Sunday, March 31, 2013


Easter Sermon 3 31 2013



March 31, 2013

Happy Resurrection Day! I want to start today by telling you a story from my childhood. It was 50 years ago. I was 12 going on 13. Our farm was less than a mile from town so I walked or rode my bicycle to go get parts for the tractor, go to Boy Scout meetings, music lessons, sports practice, etc. There was one bad thing about that trip… our neighbors the Rolands had a dog… a big coal black, mean dog with large teeth. He only hated two things in this world: pedestrians and bicyclists. He came running out growling and snapping to express his rage when either passed by. There was another route home. It was through the middle of the cemetery. During the day I went that way though it was a longer trip. But at night, all my superstitious fears even outweighed the fear of that huge black beast. I lived in terror of that ride or walk home.
One night I was especially frightened. It was dark and the moon peaked occasionally through the low, fast moving clouds, pushed by the whistling wind. I forgot to mention that just west of the Roland’s acreage was the burned out shell of a house where a lady had died in the fire on a night like this. As I cycled by that “haunted” area a car came down the road from down, but instead of speeding up and passing me, it went slower and slower till it matched my speed and stayed a few feet behind. I was more worried… and getting closer to where the dog would come out to, I was certain, devour me. The car behind gradually pulled up beside me. I tried not to look, but finally did. It was my father! He had gone to town for some reason and was following me slowly to give me the benefit of his headlights. My fear disappeared immediately. My FATHER was there. I was invincible! I sneered at the pitiful little dog and rode home proudly.
Our Bible lesson this Resurrection Day has somewhat in common with my parable. You see, about 1980 years ago, give or take. There was a couple running happily down a lonely, dangerous road in the dark and without fear, they’d just been visited by someone powerful who had shed light on them also. Let’s turn to Luke chapter 24 for that narrative. We’ll begin reading at verse 13.
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:
20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.
24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
35 And they told what things were done in the way, and how he was known of them in breaking of bread.
36 And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.
37 But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit.

You recognize this passage certainly. The story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus is familiar to everyone. Of course this morning I’d like to talk about the road back from there. Let’s begin with verse 13…
13 And, behold, two of them went that same day to a village called Emmaus, which was from Jerusalem about threescore furlongs.
We are speaking in verse 13 of two of Jesus’ disciples, neither was of the original 12, but they were obviously very familiar with Him and were heart broken at His death. Who were they? The answer may surprise you, at least half of it. Every artist’s rendering of this shows two men walking along with the Lord as He expounds to them… or of two men running back down the road. What the paintings or drawing do NOT show is that likely one of the disciples was a woman, the wife of Cleopas. That’s right, this was very likely a husband and wife. MacDonald thinks it’s very possible, Ironside is almost certain. Some later, mostly Roman Catholic I’m sure, commentators suggest the second unnamed person was Luke himself. This is very unlikely. Unlike John, when Luke was somewhere he said so. He uses the words “I” and “we” and “us” when he is present. It would be unlikely for him to do otherwise in this passage.
Threescore furlongs is confirmed by Josephus in his history. He stated the distance as about sixty stadia distant from Jerusalem. The standard Roman stadium being 243 yards across. Now you know why we refer to football stadiums. The distance was about 6 and ¾ miles, say from Pella to Otley.
In those days under Roman rule, as in most occupied countries, the army ruled the day and the criminals and revolutionaries the night. So people journeyed during daylight there being more to worry about at night than ghosts and black Labrador retrievers.

14 And they talked together of all these things which had happened.
They had just witnessed their brightest hopes dashed, so they thought. Now they grieved over it as, like Peter returned to his fishing boat, they returned to their home. Two people walking along talking will go between 2 ½ to 3 miles per hour. At 4 miles per hour chatting becomes difficult, at 41/2 to 5 you’re trotting or jogging and it’s impossible.

15 And it came to pass, that, while they communed together and reasoned, Jesus himself drew near, and went with them.
Clarke says about them reasoning, “concerning the probability or improbability of Christ being the Messiah, or of his resurrection from the dead. It was a laudable custom of the Jews, and very common also, to converse about the law in all their journeyings; and now they had especial reason to discourse together, both of the law and the prophets, from the transactions which had recently taken place.”
It was not surprising that a stranger would join them at such a time. The road was certain alive with traffic as those who had travelled to Jerusalem for the Passover returned home. Remember that when Mary and Joseph took the young Jesus to Passover the crowd was so great on the return journey that they didn’t miss Him for quite some time. Also, Jews love to discuss and argue. I’ve heard it said that to have 3 Jews talking together is to have 4 opinions on everything.

16 But their eyes were holden that they should not know him.
In John we see Mary Magdalene not recognize Jesus when she first sees Him in the garden. Later the disciples do not when they are fishing and He is making them breakfast on the shore. Mark tells us why in chapter 16.
12 After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country.
I suspect this had something to do with Him now being in His resurrection body, so different than the battered, tortured one they’d observed earlier.

17 And he said unto them, What manner of communications are these that ye have one to another, as ye walk, and are sad?
Their grief was obvious. I so often work with self destructive patients who believe that the world would be better off without them because no one really cares. There is One who cares, always, isn’t there? And here He shows it.

18 And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days?
So we have one name, why not the other? It would seem likely that the commentators are correct and this is husband and wife. Should this be the same person mentioned as Alpheus in Mark 3:18, then he is the father of the apostle James. If that is true and his companion is his wife, she would be the sister of Mary, Jesus’ mother and, I might add, as much older than his wife than Joseph was of Mary. These connections are somewhat speculative, but would not surprise me to be true.
The events in Jerusalem were so obvious and so shocking that it was inconceivable to Cleopas that anyone could have been anywhere near and not known of them. Yet we know Christ was “a stranger in a strange land” and came “to His own and His own received Him not.” Nay, worse, they had him tortured to death.

19 And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.
The words translated “prophet” here is more emphatic. They mean the “man prophet” and the “genuine prophet”. Perhaps as Pilate said “behold the Man”. This is a declaration of faith by Cleopas no matter how mistaken he was about other things. He is stating that Jesus’ miracles were genuine, of God, and irrefutably Devine. “Mighty in word” means irresistibly eloquent.
Jesus asked “What things?” as a tool to draw out from him his true understanding as the Lord did Peter when He asked “lovest thou me?”. Or when the Father asked Adam and Eve what they had done. He knew, but He wanted them to say it and own it.

20 And how the chief priests and our rulers delivered him to be condemned to death, and have crucified him.
If you are one of those who wants to engage in the argument whether the Lord was crucified by the Jews or the Romans, Luke here answers it. The Jews delivered Him to the Romans for legal condemnation, but Luke gives them, not the Romans credit for the crucifixion.

21 But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, to day is the third day since these things were done.
Poor Cleopas! He wanted to believe, and did not see Jesus as a military conqueror but actually as He was, the Redeemer promised by Job’s prophecy, yet he cannot understand why the Redeemer should die like this. But Cleopas remembered well the Lord’s promise. This is the third day.
22 Yea, and certain women also of our company made us astonished, which were early at the sepulchre;
23 And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive.

Here is what Cleopas is referring to from earlier in the same chapter:
1 Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.
2 And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.
3 And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.
4 And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:
5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?
6 He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,
7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
8 And they remembered his words,
9 And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.
The last three words, “all the rest” shows there were other disciples present, including Mr. and Mrs. Cleopas.
Sadly, the next part of the passage shows the doubts of the apostles and disciples.
11 And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

24 And certain of them which were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they saw not.
Once more Cleopas gives an accurate account.
12 Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
The harshness of the word “fools” comes from the difficulty in translating Greek into English. It might well be “foolish ones” or “simple ones” or “not carefully considering ones”.
“Slow of heart” is explained well by Clarke: “Backward, not easy to be persuaded of the truth, always giving way to doubtfulness and distrust. This very imperfection in them is a strong evidence of the truth of the doctrine which they afterwards believed, and proclaimed to the world. Had they not had the fullest assurance of these things, they never would have credited them; and it is no small honour to the new-covenant Scriptures that such persons were chosen, first, to believe them; secondly, to proclaim them in the world; and, thirdly, to die on the evidence of those truths, the blessed influence of which they felt in their own hearts, and fully exemplified in their lives.”

26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
In modern English this would be something such as: “Was it not necessary for Christ to suffer?” His glory is in salvation of souls, not in military victory. It’s a different glory entirely.

27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
If ever I’ve wished for a scribe to be present on a walk, this would be it. We know that Luke went to Palestine to investigate the reports of what had happened. It cannot be doubted that he interviewed many of these people, perhaps even this couple. Mary certainly seems to have opened up her heart and memories to him. Imagine if this teaching were available word for word. Please notice also that He is here giving Divine acceptance of the inerrancy of the Old Testament Canon. MacDonald reminds us that in John the Lord said:
John 5:38-40
38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.
39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.
And that if they believe Moses they MUST believe in HIM.

