Sunday, 10 December 2017

The Covenant with Moses. ~ Ganeida

In Matthew 22 we read of the expert in religious law, who approached Jesus on behalf of the Pharisees, who sought to trap Him with this question: "Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" We all know the answer Jesus gave him straight out of Deuteronomy 6:5: "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…"The second is like it, Love your neighbour as yourself. "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."
Kremannymi: depend, hang upon; it is translated various ways but means to be referable to as an ultimate principle. The ultimate principle of scripture is love God, love your neighbour.  The guiding principle, the foundational principal of all scripture is love.
The Law of the Kingdom of God is Love.  It is represented by the Green candle & the covenant with Moses to whom the Torah was first given.
So, before we move forward we need to clarify the word love ~ agape in the Greek. The best definition of love is found in 1st Corinthians 13.
Verse 6 is variously translated as
·     does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth[NASB]
·     Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; [KJV]
·     Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. [NIV]
·     it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. [ESV]

The word  adikia can mean any of the following: injustice, wrong; iniquity, falsehood, deceitfulness but note it is contrasted with the word Truth.  So, one of the defining characteristics of love is Truth & according to John 17:17 Thy word is Truth. Love will always adhere to scripture.

We now need to look at what is meant by that because Jesus was pretty scathing about the Pharisees & Sadducees: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers; therefore you will receive greater condemnation…[Matthew 23:14] among several other verses . 

Make no mistake. These were men committed to the word of God ~ far more committed than your average Christian! They had committed to memory all 39 books of the Old Testament, including the full texts of Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deuteronomy.

However, the Sadducees & Pharisees were harsh.  It has been said of them they majored in the minors.  In other words, they focused on minor points while ignoring the great spiritual truths.  They & Jesus knew exactly the same scriptures.  They read the same book but reached completely different conclusions from what they read, so much so that Jesus chastised Nicodemus: Are you the teacher of Israel and you do not  understand these things?

See they knew about God; they did not know God.
So, we have a delicate balance to walk because Love is not harsh.  It is patient & kind, yet it may have some harsh things to say on occasion. Jesus certainly did!

We have seen this recently.  Some people, in the name of love, are accepting of some very unscriptural practices.  Some people, in the name of Truth, become very harsh & unloving.

The Law, as it was given to Moses, was given for our benefit. How we love is dependent on our understanding of the Law & the Prophets.  Everything hinges upon that.

I read something recently that I believe sheds some light on how we are to walk this out.  Unfortunately, I can’t remember the source.

We have the Old Testament.  We have the cross.  We have the New Testament. Jesus came to fulfil the Law, not abolish it.  All of the Old Testament must come to the cross & it will either come through the cross & be brought forward into the New Testament, or it will end @ the cross. God’s definition of marriage was brought forward. The command for justice & charity was brought forward.  The civic & ceremonial ended @ the cross. The Moral Law did not.

This gives us a strong scriptural foundation to build our walk on.  There are immutables. There is also an order.  Love God first. You don’t get to be wishy~washy on this one. John 14:15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

The more we know God, the more we will love Him & it is this love that empowers us to keep His commandments.  When we love God the way He commands us then we will be empowered to love people the way God says they should be loved. This helps us to discriminate between sin & the sinner.  It has become cliched, but it is still a truth: we are to love the sinner yet hate the sin. It can be hard to remember For, our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Ephesians 6:12

We know…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…2Corinthians4:4

This is why we are commanded to preach the gospel.  It is not our job to condemn anyone.  It is not our job to save anyone.  That is solely the domain & the prerogative of the Holy Spirit!

For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Hebrews 4:12

The Living Word of God will do the work we so often try to take on ourselves of changing men’s hearts & we cannot do it because we were never meant to do it!

This does not remove our responsibility for how we ourselves live.  We have been called out of the world: it’s lifestyle, its concerns, it’s thought patterns For, all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1 John 2:16

We have spoken before about living a lifestyle that others find attractive.  In the midst of a world torn apart by natural disasters, wars & rumours of war, climate change, all sorts of unnatural deviations from God’s ordained order we are not to be dominated by fear or controlled by anger @ the ungodliness we see all around us, or feel defeated. We know that this world is still under the control of the evil one & those whose minds have been blinded by him cannot see the Truth.

