Archive for May 2013

Epistle to the Hebrews (11:28-29)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Moses commanded the people of Israel to keep the Passover and to sprinkle blood on the doorposts so that the angel of death would not kill their firstborn sons.It was by faith that the people of Israel went right through the Red Sea as though they were on dry ground. But when the Egyptians tried to follow, they were all drowned.” Hebrews 11:28,29

The people of Israel were spared when the angel of death passed. The Passover served as a strong reminder to subsequent generations of what God did to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The Israelites believed the instructions of Moses by sprinkling blood on the doorposts. This showed that they also had to have faith in what God said if they did not want their children to die. The bible tells us that : “Pharaoh and all his officials and all the people of Egypt woke up during the night, and loud wailing was heard throughout the land of Egypt. There was not a single house where someone had not died.”  Ex 12:30

Only in the Israelites home there were no mourning because they all obeyed God’s command. The last plague required every Israelites to trust Moses and this strengthened Moses’ leadership.

When Israel left Egypt, God wanted to work the people’s heart for 40 years. God wanted the Israelites to know Him and His character. For example God wanted the Israelites to take a longer way to the promised land. He wanted to test them and see their attitude. It is true that sometimes God takes us through a longer way in order to prepare us and test our character. Now that the Israelites took the longest way, they will not dare trying to return to Egypt. When we decide to walk by faith, changing our mind along the way can be a fatal decision. If the Israelites wanted to return to Egypt, I am quite certain that they would all have died.

When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle

We also read in Deuteronomy 8:2:

Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for these forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would obey his commands.”

Do you see that? Canaan was just about 100km from Egypt and within 2 weeks the Israelites could have reached it. Jacob and his sons moved from Canaan to Egypt in just a few days. But it was not God’s plan to give the Israelites the promised land without forming their character. These people would enter Canaan only after 40 years! Why? Because there was a molding process which had to take place in the hearts of the Israelites.  God had to humble their hearts, form their character, work their faith and see whether they would obey his commands. Oh how many times did they fail to obey, complained and sinned. The Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that the generation could not enter Canaan because of their incredulity. God would not grant them Canaan unless He saw faith in their hearts. Do you understand how important faith in God is vital?

That is why I was angry with that generation;I said, ‘Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.’So I declared on oath in my anger,‘They shall never enter my rest.’ ”See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:11

What was recorded about the Israelites was written to give us an example (1 Cor 10:11)

An unbelieving heart i.e. a heart which refuses to have faith in God is a sinful heart. We all have a measure of faith as Paul said in Romans 12:8. This disciples said “Increase our faith” in Luke 17:5. Our faith should not remain stagnant but grow.

In Hebrews 10:38 we have seen:

But my righteous one will live by faith.And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.”

Do you understand that God considers His own only those who live by faith? We are justified and made righteous by faith in the Son of God but this does not end here. In fact, that’s just the beginning. The big work comes after conversion where you nor need to live by faith in the Son of God. It’s where the Spirit works in our heart and transforms us in the image of the Son. The Israelites had little faith in Egypt but the school of faith had a curriculum of 40 years in the wilderness! Let’s not think that this does not apply to us. We all need to go to the school of faith and be educated by the Holy Spirit. Our heart needs to be wholly surrendered to God.

In order to make a sword strong, the blacksmith has to strike it hard.

Faith grows well in the fertile soil of impossibility, adversity and absurdity.

If you think it is impossible and does not have enough faith, Jesus said in Mark 9:23 : “Everything is possible for one who believes

Jesus said keep on asking and you will receive, keep on seeking and you’ll find (Mat 7:7). He also said :

I tell you the truth, you can say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. But you must really believe it will happen and have no doubt in your heart. I tell you, you can pray for anything, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.” Mark 11:23,24

Read this verse in Mark again. Let this verse mark your soul. Jesus is basically telling us, you will get everything if you ask by faith. You must really believe that it will happen and it will be done. You should not doubt. But of course this implies that we will not ask God prostitutes, drugs and evil things. I have faith that God wants all men to be saved. Because I know it is God’s will to save all men, I pray for the people God has put on my heart and I am sure God will save them.

Then came the visible obstacle, the Red sea in front of the Israelites and Pharaoh army behind.  The Israelites panicked and blamed Moses for putting them in such situations. They thought they were trapped and told Moses they preferred to remain slaves in Egypt than to die in the wilderness.  No worry, Moses was no longer a child in the faith but a champion. Moses said:

Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again.The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.” Ex. 14:13

Do you see the serenity, calmness, peace, boldness and assurance Moses had? How come? Once again because his faith was burning inside. At this instant Moses did not know that God had in mind to make all the Israelites go through the Red sea. No one thought about it. Moses figured out that God would fight but going through the Red sea was not a possibility on his list.

God told Moses : “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!Pick up your staff and raise your hand over the sea. Divide the water so the Israelites can walk through the middle of the sea on dry ground.”

It’s amazing the way God replied to Moses. “The Egyptians are coming to kill everyone so why are you still sitting down and crying out? Just go ahead through the Red Sea!

