Acts 26:8 (Why Should It Be Thought Incredible?)

Acts 26:8
Why Should It Be Thought Incredible?

Last week, I robbed two of our previous sermons – one from Genesis and one from the Doctrine sermons – so that we could revisit some details concerning election and predestination. For today’s sermon, I robbed from Genesis 25:24-34 entitled Heaven’s Riches for a Meal.

Admittedly, doing this saves me a lot of research time, but I have rewritten quite a bit of what was said there while still following the overall message. If you have heard that sermon, this will be a good reminder, and it will be new enough to allow you to enjoy it again.

If you haven’t heard it, then you can decide if the content is exceptional enough for you to say, “I never knew that. Amazing.” If this is your reaction, then I can assure you that its contents are perfectly in accord with all of the Genesis sermons. In other words, you are the one losing out on not taking the time to listen to them. They are all filled with Christ. The sermon today is not an exception; it is the standard.

Text Verse:  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; 24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said,  ‘Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.’ 25 In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.’
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes.” 1 Corinthians 11:23-26

What does Paul’s passage about the Lord’s Supper have to do with the verses from Genesis 25 concerning Jacob and Esau? Actually, only in understanding what Christ did for us can we truly appreciate why the Lord placed the story of Jacob and Esau into His word.

The seemingly unimportant details come alive when Christ is seen to be the Subject of the narrative. Otherwise, the story is just a novelty that has no real purpose. For the Jews, it might be a story of why they are so deserving of whatever it is they think they are deserving.

It might be a story that shows why God said he hated Edom to them. From there that can be manipulated into whatever the person’s agenda against one group of people or another may be. But neither of these assumptions is correct.

The details of the story point to God’s work in and through Christ Jesus. To miss this is to miss exactly what the word is conveying to us. It is a story given in pictures and types for us to see His marvelous handiwork in the stream of redemptive history.

It’s all to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. Jacob and Esau

—————
Paul, before lunch, you brought some amazing things to my ears concerning my own heritage, as well as the state of man before God. These are things I had never thought of and you almost – I say – persuade me to be a Christian.

Indeed, now that I have eaten, I am ready to ask more concerning Esau, the father of the Edomites. The story of his birth is curious to me. I am certain that God plans all things and the more I hear about your zeal for Scripture, it alerts me to the fact that everything recorded there is for a reason.

Indeed, you being a Christian, I had assumed that your sect had rejected Scripture and simply thrown your allegiance behind Jesus because of some noteworthy trait of His. But I see that you actually have a greater zeal for the sacred writings than any of the most learned in our society.

Whereas the Pharisees add in the commandments of men, you carefully rely on what is already given in the law and the prophets as the basis for your faith! As this is so, maybe you can shed some light on the story of the births of the twins, Jacob and Esau, that is so meticulously recorded in the word. Can you do this for me?

—————
O King! When lunch was called, I thought my chance to convince you of your need for Jesus was at an end, but how glad I am that there is another chance for me to tell you, and indeed this entire court, of the wonders of God in Christ!

Since becoming a follower of God’s Messiah, King Agrippa, I have considered all of the stories of Scripture that come to my mind in relation to Jesus. And indeed, He alerted the leaders of Israel that we should do so. He said to them, “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” (John 5:39, 40).

He made that claim, and I have tested it often, O King. And it is certain that everything keeps pointing me to the surety that it is so. In fact, at the same time He said this, He also said, “For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46, 47).

Because He said this, and because I am fully convinced it is true, I would ask you to believe Moses, and in believing Moses, I know that you too will believe the words of Jesus.

You have asked, O King, about the story of Jacob and Esau. Indeed the details are both exciting and unusual, and for sure, they are words that tell us about Jesus. Before lunch, we talked about the time before they were born. In that, I told you about doctrines that can be understood based on that account. Let me take a minute and remind you about that passage –

“Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.

23 And the Lord said to her:
‘Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.’” Genesis 25:20-23

O King, the foreknowledge of God has been relayed to Rebekah, and you know that His plans for the life of these two boys and their posterity will come about just as He has spoken. Our history, King Agrippa, has borne out the prophecy.

As I happen to have a copy of the story of their birth right here in my pocket, O King, I will read the words of that account and explain them to you as I go. Then you will know what is on my mind concerning them, and you will see that Jesus’ words about Scripture being about Him are true. Of this, I am sure. Let me begin…

So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.

As we saw, O King, Isaac pleaded with the Lord for Rebekah to have a child. In His grace, the Lord didn’t just bless her with one, but with two. God is abundantly good to His people as He slowly unfolds the future and reveals it in the present.

But more, He has set them in her womb with purpose and intent, as was clearly seen from the prophecy spoken to Rebekah. As for Rebekah, her days were fulfilled. And so, from conception, through the most unusual events occurring in her womb, and now to the time of birth – the moment of delivery has arrived.

Here at this long-awaited moment, Rebekah is ready to meet her boys. As you seem so curious about every detail, King Agrippa, there is an interesting side story concerning the Hebrew word for “twins.” As you know, it is the word thomim, coming from taom, or “twin.” That, in turn, comes from taam, or “to be double.”

If you know the etymology of names, something I always enjoy learning, you may know that the name Thomas, a name of one of Jesus’ disciples, comes from this Hebrew word. He is “Thomas called the Twin” (John 21:2) because he is a twin.

In the Greek, King Agrippa, his friends call him Didymus. As you may know, the word Didymus means the same thing, two-fold or twin. If you play with this word, the way people do, maybe someday there will be a language that shortens it up to say something fun like “ditto.” But that is just how I think, at times, O King. Let me read you more of the story.

And the first came out red.

The Hebrew, King Agrippa, reads v’yetse ha’rishon admoni – “And came out the first ruddy.” It is the word adom, or “red.” This adjective is found only here and in reference to our great king of the past, David. He too was admoni, or ruddy. That was recorded in the book of Samuel the prophet –

“And when the Philistine looked about and saw David, he disdained him; for he was only a youth, ruddy and good-looking” (1 Samuel 17:42).

Esau is born first, O King, and so – without going any further – we know from the prophecy given to Rebekah that he and his line will serve the next to be born. When he came out, he was red. People debate, King Agrippa, whether the red is from the blood of birth adhering to his hair or if his hair was naturally red. Surely, O King, it was his hair. It is normal for a child to be born bloody. But this is specific about the boy himself.

Some see in this red color that he would be a shedder of blood, fierce, and cruel. As you know, this is borne out by his descendants later in the Bible, but that is not all that the Lord wants us to consider, although the same was true of King David. You know that he could not build the temple because the Lord said he was a man of war and had shed blood (1 Chronicles 28:3).

For now, O King, let me continue with the story…

He was like a hairy garment all over;

He, O King, was born with so much hair on his body that he looked kulo k’adereth sear, or “all over as a hairy garment.” This is a genetic anomaly that we have all seen [hypertrichosis] and the story wants us to think on why this is included. But it will help to know that the word adereth, or “garment” comes from adar, meaning to become glorious or honorable.

Also, King Agrippa, when you read Scripture, you will note that hair always carries a special significance. It reflects a state of awareness, especially an awareness of sin. It is because of this condition in which he is born that the words next tell us…

so they called his name Esau.

Because he is born ruddy and with all of that hair, even like a garment, they called his name Esav. The name comes from the word asah, meaning “to make,” or “to do.” And so, it can mean “doer,” or “maker.” Or it can be passively stated as “made.”

What the parents were implying, O King, is that he was made more like a man than a child because of his development in the womb. As is later seen in his life, because of the early development, his youth was more passionate and precocious than others his age.

What it also means for his future is that he would be more earthly than spiritual. This is perfectly evident as the story progresses. All of this will have a purpose as a picture that will be fulfilled in the coming of Jesus. It is certain, O King. Next…

Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.

As is so common in Scripture, King Agrippa, there is a play between the word “heel,” aqev, and the name Jacob, Ya’aqov. The name means “Heel catcher,” or “Supplanter,” because one who catches the heel will trip up the other and supplant him. But the name also carries the idea of “He who follows after.”

As the one who will be served comes out last, it indicates the future of the two boys. This is seen in the holding of Esau’s heel. Because of this, he was given the name Ya’aqov or Jacob. As you can see, there are various ideas that are conveyed by the idiom “takes hold by the heel.”

In grabbing someone by the heel, you will trip him up. But there is also the idea of a deceiver, one who supplants, or one who follows closely behind. All of these fit his life and circumstances as Scripture later reveals. But “supplanting” (“replacing”) and “following after,” are the ideas that point, O King, to Jesus.

There is a meaning and a mystery in the name of Jacob which looks forward to much of his life, both as one who deceives and one who gets deceived. But because he follows after Esau, there is also a wonderful pattern concerning him that I will explain to you later, O King.

As you will see, as the story continues, the account of these boys pictures our first, and fallen, father Adam, and also the sinless, risen Christ. Jacob’s first acts in life were remembered by the prophet Hosea many generations later –

“He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God.” Hosea 12:3

For now, the story continues to unfold…

Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

—————
Tell me, Paul, why is this always something that Scripture focuses on? Does it really matter how old people are when things happen? And yet, I have heard such records all throughout the stories in the writings.

—————
O King, I can tell you that such things are most important. You see, God is giving us a record of the history of the world. I can just see someone someday saying the earth is tens of thousands of years old, or even millions of years old! Think of it!

Who knows why anyone would want to do that except to claim that the record of God’s word is somehow unreliable! But by Scripture giving these ages of the people, we can tell just how old the world is. In fact, I keep a detailed list of it in my pocket… hmm… O! Here it is, King Agrippa. With these words, we can tell that these events occurred in the year 2169 from the creation of the world.

You see, Isaac was born in the year 2109 and he was married at the age of forty. Now, twenty years later his children are born to them in the year 2169. Curiously, although Abraham’s death has already been recorded by Moses, he will actually be alive for fifteen more years and is probably a happy grandpa at this point. Let us go on…

So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.

In just a few words, O King, we have skipped over enough years to see the boys old enough to live and work alone. God only includes what is necessary to show us His thoughts and to lead us to understanding what He is doing in Christ.

In this first verse about their adulthood, God is showing us two types, or pictures, in the two men. The first picture is Esau. His name, as I said, means “made” just as Adam was made from the dust of the earth. You see, King Agrippa, the word asah, which is the basis for the name Esav, is found in the very beginning of the Genesis account, concerning the “making” of Adam –

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’” Genesis 1:26

Adam was made as a complete man. This is pictured by Esau in his exceptional birth, having the appearance of a fully developed man. And more, he is described as ish yodea tsayid ish sadeh – “man skillful hunter; man of the field. He is of the ground and one who obtains his living from the ground.

He, King Agrippa, is a picture of Adam who was taken from the ground and who was destined to obtain his sustenance from the ground that he came from. Esau can be summed up in the words of Genesis that the Lord spoke to Adam –

“Then to Adam He said, ‘Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, “You shall not eat of it”:
‘Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life.
18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you,
And you shall eat the herb of the field.
19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread
Till you return to the ground,
For out of it you were taken;
For dust you are,
And to dust you shall return.’” Genesis 3:17-19

As a hunter, he is like Nimrod and Ishmael who came before him. Both of them, along with him, are given as a picture of fallen man fighting to live off the toil of the earth; they are earthly and unspiritual.

Jacob, on the other hand, O King, looks to the coming Christ. He is described as ish tam yoshev ohalim – “man perfect dwelling tents.” The word tam, as you know, specifically conveys the idea of “complete,” “blameless,” and “perfect.” I tell you, O King, it is just the perfect description of the Lord Jesus.

But more, Jacob is also said to be one dwelling in tents. Again, this looks to Christ, who “tabernacles” among His people. He is the Lord who dwelled in the tabernacle of Moses among the children of Israel. He later dwelt in the temple in Jerusalem. And then, He came into humanity, and He put on a tabernacle of flesh and dwelt among us.

Our brother John has made this connection for us (he really should write out his thoughts for us someday!). I can quote him, even now, saying of Jesus, “And the Word became flesh, and did dwell in a tent among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of an only begotten from a father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14) (CG).

—————
Paul, I have heard you and the other apostles say things that make me think you believe Jesus is the Lord God. Now I know you believe this. How can this be?

—————
It is true, King Agrippa. But this is not something new. Our Scriptures speak of this time and again. He will be the Mighty God. He will be the Everlasting Father. He will come from eternity itself. And so on. The truth of who the Messiah will be is found all throughout our sacred writings, O King.

I tell you, O King, that someday the tent of God, our Lord Jesus Christ, will dwell with men for all eternity. He will be with us, and He shall be our God (see Revelation 21:3).

Also, O King, unlike Esau who hunted wild animals, Jacob is a shepherd. It is an exact picture of our Lord. When He was among us, He claimed He is the Good Shepherd. And it is so, it is He who came to guide His flock from this fallen world to a heavenly home, a home of restored perfection.

I tell you, O King, Esau was destructive in hunting game; Jacob is constructive in tending sheep. And, thus, we see Adam and Christ. Let me now continue…

And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.

The Hebrew here, O King, literally says that Isaac loved Esau because of the venison in his mouth. It is very descriptive and shows his love for the meat as much as the boy. Rebekah, on the other hand, loved Jacob, but no reason is given.

It may be because of the prophecy that she was given before they were born, or it may be because Jacob loved to dwell in tents and so he was always close to mom, unlike Esau who was out hunting all the time. We don’t know for sure, but the words do not say either parent didn’t love the other child.

They merely favored one over the other. Despite many who read these words and find fault in the parents, there is nothing wrong with this. Our Scriptures, O King, simply comment on the facts as they lead us methodically to understand how and why things turned out as they did. Only the relevant details are given.

The words of the prophet Malachi show us that if our thoughts about Isaac and Rebekah are negative, then our thoughts about the Lord’s dealing with these two should be negative as well because the Lord deals much more harshly with Esau.

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved; 3 But Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:2).

King Agrippa, we all seem to understand that opposites attract. Isaac wasn’t an adventurer and Esau was. Rebekah made a great adventure, leaving her home and family to go to the land of promise, and Jacob was the type to dwell in tents. The attitude of the parents is completely acceptable when we understand this.

Adam was made from the red soil
And in his rebellion, he was consigned to work from it
His life would be one of pain and toil
Because he would not to the Lord his trust commit

Esau saw Jacob’s red stew
And he longed for it to fill him up
To get it, he did what he should not do
And like Adam, he drank from a sour cup

Let us remember this divine lesson
And follow the Lord’s will as we live out this life
It is there in His word, no need for guessin’
Follow the Lord and there will be no enmity or strife

II. Heaven’s Riches for a Bowl of Stew

—————
Paul, I am thoroughly amazed at the insights you have provided. These stories were always a curiosity to me, but nothing more. Now, you are showing me things I never considered. They are here to show me the future. It is amazing!

—————
So it is, O King! And there is more of that as the story of these two men continues to unfold. As you have just had lunch, I am not worried about making you hungry as I continue with the next lines of Scripture. Let me read them to you…

Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.

The words here for “cooked a stew” are yazed nazid. It says to us, King Agrippa, “And boiled Ya’aqov a boiling.” Jacob was in the house making stew. As he is cooking, Esau comes in wearily from the field. But more, the story implicitly tells us that he was unsuccessful in hunting. This is perfectly in line with the curse pronounced upon Adam –

“Cursed is the ground for your sake;
In toil you shall eat of it
All the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17).

Esau was in the field toiling, and he is now hungry and tired. Remember, O King, Esau is a type of Adam in our unfolding story.  Jacob pictures Jesus. As such, we can think of Him, in His tent and cooking up the greatest meal in all of history. Let us continue…

And Esau said to Jacob, “Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.”

In my letter to those in Rome, King Agrippa, there are a couple of people in it, Tertius and Quartus (Romans 16:22, 23). You know the significance of their names, don’t you?

—————
Yes, Paul, I do. Without even knowing them, I would guess that they either had a very lazy mother, or they were slaves. Their names mean “third” and “fourth.”

—————
Ha! It is so, O King. We all have names. Sometimes we even have a second name to help define who we are. This is true with Esau. This continuing story tells us about it.

Esau looked at the red stuff in the soup bowl and he may not have even known what it was because he simply says, hal-iteni na min ha’adom ha’adom – “Let me gulp, c’mon, the red the red.”  He’s hungry and tired and he simply wants to eat, but because of the description, he gets a nickname…

Therefore his name was called Edom.

It is the name ascribed to your ancestors on your paternal side, O King, the Edomites. The name is from the same verb, adom, as is the adjective adom, red. And more, this verb is the same root from which comes adam, man, and his name, Adam.

Edom is the hairy red man who lives for his stomach. The name sticks because of his exclamation. And here, O King, we see him again as a picture of Adam. Adam was taken from the red clay of the earth and thus received his name.

Both Adam and Edom, with their connected names, are red. Both are earthly. And both are tied to the red, the red – the ground from which they came and also from which their sustenance comes.

—————
It is marvelous, Paul. I have never imagined what I am now hearing with my own ears!

—————
O King, every story of Scripture tells us such wonderful truths. But for now, I shall continue…

But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.”

Jacob, intending to gain from his quick-willed twin, offers him the red, the red if he will sell his birthright. Under the Law of Moses and as you know, O King, a birthright is a double portion of what the other children are to receive.

If there are six children, then the oldest receives 2/7th of the estate. This birthright differs from that. It included being the chief of the clan and the son to receive all authority and all title to the estate. Just as Isaac got everything from Abraham, this same birthright was to pass to Esau. Jacob wanted this.

If obtained, he would be next in the family to follow the father as the chief of the clan. But more, having this birthright would mean that the promises of the inheritance of the land of Canaan would belong to his descendants. And more, it would mean that the Messiah would also come through him.

Ultimately, O King, you see that these things – the position and the status – belong to the Messiah. Jacob cunningly lets Edom know that if there was to be a meal, it would involve a transfer of these rights to him and his posterity.

Jacob is looking for an exchange, from that which is immediately earthly and perishing for that which is ultimately spiritual. Edom like Adam was willing to give up his spiritual inheritance for that which is immediately earthly and perishing.

In the same manner, King Agrippa, Jesus was willing to give up His earthly life to provide that which is heavenly. In what is happening, we can see where Jacob first finds a fulfillment in his name – heel grabber, supplanter, he who comes after.

He is looking to grab the position of the older by obtaining the birthright. This takes us back to the play on words concerning the soup. The word boil is yazed, coming from the word zud, to boil in a literal sense, but it figuratively means to “act proudly or presumptuously.”