Isaiah 6:3 Assures us Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. And again, in Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

This is how Jesus was able to set aside His glory & minister to sinners.  This is how He was able to forgive the very ones who nailed Him to a cross. This is how He was able to fulfil the Torah & thus set us free from a legalistic adherence to it.

His mind was stayed on the Father.  It did not dwell on what was done to Him.  It did not dwell on grievances.  It did not even come up with plans to change men’s hearts.  Jesus simply ministered to men’s needs. He did not condone sin.  He did not justify it.  He did not call black white, & white black, sweet sour, nor sour sweet.  He did not call evil good & good evil.  He knew the difference.  He lived the difference himself.  He called out the sin but he ministered to the deepest needs of the human heart to be loved & accepted.

John 5:19 Therefore Jesus answered and was saying to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.

The Law was given so that we could know we couldn’t keep it, no matter how hard we tried.  The Pharisees & Sadducees tried.  They knew the Law.  They tied it up in knots, even to tithing the most miniscule of their herbs. They couldn’t keep it because they relied on their own understanding.  They did not know the heart of God & so they missed Jesus.  They saw Him breaking *the rules* & decided He had to be wrong.  He could not be of God. But again & again, which rules are Jesus breaking? He is breaking the man~made interpretations of God’s Law, rules about keeping the Sabbath, rules about what you could & could not do on the Sabbath, rules about who you could & could not associate with.  He never, not once, broke God’s moral Law: laws regarding fornication, laws about trusting God, the Law about loving God first, loving God with everything in you. And He could do it because He had the Spirit without measure & He was constantly alert & listening for the Father’s directives.

Jesus has shown us how keeping the law is to be done.  The Scripture is our touchstone.  It guides & directs us but we must be careful not to do with it what the Pharisees did & turn it into a weapon to attack people. There are times to call people out on their sin.  Jesus did. There are times to simply heal the sick, bind up the broken hearted, deliver the captives…Jesus did.  What to do when, comes from listening to the Spirit of God & only doing that which He tells us to do.

"Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. Ezekiel36:26/27

It is the new heart that enables us to keep God’s commandments in the way He intended for them to be kept.  He didn’t need telling that we couldn’t do it on our own.  If we could have done it on our own there would have been no need to give the Law in the first place! No!  We need the new heart & that comes through the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

See, without the Holy Spirit we are still going to get it wrong.  You can believe in Jesus Christ as your saviour yet be completely devoid of the infilling of His Spirit & His power. You can be sealed unto the day of redemption & have a form of godliness while denying His transformative power.

Remember, even as Moses was receiving the Torah God’s people were down on the plain making for themselves a golden calf. So as we consider the covenant of the Law let us remember its fulfilment was in Jesus Christ & His empowerment in our own lives through His Holy Spirit & give thanks unto God who knew our desperate need & made provision for us before we even asked!

The Now Life. ~ Rabqa

(All Scriptures are from N L T unless otherwise stated.)

John 10:10b. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

Jesus came so that we could have a rich & satisfying life. My question to you is are you living that life? He wants you to have that life right here on earth not just when you get home to heaven.

God is a God of the now. The New Testament is the revelation of His great plan of redemption, & He wants us to walk in the knowledge & experience of it right now.

We have abundance of grace & the gift of righteousness. God has made us masters of our destiny. The right standing we have brings grace, favour & sonship. Everything Jesus won for us on the cross is ours now.

We are in His kingdom. When you may ask? The answer is right NOW.
NOW we have complete forgivness.
NOW we are a new crearion.
NOW we have victory over the devil.
NOW we are more than conquerors.
NOW we are seated with Christ in heavenly places.
NOW we have healing & prosperity (in all areas).
We are not trying to get any of these things, because He has already given them to us. We do not have to wait till we get home to heaven before we can receive them.