Do you get it? God was always in control and did not have to be reminded that there was an obstacle ahead – the Red Sea.

That’s our God. Moses thought the Red Sea was an obstacle but it was actually the way to escape. Bear in mind that the Red Sea did not open just by luck. The bible tells us that the Israelites passed through as though it was dry ground. I recently came across an article which showed remains of chariots, human and horses. God does not work our way. He does things as it pleases Him. God’s desire is that we learn to have absolute trust in Him.

When God opened the red sea this created faith in the Israelites heart and strengthened Moses’ leadership:

When the people of Israel saw the mighty power that the Lord had unleashed against the Egyptians, they were filled with awe before him. They put their faith in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” Exodus 14:31

 

Posted May 27, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:23-27)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Moses’ parents hid him for three months when he was born. They saw that God had given them an unusual child, and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s command.It was by faith that Moses, when he grew up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter. He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin. He thought it was better to suffer for the sake of Christ than to own the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his great reward. It was by faith that Moses left the land of Egypt, not fearing the king’s anger. He kept right on going because he kept his eyes on the one who is invisible.” Hebrews 11:23-27

According to Pharaoh’s order, all new born baby boys had to be thrown in the Nile river. But Moses’ parents refused to obey to this order and we know how Moses finally became the adopted son of the daughter of Pharaoh. He could have become like Joseph and enjoy the leadership of Pharaoh’s household. But no, God had a different plan for him. It was right time to return to the promise land. Moses defended a Hebrew when attacked by an Egyptian and this made him flee from Pharaoh. When Moses saw 2 of his Hebrew brothers fighting, he wanted to stop them. Moses had a burden in his heart for the Hebrew people and even when Israel sinned against God he interceded for them by putting at stake his name in the book of life (Ex 32:32). Ezra and Nehemiah also had such a burden to rebuild the temple/walls. God often puts a burden in our heart to prepare us to accomplish what He called us to do.

Then came the time where God revealed Himself to Moses:

Look! The cry of the people of Israel has reached me, and I have seen how harshly the Egyptians abuse them.Now go, for I am sending you to Pharaoh. You must lead my people Israel out of Egypt.” Ex. 3:10

God has not given Moses time to think whether he would agree to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt. No, on his first encounter with God, Moses was asked to do something impossible. You must lead was the order.

1. To lead this great nation of Israel(about 1 million) out of Egypt on whom he had no influence

2. To present himself before Pharaoh and say goodbye without forgetting to threaten him with plagues

3. Bring the Israelites through the Red sea

4. Assume the responsibility of providing food and water to the Israelites for 40 years in the wilderness.

Well he did not know yet about #3 and #4 but he did protest about #1 and #2:

But Moses protested to God, “Who am I to appear before Pharaoh? Who am I to lead the people of Israel out of Egypt?” v11

But Moses protested, “If I go to the people of Israel and tell them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ they will ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what should I tell them?” v13

The only answer God said was that He will be there. The only thing the people needed to know was that the God called “I AM” had sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt. Moses had only these 2 short answers as guarantees for this massive task. Think about it. How would you feel in Moses’ place? God reveals Himself only to you, He requires you to tell all your patriots to pack up and tell Pharaoh to let the people go without giving you a glimpse on how He will do it. Well that’s a pretty risky thing to do and here again faith comes in action. It’s only by faith in God’s provision, power and presence that this massive task could be carried out.

I like this part where Moses said:

But Moses protested again, “What if they won’t believe me or listen to me? What if they say, ‘The Lord never appeared to you’?” Ex 4:1

That’s very human and I am glad the bible recorded it. God has put a vision in only Moses’ heart but has not put it in all the people’s heart. In such a situation, Moses asked a question any reasonable man would have asked. On the spot God used the staff Moses had in his hand to build up his faith and confidence. The staff which would change in snake was a first miraculous sign which would bring credibility to Moses’ claim. God also added 2 others signs:

The Lord said to Moses, “If they do not believe you and are not convinced by the first miraculous sign, they will be convinced by the second sign. And if they don’t believe you or listen to you even after these two signs, then take some water from the Nile River and pour it out on the dry ground. When you do, the water from the Nile will turn to blood on the ground.” Ex 4:8

God knows how feeble we are in our faith and He often makes miracles so that we may know He is with us.

Though Moses saw God, the burning bush and the 3 miracles he was still afraid and still hesitated to go. The problem was no longer with the Israelites but with his personal abilities. I’m grateful to God that He allowed to record also these little details in the bible. Even though you are not a good orator, it does not matter. Have faith.

But Moses pleaded with the Lord, “O Lord, I’m not very good with words. I never have been, and I’m not now, even though you have spoken to me. I get tongue-tied, and my words get tangled.”

If God has chosen you to do a task, do not say you’re not the right person. If you were not the right person He would not have called you, right? It is God who equips and He does no mistakes while choosing.

