo-Saxon derives from Isaac.  And that prophecies about Jacob pertain to more than Judah only (Israel in the Middle East).  Jacob is headed for the worst trouble that has ever been (Jer. 30:7), and Jacob doesn’t know who’s about to get clobbered!

And wouldn’t you know it:  the ones so totally blessed because of the faithful obedience of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are now being duped by the god of this world to turn against patriarchy.

Watch next Friday for
Chapter 16
“Into Slavery”
What’s It All About?

Chapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Part 2: Heed & Seek

The most valuable correction we need comes from God

Job received gentle correction from God like a loving parent for a confused, hurting child. God doesn’t browbeat His children!

Job was spouting bravado:  “Oh, that I knew where I might find Him, that I might come to His seat! I would present my case before Him, and fill my mouth with arguments” (Job 23:4).   But all he could muster in God’s presence was “Well, shut my mouth!” [Job 40:4, RSV (Robert Standard Version)].

Because Job responded to God’s correction, God was able to continue on in Job 40 which meant more growth for Job!

As the Matthew Henry Commentary put it so well: “Those who daily receive what they have heard from God, and profit by it, shall hear more from Him “not to catch at comfort too soon!”  God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable!

Our loving Father corrects every son or daughter He loves “for our profit” and deserves more respect than we give human fathers (Heb. 12:5-11).  I didn’t want to trouble my Dad!

Jeroboam vs. David

Jeroboam is rated in the Bible as being worse than 14 kings who were evil.  In contrast, David is called more righteous than five other good kings.  The chief difference between the two standard-setting leaders is spelled out in 1 Kings 13:33:  Jeroboam didn’t repent like David did.

The prophets decry a nation that “has not obeyed His voice, she has not received correction; she has not trusted in the Lord, she has not drawn near to her God” (Zeph. 3:2).   And a “nation that does not obey the voice of the Lord their God nor receive correction. Truth has perished” (Jer. 7:28).

God’s people are warned about being Laodicean, which is a challenge because that will be the proclivity of the Church at the end time:  “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other!   But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!   You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.   So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see.   I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference” (Rev. 3:15-19).

Yes, to be Philadelphian overcomers (Rev. 3:12) we must not only not hide, not only heed, but

We must seek

PassoverIt’s time to examine ourselves (1 Cor. 11:28).  When does Paul say to do this:  the time before we “eat of the bread and drink of the cup”—before the Passover service (March 29 this year) and the Days of Unleavened Bread (March 31 through April 6).  We do this seeking not to end up feeling so broken and worthless that we don’t want to take the Passover but to “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith” (2 Cor. 13:5) and then eat and drink.

“For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31).

A few years ago a minister gave a sermon that has impacted me to ask God each year during this exam time: What’s the one thing you hate about me the most? What’s the one thing I most need to change? Something salacious? He spoke on humility.   Safe topic!   But hey, maybe the correct answer for us all because Satan’s downfall: pride!

Seek correction through extra Bible study

“All Scripture is … profitable for … reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16).

“For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.   Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable” (Heb. 4:12-13).

We can ask God to show us any secret or presumptuous sins (Psa. 19:12-13).  These secrets might be obvious to all but us!

In the Bible we read about all the extraordinary details God wrote about building His tabernacle and temples. He wanted all the furnishings just so. He has standards! Shouldn’t we want to actively seek God’s instructions—yes correction— about how He wants us as His temples to be! (1 Cor. 6:19).  We probably need to throw out more than money changers!

“So correct me, Lord, but please be gentle. Do not correct me in anger, for I would die” (Jer. 10:24, New Living Translation).

It’s goodness, one of those nine fruits of the Holy Spirit, that leads us to repentance (Rom. 2:4).  So we should repent and ask for it daily!

We need God’s mercy & Jesus Christ’s sacrifice more this year than ever.  We need to discern His body and blood and renew our new covenant commitment.  We need to be reconciled with our brothers and sisters before we bring our gift to the altar. We need to be totally yielded to God and His purposes. We need to be committed to finishing the Work God has given us as His Church.  We need to become a new creation in God’s hands.