28 And they drew nigh unto the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone further.
A cynic might claim the Lord was being dishonest here. Not so! Had they wished, I believe He would have continued on. The effect His speaking had upon them is shown in the next verse.

29 But they constrained him, saying, Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.
They wanted the Lord to stay with them. So we know this is where they both lived. And He didn’t even have to knock.
Revelation 3:20: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
There is an important distinction in this verse from Revelation. It’s not enough, not nearly enough to recognize His knocking. We must hear His voice also AND open the door. Again we tread on the confusing ground of Divine Will and free will. What I do know is we have His promise, “I will”.
Remember too, it was dangerous on the roads at night and there were no streetlights, no phones to call for help and in Israel, hospitality was expected. To this day in the Middle East, even deadly enemies can request sanctuary and receive a place to sleep and food.

30 And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them.
I quote from Clarke: "He took bread" - This was the office of the master and father of a family, and this was our Lord's usual custom among his disciples. Those whom Christ lodges with he feeds, and feeds too with bread that himself hath blessed, and this feeding not only strengthens, but also enlightens the soul.”

31 And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.
Most commentators believe they know why the couple’s eyes were opened. Perhaps the blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby did too:
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
And redeemed by His side I shall stand,
I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.
We are told there ap­peared in London a man who styled himself the messiah, and for many weeks a large crowd was attracted to him. One night, however, as he was talking in one of the open squares in the city, a small band of the Salvation Army passed along, singing,
“I shall know Him, I shall know Him,
By the print of the nails in His hand.”
The great throng joined in the chorus. Finally someone pointed at the self-styled Christ and said, “Look at his hands and see if the print of the nails is there.” They did as directed, but no print appeared, and they at once left off following him.

32 And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
The Psalmist spoke of such:
Psalm 39:3 My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue,

33 And they rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and found the eleven gathered together, and them that were with them,
34 Saying, The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.
This is not the road TO Emmaus… but the one FROM. The sadness is over. The fear forgotten. A greater light is shown on their way. And without escort or assistance back they go. I’m reminded of another hymn:
Some glorious morning sorrow will cease
Some glorious morning all will be peace
Heartaches all ended, school days all done
Heaven will open - Jesus will come.
Sad hearts will gladden, all shall be bright
Goodbye forever to earth's dark night
Changed in a moment, like Him to be
Oh, glorious daybreak, Jesus I'll see.
Oh, what a meeting, there in the skies
No tears nor crying shall dim our eyes
Loved ones united eternally
Oh, what a daybreak that morn will be.
Some golden daybreak Jesus will come
Some golden daybreak, battles all won
He’ll shout the vict'ry, break thro' the blue
Some golden daybreak, for me, for you.

Know the Apostles join the disciples and the greatest declaration of all time is stated:
“The Lord is risen indeed”.
That is our blessed Hope. That is the joy of this Resurrection Day. The debt is settled. The price is paid and victory is the Lords… and thus ours.

Let us pray.

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Genesis 11:31 and 12 Father's Day 2005

Sunday, June 19, 2005
Sermon, First Draft

June 19, 2005

Good morning! And welcome to Father’s Day Sunday. It’s a rare honor enough for a son to be able to preach with his father present, and a special treat to be able to do it on Father’s Day. I’d like to tell a little bit about the holiday. Many people don’t realize it was not officially recognized in the United States until President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation declaring it as the 3rd Sunday of June. He did that in 1966 when I was 15 years old. In 1924 Calvin Coolidge announced it was a national event and said it should "establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children and impress upon fathers the full measure of their obligations." In 1916 President Woodrow Wilson publicly approved of the idea.

But the origin of the idea goes back to Mrs. Bruce Johnson of Spokane Washington. In 1909 while listening to a Mother’s Day sermon, she decided there should be a special day to honor fathers. Her father, William Smart, was a civil war veteran who became a widower when her mother died given birth to her 6th child. Mr. Smart raised all six children by himself. Mrs. Johnson asked her preacher to give a special sermon on June 5th, which was her father’s birthday. That didn’t give him time enough to prepare so he agreed to be ready by June 19th. From then on the state of Washington celebrated the 3rd Sunday in June as Father’s Day. The idea spread and the rest is history. Originally people wore flowers on Father’s Day; red if their father was living and white if he was deceased.

I know I don’t have to convince anyone here how important fathers and fatherhood are. When Jesus’ disciples asked him to teach them to pray, the first words he used were "Our Father." While we often say that our lives are the only Bible that some non-believers will read, it’s even more true that to a child his father is the only physical manifestation of who God is. A child turns to his father for the hugs he wants from God. As we grow up, our idea of God is first formed by what we see of Him in our fathers. I’ve shared with you before that research shows that if a child becomes a Christian, the chances the rest of his or her family will follow him into faith is less than 5%. If a mother becomes a believer the odds raise to 17%. But if the father of a family is saved, the chance the rest of his family will become Christians also jumps to 93%! That is why it is such a tragedy to see mothers bringing their children alone to church on Sunday morning while Dad is gone, or too busy. Statistics also show that a large number of male homosexuals had fathers who were either abusive, emotionally cold and distant, or not present. That is not always the case of course, but it greatly increases the chances.

I thank God for a father who raised me to believe in God and was active in the church and encouraged my brothers and I to be also. Not everyone is as fortunate to have a father obedient to God’s commands. If you’ll remember our last lesson from the book of Genesis, we talked about the father of Abraham, Terah. Let’s go back to that passage to get our context for today’s study:

Genesis 11:31,32. Read

You’ll remember that Scofield heads this passage: "Incomplete obedience: the wasted years at Haran." Terah had a chance here to show complete obedience to God and he failed. He also set an example for his son Abram to follow. For the rest of his life Abram would start out to obey God, and like his father, not always follow through or go off onto his own way. There are always consequences to our behaviors and we see those in the verses to follow.

Genesis 12:1. Read

God had a new land for Abram to live in, but he wasn’t already there with his father as he should have been so God had to declare a separation. First was from the old country, God said "Get thee out." Next was from his family, "thy kindred". Lastly he had to leave his father’s house. But there was to be a reward for this separation; the Heavenly Father was to establish a new covenant with Abram.

Genesis 12:2,3. Read

So God is making some promises to Abram:

A land – the land of Canaan. How big a space was that?, we’ll find out later as we study Genesis.
A great nation – the Jewish race, with it’s spiritual and material prosperity for the seed of Abram.
A great name – all would know who Abram and his descendents were.
A blessing – I quote MacDonald: they would be a channel of blessing to others; friends of Israel would be blessed and anti-Semites would be cursed; all the families of the earth would be blessed in Abram, pointing forward to the Lord Jesus Christ, who would be a descendent of Abram. In the margin of my old Bible by this passage I’ve written, "Fulfilled". You only have to look around the world today to see the evidence.

Genesis 12:4,5. Read

We see three things here. First, we see Abraham move out in obedience to God, second we see why Terah was in no hurry to leave Haran – he was getting rich there. Verse 5 tells us they had gathered substance there, possessions and riches. They had also acquired "souls", in other words, servants or slaves. Lastly we see determination. They set out or "went forth" to go to Canaan and the Scripture tells us… "and into the land of Canaan they came." They accomplished what they set out to do. But why is this significant?

Genesis 12:6. Read

It was significant because the land wasn’t empty. The Canaanites were there. Those people were warlike. So we may be seeing another reason Abram’s father Terah was not in a hurry to get there. But Abram had something going for him more than just a desire to obey. He had faith.

Hebrews 11:8. Read

I hope you noticed, God didn’t tell Abram, "You’re going to travel 112 miles South and there’s the Land of Promise." He said, "Go and I’ll show you". And Abram went.

Hebrews 11:9. Read

Significant here is Abram didn’t have the permanent home he might have craved, he had to live in tents, as did his sons.

Hebrew 11:10. Read

He had faith in the city to come. We sing the children’s song about the wise man and the foolish man who built their houses on rock and sand. Abram was the wise man, he was willing to live by faith in the God who is Builder and Maker.

In response to his obedience something very, very special happened.

Genesis 12:7. Read

There are a few special places in God’s Word where a miracle occurs that overshadows almost all others. God in a recognizable form appears in person to one of his children. We call these incidents Theophanies. This is the first recorded, we will see the next in chapter 17. Abram is impressed, as well he might be. He stops on the spot and builds an altar. But he remains obedient and continues on to the South.

Genesis 12:8. Read

Now Abram has his priorities straight. He sets up camp, "pitches his tent" and builds an altar. The best think I see in this verse is that he did not just follow a ritual, put up an altar, sacrifice (I assume) and then go about his business, he entered into personal worship. He called upon the name of the Lord. He prayed to the God he now knew personally. I think that one of our biggest failings in the evangelism over the last couple centuries is that we bring unbelievers to Sichem, introduce them to the Lord, then don’t journey on with them by discipleship to the place of abiding and worship at Bethel, or on in their maturity in the land of promise.