God said to Moses:

Then the Lord asked Moses, “Who makes a person’s mouth? Who decides whether people speak or do not speak, hear or do not hear, see or do not see? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go! I will be with you as you speak, and I will instruct you in what to say.”Ex. 4:11,12

I don’t think Moses was lying. Moses was not a trained speaker nor did he have an idea of how God will do it. I guess all these stories drove Moses nuts. That sounds absurd. Oh you may flee like Jonah but how far can you flee God? The tasks God asks us to do are not always ‘normal’ tasks. If Noah was still alive he would testify about the ark he built. Once again Moses wanted to refuse to take this responsibility. We read:

But Moses again pleaded, “Lord, please! Send anyone else.”

It was already the fifth time Moses complained and God eventually became angry and said “Alright take Aaron to be your spokesman”.  God knew Aaron was a good speaker but His will was that it should be Moses the only leader. The share of leadership eventually led to Aaron making the golden calf. If God has chosen you to do something do not say “Send X”. We can see that God has given Moses sufficient evidence that He was going to lead. God is faithful to build our faith in order to enable us handle the task He wants us to do.

When Moses spoke to Pharaoh, this resulted to more oppression on the Israelites and hence more trouble on Moses. Moses still protested with God in Exodus 5 and 6 because now the Israelites no longer wanted to listen to him. Moses obeyed what God told him and he got more troubles. The Israelites were treated more brutally and God did not intervene. Has it ever happened to you that while doing God’s will you get in more trouble and heaven is silent? If so, remember that God is still in control.

Then Moses went back to the Lord and protested, “Why have you brought all this trouble on your own people, Lord? Why did you send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh as your spokesman, he has been even more brutal to your people. And you have done nothing to rescue them!” Ex 5:22

But Lord!” Moses objected. “My own people won’t listen to me anymore. How can I expect Pharaoh to listen? I’m such a clumsy speaker!”

Moses was learning to know God more with time. Moses’ faith and obedience were being worked out by God. Moses little by little became more bold as he saw God do miracles. He started to take initiatives and God did what Moses said (Ex.8 :9-12). Moses started to take ownership of this exodus.

Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the swarms of flies will disappear from you and your officials and all your people. But I am warning you, Pharaoh, don’t lie to us again and refuse to let the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.” Ex 8:29

Do you see that? Moses now says he’ll pray God to remove all the flies the next day because he now had confidence that God was with him and will answer his prayer. Not only that, Moses threatened Pharaoh and was no longer afraid of him! This is what faith does, it brings boldness. You pray God to answer your prayers and God does it because you’re doing His will. Moses presented himself before Pharaoh about 10 times and each time became bolder.

Moses insisted that not only the men should go to offer sacrifices but also the children(Ex 10:9). Pharaoh refused again. When Pharaoh agreed to let Moses take the children after the plague, Pharaoh requested Moses to leave only the flock. Moses disagreed and did not submit to this request. Moses got the green light to take all the Israelites out and he could have made a little concession on this little request. But no, Moses did not bend to this request. He even dared to ask Pharaoh to provide for the sacrifices the Israelites were going to make.  Moses was not going to use his own livestock for the sacrifice but rather use those of Pharaoh! Moses was decided not to leave anything the Israelites had to Pharaoh. In fact, the reverse happened. About 1 million Israelites left Egypt by stripping the Egyptians of their wealth (Ex 12:36,37).  Moses was no longer this fearful man, he now had guts! He gained confidence and permitted himself to challenge Pharaoh without any fear.

Finally, Pharaoh called for Moses. “Go and worship the Lord,” he said. “But leave your flocks and herds here. You may even take your little ones with you.”“No,” Moses said, “you must provide us with animals for sacrifices and burnt offerings to the Lord our God. All our livestock must go with us, too; not a hoof can be left behind. We must choose our sacrifices for the Lord our God from among these animals. And we won’t know how we are to worship the Lord until we get there.” Ex 10:26

The first 12 chapters of Exodus showed us how Moses grew up in faith, obedience and boldness. Moses eventually earned the respect of the Israelites. His boldness made the Israelites trust him as leader. Unless we obey we will not be able to grow up in our faith. Unless we obey, we will still be like Moses who was immature in his faith when he protested against God.  God is patient and faithful. He will form our character so that we can boldly serve Him with assurance.

Posted May 26, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:20-22)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Isaac promised blessings for the future to his sons, Jacob and Esau.It was by faith that Jacob, when he was old and dying, blessed each of Joseph’s sons and bowed in worship as he leaned on his staff.It was by faith that Joseph, when he was about to die, said confidently that the people of Israel would leave Egypt. He even commanded them to take his bones with them when they left” Hebrews 11:20-22

As we have seen earlier, Isaac’s wife Rebekah was barren (Gen 25:21) and so were Jacob’s wives Rachel and Leah(Gen 29:31). It was not mere coincidence that Sarah, Rebecca and Rachel were barren. God’s promise to Abraham to have a large posterity had to be endorsed by God’s thumbprint. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel and Leah could never brag about their fertility. They had to acknowledge that it was through God’s intervention that a large posterity would happen. Jacob was an ambitious man and many times risked his life by his decisions. But he had godly ambitions for blessings. He was a fighter and was rightly called “deceiver” when he managed to take his elder brother’s firstborn rights (though they were twins) through a stew! Jacob did not end there, his mother and him concocted together so that Isaac’s blessing also came upon him(Genesis 27:6). This caused Esau to become hostile to Jacob. But Jacob leaned on God’s promises when he said:

But you have said, ‘I will surely make you prosper and will make your descendants like the sand of the sea, which cannot be counted.’” Genesis 32

Jacob also fought with God’s angel in order to receive a spiritual blessing.