We should claim “eternal life to those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality” (v. 7).

Part 1:  Heed & Seek

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Heed & Seek

About 3 months ago, I received an email from a reader about an old post  “What’s It Mean … Ride on the High Hills of the Earth?”

And I’m thinking “That post about Isa. 58:14?  I wrote that about 2 years ago!   I wonder what she wants.

[paraphrasing] “You had a good message but you totally negated all the good and ruined it by your sentence right in the middle criticizing our President. God expects us to pray for our leaders and not speak bad of them. You messed up the good message!”

Who else loves correction as much as I do?

Who else would just as soon go the whole day without any? The whole week? Month?

How should I respond?

♥  Robert, you should be grateful for the thoughtful, constructive criticism and that she was willing to take the time to write you.
♣  You can write what you want!  Nobody tells you what to do.  Let her write her own blog!

♥  Robert, you profess to be nonpolitical and what you wrote sounds political.
♣  You were just trying to be topical, clever and interesting.   How could you resist when the Hebrew word for “high hills” = Bamah?

♥  Robert, you should humbly accept this loving correction. You have a good message and you don’t want to detract from it—if even one person objects to it.   You get in trouble for what you write or say—not for what you don’t.

OK, God’s Spirit and God’s Word say we must humbly heed correction and act on it

WordPress makes it easy to make changes so I deleted the offending sentence, and emailed the reader great thanks for her concerned and thoughtful comment.

A few days later I received a follow-up email (paraphrased): “Praise the Lord!  God is thrilled and so am I. Now you have gotten yourself out of the way and your ministry is going to take off. Praise God, he’s going to really bless this post now to His glory!”

This story has a strange ending

About a week later, I was surprised to see that this post had more readers in that week than in all the previous two years! Now every day somebody reads this old post and often several people.  Incredibly, google the subject and the top two spots are this post!

I couldn’t help wondering if this reader is a prophetess!  And hoping she might complain about another post!

Adam & Eve 2Humanly, we want to hide from correction.   This has been the case since Adam & Eve hid from God in the Garden, camouflaged in their fig leaves!

We should welcome correction and have a bias toward being responsive.  Of course we must discern and reject absolutely foolish counsel.

Combining a whole bunch of Proverbs that start with “He who hates correction,” well, he’s stupid, will die and leads others astray.  But “He who loves correction” gains understanding, is honored, prudent, at home among the wise and has life.

Job boilsIn the book of Job, his three friends meant well.  How many friends do you have who would come sit with you for seven days—and then apparently for months (Job 7:3)?   Unemployed ones!

They talked from the wrong premise that Job must have sinned awful to be so cursed by God, and they weren’t giving Job the encouragement he needed and deserved. But they said some good points.  In Job 5:17 Eliaphaz said: “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty.”

“Faithful are the wounds of a friend” (Pro. 27:6).  “The righteous should choose his friends carefully”  (Prov. 12:26).  “He who walks with wise men will be wise” (Prov. 13:20).  Hopefully you are a good ornithologist in picking out the birds of a feather you hang out together with!

“As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”  (Prov. 27:17).   Hopefully you are a good blacksmith in picking out the mettle of friends and brethren!

Hopefully you choose carefully what you look at on Facebook from your friends.  Cat videos might give you paws to smile, but how wonderful if you receive daily edifying spiritual instruction.

Correction from our best friend

Hopefully you married a good mate who will help you be heirs together of the grace of life (1 Pet. 3:7).   He or she lives with you and knows you better than anybody.

So what should you do if your mate corrects you?

Write to Dear Abby?  Stomp off and put on your sound-proof headset? Give some correction back—dishing out more than you received!  Thank God you have a loving, courageous mate, heed it and act on it ASAP!

A Proverbs 31 woman (and a male member of the Church of God, characterized as a woman) will aim to be this to a mate:  “The heart of her husband safely trusts her.    She does him good and not evil all the days of her life … She opens her mouth with wisdom and on her tongue is the law of kindness.   She watches over the ways of her household”—SO SHE’S WATCHING YOU!