Jacob is taking advantage of the situation which has presented itself to obtain the deed to the estate and all that goes along with it. And I tell you, O King, that Jesus took advantage of another situation to obtain fallen man’s title deed and all that goes along with it.

And so, in the story before us, Jacob tells Esau to sell him the birthright “this day.” In other words, in the open and in complete and full terms. If that is agreed on, then Esau gets his soup.

King Agrippa, let me tell you about what we Christians observe called “The Lord’s Supper.” It is a memorial of Christ’s death until He comes. Jesus came to retrieve the promises that would have belonged to Adam. His red blood is the item of transfer.

We humans are all born of Adam. If we accept what Christ’s cup offers, we must give up any attempt at obtaining those things ourselves. We cede our right to Him to be our priest, to having claim on our estate, to all the promises of the Messiah and the rightful ownership of the heavenly land promised to God’s people.

If we accept His offer, His blood, we cede our rights to Him, and the transfer is made. But, O King, what we cede is gained in being granted life. This is seen in the next words of our ongoing story…

And Esau said, “Look, I am about to die; so what is this birthright to me?”

Anokhi holekh lamut – “I am going to die.” It is a truth concerning all men. We are going to die. The words of Esau are given to express a spiritual truth. In this, there is a real occurrence that Esau does, and which is to be condemned.

He gave up his birthright with all that it signified, including the treasures of heaven, for a mere bowl of soup. Because of this, he is remembered as a profane person (Hebrews 12:16).

To Esau, the prospect of his physical life was of more value than the spiritual things he would have received. In his simple and unclear thinking, he may have thought, “Well, if I die, Jacob will get the birthright anyhow.” He lived for his stomach, and he gave up his right to paradise, just like Adam did.

The birthright is as much a spiritual thing as it is an earthly inheritance. As this is true, O King, it would only be of value to someone with faith to understand it. It is like reading our Scriptures. Unless the spiritual aspect of the book is understood it is of little value. It just becomes a book of laws that are impossible to live up to, curious stories, and words of people that claim they know the future.

And yet, King Agrippa, it is the place where all of heaven’s treasures are revealed. I tell you it is so. But our people have ignored what it says, they rejected the One it spoke of, and they crucified Him. The most glorious heavenly treasure has been sold for soup.

But, O King, what I must tell you – please do not miss what I am saying – is that the spiritual aspect of this story is exactly the opposite of the earthly aspect. Esau said, anokhi holekh lamut – “I am going to die.”

King Agrippa, we are all destined to die. We are all Esau, walking in and looking for soup. When we die, none of our treasures, none of our wealth, and none of our high and exalted positions will matter. Like Esau probably figured, someone else will get them anyway. Solomon explained this to us in Ecclesiastes. I think I have that with me… Yes, here it is –

“Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun, because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. 19 And who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will rule over all my labor in which I toiled and in which I have shown myself wise under the sun. This also is vanity. 20 Therefore I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun. 21 For there is a man whose labor is with wisdom, knowledge, and skill; yet he must leave his heritage to a man who has not labored for it. This also is vanity and a great evil” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-21).

The question each must ask, O King, is, “Am I willing to give up everything for one meal?” If that meal will give us life, then isn’t the exchange worthwhile? And there is only one meal that will satisfy. You see, in this meal we move from Esau to Jacob; from the authority of our father Adam to the authority of the One who comes after, the Supplanter, Jesus.

Just as Edom became subservient to Jacob in order to have life, we too, sons of Adam, must cede our present inheritance – meaning this earthly life with all of its rights, honor, and authority – to Jesus. In this, we gain the life that is truly life.

The last time I was with our brother, the apostle John, he spoke to me of Jesus’ words to His disciples. I really hope he will take the time to write all his thoughts down someday! Quoting Jesus, John said these words to me –

“Most assuredly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed” (John 6:53-55).

Jesus has prepared a meal, O King. It is one we must dine on by faith in the promises of God. This is why we take the Lord’s Supper. It is the memory of His death, that we participate in, as we wait upon His return. We have died with Christ in His death and yet we anticipate eternal life through Him.

O King, consider my words and reflect on what I am telling you. The purpose of our Scriptures is to reveal Christ. As an apostle, it is my duty to explain these things so that men may be saved. Now, let us continue to consider the story before us…

Then Jacob said, “Swear to me as of this day.” So he swore to him, and sold his birthright to Jacob.

Think of what Esau did, King Agrippa! He mirrors what happened with our first father, Adam. Adam sold the riches of paradise for a piece of fruit. In just the same manner, this is what Esau did. The Lord chose this story to show what happened at the beginning and how He would correct that terrible mistake.

What Esau sold away, Jacob took possession of. What Adam lost through disobedience, Jesus has obtained through His perfect obedience. He, O King, never sinned. He performed that which the Father sent Him to do, and He has obtained the inheritance which He now offers to any who will come to Him through a simple act of faith. And now, let me take you to the last words of the story we have before us…

And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright.

For nothing more, O King, than a stew that was probably as much water as it was lentils, all of Esau’s treasures were sworn away. And for the same soup, Jacob inherited many glories in the years ahead. And each one of them, O King, is still remembered today. This wasn’t just a short walk of life that ended when he did.

Instead, it was a story that we still read today, and which is now even being read among the Gentiles. The question that should come up in our own minds, O King, is, “What will I most be remembered for?” We put a heavy stress on what others think about us, but what is most important is how God considers us.

King Agrippa, throughout the story, nothing has been said of bread, but now it is suddenly added in. Esau gave up his birthright for bread and the red, the red that would keep him alive for a few more hours. We have been asked to give up our earthly birthright for Bread and the Red that will give eternal life.

You see, at the same time that Jesus spoke to the people concerning His flesh and His blood, He explained to us what that meant. John repeated those words to me as well (he really needs to write all this down!). Jesus said, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst” (John 6:25).

Esau ate his bread and his red stew, and he got hungry again. But Jesus offers Himself, His body and His blood, as a spiritual meal. When we partake of it, we will never hunger or thirst again because of what it provides.

In the story of Jacob and Esau, there is a physical aspect and there is a spiritual aspect. Although the two are diametrically opposed in how we handle them, they come from the same account. We can be like Esau and live for our stomachs, trading away that which is of infinite value, or we can live like Jacob and trade away a meal of no value for one that will fill us forever.

I would warn you against the former and ask you to accept the latter. If I may precisely say it to you, O King –

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: 15 looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; 16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright” (Hebrews 12:14-16).

Esau is like the person I described to my brethren in Philippi –

“Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. 18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame—who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:17-19).

On the other hand, O King, in the spiritual aspect of what we see in this story, we actually do have to be willing to sell everything for a single meal – a spiritual meal. In the same letter that I wrote to those at Philippi, I also told them this –

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself” (Philippians 3:20, 21).

In trading our claim on this world for the offer of Jesus Christ, we who believe now have a new citizenship and a new hope. I mentioned, O King, that being the firstborn granted the birthright. This would make that person chief of the clan and he would receive all authority and all title to the estate.

In this passage, the authority was passed from Esau to Jacob. The transfer is a picture of the transfer from Adam to Christ. As sons of Adam, we have a right to this fallen world – it is our inheritance. Adam had the title to Eden and gave it up for a bite of fruit. Edom did the same thing for a bowl of soup. Both meals were temporary and, ultimately, unsatisfying.

Jacob received the birthright through a vow sworn by Esau. It was irrevocable. Likewise, Jesus asks each of us to give up our inheritance here in the earthly realm under Adam and submit to His rule and authority. Jacob replaced the firstborn Esau, and I, O King, in my first letter to those at Corinth explain that Jesus replaces the first man, Adam –

“However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual. 47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven. 48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly. 49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man” (1 Corinthians 15:46-49).

O King, the question for each of us in Adam is, “Do we want to live an ungodly and profane life like Esau and give up heaven’s riches for what is earthly and temporary, or do we want to sell our earthly riches for a spiritual meal that will grant us eternity in heaven?” O King, remember the prophecy about these two –

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger” (Genesis 25:23).

King Agrippa, there are two people groups on earth right now. One is serving the older and one is serving the younger. Now, remember the words of Malachi –

Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?” Says the Lord. “Yet Jacob I have loved;
3 But Esau I have hated” (Malachi 1:3).

We are children of wrath by nature (Ephesians 2:3), O King. We are earthly and serving the first man, who is Adam, but we can become heavenly and serve the second, who is Christ. When we make that choice, which is symbolized in the Lord’s Supper, we go from being children of wrath to adopted sons of God and beloved.

Let me tell you how you too can partake of this heavenly meal. Believe this gospel, O King. Jesus Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried, and He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. Believe, O King, to the saving of Your soul.

Why should it be thought incredible that God raises the dead? He raised Jesus in His perfection, and He will raise us in the perfection of Jesus. Believe, O King!

Closing Verse: “‘In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation, I have helped you.’
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” 2 Corinthians 6:2 (see Genesis 25:33 – “Swear to me as of this day”).

Next Week: Acts 26:9 Some won’t even utter this Name, even under their breath… (This Jesus of Nazareth)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But you must first believe by faith in what He has done. Once you do, then that plan can come about in you as it will in all of His redeemed. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Heaven’s Riches for a Meal (A Double Entendre)

When Rebekah’s days were fulfilled to give birth
Indeed there were twins in her womb
The first came out red, like the clay of the earth
He was hairy as a garment, like mohair, I presume

So they called his name Esau because like a man he was made
I wonder if those who saw him stood back and were dismayed?

After Esau his younger brother then came out
And his hand took hold of Esau’s heel
So his name was Jacob because with no doubt
He was a heel grabber and supplanting was his deal

When Rebekah bore them, Isaac was sixty years of age
And his life was now turning a brand-new page

So the boys grew and Esau was a skillful hunter
A man of the field was his type of life
But Jacob was a mild man and not a physical grunter
He dwelt in tents; instead of arrows he used a butter knife

And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game
But Rebekah loved Jacob and the man he became

Now Jacob cooked a stew
And Esau came in weary from the field
And Esau said to Jacob, “I’m famished through and through
Please feed me some of that red stew before my life I yield

Therefore Edom was called his name
Both his color and the color of the soup were the same

But Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day
And Esau said, “Look I’m about to die.”
So what is this birthright to me, tell me I pray?
Then Jacob said, Swear as of this day between you and I

So he swore to him and to Jacob he sold his birthright
And Jacob gave Esau bread and some lentil stew
Then he ate and drank, arose, and went out of sight
Thus, Esau despised his birthright; he told it “Adieu!”

Here we are pictured by these boys
And we have choices in this world to make
Will we pursue all the earthly toys?
Or will we give them up for heaven’s sake?

We can sell our birthright for that which perishes
Or we can sell it for the thing that God most cherishes

If we sell it for a bowl of soup that Adam did make
Then it is a sad choice that we have made
But if we sell it for the heavenly cake
Then by God above it was a glorious trade

Eat of the bread and drink of the blood
Of the Lord Jesus provided freely to all
And when you, do it shall be understood
That through this act Christ in you has reversed Adam’s fall

Great and glorious, splendid God above
Let us shout out to You with praises and love

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

Acts 26:7 (For This Hope’s Sake)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson

Acts 26:7
For This Hope’s Sake

The person named King Agrippa (Agrippa II) in Acts 26 is the son of the elder King Agrippa who is recorded in Acts 12. It is Agrippa I who had James, the brother of John put to death with the sword (Acts 12:2). He is the same king who failed to give glory to God and thus met a gruesome end, being eaten by worms (Acts 12:23).

This makes Agrippa of Acts 26 the great-grandson of Herod I, also known as Herod the Great. Herod’s father was a descendant of Esau, meaning he was of Edomite origin, something people to this day have trouble with. His ancestors, however, had converted to Judaism.

Without going into all of the detail of this, it made him a Jew. Scripture outlines what is required for a person to convert and be considered as a Jew. When those requirements are met, they are accepted as such. Flavius Josephus records this in his writings. He says that about 129 BC John Hyrcanus –

“…subdued all the Idumeans; and permitted them to stay in that country, if they would circumcise their genitals, and make use of the laws of the Jews; and they were so desirous of living in the country of their forefathers, that they submitted to the use of circumcision, and of the rest of the Jewish ways of living; at which time therefore this befell them, that they were hereafter no other than Jews.”

This is both a historical testament to the fact, and it is something that is also biblically supported by the manner in which one was to be accepted into the assembly. This, however, doesn’t stop people from making unwarranted accusations against those who were converts, nor does it end the unceasing stream of bad theology that has developed within the church concerning the Edomites.

Text Verse: “‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord.
Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?’
Was not Esau Jacob’s brother?”
Says the Lord.
‘Yet Jacob I have loved;
But Esau I have hated,
And laid waste his mountains and his heritage
For the jackals of the wilderness.’” Malachi 1:2, 3

Because of the words of Malachi, and other words taken out of context, many jump to the conclusion that Herod was an illegitimate figure within Israel. But that ignores the fact that his people had converted to Judaism and were reckoned as Jews.

If Herod was hated by the people, it was because of who he was as a person. And if God did not approve of Herod, it wasn’t because of his Edomite origin. It’s rather clear that God didn’t approve of the actions of the other Jews either, regardless of their ancestry.

What is the word of the Lord through Malachi saying concerning Esau? It’s important because in getting this wrong, ten thousand other little points of doctrine will be wrong as well. Pretty soon, you can start making up all kinds of nutty things simply because a couple of words are improperly analyzed.

The loving of Israel and the hating of Esau points us to the doctrine of Divine Election. It is a complicated doctrine that needs to be returned to and considered from time to time just so that we can be reminded of the love of God which is found in Jesus Christ our Lord. It is a love that extends to any and to all, but it can only be appropriated through an act of faith.

King Agrippa has a question for Paul, and it is one that Paul is ready to answer because he was trained in proper theology. How do we know this? It’s because we get our theology from what he says to us in his epistles. God selected him because of who he was and what he understood, as a Jew and as a Pharisee, concerning redemptive history.

His background made him the ideal person to convey to us those things we need to know in order to understand the marvel of what God has done for the people of the world. Such wonderful wisdom of God is to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

An Explanation of Predestination and Election

—————
Paul, your words concerning the promise made by God to our fathers were most convincing and it has me excited to know more. The day has hardly started and there is a part of Scripture’s recorded history that personally affects me and to which I have been, and continue to be, most curious.

In your earlier discourse, you said, “The Messiah was promised before Israel existed. Israel just happens to be the people through whom He would come.” During our short break to stretch our legs, I requested that a copy of the Scriptures be brought to this assembly so that you might shed light on its words for me.

Paul, you know that I am a Jew, but that my ancestral line also goes back to the Edomites. This makes things perplexing to me at times. I may not be very well versed in Scripture, but I know the story of how both Israel and Esau began. I have asked the court recorder to read that passage –

“This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, the daughter of Bethuel the Syrian of Padan Aram, the sister of Laban the Syrian. 21 Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren; and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived. 22 But the children struggled together within her; and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the Lord.
23 And the Lord said to her:
‘Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.’” Genesis 25:19-23

—————
So, Paul, can you shed any light on all of this for me? You believe that Jesus is the Messiah, and you are known to many as the Apostle to the Gentiles, and yet, it appears that God is showing favoritism. Is that a God that people should want to follow? Or is there a misunderstanding?

—————
O King, this is a beautiful passage from our history, and it is actually something I have written about to the church at Rome. I can tell you, as my beloved friend Peter discovered, that God shows no partiality (Acts 10:34), and I repeated this same thought to the congregation at Rome in my letter to them (Romans 2:1-11).

God does nothing arbitrarily nor vindictively. He is perfectly fair and just in all He does and there is no favoritism with Him.

—————
But Paul, explain to me what it means when the Lord said to Rebekah that one people shall be stronger than the other, and that the older would serve the younger. And then explain the words of Malachi that say that the Lord has loved Jacob, but He has hated Esau. I have heard that many times over the years.

How does this affect me? I am descended from both Esau and Jacob, and I am Jew by birth. Am I loved or am I hated? And what is it that makes it one way or the other to God?

—————
King Agrippa, there is a lot involved in what you are asking. What I suggest is that you get a copy of my letter to the Romans where I speak of exactly these things. In fact, I think I have a full copy of it here. Before the day ends, I shall give it to you. It is not that being of Israel by birth makes a person truly of Israel. Only when their actions align with what is expected of them are they truly of Israel.

What I must first do is explain to you the doctrine of election. I happen to have a portion of my letter to the Romans here in my pocket. I had my scribe, Tertius, make an extract of this for when I am asked exactly this question. Here is what I said to them –

“But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect. For they are not all Israel who are of Israel, nor are they all children because they are the seed of Abraham; but, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ That is, those who are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God; but the children of the promise are counted as the seed. For this is the word of promise: ‘At this time I will come and Sarah shall have a son.’
10 And not only this, but when Rebecca also had conceived by one man, even by our father Isaac 11 (for the children not yet being born, nor having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works but of Him who calls), 12 it was said to her, ‘The older shall serve the younger.’ 13 As it is written, ‘Jacob I have loved, but Esau I have hated.’” Romans 9:6-13

—————
Paul, I may be even more confused now than before I asked. Can you simplify what you are saying for me?

—————

O King, I will do my best to do so. I wrote of election, but that is something that is tied in with God’s predestination as well. In the same letter to the Romans, I wrote these words –

“For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:29, 30

O King you know that the word, proorizó, “predestined,” means “to mark out beforehand.” God has “predetermined” those who will be saved. These are the elect.

But what does it mean that they are predetermined? Does He actively choose each before creation as in, “I will make a Paul of Tarsus, and I will save him”? If this is so, does He then say, “I will make a Judas Iscariot and I will condemn him”?

Or perhaps God means, “I will make a path to salvation. This is the predetermined boundary, and any who accept that path will be saved.”? Or, maybe, is there some variation between these that God will use to save man?

When I spoke to you earlier today, I said to you, “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision” (Acts 26:19). I myself believe that I had, and still have, free will.

I have said, O King, that those whom God “foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son.” Those who are a part of God’s plans and purposes will be conformed. It is already done in God’s mind.

How this comes about is what I will explain to you. But so that you can more fully understand what is correct, I will also tell you of things that are incorrect. What I will say is based upon the fall of man, our first father Adam, and how God has worked from that event to determine His elect.

