9. The Word and The Spirit? In Abraham’s Life?

Word and Spirit 1Posthumously, Abraham was referred to as “the friend of God” (Isaiah 41:8.James 2:23). Neither he nor Yahweh are noted in the biblical text as referring to each other as “mutual friends” in Abraham’s biblical biography.  Even Abraham’s response to meeting Yahweh at the door of his tent in Genesis 18 was far distant from a twentieth century, “Hi Dude!  Gimme a High Five!” sort of informality. It still reads very much like a “Lord and servant” model of relationship both outwardly and inwardly. At least that is how it seems to my mind when I read and meditate on Abraham’s biblical memoir.

 

The Posthumous Statement of Abraham’s “Friendship” with Yahweh.

It was over a thousand years after Abraham’s cadaver was concealed in the cave in Machpelah field when Isaiah first referred to the patriarch as the “Friend of Yahweh.” In twenty-first century “relationship boundaries” and street language, even though the New Testament interprets Psalm 22:22 as Christ referring to the redeemed as “brothers,” and we have three times the use of the word Abba, which is transliterated instead of being translated simply because it is a Hebrew word in the midst of the Greek text, Abraham never ever sounds informal or even near the relationship model of what we would say today is a “friendship.”

 

Of course there is a total commitment by both man and deity in this relationship, and an incredibly close bond between the patriarch and his Lord. By any definition, formal or informal, we are talking of friendship and oneness. Yahweh bonded Himself irrevocably with Abraham by virtue of the unsolicited yet freely and graciously given promises that He made to the man from Ur.

 

Word and Spirit 2Abraham’s responses to God, however, are always humble, respectful and worshipful. There is definitely courage and freedom in what Abraham says to God, but the awe and reverence he had towards God is clear.  I have to add as a kind of confession, that even though I have always seen Christ as my “brother” and “friend” since the day of my conversion, and even though I have always perceived Heavenly Father as the loving intimate “Dad” I never had, I have never felt free – except in a preaching scenario when touching on the word “Abba” – to refer to God as “Daddy” apart from the occasional precious moment in prayer, and even then it is the Hebrew word Abba I pronounce, not “Daddy.”

 

To be Formal or Informal, and to what degree? That is the Question.

It is true that a believer’s relationship with God, by faith in Christ and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, is the most intimate and meaningful bond that two beings could possibly have, but somehow I feel I am repressing my own concept of His awesome greatness, power and omniscience by referring to Him in anything but terminology that exalts Him and His holiness. And the word “Daddy” doesn’t quite express my inner sense of awe towards Him.

 

“Here am I and the children God has given me,” is placed into the mouth of Christ by the writer to the Hebrews in Isaiah 8:18, revealing the necessity of God’s attempt through the scriptures to explain His relationship with the redeemed of mankind by using purely human relationship terminology. I fall on my face in worship that God should refer to me in any terms that suggest “higher and cleaner than “sinner.”” I trust the Master’s use of terminology. Yes! It is incredibly important to me how He refers to me. To be one of His children is a privilege beyond words. For Christ to refer to me as His brother is a superlative that cannot be graded. Thank you Father I am your child. Thank you Jesus, I am your brother. But personally, my clear vision of His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence restricts of me in my use of totally informal language.

 

Prototype, Template, Example and Model in Abraham

word and Spirit 3Abraham is, said the apostle Paul, the “father of all believers” (Rom. 4: 11). This suggests that he is not only the prototype of how we need to walk in faith, but a template and pattern of what we can expect of the experience of believing God and walking with Him. Even the process of his coming to faith is a classic pattern of archetypal dynamics throughout the time that all of the millions who have come to faith. In plain language: In the twenty-first century the understanding of the life of faith, and the underlying force of relating to Christ by faith in the Holy Spirit, is exemplified with a publicly administered divine stamp of approval by Abraham the friend of God and the father of all believers. This is clearly shown in almost every New Testament reference to his character and person. We cannot move on with Christ and leave Abraham behind or even have him omitted altogether from our meditations. A friend of mine wrote a book where he actually talks about “leaving Abraham and the Abrahamic covenant behind us as we move on in God.” I expressed total incredulity to him that he could even think of such a thing. The apostle Paul, James the Elder, and even the Lord Christ Himself brought Abraham before our eyes on several occasions as a model of some importance in several aspects of our relationship with God.

 

Abraham and the Word and the Spirit

Yahweh’s appearance to Abraham, and the promises given in that Initial Theophany, model the New Testament reality of the power of the word and the Spirit in tandem being received in the heart. I do not mean it was a type, a picture or an allegory. I mean that the visible appearance in Abraham’s sight, no matter how plainly human, of God Almighty – the God of all Glory who dwells in light inaccessible – was as impacting as the Words Yahweh spoke in that revelation.  Abraham’s moving from a static home and a settled society into a migrant, nomadic, bedouin type of lifestyle was a giant step that changed his life, and, indeed, has impacted the whole of mankind (Genesis 12:1-4).  It was, at that point of time, the biggest step of Abraham’s life. It was undoubtedly the biggest step he ever thought that God would ever be asking of him. It was huge, not only because it was the first step into a journey to the unknown, but also because he did not have a full revelation of God or His purpose. However, the audible hearing of the voice, and the visible sight of His being convinced Abraham profoundly about the Person who had initiated the relationship and the dealings and commitments He had promised. Abram packed and migrated on the basis of God and His promise.

 

New Testament Understanding of Godliness through Word and Spirit

Word and Spirit 4However God revealed Himself on several occasions to the son of Terah in the book of Genesis, and each time, not only did God visibly and tangibly appear to him, but He spoke words that expanded his personal vision of life, increased his intelligence concerning the foundation of his faith, and gave him a deeper and more sustainable motivation to fulfill God’s purpose for his existence – even to his own hurt. Yes indeed! A Christ-like attitude of “self-denial” was embedded into Abraham’s psyche by the spirit of the conditions and means of his faith two thousand years before Christ uttered the words, “If any man would follow me, let him take up his cross.”

 

Open Relationship with Yahweh was Non-religious and Free

The acceptance that Abraham experienced by God’s words and continual revelation of Himself to the sojourning patriarch was total.  His divinely granted approval was not a “religious” formula embedded in some ceremony or rite. It was completely and utterly as “natural” and relational as one man could be in relating to another. What is an absolute fascination in negotiating the attributes of Abraham’s relationship with God, is the very manner in which Yahweh reveals Himself and relates to Abraham when He interfaces with him. Clouds of glory and heavenly throne rooms are simply not there at all.

 

word and Spirit 5Yahweh Himself is seen to enter into the ways and manner of life of the biblical characters of the book of Genesis in a manner of utter simplicity, totally lacking in the drama of a burning bush, a smoking and quaking mountain, a throne in heaven with four headed living beings continually singing and/or clouds of glory, or a calling of somebody’s name in the darkness of the night. In Genesis God appears in ways suited to the simple and primitive life-style that was Abraham’s, and was typical also of the generation in which he lived.  So much of Genesis is story lined and screenplayed in domestic scenes while cooking food, family disputes and dialogues. Whenever Yahweh communicates His purposes, or manifests Himself to human beings throughout the Genesis plot, it is always after the same simple pattern of a “face to face chat.” In the First Book of Moses He never employs a dramatic and/or prophetic Elijah, Elisha or a John the Baptist, but He personally interfaces with people and makes His plan and purpose known at set times. Sending a prophetic voice, it seems, would have been too distant, too reserved to suit the general routines of life of the characters involved. It may be in a dream, or with a voice, as well as by personal manifestation in real time; but it is still and always Yahweh Himself engaging in what we refer to as a “one to one chat.” And even if angels are employed, they are more His “travelling” companions than His messengers. In fact, the vast majority of the academic scholars believe firmly that each time “the Angel of the Lord” appears in Genesis, it is actually Yahweh Himself in the person of Christ. There are, clearly, no clouds, no thunder and no earthquakes. There are no singing angels or visions in the sky. It is God in a human or human-like form who comes to speak, or even, comes to genuinely exchange views with mortal man. In this easy quiet manner God repeatedly approached Abraham.

 

God’s Informality in Genesis

It was in the cool of the day that He walked in the garden with Adam. It was in the field He pleaded with Cain. He came down to the building site at the imaginations of Babel’s construction, and came down yet again in response to the resounding scream of evil in the city of Sodom and even conducted a casual walk in that direction from the Sacred Oak of Mamre. It was all activated in direct divine contact and conversations of purpose and intimacy initiated by God and not man. Now that remark is an important one!

 

He did all this in the manner of an “eye to eye” engagement that penetrated all “Deity to human” relational boundaries, He again and again appeared to Abraham, and later Isaac and Jacob, inviting their confidence, expressing His displeasure, or conveying His purposes and stating His promises, in ways of full personal familiarity, wanting to be related to – just as human beings do – in a bond based on love, trust and reality.

 

God wanted to be known and loved simply for Who and What He is, just like we do, and just as He still desires today with us. It was to kings and Pharaohs, not only Abraham and his stock, that the Lord God appeared in dreams by night; and being received totally without any sense of amazement, warned them of sin crouching at the door, telling them of the danger of the moment, and pointing them to their destiny.  He even started one conversation with the Philistine Abimelech with the words, “You are a dead man.” Now that’s what I call, “down to earth.”

 

Word and Spirit 7Neither are His words in any way communicated in the New Testament sense of being spoken to “by the Holy Spirit,” or by mystical inspirational promptings. That is not the way in Genesis at all. But it is, as we have seen, the personal interjection of the Lord Himself, coming in a lucid vision, or by a dream or a word; or in the still nearer way of taking the forms and attributes of manhood; and that, too, never in mystic dress or symbolism as He did afterwards to such as Isaiah, Daniel, or the apostle John. He came as one who was meeting a man in his work place, home or circumstances. He came as a traveller, needing hospitality, He eats of a calf and a cake at the tent door with one; with another He contends and wrestles, as a man with his fellow, having a quarrel or a matter of dispute with him.

 

Humbly and Homely He appeared in Genesis, but His Deity was always Immediately Perceived

But we must not let this distract us from the fact, no matter how non-religious and informal it may seem to us, that Abraham met, intimately with Yahweh on several occasions, and the naked statements made by God could not and would not have impacted Abraham if it hadn’t come to him in a manner that was received as “normal” or “natural.” “The God of Glory appeared” to Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees (Acts 7:3). It was a divine interruption of Word and Spirit into Abraham’s life in Mesopotamia. What is most important is that in whatever way God appeared to the Patriarch, he knew the importance of what had happened to him, and the character of Him who promised. That is what made the whole revelation so solid and comprehensive in changing the course and manner of Abraham’s life and humanities history.