Once again, Abram is not content to stay where he is. He continues on in faith.

Genesis 12:9. Read

But now we see that Abram is not perfect, nor is his faith. A test comes and we see how he scored.

Genesis 12:10. Read

I’ll share with you Scofield’s thoughts on this verse:

A famine was often a disciplinary testing of God’s people in the land. The resort to Egypt (the world) is typical of the tendency to substitute for lost spiritual power the fleshly resources of the world, instead of seeking, through confession and amendment, the restoration of God’s presence and favour

We have to have some sympathy for Abram here. At Sichem he had met God face to face. It was easy to talk to him and worship him at Bethel and as he continued South. When famine hit, God wasn’t there to talk to him. So what did he do? Remember, until the short Theophany at Sichem, he had a life time of seeing his father, Terah fall back on his own wisdom instead of faith and obedience. He reverted to the earlier example. You see it’s easy to be a good example to my sons and daughters when things are going well, it’s what they see in me when the going gets tough that will matter for their future.

Genesis 12:11-13. Read

So did Abram leave God behind when he turned toward Egypt? No, but he left fellowship behind. Just as we do when we turn toward the world. And when you leave behind fellowship with the Father of Truth, you enter a new fellowship with another father, the father of lies. Relying on his own wisdom he entered the world of half-truth. Sarai was Abram’s half-sister. I have a friend who says one of the things he has the most difficulty being powerless over is half-truths. And he is right. The seductiveness of telling part of the truth is one of the most difficult besetting sins to overcome. It seems to just flow out so naturally.

Genesis 12:14-16. Read

As often happens when we’ve aligned ourselves with the father of lies, things seemed to work out very well at first. Abram got very rich and became a favorite with Pharaoh. This is heady stuff for a nomad, suddenly he has wealth and is important. But he isn’t building his house on the rock here, he’s building it on the sand and the rains are about to come.

But I don’t want us to make the mistake here of thinking Abram is going along blissfully thinking everything is swell. He had to know he was sinning. He had to know he was selling out the woman he loved for possessions and safety. Night after night he went to bed alone in his tent while his beloved, the most beautiful woman in the world was in Pharaoh’s harem. He had to be painfully aware of what he had done. Now the consequences, beside guilt and loneliness were starting to pile up.

Genesis 12:17. Read

Have you ever wondered why God did this? Why did He punish Pharaoh and his household instead of Abram? After all, Pharaoh went into this innocently. I think part of the answer goes back to God’s creation of Eve as a helpmeet to Adam. Abram and Sarai were one flesh, anything done to her would be done to Abram and verse 3 makes it plain that anything evil done to Abram and his seed would bring a curse on the one that did it. To give just one modern example; their were no doubt many Germans in the city of Dresden during World War II who had nothing to do with what Hitler was doing to the Jews. A goodly number were certainly Christians. But when the great firestorms of the Allied bombing melted that city in a fervent heat, all paid the price.

I should point out at this point that the word translated Pharaoh here is not a proper name such as we will see in the time of Moses. It is a title that means leader, so he might have been anything from a mayor or tribal chieftain to a king or governor. But whoever he was, he behaved better than Abram had. He verbally took Abram to the woodshed and sent him back where he belonged.

MacDonald says of this passage:

This incident reminds us that we should not wage a spiritual warfare with carnal weapons, that the end does not justify the means, and that we can’t sin and get away with it.

Genesis 13:1-4. Read

The first thing that this passage teaches us is the difference between confession and repentance. Confession is agreeing that we’ve sinned. Abram could hardly do otherwise. He had been found out. But confession is only the first step. What must follow if fellowship is to be restored is repentance. Now we’re talking a marching term. Repentance means "about face" – turn in the opposite direction. Abram did just that. He walked all the way back to Bethel, the house of God and again, he did not just sacrifice on the altar, he reentered fellowship. He called on the name of the Lord.

Were this a fair tale, it would now end with: "And they all lived happily every after." But they didn’t, did they? There are still a number of things to look at. The first is, what happened to the famine that was so terrible that Abram had no choice but to disobey God and go to Egypt? It suddenly wasn’t so bad, was it? They all at once were able to survive in Canaan. A cynic might point out that things had gone pretty well for Abram. He got to get his cake from Pharaoh and eat it too. Sarai was back with him and never had to wed the king and he got to keep all the riches he was given? What could be better?

It would have been better not to have sinned. Let me assure you, God is not mocked. Sin always has its consequences. Abram had entered into the fellowship of the father of lies and a remnant of that alliance was going back to the Promised Land with him. In that big caravan of Abram and Lot and their wives and cattle and riches and slaves was one little slave girl, part of Abram’s ill gotten gains. She was certainly sweet and pretty and hard working and loyal. Sarai chose her to be her personal servant. She had a lovely Egyptian name: Hagar. You see, the Enemy had his plans too, and a seed he wanted propagated also and Abram’s disobedient trip to Egypt made it all possible. That one little, insignificant slave girl made all the difference in the world. The sands of the Middle East are soaked in blood because of that sin. Two towers in New York came crashing down because of it. Right now as we sit here American soldiers are fighting on the other side of the world because of the consequences of Abram’s sin. He confessed. He repented. But the scars remain.

I seem to have wandered far afield here. We started off talking about Father’s Day and how a father is the example of what God is to the children entrusted to him. But we’re closer to completing the circle than you think. A number of us here are fathers… and grandfathers… and great grandfathers. All of us can look back at the times we served well as an example of the Heavenly Father to our "seed" and the times we didn’t do so well and the times we failed miserably. I only need look at myself. My children grew up in the home of a secret alcoholic and drug addict. There were times they lived in terror of me. That’s they example they had of what the fear of God should be. I lied to them on a regular basis. That is the example they had of His faithfulness. Money that should have been for their benefit went to feed my habits. That was what they saw of God’s provision. Jesus asked, "…what man among you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" I know what man. I know him well.

But like Abram, I turned my back on that sin and walked away from it, and like Abram I again called on the name of the Lord. And I hope I continue to do my best to reestablish that example to them I should be. But just as the father of lies had Hagar hid away in Sarai’s entourage, he has a temptation hidden away for each of us. It might be to tell a half-truth or be greedy or to be disobedient to those in authority over us or any other sin. My prayer for all of us today is that we stay vigilant against the idea that we know better than God how to live our lives and solve our problems and that we become men who show our "seed" daily lives resting not on the sand, but on the foundation made by the builder and maker, God our Father.

Genesis 14

July 17, 2005

Good morning! In our last lesson we covered a large amount of territory, as Chapter 13 covered Abram’s return from Egypt and reestablishment of worship at Bethel, his separation from Lot, Lot’s backsliding, and finally God’s establishment with Abram of his covenant. This is where the land that was to become Israel became officially the Promised Land.

Chapter 14 will start us off into a new direction and we’ll need to look a bit at ancient history to get us started down the right path. You’ll remember that Genesis is known as a book of Moses. In other words it was written by Moses through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Throughout scripture we find places where documents available to the author were included into the holy writ by the author under the inspiration of God. We find such quotes in Esther and Nehemiah and in the Gospels. Many scholars believe that at least the first portion of Chapter 14 is a document from the Babylonian record which Moses included because it mentioned Abram. One evidence of this is that in verse 13 he is referred to as "Abram the Hebrew" which is strikingly different from Moses’ other descriptions of Abram. We’ll look now at the first 12 verses of Chapter 14. Please bear with my inaccurate pronunciation of the names. And keep in mind as you follow along that you may well be reading an English translation of a battle report written in Babylonia over 3000 years ago, perhaps on clay tablets…

Genesis 14:1-12. Read.

So just what had happened here? The story actually starts 13 or 14 years earlier while Abram was still living in Haran. Chedorlaomer, the king of Persia, here called Elam, had invaded this area and subjugated the kings of the small kingdoms around the Salt Sea. Since this was before the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, the Dead Sea was much smaller and fertile deltas led up to it. In the 13th year the five kings of this area rebelled against Chedorlaomer. He formed an alliance with three other kings who were from the area around Babylon to go punish the rebels. It was probably a scribe from one of those king’s court, a sort of "imbedded combat reporter" who wrote this account.

The Persian alliance marched south, down the eastern side of the Dead Sea, circled the southern end and came up to the north on the western side to attack Sodom and Gomorrah. This was a tactical success, the rebel kings were no doubt expecting an attack from the north with set piece battles in the fertile lowlands where chariots and cavalry could be used to good effect. Instead they were taken by surprise from the rear in an attack through the "slime pits". There was asphalt underground in the area and it was mined down from the surface, strip mined, if you will. It’s possible that this area was one of the sources for the slime that was used for mortar for the Tower of Babel. Anyway, if you are familiar with the old strip mined area south of here in the neighborhood of the County Landfill, you have an idea of the character of the landscape. The main difference would be that instead of the numerous water filled ponds you see here, these strip pits were at their bottoms filled with oily goo, much as the La Brea tar pits out in California. If the Persian alliance had soldiers skilled in guerilla type warfare, they had an ideal killing field, and indeed, the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fell there.