One teaching among our scholars says that election, or predestination, is logically prior to the decree to permit the fall of man. In other words, O King, even before sin entered into the picture, election was made for all people.

If one were to use a phrase to explain this, he might say double-predestination. This is because its effects actively go in two directions. This is held by many among us, O King. This is why there are so many judgmental egoists who feel God loves them and hates everyone else.

Their assumption is that God predestined humanity before He permitted the fall of man. What they think is that He actively elected some for salvation and actively elected others for condemnation. The fall hadn’t even happened, and yet God had made His choice.

In His act of creation, it would mean He purposefully created with the intent that His people would either be saved or condemned. That is their state, and they have no choice in it. A Jew may say, “I am the elect and saved because God loves me. Edomites are not elect, and they are damned. God hates them.”

What they believe is that God provides and applies salvation only for the elect. If that is so, then when Jesus came to provide salvation, what He did was limited only to them. You might call that, O King, limited atonement.

Such people will say, King Agrippa, that Christ’s atonement is limited only to those who were elected, and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people. This is a noxious heresy, O King. It speaks of forced salvation to the saved, and purposeful condemnation to the unsaved.

To explain this in a simple manner, as you asked of me, we can think about the Garden of Eden where God placed man. God created both the garden and the man. But even before the man had done anything wrong, God has already chosen which of his descendants He will love and which He will hate.

It is only after this decision that Adam and his wife disobey. In this, the catastrophe of sin entered the world. Man was forced from the garden into a stream of existence of one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete, total, and eternal separation from God.

But, during the course of time, God actively came along and initiated a process of salvation for those He chose to save even before any wrong had been committed. When He saves them, He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory.

They had no choice in it because the choice was made even before the fall. That is when they were saved. The work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is just an afterthought in the stream of events. As for the ones created for condemnation, whenever they are born, He actively withholds His saving of them, forcing them into hell because He chose them to be created that way.

—————
Paul! If this was true, that would mean God is an angry God who really hates some of His creation!

—————
It is true, O King. Those would be the non-elect. It would mean He hated them even before He created them. This begs the question though. If this was true, then why am I standing before you now? Why have I gone to all of the effort in my life to proclaim Christ? And why should I bother continuing to even talk to you now, answering your questions about Jesus?

If God has already chosen who will be saved, and His will cannot be thwarted, then all of my efforts mean nothing. If this was true, I would be better off doing anything but what I do! But this is a great lie, and a great misrepresentation of what God is doing.

And more, O King, this teaching ascribes evil to God because the evil that exists is not corrected by Him when it could have been, even by those who may have desired it through salvation. But God is neither the author of evil, nor will He allow it to continue forever.

People who teach this will use what the Lord says of Jacob and Esau in Malachi and incorrectly come to their conclusion. They misread what is said there and fail to consider everything we need to know.

You yourself, O King, have noted that you are descended from both Jews and Edomites. This teaching does nothing to answer the issue of election in regard to Jacob and Esau because it does not reflect what God has done in Christ.

—————
I could tell it smelled rotten, Paul. But if this is taught concerning election, and it is not correct, then what is?

—————
O King, I shall again refrain from telling you what is correct and continue to tell you what is incorrect. This will help you to see more clearly when the truth of what God has done is explained.

Another teaching is that the decree of election, meaning to call someone to salvation, comes logically after God’s decree to permit the fall. This is technically not double-predestination, but it is still tainted with falsity.

Teachers of this doctrine say that God created everything and then He permitted the fall of man. Since then, He has and will continue to elect some while simply passing by others. In this view, God provides and applies salvation only for the elect. He chooses who will be saved and they have no choice in the matter.

This teaching, like the first, says that the atonement of Jesus Christ is limited only to those who were elected, and it applies – both potentially and actually – only to certain people who will be saved. To the saved, it is forced salvation, and to the unsaved, there is a state of uncaring condemnation.

O King, I will take you back to the Garden of Eden to understand. In this thinking, God created the Garden and the man. After this, man disobeyed, and the catastrophe of sin entered into the world. It is at this time that God next decides who He will save and who He will simply ignore.

In the meantime, man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. But that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.

During the course of time, as the people are born, God comes along and initiates the process of salvation for some. He gives them his Spirit and seals them for future glory whether they want it or not. The rest, He simply ignores. He does nothing to secure their salvation.

They are simply not a part of His plan. One might argue that this isn’t a hateful God, but that is incorrect. He is uncaring about those He didn’t elect, and to not care about their eternal state is an unloving act.

He made the choice for salvation or condemnation after the fall, but He also did so before He took any action to correct the matter at hand, which is the sin that now abides in man.

You can see that to them the cross of the Lord Jesus which I have told you about is simply an afterthought in God’s redemptive plans and purposes. In His mind, the saved were saved before His decree to correct their state. Like the first view I spoke to you of, O King, the work of Jesus may be a part of this process, but it is actually a secondary thought in the stream of events.

O King, there is an implicit problem with this view that brings it to the same heretical level as the first. God is all-knowing. The order of the occurrences as I stand here and present them to you are for our benefit and understanding, but they are not actually how God’s mind see things. He knows all things at all times. God would already know who was created for salvation or for condemnation.

In both views so far, God loves only the elect in terms of salvation. The others, He either actively hates or He just doesn’t care about them. This, by default, is a hateful act. This is not the God presented in Scripture, nor the God I continue to proclaim in my epistles to those churches I correspond with.

A problem with what these people teach is that God is love, as my friend John often notes (1 John 4:16). God loves everyone equally. There is no increase or decrease in His love for us from His perspective. But, King Agrippa, to pass over some while choosing others, especially after finally providing the means of salvation to the world, is actually no different than actively condemning them. This, like the other view I spoke about, presents an unloving God towards the non-elect.

This “passing by” someone, when He knew before creating them that He would “pass them by,” is more than uncaring. It shows a disdain for a certain portion of His creatures. Such teachers like to say that those who are not elect are “simply not a part of His plan,” and that may be true, but it is He – not the poor soul who might want to be – who determines it is so.

—————
Paul, that doesn’t sound at all like the God who saved Rahab the harlot, or who accepted Ruth from Moab, bringing them into our people.

—————
Indeed, it is not, O King! But in order to justify this, such teachers pick and choose verses from our Scriptures, taking them out of context. Entire doctrines which are, in fact, taught in Scripture – such as free will – are to be dismissed. By denying free will in the process of salvation, these people supposedly remove this stain from God, as they view Him.

But this is incorrect. Even my own writings, as my fellow apostle Peter will tell you, are twisted by various people to come to such erroneous conclusions (2 Peter 2:16).

Just like the first view I spoke about, O King, if this conclusion were correct, there would be no reason why I should even bother standing before you to tell you about Jesus. Why have I fought beasts in Ephesus (1 Corinthians 15:32) if this is true? What advantage was that to me?

Teachers of this will dispute that, but this is the logical result of what they teach. If God chose us for salvation apart from our will – and even before He has initiated the plan for man’s salvation – then honestly, what is the point, O King? Are God’s plans going to be thwarted by us somehow?

But such teachers (Watch out for such teachers, King Agrippa!) will cunningly say that if it was intended for all to be saved, then all would be saved – because God’s sovereign intentions must come about. Therefore, if it was not intended for all to be saved, then it was only intended for some, meaning the elect!

—————
But Paul, that sounds reasonable to me. How do you respond?

—————
King Agrippa, I submit to you that this is a fallacy of thinking known as a false dilemma. The atonement of Jesus is an offering, and it is – in fact – intended to save all, but it only applies salvation to those who believe.

Peter also teaches this. He says, “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

These teachers wrongly assume, and therefore assert, that the atonement of Jesus has only one purpose, which is to secure the salvation of the elect. In other words, Jesus died so that we can be saved. Our people have thought this all along. That Messiah would come to save Israel. But that is not all He came to do.

Jesus’ sacrifice, as I wrote in my epistle to those in Rome, O King, (Romans 1:32), reveals the righteousness of God in judgment. God sent His Son to die in the place of man; if you turn down such a great salvation, then how great is judgment deserved! Even without the cross of Jesus, we are condemned (John 3:18). How much more just is God in judgment because of it!

The result of the idea of a limited atonement, King Agrippa, is that it denies that God really desires all to be saved. This is contrary to His omni-benevolence and also to what Peter wrote in his letter.

O King, to understand this view more clearly, I would like to deviate a bit in order to consider the concept of free will. My fellow apostle, John, tells us that Jesus said to a man named Nicodemus, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

I have also written time and again to the churches about believing. To those in Rome, I said that the gospel “is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16). I have told those in Ephesus that when a person believes the gospel of his salvation, he is “sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). And so, King Agrippa, I would ask, “Do we freely choose Christ, or does God choose us apart from our will?”

—————
I will refrain from answering Paul. It seems that every time I do, you astound me with an insight I had never considered. So, please continue to speak while I enjoy this cluster of grapes.

—————
King Agrippa, I will explain two options to you. I will call them monergism and synergism.

**Monergism, or Unconditional Election, means that regeneration is completely the result of God’s work and man has no part or cooperation in it. It is salvation by irresistible grace leading to regeneration and then to faith.

In other words, O King, if thought through logically, a person would then be saved before he is saved. This falls in line with the two views of which I have already spoken.

To justify this, teachers say that a person is born again by the Spirit. After that, they then choose the offer of God in Christ, and then they are saved. In other words, being “born again” is not salvation, but rather an intermediate step on the road to salvation.

One could paraphrase that by saying, “Nobody has free will unto salvation, but God chooses a person to be saved, gives them free will to choose by being born again, and then that person uses the free will of choice to be saved.

—————
That sure sounds like a lot of bar-bar talk to me Paul.

—————
Indeed, King Agrippa, it is nonsensical hooey! Think of it, O King! If a person has free will to choose after being born again, and if he cannot use it to reject Christ, then it really isn’t free will! No, O King, that is “forced will.” It is convoluted and it involves very unclear thinking and a twisting of the intent of Scripture.

And more, O King, this view actually usurps God. If you have no choice in your salvation, then how do you know you are saved? Indeed, how can anyone make a claim that he is saved when he didn’t have anything to do with his salvation? O King, people who teach this would then be speaking for God by claiming salvation!

Of course, these teachers may cunningly answer with, “I believed after regeneration; therefore, I am saved.” But, O King, there are false gospels and people believe them. I will have a copy of my letter to the Galatians also set aside for you so that you can understand more fully.

When a person believes a false gospel, he has believed wrongly and yet claims he is saved. If a person finds out he is wrong, he will hopefully change his belief in order to be saved. So, when was he saved, O King? When he believed correctly!

But such teachers say they were saved by God’s predetermined will, even before they were created. If that is so, then why did they go through the times of falsely believing they were saved?

What exactly was God doing with them at that time? If He wasn’t doing something with them at that time, then they had to have been freely choosing to do what they were doing by wrongly believing. As this is so, then they had free will in the matter!

False gospels, King Agrippa, imply there is a true gospel, and the spirit of the antichrist which the Apostle John speaks of from time to time implies that there is a true Spirit. Belief, O King, must precede regeneration. And it does. This is what I and the other apostles teach. Faith in our Lord Jesus alone brings salvation. O King, I appeal to you to have faith in Jesus Christ today!

—————
Your words move me, Paul. Speak to me more. You said there is another view, synergism. Tell me about that.

—————
Indeed, O King, I shall. But first let me explain one more thing about monergism. Yes, it denies free will in fallen man, but free will is necessary for love because forced love isn’t love at all. And if you are forced to will, then you are not freely loving.

—————
I see that clearly, Paul. This monergism sounds like a lot of goo to me.

—————
Indeed, King Agrippa, it is! Now let me tell you what I and the other apostles teach.

**Synergism, or we may call it Conditional Election, means that we freely choose Christ and then are made alive. This is what Jesus said when I quoted him a moment ago (John 3:16). It is also what I have written which I told you about. Let me quote the entire thought I sent to the church at Ephesus –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13,14

A silly argument used against this is a twisting of other words of mine where I note we are dead in our trespasses and sins and that it is Jesus who restores us to life (Ephesians 2:1).

By twisting my words, O King, the argument is, “How can a dead person choose life?” I can just see someone someday saying, “You have as much power to awaken yourself from spiritual death as a corpse has the power to awaken himself from physical death” (RC Sproul, Tabletalk magazine).

That would be a fallacy, O King, known as a category mistake. It is true, humans are spiritually dead in their sins. But humans are not dead beings. God made man with the ability to reason, to choose, and to decline. In fact, this is exactly what the words of Genesis imply –

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever…’” Genesis 3:22

Just because humans are depraved and incapable of saving themselves does not mean that they cannot see what is good and receive it. You, O King, have asked what is good in asking about the faith I possess. You have done this voluntarily, and you will make a choice based on the evidence I present.

People are known to strive towards what they perceive is good. And this is what Jesus came to do for us. He is as a beacon lighting our way back to God. Jesus said this Himself. The apostle John also speaks of this. (He really should write it down someday!). He will at times cite Jesus, saying –

“He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” John 12:44-46

Christ is the Beacon, and man comes to God through Him. Nobody in his right mind should assume that he can restore himself to life. It didn’t work for our first parents, and it hasn’t worked for anyone else. Only Christ can do that, and it is why God sent Him. He has done all that we need for that to happen. We simply receive it, and He accomplishes the rest. Peter speaks of this synergistic model –

“There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 3:21

Peter uses the word suneidésis, “conscience.” You know, O King, that it is a compound of sýn, meaning “together with” and eídō, meaning “to know or see.” It provides a look into the idea of synergism. It is a word I frequently have used in my own letters. It is “joint-knowing.” This is a part of the divine image in us, King Agrippa. We have a spiritual and moral conscience given by God so that we can know right from wrong. We are morally free agents.

In essence, Peter says that man uses this God-given capacity, acknowledges what God has done in Christ, and he is saved.  As man is a moral free agent, and as his conscience must work out an acceptable faith in the work of Christ – a work which culminated in His resurrection – then it shows that man has free will.

It is in using that free will that we actively reason out our state before God. We can see that we are lost in a world of moral unrighteousness, and come into the Ark of Safety, which is the Person and work of Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

—————
Paul, are you telling me that the story of Noah and the ark is telling us about Jesus?

—————

Indeed, I am, as is the Apostle Peter. I can explain that to you someday if you wish. For now, please know that faith in Christ leads to the “baptism” which is the demand, or question, by which God answers – “Am I right before God?” The answer is, O King, “Yes.” It is Christ who allows this to occur.

King Agrippa, mixing categories, and rejecting core doctrines of the faith, leads to bad theology, such as monergism. For now, I will say to you that man is a soul/body unity. The spirit of man is dead, but the spirit of man is tied to the soul. When I wrote to the church at Corinth some time ago, I explained that the soul without a body is naked (2 Corinthians 5:1-3). The spirit of man is made alive when we call on Christ, even if the body later dies.

O King, this is eternal life! And it occurs the moment we believe. Adam’s spirit died, and we have all inherited that state. But faith in Christ now regenerates the spirit. As I said, King Agrippa, the spirit of antichrist which John speaks of confirms this. The spirit is not a separate entity. It is a reconnection of the soul to God.

—————
Your words are filled with great insights, Paul. Now, will you tell me the correct answer to the matter?

—————
O King, let me tell you of one more false teaching. Some might say that God’s election is based on His foreknowledge but not necessarily in accord with it. In other words, God’s decrees are conditional; He changes His mind.

Like the previous view, such thinking says that God created all and then permitted the fall. But then God provides salvation for all people. God knows who the elect are based on the foreseen faith of those who believe. Because of this faith, He applies salvation only to believers, but believers can lose their salvation. We might call this the doctrine of “Eternal Insecurity.”

Going back to Eden, King Agrippa, this doctrine says that God created the garden and the man. The man disobeyed God and the catastrophe of sin entered into the world. Man is forced from the garden into a stream of existence, one generation leading to the next. However, that stream leads away from the garden to the abyss of hell – complete and total separation from God.

God, however, offers the corrective measure for man – He sent His Son to die for sin. From that point, the testimony of the Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.” Some never hear the message and continue through life without Christ. Some respond and come to Him. Others like the existence they are living and have no care about where their end will be, or they simply fail to believe what they hear. They reject what God has offered.

For those who come to His Son, however, they can never know if they have upset God enough for Him to take away the salvation He has provided. They must keep doing things, or not doing things, in order to continue to be saved. If they fail in the doing, or not doing, God removes His salvation from them, and they are returned to the highway to hell.

But it is taught by the apostles that those who believe have entered God’s rest (Hebrews 4:3). To such teachers, though, that is only conditional. When I wrote to the Ephesians that the seal of His Holy Spirit is a guarantee, they say it is in name only. But a guarantee in name only is not a guarantee. As such, they say that what I have written about God, O King, cannot be trusted.

Jesus taught that hearing His word and believing in Him who sent Him results in 1) everlasting life, 2) that they will not come into judgment, and 3) that they have passed from death to life. But these teachers call Him a liar by teaching otherwise.

To them, one must earn his salvation through continued obedience. Thus, salvation is not by grace through faith. This is not what I have said in my epistles. Their teaching is a failed system of deceit that would come from a God who vacillates and changes. To them, His decrees are conditional.

To simply and logically refute this, we can know that there is actually no chronological order in the decrees of God. We put them in an understandable order for our benefit, but in God, there is no chronology.

As He exists outside of time, He does not think in time or in sequence. Rather, God knows everything immediately and intuitively. All thoughts in God are simultaneous, and so chronological thinking is excluded. However, there is an operational order in what God has done.

He has willed all things to occur in the temporal sequence of time. One thing happens and then another, O King. We know that God first created. Only after creation came the fall of man. Only after the fall did God then begin to explain His plan of redemption. That plan slowly unfolded in the stream of time, and it occurs for our benefit. But what God has decreed is eternal.

King Agrippa, if you get sick, a plan is made to bring you back to health. The doctor devises a treatment plan, and if you follow what has been prescribed, you will get well.

God provides salvation. Man accepts the prescription which has been filled out for him. The man is saved. The man is sealed with the Holy Spirit. The salvation is eternal. Each decree is eternal, none is taken out of the whole, but is in accord with the whole, and man is saved.

In understanding this, I will now tell you, O King, why this is correct. First, it makes sense from a philosophic standpoint. Second, it makes sense from a moral standpoint. And third, it is that which is in accord with Scripture. And, King Agrippa, it answers the question of why we fell in the first place.