 

The Wide Variation of the Calling of Men in the Single Purpose of God’s Redemptive Plan

Adam in the full purity of innocence was a man of the earth. He had to enjoy it, knowing it all as his, but knowing nothing as his beside. But when he was sent out of Eden, he became a stranger in the earth. He received no commission to improve or furnish it. He had simply to till the ground for a living, and the later translation of Enoch the seventh from Adam, tells us that the destiny and inheritance of that earliest household of God was a heavenly one.

 

In Noah, however, in the process of time, the purpose of God is different. Noah is a man of the earth again. He leaves the ark with characteristics very different from that in which Adam had left Eden. Noah left the ark under a divine commission to keep the world in order. One can say that Noah was to be the judge and ruler.

 

It was not “strangership” on the earth, but citizenship in it, and government of it that was now once more the divine thought. God was already working towards mankind being in the same role as Adam was in before the fall. The planet was to be under the authoritative feet of redeemed humanity, which was to be under the love, influence and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

Word and Spirit 6However, tragically a second apostasy was witnessed in the midst of Noah’s descendants. In the process of time, the evil of the race negatively impacted human independency in the earth, casting off the fear of God, and seeking to do for themselves without Him, as Adam had (even seeking to be as God) in the garden of old.

 

With all this transpiring in a downward spiral, Abraham, finds grace in the eyes of the Lord. He is called out from this apostate scene; and, as we might expect, from this alternate telling of heavenly and earthly mysteries, after Noah the man of the earth, Abraham is called to be a man of heaven, and heaven on earth to be clearly envisioned.

 

God contracted with the Patriarch the covenant of faith (Gen. 15:5, 18). That was the time when Abraham received the Divine declaration of justification, and it is there that in the historic development of salvation the very first plain and express mention is made of the justification of a sinner (Genesis 15:6; Romans 4:2-4).

 

The First Declaration of a man being justified by his Faith in God’s Word and Character

When exactly did Abraham reach the point of time when his faith was reckoned to Abraham as righteousness before God and with God? Was it before or after his circumcision?” (Romans 4:10). It could not have been less than 13 years before he was circumcised because the covenant of circumcision was first introduced when Abraham was already 99 years old (Genesis 17:1-14); but the covenant of faith and the biblical announcement of Abraham’s justification took place before even the birth of Ishmael, and therefore before his 86th year (Genesis 16:16; Compare with Genesis 17:1). Consequently Abraham had been justified already thirteen years before he was circumcised.

 

It is this piece of selected history that Paul, in Romans 4, builds his whole case from Scripture that justification is through faith and faith alone. As far as Abraham himself was concerned, from a plainly human perspective, it might have been without significance whether the justification had been before or after the circumcision. The truth is, however, there is no statement in the text that even suggests Abraham knew he was justified by his faith. If the bible had been given to us in movie format, Genesis 15:6 would have been a voice over spoken by an anonymous narrator: “Abraham believed God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.” Did Abraham know that? Who told him that because he believed what God had said he was justified and that his faith in God was accounted for in the heavenly record as a life fully lived in righteousness?

 

My belief in the divine order of things causes me to say that if in real time Yahweh could not pronounce Abraham righteous until that point in the narrative at Genesis 15:6 it was for a foreordained, predestined and deliberate purpose. Yahweh had a prophetic end in view in this precise sequence and timing. The fact that the pronouncement is made before his circumcision meant that Abraham was therefore the prototype, the ground-breaker, or, to use the biblical phraseology, the “father of all such as without circumcision, but through faith alone, should become justified.”  This was only possible because he himself had Genesis 15:6 pronounced over his life as an uncircumcised man. Therefore the sequence in his life of the pronouncement of his justification before the covenant of circumcision is not a matter of indifference in God’s plan, but in relation to the development of the salvation of mankind, it is plainly prophetic. It is this very fact that makes it self-evidently plain that circumcision cannot be a condition precedent to being made righteousness, but only a “seal” of something that had already taken place, i.e. Abraham having been made righteous by faith (Romans 4:11).  In history the seal of a monarch or Lord was only set to a completed document. The same principle runs here. The justification of Abraham must have been concluded in advance, and Genesis 15:6 declares this to be so.

 

The Power of the Truth Contained in Abraham’s Relationship with Yahweh and its Relevance to Today

This is why the faith of Abraham, and the divinely declared justification of the patriarch is so marvellously vital for the understanding for the teaching of the New Testament. From what we have just explained above, it follows that now, from Acts 2 onwards circumcision is an irrelevance for Gentiles that come to faith. It is by their faith in Christ that they are circumcised. Circumcision becomes obsolete and has absolutely no religious or spiritual significance. Nevertheless, of course, Jewish converts must still have the faith of Abraham, i.e. believing the promises of God for salvation, even though they are circumcised.

 

I believe it was a German theologian whose writings I read that stated: “To attain to the temple of salvation the Gentile must not first pass through the ante-room of the Jews, that is, through the law, but the Jews must first pass through the ante-room of that faith which Abram already had while being, so to say, a “heathen gentile.”

 

So it is clearly explained by Paul that what happened in Abraham’s life is intensely and vitally important to our understanding of faith and how it relates us to God. It was the very foundation of the argument against the judaising Christians who perceived Christianity and following Christ as just part of the normal Jewish belief system that followed Moses, with “a little extra doctrine.”

 

So the entire force of Abraham’s biblical biography teaches us clearly that salvation is utterly without human merit and that redemption is totally of God’s amazing grace. Salvation is purely a free gift, and proof is given that the gospel of the church age since Acts 2 onwards was exemplified in real time in God’s covenant with Abraham.

 

This means of course that the “New Covenant” as prophesied by Jeremiah and Ezekiel is the continuation and glorious perfection of the covenant with Abraham (Galatians 3:9, 14; Romans 4). This suggests the anomaly that the New Covenant is, in reality older than the “Old Covenant.” That is, that the gospel message of grace is actually older that the covenant that started by Moses’ days up in Mount Sinai (Hebrews 8:8-9).

 

What is relevant is the old quote that I have in my old notes that are over 30 years from some Christian scholar, author or preacher that “The patriarchal age is more evangelical than the law; as the age before the law is a prototype of the age after the law.” (I really do not know where that quotation comes from.

 

But together with the Abraham being made righteous there was the glorious promise to Abraham concerning the Land.

“I am the Lord who caused thee to migrate out of Ur of the Chaldees, so as to give thee this land for an inheritance” (Genesis 15:7).

 

With the declaration of righteousness which meant in reality a new life to be lived in the presence and in the blessing of Yahweh, Abraham also received the promise of the Land. This is why Abraham journeyed for he looked for a city which has foundations whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11: 8-10). The scripture actually suggests that the Patriarch was looking to see where God lived. It seems to this writer that God appeared so often to Abraham while he tented in Canaan that by the fact he would walk to his tent to meet him, and then walk away when his business with Abraham was finished that somehow Abraham must have deduced that God had a city somewhere in the land of Canaan where He “lived.” Does that sound stupid?

 

Romans 4:13-17 places the same value on this aspect of the Divine promise as on his righteousness before God.  Abraham was heir to the world, and Paul mentions this in a fully organic connection with his rationale of Abraham’s justification being given him without any circumcision. One preacher, I heard said, “Justification is not connected to any law apart from the law of faith as in Romans 3:27.”

 

Paul’s letter to the Romans is the sledgehammer to destroy legalism and ramming the thought into the human psyche that the law is irrelevant to a person’s justification. And the same apostle’s letter to the Galatians is the steamroller to crack the nut of the thought that sanctification and growth in holiness is of the law. The entire process of a person’s salvation is all about faith.  And with these mountainous issues resolved, he reasons that there is nothing in the cosmos that can interfere with the redeemed of humanity gaining their eternal inheritance, and ethnic Israel  gaining the Land. It is all a done deal to those of faith. (John 10:28, 29; I Peter 1:4, 5; Romans 8:30).

 

We need to get hold in our understanding that the foundational covenants of faith in Genesis chapter 15, and the covenant of Genesis 17. The Covenant cut in Genesis 15:18 is with  “Gentile” Abram. Genesis 17:7 is a Covenant cut with the already justified and newly named Abraham. The latter covenant was not eternal as was the first one (Galatians 4:2). Genesis 15 is the rock solid foundational covenant exhibiting God’s grace and kindness to Abraham and mankind. This means that Genesis 15 could be rationally argued as the most important and ground level chapter of salvation in the whole of the Old Testament.

word and Spirit 8

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8. Exactly What are the “Foundations of a Person’s Faith?”

“Abraham was continually looking for a city with firm, permanent and eternal foundations, a city designed and built by God.” Hebrews 11:10 (My own translation)

FOUNDATION1

Why spend so much time and money on parts of the structure that will never be seen? Ask Jesus Matthew 7:24-27

Abraham, it seems, was keen on foundations.

Laying foundations can be tiresome. It is however totally necessary, if not imperative to spend time building them. In any physical building structure, foundations are planned and their depth carefully calculated in order to deal with the possibility of drastic environmental hazards such as floods, earthquakes and tornadoes. What Jesus said about the house on the sand and the house on the rock was, as far as house building sites are concerned, just downright common sense. However Jesus referred His statement to one’s faith, teaching received and understood and obedience performed.

 

“Therefore whoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house on a rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it did not fall because it was founded upon a rock. And every one that hears these sayings of mine, and doesn’t do them, shall be likened to a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was its fall.”   Matthew 7:24-27

 

Now that puts the entire statement of rocks, sand and foundations into a new juicy context. Where do we put these words? What exactly are the foundations we are encouraged to lay? In our faith? In obedience? Doing the word? Not hearers only? What exactly are the foundations of faith?  How do I know that my foundations have been properly laid? What do we do with the whole subject of foundation laying? How do we process and apply Christ’s words?

 

I am bringing this subject up here, because it seems to me that the foundations of Abraham’s faith and relationship with God had foundations laid deep from the start. They held him secure all his life … and he had a few crises to test both the foundation and the superstructure of His faith.