Jacob said: “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26

Jacob worked twice 7 years to receive Rachel as wife. Laban deceived him 7 years with Leah but when Jacob left, he left with lot of wealth because he managed to trick Laban. Jacob was not a loser but an achiever. Jacob had 12 sons and he was the father of the nation of Israel. Jacob’s name was in fact renamed Israel by God (Genesis 32). The bible tells us that it was by faith that old Jacob blessed Joseph’s sons when he moved to Egypt. This event is also remarkable. It was not the oldest son which received the blessings but the younger one i.e. Ephraim. Joseph the governor did not understand it though he was a man of God who has seen God do miracles in his life. Jacob was mature in faith and knew God’s will and this is the reason he discerned God’s plan regarding the sons of Joseph. Ephraim subsequently became the most dominant tribe of Israel.

Joseph said to him, “No, my father, this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head.”But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He too will become a people, and he too will become great. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become a group of nations.”

We see well that Jacob’s precedence over Esau and Ephraim’s precedence over Manasseh were not logical. God’s promise of a large posterity on these generations were remarkable. The bible also tells us that Joseph believed with confidence that his descendants would leave Egypt. Jacob also made Joseph swear to bring his bones out of Egypt. It was God’s plan to make the children of Jacob prosper in Egypt while there was famine in Canaan. Jacob insisted with Joseph and made him swear that he would do it.

When I die, please take my body out of Egypt and bury me with my ancestors.”So Joseph promised, “I will do as you ask.”“Swear that you will do it,” Jacob insisted. So Joseph gave his oath, and Jacob bowed humbly at the head of his bed.Gen 44:30

When the Israelites left Egypt they brought with them massive treasures to Canaan. Joseph had faith that God would bring the children of Israel back to the promised land and he ordered that his bones are also brought in his homeland(Exodus 13:19). Why did Joseph bother about bringing his bones back to Canaan? This might not sound meaningful to us but Joseph’s requests proved that he had faith in God. This little detail to be buried in the promised land was very important to him. Jacob and Joseph were not in Canaan when they died. No they were still in Egypt and were buried there. That’s faith, even though they were buried in Egypt they knew their bones will one day be carried in Canaan(Joshua 24:32). We have seen in the previous verses what it meant to live by faith and these examples showed us what it meant to die by faith. As Christians we should live by faith and also die with the faith that Jesus will raise us from the dead, give us a new body and bring us to our divine rest. During our last minutes on earth let us rest on Jesus’ promise that He will take us home. We will die like Jacob and Joseph in a foreign land but our eyes are set on Jesus’ promise in John 14. He went to prepare a place for us and will soon take us with Him.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home.If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you?When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.” John 14:1-3

Posted May 25, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:17-19)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac,even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.”Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again. And in a sense, Abraham did receive his son back from the dead.” Hebrews 11:17-19

Our author is not yet done with Abraham. It is no wonder that Abraham is often called the “father of faith”. We cannot talk about faith and obedience without mentioning this prominent figure.

This is what God said to Abraham: “Take your son, your only son—yes, Isaac, whom you love so much—and go to the land of Moriah. Go and sacrifice him as a burnt offering on one of the mountains, which I will show you.” Gen 22:2

God is not an insensible God. In this verse we see God asking Abraham to give the promised son and God knows well that Isaac is the only child of the old man. Not only that, God knew that Abraham loved Isaac so much. In the Septuagint the word for “tested” is επειρασε which means to “pierce through”. This was a test which touched Abraham’s deepest emotions. Abraham had no time to ask God “you mean my only son Isaac whom I loved so much?”. It was a clear and spontaneous command. Isaac was not an ordinary child, it’s the long awaited son. God has promised to give Abraham a large posterity through Isaac and now God is asking to give Him back this son? Was not God’s promise and command conflicting in Abraham’s mind? Amazingly, because Abraham knew and loved God, he tried to reconcile God’s promise with this conflicting command. He figured out that God could bring Isaac back to life again thus not making the promise becoming void. Abraham’s reasoning that God could bring back Issac again was such a powerful demonstration of faith and obedience. Abraham was determined to sacrifice Isaac and Isaac’s hours were counted. There was no hesitation, the next morning Abraham prepared the wood and saddled his donkey. Issac was carrying the wood which was to be used for his own death. He knew not that he was himself the sacrifice but Abraham alone did.