It also answers where evil came from without ascribing it to God. Without this, one is forever searching for where evil came from. This is a question that many ask, but they can never find an answer to it because their belief about God leaves no room for it.

If God created everything in perfection, and if man fell, then their mistaken idea is that God must have blown it by creating a being that could fall. This is because if intent to sin is evil (as both the Tenth Commandment implies and which Jesus clearly taught), then Adam fell before the fall because he lusted after the fruit before he ate it. But such teachers know God didn’t create evil. And so, they have no answer to the question “Whence comes evil?”

It is obvious that what Adam did in the garden involved self-determination. That Adam sinned can be taken as an axiom. But was it 1) caused by another, meaning it was determined; 2) was it uncaused, meaning it is undetermined; or 3) was it caused by himself, meaning self-determined?

We know that God did not cause him to sin, and the serpent did not force him to sin. So, it was not determined.

As far as Adam himself, there was no lack in him concerning the matter at hand. What he possessed in himself as created by God was perfect. Though he did not possess the knowledge of good and evil, that was not an imperfection. A lack does not necessarily correlate to, or imply, imperfection.

Adam was given a command which he could obey. He simply did not. As there is no such thing as an uncaused action, the action was not undetermined. The answer to “Whence comes evil?” is that it was self-determined by Adam.

The correct thinking concerning this, O King, is that in order of decrees, God’s order to provide salvation came before His order to elect the people of the world – “I will send My Son to die, and then all who call on Him will be saved.” The death of Jesus provides unlimited atonement for everyone potentially, but only for God’s people who choose Christ actually.

God created all and then permitted the fall of man before election. He provides salvation for all people, but the elect of God are those who believe. God passes by those who do not believe based on their rejecting His offer of Jesus. It isn’t that He doesn’t care about them, King Agrippa, it is that they don’t care about Him.

God applies salvation only to believers who are eternally saved. This is what God offers. There is security, eternal security, in the arms of Christ. God loves all of the people of the world because He is love, as our beloved Apostle John reminds us (he really needs to write these things down!).

There is no hatred of the person willing to come to Him, and no active passing by people. He offers to all who hear the message, and the elect respond. He desires all to come to Him, O King, for His unmerited salvation and favor. This doesn’t mean there is good in us, it means we see the good in Him and we come to it.

Let’s go back to the garden again, O King. God creates the garden and the man. The man disobeys God, and the catastrophe of sin enters the world. God, at this time, reveals that He will provide salvation for man – before He elects anyone to that salvation.

This is the order which is revealed in the Genesis account. Man fell, God’s curse came, but even during the curse, He promises a Redeemer. After that, Adam demonstrates faith in the promise by naming his wife Khavah, or life. And because of that act, God covers the man and the woman – a picture of man’s atonement.

After expulsion from the garden, one generation leads to the next, with all people destined for total separation from God. Jesus said this when He spoke to Nicodemus –

“He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:18

But God offers the corrective measure for man – He first promises a Redeemer, and those who believe are rewarded for their faith, such as Abraham. Eventually, He sends His Son to die for sin. The Son calls out, “Come to Me and be saved.”

Some hear and respond, while others hear but have no care about where their end will be. Some reject Him out of disbelief. Some are never told the good news message because those who should be telling it say that God’s plans in salvation cannot be thwarted – and so it isn’t necessary to share the gospel. O King, condemnation is our default position. What we need is Jesus to change that.

For those who come to Him, they move from condemnation to salvation. They move from hell to heaven. They move from mortality to immortality. And O King, they are protected from their own failing because God has covenanted with them in Christ and God will never renege on His guarantee.

They are clothed in Christ’s perfection (Revelation 3:5) and they are no longer imputed sin (2 Corinthians 5:19). Their salvation is eternal, O King, because “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23), but death comes through sin. If sin is not imputed, death no longer reigns.

You asked, O King, about Jacob and Esau. I tell you that God foresaw their futures and proclaimed what would happen, as it is with us. According to His wisdom, without regard to our merits, He bestows upon us life, time, and place.

Some have been created for noble purposes and some for ignoble purposes according to that placement. All who have the opportunity to hear the message are given the opportunity to respond to it.

All we need to do is look at the history of these people – the Israelites and the Edomites, whose destinies were stated in Genesis, who are named in Malachi, and who I wrote about in my letter to the Romans. After being subject to the Israelites, the Edomites were eventually assimilated into the Jewish society.

This same group, comprised of both cultures, will either accept Christ and enter into His kingdom, or they will reject Him and be cut off from God’s favor for rejecting Jesus. If the latter, which is exactly what Jesus prophesied would happen, they will come under the curses of the Law of Moses.

That will continue, King Agrippa, until the day prophesied when they will be restored and exalted among the nations. Our Scriptures, O King, as well as the words of Jesus, say that someday Israel will come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. And when that occurs, it will include the Edomite people that were assimilated into, exiled with, and returned again as Israel.

For now, O King, there are Jews who have accepted Christ Jesus since the beginning; more continue to do so today. I am the apostle to the Gentiles, but I always go to the Jews first. They receive the same salvation based on the same promises that I proclaim to all of the nations from any line of the sons of Adam.

O King, if the word of the Lord to Rebekah were to have said, “Two babies are in your womb, and two children shall be separated from your body. One child will be stronger than the other, and the older shall serve the younger” then people might have some type of argument for a different view. But Scripture doesn’t say that. Instead, it says –

“Two nations are in your womb,
Two peoples shall be separated from your body;
One people shall be stronger than the other,
And the older shall serve the younger.”

O King, I have presented to you what Scripture says along with my own arguments that I believe to be true. My letters, and the words and letters of the other apostles, bear out what I convey to you now. You are descended from both Edom and Jacob, and you are presented with a choice concerning the Messiah of both.

God has set forth a plan for the redemption of man. He has sent His Son into the world as the fulfillment of that plan, and He has graciously offered Him to all men. Any who receive Him will be saved. King Agrippa, my appeal to you today is that you will believe unto the saving of your soul.

Closing Verse: “But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:40

Next Week: Acts 26:8 Like words that are seemingly inedible… (Why Should It Be Thought Incredible)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But you must first believe by faith in what He has done. Once you do, then that plan can come about in you as it will in all of His redeemed. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

God’s Grace, Our Choice

Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife
Because she was barren, and the Lord granted his plea
And Rebekah conceived bearing in her womb new life
But after a while in her womb there was difficulty

The children struggled together within her and she said
If all is well, why am I like this?
So, she went to inquire of the Lord and there she pled
Because she knew something was amiss

And the Lord said to her in a striking prophecy
Words that proved He is in control of all history

Two nations are in your womb as a mother
Two peoples shall be separated from your body
One people shall be stronger than the other
And the older shall serve the younger, you see.

And so, we have the doctrine of divine election
And we can see that God predestines all according to His will
In each person He understands their future selection
Of whether we will choose heaven, or if we will choose hell

He allows us the choice and yet in advance
He knows what we will do about His Son Jesus
But once the choice is made if, we have wisely used our chance
Then His grace is poured out on undeserving us

What a great and awesome Lord
Who came to save us from a certain pit of hell
And to understand His truth we have His word
And in it, of His grace and love and mercy it does tell

Thank You God for our Lord and Savior Jesus
Thank You for the saving grace He bestows on us

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 26:6 (The Promise Made by God to Our Fathers)

Artwork by Doug Kallerson

Acts 26:6
The Promise Made by God to Our Fathers

With Deuteronomy completed, I had hoped to go directly into Joshua. However, like being pestered by my friend Mike about doing a series on Doctrine after completing Numbers, I was pestered by someone here in the church to do a series on an imagined evangelization of King Agrippa by the Apostle Paul.

I don’t want to give away the name of the person who was behind this without permission, so after I ask Ron Bahra if I can use his name in the sermon, I’ll let you know if he says it’s OK.

His suggestions were – The character would be the Apostle Paul. The topic would be found in Acts 26: Paul’s defense before King Agrippa. Paul understands that King Agrippa knows and believes the prophets. King Agrippa responds to Paul’s words by saying;
“You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

So, from the pulpit, you will be the Apostle Paul, your audience will be King Agrippa and his court. Your task will be to convince the king that Jesus Christ is the Son of God by use of the Old Testament prophets.

The question is, “Can you possibly reconstruct the argument Paul might have used in his defense of Christ using only the prophets of old?” If you can, you might just hear these words from the audience, “You have convinced me to become a Christian!”

I told Ron that this is not my style of doing sermons. He didn’t seem to care about my opinion. I told him that because this isn’t the kind of thing I feel I’m good at, this series may not be very good. Again, he was disinterested in my point of view.

I tried other avenues of getting out of this, including moving to Uganda, but he wouldn’t hear any of it. And so, for the next few weeks, we will attempt to evangelize King Agrippa in a manner that Paul may have done.

Text Verse: “For Moses writes about the righteousness which is of the law, ‘The man who does those things shall live by them.’ But the righteousness of faith speaks in this way, ‘Do not say in your heart, “Who will ascend into heaven?” (that is, to bring Christ down from above) or, “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).’ But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:5-10

How do you convince someone who only has the Old Testament that Jesus is the answer to everything the prophets said? Well, technically, you can’t. The reason why is because the only way we know about Jesus is by reading the New Testament that tells us about Him.

At the time of the Apostles, they testified to what they saw and heard. We cannot do that apart from what has now been recorded in the pages of Scripture. As this is so, and as the apostles spoke about Jesus in words that are now recorded in the New Testament, I have not withheld verses from the New Testament.

But I have used them as if they are from a dialogue that Paul presents to the king. The majority of what Paul will present, though, is found in verses from the Old Testament along with reasoning that is based upon those verses. Or, in one sermon, I have used a logical analysis of things to come to a conclusion about why certain doctrines concerning Jesus are true or not.

If you really enjoy these sermons, I will be happy to take the credit for what is presented. If you don’t, then I will be pleased to pass on your comments to Ron, blaming him for having come up with this idea in the first place. J

Actually, I do hope you will enjoy them. They are less formal than what you may be used to, but they are still based upon God’s superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. How Shall I Take Your Words, O King?

—————
Most excellent king, I understand your words, but your intonation leaves me wondering as to the meaning of them. If I heard you rightly, you said, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

Unless I know the intent of your words, I cannot be sure how to continue my defense. It is a defense that includes an appeal to you concerning Jesus, and how can I properly appeal to you unless I understand the intent of your words?

Do you mean “…you almost you persuade me?” (NKJV). If so, then I must speak on with convincing arguments to settle your doubt. Are you saying, “Do you think in such a short time you can persuade me…?” (NIV).

Good king, it doesn’t matter to me if it takes a short amount of time or long, I am willing to go to any length to persuade you. The Lord has placed me before you, and so to you the rights to my time now belong.

King Agrippa, if you mean, “In brief, you are doing your best to persuade me…” (Weymouth NT), it is only because I respect your time and wish nothing but to convince you with that in mind.

But I am a patient man, and I will expend my time according to your schedule. If you will just settle comfortably into your throne, I will stand before you until the day is expired (if need be) to convince you of your need for calling on the Savior of mankind.

If your words speak of a glimmer of hope that has now become established within you, which I certainly would love to be the case, then you must have meant, “…you are making short work of my conversion: you are persuading me to become a Christian as suddenly as you yourself did” (via Pulpit Commentary).

If this is so, and if I heard rightly, then the glimmer of hope concerning eternal life – that spark of belief – may already be lighting within you. And if this be the case, then ask of me clarification upon some point, and I will happily provide it.

Ask from me an explanation, and I will speak it forth. Ask me to alleviate some confusion, and I will untie the knot and return to you the line. With it, you can measure the borders of my words and determine if they stand within the boundaries of the promises of God to our fathers. Ask of me, and I shall answer accordingly.

But, King Agrippa, if your words speak of the derision of the title I bear, then maybe you meant to say, “Thou wilt soon have me one of that despised sect” (Jamieson-Fausset-Brown).

If this was your intent, and indeed I would rejoice at such a noble and exalted thought, then speak forth that it is so, and I will continue to bring you closer to being included in that despised title that brings man the highest of honor before God.

But my dear king, I almost believe you may have conveyed to me that you were saying, “By your appeal to the prophets you press me hard; you have got me into a corner. I am in a στενοχωρία [stenochória], a ‘narrow room;’ I hardly know how to get out of it” (via Pulpit Commentary).

If that be the true meaning of what you have said, I am willing to stand here before you as long as you wish, happily presenting to you a fuller and more detailed explanation of the words of the prophets that have so pressed you in. In this, what you have heard can lead you with joy from that narrow room, even to the wide expanses of heaven itself.

As you can see, King Agrippa, I am at a loss as to the true intent of your words, and I long to know what you meant so that I can properly adjust my footing as I continue my appeal to your mind, your reason, your logic, and – indeed – to your heart.

I honestly don’t know if your words “are to be taken ironically, or sarcastically, or jestingly, or whether they are to be taken seriously, as the words of a man shaken in his convictions and seriously impressed by what he had heard” (via Pulpit Commentary).

Finally, King Agrippa, it may possibly be that you “used the words in one sense” and I “(mistakenly or advisedly) took them in another” (Chrysostom via Pulpit Commentary). I stand here unsure, and so I would like to know what the intent of the words you have spoken actually is.

As I now have your ear, it is my greatest hope and desire that even while before you in these chains that can only restrain my body, I will be able to help break you from those chains which bind your soul. Tell me your answer, and I will respond again with words of life concerning the Author of life. Tell me, good king, I pray.

—————
Paul, the words of my mouth were clear, but the sound of my voice was not. God Himself and none other knows what I meant because my words were a challenge to you, an opportunity for you to respond with wisdom. And, indeed, your answer revealed just that.

Because you have spoken as you have, and because the day is young, and because I have all that I need to allow you to continue, I yield the conversation to you once again. Speak forth with your convincing arguments concerning this Man who has so profoundly changed your life.

You spoke of “the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers.” You then explained that hope by saying “that God raises the dead.” Start there, Paul. Tell me more about this … this hope. I have heard of it, but I am neither a Pharisee nor a rabbi – and to tell you the truth, I trust neither.

But you, Paul, you have gone beyond both. What they claim, and what they proclaim, is so mixed with rites and rituals that nothing they say ever makes sense to me. But my curiosity is piqued by your words. Explain this “raising the dead” to me first. Depending on what you say, I may order a meal and prod you further afterwards. Yes, tell me about the raising of the dead.

­—————
King Agrippa, many centuries ago, King Solomon said, while speaking of God, “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end” (Ecclesiastes 3:11).

If God has put eternity in our hearts, what would the purpose of that be if we were to simply die and return to the dust without any possible fulfillment of that desire? I know you feel this longing. We all do. What would that say of God if He were to create us this way and not allow us to realize the hope within us?

What would it say if God created man with thirst, but He made no water for him to drink? What would it say of God if He created us with the desire to be loved, but we could only convey hate? Such thoughts are contradictory to logic, King Agrippa. And we can look around at the world and see both logic and tender care.

He has made everything beautiful in its season and He has ordered everything to be reasonable and understandable. King Agrippa, if you let go of the fig in your hand, it will fall to the ground. Things happen reasonably, consistently, and purposefully.

Should God make an exception and give us an inner urge that has no purpose and no final way of being expressed? No! The eternity we yearn for that is seated deep within our hearts is there for a reason and God has given us a plan by which it can be realized.

You have heard the stories of creation. You know of how things once were. Right at the beginning, in Genesis, we are told that Adam and Eve were in the Garden of Eden. They had every possible delight that they could imagine. Nothing was withheld from them except the fruit of one tree; just one.

Eternity was set before them, and all they had to do was to obey God’s spoken word, simply and faithfully. But of all of the wonderful delights that they could have had, they instead had their eyes directed to the one thing that was forbidden to them.

This is because they believed the lies of the serpent. They disobeyed the Creator, and each was justly sentenced for what had been done. But in the sentencing of the serpent came a promise. It was something that both Adam and Eve will later respond to in their own way. The words there are what I would call, King Agrippa, “the first gospel.” Scripture says –

“And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.” Genesis 3:15

King Agrippa, a promise was made that One would come to destroy the serpent. You know that is our hoped-for Messiah. I say He is Jesus. If you can see, what is implied in the word of the Lord is that if the serpent is destroyed, then the enmity between God and man would end.

What is explicitly stated in our Scriptures is that it would be the Seed of the woman who would bring this about. This is good news indeed, O King.

And, King Agrippa, what you surely know is that after the sentencing of the serpent, the Lord sentenced the woman and then Adam. After the sentencing, the first thing that is recorded is –

“And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.” Genesis 3:20

It seems odd that this would be the first thing that man would do after being sentenced for his crimes, but Scripture is showing us what was at the forefront of his mind. You know that Eve in Hebrew is Khavah. It means “Life.”

What are we being told then? Why did God put these words there? I say to you that Adam was just sentenced to death, and yet he names her Life. The Lord is telling us that the man had paid attention to His words.

Eve was told that her husband would rule over her. By naming the woman, he claimed dominion and authority over her, just as when he had named the animals, and just as when you name your children and your servants born into your house.

In choosing the name Khavah, “Life,” the man – our first father – was demonstrating faith in God’s promise that He would provide a Redeemer. Adam died spiritually, the state we are all born into. He was sentenced to a physical death because of his spiritually dead state, and yet, he looked forward to life! O King! This is the beginning of the most wonderful story of all.

The man knew that through this Redeemer would come restoration of life, and with it fellowship with God. He knew also that this coming One would be the Seed of the woman. He just didn’t know what seed or when. He just believed that He would, in fact, come.

The Lord had spoken, and the man believed the word. What was dead would be made alive. It was just after Adam showed this faith in the Lord’s promises that we read the next words of Scripture –

“Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them.” Genesis 3:21

O King, I tell you that by an act of faith in the promises of God, Adam was clothed by Him. His shame was covered over. This is the pattern that our Scriptures have revealed ever since: demonstrate faith and then receive a suitable covering. Once the man and his wife were covered, the final, tragic words of life in the garden were written for us to consider –

“Then the Lord God said, ‘Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever’— 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. 24 So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:22-24

For the man and his wife, it was the end of the garden of God. Paradise was lost and the way of access to the tree of life was guarded. All they had left was the hope of regaining that access somehow, some way … some day. The Seed would make it possible. This is where their hope rested. Surely a better day was yet ahead.