 

Abraham did what he had learned from God’s words when he left Ur as he was asked to. His actions indicate to us, according to the words of the Master, that Abraham’s foundations were deeply set and laid quite early in his walk with the Ever-Living Ever-Loving Yahweh.  Somehow, whoever it was that wrote the letter to the Hebrews over two thousand years after Abraham was alert and aware to know that Abraham was into foundations. The father of the faithful knew about foundations and understood the whole concept. We know this as a fact because he slightly digressed when he got to the subject of Abraham in Hebrews 11 in order to inform his readers that, “Abraham journeyed for he looked for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.”

 

FOUNDATION2

The softer the surface soil (or sand) the deeper the foundations need to be.

A Christian life does not just happen, it is built. Christian character does not just happen, it is built. Faith does not just soar and stay grasping heaven, it has to be built and nurtured and educated line upon line, precept upon precept. But before the structure of the spiritual life is raised, foundations have to be laid. And while Abraham rejected the entire concept of idolatry and polytheism, he would have had to dig down deep in his psyche to clear out the shifting sands of the lifestyle of idolatry and multi faith concepts before laying the foundations of “God is Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and in truth” and Him alone. Oh, I know Jesus did not speak those words until we were post-Abraham by two millennia, but the principle has always been true since the fall of the human race. And if God had first appeared to Abraham clothed in glory (Acts 7:1-3) and then somehow disappeared, or ascended into heaven, or whether He just withdrew from Abraham by turning round and walking away over the horizon, it must have dawned on the patriarch that to pray and worship Him was to be done with the old meta narrative and to put on and absorb a completely renewed world view and paradigm of what he was doing, how he was to speak, and what he was to expect from the relationship with God beyond promised children and land. By virtue of the revelation of the God of Glory that he had seen and heard he had to lay out an entirely new perspective of the world in which he lived.

 

Follow me as I tell you how I think. Later on in the Genesis account of Abraham, it is made absolutely clear that God appeared to him in human form along with two angels – also in human form (Genesis 18).  After Abraham had fed and “entertained” them, the two angels set off for Sodom, and Yahweh stops to give the patriarch some remarkable revelation of what was happening in the world. Sodom, Abraham was told, was up for destruction and we have the prolonged intercessory prayer of Abraham for God to spare that city if there were only a few righteous found.  When the prayer was over, scripture intriguingly tells us, “the Lord went His way.”  I find the statement astonishing. I have the picture of Yahweh in the form of the God-man nodding to Abraham just to acknowledge that their intimate chat was over, and He turning around literally walks away over the horizon and out of view. Read Genesis 18 yourself and see if, like me, you are struck by the absolutely natural manner in which man and God, with angelic accompaniment meet together, and then separate. It is like old friends meeting and then saying “Au revoir.”. Abraham knew who it was, and that alone raises the query in my mind, “Is this how Yahweh appeared at first to Abraham, only then, in that first appearance, clothed with glory? (It is obvious I think that He did not appear clothed in glory in Acts 18. I may be wrong. But if the Shekinah – the visible glory of God was present in Genesis 18 it is not at all mentioned in the text.)

 

If God’s first Theophany granted to Abraham was manifested in the same way as it was in Genesis 18, and if Yahweh walked off “into the sunset” as it were in Ur of the Chaldees after that initial revelation explained in Genesis 12:1-3, it is my supposition that when Abraham marched away from Ur as instructed, he was travelling in the direction that God walked and was eagerly looking for the place where Yahweh “must” have been “living” while he was on earth among men. Thus we have, “Abraham journeyed, for he looked for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.” (Hebrews 11:10) It would seem that Abraham knew that God would not build anything without ensuring that foundations were properly laid to the structure.

 

If my theory isn’t spot on, I feel I am somehow on the right track when I read later that the first two disciples that left John the Baptist to follow Jesus, asked straight away, “Rabbi, where do you live? (John 1:38-39). The Baptist had told them that He was Messiah, and their first thought on being introduced to Him was, “Where does He live?”

 

FOUNDATION3

The greater the structure the deeper the foundations need to be.

Foundations! We all need them. It is leaving a person exposed to danger and collapse if the fundamental principles of the understanding of faith and relationship with God in a fallen world do not stand firm on solid spiritual foundations. Foundations upon which one’s future faith, hope and character should be resting. The cement mix of faith and reality, thoughts of heaven and an understanding of the world to keep the feet on solid ground, should be tightly packed around the rocks of divine truth. Sandcastles do not help. The equivalent of spiritual plywood walls, or stud structures are not to be entertained for the rough business of life. Human understanding, mental processes, learned Godly thought patterns need to absorbed into the Christian’s belief system and way of life until they are literally engrafted into the spiritual DNA of the believer. It may seem strange to some to be  talking of the “Christian life style” when addressing ourselves to Abraham, but Abraham’s belief system and relationship with God is held up for us all the way through the New Testament as a model and template for all things Christian.

 

Preparation for storm and flood is necessarily learned in the sunshine hours of easy days. Flood protection needs to be built in to the meditation and bible study of the believer. It is imperative that secret cellars of thought, and places of comfort and strength need to be installed into the theological house of all Christians in order to stand in the wicked day. Storms of contradiction, tornadoes of doubt, floods of secularism and blizzards that infect the eyes abound in this world this side of the grave. Foundations of thought, belief and understanding need to be firmly and solidly laid down. It will be, quite literally to some, a matter of life and death to the soul and spirit as life progresses.

 

Foundations of faith covers the all-round context of the Christian life. Not only what you believe, but how you believe. Not only how much knowledge of God’s word do you have, but how much the word of God and the Spirit of God has hold of you. In Ephesians 6 Paul talks of putting on the armour of God so that his readers would stand “in the evil day.” Possibly the most positive man that ever lived simply assumes as part of his foundation that “evil days will come.”

 

Believers need to take time, and give much thought to preparing themselves for everything that the Bible teaches about the stuff of life that can knock you sideways and even bury you in the sand that some people’s house of faith is built on. Life, death, persecution and all negative experiences of the human experience need to be prepared for. Read the books of and understand the mentality and faith of those brothers and sisters in Christ who have been tortured for His name. It is a shock to realise that persecution and torturing of Christians is more prevalent today than it was in generations gone by. It is also necessary to gain insight and a firm grasp of doctrine and what those subjects of modern western society that seem to challenge so many high profile believers today. Euthanasia, homosexuality, “Gay marriage,” the grounds of the cults in western society. It is not academic degree level learning I am referring to but a good grasp of the biblical reasoning about topics in the world as well as things that seem to raise controversy in the church. Heaven, hell, grace and law. The greatest challenge in foundation laying is attitude and understanding to seemingly godless and purposeless attacks on “comfortable belief systems.”

FOUNDATION4

In the realm of the Spirit the foundations laid are concerning various issues.

We live in a generation in the west where “hard truths” are generally by passed for the “comfort truths” of prosperity, divine health, worship a higher priority than the word, “prayer concerts” where there used to be “prayer meetings” and an entire plethora of those aspects of bible teaching that carry a strong “feel good factor.” Western Christianity seems somewhat cossetted when we read of what is happening in the Far East as well as the atrocities of the Islamic radicals.

 

By hook or by crook deep solid strong foundations need to be laid while the comparable “sun” shines in order for Christians to stand when the “floods” seek to overwhelm us.

 

So here comes Abraham. “Deep” and going “deeper.” We know that finally he arrives at “deepest.” The entire Old and New Testament exhorts us to emulate him.

 

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7. A Promise! A Promise! Messiah by a Promise!

“Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonours you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:1b-4

“Every promise that God ever made is “Yes” in Him, and “Amen!” in Him.” 2 Corinthians 1:21

“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”       2 Peter 1:4

 

promise 1Surely, even people that say they do not believe in God, must concede that if there is a God, and if He made a promise, that promise would be utterly rock solid, trustworthy and impossible for it not to be upheld. Wouldn’t you agree? God Himself says that He cannot and will not lie (Titus 1:1). When Psalm 89:34 states; “I will not dishonour my covenant, because I will not change what I have spoken,” the inescapable implication is that anything God says, is as powerful and as binding as a covenant. God never speaks loosely or randomly. Covenants are incredibly powerful things in the context of the Bible and its times and its people. Covenants, especially in parts of the Middle East and Africa are still powerful today. Yahweh’s promises are as dependable as day following night. The faith we put in God is grounded and foundationed in His character and His stated personal motives in the scriptures, the Bible. God has an ultimate end, a supreme goal. God has planned His means towards achieving that ultimate goal. From the point of time that we know about, when Abraham was younger than 75, God planted the first seed of the divinely ordained means to achieve that glorious and ultimate goal. The promises He gives are the tangible points of contact, relationship and dialogue with Him. The promises of God are the point of our interface with Him.

 

It is clearly said throughout the Old Testament, and even said once in the New Testament that nobody could see God’s face and live. But we, today, have access to the face of Christ who is Very God of Very God. The extrapolation is, of course, that nobody has and probably never will see the face of the Father, but “We see Jesus” and gaze into His face through the Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:6). And by God’s promises we look into His face directly and take His hand with the positive yet submissive attitude of, “You said it Lord! Now I believe you will perform what has been promised.” There will always be a performance of the things He promises. God’s promises are rocks to stand on and the firmest of anchors to our souls. God’s promises are for anybody who will believe Him, and in so doing believe them.

 

promise 2It may sound a bit hyper mystical to say that we believe in God’s character before we believe what He has said in scripture, but that is exactly how it is in human relationships. If a close and trusted friend or relative makes a promise to a person, one is much more easily entreated to believe and act on the basis of the promise from that kind of person than one would be if ,say, a reputed liar of doubtful character made a similar promise. Knowledge and confidence in the promisor themselves generally precedes confidence in the words they speak. What is different here is the fact that God appeared in glory, giving Abraham some kind of perception of the awesome integrity of the character of the one that was speaking to him back in Ur of the Chaldees. A glimpse of God in His glory I believe would bring the hardest heart immediately to child-like complete trust in a moment.

 

Charles Grandison Finney used to talk of God’s “natural attributes” when referring to His omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence and His omnichronocity ( that is my invented word for God being present everywhere throughout time, and active continually even outside of time. He fills the cosmos and always has done.). Those words describe plainly who and what God is by His very substance and nature. In the same way that we would say a person is of such and such a weight, such and such a height, this kind of complexion etc. The “omni…” words describe, for want of a better terminology, “what He looks like.” But then there are those attributes that reveal what and who He is by virtue of His intelligence, attitude and choices. God chooses to be truthful, just, honourable, faithful, moral and holy. He is good because He chooses to be good. His truthfulness, for the sake of humanity, is only one of the personable features of the Divine character that is so exciting and rock sure. His sense of justice is high and to be exalted. These are characteristics that belong to Him because of His eternal choices. Character of integrity comes from a proven track record of choices and actions that are judged by all to be good. In Yahweh’s case, His goodness is perfect.