Then came this logical question:

Isaac turned to Abraham and said, “Father?” “Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.“We have the fire and the wood,” the boy said, “but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” Gen 22:7

Abraham replied with assurance that God would provide a lamb for the burnt offering. He knew he had to offer Isaac but why did he say God will provide a sheep? Abraham was hopeful that God would intervene. But when he reached Mount Moriah, Abraham probably looked around and there were no animals wandering. Yeah then faith came into action, he tied his son on the altar. Did not Isaac think “Father I love you, why are you doing this to me? Did not you tell me God will provide a lamb? ” . Abraham probably had Sarah in his thoughts as well. Isaac was not only Abraham’s son but also Sarah’s son. She also suffered long to become a mother and now she will lose Issac because God said so? Abraham was determined even though this command pierced him through. When he left his servant and went with Isaac alone, Abraham said he would be back with his son. That’s faith.

As James 2:22 said: “ Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”

Faith without action is dead. Abraham had faith God will provide. He obeyed till Moriah and brought Isaac with him. But now came the ultimate demonstration of faith, it was action. There was no one who could spare Isaac when Abraham raised his knife. In Abraham’s heart, Isaac was to be a dead child in a few seconds. Heaven was silent till the last moment. God saw Abraham’s faith consumed and stopped him. Abraham would have burn to ashes his son and yet expect to get him back whole? We need to bear in mind that Abraham would have finished the work if God did not intervene.

God intervened and said:

Don’t lay a hand on the boy!” the angel said. “Do not hurt him in any way, for now I know that you truly fear God. You have not withheld from me even your son, your only son.”

God provided a ram. The ram did not appear before Abraham tied Isaac and raised his knife. This is an example of how far God can push a man. That’s genuine faith, love and obedience to God. You might think it’s absurd to put Abraham in such a chaotic situation. God kept the suspense high to remove all doubts that Abraham was truly determined to obey. Faith was purified from roots of doubts.

We have seen that by faith Abraham left his country and brought his family in the unknown. This was like faith test level 1. We have seen that Abraham believed in God’s promise of a son even though his body was almost dead. This was faith test level 2. Then came level 3 which was the ultimate test of mature faith. It was absolute surrender to God’s will. In silence Abraham obeyed because if he spoke many would have stopped him to obey. He passed with distinction level 3 and is now renowned for his faith, love and obedience.

God actively works in our heart so that we can move to the next level. He wants us to trust Him more. Shall we plead like the disciples: “Show us to increase our faith“? Luke 17:5

You and Sarah are old, why do you still believe God will give you a son? Are you not irresponsible to take your family and go in an unknown land? Are not you mad to offer your only son Isaac?”

When you hear those voices, rejoice because these are confirmations that God is working your faith. But of course, seek wisdom, discernment and live by the Spirit so that you do not mistake God’s voice. God always confirms clearly by His Spirit the next step of faith to take. When God requires us to live by faith, we will probably have to face uncertainty, absurdity and mockeries.

Posted May 18, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:13-16)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews

Epistle to the Hebrews

All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it. They agreed that they were foreigners and nomads here on earth. Obviously people who say such things are looking forward to a country they can call their own.If they had longed for the country they came from, they could have gone back.But they were looking for a better place, a heavenly homeland. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” Hebrews 11:13-16

It is interesting to note here that these people (Abraham, Sarah, Isaac and Jacob) who believed in God’s promise for a large descendant did not see it accomplish. They died without seeing the vast multitude but believed in it without the shadow of a doubt.

We read in Romans 4:

Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith.” Romans 4:13

These people called themselves foreigners even though there was a land promised to them. Canaan was the visible promised homeland but heaven is the divine homeland.  The christian soul also groans to go home and be set free from this sinful world. Heaven is my home and my soul longs to be there the soonest. This heavenly place has solid eternal foundations.

God’s tangible promise of a large posterity eventually accomplished itself. But the real promise regarding Abraham’s posterity was Christ. There’s a symbolical spiritual representation of God’s promise to Abraham regarding the promised land and a large posterity. The spiritual children of Abraham are those who put their faith in God. A Jew is by blood descendant of Abraham but he is not necessarily the spiritual child of Abraham.

We read in Romans 2:28 that the real Jew is one whose heart is right with God and not because he is of the posterity of Abraham. This righteousness does not come by obeying the law but by having faith like Abraham. So even a non-Jew can be Abraham’s children if he has faith in God.

For you are not a true Jew just because you were born of Jewish parents or because you have gone through the ceremony of circumcision.No, a true Jew is one whose heart is right with God. And true circumcision is not merely obeying the letter of the law; rather, it is a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit.”

God’s promise to Abraham was made before any law was given. Abraham was uncircumcised, had not the Mosaic law when he was called righteous by God. This righteousness  was imputed to him because of his faith (Romans 4:3-15). This proves again that faith is a vital element in our relationship with God. Without faith it is impossible to please Him.

In the same way, “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.”The real children of Abraham, then, are those who put their faith in God. What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, “All nations will be blessed through you.”So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.” Galatians 3:7

Paul, a master in Jewish law, argues it as such:

God gave the promises to Abraham and his child.And notice that the Scripture doesn’t say “to his children,” as if it meant many descendants. Rather, it says “to his child”—and that, of course, means Christ.” Galatians 3:15,16

In the original Hebrew text the distinction of “child” is remarkable (Genesis 12:7).