Until then, they could only carry the memory of the perfection they once knew. O King, think of it! This is the eternity that is set in our hearts. A return to this now lost perfection, a return to complete shalom, a return to the presence of God!

That memory must have been the most cherished and yet most painful part of their existence. No matter how good each day was, and even if ten thousand times ten thousand days lay ahead, each better than the one before, it would never compare to that longed-for day they had left behind.

This is what the Lord is showing us in His word, O King. It is this sad state that leads us into the next story in Genesis. But the next story seems like misery added to misery. It is the story of Cain and Abel that you surely have heard. What prompted the Lord to tell us of such things, especially with a story of such pitiful words? There must be a reason. The story begins with –

“Now Adam knew Eve his wife, and she conceived and bore Cain, and said, ‘I have acquired a man from the Lord.’ Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel.” Genesis 4:1, 2

At some point after being cast from the garden, the very first thing we are told concerns the birth of Cain. In victory, Eve cried out, qaniti ish eth Yehovah – “I have acquired man with Yehovah.”

O King, if we just remember where they were, we can see what was on her mind. You see, King Agrippa, Eve was taking credit for what she thought would be the delivery of her Deliverer!

You say you are not a rabbi. Well, this is what rabbis do. We study and teach each word that is being conveyed in the original tongue of our father Moses. The Lord spoke out these things to him, and he carefully recorded them for us.

Instead of using the word im for “with,” she used the word eth. She was claiming that she was responsible for what had come about. O King, if I say that I am building a house with wood, the wood is not really doing anything except as I work with it.

But if I say that I am building a house with my brother Ethan, then Ethan and I are working together to build the house. Eve was crying out that she was an active part of bringing forth a man. But more, we can infer that her delight and her boast was that she was bringing the Seed into the world who would restore her to the Garden. “Look at me! I have done it! I have created a man just like the Lord did!”

But the pity of the story is seen in the very next words –

“Then she bore again, this time his brother Abel.” Genesis 4:2

O King, there is no note of victory, no hint of joy, nothing like that with the birth of this son. It doesn’t even say why he is named Abel. She just bore another son who was Abel. Why would anyone name him this unless that person was truly miserable? You know his name in Hebrew is hevel. Tell me its meaning, O King.

—————
Yes, it means “Breath.”

—————
You are right, O King. It is passing vapor, the kind of breath that one sees on a cold morning, just for a moment, and then it is gone. It is the vanity that King Solomon spoke of concerning our very existence –

havel havelim amar qohelet havel havelim ha’kol havel

“‘Vanity of vanities,’ says the Preacher;
‘Vanity of vanities, all is vanity.’” Ecclesiastes 1:2

Our first mother felt victorious at the birth of her first son. She thought that she had merited Paradise once again. She thought that through her efforts in the pain of childbirth, that she was giving birth to her Messiah. She thought she was responsible for making a man who would redeem her and return her to the paradise she had lost.

But with the second agony of childbirth, she realized that there was just another mouth to feed, another time of sleepless nights of tending to him until he could, hopefully, fend for himself. She only saw the woeful chores of being a mother and the prospect of even more children ahead.

Eve was under the authority of her husband, and she was subservient to the responsibilities she had for the children she bore. Her life under the sun was tedious, toilsome, and trying. It wasn’t at all like the life that she once knew.

For her, paradise was gone. She apparently misunderstood the Promise. For her, and for all who have followed her, everything is vanity. It is all meaningless. It is simply a life of chasing after the wind. What a sad end to the story of her life. She is never mentioned by name again in our Scripture, O King. She is simply referred to, one last time, as the wife of Adam.

And, O King, you know the rest of the story. As a final, tormenting disgrace for her, her first child – the first male ever born – turned out to be a murderer. He killed his little brother, and he was sentenced by the Lord to be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth.

Cain moved to the east, even further from that wondrous spot of delight, both he and his seed living as enemies of God.

“Vanity of vanities, all is vanity,” says the Preacher
What a woeful, mournful life we lead
It is even tedious to be a renowned teacher
But that is no excuse students, so pay heed

Life under the heavens was grand indeed
But life under the sun is wearisome at best
Sit up straight and be sure to take heed
This life we have been given involves a test

Do you want to live out your life under the sun?
Chasing the wind, with never enough speed?
Or do you want to live life under the heavens with the Holy One
Sit up straight and listen, it is time to pay heed

II. He Has Borne Our Sufferings

————–
Paul, your words intrigue me. I have never really thought about why the Scriptures say what they say. I have heard them and listened, like any other story. But now, I am seeing that you believe there is more than just a history lesson here. Instead, there is a larger story being told where every word, every name, and every detail has a purpose.

I am intrigued by your thoughts. So please continue…

————–
O King, in order to tell you more, I must go back in the story. I appreciate you allowing me to consult my scroll so that I can read you what it said about these two sons of Adam. Here is what is recorded in our Scriptures concerning them –

“Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering, but He did not respect Cain and his offering. And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell.
So the Lord said to Cain, ‘Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.’” Genesis 4:2-7

It is a story of faith and of faithlessness, O King.

—————
What do you mean, Paul? I have heard this story and have wondered why it is recorded. But more, I have always been curious why one offering was accepted and the other wasn’t. Please explain this to me.

—————
O King, it is a story that leaves many, even most, guessing. The variety of opinions on why God respected one offering and didn’t respect the other are numerous, and they are highly argued over. As a Pharisee, I have studied some of the most noted scholars in our history. But between all of them, there is no happy resolution.

The proper way to determine why Abel’s offering was accepted is to consider what is said in relation to what has already been stated. The Lord is slowly and progressively revealing His thoughts to us in a methodical manner so that we can learn what is pleasing to Him and what is not.

As I said, there are many views on the “why” of what is said here. Let me tell you a couple of opinions. One is to be inferred from what is in the verse. It says that “Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the LORD,” whereas “Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat.”

The words concerning Abel’s offering being the “firstborn of his flock” have led some to believe that Cain’s offering wasn’t of the firstfruits of the harvest and therefore it wasn’t the first and best. Because of this, Abel’s offering was accepted as a good offering, and Cain’s wasn’t because it wasn’t a good offering.

This isn’t a bad thought, but it must be inferred out of the verse itself. And more, it would have to be inferred that this was the time of the firstfruit of the harvest, something we can’t know from the story. If it wasn’t, then there is no way we can come to this conclusion. As such, this really can’t be what was on the Lord’s mind, or He surely would have said so.

For all we know, they made the offering in the middle of the harvest season. All that it says is that he “brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord.” The rest must be inferred. 

Another idea about why one offering was accepted and the other wasn’t says that Abel’s offering was a blood sacrifice, one for atonement of sins. As such, it was accepted by God, but Cain’s wasn’t. Because of this, God found his offering unacceptable.

To support this idea, our rabbis who favor it have noted that God killed an animal to clothe Adam and Eve before they were expelled from Eden. As such, the precedent was made at that time. O King, this reads more into the story than is given. When the text is reviewed it becomes a view that cannot be substantiated.

God provided the atonement, the covering, for Adam and Eve, but nothing more was told us in that story. To claim that this was to be the precedent for future generations is, again, inserting too much into the story.

Secondly, you may have noted that in both offerings, the word minkhah, a gift or tribute, is used. In the Law of Moses, as we know, a minkhah is a non-blood sacrifice, but the offering of both Cain and Abel are called minkhah.

One thing we cannot do is to insert our law, which comes from Moses, into a date prior to the law itself. And even if we could, because the word minkhah is used for both offerings, they are both to be considered equally acceptable.

Grain offerings are not only acceptable under Moses, but you yourself know that they are mandated. If God accepted them, and they have the same term applied here, then one being a blood sacrifice and one not being a blood sacrifice is irrelevant.

And finally, each offering came from the livelihood of the individual. There is no other direction given to them in the account, or even before it, that tells us that they had to cross the lines of their profession in order to make an offering. If this was the case, then surely something important would have been left out of the story.

—————
What you are saying, Paul, it all makes sense. But enough of the technical details! What are we being told in this story?

—————
Oh King, I shall tell you, but it is the technical details that tell us more than anything else. The Lord gives us a story that is understandable on one level, but you have already seen that there is an underlying story – a story of pictures and types that are telling us much more. And the details will bring it out to its fullest measure.

King Agrippa, you have heard me speak about the garden. You yourself were intrigued with what you heard. But tell me about what you heard. Remember and remind me what it was that God found pleasing when Adam named his wife.

—————
Paul, you said it was because he had faith. Adam believed the words of the Lord God, and God was pleased with that.

—————
That is correct, O King. The man could offer him nothing but that. Everything else came from the Lord directly, but the faith came from the man. But more, what happened after he showed his faith?

—————
Well, Paul, the Lord God made tunics of skin, and He clothed them.

—————
Why would He do that? O King? Weren’t they already wearing fig leaves? Think on what you know, and tell me what happened?

­—————
I remember, Paul, that they disobeyed God, they realized they were naked, and then they covered themselves with figs.

—————
It is correct, King Agrippa. They had committed a faithless act, and then they (THEY!) tried to cover themselves. And so, explain to me what you think it all means.

—————
Paul, I am not a teacher like you, but I think we are being told that what we do is not what is pleasing to the Lord. Instead, He wants us to have faith in His word and in what He offers. The Lord God rejected their futile fig leaves by which they covered themselves, and He replaced their works with His own covering for them. But He only did it after they believed in His word.

—————
You are right, O King, this is exactly right. But before we return to the offerings of Cain and Abel, tell me what you think – your own thoughts – about the words we have already looked at, “Also for Adam and his wife the Lord God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21). Tell me the things you can deduce from those few words.

—————
Paul, you challenge me, but I am a king, and it is my honor to accept your challenge as a king (Proverbs 25:2). Here is what I can think of. It is the Lord God who made the tunics. He did not accept what they had made, but instead made their coverings Himself.

Also, because they were made of skin, it means that something died in order to provide the skins. The Lord Himself was behind the act, it was from Him, and the man and the woman simply received what He clothed them with – He clothed them. And this covering was given to them only after they showed faith in His word.

—————
Oh King! You are indeed insightful, and you are correct. And I tell you, King Agrippa, that this is the pattern for the covering of God’s people throughout God’s workings from this point on. Think of Moses and the tabernacle! Think of our temple!

The high priest, who comes before the Lord and who represents Him to his people and who presents his people to Him, takes an animal, slaughters it, and sprinkles its blood for a covering each year.

The animal is the Lord’s; the Lord – through His representative – slays the animal. The Lord covers His people, and it is only effectual – as our Scriptures convey to us – for those who have faith in the offering.

Now, in understanding this, let us return to the story of Cain and Abel. The two offerings are both noted as minkhah, tributes, to the Lord. It must have been understood that these were required, and so they were offered.

Regardless of what type of offering they were, what is the one thing that has already been noted as being pleasing to the Lord? It is faith, O King. These two are offering what already has come from the Lord.

Their works may have been included in their preparation, but it is the faith behind the offerings by which the Lord is pleased. As we know from Habakkuk, a man born under the law, our law –

“Behold the proud,
His soul is not upright in him;
But the just shall live by his faith.” Habakkuk 2:4

I tell you, O King, that it was “By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks” (Hebrews 11:4).

The offering was an offering of faith, and it is the faith that made the offering more excellent. It wasn’t faith that made Abel bring a more excellent sacrifice. Rather, it was faith that made the sacrifice more excellent. If you, O King, understand the difference, then you are starting out on a right road that leads to a wholesome and friendly walk with your Creator.

—————
I am seeing this, Paul. Whether I believe it or not, I do see that this is what Scripture is certainly telling us. But I still do not understand how this tells us anything about my first petition, which is to explain the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers which is “that God raises the dead.” Tell me how they connect.

—————
O King, only in understanding the first premise, a proper sacrifice and faith in God, can we then understand how being raised from the dead is possible.

You see, King Agrippa, that the law is not of faith. But this is the law that we were given, and it is the law that says, “You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man does, he shall live by them: I am the Lord” (Leviticus 18:5).

The Lord has spoken, the man who does the things of the law will live!

—————
But Paul! You just said that the law is not of faith, but that it is faith that pleases God! Your learning is great, but you are confused.

—————
No, King Agrippa. Both of these are true, but they must be understood from what God is doing. Tell me, O King, why do we observe the Day of Atonement?

—————
It is to cover our sins.

—————
You are correct, O King. But if we need to have our sins covered, and we all must observe the day, then it means that all of us have sin that needs to be covered. But sin comes from transgressing the law. This means that none of us are without guilt before God, even the high priest, who must first sacrifice for his own sins! Not one of us has done the things of the law, and we are destined to die.

And so, O King, what do we need in order to live? What is it that will get us through the holy place, past the cherubim, and return us to the presence of God? If the animals of sacrifice only remind us year by year of our sins, but they actually do not remove our sins, then what is it that we need? **Blank stare from Agrippa**

It is, O King, to be made sinless and also to be freed from the law of sin and death! The Messiah was promised by God. All of Scripture then testifies to His coming. This is more than a man who was to come and conquer our enemies in Israel.

The Messiah was promised before Israel existed. Israel just happens to be the people through whom He would come. But what do the prophets say of Him? He would be of the seed of David, He would be born of a virgin. He would be born in Bethlehem. He would be the Mighty God. That salvation is of the Lord. That He would be a light even to the Gentiles. And yes, even that He – the Messiah Himself – would be an offering for our sins, dying for them. But that He would also prevail over death. Let me read you what Isaiah says from the scroll, O King –

“Surely he has borne our sufferings
and carried our sorrows;
yet we considered him stricken,
and struck down by God,
and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions,
and he was crushed for our iniquities,
and the punishment that made us whole was upon him,
and by his bruises we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray,
we have turned, each of us, to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and he was afflicted,
yet he didn’t open his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
as a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
“From detention and judgment he was taken away—
and who can even think about his descendants?
For he was cut off from the land of the living,
he was stricken for the transgression of my people.
Then they made his grave with the wicked,
and with rich people in his death,
although he had committed no violence,
nor was there any deceit in his mouth.”
10 “Yet the Lord was willing to crush him,
and he made him suffer.
Although you make his soul an offering for sin,
he will see his offspring,
and he will prolong his days,
and the will of the Lord will triumph in his hand.
11 Out of the suffering of his soul he will see light
and find satisfaction.
And through his knowledge his servant, the righteous one,
will make many righteous,
and he will bear their iniquities.” Isaiah 53:4-11 (ISV)

Oh King, this (THIS!) is the word of the prophet, and it is the word of God. The Offering comes from the Lord not from the hands of man, because He is the Lord God. The Offering died in order to provide the covering. The Lord Himself is behind the act because, as Jesus said when He was with us, “I lay down My life that I may take it again” (John 10:17).

Understanding this, King Agrippa, what is the last part of the equation concerning such an offering?

—————
Its acceptance or rejection must be accompanied by faith.

—————
That is correct, O King. God has made the offering, but the offering becomes ours when it is received by faith. Adam believed, and the Lord covered him and his wife. Abel had faith, and the Lord accepted his offering. We are told that those who afflict themselves, an act of faith, on the Day of Atonement are covered. Those who do not are to be cut off.

King Agrippa, God has made His offering. He has sent His Messiah. His Messiah died for the sins of God’s people. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:19).

But after that, His soul saw light again because no sin was found in Him. He is the Man who has done the things of the law and who lives. He is the sin-Bearer for those who believe. He is the Substitutionary Sacrifice that makes this possible. He is our Propitiation, our Covering, and the Establisher of the New Covenant in His blood.

God, in His wisdom, offered His perfect Son to do these things for us. He made the hardest part the easiest of all. We should not try to go around that. And because life is found in Him, that life is granted to any and to all who will simply believe. It is faith in God’s provision through the giving of Christ Jesus, King Agrippa, and nothing more, that can restore man’s soul to God.

If you will only believe, you too will be raised to eternal life, and you too will be restored to the paradise lost by our first parents, and to which they longed to return. God has fulfilled His promise, He has sent His Messiah, and His Messiah is JESUS. Believe, O King, and you will be saved.

I tell you, O King, that the Lord looks for faith in His faithless creatures, so even a little bit will do.

Closing Verse: “But now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed, being witnessed by the Law and the Prophets, 22 even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all who believe.” Romans 3:21, 22

Next Week: Acts 26:7 In sharing the gospel, much may be at stake… (For This Hope’s Sake)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But you must first believe by faith in what He has done. Once you do, then that plan can come about in you as it will in all of His redeemed. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Tragedy in the Garden

The woman was enticed, and she ate of the fruit
She passed it on to Adam and he ate as well
He became the second willing recruit
And together they left a sad story to tell

Their eyes were opened to their exposed state
They realized that life in sin just ain’t so great

They sewed together fig leaves to hide their shame
And made coverings that just wouldn’t suffice
The Lord questioned them about their hiding game
And they realized that sin just ain’t so nice.

“Where are you?” called the LORD. (Though he already knew)
“I was hiding because I realized something wasn’t right
I was afraid to answer, I’m naked … yes, it’s true
And so, I hid myself, like a shadow in the night.”

“Who told you that you were naked? What is this you did do?
Have you taken of the fruit which I told you not to eat?”
“It was the women who did it… the one made by You
She told me of its yumminess, and how it was so sweet.”

I thought it would be so good, but I guess I paid the price
I’m beginning to see that sin really ain’t so nice

“Woman, what is this thing that you have done?
Traded life under the heaven’s for life under the sun.”
“Oh, my LORD, it was the serpent. He deceived me and I ate
And now I’m seeing that sin just ain’t so great.”

Oh God that we could take it back and undo what we have done
Life was wonderful under the heavens
But it’s terrible under the sun

What can we do make things right?
Where can we turn to be healed?
How long will we be cast from Your sight?
How long until the grave is unsealed?

I have a plan, children, but you’ll have to wait
Many years under the sun toiling in the heat
But I will someday open wide heaven’s gate
When my own Son, the devil He will defeat.

I will send my own Son, the devil to defeat.

Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord
The fulfillment of the promise given in Your word

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You are permitted to speak for yourself.”

So Paul stretched out his hand and answered for himself: “I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because today I shall answer for myself before you concerning all the things of which I am accused by the Jews, especially because you are expert in all customs and questions which have to do with the Jews. Therefore I beg you to hear me patiently.

“My manner of life from my youth, which was spent from the beginning among my own nation at Jerusalem, all the Jews know. They knew me from the first, if they were willing to testify, that according to the strictest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee. And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Why should it be thought incredible by you that God raises the dead?