Faith is NOW, & the Bible is a NOW book. We need to look at it, we need to look at its pages & say, NOW I have it NOW (Not later).

Jesus has wiped our past away. He took away that sin nature of ours on the cross. He gave Himself for the church

He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. (Eph 5:27). From this verse we see that that we
are without spot or wrinkle right NOW, not just after death.

God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing, I want you to get this Church, He is not going to bless us at some future time but has already blessed us NOW(Eph1:3). God has given us everything we need for life & godliness~not will give it to us when we get to heaven (2Peter 1:2). We have already inherited God’s promise~not will inherit someday.

There are many Christians that walk through life not realising the immensity of what they have inherited. They have misplaced their faith & need to bring it back into the NOW.

Renewing the mind takes place, when? NOW. God tells us to be transformed~not sometime in the future in heaven, but in this life. Here are some points of the NOW life that we to train our brain to embrace.

1. Train Your Brain...For the Adventure.
Mark 11:22 NKJ). So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. Notice that Jesus tell us to have faith in God. (The Amplified version ads the word constantly, so we are to have faith in God constantly). We must be aware putting our faith in anything than God Himself & His Word. When we read His Word we learn that when we are faithless He remains faithful (2 Tim 2:13). Not one of us has perfect faith, But we should strive to have faith in God constantly, there will be times when we allow doubt to creep in. I am comforted by the knowledge that even in those times God is still God & He does not change. He is always faithful!

The disciples were around Jesus for three years & they saw Him constantly operating in faith. When His ministry was reach its climax, He demonstrated His faith to them in an unforgetable way.

They arrived in Jerusalem & Jesus entered the city riding on a donkey, surrounded by the praises of
the people. He went back to stay at Bethany that night, then the next morning he set out to return to the city

Mark 11:12-14 NKJ). Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. 13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it.
They went into the city, where Jesus created a stir by clearing the temple. The next night agin stayed at Bethany, in the morning they again set out for Jerusalem. Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.” 22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God. Vv 20_22

Here Jesus was giving His disciples an object lesson in faith. Speaking to mountains as He had taught them, When Jesus spoke He believed. But His disciples did not see anything there & then, It
was the next morning they saw what He believed had indeed manifested.

Faith pleases God, & it opens the door to great blessings, we see in Hebrews 11:6 NKJ). But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

On the day we gave our heart to Christ God gave us a spirit of faith, & we already have a measure of faith (2 Corinthians 4:13; Romans 12:3b). But we must learn to release it. To turn the switch of faith on we must use our mouth. AS we speak the Word, we grow in confidence that He will do what He says He will do.

This means that faith must be built on the Word of God. The more we have God’s Word hidden in our hearts, the easier it is to exercise faith in that Word. Faith does not move God, it realigns us with the Word to receive the things of the Spirit.

We see in Proverbs 3: 5a (AMP) Lean on, trust in, and be confident in the Lord with all your heart and mind.

When sit down on a chair we trust that it will hold our weight & not let us fall to the floor. We need to learn to trust God like that.

The Apostle Thomas’s encounter with the risen Jesus teaches us something vital about faith. John 20:28-29. “My Lord and my God Thomas Exclaimed 29 Then Jesus told him, “You believe because you have seen me. Blessed are those who believe without seeing me.”

If like most Christians you may have doubted God & maybe you have felt guilty about it. Jesus welcomes you to bring your doubts to Him. Like Thomas, be honest with Jesus about your doubts. He will meet you where you are if you are honest with Him. Ask Him to show you that He is who He says He is & to help you to believe that He can do what He says He can do. He will be faithful to do so, & like Thomas your faith will increase.

When declaring the Word 7 believing for something you haven’t seen yet, our faith become the assurance that we have it, for Hebrews 11:1 N K J) says Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

The things we hope have no substance, they are out there somewhere in the future. We do not see them yet. But as we act on the Word of God, Faith gives substance to those things we are hoping for. & Because our faith is based on God’s Word, it becomes the substance; it is the evidence fot the things we are hoping for.