 

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The late Richard Harris playing Abraham. As I remember this was the very moment in the Movie when God called him to leave Ur.

Everything about Almighty Yahweh is a rock to the hearts of those people who trust in Him.  His promises to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 (and other places) were delivered with Abraham’s full acceptance and absolute trust in the integrity of Him who was actually making the promise. The Patriarch must have had unconditional belief in God’s character. Why? Because Abraham packed his bags and left Ur of the Chaldees on the grounds of a thirty second statement made by Yahweh while looking into Abraham’s eyes. It is rather amazing when one sees the narrative in that light.

 

God’s Promises reveal His passionate desire and will to bless us. Promises inculcate faith, trust and dependence within the context of the human existence in a sinful fallen world. In the scripture He constantly makes statements about Himself and has names that have “PROMISE” stamped all over them and anchor like faith embedded within them. The bible is filled with words that cause faith to arise in the heart of the believer. “I am your Healer” is a statement that implies a solid, benevolent and supernatural promise.  How is it possible that God in all His integrity and holiness could name Himself “Yahweh Healer” (Exodus 15:26) and not want to heal you in order to vindicate the name He gave Himself.  I tell you that those Bible teachers that say “God doesn’t heal today!” will have to answer for their utterly misleading exegesis to the masses. The Hebrew language makes it clear, by prefixing the name “Yahweh” with the word “to heal,” that healing is not just what Yahweh does, but is literally part of His nature – it is what He is! Statements concerning those attributes that constitute His nature and intentions clearly become clothed with the force of “Promise.”  Statements embedded in verses like John 3:16 are of a similar ilk. When the Bible is perceived and accepted as “The Word of God,” the statements concerning how a human being can be eternally saved and made certain of an eternal existence in conscious bliss in the Kingdom of God are absolutely nothing short of rock like promises. These things are certain, and made so by virtue of the fact that God has inspired the statements and names that we refer to.

 

All the contents of the biblical revelation of things in heaven and on earth, things spiritual and practical that we could not possibly know without the biblical revelation are to be treasured as divine truth that God particularly wants us to imbibe, believe and stand on.  The nature of God in three persons. The total depravity of mankind. The utter inability of man to save or redeem himself. The offensiveness of sin in the eyes of God. Justification by faith and the essential need of repentance and holiness. We only grasp these truths in the Bible. The gift of the Bible to mankind reveals His desire to forgive sin on condition of faith only, and is simply, in and of itself, a statement of His grace towards us. These things show us that God is good by virtue of His unending truthfulness, justice and revealed grace.

 

promise 4But know this: God would still be good if there was no salvation. It is not possible that He could do anything that is not good.  The wickedness of man and the fact that the human heart is wicked and deceitful above all things, means that God would still be filled with goodness if mankind was left to be eternally damned. Why? Because God is perfectly just. Justice demands that sin needs to be punished. Justice is good. All human cultures and societies know that justice is good. If it is good in human society and is known to be good, why would it not be good if God exercised absolute justice and allowed the whole of humanity to walk their own way on a journey that is going pell-mell to hell and to let them be satisfied with their own choices when they finally turn up there? Hell is real. Justice is good. God could abstain from any activity and rightfully, justly allow us all to damn ourselves without repentance … and He would still be good. Why? Because He is holy and just! And justice is good! And justice declares that sin is an offence of such gravity to God and will therefore be accordingly punished eternally and in a manner that is proportionate to the crimes committed.  Proportionate retribution lasts forever. The truth of God’s word is a revelation of the depth of all and any of the crimes that constitute sin and are unrepented of. All that is factual.

 

But what God reveals right at the beginning of the biblical revelation is that He is gracious. Grace! That means He carries within His character a firm intention to save as much of lost humanity as will grab the lifeline of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ and wilfully invite Him to intrude into our mortal existence with the eternal perspective of taking us to be with Him eternally.

 

We could not have known any of the above without the full and total revelation of scripture. He wants us to know He is gracious.

 

promise 5External revelation from God, the special revelation of the scriptures, is to give us a firm and solid footing into the mind and heart of Yahweh towards us. He makes promise of those things that are for now, as well as for the future. And make no mistake about the absolute truth when I declare that His promises are given to us on the condition of our faith and that we ask for forgiveness. It is logical then to cite that these promises of Genesis 12:1-3 are not the ground of Abraham’s faith, but are given to him on condition of the obedience of his faith, and the grounds of God’s character and attitude towards mankind. Abraham required external revelation of God’s will for his destiny, as did Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Joshua, Samuel, David and so many others listed in scripture.

 

Abraham left Ur with nothing else but a promise. The promise was his motivation, and the ground of his assurance of relationship and the pleasure of obedience to the Almighty. The promise was his inspiration. It was the promise that facilitated his consciousness of sanity and intelligence when others would have thought he was insane and simple minded.  “I have seen God and He has instructed me to go and promised me “the world.”” The promise was the earnest, the deposit, the down payment of a future that he was aware he would not see in this life, but only in the resurrection. He would be the root and source of a great nation. That could not be in his life time. The glory of the light of God blinds many of us to see where we should go in life. Abraham’s revelation received in Ur is a template of God’s call to us all. Chewing on the promise, repeating it to Himself, praying it, thinking about it, muttering what he heard over and over as he got further and further from his natal domicile in Ur of the Chaldees, would have become the bread and butter of his very existence. To act and live in a way that will bring the promise of God in His life was only secondary to Abraham’s primary motive which was to love the Lord his God with all his heart and mind and soul. The only tangible substance he had that kept his hope alive, was his faith in the factual memory that Yahweh, the god of glory, had appeared to him and spoken clearly. The DVD that was in his cerebral neurons would be on a loop and playing unceasingly. “I have a promise! “  would be his song. The priceless treasure of God’s promises.

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6. The Metamorphosis that Takes Effect When One Beholds Him

“…The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham…” Acts 7:2

 

01 the-glory-of-god-2Abraham received a word from God, and also engaged with Him through His visible manifestation. This dynamic has more than often been the human requirement to receive, obey and walk with the Almighty in a calling that will change the destinies of nations and or large swathes of humanity. It has historically been so. We also, today, need the Word of God and the Spirit of God in our interaction with the Master.

 

Inasmuch as that statement tends to be one that could only intelligently be spoken and prayed by the church in the New Testament age with a much fuller understanding of the person and role of the Holy Spirit, and I know that with Pentecostal people that has been the one stringed fiddle of a corporate prayer since the year 1900, the principle and the goal of that prayer it has to be said is universal and has always been true in all ages. It is not the word only – and please God that my readers have no thought that this writer is belittling the need for the word of God in our generation – but the word needs to be set afire by the presence of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit without the word has been a complaint of many about some corners of the Pentecostal and charismatic world. But the frames of reference that I have ever entered into have built my testimony to state that I have never associated myself in leadership or membership with any church that has lacked either the word of the Spirit both in worship and the day to day life that comprises true church.

 

02 stormThe New Testament believer has the indwelling of the Holy Spirit at conversion as well as the promise of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit; a wonderful privilege and a dynamic that was somehow different in Old Testament days. The difference has been written about and debated, but I am still unclear as to what the Old Testament prophets lacked. I can clearly debate, teach and preach on the doctrinal minutae on what the day of Pentecost brought to us, and how even those Christians that have not been baptised in the Holy Spirit have more than the Old Testament saints had. No problem! My New Testament Pentecostal Theology can stick the wallpaper of doctrine firmly on the walls of your heart and mine never to be removed. However, Samuel, Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel and the rest of them seem to me to contradict what the doctrine and the Bible teachers throw at me. And do not let me lead you astray, I also have thrown these truths out to spiritually hungry people wherever I have ministered.  Several of the Old Testament men of God leave me wondering about the practical reality, or is it the full utility of the “extra drive on the engine of faith that New Testament Christians are definitely, biblically endowed with.

 

Although these Old Testament greats are not actually recorded as asking for a revelation of Spirit and Word, it was clearly their full desire to know God in power and to hear His words while receiving that spiritual insight and grasp.  In a huge scattering of the writings of the Old Testament prophets, especially Joel of course, they were inspired bt the Holy Spirit and the living Word of God to promise the outpouring of the Spirit on those that believe, to the degree that dreams and prophecy would be normal bread and butter Christianity. To my observation, however those fellows had more of the word and the Holy Spirit than almost anybody I have ever seen or heard of in my life. Spirit and Word are conjoined twins if one takes note of the extensive bible narrative that exists between Genesis1:1 right through to the last verse of Revelation 22.  In fact from the very first verse spoken by Moses, the Spirit brooded and the word spoke. They need to be welcomed together in the fullest possible way.  The “dual” experience (which is really the singular purpose of God) is fundamental to any who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  To receive the Word and Spirit, to hear God and know God, meet Him and hear dialogue from Him, is what was in the thirsting soul of great men of God prior to Christ’s first advent.  Neither am I fully in agreement with many New Testament commentators that tell us that these men were “generally quite ignorant of the personality of the Spirit of God, and did not have a clue about what we know. Am I the only man on the planet that cries whilst praying about this issue?  I pour contempt and spit on anything that even tries to reduce my Christian experience to horrible western culture theorising, but until I have a greater grasp of the Word and the Holy Spirit has a greater grasp of me, I am forced to preach way beyond my experience.

03 sliderimage-4Abraham saw the glory of God and received a word from that visible apparition of God who is Spirit.  Yes! I know! Seeing the glory of God is not quite the same as the 120 receiving the Holy Spirit (Acts 2) and living thereafter with the indwelling of the glorious Paraclete but … tell that to Abraham. He saw the glory. I cannot but wonder if he entered that cloud of divine light from which he was spoken to. What happened to him was dazzling and directive in many more ways than one. What happened to him opened his heart as well as his mind. It was word and spirit no matter how one tries to picture it.

 

I know there is a vast swathe of Christian Cessationist thought that harps on about how, “We don’t need experiences.  We just need the word.”  I know that some always come down on those that have had experiences in God. But Abraham, in the Old Testament – the father of the faithful – had an experience. I mean experience in capitals, bold face and 72 point font. He actually had a visitation from heaven – possible the first since Adam lost his light.