Each of you has an example of some correction you have received today from some source. If you’re married, I’m sure of it!

And if you’re alert to life … Dr. Richard Walther, a college library director, would often say:   No situation is wasted if you learn from it.

Minister Dan Dowd offers good advice:  Find good even in a bad situation.

“The ear that hears the rebukes of life will abide among the wise” (Prov. 15:31).    I love that phrase:  the rebukes of  life!  Recently my sister one year younger had her aortic vessel break and miraculously survived the ordeal.  It “rebuked” my wife and I into considering how can we do better with our health.

Of course, foremost we need correction from our loving Father and Brother, especially at this special time of year.

Part 2:  Hide & Seek!

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Chapter 14: How Could He Be Righteous!

It gives people the heebee jeebees!  C’mon, how could he be? …. called “righteous Lot” (2 Pet. 2:7), when this no-good father offered the mob his two daughters (Gen. 19:8)!

Well, when Abram and Sarai in remarkable faithful obedience left Haran, Lot went with his uncle and aunt without knowing where they were going either (12:5).

After that, it’s hard to be inspired by anything Lot does.

♦   When Abram and Lot had to head in opposite directions because their sizeable herds were butting heads, Abram commendably took the lead in resolving their dispute.  He may have been Lot’s foster father (Gen. 11:28).  He humbly let Lot choose which land he wanted, trusting that God would fulfill His promises no matter what Lot would choose.  “Lot chose for himself” the well-watered plain of Jordan (13:10-12)—instead of asking God for guidance.

♦   Lot pitched his tent “toward”  Sodom (King James Version), and soon he was in it!  (14:12).  And then “sitting in the gate of Sodom,”  apparently serving in the city government (19.1).

After Lot was rescued by Abram with his armed 380 trained servants, the grateful Abram gave


“the priest of God Most High … a tithe of all.”  This is the first example of tithing which is a statute of God for His people who wouldn’t think of robbing Him (Mal. 3:8-12).

Since Melchizedek was the “king of righteousness … king of peace … without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life … made like the Son of God,” he could have been no other than the preincarnate Jesus Christ (Heb. 7:2-3).

Melchizedek brought out bread and wine, no doubt it being the time of Passover (Gen. 14:18).  This is backed up by the fact that Lot made the two angels “a feast, and baked unleavened bread” (19:3).  The Days of Unleavened Bread is the Festival that immediately follows the Passover (Lev. 23).

The Word and the two angels first stopped at Abraham’s place, and interesting details are offered.  People think the lowliest servant had to wash feet, but even divine guests were given water and washed their own (Gen. 18:4).

Rabbis note that Abraham promised little—“a  morsel of bread”—but then delivered big—three fine cakes and a tender fatted calf.  He offered the divine beings milk and meat together so they weren’t kosher or vegetarian.

The Word was going down—remember, His action that forebodes impending doom for the visitee—but He said:  “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing? … For I have known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him” (vs. 17, 19).   Abraham was God’s friend (James 2:23) and a prophet (Amos 3:7).   God values our opinions.  He wants us to reason with Him (Isa. 1:18).

Abraham rightfully did his best to be a good intercessor and boldly dickered God down from 50 to 10, knowing He would be merciful to even sinful Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18:23-33).  But the Word surely put on a good poker face, knowing that there was only one!

Yes, righteous Lot

♦   “As he lived among them, that righteous man tormented himself day by day with the lawless deeds he saw and heard” (2 Pet. 2:8, Holman Christian Standard Bible).  Lot was fulfilling Ezek. 9:4—“men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.”

Why’d he offer his two daughters?  Perhaps he rightfully assumed the threatening mob wouldn’t be interested in women.  Perhaps he hoped a diversion would give the guests time to escape.  But the biggest reason which we today can’t begin to understand is that the obligation to show hospitality and protection to guests was paramount in their culture.  Otherwise it’s an insult to the guests and paints the host as worthless, which is what readers today think of Lot!   Just like we can’t understand how righteous Abraham was willing twice to try to save his life knowing that it meant a Pharaoh would be with his wife!