The soldiers fled to the mountains and the Persian alliance scooped up prisoners to be sold into slavery and also the rich booty from the loot of the two great cities. This included Lot who must have remained neutral in this fight so that he and his vast herds and large numbers of servants made easy pickings for the alliance.

Genesis 14:13. Read.

This is the verse that makes it likely this is a passage from a Babylonian document. This is the source of the name "Hebrew" for Jews. I will quote from the New Bible Commentary:

"There are two possibilities: either it comes from Eber (which we find in Genesis 11:14, one of Abram’s ancestors), or it is derived from the verb meaning to pass over a river and contains an allusion to the crossing of the river Euphrates by Abram and his great company. In this latter sense it might be translated ‘immigrant’, and it possibly reflects a Canaanite way of speaking of Abram. There is a further possibility that this is the term ‘Habiru’, which means a semi-nomad."

Genesis 14:14. Read.

We know a number of things about these warriors. They were Abram’s slaves, because they were born in his house. We know that they had been trained in combat. This also tells us something about the nature of servanthood in those days. It would not be wise to arm and train slaves who were angry at their status and condition, so the status of those servants must have been more as hired soldiers working for their chieftain. They were for the purpose of protecting flocks and people from marauding tribes. The fact that their were 318 available to go on a long expedition to rescue Lot means that there must have been at least that many more to stay behind and continue their guard duty. So we know that Abram’s holding must have been very extensive. He also was joined in this expedition by bodies of Amorites under Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, as we see from verse 13 and later verse 24. Abram’s private army had the advantage of not being held back by heavy cargoes of loot and prisoners and they soon caught up with the victors in Syria, close to Dan.

Genesis 14:15. Read.

So here we see the advantage of Abram’s private troops who were trained to fight off marauders… they had to know how to fight at night. Their job was to protect against sneak attacks and that made them experts at sneak attacking. The Persian alliance was caught by surprise and fled in terror. With his Amorite reserves ready to take up the chase, Abram won a great victory. This may well have been when the record of the earlier verses was captured.

Genesis 14:16. Read.

So Lot had to be delivered by the sword. And not only Lot, but also the captives and riches looted from Sodom and Gomorrah.
We now move into a portion of the narrative that is rich in type and prophetical meaning. We will see two characters introduced who will show us types of both temptation and redemption.
Genesis 14:17. Read.

The first actor to appear on our stage is the king of Sodom. There is some question as to who this is, as verse 10 tells us the king of Sodom fell in the battle of the slime pits. It’s possible that verse 10 means the kings fell BACK into the pits or retreated there. The possibility also exists that he was wounded in that battle and fell physically but did not die. Or there may have been more than one king of Sodom and this one survived. Lastly, he may have been the son or younger brother of the king, who was crowned during Abram’s expedition up to Syria. We also can gather from verse 17 that Abram’s troops did not just pursue Chedorlaomer and chase them back north, but there was a great slaughter there. We will watch later as the king of Sodom serves as a tempter.

Genesis 14:18. Read

Here we are introduced to a Bible character, Melchizedek about whom all sorts of foolishness has been speculated and preached. He is described here as a man both priest and king which makes him a type of Christ. Melchizedek means "king of righteousness". Salem is short for Jeru-salem, meaning "peace". Christ is our king of both righteousness and peace. Col. Scofield is quick to point out in his notes:

"The type strictly applies to the priestly work of Christ in RESURRECTION since Melchizedek presents only the MEMORIALS of sacrifice, bread and wine." The book of Hebrews has something to say about this priest – king, let’s look at that passage.

Hebrews 6:20-7:10. Read.

We know first of all, that God always has a remnant. Though Abram and his seed became the Chosen People, there were still centers of the earth’s population who worshipped the One True God. Not insignificantly, one of these groups and their king was based in Jerusalem. The Jews have always been very focused on genealogy, and well they should as it was Adam’s seed which was to crush the serpent’s head and the Aaronic priesthood was to be maintained by genealogy. The writer of Hebrews points out to us in verse 3 that no such genealogy existed for Melchizedek, and thus his priesthood did not have a beginning or an end, just as our Lord’s did not.

Also, this is first place in scripture where the word "priest" occurs, so that after a fashion every priest of God later to come was "after his order".

Genesis 14:19-20. Read.

We are introduced by Melchizedek here to a new name for God, The Most High God or The Supreme God. I will read to you MacDonald’s commentary on these verses.

"Melchizedek blessed Abram, and Abram in turn gave to this priest of God a tithe of all his captured prizes. In Hebrews 7 we learn that there was a deep spiritual significance to these actions. Because Abram was the progenitor of Aaron, he is seen as representing the Aaronic priesthood. The fact that Melchizedek blessed Abram means that Melchizedek’s priesthood is greater than Aaron’s, because the one who blesses is superior to the one who is blessed. The fact that Abram paid tithes to Melchizedek is seen as a picture of the Aaronic priesthood acknowledging the superiority of Melchizedek’s priesthood, because the lesser pays tithes to the greater."

This passage also shows us that the paying tithes was an ancient custom already long before the giving of the law of Moses.

Genesis 14:21. Read.

In the earlier verses we saw Melchizedek as a type of the resurrected Christ, now we see the king of Sodom as a type of the fallen angel, Satan. The king of Sodom tempts Abram with getting material riches as Satan later would tempt our Lord, offering him all the riches of the earth. And like Satan, his was offering what really wasn’t his to give. He was also being very subtle. He knew that if Abram kept all the loot for himself, his allies, the Amorites would resent him and thus their currently loyalty to Abram, which must have scared the king, would turn into a willingness to intrigue against Abram. But Abram was much to wise to fall for this.

Genesis 14:22. Read.

You may have seen someone be sworn in as a witness in a court or the president sworn in and wondered where the tradition of raising the hand as an oath is taken came from. Here is the answer. We also see that Abram is at once using the new title for God just taught to him, The Most High God, as well as Jehovah.

Genesis 14:23-24. Read

So Abram dodges the bullet of temptation. The trap the king of Sodom so carefully laid at his feet will not entangle him as the king hoped. By allowing Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre to take their portion, Abram retains their friendship and loyalty and they won’t ally with the king against him. By refusing to keep any of the spoil for himself, Abram prevents himself from becoming beholden to the king. Abram recognized the lie implicit in the king’s offer… Abram already was rich. He didn’t need more possessions. Had he out of greed kept that loot, the citizens of the country who already resented him as an interloper would have looked at ALL his possessions and felt they really didn’t belong to him.

Abram’s wisdom is a lesson to us this morning. We are faced with two persons who offer us choices and rewards. The king of Sodom offers us what MacDonald calls "the toys of dust". That is the rewards of greed and sin. Make no mistake, the toys of dust are very real. The one who chooses them gains pleasure for a season. We may find riches and what we think is financial security. We may find sensual pleasure. But, "the pleasure of sin lasts but for a season." "There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ends of death".
We, like Abram are faced also with a King of Righteousness and of Peace, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Like Melchizedek, he invites us as we did this morning to share the symbols of his sacrifice and resurrection, the bread and the wine. And he once provided that broken body and shed blood they symbolize. Like Melchizedek he offers his blessing and the chance to be the person who belongs to the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth. Like Melchizedek he offers the possibility of having our enemies delivered into our hands. And like Melchizedek he doesn’t ask for our tithes, he leaves that up to us. It is our choice.

We have a choice between whom we shall serve. Sodom or Savior.

Joshua would say a thousand years later, "choose ye this whom you will serve… but for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."

Genesis 17 (Synopsis)

Today's Sermon 9-25-2005

My readers will be disappointed not to see the text of my sermon here. (or perhaps not). Once again the tyranny of the urgent caught up with me. I preach only on the Sundays when I've worked the night before 11-7 (2300-0700) and do the final writing and printing and transfers to email and blog during slow times at work. Last night there were no slow times. A difficult admission followed by my coworker having an insulin reaction and rushing to the Emergency Room left no time for the extras. So I used my research and spoke mostly extemporaneously. Let me summarize briefly:

Genesis 17

God is referred to for the first time as "El-Shaddai". One of the strangest and most wonderful names for God. "El" meaning "God" and Shaddai... that's what's interesting. Shad is the Hebrew word for breast. Shaddai meaning "breasted one". No friends, El-Shaddai does NOT mean God is a goddess. The "El" is male. It means that God is not just Creator and Judge he is also Sustainer, Provider, and caregiver of his children, loving them and providing for them as a mother does an infant. Unfortunately the translators into English from the Hebrew recorded El-Shaddai as Almighty God. The name "El" already carries that meaning, we lose the richness of the original language in that translation.