 

When it comes to supernatural experiences I take the line that was fed me 46 (1969) years ago at Bible College when a father-like minister who went by the name of Tom Walker, was talking of sermon preparation. The quotation he made was: “Never go to the Bible looking for a sermon. But make sure that you leave the Bible with one.” So I wilfully misquote that dear man of God in the context of “spiritual experiences” and say: “Never go seeking and pursuing God looking for an experience. But if you have had one while you were with Him, make sure you carry that blessing with you, and squeeze all the maturation juice from it.” The “experiences” of every person in scripture were simply a means on the way to a divinely designed end. This is what happened to Abraham, and the goal was gradually made ultra-plain to him in the passing of time.

 

If the truth be known, the glorious explicitly tangible and visible supernatural visitations I personally have had in my life, that one may refer to as “experiences,” have been few and far between, but unspeakably precious, foundation laying, vision creating and life changing. However, when I am alone with God in prayer, I can honestly say that the majority of the time I can rise to my feet after prayer conscious that something has happened and I have been with Him. I haven’t physically touched Him, audibly heard Him, or visually seen Him, yet I have experientially “touched the living Christ” and been made aware of His presence. This is not all the time, but very often. As an experience I count those moments as superlative yet never to be discussed or shared. I just know that things have happened within me. It occurs often. It is sustenance of the Spirit at which moments I receive words in my innermost being, and I believe I have “beheld” Him in the realm of the invisible.

 

04 glory-of-godMany who know me might say to me, “Well! If you have had even one experience that you can talk about, and now you are claiming that things happen very commonly when you are alone with God, how come you are not greater in power and grace than you are?” Hmm! This is where the rubber hits the road. My answer to that incredibly pointed but nevertheless authentic and necessary question – in the simplest of terms – is this: It is God that does the visiting. It is man that does the responding. Man does the seeing, the hearing and the living, and man is faulty in much of his perceptions (I am here referring to the entire race). The visitation (assuming and presuming it is real) is totally divine. He is God. I am man. My response is totally human.

 

There is so much to say about this kind of divinely supernatural stuff. Abraham had several visitations from Yahweh in the course of his lifetime. However, he still told lies to kings about his relationship to his wife, and that was motivated to selfishly save his own skin by risking his wife’s character. Jacob also did a bit of twisting and lying in his life – even after he had wrestled with the Angel. Think of a man like Balaam who undoubtedly had the word of God visit him and the Spirit of God by whom he prophesied, but he was still tempting God by wanting to and trying to curse Israel. What about the old prophet in 1 Kings 13 that lied for some reason to the detriment of another man of God and got him killed? Into New Testament times and what about double dealing Peter who acted one way in a fully gentile gathering, but changed after Jewish people arrived to join the party (See Galatians). That was Peter the mighty apostle!  So rest assured that no matter how many angels visit you, no matter what God says to you and no matter if you have been to the third heaven and negotiated with things that are unlawful to utter, when you get up and go into the big wide world you are still capable of messing up and falling down. Peter had three years walking and talking with the Master and still messed up a little. God have mercy on all of us. Abraham may have mistreated his wife I believe, and shamed himself before two kings, but nothing on the planet could rob him of his deep and far reaching experience of God and with God.

 

To explain my full thoughts concerning Abraham and his vision of the Almighty, I am taking my cameraman away from the father of the faithful traipsing through the gates of Ur of the Chaldees for the last time, and cutting to a moment up on Mount Horeb (Sinai) 430 years later, give or take a few. Here we can piece together God’s rationale about revealing Himself and His glory to man.

 

05 heavens-garden-marina-petroThe whole account I wish to briefly highlight is fully expressed in Exodus 33. It is all about Moses actually asking to see God’s glory. Moses has had two periods of forty 24hour days up on the mountain shrouded by the cloud that surrounds Yahweh, the same glory that appeared to Abraham. He has argued with the whole nation of Israel because of a sinful return to idolatry while he was away in the mountain with God, and he also had the pressure of interceding for the whole nation of Israel at the point when Yahweh was considering wiping Israel of the face of the map. Moses’ request is filled with down to earth logic. I paraphrase a kind of summary when I tell you that Moses pleads because he is carrying everything alone and by himself. “I need more grace. I need something within me to have more of a touch of God than I have hitherto seen or heard or experienced. Show me your ways oh mighty Yahweh. And please Lord, can I see your glory?” God answers that Moses cannot see Him and His face fully and outlines the mode of the revelation of His presence and glory that He will indeed implement in revealing Himself to Moses.

 

Moses wants to know God’s ways (Exodus 33:13). The Hebrew word, transliterated is the word “Derek.” It is one of those words that is translated into English in many ways according to the context of the statement.  In the plainest of terms, Moses was asking for insights into the holy counsels of the mind and Spirit of God. He is asking to know the rationale and motivation behind God’s actions, His conduct, the giving of His favour, His handling of the wicked, His choice of direction and mission. In short Moses was asking for as much likeness and partaking of God as God could see fit to give him. Moses wanted all of God. But how much would God give him?

 

He then asks to see His glory (Exodus 33:18).  Literally, I am told it means, “Show me the full weight of Your splendour, honour and glory.” The word has brightness, clearness, effulgence embedded in its significance. Lannon’s paraphrase is simply, “Let me in and give me personal entrance into your glory and Personage so that I can take hold of your character and essential Being.”

 

Let me briefly outline the relevance of Moses’ request and God’s answer to Abraham’s vision as referred to in Acts 7:2 and Genesis 12:1-3. Excuse the brevity. I want you to think of Abraham’s vision of God’s glory as we read of Moses.

 

  • As a “by the way,” like it or not, explain it any way one wants, Moses is asking for an experience above all experiences. Abraham did not ask like Moses as far as we know, however Abraham had an incredibly solid revelation of the glory of God of the same substance as Moses is asking for.

 

  • 06 880cee48aee0The experience as requested by Moses is a legitimate means to a legitimate end. God approved of the request. We have no evidence that Abraham asked for the revelation, but we do have clear biblical evidence that the revelation was for a similar reason as it was with Moses, that is; preparing Abraham for a life of deep burden and commitment and a walk of faith.

 

  • The ultimate end and purpose of the request of Moses was to attain the character and grace to pastor two million whingeing people. The ultimate end and purpose of God speaking to Abraham was to prepare him for the long haul of life living in the profound challenge of the divine promises given.

 

  • The basic presupposition of Moses was that he would be utterly transformed if only he could have a glimpse of Yahweh as He is. God seemed to approve and validate of the entire desire and request. What Moses was asking for is what Abraham experienced in Ur of the Chaldees.

 

  • Moses wanted some of the very heart and character of the Eternal God. He wanted to know His ways. Obviously forty days and forty nights up in Sinai with God twice did not even qualify as the experience and the insight Moses was asking for. God was aware that for Moses to even have a partial glimpse of His glory would suffice as a fulfillment of his request. What Moses had to ask for it seems, was freely given to Abraham. This implies by extrapolation that God wanted some of His heart and his character to be imparted to Abraham.

 

  • Moses acknowledged the need for a deeper and a tangible revelation of God in order to know God’s ways. The scripture says that the people of Israel saw God’s works, but Moses knew His ways. From that we cannot but conclude that seeing God’s glory gave Moses exactly what He was asking for. By God revealing Himself as He did to Abraham indicates that Abraham required a tangible revelation in order to handle his century long sojourn of faith. (i.e. Abraham was 75 when he left Harran and 175 when he died. We have no way of discovering how long before his arrival at Harran Abraham had left Ur in Mesopotamia.)

 

  • 07 univerzum-2

    Moses returns having Seen the Shekinah.

    The prayer of Moses shows how transparently and righteously motivated Moses was in his deep hunger and thirst for a greater knowledge of God. The self-denial of Abraham’s trek away from Ur shows Abraham’s transparency of motives that was planted within Him. We have no way of knowing whether such purity of motive was his before the vision of God’s glory, but he clearly owned it afterwards. Abraham gave up all in order to achieve the promises of God.

 

  • Moses also wanted to know what makes God so worthy of homage, honour and unadulterated worship, and his only concept of the means of achieving his end was to see Yahweh’s glory. If that dynamic was in God’s heart, it is no wonder that He revealed His glory to Terah’s son at the commencement of his sojourn. Abraham was required by God’s revelation to understand His greatness and glory.

 

  • Moses desired a vision and a sight of God that would overwhelm and subdue all that is ungodly within him. It’s plainly there in the text of Exodus 33. To see Yahweh’s glory is all he could picture as a way into this degree of holiness, wisdom, grace and separation. To what degree Abraham understood the impact on his self-consciousness of the visitation back across the Euphrates we are just not told. But his seeming impact on people that he met suggests he was made a “different kind of human being” in all we know of him, and we only know of him after the vision of glory.

 

  • Implanted in Moses’ prayer is a definite sense of the necessity of this knowledge of the glory of God. With or without the burden of two million children of Israel, Moses wanted God. Ministry and calling are huge things. But knowing God for its own sake and for His own sake is holiness. Wanting God’s grace for simple utility was not a motive that Moses had. Read his entire biblical biography and see if it’s possible to disagree. Again, he could only conceive receiving this grace by means of glimpsing God’s glory. That grace, I believe came to Abraham after His beholding Yahweh in glory. The motive of Moses was clean, pure and Godly. It must have been or God would not have answered Him in the affirmative.

 

  • 08 moses-seeing-jehovah

    Moses? Or Abraham sees the Shekinah?

    Moses’ prayer reveals a full sense of human responsibility. It also is implied that Moses carried the belief that he had a right to ask for the grace to see His glory by virtue of the call and ministry that had been placed on his life. His desire to see God was in no way “escapism” but a total commitment to the calling God had placed on his life. Abraham’s experience of God’s glory was followed by the same sense of commitment to God’s call.

 

  • God says ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you.’ This is breath taking. This statement reveals that in order to see into the heart of God one needs to see:
    • His “goodness.” That is his purity of action and thought. That is the grounds for the motives of what God chooses to be and to do. This refers to His moral attributes.
  • Yahweh cannot reveal His glory without speaking and declaring Himself from within that revelation. God is willing to reveal His glory and even impart His glory. Moses needed a veil afterwards.

 

 

God understands the limits of human beings in exposing them to His glory. He states: “You cannot see my face and live.” As Finney says; “The glory of my ineffable presence is too much for mortal eye to behold; it would overwhelm you, and separate soul from body.” It implies of course that Abraham also, never saw the face of Yahweh in glory. But we have more to say about that another day.