Hope is in the future but faith brings it into the NOW.

Take healing for example. Many people hope to be healed, but that is no more than mental assent. When we walk by faith we know what is impossible to man is possible to God (Luke 18:27) We also know that by His stripes we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b). These & other declarations from God’s Word become evidence of our healing even before it manifests. Like Jesus cursing the fig tree, we declare the Word for healing & believe we have what we say.

That Word become the substance until the healing is manifested, so we can praise God: Thank you, Father, because Your Word says Jesus took my infirmities & sickness (Matthew 8:17). Thank you that by His stripes I am healed.

If you are believing to overcome fear, anxiety, defeat or any other mental stronghold, the Word will be the substance of your faith. Keep on declaring it & thanking Him that you have it before you see it. 1 John 5:4 declares For every child of God defeats this evil world, and we achieve this victory through our faith.

2. Train your Brain ... To Live with the Spirit.
1Corinthians 6:19 Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself.
Immorality is not only a sin against the body. It is a sin against the Holy Spirit who dwells in the body.

Every Christian is temple to the Holy Spirit. The Physical temple under the old covenant was where God dwelt among His people, but now we are living under a new, better covenant. God dwells inside each one of us.

It is a privilege & a joy that we are one with Him, spirit to Spirit. (1 Corinthians 6:17) We have God‘s love nature within us. We must renew our mind to the wonder of His constant presence with us.
His presence means we can:

· Train our brain to delight in the Lord. This is what King David choose Psalm 37:4 AMP) Delight yourself in the LORD, And He will give you the desires and petitions of your heart.

Make the choice to find your greatest joy & satisfaction in your personal relationship with God.

Those who delight in themselves in the Lord enjoy a sense of nearness to God. They take pleasure in living in the truth of His Word.

Those who delight in Him come to want what He wants. When the desires & secret petions of their heart are shaped by the Word of God, God grants them.

· Train your brain to live intimately with Him. He’s more real than the person you are sitting next to. Take time with Him. Sit together with Him as you would with someone you are having a cup of tea with. Let Him be your best friend. Cast your cares upon Him. Make your requests to Him. Listen to Him. He wants to direct you on the right track for your life.

Make intimacy your lifestyle, as natural as breathing the air. People say they can’t pray all day; I have to go to work. But walking with God isn’t about spending three hours in the prayer closet every day & being super~spiritual. It is about being in His kingdom. Conscious of His Word. Alert to His leading. You then start to realise it doesn’t matter where you go~the bathroom, the shopping centre or even the boardroom He is there.

· Train your brain to rely absolutely on Him.

The Holy Spirit is our Comforter, our Helper, our Strengthener. Paul talks of His special ministry in Romans 8:26 And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.

When the Spirit sees us in need or a hard place~when we don’t know how to pray about it~He comes alongside us. If we come to Him & say, “God, help me, I can’t see my way out of this”, He is there, pleading for us, taking our place& carrying our burden.

Over the years I have found this such a strength, when I am in a hard place, I press in to the Spirit. Suddenly, supernaturally, there is a breakthrough. & I just know everything is alright. It is as if the fear or distress that tries to come against me is diluted. The next thing I know is whatever the problem was just temporary & subject to change. God has made the seemingly impossible possible.

3. Train Your Brain...As an Ambassador of Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:20 NKJ. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

Do you know that you are Christ’s ambassador? Just as you were reconciled to God through Jesus. He now entrusts you to tell others that they too, can be reconciled to God & have a loving personal relationship with Him. Think of someone you can be Christ’s ambassador, & pray for an opportunity to share God’s love with that person.

According to this verse we are God’s ambassadors, that is His personal representatives. & God makes His appeal to mankind to be saved

through us as believers in Jesus Christ. This is a very big responsibility, one that we need to take seriously. We must display the character of Jesus through our love for one another & through the good fruit He has produced in our lives, so that others will be drawn to Him. In 1 Timothy 2:3-6 we see what is God’s agenda. This is good and pleases God our Saviour, 4 who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth. 5 For, There is one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus. 6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. This is the message God gave to the world at just the right time.