The other point in Chapter 17 being that Abram, here renamed by God Abraham, laughs when God tells him at the age of 99 he will have children. Often this is misinterpreted as meaning he laughed in derision, but not so. The meaning is of laughing out with joy at God's promise being repeated and God breaking the silence of 13 years that followed Abraham's disobedience by fathering a child, Ishmael, with the servant girl Hagar. This understanding changes the whole meaning of the chapter.

That is all I remember as I sit at the keyboard, I'll try to do better next time.

Genesis 26


March 5th, 2006

Good morning! It is time to return to our study of Genesis, The Book of Beginnings. You will remember that last week in chapter 25, we learned about the birth of twins to Isaac's wife Rebekah. Esau and Jacob. We saw Esau sell his birthright to Jacob for a mess of pottage. Today we will see that God recognized that sale and confirmed the birthright by extending the blessing he had given Abraham to Isaac and we will also see that Esau will confirm by his behavior that the birthright should not have been his. Let's begin with the last verse of chapter 25 to give us the context of Esau's treatment of his birthright.

Genesis 25:34-26:6. Read.

Our study today will start and end with Esau despising his birthright. How many Christians, having “put their hand to the plow”, turn early from serving the Lord, live nonproductive carnal lives and end their days in bitterness and strife in their families and congregations? In every Christian organization in which I've ever been involved, with the possible exception of this assembly, there are always some who never function to advance God's word, but repeatedly seem to live to cause contention and pessimissm.

Genesis 26:1. Read.

As those who take God at his word and accept his narrative as literally true, we have to smile at the liberal theologians who claim that this famine story is a mythological retelling of the the earlier famine stories about Abraham. God does not give us this out and has Moses, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit state plainly it is a different one. Time and again in our studies we have seen God cut the ground out from underneath those who would claim they get to pick and choose what part of scripture to believe.

When Phylliss and I go to Kansas City, as we did this weekend to visit our granddaughter, and incidentally her parents, we have a “half way” point on our journey. We stop at the Iowa welcome center just north of the Missouri border to take a short break and have some refreshment. For sojourners at the time Isaac, Gerar was the stopping off point on the road to Egypt. So Isaac stopped through on his way and of course paid respects to Abimelech. Remember that Abimelech is a title name such as “Pharaoh” or “Caesar”. In the language of the time it carried with it the idea of “father”. We might compare it to the German word used for Hitler, “Fueher”.

Genesis 26:2. Read.

This is a Theophany, that is, an appearance of God in some form prior to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Many theologians believe that all such are the appearance of the Lord Jesus and thus call them “Christophanies”. This is likely the first time God has appeared or spoken directly to Isaac. God repeats to him what he had told Abraham, which was to not go into Egypt and also promises that there is another land, not Gerar where he wants him to “dwell” or live permanently.

Genesis 26:3. Read.

The first thing to notice in this renewal of the covenant, is that he is to “sojourn” in the land of Gerar, NOT “dwell” there. This is to be a temporary situation. Please note also that if Isaac keeps this covenant that all these little nations such as Gerar will be his anyway. How often we settle for what little we can gain for ourselves, when God has mighty victories we could win if we would let him make the decisions.

God also points out to him that the covenant he made with Isaac's father, Abraham was unconditional and he goes on to repeat it:

Genesis 26:4,5. Read.

In verse 5 Jehovah points out to Isaac that he is able to continue this covenant with Isaac because his father kept it and, I also believe, the verse carries the idea that Isaac should keep his part, because Abraham his father did so. We also see that the fact the 10 commandments had not yet been given to Moses on Mt. Sinai did not mean that he had left his children in ignorance of what a holy God expects, nor were they free to engage in any behavior they chose. He had given Abraham charges, commandments, statutes, and laws. Sinful man has always done what was right in his own eyes, but never with the approval of the Father.

And now we come to the shortest verse in the chapter and the saddest. We are going to find out if Isaac obeyed God fully after he appeared to him, or partially. Did Isaac sojourn in the land temporarily as God had told him, or did he move in permanently?

Genesis 26:6. Read.

What happens when we do not obey God totally in one area? We start disobeying him in others.

Genesis 26:7-17. Read.

Don't you just want to shake Isaac and say, “what were you THINKING”? He had to have heard how his father did this twice and how wrong it was. But these were the days of sealing alliances between kingdoms and chiefdoms by handing over a new addition to the more powerful leader's harem. The were also the days when a Bedouin warrior would look upon a beautiful woman that he desired and think that she was only one sword stroke from being a widow. So Isaac, who had already turned from full obedience by moving to the land permanently, lied. Remember that had he only sojourned a short time this would not have been an issue, but one sin led to the lie to cover it.

Genesis 26:8. Read.

We see that he has been in the land a long time, so he is dwelling, not sojourning, and Abimelech looks out the window. The word “sporting” here means “caressing”. This was the intimate touching that only a married couple should indulge in. Isaac's lie is found out.

Genesis 26:9. Read.

Once again, a pagan leader shows himself more moral than God's chosen. But Isaac immediately confesses and admits he acted out of fear.

Genesis 26:10,11. Read.

We are reminded once more in this passage that adultery is a PROPERTY crime. When a man and a woman become one flesh, they belong to each other. Each becomes not only a part of each other in oneness... there is a belonging. To have the wife or husband of another is to steal their property. In those days, before jails and prisons, the punishment for theft that could not be repaid financially, was death.

This passage states “might lightly have lein”. This carries the idea of “might casually have raped.”, which gives you some idea of the low value placed on women in that society.

Now did Isaac reap rewards from God for his immediate confession when his deceit was exposed and rebuked?

Genesis 26:12. Read.

MacDonald tells us, “Confession leads to blessing.” And he is certainly correct. For every seed Isaac planted he reaped one hundred at harvest. Do you see the lesson God is teaching him and us here? Sew dishonesty and fear and you reap shame and wrath; sew confession and obedience and you reap a different harvest.

Genesis 26:13,14. Read.

So we see there are two harvests here and one results from the other. If God gives us a rich harvest of possessions, there is a harvest of also of envy by those not so well blessed. I wish I could say it is only the ungodly “Philistines” who behave thus, but far too often it is those who identify themselves as Christians.

Genesis 26:15. Read.

We see how jealous the Philistines were. They knew that Isaac needed this wells to irrigate his hundredfold crops and water his herds and provide for his servants so even though Abraham had dug the wells to their benefit, they filled them up with dirt.

Last year Phylliss and I, as you know, camped in the desert of Big Bend National Park for several weeks. We kept noticing at each place we pitched out tent in the desert pipes about 6” in diameter coming up about 3' out of the ground with a cap welded over the end. It wasn't until I found old topographical maps and overlayed them on the new that we figured out what they were. Each was a well that had been stopped up and capped! When our government handed Big Bend over to the control of the United Nations Man And Biosphere project back in the 1970's they apparently decided that the environment would be more “natural” and people would not be as likely to misuse the desert and that the administration would have more control over visitors if everyone had to come to a central point to get their drinking water. It has worked obviously. It has also made it possible to control the movement of illegal aliens through the park. In like manner the Philistines wished to control Isaac's use of their lands. And the motivation was envy.

If you look at the Middle East today, you will see the rage of the Arab nations surrounding tiny Israel which increases every year as the Jews take that land that the Arabs left desert and swamp and each season make it increase “a hundredfold” in crops and herds and possessions.

Genesis 26:16. Read.

Abimelech had the numbers and the army and possession of the land, but Isaac had God's blessing. Remember this. You and God are mightier than any adversary. Unable to tolerate this, Abimelech orders Isaac out.

Genesis 26:17. Read.

It appears that Isaac had been camped close to the city where Abimelech ruled. After all the king was able to look out his window and watch Isaac and Rebekah, so the whole tribe leaves and travels to a large valley that is part of the kingdom. Would it have been better from the start had Isaac obeyed God? Yes, it always is.

Genesis 26:18-33. Read.

If you should go out to Colorado where my brother lives, you would find that there is one thing more important than grass, or roads, or fences and that is water rights. Whoever controls the water, controls everything. The Philistines knew that the wells dug by Abraham made it possible to use the desert without seeking their permission where they held the oasis. Sounds like Big Bend again, doesn't it? So they filled in the wells. Isaac opened them back up but he didn't stop with that.

Genesis 26:19,20. Read.

They struck a spring or artesian well. Isaac had the privilege of naming it and since the Philistines claimed it as their own, he named it “the well of contention”. So rather than have conflict, they dig another...

Genesis 26:21. Read

Here is a new word, Sitnah, that is worth looking at. We are seeing the word that will one day in English be known as “Satan”. It means “hatred”, “enmity”, “accusation”. Does he hate us? Is he our enemy? Is he the accuser? Yes, all of these, and the use of the word starts over a conflict about a well.