♦   Lot lingered.  The angels had to drag them out by the hand!  His wife looked back, yearning to go back to that life.   Salt is a preservative, and it certainly preserved her in place!  God mercifully let any of Lot’s unrighteous relatives escape with him if they were but willing, and this is great encouragement for the end-time.

♦   Lot let his daughters get him snockered so that he fathered what becomes Jordan today from Moab and Ammon.

The story of Lot matters because God prophesied that at the end time it’s going to be

“As in the days of Lot” (Luke 17:28)

People today try to rationalize away Sodom and Gomorrah.  In May 2015 53% of Americans said gay and lesbian lifestyles were morally acceptable, and in June the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.   But the Book that will judge us says “those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them” (Rom. 1:32).

Actually Sodom’s sins were so much more than the grievous obvious:  “pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy … haughty … abominations” (Ezek. 16:49-50).

Showcasing God’s awesome plan of salvation which is so little known, Jesus said “it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city” which rejected His servants (Matt. 10:15).  In the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:11-13), their minds will be opened to “the books” of the Bible and no doubt readily respond to it!

Do we give reason for any to ask:  How can that guy be called righteous!

Chapter 15:  Thanks to the Patriarchs
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Has The Great Tribulation Begun?

This claim has been showing up on the Internet—
what with all the hurricanes, eclipses, blood moons,
floods, earthquakes and North Korea

♣   The Great Tribulation is the fifth seal out of seven in Revelation (6:9-11).

four-horsemenIt follows the first four seals (vs. 1-8) which are also the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (Matt. 24:5-7):  religious deception, war, famine and disease.  How appropriate that first rider to this discussion!

Forget hucksters and even misguided sincere opinions.  What does your Bible say?  I hope you’re like me:  That’s what I’m going to go by.  Straight from the horse’s mouth!  More specifically, the revelation of Jesus Christ which He gave to His servant John (Rev. 1:1)

Such scary horsemen imagery?  People say “Oh, we’re always had deception, war, famine and disease.”  Yes, but Matt. 24:8 says all these are like birth pangs—they will grow closer together and more intense.  So could the first four seals be completed and the fifth seal begun?

Rev. 6:8 declares that at the end of the first four seals, over one-fourth of the earth will be killed.  Have 1-1/2 billion died yet?

♣  The Great Tribulation is the same period of time as four other major events which are said to last 1,260 days, 42 months, or times/time/1/2 a time.   These are the same amount of time and at the same time.
♦   The Beast and False Prophet.  beastDo you see a 10-nation powerhouse in Europe that is the seventh resurrection of the Holy Roman Empire called Babylon the Great and that is dominating the whole earth and resulting in unparalleled prosperity?
♦   The Times of the Gentiles.  Have the non-Israelite nations taken away world dominance from the United States, Israel, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa?  They will and that’s why the Great Tribulation is also called the time of Jacob’s trouble (Jer. 30:7).   This is the time of Satan’s wrath because he knows his time is short.
♦   The Place of Safety.  Have God’s people been taken away to their place of protection (Rev. 12:14)?  I hope not because I want to be there!  The Church will be silenced from preaching the gospel around the world (Matt. 24:14) and making disciples in all nations (Matt. 28:18-20), resulting in a famine of “hearing the words of the Lord” (Amos 8:11).   That hits home!

So God brings
♦   The two witnesses.  Do you see two powerful figures commanding worldwide attention, clothed in sackcloth, the fashion the press will then be obsessed with?  Who “have power to shut heaven, so that no rain falls in the days of their prophecy” (Rev. 11:4-6)?  Too bad they weren’t around in Houston!  Do you see two servants of God where “fire proceeds from their mouth” and they “strike the earth with all plagues, as often as they desire”?  It’s a warm-up for the Day of the Lord and God’s Seven Last Plagues.

If none of these four events have begun yet, then could the event that occurs at the same time have already begun?