God’s children are those who have faith in the promised Messiah, Christ.

For you are all childrenof God through faith in Christ Jesus“. (Gal 3:26)  God’s promise made to Abraham belongs to those who have faith like him.

And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.” (Gal 3:29)

It is interesting enough to note that faith in God has always been the element which made people righteous. It is not something new in the New testament. It was not the law or any good deeds which made people righteous but entire trust and reliance on God. God desires that we voluntarily submit ourselves under His mighty hand. He wants to be all in all. All of our accomplishments should be because of His sole intervention and not because of our strength, fertility, intelligence and wealth. Sarah got it right and she could not boast that she is the mother of such a large posterity because of her fertility. These people who lived by faith and voluntarily put aside their strengths are those who God takes pleasure in. God is a jealous God and wants to have all the glory.

We read in Isaiah:

For there is no other God but me,a righteous God and Savior.There is none but me.Let all the world look to me for salvation!For I am God; there is no other.” Isaiah 45:22

That is why I told you what would happen;I told you beforehand what I was going to do.Then you could never say, ‘My idols did it.My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’You have heard my predictions and seen them fulfilled,but you refuse to admit it.Now I will tell you new things,secrets you have not yet heard.They are brand new, not things from the past.So you cannot say, ‘We knew that all the time!’” Isaiah 48:5-8

In Psalm 33:16-19 we read:

No king is saved by the size of his army;no warrior escapes by his great strength.A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save.But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him,on those whose hope is in his unfailing love,to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine.”

Faith in God allows us to get rid of all our strength and entirely rely on God. God is a God of miracle. He does things that are not logical to human beings and might ask you to do things that are absurd. If it was logical then you will not require faith but rely on your own abilities.  This is why this God almighty planned beforehand to confuse the intelligence of the wise when He sent His Son to die on a cross.

God is reputed for doing things His own way. No one can predict what God will do.

No, the wisdom we speak of is the mystery of God—his plan that was previously hidden, even though he made it for our ultimate glory before the world began.But the rulers of this world have not understood it; if they had, they would not have crucified our glorious Lord. That is what the Scriptures mean when they say,“No eye has seen, no ear has heard,and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor 2:9

Faith in God requires the laying aside of our intelligence, wisdom, strength and wealth. You need to surrender. God is not ashamed to be called the God of those who rely on Him. This also means God takes no pleasure in those who do not have faith in Him. God is the God of those who have faith in Him.

God’s plan opposed the logic and wisdom of those who consider them intellectuals, philosophers and spiritual leaders. God’s plans have many reasons to be considered absurd by human beings. How can the promised Messiah be born in a manger? How can the Son of God die on a cross? Nothing good comes from Galilee the Jews said (John 7:52). How can the son of a carpenter be the Messiah? The Jews were expecting a military leader who will free them from the tyranny of the Romans but what they got was someone who taught about giving your other cheek if slapped. The Gospel has nothing in itself which is wise to human beings. There’re many human reasons to be ashamed of. We are not talking about someone like Alexander the Great, Pharaoh or Caesar. Isaiah portrayed Jesus as a tender shoot, someone who was despised and had no physical beauty (Isa. 53)

The Jews are offended at the mention of Jesus being the Messiah. An intellectual like Paul knew his preaching sounded foolishness but it was just the truth. How then can someone believe in such a message? It is only by faith. You need to lay aside your wisdom in order to have faith in God’s salvific plan. It humbles you.

The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction! But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. As the Scriptures say, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise and discard the intelligence of the intelligent.”So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe.It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.” 1 Cor 18:29

Posted May 11, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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Prayer   Leave a comment

Prayer

Prayer

Father in Heaven, I acknowledge your holiness and righteousness. You reign and all creatures in heaven bow their knees no matter how glorious and powerful they are. There is no shadow of iniquity in you. You condemned the human race the very moment they sinned. Men have become so depraved and wicked that they even insult your holy name that even the glorious angels so mightily fear to mention. Men rebelled against all authorities you established and became your foe. Your holy wrath was ready to be poured out on all men. In your anger you wanted to get rid of the human race which you said were the best of what you created. Your Righteousness and Holiness were standing as judges against this wicked creation. The fallen angels were condemned without mercy and separated eternally from you.  But we had a different destiny. You so loved the world. You so loved the world that you poured out your wrath on your Son to satisfy justice. How terrible it was for Jesus to be subjected to the wrath of you Almighty God! Your Righteousness and Holiness cried out for justice and justice was made when you crushed your own Son with this mighty wrath reserved for your foes.