Genesis 26:22. Read,

Rehoboth means “room” or more precisely “living space”. It is the word in German Hitler used as an excuse for taking Eastern Europe: “lebensraum”. The conflict over water rights and space is driving Isaac further and further from Gerar. Perhaps he should have just sojourned there as God told him.

Genesis 26:23. Read.

He has returned to the spot where his father had covenanted with the Lord.

Genesis 26:24. Read.

So once again we see a Theophany. Once again God appears to his servant for the sake of a faithful father. Each of us who are fathers need to remember that God will bless our children based not only what they do, but on how faithful we are. And he reminds Isaac, who has already confessed his fear, that with God on his side he does not need to.

In response to this Theophany what does Isaac do?

Genesis 26:25. Read.

Four things: first, he builds an altar.. he sacrifices. Second, he worships. He calls on the name of the Lord. Third, AFTER he puts God first, he pitches his tent, sojourning now, not dwelling, he is in obedience. Fourth, he digs a new well. And the neighbors show up for a housewarming.

Genesis 26:26. Read.

With a friend, Abimelech is showing that he is capable of fellowship. With his captain comes the reminder of power. It is as Teddy Roosevelt said, “speak softly but carry a big stick”. Present are his soft speech and his big stick.

Genesis 26:27. Read.

Isaac is a little sarcastic here.

Genesis 26:28,29. Read.

God has just told Isaac he need not fear and now with God's blessing, he is feared by those with whom he had had conflict. God's promise begins to be fulfilled immediately upon his obedience and worship.

Genesis 26:30,31. Read.

NOW who is sending who away? Look at the difference God's blessing can make in our lives.

Of these verses, Williams says in his Student's Commentary: “It is when Isaac definitely separates himself from the men of Gerar that they come to him seeking blessing from God.... The Christian best helps the world when living in separation from it.”

Genesis 26:32,33. Read.

The very day of this nonaggression pact, his servants found water. It should not surprise us that liberal scholars look at this new treaty Isaac makes with the next Abimelech as his father had with an earlier one and try to say that this is the same one repeated because of the inaccuracy of the biblical record. I quote from the New Bible Commentary:

“The naming of Beersheba on this occasion is not a literary and contradictory duplicate of 21:24-32. The giving of the name to the locality was especially associated with the fact that on the very day of his ratification of the oath between Isaac and Abimelech the water was found. Abraham called the place 'The well of seven' (sheba'), alluding to their 'sevening' of themselves by means of the seven lambs (21:29-31). Isaac now gives the spot the same name as his father had given it. (26:18), but for his own additional and strikingly confirmatory reason, namely, the discovery the the water on the day of the oath (shaba'). To Abraham it was 'The well of seven', but to Isaac it was 'The well of the oath', both of which ideas were expressed by the one phrase 'Beer-sheba'.”

Genesis 26:34,35. Read.

I told you that our study would begin and end with Esau despising his birthright. I again quote from MacDonald:

“Esau's marriage to Judith and Basemath, two pagan women, caused grief to his parents, as have many other unequal yokes since then. It also brought out further his unfitness for the birthright.”

The application to our lives of today's lesson is almost self evident. As always, two paths lie before each of us. As always we are faced with choice. We can claim the birthright and choose the path of confession, obedience, and blessing. Or we can choose to despise the birthright of our salvation and choose instead, defiance, disobedience, and grief. We can drink from the well of Satan and take the cup of hatred, enmity, and accusation. Or we can choose the cup of the well of Beer-sheba, of the covenant of God and the oath of peace.

Let us pray.

Genesis 25


February 26, 2006

Good morning! We meet again to continue our study in
the Book of Genesis. Last time we followed Abraham’s
loyal servant, Eliezer as he found Rebekah and brought
her home as a wife for Isaac, the son of his master.
Now the history continues, and as is so often the case
with Genesis we will jump right into controversy. Let
us look at the passage.

Genesis 25:1-6. Read.

Here is our controversy. I consulted a half dozen
commentaries on this passage and four of them insisted
that Abraham had married Keturah long before Sarah
died. They base this on “logic”. Reminding us that
Abraham considered himself dead as far as male
functioning went by the time he was 100 and that it
would make more sense to think this had happened long
before the miraculous birth of Isaac. As we would
expect, MacDonald takes no sides on this issue, simply
continuing as though the narrative were
chronologically accurate. That’s one of the reasons I
love MacDonald. He simply takes God at his word. To
me that is the essence of true Fundamentalism.
Surprisingly to me, it is the New Bible Commentary,
certainly not a bastion of conservatism which stands
up for textual accuracy here, explaining…

The fact that Abraham, whose body could have been
regarded as “dead” when he was 100 years old…

Genesis 17:17. Read.

Romans 4:19. Read.

Now had six sons by Keturah, is to be explained as due
to the new generative strength which came to him with
the gift of Isaac.

I believe the refusal of the commentators to accept
that this could have happened as the Bible describes
is yet another case of men thinking not only that they
know more than Moses, but that they know more than
God. I will remind you also that Sarah’s miraculous
return to youthful vigor made possible her bearing of
Isaac as well as possibly being attractive enough to
capture the attention of the ruler to whom Abraham
attempted to pass her off as his sister. This same
miracle may have worked also in Abraham.

So we may ask, who was this Keturah and why did
Abraham wed her? Verse 6 seems to make it plain that
she was one of his concubines. So we need to look at
that word first. In modern usage concubine has come
to mean no better than a prostitute or a fallen woman.
At best we tend to think of a concubine as a mistress
or a kept woman. A full study of the nature of
concubines and their existence in the Old Testament is
beyond the scope of this lesson and could be the
source of a whole sermon by itself. Let me say
briefly that it is used in the time of the patriarchs
to describe a form of lesser marriage. Scripture
elsewhere shows that concubines were bound by the same
commandments against adultery as were wives. It seems
apparent that when a rich man or ruler was making
political alliances which often had to be sealed with
marriage, a less important or less powerful ally would
give his daughter into concubinage rather than full
acceptance into the inheritance. European royal
history is rife with examples. So common was it for
the children of concubines to be involved in court and
the military, the name “bastard” was applied to them.
In order that they might be identified in armor,
knights wore a cloth bib over their chest. The sons
of the ruler’s wife had diagonal stripes going from
upper right to lower left. The sons of concubines had
stripes going from upper left to lower right. Thus
the knight who became a criminal who was the son of a
concubine was referred to as “a villain of the worst
stripe”. And to this day men’s ties only slant from
upper right to lower left.

I quote John Wesley on this verse:

“He gave gifts – Or portions to the rest of his
children, both to Ishmael, though at first he was sent
empty away, and to his sons by Keturah. It was
justice to provide for them; parents that do not do
that are worse than infidels. It was prudence to
settle them in places distant from Isaac that they
might not pretend to divide the inheritance with him.
He did this while he yet lived, lest it should not
have been done, or not so well done afterwards. In
many cases it is wisdom for men to make their own
hands their executors, and what they find to do, to do
it while they live. These sons of the concubines were
sent into the country that lay east from Canaan, and
their posterity were called the children of the east,
famous for their numbers. Their great increase was
the fruit of the promise made to Abraham, that God
would multiply his seed.”

Genesis 25:7-11. Read.

This is the history of Abraham’s death and burial.

Genesis 25:7. Read.

So he lived 175 years. He spent a complete century in
the land of Canaan. One hundred years as a “stranger
in a strange land”.

Genesis 25:8. Read.

God had promised this to him and the promise was kept.
To quote Wesley again, “A good man, though he should
not die old, dies full of days, satisfied with living
here, and longing to live in a better place.” We
should remember that our bodies are gathered to the
assembly of the dead, but if we are believers our
SOULS are gathered to the assembly of the blessed.

Genesis 25:9. Read.
We don’t know here if Ishmael and Isaac were
reconciled to each other by Abraham before his death
or if the event brought them together, but the fact
they were able to cooperate at least in this gives us
hope for broken families today. I might point out
that the financial support Abraham gave to Ishmael
before his death may have played a large part in this.

Genesis 25:10. Read.

Though Abraham continued on after her death, he never
forgot his beloved Sarah and chose to be laid to rest
beside her.

Genesis 25:11. Read.

We are reminded here once more that we have a God who
keeps his promises. We may fail him, but he never
fails us. As he blessed the father he continued and
blessed the son.

Genesis 25:12-16. Read.

We are reminded here that God did not just keep his
promise to Abraham but even to Hagar.

Genesis 16:10. Read.

And God had also made promises to Abraham concerning

Genesis 17:20. Read.

So tell me, how many sons did Ishmael have in verse 16
of chapter 25? Does God keep his promises? Did he
know us before the foundation of the world? Yes!
And lastly:

Genesis 21:13. Read.

Can we believe our Lord when he says, “I go to prepare
a place for you?” Of course we can. This book is the
record of promises kept to sinful man by a hold God.