♣  Dan. 12:7 mentions  this same period of 3-1/2 times or 1,260 days.  It also specifies that 30 days before that, at 1,290 days, the daily sacrifice will be taken away and the Abomination of Desolation set up (v. 11).  Though there is renewed buzz about building a temple in Jerusalem, have you seen any sacrifices stopped, much less any started?  Imagine the furor in the Middle East when this actually occurs!

So, despite wild-eyed claims of religious furor

The Great Tribulation has not started yet

Since the sacrifices have not stopped yet [nor even started yet!], the Great Tribulation is at least 30 days away.

And it is assuredly coming.   Oh, not the end of the world, except for Satan’s being overthrown by Jesus Christ’s (Rev. 11:15).  You can hang your hat on it even when buffeted by 175 mph winds!  We are experiencing mounting calamities and the beginning of sorrows.  God says in the Bible that He uses extreme weather and mounting curses to get the attention of those who are spiritually awake and humble themselves (Lev. 26 and Deut. 28).


Watch Friday for
Chapter 14
“How Can He Be Righteous?!”
What’s It All About?

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Chapter 13: The Father of You?

Surprise, Paul said God “preached the gospel to Abraham” (Gal. 3:8).

The Bible is one book with one message.  One is the operative word for all the major spiritual components (Eph. 4:4-6).   The method of salvation is the same in the Old and New Testaments.  And why not since the Word, our Creator and Judge in the Old, became Jesus Christ in the New.

God established Abram as

“The father of the faithful”

(Rom. 4:11, Gal. 3:7) and “the friend of God” (James 2:23).

The Word actually talked to Abram:  “Get out of your country, from your family … to a land that I will show you.”  What was Abram’s reaction to such a big disrupting move:  “So Abram departed as the Lord had spoken to him” (Gen. 12:1).  Simple unquestioning prompt obedience!  No demand to see a Zillow analysis first!

And huge faith because at age 75 “he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:8).

God promised Abram physical blessings:  to make a “great nation”—Israel to come—out of his descendants who would number as the stars.  The childless Abram and Sarai had to be left constantly pondering:  “descendants?”

It’s too bad for people and nations who haven’t paid attention to God’s promise—“I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you” (Gen. 12:2-3).   Time will show that this will apply to a much bigger Israel than just the one tribe in the Middle East.

The best promise was that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (v. 3).  “This is the great evangelic promise fulfilled in Abraham’s  Seed, Christ, and  in all the spiritual seed of Abraham who, like Abraham, are justified by faith … It gives added revelation and confirmation of the promise of the Adamic covenant concerning the Seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15)”—The Scofield Study Bible III, p. 24.  Abram’s descendants would distribute the Bible and preach the gospel worldwide.

But Abram and Sarai had human weakness like everybody else, and the Bible reveals the flaws of its heroes.  Twice Abram had Sarai lie that she was his sister lest a Pharaoh might kill Abram so he could add the ravishing Sarai to his harem.  She was his half-sister but God showed He didn’t condone their intent to outright deceive.   Yet opening court wombs was a  loving way to no doubt encourage Abram and Sarai! (20:18).   You’re next!  Today we still make the same mistakes twice and God still forgives!

Time passed until Abram felt compelled to ask God how he was supposed to have descendants when his only heir was his servant Eliezer.  God told him he would have an heir “who will come from your own body” (Gen. 15:4).

Waiting for the promised heir

was especially hard for Sarai because of the painful social stigma of being childless.  Their growing impatience produced a short-sighted “solution” pushed by Sarai and heeded by Abram.  Slacking and Haggar went together even back then.  God hadn’t said the child would come through Sarai, so Abram would go into Sarai’s handmaid (Gen. 16:2).  According to cultural customs of their day, Sarai would be considered the mother.

Unknowingly, they gave birth to conflict that carries down to the Middle East today!   If only we would patiently trust God to work out His sure promise in His own time and way!