And you beloved Son of God you presented yourself as the ransom, as the Redeemer and High priest to remove wholly in God’s eyes the wickedness in my heart! Oh wonderful Advocate who pleads and defend me when the devil night and day accuse me of my failures! Those truly your disciples with tears in their eyes acknowledge your perfect work in making their soul tainted with sin a new creature. You voluntarily presented yourself as the Mediator to represent man in God’s court. In front of the great white throne you said to God “Send me, I will do whatever is required to satisfy your justice”. And you did it when you said “It is done” on that cross. Only you my beloved Savior could and knew how to satisfy God’s Justice. It required deity to meet God’s standard of righteousness and you alone could intervene. You are the expression of God’s love to humanity. Oh Emmanuel you who dwell in my heart, precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the whole world why does the world reject you? Long promised Messiah, you who are extol to the highest by the angels in heaven why do the wicked men still insult you? Word of God made flesh, you came to save, teach the world with mighty authority and wisdom. You’re God’s Holiness, Wisdom, Justice, Righteousness and Love manifested. How will I survive without you my Vine? You are the everlasting God, the I AM and the One who is to come. All authorities in heaven belong to you. You are the author of the salvation of every soul from start to finish. My dear Lord, I wait for you to take me home. How my soul longs to see you establish your kingdom on earth and take me in this place you prepared for me! Free me from this sinful world tormenting my soul. My soul groans for this divine rest. Take me home. Let all creatures declare with all their countenance your Sovereignty and Glorious Love. Even the knees of your enemies shall bow when you will return as Judge. You will pour out your mighty wrath on those who deserted you, who led souls away from you, tortured your disciples and insulted your Holy name. Come Lord Jesus, come establish your Kingdom and Judge with your Righteousness this corrupted world.

Spirit of God, my Divine Teacher, oh how my heart bleeds because so many souls reject your teachings. You Divine counselor you live in the heart of the disciples of Jesus. Fill me with your presence so that I can powerfully witness to the world the work of the Son. You have been forming my character and brought me to the life of faith in the Son. Thank  you for leading me and blessing me in details I thought you would not even bother. Forgive me for my resistance and rebellion. You have made me a holy habitation and called it your temple. Cleanse me from wicked thoughts and this evil heart which deceives me. Transform me in the image of the Son, the beautiful and glorious Son. May I truly be submitted to your authority and bear fruits that honors my Father and Savior. Be the Master of my whole being. My mind and soul acknowledge your daily work to prune and mold me. I stand in awe and bow to my knees with the wonderful treasures of wisdom you unveiled to me. I do not deserve that you Lord is so patient to teach me. All spiritual blessings comes from You. Take control of my existence and make me a vessel through which you will bring souls closer to the Son. Here I am to go where you lead. Dear Lord, help me to trust and have faith in you. Grant me wisdom, love and patience. Oh humble this prideful soul when it speaks. You hate pride and arrogance. Leave not the dead man corrupt my wedding garment. Reign in me divine Master and teach me more about the Son, the Father and your characters.

Thank you loving Father for giving me your righteous Son and sending your Holy Spirit to teach me your ways.

Posted May 5, 2013 by Cedric in My writings (English)

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Epistle to the Hebrews (11:11-12)   Leave a comment

Epistle to the Hebrews
                                                                                                      Epistle to the Hebrews

It was by faith that even Sarah was able to have a child, though she was barren and was too old. She believed that God would keep his promise. And so a whole nation came from this one man who was as good as dead—a nation with so many people that, like the stars in the sky and the sand on the seashore, there is no way to count them.” Hebrews 11:11-12

If we have a look at this moment when the 3 visitors came at Abraham’s place, we have the impression that Sarah did not have faith in what the Lord said to her husband.  In fact, God made the promise of many descendants to Abram and not to Sarai in Genesis 16 and 17.

Sarai said to Abraham “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.

There was about 13 years between Sarah’s proposal for Hagar and the Lord’s visit to them in Genesis 18. Abraham was already Ishmael father at this time:

Then one of them said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and your wife, Sarah, will have a son!”Sarah was listening to this conversation from the tent. Abraham and Sarah were both very old by this time, and Sarah was long past the age of having children.So she laughed silently to herself and said, “How could a worn-out woman like me enjoy such pleasure, especially when my master—my husband—is also so old?”Then the Lord said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, ‘Can an old woman like me have a baby?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.”Sarah was afraid, so she denied it, saying, “I didn’t laugh.”But the Lord said, “No, you did laugh.” Gen 18:10-15

Sarah laughed, so how could Sarah be included in the “Faith hall of fame”?

Sarah was an obedient wife and one whom God loved. Pharaoh and king Abimelech were cursed by God because they took Abraham’s wife (Gen 12, Gen 20). Their people were stricken with plagues and bareness.  Both Pharaoh and king Abimelech said “What have you done to us” when Abraham deceived them by saying Sarah was his sister(Sarah was Abraham’s half sister Gen 20:12). In Genesis 18, it was the third time God said descendants would come from Sarah. It seems that the Lord had Sarah on His agenda during His visit. “Where is Sarah, your wife?”, the visitors said.God knew Sarah was old and suffered. It was like a special word of God for a godly barren woman. God knew Sarah’s heart and faithfulness and knew how far Sarah could go in her faith. How many couple today give up after 3 or 4 years of waiting? Sarah was 76 and during all these years of marriage she did not propose a servant to Abraham. This couple was a desperate case the author tells us. They were as good as dead in their old worn out bodies.