Genesis 25:17,18. Read.

We can envy the man who dies with his family and
friends around him. The fact he lived for so many
years is also proof of God answering even prayers made
in ignorance.

Genesis 17:18. Read.

Now Moses turns back to the narrative of Abraham’s
seed through Isaac.

Genesis 25:19-23. Read.
A number of commentators point out that we don’t hear
much about Isaac in scripture. Once says that this
must mean he was not a man of action and lived in
silence. I do not agree, what we see in this passage
concerning him is very positive.

Genesis 25:21. Read.

God had promised to multiply Isaac’s family. But
Rebekah was barren. The first thing that is important
about this is what he did NOT do. He did not find
another wife or a concubine. In fact it is part of
one of the great love stories of scripture that Isaac
was the only one of the patriarchs to have only one
wife. He never diluted his loyalty to the lovely
young woman who alighted from her camel and walked
across the sand to meet him. He did not attempt to
put her away, he did something revolutionary: he
intreated the Lord.

He prayed for years. He never lost faith. And in the
end his prayers were answered. I disagree strongly
that Isaac was not a man of action. He began where
all men of action should begin… on his knees.

Genesis 25:22. Read.

Rebekah only thought her troubles were over when she
at last became pregnant. Phylliss could share some
insight with you here. Our first two children were
twins, a boy and a girl. They struggled. There’s not
a lot of room in there to begin with and two active
babies can roll a woman right out of bed, literally.
But this was especially distressing. Here is why
Rebekah is such a fine example. Feeling distressed,
she did not keep complaining, she “inquired of the
Lord.” That is our job. When situations get past
our ability to understand, we should take it to the

Genesis 25:23. Read.

And the Lord answered. Some scholars believe she had
consulted Melchizedek as an oracle here and this
answer came through him. I don’t know. I DO know how
fortunate we are today to have his word already and be
able to consult it for his answers. And as far as
God’s promises being kept… the Edomites ended up later
in scripture as being under subjection to the house of
David for ages.

Genesis 25:24-26. Read.

Esau means “hairy”. He was also red or ruddy. In
some ways it was as though he was already grown,
already very independent. The people of that time,
looking for signs in everything, assumed he would be
daring, a robust, active man. Jacob was simply a
normal baby, smooth and tender. But he did one
important thing:

Genesis 25:26. Read.

From the beginning Jacob would pursue the blessing.
Remember the significance of the heel in the line to
the throne of Messiah. It was the heel that would
bruise the serpent’s head and the heel that would be
bruised. The observers realized this at once and he
was named “Supplanter”.

And there is more to this story.

Hosea 12:3. Read.

Note carefully that Hosea records that Jacob was
grasping Esau’s heel IN THE WOMB. This was the cause
of the distressful combat Rebekah felt within her.
This went back before birth.

We also know from this verse that Rebekah was 60 years
old when at last she gave birth. She and Isaac had
waited and prayed for 40 years. How long are we
willing to wait for God to answer our prayers?

Now comes the part of the story that is most familiar
to us:

Genesis 25:27-34. Read.

We are familiar with this story, but tend to make some
incorrect assumptions. Let us look at verse 27 again.

Genesis 25:27. Read.

The operant word here is “cunning”. This is a man who
could live by his wits. He knew the field… he was an
outdoorsman. He also exhibited some of the traits of
the predator; he would do anything to win the battle.
But here is where we may make a mistake. The story
does not start off with Joseph being a sly trickster.
He was a “plain man.” This means that up until this
time he was an honest man, one who dealt fairly. But
he is soon to be faced with a terrible temptation.

But first we have to look at what is meant by
“dwelling in tents”. It could mean that Jacob loved
the quiet life of a shepherd and raised his sons to it
as we’ll see in chapter 46, but some commentators
believe it means he frequented the tents of
Melchizedek or Heber, learning divine things from
them. Why it can’t mean both, I don’t know.

Genesis 25:28. Read.

Isaac, now far advanced in age, loves his active,
outdoorsman of a son, and loves his fresh wild meat.
But Rebekah, rightly or wrongly, loved the one the
Lord had already chosen. This is not just because he
was a “stay at home ‘momma’s boy’”. The Lord had
specifically prophesied himself to her that he would
be the leader.

Genesis 25:29. Read.
“Sod” is Middle English for “boiled”. We still refer
to something soaked with water, as food is when it has
been boiled a long time as “sodden”. Esau has been
out tramping in the wilderness and is famished.

Genesis 25:30. Read.

If you have a King James Version, you’ll notice here
that the word “pottage” is in italics. That is
because it is not in the original Hebrew. Esau called
the stew by it’s color… “Red”. He did this so
emphatically and it had such an impact on his future,
it became his official nickname. Though you’ll
remember that he was even born ruddy, so he was
several steps along on the way to that nickname

Genesis 25:31. Read.

Now Jacob, until this point, “the plain man”, possibly
under the influence of Rebekah, tries to help God out
a little by taking matters into his own hands. Esau’s
future and the future of his descendants hangs in the
balance. Let me share with you Col. Scofield’s
insight on the birthright.

Scofield Note 2. Read.

Genesis 25:32. Read.

For the immediate pangs of hunger, Esau trades away
what is precious. Hebrews 12:16 says that he was
profane to do this. When someone cheapens the value
of Almighty God by cursing using his name, we call
that profanity. Profanity is what Esau is guilty of

And Jacob at last has a firm grasp on his brother’s

Genesis 25:33. Read.

It happened so easily.

Genesis 25:34. Read.

A last time I will quote from Wesley’s notes:

“He did eat and drink, and rise up and went his way –
Without any serious reflections upon the ill bargain
he had made, or any shew of regret.

Thus Esau despised his birth-right –He used no means
to get the bargain revoked, made no appeal to his
father about it but the bargain which his necessity
had made, (supposing it were so) his profaneness
confirmed, and by his subsequent neglect and contempt,
he put the bargain past recall.”

Mathew Henry said of this verse: “People are ruined,
not so much by doing what is amiss, as by doing it and
not repenting of it.”

This is a passage that is often used as an object
lesson for the tragedy of refusing God’s free gift of
salvation for the temporal pleasures of this life.
And it certainly is all of that. But there is another
application to believers. We have a birthright. God
has promised us an abundant life. He has said that at
his hand are “pleasures forever more”. We carry
within our lives the possibility of living
victoriously. But he lets us choose. We can choose
as Martha did, the lesser things. We can turn our
backs on what would be the Father’s very best for us
in exchange for a mess of pottage. The acceptance of
our unsaved or carnal friends or the brief pleasure of
sin for a season. And we will have traded away what
could have been our birthright for a mess of pottage.

Genesis 22


JANUARY 1, 2006

Good morning, and welcome to a new year. And welcome
to our continued study of Genesis, the book of
beginnings. Our study so far has taken us from the
events of Genesis 1, somewhere in the neighborhood of
2000 years. It was about 2000 years from the first
man, Adam to whom the promise of the Messiah was
given, to father Abraham and his son, Isaac. It will
be about 2000 more to the birth of Messiah and about
2000 more to our present day when we look forward
always to his return for his people.

It is natural on the first day of a new year to stop
and take stock of the last year’s accomplishments and
failures, to do an inventory, if you will, and decide
on our goals for the next 365 days. We sometimes call
these goals “resolutions”. We may decide that this is
the year we do something about our weight, make plans
to start an exercise regime. Or we have conviction
about something in our lives that needs to change for
us to have a closer walk with the Almighty. The world
approaches this in a cynical, somewhat sarcastic
fashion. Such is not the case with believers. Here
in this assembly where we practice the breaking of
bread weekly, we should be doing 52 resolutions a
year. We are told in Scripture to search our hearts
each time we approach the Lord’s Table and if there is
something there that does not conform to the image of
God to change it before we partake so me are not
eating and drinking condemnation.

It would be my assertion, that even once a week is not
enough. If you will forgive the old fashioned word,
it “behooves” us to take such an inventory at the end
of every day and make such changes as necessary to
walk in his steps. I believe this concept of daily
inventory, and daily surrender to God’s will is the
secret to maintaining a victorious life for his glory.

As we return to the book of Genesis we will take up
the story where we left off. Last time, you will
remember we saw the birth of Isaac, the continuation
of the seed of promise. We saw Hagar and Ishmael cast
out and God’s provision for them. We saw Abraham and
Abimelech solve their territory issues and Abraham
develop a new name for God, “El Olam”, the everlasting

Now we come to one of the most powerful chapters in
all of scripture, the 22nd chapter of Genesis.
MacDonald says of this passage: “Perhaps no scene in
the Bible except Calvary itself is more poignant than
this one, and none gives a clearer foreshadowing of
the death of God’s only, well-beloved Son on the

Let’s read through the chapter.

Genesis 22. Read.