God wants above all else for His love to be known to the whole world, so He appointed both you & me to be His ambassadors in sharing His offer of love with others.

We need to train our brain to embrace His love mission to the world. The message we carry is earth shaking: Be reconciled to God (2 Corinthains 5:20b). & we are not to offer it half~hartedly, Paul says “We implore you. We plead with you. We beg you. That is the urgent cry of God’s heart.

Every Christian is called to the ministry of reconciliation train your brain to be passionate to bring others to Christ. All around us, people are going to hell. Jesus looked at the multitudes & saw them as sheep without a shepherd, & He was overcome with compassion for them (Mark 6:34) Keep your heart steeped in the softness of Jesus.

The victorious life includes living for others not just ourselves. We are going to heaven, but we need to know how to share the love of Christ with others as well. Jesus even promised we would do greater works than He did (John 14:12). Religious spirits don’t like us hearing that because it makes us rise up in the authority God has given us.

Jesus needs to be real to us or we will never share about Him. That’s why the Word of God must come alive to us. When we know its resurrection power, we speak the Word & people are saved, encouraged, delivered & healed.

As you sit under the Word for a while, you will be surprised what comes up in you that you can release into people’s lives. God will give you something to share with somebody~ it might be
“Jesus loves you,” or they may have a bad back & you ask, “Can I pray for you?” When they sense His power you don’t have to say much more.

Satan wants to keep us selfish & looking inwards. But God points us outwards. There is so much pain & hurt, sickness & brokenness in the world. WE need to train our brain to know His love nature within us. The next thing we must do is fill our words & actions with love & carry them, in the Holy Spirits anointing power, to those who are lost & dying.

4. Train Your Brain ...To Reign. Revelation 1:5
-6 and from Jesus Christ. He is the faithful witness to these things, the first to rise from the dead, and the ruler of all the kings of the world. All glory to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by shedding his blood for us. 6 He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

Verse five affirms how much Jesus loves us by shedding His blood that we might be freed from sin. This passage communicates that we are worth something because Jesus loves us & shed His blood for us.

Do not allow your sense of worth to be based on opinions or actions of others. Do not try to find your worth in how you look or what you do. Do not to find your worth in how people treat you. Rather let your sense of worth come through a relationship with Jesus Christ. Remember you are secure in Him. He loves you.

When we were born again we were born into a line of royalty. There is royal blood in us. We are a royal priesthood chosen to proclaim God’s praises (1Peter 2:9).

In fact we are more than royalty. Our Brother, Jeus is King of kings & Lord of lords. We are princes & princesses of heaven.

When God seated us in heavenly places, He put us in the highest place of honour, victory & authority. We are reigning with Christ. You may not feel like it, but that’s how God see’s you. Your right~standing puts you in that position. You are reigning NOW.

This means that you have to train your brain to reign. Reigning is about two things: victory & authority. First, victory on the cross Jesus destroyed the devil’s work (1John 3:8), & He wants us to live in that victory here & now: Luke 10:19 Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you.

Snakes & scorpions are symbolic of all demonic powers. & they are under our feet! How wonderful to know we to reign victoriously with Christ over satan who is a defeated foe.

Second, authority. Jesus has all authority in heaven & earth (Matthew 58:18), & He has chosen to share it with us.

Victorious believers are those who know & exercise their authority. Again the basis for our authority is knowing who we are in Christ. When you start to know your righteousness, you start to sense the authority & power of it.

Exercise it by confessing it over your life with thanksgiving...”Thank you, Lord, I am reigning in Christ”. Declare it over the enemy whenever he assaults you. Speak & meditate on victory & not defeat. Overcome whatever you are going through by the power of the Word. Keep your eyes on visions God has placed in your heart, calling them into reality.