 

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Peter James and John in the cloud of Glory st the Transfiguration

God was so careful that he choreographed where Moses should be as He revealed Himself and the protective shade of a rock was essential. Moses would see as much as he could handle and no more. Sadly, we have no data concerning the choreography of Abraham’s vision.

 

The fact that God considers His goodness and the moral attributes of His character as the sole constituent of His essential glory relevant to Moses’ cry is significantly important. His glory is in His kindness and love. This is what was imparted to Abraham also.

 

The revelation of God’s glory is not just something to see, but to listen to. He spoke as the revelation strode passed Moses. God’s self-revelation is the full gospel message. He stated, “The Lord. The Lord God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity, transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the impenitent, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.’ That is what Yahweh needed to declare as He revealed his being to Moses as He passed him in the cleft of the rock. Without these words the revelation would not have been complete. God and His word are inseparable.

 

Note that God gives as much grace as is demanded by any situation. The revelation of His glory was immediately before the commencement of a new mission for both Abraham and Moses.

10 northern-lights-display-marquette-michigan-october-2011-1

 

 

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5. A Teachable Spirit – a Profound Aspect of Abraham’s Faith

“To this he replied: “Brothers and fathers, listen to me! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham while he was still in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Harran. ‘Leave your country and your people,’ God said, ‘and go to the land I will show you.’ So he left the land of the Chaldeans”                                               Acts 7:2-4a

 

 

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It is my opinion that Abraham had both an intuitive mind as well as a rational logic. It was God who fed Abraham’s intuition.

Frank Sinatra used to sing “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” That is exactly what I want to do with Abraham at this moment of time, i.e. get under his skin. Into his heart and mind actually. Imagine being brought up in a culture where gods and religious sacrifices and prayers to “invented beings” were common. I am talking of dark religion. Occult type stuff. The culture I am referring to would consider all the very many gods and idols that were rampantly an integral part of life out on their streets to be normal spirituality. We are talking of a place where idols were held in such esteem that they actually were considered to be the very god of whatever name and purpose they were given. A god for the rain, a god for the sun, a god for their city  and a god for their home and so on, addum infinitum. Every god that was invented was, in order to remove the stigma that it was just made up to indulge you, was demanded by the business men that made them and the occult leaders that utilised them for their own ends demanded that each god should be incarnate within the substance of that idol. Idols, or so it seems by what archaeologists have found, were an essential ubiquitous ingredient of life permeating all stratas of human activity. They were essential, of course, for the economy of each cult. They were also crucial for the sustaining of “faith” and interest in the god. Some of the idols were made of gold, silver and or precious stones, as well as wood and baser metals. Idols were made out of people’s mental artistic creativity and sustained a serious part of the Sumarian cum Chaldean economy and culture.

 

So, picture the little boy Abram (as was the name his parents gave him) growing up where the practices and culture, the music and art, and the pastimes and hobbies were shrouded with and immersed in everything thing that was superficially religious, and sometimes darkly demonic. All activity was related to the hundreds of gods and idols that received devotion in and around Ur.

 

004Extra biblical sources suggest that Abram swam against the idolatrous white water from an early age. We have no way of confirming or denying that suggestion. Keeping our feet firmly into known reality we shall wilfully ignore the legend and we are hereby discussing the issue as if Abram came to faith in Yahweh with the revelation that came to him as referred to in Acts 7:2-4, and as referred to in Genesis 12:1-3.

 

Thus we have a scenario that implies that idolatrous Terah was the father to an idolatrous family of three sons. Harran, Nahor and Abram. Terah was either a polygamist, or had affairs that produced a child, or perhaps he was divorced and widowed. I say this because had at least one daughter.  Sarah (or Sarai as she was called at this part of the narrative) was of the same father as Abram, but from a different mother. If you didn’t know already dear reader, prepare yourself and don’t be too sickened when I tell you that Abram was married to his half-sister.

 

In the midst of all this occultism and idolatry Almighty Yahweh, God of Heaven and Earth, Lord of all creation appears to Abram. On the grounds of Stephen’s phraseology in Acts 7, “The God of glory” suggests that Yahweh presented Himself to our hero with a certain degree of His glory and majesty, revealing who and what He truly was to Abram.

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In Christian research a certain measuring rod was created in the 1980’s indicating where people were in their lives in relation to their spiritual walk in life. As I remember, when Engel first created this scale there were 20 different rungs to the ladder of spiritual development. Whenever I catch a glimpse of it today later minds and “experts” of church growth seem to have edited it down to thirteen. It started, when I was first exposed to the concept, at -10 where a total non-faith lifestyle and world view dominated a person’s life.-9 was a consciousness of emptiness, -8 was a vague awareness of Christianity, -7 was an awakened interest in Christianity, -6 was an awareness of the gospel message and so on up the ladder. Ground zero (0) was when the person turned from sin and came to faith in Christ. Then follows a few more rungs to the ladder where the new faith is realistically evaluated, basic understanding of the teachings of the faith was achieved and the top rung was where a mature understanding, living and sharing of the faith becomes the normal Christian life. For people who gravitate towards clear measurable levels of life’s dealings the Engel scale is a fascination. It is normally assumed that in universal observation there is a certain length of time and/or a certain number of exposures to the gospel message that are needed to take the normal person of the world from unbelieving ignorance of Christianity at “Engel Scale -10” through to “Engel Scale +5.” In plain language people tend to creep slowly in the spiritual dynamics that takes them from unbelief through to an active and mature faith.

 

I say all this so that we can note the phenomenon that Abram went from minus 8 to plus 5 on the Engel scale in one flash of a moment. That is greatly significant and indicative of a trait in Abram’s character and learned responses. Abram’s disposition to see, hear and respond to such evidence of the divine as he had (as expressed in Acts 7:2-4) is an essential and indispensable choice of attitude on the patriarch’s part that precipitated his open reception of such a brief communication from God, and to U-Turn on his lifelong religious culture so completely. It reveals in Abraham an intrinsically natural appreciation of the value and force of primary evidence. It shows that Abraham was an open-minded yet totally rational person of intelligence. He knew who he had met with, and submitted to Him. By faith he grasped the immoveable rock like truth that Yahweh had spoken to Him, truth that catapulted him to a vision and an expectation that was solidly anchored in the realities of life. No fantasy. No religious imaginary hysteria. No imagination, or mental aberration. The Almighty set him apart before the foundation of the world. God came to speak to him. Abraham met with God. The meeting was of divine initiation. It was “God appeared to Abraham,” not “Abraham asked for God to speak to him.” The only evidence we have is that in this Theophany God made a statement that takes no more than five seconds to utter. What Abraham had seen, heard and immediately digested through the machinery of his thought processes was as real and as concrete and as solid as the earth upon which he walked. From that moment Abram had a radically different world-view precipitated from all the extrapolations he made from the dissecting of his divine encounter. Abram had freely opened his heart and mind to new avenues of thought and practice, had entered into a dynamic experience of faith and commitment to a God so glorious and real that the concept of idolatry suddenly sickened him and seemed so full of emptiness. And the change was wrought simply because he was teachable and easily entreated by evidential truth.

 

005We have to be realistic and push the envelope even further and edify our own faith by concluding that Abram left Ur of the Chaldees on a rationale based solely on the solidity of what he had learned by beholding God and hearing His word, and yet clearly knowing only a small segment of Yahweh’s declarative truth. There is of course a whole circle of truth that God divulged to Abraham as his walk with God was sustained through the years, and at this point of time Abraham had only grasped a couple of degrees of the full 360. Note this: It is not necessary for anybody to know the entire body of revealed truth in order to step out on God. All Abraham had was a briefly worded instruction, and a promise constituted by even greater brevity. The wilful and deliberate choice to obey God was a remarkable break with life long held norms of spirituality. Today we scientifically refer to this as “the dynamics of conversion.” It would seem that Abram was immediately in love with and passionate about the truth for absolutely nothing else but its own sake. That in itself is an ingredient that will create greatness in any human heart.

 

Abram marched away from Chaldean idolatry carrying that huge paradox of the spiritual realm, i.e. he had found and embraced the truth, and yet he left Ur hungrily searching for truth. “Abraham journeyed, for he looked for a city that has foundations whose builder and maker is God.” He had the truth, yet he went in search of truth. He had an authentic relationship with Yahweh, yet he went in search of His divine home. He had a promise that literally filled him with expectancy and faith, yet he journeyed waiting for Yahweh to stop him in his marching and sojourning to say, “Stop Abraham! See where you are now standing! This is the land that I have separated for you and you innumerable offspring. This is promised land that I Yahweh give to both you are your descendants.”

 

009The promise, the instruction, the part of his life that he was leaving, as well as the new life he was marching forward to embrace, was all buried in his heart like the most aggressively fertile seed planted into the most luscious and fruitful soil. What he had seen and heard of Yahweh was burned in his immortal soul, never to be erased. It was as visible in his demeanour and new found abundant life as a brand is when it is burned into the flesh of a farmer’s herd of cattle. The promise was owned by Abraham.  I was his possession! I do not mean is was casually placed in his pocket or in the family treasure chest along with birth certificates and Insurance policies. The vision was engrafted into all he planned and worked for, for the rest of his days. The sheer unadulterated power and grace of the touch of God had impacted Abraham’s very DNA. He had closed the door on the past. He had left all he had once loved above all for something he now loved greater.

 

Whenever further truth of his destined blessings was prophesied to him by God Himself (and always remember that the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus), that extension of what he was believing for, caused his faith and his promised blessing to grow and run together like partners in a three legged race. His heart loved both God and His Word. Both wallowing in the glorious truth he personally owned and revelled in, and at the same time with the same spiritual mind, starving and hungry for more of God’s goodness and blessing Abraham grew in the Engel scale far beyond “+.” I have heard preachers refer to it as, “being satisfied with an unsatisfiable satisfaction.” I would extend even that paradoxical statement by referring to Abraham’s spiritual hunger as, “being dissatisfied with a totally satisfying dissatisfaction.” He both knew God, and wanted to know Him.

 

Abraham’s fullness of tangible blessing was not a mere intellectual apprehending of truth that he had heard of, but a spiritual arresting of God.  I remember reading a book where the author stated, “Unless the heart be in love with truth, it is not honest in the search of it, nor ready to embrace it when apprehended by the intellect.” Never was a truer word spoken – or in this case, written.