We are once again treading lightly where liberal
critics love to trample. This passage on a quick
reading seems to indicate that God approves of human
sacrifice. Not so. He has always abhorred it. And
not without reason. There was only in history to be
one such sacrifice, that of his son. Any other human
sacrifice was not only murder but an attempt to usurp
God’s power. This of course, is the real reason that
pagans have always wanted to practice it. It is the
most despicable example of the enemy saying, “I will
be as the most high.” What we see in this chapter is
God trying Abraham in the furnace to see if he is the
true metal. I’ve shared with you in the past that I
sometimes mold things from pure lead. But I start
with contaminated lead, usually old wheel weights or
car battery lead or old plumbing lead. It is gray and
dirty, but as my furnace heats it hotter and hotter,
it turns a shiny silver color and the impurities or
“dross” float to the top and I cast it aside. In
chapter 22 we will watch Abraham become the true

Genesis 22:1. Read.

Various translations of this verse for the word
“tempt” render it instead “try”, “prove”, or “test”
and more verses later will bear this out. Abraham
does not flee God as Jonah will some day or hide from
him as Adam did, but stands firm before him and says,
“Here I am.” The word “Behold” makes it an emphatic

Genesis 22:2. Read.

So where is this “land of Moriah”? It is a mountain
range, the one where Jerusalem will one day stand.

2 Chronicles 3:1. Read.

So we are talking a very important spot in history
indeed. Notice God’s double reminder of Isaac’s
status as Abraham’s ONLY true son. No room is left
for doubt either of who Isaac is or Ishmael is not.
God also emphasizes that he LOVES his son. This verse
reminds me of our Lord questioning Peter by the sea.
“Do you love me more than these?” We should also
notice that God is giving his servant only the general
direction and that as he gets closer to the goal, more
will be revealed. There is a lesson in this for each
of us. We often pray for God’s guidance, wanting
exact directions street by street, turn by turn. This
is a reminder that God does not usually work that way.
We already have his general direction. We hold it
right here in our hands. Following his word will get
us on the right road to his final goal for us and as
we take the action of walking toward it, he will show
us, as he promises Abraham here.

Genesis 22:3. Read.

Abraham, cut to the quick by what he must do, does not
dawdle. He is up early, and has the wood cut and is
ready to go, though it’s the last thing he wants to

Genesis 22:4. Read.

This was not a short journey. For three days they
walked on. Every step took Abraham closer to where
the worst that he could imagine would happen. Yet he
never faltered.

Genesis 22:5. Read.

This is a powerful verse and it teaches some powerful
lessons. I will quote again from MacDonald: “The
first occurrence of a word in the Bible often sets the
pattern for its usage throughout Scripture. LOVE (v.2)
and WORSHIP (v.5) are first found here. Abraham’s
LOVE for his son is a faint picture of God’s love for
the Lord Jesus. The sacrifice of Isaac was a picture
of the greatest act of worship – the Savior’s
self-sacrifice to accomplish the will of God.”

Please remember that like Jesus, Isaac was the son of
promise, the unique son, the son of a miraculous

Most importantly, Abraham in faith tells the servants
that both of them will go worship and that both will
return. Was Abraham lying to cover up what he was
about to do? Absolutely not! Abraham believed in
resurrection. He believed that once sacrificed, Isaac
would be raised from the dead and return with him. So
great was his faith.

Genesis 22:6. Read.

The mountain top was still far off, remember and
Abraham was old, so one to be sacrificed bore the
burden. Today when you have time at home, look up the
passages of Jesus in the garden before his betrayal.
Was he bearing other’s burdens? Of course he was.
And did Christ have to carry the cross, the means of
his own sacrifice? Yes he did.

How did Abraham take fire in his hand? I’m assuming
there were no butane lighters then. One of the
paraphrases states he took “flint” in his hand and he
was certainly capable of starting a fire with a flint.
It is also possible that he had the servants who were
to wait, build a cooking fire and carried a torch from
that. Or a lantern. Or a hot coal in a container.
But somehow, in his hand he carried a means of
lighting a fire.

Genesis 22:7. Read.

The first time I heard this story, I thought that
Isaac was just a little dense. He’s been walking
along here for 3 days without a lamb and he’s finally
figured this out? But we won’t be too rough on him.
For one thing, the boy had absolute faith in his
father’s love. For another he may have, up until this
point, assumed Abraham would purchase a lamb for
sacrifice as they got closer to their destination.

Genesis 22:8. Read.

There is some controversy about this verse. Some
commentators state that Abraham was fully convinced he
would have to slay his son and that he saw Isaac as
the lamb that would be provided. Others believe that
as God had revealed the final destination to Abraham
as the journey progressed, he had also revealed to him
what would happen.

Genesis 22:9. Read.

Col. Scofield has done an excellent job of commenting
on the “types” revealed here. I will read his notes
on this.

Footnote: 1. Read.

Genesis 22:10. Read

Abraham was faithful to the last. When the time came
to make the fateful decision, he did not hesitate.
His love and obedience to God went even past his love
for his only son.

Genesis 22:11. Read.

Most conservative theologians believe this is a
“Christophany”, a pre-incarnate appearance of our Lord
himself. The one who would one day be the actual
sacrifice, speaking up to ensure that it would be him
and not this boy who would someday die. The
commentators point out to us that 10 times in
scripture there are name duplications used like this.
Seven are spoken from God to man. In each case they
are indicative of great emphasis of the importance of
what is about to be said.

Genesis 22:12. Read.

Here we have the proof that Abraham passed the test.
He is the true metal. His love for God is even
greater than the love for his son, his only son.
Something more is said here. God tells him “thou hast
not withheld thine only son from me.” We sometimes
want to withhold our children from God. I wonder how
many that God would have had been missionaries or
serve him in other ways were deflected from the path
the Father intended by parents who were not willing
that God should have them. Only eternity will tell.

Genesis 22:13. Read.

Here is the example of the substitutionary death of
our Lord. It is also the miraculous fulfillment of
the prophesy that Abraham made earlier to Isaac.

Genesis 22:14. Read.

It will not surprise you, I’m sure to find that
liberal scholars have claimed mixed authorship for the
book of Genesis. One of their “proofs” is that in the
early part of Genesis, God is called “Elohim” and in
others “Jehovah”. But this passage totally disproves
that assumption. I will show you why. Go back to
verse 8. It says, “my son, God will provide.” That
is – “Elohim – jireh”. Now in verse 14, the same
author by obvious literary style says – “Jehovah –
jireh”, showing both Elohim and Jehovah being used
concurrently with the same meaning.

There are six other compound names for God in the Old

Jehovah – Rophekha – “The Lord who heals you”. Ex.

Jehovah – Nissi – “The Lord my banner”. Ex. 17:8-15.

Jehovah – Shalom – “The Lord our peace”. Judges 6:24

Jehovah – Roi – “The Lord my shepherd”. Psalms 23:1.

Jehovah – Tsidkenu – “The Lord our righteousness.”
Jer. 23:6.

Jehovah – Shammah – “The Lord is present.” Ezek.

The last part of the verse shows us that it continued
to be seen on that mount. David would one day begin
the great temple there that Solomon would build and
the temple mount remains the focus of the world to
this day.

Genesis 22:15, 16. Read.

Now another Christophany has occurred and this time we
see the curious statement, “by myself have I sworn.”

Hebrews 6:17. Read.

If we were to take an oath, we would say something
like, “so help me, God”. There is nothing greater
that we could swear by. And because there is nothing
greater than God, he swears by himself.

Genesis 22:17-19. Read.

With Abraham having passed the test and having been
proven, or tried, the promise is repeated.

Genesis 22:20-24. Read.

Upon reading this, we might be tempted to ask, why on
earth is this included? God has a reason for every
word he has inspired. I quote from The New Bible

“The interest of the history now beings to transfer to
Isaac, and the details of this paragraph are given to
show the family from which Isaac’s wife was to come.
The name of HUZ or UZ and BUZ both appear again in the
book of Job. Rebekah was granddaughter to Nahor and
second cousin to Isaac.”

Today we repeated a feast at the personal invitation
of Almighty God. We broke bread as the body of our
Lord Jesus Christ was broken. We took of the cup as
his blood was poured out. It has been about 1996
years since that sacrifice that we symbolized. It had
been about that many years since the type of that
sacrifice was displayed as we have seen this morning.
It had been about that many since the promise made to
Adam. We await a promise also, that the one who was
sacrificed for us, will return for us. Upon that
return, the refiners fire will burn even more
brightly. Those who have surrendered their wills and
lives to the Lord Jesus Christ will join him in
paradise for eternity. Those who have not will be
cast into the place where, in the words of Christ
himself, “the flame is not quenched and the worm
ceaseth not to gnaw.” On this day when the whole
world takes inventory of their lives and resets their
goals for the coming year, each of us has to know in
our hearts whether our destination is paradise or the

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