Hardly a surprise that three’s not the way to the crowd God promised.  Sarai and Hagar ended up despising each other.  You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees (v.  13) told Hagar to name the boy Ishmael (“whom God hears”).  He and his descendants would become “a wild man, as untamed as a wild donkey!  He will raise his fist against everyone, and everyone will be against him.  Yes, he will live in open hostility against all his relatives” (v. 12, New Living Translation).  God would multiply Ishmael exceedingly and he would become 12 princes (17:20).   God blessed Ishmael because he was so special to Abraham, and God often extends His blessings to our loved ones because He loves us so much!

“In the space of one hundred years following the death of Mohammed in 632, the Arabs had carried the sword of Islam from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, holding at one time most of Spain, part of southern France, the isle of Sicily, all of North Africa and Egypt, all of Arabia, the Holy Land, Armenia, Persia, Afghanistan, and almost a third of India.  The empire of the Arabs was larger than that of Alexander the Great or of Rome”—Louis L’Amour, The Walking Drum, 1984, pp. 171-172.

Abram was 86 (Sarai 76) when Ishmael was born (16:16).  After 13 more years of patiently waiting, the Word appeared to Abram and changed his name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of a multitude”) and Sarai (“princess”) to Sarah (“princess” but higher status like a queen).  Interestingly, both names were changed by adding one Hebrew letter (He).   Pronounced  like the English H as a breath of air, some see this as a symbol of the Holy Spirit.  God gave them His Holy Spirit and perhaps it was at this point.

God commanded circumcision to be the sign of the Abrahamic Covenant.  It’s interesting that vitamin K blood-clotting peaks on the eighth day for a male baby.

You can know that a 99-year-old man would like to reason with God about that one!  But Abraham in faithful obedience, that same day, was circumcised with all the males in his household.  Ouch, not  funny!

But when God told Abraham that Sarah would have his son—with him 100 years old and Sarah at age 90 and barren—Abraham “fell on his face and laughed” (17:17).  When Sarah heard she “laughed within herself … shall I have pleasure” (18:12).  God got the last laugh by Abraham naming Isaac (“laughter”) so that Sarah said “all who hear will laugh with me” (21:3, 6).

Now sacrifice your only son of promise

Imagine the shock when God told Abraham to go sacrifice Isaac (Gen. 22:2).   True to his unparalleled obedience, Abraham rose early in the morning.  It was a three-day journey by donkey, prefiguring Christ’s humble mode of transportation into Jerusalem and the Father’s pain for the three days and three nights His only begotten son would be in the grave.

Abraham told his servants “the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.”  That’s we!  The Hall of Faith chapter tells us that Abraham concluded “that God was able to raise him [Isaac] up, even from the dead” (Heb. 11:19).

Isaac pictured Jesus’ submissive role in the crucifixion, not once resisting or struggling.  When he asked Abraham “Where’s the lamb?”, the answer in sight was “You is it!”  But in faith, Abraham answered “God will provide.”  The remarkable teenager trustingly let Abraham bind him and lay him on the altar.

God mercifully stopped the knife on the way down, but Abraham and Isaac had made the sacrifice—close enough!  Abraham named the place “The Lord Will Provide (YHVH-Jireh).

God joyfully applauded them:  “for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me”  (Gen. 22:12).  God didn’t foreknow what Abraham was going to do!  God learns about us from how we respond to our tests.

“Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws” (Gen. 26:5).  The ones that too many of his descendants will argue have been done away!  The ones that clearly have been in existence since Adam and Eve because the Bible gives examples of all of them being broken in the first 2,000 years.

This is why Paul would agree with James that Abraham was saved by grace and faith (“Abraham believed God, and it  was accounted to him for righteousness”), but “you see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only” (James 2:23-24).  God will not save anybody who won’t obey Him.  It’s so simple that it’s faith and works, grace and law.

Sarah is the first woman honored in the Faith chapter (Heb. 11:11).  Sarah also gave up her life in Haran and obediently supported her husband in all their precedent-setting endeavors in a way that pleased God (1 Pet. 3:6).

Are they the father and mother of you?