 

Truth can save a soul, whether it be a single strand of truth of the many that comprise the gospel of Christ, or a whole criss crossing of strands of truth that create a mat or a basket of understanding for saving faith to be at rest in.  An ever expanding intelligence concerning the character of God, the immutability of the promises He speaks to mankind, and an understanding of His ways and habits, demands a teachable and humble spirit. Such a heart is precious and of great price to God. Pride and arrogance concerning life and what we need to fulfil the divine plan closes down the entire prospect of intimacy and authenticity with our Father in heaven. Yes, the mind can be full of sermon hearing, book reading and intellectual sharing, and thought, but in and of itself that is not the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is Spirit to spirit. It is God with man. It is His word in man.  It is deep calling to deep, that is, the deepest part of God’s being calling to the deepest part of a human being. The mind may ever be active in the things of God, but unless the heart has been subdued, tamed and quieted by the love and the saving grace of Christ, the “Real Thing” has not been achieved or even attained.

 

013The final remark to make about Abraham’s faith and his teachability with all things to do with his faith, is the straightforward fact that the manner in which human beings gain access and relationship to God is always and ever on His terms. Abraham did not even suggest if there should be any riders or amendments to God’s instruction and promise. Bear with my explanation when I say that Abraham did not say something like, “I love you, Lord, but can I ask that you tell me which land is mine before I set off?” There was no, “I will do exactly as you say Lord, but surely it is OK if I take a few idols with me, or take a few nephews and nieces. Surely You won’t have a problem with that, Lord?” Some of you may read this paragraph and think the writer has gone a little soft in the head to even bring the subject up.  But let me solemnly share that there are good sound solid Christians that hold nagging doubts about some of the biblical teachings of the gospel. I even ministers as well as church members who, after many years having allowed spiritual, biblical or doctrinal questions to go unanswered, and then after years of ministry or church membership, having descended to a place where they are ashamed to ask for help or instruction because they are perceived to be wise and “long in the tooth,” shock their friends, church members and denominational leaders and sometimes even their family as they “Come Out” as it were declaring their change of teaching. An ex Archbishop of Canterbury publicly states that he has never known what to say to a man dying in pain, and comes out in his old age promoting “Euthanasia.”   Several high profile ministers who have always (so they say) never been able to understand or comprehend the biblical teaching of eternal reprobation and hell. So after years of teaching it the biblical line on the issue, having never entered into a public debate, or asked for discussion and sharing with mentors of denominational father figures they declare themselves “Universalists,” denying the biblical line altogether. It is normally the doctrine of Election that catches them out, and they rationalise their stance by declaring, “I can’t believe God would elect some people for hell.” As if He would!  The seeming hard line concerning homosexual relationships and or “marriage,” has also led many to deny their erstwhile biblical faith. There are other issues of a similar nature that has caused ructions within the body of Christ. I believe the ructions are generally based on two faultlines within the faith of some. There may be other subheadings under the headline of these two faultlines, but the two will suffice for today.

 

Faultline number one is the striving to be relevant to society, as if Jesus ever bothered about being considered irrelevant to His religious society. We are called to kingdom living in the Spirit if Christ. If we lived like the New Testament early church in Jerusalem, people were afraid to join them because of the blessing and holiness that was rampant amongst the Christians. Relevance? It’s a modern concept brought up by twenty first century sociologists that is grounded in living in the west where the church generally lacks power, grace and the presence of the miraculous.

 

Faultline number two is people and especially ministers not having sought out the doctrinal issues of the faith in their early days as Christian so that they could declare the truth with confidence and conviction. The doubts these men share in their senior years suggests that they have either been preaching only on issues they were sure about, and therefore were not preaching the whole arc of truth, or that they were preaching something that they did not believe. I am not sure which line of action is the worse.

 

Let us be like Abraham who pursued God for truth and accepted God’s terms of relationship whether he liked it or not. God is God. We submit to Him. If He states some things that we do not like, we cannot suddenly change the ground rules – and believe me if you have not yet read through Abraham’s biblical biography God said some things to Abraham that he despised and wanted to reject, but never did.

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4. Dealing With Man by Means of Promises – A Revelation of God’s Nature

“Leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s house and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you and treat you with contempt. Every ethnic group on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1b-3

 

0000004The very first statement that Yahweh makes to Abraham is based on a future destination of blessing. There is a future destination of physical descendancy becoming a nation. There is a future destination of the world being spiritually blessed by Abraham. He is later to find out that there is one particular child of his descendants who will sum up both the physical and spiritual descendancy and in so doing will reveal the entire purpose of why God called him out of Ur. All this was done in the form of statements that promised him that these things would come to pass.

 

God deals with mankind by means of promises. If God makes a promise it is rock like and immoveable and will be performed. The promises of God have power within them that as they are believed and as life is lived under the shadow of His promises lives are changed and bettered whether the lives of individuals see the ultimate fulfilment of the promise or not. Abraham did not see the total fulfilment of the promise made to him by Yahweh whilst he was still in Ur of the Chaldees, nevertheless his life was blessed supernaturally and gloriously.

 

God is a rock like nobody else and nothing else can be. Sometimes He promises without conditions. Sometimes He promises with conditions. He might not use the phrase “I promise,” but His moral nature is such that He will not lie. He chooses to be so obedient to the moral law of the universe that He has made that Titus 1:1 actually talks of “God that cannot lie.”

 

0000003With these things in mind we can safely rest on the presupposition that if God makes a promise here, as phrased in Genesis 12:1-3, a promise that by strict definition is unconditional, we can safely rest our souls and give our lives  in order to become in alignment with it and know full well that the promise will be fulfilled. It may be fulfilled the same day as the promise is uttered, it may be fulfilled thousands of years in the future, but if He has promised one generation shall see it, and in the resurrection of the righteous all shall see it.

 

The promise is a statement of who He is, what He is like, and opens up to us revelations of His character. It is the choice of God to reveal Himself to mankind. The sureness of His never changing character is one of the most wonderful concepts for faith to founded upon. He reasons with us, and is totally impartial. He gives promises that are favouring all that believe them and choose to stand upon them for their fulfilment. He never speaks down to us and deals with us according to our true nature and character.

 

000001In the revelation of Himself and His Word to man, the Spirit of God opens up the teachable mind and flexible soul to see into the wonders of His personality. The New Testament declares that “Every promise that God ever made is “Yes” and “Amen” in Christ Jesus. That scripture may have been written two thousand years after Abraham’s demise, but the promise that we are discussing was made by Christ Himself while speaking to Abraham. Abraham saw Christ’s day and leapt forward to meet it with great joy. The entire gospel message is a revelation of His character. His promises just do not move. The letter of James tells us that in Him there is “no irregularity nor any shade of spinning.” God is just plain rock-like and unmoveable when it comes to promise giving, promise keeping and promise fulfilling.

 

Abraham left Ur and stopped at Haran with absolute confidence that the promise, and the instruction that came along with the promise, demonstrated in the clearest of ways the unalterable intentions of God towards him. Asit was with Abraham, so it is with us. By faith in Christ we enter into the blessings of Abraham. He rules His entire creation  both morally and physically in utter integrity and honesty. This is the rock that undergirds the scriptures and the anchor to our souls today.

0000002All this is the irresistible implications and inferences from the fact that He is Yahweh and He changes not.

 

Abraham’s obedience reveals his confidence in God’s rock like integrity and character. To put it in a way that I heard one preacher say, “We should have no right to be willing to do the will of God, unless we had reason to confide in the perfection of his will.” We talk and preach, sing and teach of God with this vital presupposition. He cannot change. He will not change. The perfections of His character are grounded in the eternal never faulting never changing choices of His perfect will. He is perfect, His will is perfect, His promises are perfect as is His Word. When dealing with God we are negotiating with the ultimate peak of what is, in the most literal and superlative meaning, perfection. His moral perfection is His choice. His constant integrity is a revelation of His character.

 

From a culture that was filled with idolatry, to hear God speak such a sharp and easily understood statement, and then to leave a city and culture that Leonard Woolley the archaeologist tells us was one of – if not the most advanced culture of its day presents us with the implication that Abraham had an unwavering confidence and a rock-like faith in Yahweh’s statement. The presupposition is that Abraham’s mind understood that omniscient Yahweh knew all things and had all lands, all people, all time and all space under His control and power. Knowing past, present and future, all peoples and all lands, that if He had chosen him it was as good as a done deal. His character of both His natural characteristics and His moral nature must make it so, that whatever He will is by simple deduction and implication – perfect and the best. And to add to all these thoughts, it is also implied that His will cannot be changed.

 

The day Abraham left Ur it revealed that he had submitted his life and all the accoutrements that encircled his life and his circumstances to God. He obviously had placed his relationship to the God of glory who had appeared to him, and the words that He had spoken to Him as he beheld Him to be the most important utterance he had ever heard. There was no turning back. We know he did not entertain the thought of turning back by reading through the entire story through to Genesis 25.  Abraham had “sold his soul” to the Almighty. He had of his own free will attached himself, affixed himself and determined in himself to go where He asked, and do whatever He instructed.

 

0000005As a continuation to what the paragraph above reveals, we have to add as kind of a series of £subparagraphs” that this submission to Yahweh comprises of wanting to avoid what God does not like and of desperately wanting to bring honour to Him. It implies a commitment to being completely aligned and conformed to the plan and purpose that Yahweh has skeletally revealed to Abraham of not only his future but the future of his descendants, of which there will be created a “great nation.” It implies that it is only common sense and a spiritual imperative to acknowledge His authority as being absolute in the whole of creation. People can say God is first and stay inactive. But we know Abraham heard God and packed his bags on the basis of what He had said.

 

It also implies a supreme desire or willingness in us to do or to be wholly right or wholly conformed to the will of God. It implies an intense desire and willingness to be right on every subject, to have our whole being and all the influences that we exert wholly and perfectly right–to be wholly conformed to the will of God in all the relations we sustain to Him and to the whole Universe–an intense desire and willingness to do and feel exactly right towards ourselves and all other beings.

 

What is vital to our understanding of Abraham’s character is the implication of him wanting to know the details of God’s will and purpose all through his life. Abraham wanted to know the full circle of God’s truth. Even though his entire spirit and soul must have been taken up with the purpose of the nation that would come from him and the blessings that would exude from him, he still progressed in business (he became wealthier and wealthier), in relationships (he made friends with local chieftains Aner, Mamre and Eshcol), he was known and loved by local people groups (as exhibited after Sarah’s death in the dialogue through which he purchased the Machpelah field) and his ability to strategise for battle, organise an army and to have that army, small though it was, thoroughly trained. Abraham was an all-round sociable and well balanced human being. These were characteristics which all emanated by his life lived by the pursuit of possessing all that God had promised.