“Indeed, I myself thought I must do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth. 10 This I also did in Jerusalem, and many of the saints I shut up in prison, having received authority from the chief priests; and when they were put to death, I cast my vote against them. 11 And I punished them often in every synagogue and compelled them to blaspheme; and being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even to foreign cities.

12 “While thus occupied, as I journeyed to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests, 13 at midday, O king, along the road I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining around me and those who journeyed with me. 14 And when we all had fallen to the ground, I heard a voice speaking to me and saying in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ 15 So I said, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said, ‘I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. 16 But rise and stand on your feet; for I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you. 17 I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me.’

19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 20 but declared first to those in Damascus and in Jerusalem, and throughout all the region of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent, turn to God, and do works befitting repentance. 21 For these reasons the Jews seized me in the temple and tried to kill me. 22 Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— 23 that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

25 But he said, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak the words of truth and reason. 26 For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his attention, since this thing was not done in a corner. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

29 And Paul said, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.”

 

Deuteronomy 34:1-12 (You Shall Not Cross Over There)

Artwork by Douglas Kallerson.

Deuteronomy 34:1-12
You Shall Not Cross Over There

When I worked at Florida Cities Water Company, a company no longer in existence, I was the Lead Operator of the Gulf Gate Wastewater Treatment Plant, just a couple of miles from here – also no longer in existence. The company handled all the water and wastewater for the entire Gulf Gate area.

Included in this was the big blue water tower just behind the church on Mall Drive, between us and the shopping center where Publix is. On the top of this tower and others like it are lights encased in thick red glass which gives them (and airport towers and the like) their distinctive appearance and which serve as a warning to aircraft.

I took care of those lights and always enjoyed climbing up the tower to scan pretty much everything from north of Tampa, all the way to south of Fort Myers, to way out in the Gulf of Mexico, and to the middle of the state. Trips up the tower were my own version of spying out the land.

Today, Moses will get his last view from the tower, so to speak, though his will be from a mountaintop. He will look over the land of promise, but alas, he will not make it there himself. He, typological of the law, cannot attain to the inheritance of the promise. He can only see it from a distance, but the law has no part or share in it.

Text Verse: “For this One has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as He who built the house has more honor than the house. For every house is built by someone, but He who built all things is God. And Moses indeed was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken afterward, but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.” Hebrews 3:3-6

Moses was introduced into the biblical narrative in Exodus 2:1. He has steadily been with us ever since. But he has actually been with us since Genesis 1:1. This is because it is he who received the five books of the Torah from the Lord, also known as the Pentateuch.

The amount of information that is contained in this law is far beyond anything that we could ever remember or even imagine. Unfortunately, we hardly touched the surface of what is contained in these books. And yet, Moses was only a servant in God’s house.

Jesus, on the other hand, is a Son over His own house. Everything that Moses penned was inspired by the Word of God, Jesus. It is an amazing and glorious thing to consider. It is all about Him. Moses looked at the inheritance from the eastern side of the Jordan. Jesus did, too. Moses died outside of the inheritance. Jesus did too. There is a difference, however. Jesus resurrected and entered into His glory. And because He did, Moses could too. Despite being the servant of the Lord, he was not the Servant of the Lord.

Thank God for Jesus Christ who fulfills that which Moses only hinted at as a mere shadow and type. Yes, Moses penned these books, but they ultimately have come from the mind of God and through the Word of God. Amazing, wonderfully amazing things are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. You Shall Not Cross Over There (verses 1-4)

Chapter 32 contained the Song of Moses and the admonition for it to be adhered to. After that, the Lord said this to Moses –

“Then the Lord spoke to Moses that very same day, saying: 49 ‘Go up this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, across from Jericho; view the land of Canaan, which I give to the children of Israel as a possession; 50 and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; 51 because you trespassed against Me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah Kadesh, in the Wilderness of Zin, because you did not hallow Me in the midst of the children of Israel. 52 Yet you shall see the land before you, though you shall not go there, into the land which I am giving to the children of Israel.’” Deuteronomy 32:48-52

With that stated, Chapter 33 gave us the blessings of Moses upon the tribes. From there, and in compliance with the word of the Lord, Moses now obediently adheres to what the Lord had said…

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab

v’yaal Mosheh mearvot moav – “and ascended Moses from plains Moab.” The word “plain” in Hebrew is aravah. It comes from the word arav, meaning to become evening or grow dark. This is identical to arav, meaning to take or give on pledge. The name Moab means “From Father.” It is from this place, where Moses has carefully instructed Israel, that he ascends…

1 (con’t) to Mount Nebo,

As we saw in Chapter 32, the name Nebo is most likely derived from navi, or prophet. Thus, it means something like Prophet, Interpreter, Spokesperson, or Foreteller.

However, another word it is connected to is navah, meaning high or prominent. It is to the high places that people would go in order to get “nearer” to God and to receive a word from Him or sacrifice to Him. A secondary name is Height.

Therefore, it would be a high place where someone would go to receive a word, a vision, a prophecy, and so on. That is most certainly fitting for this occasion. The account next says…

1 (con’t) to the top of Pisgah,

Rosh ha’pisgah – “top the Pisgah.” Pisgah signifies a cleft. Thus, it is The Cleft. It comes from the word pasag, meaning to pass between. That, in turn, comes from a root signifying to cut up. Thus, pasag figuratively means, “to consider” or “to contemplate.”

1 (con’t) which is across from Jericho.

asher al pene Yerekho – “which upon face Jericho.” The meaning is “facing Jericho.” When on the mountain, the immediate sight would be the city. Jericho, or Yerekho, (with various spellings) has a dual significance. It means City of the Moon, and it also means Place of Fragrance. Of Moses standing in this place, it next says…

1 (con’t) And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan,

vayarehu Yehovah eth kal ha’arets eth ha’gilad ad dan – “And showed him Yehovah all the land, the Gilead as far as Dan.” Gilead means “Perpetual Fountain.” Dan means “Judge.” It is to be noted again that the land to the extreme north is known as Dan. It does not say that Dan is a part of Gilead (which it is not) but that Moses sees the land of Gilead and his view extends as far as Dan which borders Gilead on its north.

And yet, the allotment for their land in Joshua will be to the west of Canaan, along the sea. Despite this, Dan will eventually settle in this extreme northern portion of Canaan, and it will become known as the territory of Dan. This is already predetermined by Lord.

But the name Dan has already been noted as early as Genesis 14 –

“Now when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.” Genesis 14:14

Obviously, it is claimed by some that these words must have been written much later, or that this is a different place named Dan, but why should it be so? First, the land is described by tribes in the next verse, Ephraim, Manasseh, and Judah. But these allocations will not be decided until the book of Joshua. Secondly, the Lord told Abraham that the land would be possessed by his descendants, and here it is coming to pass.

The Lord also tells us in the word that the Messiah would come, through what tribe He would come, where He would be born, and so on. And it came to pass. The Lord is telling us a pictorial story as the words are given to and through Moses. There is no reason to not assume that “Dan” here is the tribal land of the future. After looking north, the eyes of Moses will scan southward leading to the middle section of the land…

all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh,

Naphtali (My Wrestling) reaches north to the southern border of Dan. Ephraim (Twice Fruitful) is south of Manasseh (Forgetting). From there, Moses’ eyes continue south and west…

2 (con’t) all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea,

Judah means Praise. They are the southernmost tribe, and their western border is the Mediterranean Sea, here called ha’yam ha’akheron, or literally, “the sea, the after,” but meaning “west.” East is considered “before,” while west is considered “after.”

It is based on the rising and setting of the sun, but more especially, the alignment of the temple which is in an east/west manner. From there, Moses’ eyes look to…

the South,

v’eth ha’negev – “And the Negev.” The word comes from a root meaning “parched.” This is the most southern area of Canaan that was included within the tribe of Judah. However, it was then given as the possession of Simeon because, as it says –

“The inheritance of the children of Simeon was included in the share of the children of Judah, for the share of the children of Judah was too much for them. Therefore the children of Simeon had their inheritance within the inheritance of that people.” Joshua 19:10

Being parched does not mean without life. It means life that must be obtained by bringing it up, as in a well, such as Beer Sheba. After this, Moses looks closer to his own position again…

3 (con’t) and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees,

v’eth ha’kikar biqat yerekho ir ha’temarim – “and the circuit valley Jericho, city the palms.” The word kikar, or “circuit,” comes from karar, to dance. The word translated as “valley” signifies a split, as between mountains. Thus, this is an area in which is a valley forming a circuit. Jericho means “Place of Fragrance.” Palms are a symbol of uprightness. This extends…

3 (con’t) as far as Zoar.

It is debated if Zoar is at the north or south end of the Dead Sea. This verse reveals that it is at the north end. The valley of Jericho extends down to that area, and Jericho is just west of where Moses now stands. The only way Zoar could be at the south end of the Dead Sea would be if the description of the “circuit of the valley of Jericho” included all of the Dead Sea, which seems unlikely. The name Zoar means Small and signifies insignificance.

Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob,

The question is, “Did Moses actually see all of what is described, or did he merely look over that which is described?” In other words, was he given a vision that extends beyond normal perception? We can’t be dogmatic, but just as I could see very far into the distance from the top of a tower that is only about 130 feet tall, Moses – on a very clear day – could have seen a long, long way into the distance.

No matter what, he was given a bird’s eye view of the land of promise that was sworn to Abraham –

“And the Lord said to Abram, after Lot had separated from him: ‘Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; 15 for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever. 16 And I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth; so that if a man could number the dust of the earth, then your descendants also could be numbered. 17 Arise, walk in the land through its length and its width, for I give it to you.’” Genesis 13:14-17

To Isaac –

“Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these lands, and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.” Genesis 26:3-5

And to Jacob –

“And behold, the Lord stood above it and said: “I am the Lord God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” Genesis 28:13-14

This is important because it excludes any claim to the land for anyone outside of this line. One must be of this line to receive the inheritance. This is seen again in the next words…

4 (con’t) saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’

l’mor l’zarakha etenenah – “to say to your seed I will give it.” There is the promise of the land, and there is the promise of what the land signifies. Either way, it is through the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that this promise is made – none other.

4 (con’t) I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

Moses will not enter the promise. But both Moses and the land are typical of something else. The object lesson for Israel is now being made perfectly clear.

The description of the land has been in a sweeping panorama, starting in the east of Canaan as Moses looked north, the east to his right side (Gilead to Dan), it then spanned across the north as his eyes moved to the left (over Naphtali), eventually reaching the middle area (Ephraim and Manasseh), then further to the left spanning over Judah with the Mediterranean Sea straight ahead of him. Further left, he saw the Negev (south), and then he came all the way left where the western border of Canaan would be at his left side, circling back up to Jericho, just across the Jordan from where he was. Hence, he viewed all of the land.

Before we continue on with the passage, a quick study on the typology of what is presented here would be in line. Moses, or He Who Draws Out, is about to die. Jesus is the One who draws out the will of the Father, as is recorded in the law.

Moses ascended from the plains of Moab. The word plains, aravoth, is derived from the same root as arav, pledge. Moab means “From Father.” The plains of Moab typologically mean “the pledge from Father.” It refers to the Spirit, the pledge (arrabon – from the Hebrew eravon) of Ephesians 1:13, 14 –

“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”

There he goes to Pisgah, the Cleft – a place to contemplate – across from Jericho, the Place of Fragrance – a type of Eden Restored, heaven. There the Lord showed him the land. It includes:

Gilead, the Perpetual Fountain – the unceasing flow of the Spirit.
Dan, the Judge of man who had judged him innocent.
Naphtali, My Wrestlings, which made access possible.
Ephraim, Twice Fruitful, having brought in both Jew and Gentile.
Manasseh, Forgetting, where sadness and pains shall be forgotten.
Judah, Praise. Christ is the Praise of God and the Praise of His people.
The Western Sea, The place of “After,” even for eternal days.
The Negev. The Parched from which comes life by effort; Christ’s effort.
The Plain of the Valley of Jericho, The dance of the breach of the Place of Fragrance. Joyful entrance through the gates into heaven.
The City of Palms, The city of the righteous.
Zoar, Insignificant. Explained by 1 Corinthians 1:27-29. Your study for today.

The area described by what Moses saw is a typological anticipation of the glory of Christ and what He offers to those who come to Him. For Moses, despite this, the Jordan before Him was like an impassible wall. He would never enter through its life-giving waters, but would die outside of the inheritance…

Our guide has died; nailed to a cross
And now we have a new direction to go
We cannot count what happened as loss
Something new has come – astonishingly so

In that act, the divine erasure came out
It wiped out the handwriting that directed us
Requirements we could not meet, strong and stout
Have been annulled through the death of Jesus!

Moses served his role, and his law did too
Together they led us to knowledge sublime
They were a tutor to show what God would do
When had come the fullness of time

Jesus! Jesus! Thank God for Jesus!
Praise God for what He has done for us!

II. And the Children of Israel Wept (verses 5-8)

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab,

Moses died no later than the 7th day of the 12th month of the 40th year (possibly earlier) in the year 2554 Anno Mundi, or from the creation of the world.

The words now are stated as a matter of fact, but they give high regard to the man, calling him eved Yehovah – “servant of Yehovah.” As our text verse noted, Moses was faithful as a servant in the Lord’s house, but he still died because of sin.

The law said that the man who did the things of the law would live. Moses, the Lord’s lawgiver, failed to live up to the standard of the law that he gave. Moses had to wait for Someone more perfect than he before he could finally enter into the true inheritance.

5 (con’t) according to the word of the Lord.

al pi Yehovah – “upon mouth Yehovah.” This is a common statement, used again and again in Scripture, meaning just as it is translated – “according to the word of the Lord.” However, Jewish commentators have spiced it up to mean, “At the kiss of the Lord.” There is nothing to suggest this and everything to argue against it.

The Lord spoke of the circumstances concerning this in advance and now the words have come to pass. For all we know, Moses may have seen the stunning beauty of the land and keeled over from a heart attack, knowing he would never enter into such marvelous beauty. And this would not be an improbable guess.

According to Joshua 4:19, Israel will enter into the land on the 10th day of the first month. Moses died about 35 days earlier. This would be at the time when Israel is at its most beautiful – filled with green grass and cool temperatures.

February through April is the greenest time of the year in Israel. It is the time when the rains have fallen during their season, and everything is vibrant and alive. No matter what actually brought his life to an end, it did end. The beauty of Canaan was just out of his reach.

And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab,

There are all kinds of aberrant teachings that people hold onto. One of them is that Moses never actually died. Moses died, and Moses was buried. It is inexcusable to say otherwise. But there is typology here as well.

Moses died and was buried in Moab. Jesus, the fulfillment of the law died and was buried. Thus, the law is gone in His death and burial. Deuteronomy says it is in the land of Moab, or “From Father.” The symbolism is clear. God the Father sent Jesus to die in order to end the law.

Israel will not enter into the promise until after Moses dies. And Israel will not enter into the true inheritance until after they have buried the law –

“In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:11-14

In this clause, a different word is translated as “valley,” gai. It comes from the word gevah, meaning pride. That comes from gaah, meaning exalted. The idea is that the surrounding areas are lofty and exalted above the land within. One can almost sense the reason for Moses’ death through the choice of location.

Moses and Aaron pridefully claimed they would draw water from the rock. They struck it twice with a rod instead of speaking to it as they were instructed. Hence, instead of being lifted up, or exalted, as his last moments of life on the top of the mountain would have one expect, he is laid low in this valley.

One can either live by faith in what Christ has done, or he can live by personal pride in attempting to merit God’s favor through the law. Moses himself shows us the difference between the two. The law cannot enter into the inheritance. It can only lead to abasement. If we think of the typology, it all becomes clear –

* Yehovah, sinless and pure, buried Moses (the law), whereas sinful men buried Jesus (the Lord).

* The Lord Jesus (Yehovah incarnate), sinless and pure, buried the law when the sinful men buried Jesus (the embodiment of the law).

And Moses was buried…

6 (con’t) opposite Beth Peor;

Beth Peor means “House of Peor.” Peor comes from the verb paar, meaning “to open.” Thus, it is the House of the Opening. It was a place known for a temple to the Moabite god known as Peor.

This word, paar, is used in Isaiah 5 when speaking of Sheol, the pit of death, opening its mouth beyond measure to receive those who reject the Lord. When under law – whether trusting in the law for righteousness, or in rejecting the law and satisfying one’s own desires – the inevitable outcome is death.

No matter which way one goes, man under law is condemned and will die outside of the promise. It is only through coming to Christ who fulfilled the law, and who embodies it on our behalf, that we can be made right before God. Moses is being used as an object lesson concerning this fact. As for the location itself…

6 (con’t) but no one knows his grave to this day.

The reason for these words now is certainly that Moses’ grave would never be used as a place of idolatry. The attention is to be on the Lord, not on Moses. However, again, there is typology in what we are seeing.

Moses (the law) can no longer be found. It is perfectly described by Paul in 2 Corinthians 5:18, 19–

“Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.”

The words, “not imputing their trespasses,” mean “not under law.” It is by law that sin is imputed. For those who are in Christ, not only is the law gone, but it is gone forever. Not only does the law die in Christ, but it can never be found again.

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died.

The Hebrew is beautifully expressive: u-mosheh ben meah v’esrim shanah b’moto – “And Moses was a son of one hundred and twenty years in his dying.” Moses’ life was divided up into three periods of forty years.

He was in Egypt until he was forty. He went to Midian and was there forty years until his calling. He then led Israel forty years (Acts 7:22, 30 & 36). Bullinger notes that the number one hundred and twenty “is made up of three forties (3×40=120). Applied to time therefore it signifies a divinely appointed period of probation.”

As Moses is typical of the law, the record of his years is given to show that the law is a time of probation. Until one is no longer under law (coming to Jesus), he remains under that set probation. Israel remains in that state to this day. Of Moses, it next says…

7 (con’t) His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished.

lo kahatah eno v’lo nas lekhoh – “No dim his eyes and no abated his vigor.” This is a noun found only here in Scripture, leakh. It signifies moisture or freshness, and it comes from the same root as the adjective lakh, or moist. It speaks of his inner force, including his virility. This is saying that Moses was functioning perfectly until the moment he died. When he did, only then, did this cease.