Chapter 14:  How Could He Be Righteous!
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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Chapter 12: Babel & Tower Then & Now

Not  much has changed from the developments during the 350 years Noah lived after the Flood.

Noah cursed Ham’s younger son Canaan for what he did to him while he was asleep in a drunken stupor:  “May he be the lowest of servants to his relatives” (Gen. 9:25, New Living Translation).  And Canaan’s descendants have suffered for their ancestor’s violation on down to the present in the Middle East.   Reminding ourselves that sin has unintended long-lasting consequences should act as a brake on runaway evil desires.

In verse 26, Noah blessed “the  God of Shem.”  “All divine revelation is through Semitic men, and Christ … descends from Shem” (The Scofield Study Bible III, p. 18).   It doesn’t take Satan long to plot that anti-Semitism is a can’t-miss device (2 Cor. 2:11).

The Table of Nations is a clan list of 70 nations, descended from Noah’s three sons that will reappear in Bible prophecies, and many have been found in archeology.   In fact, archeology has confirmed the existence of at least 88 specific individuals from the Old and New Testaments.

Eber is included in the list (Gen. 10:25) from whom will descend the Israelites and Abraham’s descendants.  The Hebrews will include more than Jews.

To this day international relations revolve more around ethnic considerations than borders.  At the end when “nation will rise up against nation,” the Greek  word is ethnos (Matt. 24:7).

Spread Out!

God intended man to disperse  and repopulate the whole earth.  But they rebelled:  “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens”  (Gen. 11:4).   Yeah, your rainbow is real pretty but we’re going to build so tall that you can’t flood it!  Their actions called God a liar!

“Let us make a name for ourselves”—build a religious and political empire that will dominate over all.

Their leader Nimrod, with a rather despotic-sounding name, “was a mighty hunter before the Lord” (10:9).  A better translation is “against” the Lord.  Nimrod built the two most powerful cities of the time—Babel and Ninevah.  Paganism, still prevalent down to today—traces back to Nimrod and his Babylonian Mystery Religion.

“But the Lord came down”

“Come on down” might sound good on The Price Is Right, but in the Bible this expression forebodes impending doom—with the Word, having heard troubling reports from His angels, coming down to see for Himself and to personally administer the punishment.  Let’s hope He never has to come on down to us!

Quickly sizing up the long-term consequences, the Lord judged “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (11:6).  The Spirit in Man gives humans incredible ability to accomplish almost anything they set their minds to!  But the Word was keeping a wary eye on developments then just as Jesus Christ our Judge surely is today.


means “confusion” and the Lord confused their languages and scattered them.  This apparently occurred about the time of the birth of Peleg (10:25), 101 years after the Flood and 326 years before the call of Abraham.

The confusion was so thorough that today the count is 7,099 languages, 23 considered major ones.  The United Nations speaks in six languages:  Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese and Russian.  Agreeing on how much they hate Israel! (Psa. 83:4).

This is why Zeph. 3:9 is such an important prophecy regarding Jesus Christ’s coming Kingdom on earth:  “For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, that they all may call on the name of the Lord, to serve Him with one accord.”

When the Word “separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples”—the surprise is:  “according to the number of the children of Israel” (Deut. 32:8).  Israel didn’t exist yet!  But God and the Word had long ago planned for how much space the Israelitish tribes would need from their pagan neighbors.

“And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the  face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings” (Acts 17:26).

A huge principle of the  Bible is that it covers Gentile nations only to the extent of how they interact with Israel and what impact they have on Israel.  That’s not because Israel was anything great (Deut. 7:7) but because God would choose them to be His model nation to teach the Gentiles about Him and His Way (4:6-8).

So for Babel and its provocative tower

Time’s up!

Yet Babel and its Babylonian Mystery Religion proceed on down to trouble the earth at the end.  Today we have Babylon (Rev. 13, 18) and towers that relay our Internet and superphones.  Has there ever been more confusion!

Some things don’t change, but we must.   “Come out of her, my people” (Rev. 18:4).

Chapter 13:   The Father of You?
hapter 1:    What’s It All About?

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