There is one more area where you need to exercise your authority in Christ: being His ambassador. He says, “I’ve given you all authority, so go & proclaim the gospel. Lay hands on the sick. Deliver people from demons. Speak my Word. Care for those who are broken. Pray for those who are lost. Go & be my extension in the earth”. We are His hands & feet, His mouthpiece. He is not going to do it for us; He is waiting for us to move. We can only do it if we stand up in our authority.

AS those seated in heavenly places by faith, we are not looking up pleading, We are looking down, thanking Him for our position In Christ, seeing the things we desire for our life & speaking them into reality. We are like eagles flying higher than the other birds. Isaiah 40:31 But those who trust in the
LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

It is like we are up there with the eagles not down with the chooks! We sore with Him when we train our brain to reign.

In the first message on training our mind I pointed out that the mind is like a control tower & the gateway to our soul. What we allow in our minds shapes our heart.

The condition of our hearts matters greatly to God for He said that David was a man after His own heart (Acts 13:22b). If we allow God’s Word to renew our mind, our heart will be shaped after God’s heart.

Acknowledgements Dr. Margaret Court.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

The Covenant of Communion ~ Ganeida

When we come to Genesis 15 we read one of the most explicit descriptions of covenant to be found in the bible.  It is represented by the yellow candle.

This covenant is built upon the promises to be found in Genesis 12:
·     I will make you a great nation [v.2]
·     I will bless you [v.2]
·     All the families on earth will be blessed through you. [v.3]

There is just one problem with all this:  Abraham is childless. So how will he become a great nation & how will all the earth be blessed through these non~existant descendants?  A point Abraham is quick to point out to the Lord: Oh, Sovereign Lord, what good are all your blessings when I don’t even have a son? [[15:2]

Look up into the sky & count the stars if you can.  That’s how many descendants you will have. [v.5] 

Abraham believed the Lord, & the Lord counted him as righteous because of his faith… just the same, he wasn’t taking any chances. How can I be sure…? Sure that I will posses the land?  Sure that my sons will inherit?

So the Lord cuts covenant with Abraham.

Now understand covenant is a continuous, ongoing process that began in the garden & it was understood to be a covenant between God & mankind for Hosea 6:7 states: But like Adam they have transgressed the covenant; There they have dealt treacherously against Me.

So when we come to Abraham, we understand we are still seeing the outpouring of God’s redemptive grace working to restore a fallen world to Himself.
Did Abraham deserve God’s blessings?  No more than you or I ~ which is to say not at all ~ but God’s love is not deterred by our limitations. It is He who sets out the terms of the covenant & it is He who keeps the conditions for he is wholly trustworthy.  His yes is yes, His no is no & He changes not.

The terms of the covenant required one of each animal suitable for Temple sacrifice:
·     A 3 yr old heifer
·     A 3yr old female goat
·     A 3yr old ram
·     A turtledove &
·     A young pigeon

We see the terms of God’s covenant working at multiple levels.  First the practical.

Covenant is a legal contract.  The terms & conditions are very specific, as are the obligations & responsibilities & once entered into it cannot be altered in any detail.  It is absolutely binding. To confirm the covenant the animals sacrificed would be cut in half & the people *cutting covenant* would pass between the cut pieces to confirm the covenant. In essence the meaning is: may the same be done to me if I break faith with the covenant I have made.

Secondly, this is a *blood covenant* for Leviticus 17:11 says: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.’

This makes more sense if we keep in mind that all of Torah is a picture of Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling that speaketh better than that of Abel… [Hebrews 12:24] because all the promises are Yes & Amen, in Jesus [2 Corinthians 1:20]

The NLT renders the end of this verse as: which speaks of forgiveness instead of crying out for vengeance like the blood of Abel .  While it is not a literal translation of the Greek I like it because it highlights something found in Genesis 4:10: He said, "What have you done? The voice of your brother's blood is crying to Me from the ground… The life is in the blood ~ & it has a voice!

As on the cross it is God who sets out the terms of the covenant, God who establishes the covenant & only God who passes through the cut pieces BUT, he ratifies the covenant in response to Abraham’s obedience.

The 3rd aspect is prophetic in nature but I will only highlight some aspects of this.