Again, the typology is flawlessly clear and can be understood easily by what is stated in Ezekiel 22, where the adjective form, lakh, is used when referring to the coming Messiah –

“Thus says the Lord God: ‘I will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain. 23 On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it; and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort; in the shadow of its branches they will dwell. 24 And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the Lord, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish; I, the Lord, have spoken and have done it.’” Ezekiel 17:22-24

Moses maintained his ability to perceive (his undimmed eyes) and his power to continue producing (his natural vigor) until the moment he died. Likewise, the power of the law allows that no transgressors go unnoticed, and it has the power to continue producing on its own until it is ended. Only in the ending of the law will those things also end.

With the death of Moses, it next says…

And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days.

Bullinger defines the number thirty, saying, “Thirty being 3 x 10, denotes in a higher degree the perfection of Divine order, as marking the right moment.” The right moment has come.

The record of what occurs is spiritually what pertains to any who come to Christ, but the story refers specifically to Israel. From their departure from the Lord in Numbers 14, to their sentence to wander for forty years, to them finally leaving the law behind, it has been a prophetic look into their future.

As we noted earlier, the words “the plains of Moab” typologically mean “the pledge from Father.” It refers to the Spirit, the pledge noted in Ephesians 1:13, 14. The weeping of Israel at the death of the law (meaning the death of Christ who fulfilled the law) and the giving of the Spirit is seen in Zechariah 12:10-14 –

 “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. 11 In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning at Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shimei by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 all the families that remain, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves.”

The law will die in Israel when Israel comes to Christ…

8 (con’t) So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.

As Solomon says, there is a time to weep and a time to laugh. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance. The time of Israel’s mourning will end, and it will be replaced with joy.

This is truly the Prophet of whom Moses foretold
He is the Prophet to come into the world
His words are purer than the finest gold
Through them, the mysteries are unfurled

This is He of whom Moses spoke
It is He who has lifted the burden from us
No more is the pall dark like smoke
Since the coming of this Man, Jesus

A Prophet is He like none other
One who even is greater than Moses, so we see
This One rose among us, He is our Brother
And yet He is higher than Moses – even infinitely

*III. In the Sight of All Israel (verses 9-12)

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him;

Joshua was inaugurated as is recorded in Numbers 27 and as is also recorded in Deuteronomy 31. The laying of hands on him is specifically referred to in Numbers 27:23. He, as we have seen before, is typical of Christ.

Joshua means “The Lord is Salvation.” His father’s name being included anticipates Christ also. Nun is from the verb nun, to propagate, or increase. This is what Christ would do, increasing the family of God through His completed work.

He is said to be filled with the spirit of wisdom, something explicitly said of the Messiah – using the same words ruakh khakmah, spirit of wisdom – in Isaiah 11:2. The law confirmed Jesus’ ministry because it spoke of Him, anticipated Him, was fulfilled by Him, and was ended through Him. As such…

9 (con’t) so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

Israel’s obedience to Joshua by obeying the law is what this speaks of. However, it also anticipates obedience by Israel to Moses by heeding Jesus. But it is something that must be considered carefully.

Of this, Charles Ellicott asks, “Is it not true that when the Israel of God hearken to the true Joshua, they must needs do as the Lord commanded Moses?” The answer is, “Yes.” But it is not, “Yes, you must observe the Law of Moses.” Rather, it is to do as Christ Jesus Himself said –

“But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:38-40

This is what is being pictured right now in this verse concerning Joshua. It is the final anticipation of the time of the law. Israel will come to Christ, heed Him, and be saved by Him. In heeding Jesus, the people will then, and only then, be obedient to Moses in the truest sense. With this understood, it next says…

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,

The words now speak of the greatness of Moses in all of his house, meaning the time of the law. Moses acted as priest in the establishment of the law. He acted as the first prophet of the law. He served as the ruler of the people during the time of the law. And so on. He served in each of these capacities – something no other person had done.

But the specific point of note is that he was a prophet asher yadao Yehovah panim el panim – “whom knew him, Yehovah, face to face.”

It is assumed that this must have been written much later to include these words. If they were written at the time of Moses, it supposedly would have no meaning.

However, the word of the Lord is eternal. If He said this through Moses’ hand, and the law continues until the ending of the law – whenever that may be – then it is a true statement during all of that time. As such, there is no need to read this in any other light.

If it was written later, that might be fine to someone. But if it wasn’t written by Moses, and it was actually penned, say at the time of Jeremiah, then it could mean that after the time of Jeremiah, someone may arise to make the statement null and void.

Rather, only in the coming of Christ, and in the ending of the law, can this statement no longer be considered true. As such, I would argue that even this statement is from the Lord, through Moses. The account next explains what the ministry of Moses encompassed…

11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land,

The prepositions read “to” – “To all the signs and the wonders which sent him, Yehovah, to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land” (CG). The preposition can mean “before,” but these things were not just done before them. Instead, they were done to them.

And Jesus didn’t just perform before Satan, before his demons, and before their domain. Rather, He directly attacked them. He did this through the law, not around it. Satan used the law to destroy man’s fellowship with God (and thus destroy man). Jesus used the law to destroy the power of Satan and to restore man’s fellowship with God.

As for Moses, the narrative, the chapter, and the book of Deuteronomy conclude with the words…

*12 (fin) and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

The words are really superlative: u-l’kol ha’yad ha’khazaqah u-l’kol ha’mora ha’gadol asher asah mosheh l’ene kal Yisrael – “And to all the hand the mighty, and to all the terror, the great, which did Moses to eyes all Israel!”

This is literally true of the work of Moses, as the record of Exodus testifies. However, it is also true of the work of Jesus, both in His work under the law and of His coming work on behalf of Israel before they come to Him. The book of Revelation details those things, but they are spoken of by Peter in Acts –

“I will show wonders in heaven above
And signs in the earth beneath:
Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
21 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.” Acts 2:19-21

In the end, what is recorded about Moses is given specifically to reveal Christ to us. If you had told me on 23 October 2011 that we would still be plugging along in the books of Moses in 2022, I would not have believed it.

But more, I never considered – in my wildest imagination – the enormity of the task that was begun on that day, or the magnitude of the detail that we would uncover as we progressed through these five books.

I rushed far too fast through Genesis, and I have made many errors in the analysis as we have progressed – each of which overwhelmed me with grief. And yet, I can say that I have done my very best to present to you an accurate and faithful examination of what the Lord has intended for us to see in the most marvelous masterpiece of literature.

I have made many new friends. For those of you who have been here a while, you have as well, and we have also lost some friends along the way. And yet, the word of God continues, and it shall continue until the time of the end.

We have much more to search out until that day, whenever it may be, and so I will press on, hoping you will come along as well. With Moses ended, a new section of literature – the historical writings, also known as the former prophets – will enter into the ongoing narrative and the unfolding story of redemptive history.

Just like almost eleven years ago, I cannot even imagine what treasures lie ahead. With each new sermon, a new Monday of wonder and delight will open up, and hopefully, a new Sunday of anticipation and blessing will follow for you.

For those who have been with us, and for those who are willing to stay as Scripture continues to unfold, I say, “Thank you.” And I would be remiss if I didn’t exhort you to take upon yourselves your own daily study of this word.

If there is no other lesson, outside of direct teaching to you, that I could impart, it would be for you to keep this word near, read it daily, think on it always, and cherish it with all your heart. It is the word of God, it is the revelation of Jesus Christ, and it is the basis of our knowledge of Him. As He is the basis of our faith, I can do no less than implore you to read this word.

Above all, I thank the Lord, Jesus, for having found something suitable in me – no matter how small it is – to allow me the honor of presenting this word to you each week. This alone, if nothing else, tells me of the immensity of our God. If he can use someone as unworthy as me for this highest of honors, it truly demonstrates the magnitude of his greatness.

All I want to do for You, Lord
is because I love You,
not as a tithe, not as a chore,
but because of Your love,

All I want to do for You, Lord,
is to serve You,
not because I must,
but because I trust You, Lord.

All I want to do for You, Lord
is to adore You,
because I’m free to worship You,
my Kings of Kings!

You broke my chains,
You saved my soul,
You broke my bonds
that drowned me, Lord.
You fished me out
from the pool of sins,
and raised me up
that I could live.

So I was freed
when I chose Your Grace
to abound in me,
when You took my place.

And I want to Love,
I want to serve,
because of the Cross,
because of Your Grace!

I want to serve You,
not because of guilt,
not because it’s a chore,
or a quota I must fill.

Not as a deposit
on blessings from You,
but because I want to, Lord,
to love You!

My peace and joy
comes not from what I do,
but from the love
that comes from You!

Izabela Bednara 5 April 2022

Closing Verse: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; there is one who accuses you—Moses, in whom you trust. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote about Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” John 5:45-47

Next Week: Acts 26:6 We will be in Acts 26 for a span, I hope no one this bothers... (The Promise Made by God to Our Fathers)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

You Shall Not Cross Over There

Then Moses went up
From the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo
To the top of Pisgah
Which is across from Jericho

And the Lord showed him
All the land of Gilead as far as Dan, so far north he could see
All Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh
All the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea

The South, and the plain
Of the Valley of Jericho
The city of palm trees
As far as Zoar, the Lord to him did show

Then the Lord said to him
“This is the land of which I swore
To give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying
‘I will give it to your descendants –
———-a land of blessing and so much more

I have caused you to see it with your eyes
But you shall not cross over there, so to you I apprise

So Moses the servant of the Lord
Died there to await his reward
In the land of Moab
According to the word of the Lord

And He buried him in a valley
In the land of Moab, hiding his body away
There opposite Beth Peor
But no one knows his grave to this day

Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died
So his days were finished
His eyes were not dim
Nor his natural vigor diminished

And the children of Israel
Wept for Moses until those days were expended
In the plains of Moab thirty days
So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom
For Moses had laid his hands on him when the situation demanded
So the children of Israel heeded him
And did as the LORD had Moses commanded

But since then there has not arisen
A prophet like Moses in Israel
Whom the LORD knew face to face
In all the signs, and in all the wonders as well

Which the Lord sent him to do
In the land of Egypt, by the Lord’s hand
Before Pharaoh, before all his servants
And in all his land

And by all that mighty power
And all the great terror as well
Which Moses performed
In the sight of all Israel

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

And Lord God, thank you for this wonderful book
Deuteronomy! What a marvel to have studied it
Into every detail possible we took a look
And to You our thanks and praise we now submit!

Hallelujah to Christ our Lord!
Hallelujah for Deuteronomy, a marvelous part of Your superior word!

Hallelujah and Amen!
Indeed, Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is across from Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali and the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the Western Sea, the South, and the plain of the Valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar. Then the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to give Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, saying, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have caused you to see it with your eyes, but you shall not cross over there.”

So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord. And He buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, opposite Beth Peor; but no one knows his grave to this day. Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. His eyes were not dim nor his natural vigor diminished. And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days. So the days of weeping and mourning for Moses ended.

Now Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands on him; so the children of Israel heeded him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.

10 But since then there has not arisen in Israel a prophet like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, before Pharaoh, before all his servants, and in all his land, 12 and by all that mighty power and all the great terror which Moses performed in the sight of all Israel.

 

 

Deuteronomy 33:18-22 (Moses Blesses Israel, Part III)

Deuteronomy 33:18-22
Moses Blesses Israel, Part III

The blessings of the individual tribes continue now with four more short blessings. The first two finish up the tribes of Jacob’s wives, Leah and Rachel. They then move to the sons of the handmaids, two of which will be seen today, and the other two will be in the final sermon of the chapter

Other than falling into the order of the sons of the wives and then the handmaids, the order seems rather obscure. The actual birth order goes Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph (Manasseh, Ephraim), Benjamin.

The order of blessing now lists the sons in order of wives and then handmaids, but not necessarily in birth order.

Wives:
Reuben (1)
Judah (4) (inclusive of Simeon (2))
Levi (3)
Benjamin (12)
Joseph (11) (Ephraim and Manasseh are reversed)
Zebulun (10)

Handmaids:
Gad (7)
Dan (5)
Naphtali (6)
Asher (8)

As such, the order doesn’t really make much numerical sense. But as I have said, the layout closely matches a somewhat circular pattern around Jerusalem where the temple is located. The progression is generally from east to west and south to north, but it also considers which tribe is of the wives and which are of the handmaids.

The order goes first to land outside of Canaan with the son of the wives (namely Leah). Then it essentially goes from south to north with the sons of the wives. Manasseh (a son of Joseph whose mother is Rachel), however, has land on both sides of the Jorden River which is dealt with together. When the sons of the wives are completed, it then goes east of the Jordan again to pick up the first of the sons of the handmaids.

From there, Dan is named, but Dan is said by Moses to “leap from Bashan.” That is all the way to the very north of Israel, and so one might wonder why he is mentioned next. It is because he was first allocated land to the west of Canaan, midway up the land near Benjamin and Ephraim.

However, the land he acquires in the north is situated where the Jordan issues from. As such, naming him before the other two tribes who descend from the handmaids makes complete sense. From there, the final two sons of the handmaids are the furthest north and west.

And so, the pattern essentially follows both a geographic surrounding of Jerusalem while also accounting for who was born to a wife of Jacob and who was born to a handmaid. It really is a unique and interesting pattern to consider, which only came to me while typing these sermons.

Other than being interesting and definitely a pattern in how it comes about, if you accept predictive prophecy, it shows that Moses’ blessing is inspired by the Lord. This is because Moses only knew where the division of land for the three tribes east of the Jordan would be.

Nothing else was known to him because the other divisions would only come after the land was occupied by Israel.

Text Verse: “And He brought them to His holy border,
This mountain which His right hand had acquired.
55 He also drove out the nations before them,
Allotted them an inheritance by survey,
And made the tribes of Israel dwell in their tents.” Psalm 78:54, 54

Other than being a definite pattern, and that it was laid out by Moses before it came about, I’m not personally sure what to make of it. But the fact that the tribes are laid out in this way based on the blessing of Moses inspires me, as do so many other curiosities in Scripture.

There may be a deeper meaning. For example, the directions in the Bible each have meaning. The east is that which is before in time, like the rising of the sun which comes first. The west is that which is after, as in the place where the setting of the sun is.

The east is also the place of exile. Man was cast out of the garden with cherubim placed at the east. That matches the layout of the temple which is laid out east to west and which must be accessed from the east. Outside of the most holy place, cherubim were woven into the veil, on the east and facing east.

The west is where the Lord dwells. It is that which is arrived at last. As such, the tabernacle is a picture of the way one goes – from east, outside of God’s favor (before), to west, union with the Lord (after). It is a journey where one returns to the presence of the Lord. It is the consummation of the trek man has been on since the fall, and it is one that is realized in the coming of Christ.

Because Jerusalem is north of the equator, the south – which is the right hand and that which is greater – is more illuminated. The left is that which is north, and which is increasingly dark and obscure. As such, one can see that Judah (Praise), which encompasses the land to the south (right) of the temple, is at the prominent position, the right hand.

This is the tribe Jesus came from. He who is the Praise of God now sits at the right hand, the position of prominence and authority of God. And yet, Benjamin, whose name means “Son of the Right Hand,” is to the north side of the temple area.

Thus, the idea of the right hand – that which is prominent and possesses authority – literally encompasses the area of the temple. These things are all a part of how God laid out the tribes through the blessing of Moses upon them.

To fully flesh out all the meaning that could be derived from these individual placements would be an immense and hugely rewarding study. There is just too much evidence for these things to be coincidence. There is marvelous beauty in everything seen, and it was all prophesied to be as it is even before Israel entered the land.

Many great things such as these are to be found in His superior word. And so, let us turn to that precious word once again and… May God speak to us through His word today and may His glorious name ever be praised.

I. The Blessings to Zebulun and Issachar (verses 18 & 19)

18 And of Zebulun he said:

v’lizvulun amar – “And to Zebulun he said.” Zebulun is the sixth and final son born to Jacob’s wife Leah and the tenth born to Jacob. He has another brother, Issachar, who was born to Leah before he was. And yet, both Jacob and Moses first bless Zebulun before Issachar.

The record of Zebulun’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Then Leah conceived again and bore Jacob a sixth son. And Leah said, ‘God has endowed me with a good endowment; now my husband will dwell with me, because I have borne him six sons.’ So she called his name Zebulun.” Genesis 30:19, 20

Zebulun means Glorious Dwelling Place, and so Leah’s words at his birth, and the words of Jacob when he blessed him in Genesis 49, both make a play on his name. Using the thought of dwelling, Jacob said, “Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea.”

Zebulun’s inheritance is located north of the tribe of those of Manasseh who are situated within the borders of Canaan. As such, the pattern of the order of the tribes surrounding Jerusalem in a somewhat discernible manner continues.

However, as noted in the introduction, because of Manasseh and Dan occupying more than one plot of land, this is not a hard and fast pattern, but it is surprising that the order of blessing continues, so far, to come as the tribes are further from the location of Jerusalem. To Zebulun Moses proclaims…

18 (con’t) “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,

It is exactingly translated: semakh zevulun b’tsetekha – “Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out.” The meaning of this is a blessing of trade and commerce and of skill and ability in war, both of which are used concerning the word yatsa, or “going out,” elsewhere.

The original borders of Zebulun, according to the division of land recorded in Joshua 19, does not include any sea borders. And yet, when Jacob blessed him, he said –

“Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.” Genesis 49:13

In those words, the word “sea” is plural. Literally, it says zebulun lekhoph yammim yishkon – “Zebulun at the shore of the seas shall dwell.” What it implies is that this tribe would fill the land between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea, or at least they would have access to them.

In the next clause, the Hebrew literally says, “And he to a shore of ships.” Even if he had no direct access to a shore, his inheritance included access to a shore where ships are unloaded. Actually, this is twofold in nature. The first is seen in Issachar’s coming blessing.

Because Zebulun is blessed before his older brother Issachar, it implies that the land of Issachar is jointly used by Zebulun who has been given priority over Issachar. This is the case in both the blessing of Jacob and of Moses.

This explains the reason for the blessing of both Jacob and Moses upon Zebulun before Issachar, even though Issachar was born first. Zebulun could gain access to the Sea of Galilee by traveling through the inheritance of Issachar.

However, he not only had access there, but also through Sidon, the land to the north, outside of Canaan. Sidon was the firstborn of Canaan. His territory was at the northerly end of the land of Canaan and is known for its prominent cities of Tyre and Sidon, cities still known and occupied at Jesus’ time. The city of Sidon was at the extreme northern border between Canaan and Lebanon, quite a long way from Zebulun.