 

His entire life story as presented in the Bible teaches us plainly that Abraham left idols behind in Ur of the Chaldees and never again reverted to them. The narrative as give in Genesis and referred to in passages later in both Old and New Testaments implicitly instructs us that Abraham had no false gods to lust after or defend. To the contrary, Abraham had wholly renounced idolatry.

 

Embedded in this psychoanalysis of Abraham is the straight forward extrapolation that he must have made a total renunciation of his own will and desires. For the Christian, as well as for Abraham we are hopefully moving towards that place with God where we boldly embrace the renunciation of our own will, and we want to even go as far as being able to declare with integrity that we have no will except that God’s will should be done.

 

I am listing all this developing and active characteristics of Abraham to say that this attitudinal frame of disposition is utterly essential to a right understanding of God and the truth He reveals to us. They are character attributes that are vital to honest and diligent enquiry of God. If one’s mind is not intrinsically honest and acting with integrity he will not receive truth that contradicts world-views hitherto held. An intense desire to know the truth as revealed in scripture is the rock bottom foundational requirement in one’s search for truth. It is silly to think this fact is even slightly exaggerated in my remarks.

 

We thank God for His promises. We thank God that His custom of making promises is the greatest force in the building of Christ like character. Abraham’s example shows us how the dynamics of believing God’s promises, and acting upon that belief as one walks into the unknown, builds authority and power in the realm of the Spirit. God help us to emulate the father of the faithful.

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Posted in Acts 7:2, Dealing With Man by Means of Promises – A Revelation of God’s Nature, Faith, Genesis 12:1-3, Obedience, The Rock | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3. In Your Light We See Light Psalm 36:9

“Leave your land, your relatives, and your father’s house and go to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who curse you and treat you with contempt. Every ethnic group on earth will be blessed through you.”

Genesis 12:1b-3

aaaGod’s truth is light. God’s light is our revelation. His Light and revelation is an unchanging eternal rock.

 

Abraham’s biblical biography commences with a revelation. An incredibly profound piece of revelation. It was the appearance of a few spoken words to his understanding. They were words that could never ever be rescinded or diluted. To be sure, they could be added to an expanded and indeed they were. But this piece of unchangeable revelation was irrevocable, educational and utterly revelatory concerning the future of humanity on planet earth.  It is my conviction that it was Christ that appeared to Abraham. The explanation of my conviction is for another day. Today we chew on the subject of the nature of the words spoken to Him by Christ Himself.

Christianity is at its roots a human being having a relationship with God by relating with Jesus Christ. And shock of shocks: Jesus declares as plain as plain can be in the New Testament that there is absolutely no other way access to God can be attained. Period. End of story. Wow! Not exactly politically correct, eh? (What is the creative Dictionary or Thesaurus antonym to “Political Correctness”?  And please don’t write and tell me “Political incorrectness.”) As a definition, it is seriously as brief as that. The practical outworking of that relationship however takes a lifetime. The details of what we do, how we think and in what manner we interact with Him is the grand epic of the cosmos and thus the Christian life. But whoever it is that relates with God, from whatever race of people or national culture they spring from, the absolute unchanging truth is that God is the initiator of that relationship. And although He is in pursuit of all of mankind, whether they are looking for Him or not, His entrance into a person’s life demands personal revelation.

aabThis incredible and remarkable step from darkness to light, from death to life, from unbelief to faith and other preacher’s clichés is the furthest thing from a cliché that can be imagined. Every true Christian that you or I have ever met has received divine revelation before the step was made “into faith.” So, what exactly is revelation?

The Bible is filled with classic awe inspiring graphic acts of God bringing divine revelation, be it from the hero of this blog, Abraham, to Isaac and his ladder, to Jacob and his “rumble in the Jungle” with God Himself karate chopping him so he has to limp the rest of his life, to Joseph’s dreams, to Moses burning bush … and so it goes. These accounts are incredibly informative and so gripping to the mental concept of the dynamics of divine revelation that one could be gently pushed into the misconception that unless I see something miraculous, some angel, some apparition or here some audible voice from heaven I haven’t got it, haven’t had it, haven’t seen it and/or what I have seen is downright inferior to what others have imbibed.  Well if that is the conclusion that shouts and screams in the neurons of your brain and the awareness of your consciousness, allow be to bang my gavel on my judgement desk and legislate a pox on the very thought of such an idea.

aacRevelation is in the DNA of Christianity. It may come with thunder, lightning, angels or divine visitations and even with the voice of Christ Himself, but … and this is the most vital “but” you have ever heard … revelation of the same power and import, revelation that could change people, nations and the world, can also come through a quiet ten minute read of the Bible, or a tiny divinely inspired thought that creeps upon a person and takes root in the human spirit. The intrinsic value of any revelation is to do with what is learnt, envisioned, believed and obeyed. Those are the attributes that change the planet, and they are much more important than the manner in which the revelation came. Nathanael walked into a room and met Jesus just like any of us would meet a person for the first time. No flashes of light! No heavenly throne! No falling down as if he were dead. Simply making eye contact with the man Jesus of Nazareth and hearing the Master say, “Behold an Israelite in whom there is no guile!” With that, Nathanael received revelation that was as great as Abraham in Ur, Moses at the bush or Ezekiel gazing at the wheels.

Revelation is the reception of spiritual intelligence. The insights principles and realities of the spiritual world can be read and understood in the bible, and when believed on and accepted as truth it has a dynamic that illuminates the thoughts actions and lifestyle of a person.  Revelation is special gift from God. It can be accepted or rejected.  When God speaks or reveals something and it is rejected, that very act of rejection increases the darkness within a person’s heart – the very darkness that the revelation was given to combat and dispel. Revelation is your signpost, gateway, and walkway into a truer and better picture of God and an understanding of Him. Christian’s cannot live without it. That is what the “Word” is all about. It is not simply a normal increase in learning and or understanding. It is a God thing. It is little bits (or large bits sometimes) of God’s perspective on issues or attitudes that impact one’s life. It can be for a person, persons, families or nations.

aadDenominations have been created because of revelation received by some that has been rejected by others. Revelation thus received can cause people to divide, not because God willed it or wanted it, but simply because some beams of light that have illuminated some has been too precious to carry on with their church life  while attempting to put that light back in the box. In a nutshell, as much as many denounce “denominations” as the curse of the church worldwide, it can actually be the true sign that the church is alive and growing with more revelation. The old Church Growth writer Eddie Gibbs states in a “two decade old” book of his, that the majority of newly birthed churches that spawned the incredible revival across Argentina were conceived by splits of conviction. In plain language, some members of existing churches received revelation that their leadership did not accept, and so so they left and started a new church where their revelation and understanding could be fully expressed and practiced through the songs, their preaching and their teaching.

As far as the English language is concerned the word educates us further. A disclosure, an exposure, an uncovering, or even a leak of something that gives one a great insight into where there is a source of whatever substance  is being leaked. Revelation is an eye-opener to things that were hitherto not seen or perceived.

Received revelation is the depth, breadth and “quality insight” from the realm of the Spirit  into the realm of the Spirit.  Because it is personal, it infers the truth that revelation is not owned, or given carte blanche to all. Some revelation is clearly not available to all, for revelation is shared and delivered directly by the Holy Spirit, and He leads the believer into all truth, taking the things of Christ and making them real.  Without faith certain doors to certain revelation are flatly securely locked. When one reveals those first beams of light that bring conversion to a person, it is as if, having entered the hall way of God’s reservoirs of revelation, the entire magnificent palace of the knowledge of God is opened to one. It is the will of God that we desire the sincere milk of the word and grow therby, and move on into a diet of revelation that consists of strong meat for strong Christian lives.  The earnest seeking of ever increasing divine revelation is the Christian’s lifelong lifestyle.  To those that receive, believe and practice, more is always given.  Rejection of any truth can initiate a withdrawing of the light one already has.

aaeSpiritual revelation is the work and activity of the Holy Spirit to the hearts and minds of those that will receive it.  No matter whether it is read from the Bible or a book, whether it is heard from a preacher or some chance remark of a person that may not even be a believer, the physical dynamics of that reception does not determine the revelation to be an aspect of normal learning as per maths, Geography or science.  Although revelation can be received concerning maths, Geography and science. Revelation is from the realm of the Spirit, by the Holy Spirit and communicated into the human spirit. Christianity is exactly that – a thing of the spirit (with both a capital “S” and an small one. It is something from God’s throne, His heart and His mind and it is shone into the human heart for direction, education and purpose. It can be for oneself, and/or for others. God’s revelation always contributes to peace of heart and reconciliation with man and with God.  The attributes of genuine divine revelation work towards all things Godly and true.  Divine revelation is always totally consistent with the Bible – that statement is an absolute.

Authentic divinely given revelation leads to truth. Truth opens up the dark tendencies of people’s hearts and gives solutions to issues and/or guides to true freedom.  The majority of revelation is to help human understanding of the nature of God and his dealings with man. The Letter to the Romans is possibly the greatest evidential proof of that statement.

aafThere is no way this writer wishes to insult the intelligence of my readers when I suggest that revelation – to be divine revelation – must come from God  or it is not divine. What is divine is faultless, true and infallibly destined to come to pass. God never lies.

Revelation feeds faith. Faith demands feeding. Revelation needs to flow in order to sustain the momentum of lives vision, calling and interactions with the world.

Abraham received revelation.  Abraham was to be a blessing. He was to be a very famous blessing. Those who responded to him positively would be blessed. Those who responded negatively would be cursed. There was something he had to do, that is leave his family and keep on walking until God said “Stop!” There is a principle discovered in the fact that God did not give any more revelation to Abraham until he had fulfilled the original instruction. He had received a heavenly treasure in a poor earthen body. The way he handled and negotiated how to handle this data from heaven was now the most important thing in his life.

Whatever the size, the import, the wordiness or the lack of it, the picture or the dream that one has received. It has to be accepted as from God, believed upon, allowed to envision the recipient, and then obeyed and acted on. Oh God, give us more revelation as you did with Abraham.

aag

This artist’s impression has always grabbed me. I think it is because all the artwork in Ur of the Chaldees that has been discovered shows people actually dressed exactly like this. The artist did his homework . I believe it is a Reader’s Digest piece of work.

 

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