Five animals are chosen.  They will become the temple sacrificial animals but the thing that strikes me most forcefully is the number.  Five is the number of Grace. Five is the Number of Torah & 5 is the number of the Gospel! Five is the number of prayer, of protection, of anointing; 5 ingredients are used in the temple incense & anointing oil.  There are five books in Torah, a 5~fold ministry, 5 stones to defeat Goliath & fruit is ready to eat from a tree in the 5th year.

Hey is the 5th Hebrew letter & it’s pictograph meaning is breath, Spirit, Behold.

When the number of grace is multiplied upon itself you get Grace upon Grace~  [For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. John 1:16 ]~ you see this applied visually in the way the temple oil was prepared in multiples of 5:
·        Pure Myrrh, 500 shekels
·        Sweet cinnamon, 250 shekels
·        Sweet calamus, 250 shekels
·        Cassia, 500 shekels
·        To a hin [about 5 litres] of olive oil.
God’s grace displayed in a tangible way!
The Abramic covenant set in motion the particulars that will pave the way for Christ to become incarnate in the world: One, man, one nation, one people, one bloodline, one family, culminating in Jesus Christ., who blesses the entire world.
Lastly this covenant demonstrates a very particular point. Isaac, not Ishmael, was the child of the promise. Only Isaac fulfilled the terms of the covenant promise because he was the legitimate heir. In Genesis 22:2 he is called *your only son*. It is here in Genesis 22 that you see how great Abraham’s faith was but his faith was built solidly on the covenant promises of Genesis 15.
Remember, the terms of the covenant cannot be altered once they have been entered into.  Abraham knew that God was absolutely obligated to keep His promise.  He couldn’t change the terms & conditions because they  had been sealed in blood.
Isaac was the child of promise so whatever happened when God called Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, Abraham knew that one way or another God had to keep the terms of the covenant! God provided a ram for Abraham but His own son went to the cross.  A dead god is no god at all.  A broken covenant is no covenant at all.
The son was promised in the garden.  From Adam to Noah, to Abraham to Moses, God is continually preparing the way for His son: A son who would defeat satan, destroy the works of the devil, heal the sick, bind up the broken hearted, restore creation & set mankind free so He did the only thing He could have done.  He raised Christ from the dead!
Hebrews 8:6 But now He [Jesus] has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better promises.
Hebrews is very clear on the matter: For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. [9:15]
Every time, every single time we come to communion, we remember that covenant.
And having taken the bread, having given thanks, He broke it and gave to them, saying, "This is My body, which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me,"
And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, "This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. Luke 22:19~20And we celebrate His death until He comes again for His death procures for us that new covenant.
Hosea 6:6 For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Praise the Lord!

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

As in the Days of Noah ~ Ganeida

As it was in the days of Noah, so will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37

Our second candle is orange.  It represents the covenant God made with Noah, which is found in Genesis 9 & begins in verse 9: "I hereby confirm my covenant with you and your descendants… And verse 13 explains I have placed my rainbow in the clouds. It is the sign of my covenant with you and with all the earth.

This covenant is prophetic in nature for the rainbow is always a symbol of God’s covenant until that moment foretold in Revelation 10:1 : Then I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, surrounded by a cloud, with a rainbow over his head. His face shone like the sun, and his feet were like pillars of fire.

Angel is a misleading term.  In the Greek it simply means messenger & it is clear from passages like Exodus 3:2 that the Angel of the Lord is Jesus who identifies himself in v.6 as I am the God of your father~the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." When Moses heard this, he covered his face because he was afraid to look at God.

This covenant particularly looks back to the past & the Promise of God & forward to the future yet to be fulfilled & so as we remember & are thankful for past blessings we also consider the times in which we live as we wait in expectation for the coming of our Lord, for we are told that His coming will be As in the days of Noah.

So what were the days of Noah like?