But the larger territory was known for the city. This is just like the city of Tokyo in the prefecture of Tokyo. Tokyo city is just a small place, but the prefecture is large. The use of the name of the city for the larger territory is seen in the gospel of Luke –

“But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; 26 but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25, 26

The name Sidon means “catching fish” or “plenty of fish.” Because the name Sidon was also given in Jacob’s prophecy, the Bible confirms that Zebulun will have a portion of coastal territory for its use. But, as noted a minute ago, the term “goings out” is also used in referring to warfare.

Zebulun is noted for its skill in warfare in Judges 4 and 5, especially as is recorded in the Song of Deborah. As such, Moses prophesies over Zebulun and blesses him in this manner. Next…

18 (con’t) And Issachar in your tents!

Again, the translation is correct: v’yisakar b’ohalekha – “And Issachar in your tents!” Issachar is the fifth son born to Leah and the ninth born to Jacob.

Issachar’s land is just to the east of Zebulun and a little closer to Jerusalem, but that doesn’t really harm the pattern of the tribes encircling the temple. Rather, it actually highlights it because of their situation in relation to Gad who will next be named. The record of Issachar’s birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Now Reuben went in the days of wheat harvest and found mandrakes in the field, and brought them to his mother Leah. Then Rachel said to Leah, ‘Please give me some of your son’s mandrakes.’
15 But she said to her, ‘Is it a small matter that you have taken away my husband? Would you take away my son’s mandrakes also?’
And Rachel said, ‘Therefore he will lie with you tonight for your son’s mandrakes.’
16 When Jacob came out of the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, ‘You must come in to me, for I have surely hired you with my son’s mandrakes.’ And he lay with her that night.
17 And God listened to Leah, and she conceived and bore Jacob a fifth son. 18 Leah said, ‘God has given me my wages, because I have given my maid to my husband.” So she called his name Issachar.’” Genesis 30:14-18

His name means “He is Wages.” As for Moses’ blessing, dwelling in one’s tent gives the sense of peace, quietude, and contentment. The sentiment of Moses is not unlike portions of the blessing of Jacob upon this fifth son of Leah –

“Issachar is a strong donkey,
Lying down between two burdens;
15 He saw that rest was good,
And that the land was pleasant;
He bowed his shoulder to bear a burden,
And became a band of slaves.” Genesis 49:14, 15

In the blessing of these two sons, one can see the contrasting parallel –

Rejoice:
(a) *+Zebulun, in your going out,
(a) *And -Issachar in your tents!

The rejoicing applies to both. For Zebulun, it is the bustle of commercial life, trade, shipping, warfare, and so on. For Issachar, it is the quiet pursuit of agriculture and home life. For both, Moses continues…

19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;

amim har yiqrau– “Peoples mountain they call.” The idea of these words is that from this area, there shall be a call to the sacred mountain, the mountain of the Lord. This is literally fulfilled in the words of Isaiah concerning the ministry of Christ –

“Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.” Isaiah 9:1, 2

This is cited in Matthew 4 as a direct reference to the ministry of the gospel going forth in this area. Because Issachar is blessed with Zebulun, they are, therefore, implicitly included in what is said by Isaiah.

Even though Jesus’ earthly ministry was specifically only to the people of Israel, it extended to Gentiles at times, and eventually, the New Covenant went out to all peoples. This is certainly the reference here. As such…

19 (con’t) There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;

sham yizbekhu zivkhe tsedeq – “There they offer sacrifices righteous.” The sacrifices of the righteous are not simply sacrifices upon the altar. David, Isaiah, and others confirm this –

“Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
15 O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.
18 Do good in Your good pleasure to Zion;
Build the walls of Jerusalem.
19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness,
With burnt offering and whole burnt offering;
Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.” Psalm 51:14-19

Only when the heart is right are sacrifices considered righteous. If the previous clause is referring to the ministry of Christ, this one – which is set in parallel – must as well. It is what Paul refers to in several ways, such as –

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” Romans 12:1

The “great light” of Isaiah 9, the spreading of the gospel in Galilee of the Gentiles, leads to the righteous sacrifices being acceptable to God as they are sanctified by the Holy Spirit. Next, Moses notes…

19 (con’t) For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas

ki shepha yamim yinaqu – “For abundance seas they suck.” The word shepha, or abundance, is found only here in Scripture. It is from an unused root meaning to abound. It is referring to the two seas which lay on either side, Galilee and the Mediterranean.

Due to their closeness, they would benefit from that which is derived from them. The word yanaq means “to suck,” but it is consistently used of nursing a child, as when babes are suckled.

Because the seas in both directions lead to interaction with Gentiles, I would say this continues to refer to the ministry of Christ expanding to them, something that occurred in the gospels, and which has continued for millennia. Further…

19 (con’t) And of treasures hidden in the sand.”

It is a very complicated clause, maybe the most complicated. The first two words are plural verbs forming a play on words: u-sephune temune khol – “And concealed hidden sand.” Another unique word is seen here, saphan. It comes from a root meaning to conceal, and so it refers to hiding.

Next, the word “and” is tied to the thought, “For they suck.” Thus, it is saying that they will partake of that thing which is hidden and concealed in the sand. But even the word “sand” is to be taken in connection with the words hidden and concealed.

As such, the whole thought reads something like: “And they will suck of the most hidden things.” And so, this is a direct reference to the words of Jesus, and of the continued words of the apostles –

“In that hour Jesus rejoiced in the Spirit and said, ‘I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them to babes. Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. 22 All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.’” Luke 10:21, 22

&

“For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” Colossians 3:3

(a) Peoples mountain they call.
(a) There they offer sacrifices righteous.
(b) For *abundance seas they suck.
(b) And *concealed hidden sand.

Apart from the teachings of the Lord, including the gospel, the words have such a dubious meaning that they could mean almost anything. But in light of the gospel, they make complete sense. Especially when Jesus compares those who receive His words to babes. Next, we will see Gad and Dan…

When I bless you, you shall be blessed
And upon you shall come the blessings I state
When it is for comfort, you shall not be hard pressed
And when it is for love, there shall be no hate

With My blessing you will be blessed
You shall abound in the good things I proclaim
You need do nothing to receive it, you need take no test
My blessing is grace that stems from My name

Listen to My blessing and know it is true
It shall come pass, the words that I proclaim
The blessings I state shall come upon you
Because My blessing is grace that stems from My name

II. The Blessings to Gad and Dan (verses 20-22)

20 And of Gad he said:

u-l’gad amar – “And to Gad he said.” Gad is the first son born to Leah’s handmaid Zilpah and the seventh born to Jacob. Gad is east of Issachar and also east of the Jordan. The land extends from the Sea of Galilee almost to the Dead Sea, across from Benjamin. As such, it provides a buffer to the east for Jerusalem.

The record of his birth is noted in Genesis 30 –

“When Leah saw that she had stopped bearing, she took Zilpah her maid and gave her to Jacob as wife. 10 And Leah’s maid Zilpah bore Jacob a son. 11 Then Leah said, ‘A troop comes!” So she called his name Gad.” Genesis 30:9-11

Gad can mean “A Troop,” but it also means “Good Fortune.” Of him, Moses says…

20 (con’t) “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad;

barukh markhiv gad – “Blessed he enlarges Gad.” Gad settled east of the Jordan and in a very large parcel. The thought of saying, “Blessed is he who enlarges Gad,” is referring to what has already happened, even though it is stated as if it is ongoing. The Lord provided a great expanse for Gad, and so Gad is enlarged into the future as he fills that expanse, continuing to subdue it.

20 (con’t) He dwells as a lion,

kelaviy shaken – “As lion he dwells.” This is referring to his residence in the land given to him. Despite it being already apportioned out to him by the Lord, it still had inhabitants in it from the nations who had settled it long before.

Therefore, to dwell as a lion means that he is ready to pounce, taking dominion over that which belongs to him. That then leads to the next thought…

20 (con’t) And tears the arm and the crown of his head.

v’taraph zeroa aph qadeqod – “And has torn arm, yea, crown of head.” The arm is the symbol of strength. The crown of the head symbolizes leadership and command. The symbolism, then, is that of Gad dwelling in his land, ever ready to enlarge his dominion over the area that he has already been provided.

Blessed he enlarges Gad. (The ultimate Force behind Gad’s enlargement. He is the Enlarger)
(a) *As lion +he dwells.
(a) *And +he has torn arm, yea, crown of head.

Though this speaks of Gad and his dominion, it ultimately surely anticipates Christ who is equated to a lion (even if from Judah) who destroyed the strength and the authority of the devil.

21 He provided the first part for himself,

v’yar reshit lo – “And he saw first to himself.” To “see” signifies to attend to, as in “See to it yourself.” Hence, this is referring to the land that was subdued east of the Jordan, even before entering Canaan.

When it was seen, Gad wanted it and determined to have it for his possession. This is what is being referred to. Next…

21 (con’t) Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there.

khelqat mekhoqeq saphun – “Portion lawgiver covered.” Here is a new word, saphan. It signifies to cover, such as in paneling a house. It is the root of the unique word saphan just introduced in verse 19. It is assumed here that the lawgiver is Moses. As such, it would then mean that the portion of land granted by Moses to Gad is preserved for Gad.

21 (con’t) He came with the heads of the people;

v’yete rashe am – “And he comes heads people.” This is referring to the agreement made allowing Gad and the other tribes to remain in the land east of the Jordan –

“So Moses gave command concerning them to Eleazar the priest, to Joshua the son of Nun, and to the chief fathers of the tribes of the children of Israel. 29 And Moses said to them: ‘If the children of Gad and the children of Reuben cross over the Jordan with you, every man armed for battle before the Lord, and the land is subdued before you, then you shall give them the land of Gilead as a possession. 30 But if they do not cross over armed with you, they shall have possessions among you in the land of Canaan.’” Numbers 32:28-30

The conditions were agreed upon, and thus Gad, named first in regard to these tribes, was to lead the people in the conquest of Canaan.

21 (con’t) He administered the justice of the Lord,

sidqat Yehovah asah – “Justice Yehovah he has done.” The thought is to be considered with the next clause…

21 (con’t) And His judgments with Israel.”

u-mishpata im Yisrael – “And His judgments with Israel.” This and the previous clause could mean one of two things. Either he executed the justice and judgments of the Lord upon Canaan, or he complied with the justice and judgments of the Lord that were set in the conditions for him to return to his land.

Either way, the two clauses are referring to Gad’s obedience in going forth with Israel in order to secure their own possession in the land east of the Jordan.

(a) And he saw first to himself
(a) Portion lawgiver covered

(a) And he comes heads people
(b) +Justice Yehovah *he has done
(b) *And +His judgments with Israel

22 And of Dan he said:

u-l’dan amar – “And to Dan he said.” Dan is the first son born to Rachel’s handmaid Bilhah and the fifth born to Jacob. Dan’s allotment was originally West of Ephraim, and so it would seem that the pattern of the tribes encircling the area of Jerusalem is disturbed in his placement, but that would be incorrect.

Rather, Dan fills in the area westward, even to the Mediterranean Sea, but Dan eventually moved to the extreme north of the land in an area where the Jordan River begins, just below Mount Hermon. It straddles that, and so it meets together with the half-tribe of Manasseh to the east and Naphtali to the west.

As such, it is fitting that Dan is now mentioned, rather than where it was originally allocated land as noted in Joshua.

The record of his birth is found in Genesis 30 –

“Now when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister, and said to Jacob, ‘Give me children, or else I die!’
And Jacob’s anger was aroused against Rachel, and he said, ‘Am I in the place of God, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?’
So she said, ‘Here is my maid Bilhah; go in to her, and she will bear a child on my knees, that I also may have children by her.’ Then she gave him Bilhah her maid as wife, and Jacob went in to her. And Bilhah conceived and bore Jacob a son. Then Rachel said, ‘God has judged my case; and He has also heard my voice and given me a son.’ Therefore she called his name Dan.’” Genesis 30:1-6

Dan means “Judge.” Of him, Moses says…

22 (con’t) “Dan is a lion’s whelp;

dan gur aryeh – “Dan whelp lion.” There is a play on words in this that is not yet evident. Moses is equating Dan with a lion, prophetically indicating both where and how he would settle. And this, despite the allocation for land originally given in Joshua. That is next seen with the words..

22 (con’t)He shall leap from Bashan.”

 

yezaneq min ha’bashan – “He leaps from the Bashan.” Here is a word found only this once in the Bible, zanaq. It comes from a root meaning to draw together the feet as an animal would when it is about to dart upon prey. Hence, it means to spring forward.

Moses identifies Dan with the Bashan, the area to the extreme north of the land, and – as I noted – it straddles the area that leads into the Jordan River. But more, when Moses goes to view the land before he dies, this is recorded there –

“And the Lord showed him all the land of Gilead as far as Dan.” Deuteronomy 34:1

Despite the lot for Dan being drawn in a completely different area, it was already known that Dan would settle to the far north, even beyond the land of Gilead. The lengthy record of the events of them moving to this area is found in Judges 18. Toward the end of the chapter, it says –

“So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire. 28 There was no deliverer, because it was far from Sidon, and they had no ties with anyone. It was in the valley that belongs to Beth Rehob. So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. 29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel. However, the name of the city formerly was Laish.” Judges 18:27-29

The name Laish means “Lion.” Dan sprang forth upon Laish (Lion), just as a lion springs forth. Hence, Moses is making a prophetic pun upon what would occur in the future as Dan took its place to the far north.

With the short blessing complete, one can see the simple a/b structure of it –

(a) Dan whelp lion.
(b) He leaps from the Bashan.

Because of the obvious fulfillment of the words of Moses, liberal scholars take this – along with many other words of the blessings – as having been written many generations later. That is completely dismissive of the idea that God could inspire his prophets to proclaim the future.

As such, it is dismissive of the fact that this is God’s word. If these things were written later, then they would be the writings of man without God’s inspiration. And if this is so, then the Bible is simply a collection of man’s writings without any spiritual value at all, because man is – after all – a corrupt, fallen being.

But the writings here in Deuteronomy are God’s inspired words. I have personally never seen any study on the layout of these tribes as I mentioned them to you at the beginning of the sermon, and yet they form a definite and distinct pattern.

Therefore, it is its own confirmation that these are the words of Moses as inspired by the Lord. They were not written later in order to fulfill some sort of pre-set, or man-determined pattern. If they were, the pattern would have been noted and everyone would know about it.

And this is the same with dozens of other patterns that we have drawn out from the text as we have proceeded through the books of Moses. Whether they are geographical, ancestorial, numerical, word-based (such as chiasms), or other types of patterns, we have come across so many that have never been seen before that it is beyond credulity that they came about by mere chance.

And yet, as far as I know, there is no historical record of them having been noted by anyone else. This means that they were probably never seen before by anyone. And yet, they are there, and they are unmistakable.

And because many of them overlap with other things that also form patterns, they could not have been inserted later. They had to be there all along. Chiasms, for example, may overlap many verses that are prophetic in nature. If those prophetic verses were inserted later, as scholars who deny prophecy claim, then the chiasm would not exist.

Understanding these things, we have to either accept that this is truly the word of God, telling in advance what will come to pass before it happens, or this book is the greatest aberration in the history of the universe, because things that could not otherwise exist in it do, in fact, exist.

Where will you place your faith? If this book is not the word of God, then everything it says about Jesus – everything – is false. This is because Jesus Himself clearly stated that this is, in fact, the word of God and that it testifies to who He is.

One cannot logically say, “I accept the premise of the New Testament and I believe in Jesus and yet I do not accept as inspired the words of the Old Testament.” The thinking is confused, erratic, and clearly unclear.

It is no different than someone saying, I believe in Jesus and yet I do not believe that He is the only way to be reconciled to God. That is a logical contradiction because Jesus Himself said that He is the only way to be reconciled to God.

If you don’t believe what He says, then you don’t believe Him. And if He is a liar, then why – tell me why! – you would want to believe in Him. If you want to follow a god who lies to you, I can direct you to lots of other gods. You can pick any of them and you will get exactly what you are looking for.

But if you want to follow the God who is truthful because He is the Truth, I can only direct you to one God. He is the God of the Bible, and He is the embodiment of truth. And because Scripture is given by Him and tells us about Him, you can be fully confident that Scripture is absolute truth.

Be sound in your thinking, be confident in your theology, and be right in your doctrine. Come to the Source of all wisdom and truth. Come to Jesus, the Word of God.

Closing Verse: “Then He said to them, ‘These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.’ 45 And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.” Luke 24:44, 45

Next Week: Deuteronomy 33:23-29 Moses is almost through blessing, but there is still a little more… (Moses Blesses Israel, Part IV) (103rd Deuteronomy Sermon)

The Lord has you exactly where He wants you. He has a good plan and purpose for you. But He also has expectations of you as He prepares you for entrance into His Land of Promise. So, follow Him and trust Him and He will do marvelous things for you and through you.

Moses Blesses Israel, Part III

And of Zebulun he said:
Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out
And Issachar in your tents! Give a shout!

They shall call the peoples to the mountain
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness in the land
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand

And of Gad he said:
“Blessed is he who enlarges Gad
He dwells as a lion in his spread
And tears the arm
And the crown of his head

He provided the first part for himself
Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there
He came with the heads of the people, so to you I tell
He administered the justice of the LORD
And His judgments with Israel

And of Dan he said:
“Dan is a lion’s whelp going on and on
He shall leap from Bashan

Lord God, turn our hearts to be obedient to Your word
Give us wisdom to be ever faithful to You
May we carefully heed each thing we have heard
Yes, Lord God may our hearts be faithful and true

And we shall be content and satisfied in You alone
We will follow You as we sing our songs of praise
Hallelujah to You; to us Your path You have shown
Hallelujah we shall sing to You for all of our days

Hallelujah and Amen…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 And of Zebulun he said:

“Rejoice, Zebulun, in your going out,
And Issachar in your tents!
19 They shall call the peoples to the mountain;
There they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness;
For they shall partake of the abundance of the seas
And of treasures hidden in the sand.”

20 And of Gad he said:

“Blessed is he who enlarges Gad;
He dwells as a lion,
And tears the arm and the crown of his head.
21 He provided the first part for himself,
Because a lawgiver’s portion was reserved there.
He came with the heads of the people;
He administered the justice of the Lord,
And His judgments with Israel.”

22 And of Dan he said:

“Dan is a lion’s whelp;
He shall leap from Bashan.”