Luke puts it this way: In those days, the people enjoyed banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat and the flood came and destroyed them all. "And the world will be as it was in the days of Lot. People went about their daily business~eating and drinking, buying and selling, farming and building~ until the morning Lot left Sodom. Then fire and burning Sulphur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. [17:27~29]

There is a reason we are warned to be alert & watchful.  There is going to be nothing out of the ordinary to warn people of impending doom.  It will be business as usual. Yes, there will be wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes & disasters in various places but in a sense these are *normal* ~ natural events that are part of this world. Consider the natural disasters we have witnessed: tsunamis, volcanoes, wild fires, flooding, hail, snow storms etc & life continued on despite the devastation. These things will not be the defining sign of the last days.

That dubious honour goes to violence.
Genesis 6:11 Now God saw that the earth had become corrupt and was filled with violence.

God observed all this corruption in the world, for everyone on earth was corrupt.[12]
So God said to Noah, "I have decided to destroy all living creatures, for they have filled the earth with violence. Yes, I will wipe them all out along with the earth![13]

The Hebrew word for violence is hamas. We tend to think violence only means physical violence & of course physical violence is included but remember God is not looking at the end result.  He is looking at all the things that have led up to the end result therefore violence is more than merely acts of physical violence.

The Expositors Bible Commentary vol.7 p.383 says it “means a defiance of the law by one too strong to be brought into account.”

We are not talking about man~made law here, but about the dictates of a Holy God.
Proverbs 6 gives us a list of 7 things that are an abomination to God ~ 7 things that He hates when He finds them in a man:
·      A haughty look [pride]
·      A lying tongue
·      Hands that shed innocent blood
·      A heart that devises wicked plans
·      Feet swift in running to do evil
·      A false witness who speaks lies
·      One who sows discord amongst brethren

The root of violence is pride.  This becomes clearer when you understand that when Psalm 51:3 says The fool says in his heart, “There is no God”… Fool [nabal], means an impious person who has no concept of ethical or religious truth, not a stupid person. Rather it is a person who desires to live without moral restraints, particularly any that are imposed by God.

Thus we understand that in Noah’s day people were living without moral restraint. If it felt good, they did it. It is a form of self~delusion.

People may be right in their own eyes, but the LORD examines their heart. Proverbs 21:2
Proverbs 30:12 There is a generation that are pure in their own eyes, and yet is not washed from their filthiness.

Isaiah 5:20~21 warns: What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever.
There is a composite picture throughout scripture of what happens when a person, a people, or a nation throw of the moral restraints of God, causing violence to themselves, to others & to a nation.

We know this passage from 2nd Timothy well:
You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
That is what the days of Noah looked like.  That was the violence that filled the whole earth. It brought a terrible judgement.
There is a wonderful statement @ the end of Genesis 7. Noah has been declared righteous by God & he obeys God, building the ark & filling it with the various kinds of animals. When the rain began to fall He takes his family & enters the ark & in v 16 we read…Then the Lord closed the door behind them.

I Thessalonians 5:5 says: For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don't belong to darkness and night. We remember that as children of the Light we belong to the one who is Light, the one in whom no darkness is to be found & as such can declare:
The LORD is my light and my salvation ~ so why should I be afraid? The LORD is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? Psalm 27:1

As in the days of Noah there is a great divide appearing.

The way of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, which shines ever brighter until the full light of day. But the way of the wicked is like total darkness. They have no idea what they are stumbling over. Proverbs 4:18~19

We are seeing bit by bit the erosion of the sanctity of life, of godly principles, of righteous nations but there is a limit
We learn from Genesis 15:16 But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.

And again in Thessalonians
 …they try to keep us from preaching the Good News of salvation to the Gentiles. By doing this, they continue to pile up their sins. But the anger of God has caught up with them at last. 1 Thessalonians 2:16.

The world’s cup of iniquity is not yet full.  We are still in the Age of Grace.  There is still time for an unrepentant world to turn back to God but the time grows short. Thus We must quickly carry out the tasks assigned us by the one who sent us. The night is coming, and then no one can work. John 9:4

We are the light.  We are the salt. We have a little time yet to be salt & light in a world that sorely needs both.