Paul tells us in Romans:

Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb. Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God. He was fully convinced that God is able to do whatever he promises. And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous.” Romans 4:18-22

It is amidst hopeless cases that faith works better.  Do you see how faith brought conviction in Abraham? Faith in God becomes clearer and stronger when we have absolutely no other place to look at. Is it a fertile young woman who needs to have faith in God to bear a child or an old barren woman like Sarah?

God had a special plan for Sarah and not a man should have intercourse with her except Abraham. Sarah accepted to be called Abraham’s sister instead of wife because of Abraham’s selfish desires. Sarah was very beautiful and this put Abraham’s life in danger for many great leaders wanted to have her. Abraham did not want to get in trouble so he cunningly hatched a plan for not getting in trouble. There was famine so by “exchanging” Sarah, Abraham was well treated (Gen 12). But God protected Sarah and even cursed the men who were about to touch her because of Abraham’s deception. Sarah was a blessing to Abraham because through her Pharaoh gave Abraham a lot of riches(Gen 12:16, 13:2) and so did Abimelech(Gen 20:16). We see a similar story regarding Isaac and Rachel in Genesis 26. Sarah was an obedient woman who loved her husband to the extent of suggesting him to take Hagar to secure descendants. It was hard to wait. She followed her husband to the unknown land because she also believed in God’s promise.

Abraham was 100 years old when Isaac was born(Genesis 21). So Ismael was 14 years old as per Genesis 16:16 and Sarah 90 years old (Genesis 17:17) when Isaac was born. About 1 year elapsed between God’s promise to Sarah and it’s accomplishment. I guess Sarah already knew she was pregnant after a few months.

Sarah said: “The Lord has prevented me from having children. Go and sleep with my servant. Perhaps I can have children through her.” Gen 16:2

We see here that Sarah knew that it was God who was behind this delayed bareness. Sarah’s relatives (Milcah) was very fertile and I guess Sarah knew it was God behind this bareness. Rachel (Jacob’s wife), Hannah (Samuel’s mother), Samson’s mother, Rebekah (Isaac’s wife) and Elizabeth (John’s mother) are godly women of the bible who were barren. The wombs of these women were closed and their child bearing were miracles. The children of all these women were exceptional figures of the bible. God wanted these women to understand that it was not their achievement if they could bear a child but it was God’s intervention. These women were probably the most happy mothers on this earth because their children were exceptional servants of God.

Though Sarah laughed and knew she was barren she realised that her bareness was no coincidence. She knew God was behind it and eventually believed in what was promised. Sarah and Abraham went through wars and were victorious (Gen 14). Sarah was probably 76 when Ishmael was born and during these previous years she has not proposed Abraham to take a servant. In her goodwill she did a mistake and proposed Hagar because she knew her husband was a notable man and she could not give him a son. During the next 14 years which elapsed, it probably became harder.  It is the reason God said to Sarah “Is anything too hard for the Lord? “. Sarah got it right and closed her mouth. God is reputed for asking His servants to do surprising things. God has His own plans and He takes glory in doing it in His own way. “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter” Proverbs 25:2

We can point the finger to Sarah for giving Hagar to Abraham. But I don’t think there’s a woman on earth who could have kept God’s promises all these years. Today we can adopt children but at this time it was a practice to have a posterity through the wife’s servant.

How many women can say “The Lord has made me barren” without actually cursing God? Even if Sarah laughed, from what I read, I have not seen her curse God for what He did. She knew it was God’s plan and persevered for long. Yeah she failed on the way and saw the consequences of having an Ishmael  in the family.

I would like to emphasise here that Sarah was an exceptional wife and a faithful servant of God. As mentioned earlier, Sarah was 76 and during all these years of marriage she did not propose a servant to Abraham. When she was 89 she still believed she could become pregnant by sleeping with her husband. Sarah probably did not have sexual desires at this age but I guess it’s God’s promise which gave her this willingness.

We can also mention here that Abraham was a faithful husband. He did not reject Sarah because she was barren or because he had now Ishmael. He loved Sarah and allowed her to take the whole decision regarding Hagar and his son.When we talk about a promise we talk about something unseen. Sarah had faith in this unseen promises. She had faith that God could do something in this worn out body of hers.

This couple definitely had faith that God will give them their own son. Later on, this is why Abraham did not hesitate to give Isaac back to God. Abraham experienced God’s faithfulness, his faith became very mature during all these years and obeying God by giving his son was no hesitation. God will provide he said. I wonder Sarah’s reaction when Abraham told her about Isaac’s sacrifice.

Sarah died when she was 127 years old so she could see grown up Isaac for 37 years. This woman Sarah must have become such a faithful woman after Isaac’s birth. Abraham wept and wanted to give her the most descent burial he could (Gen 23). Sarah is the woman of the bible I appreciate much because of her faithfulness.

Posted May 3, 2013 by Cedric in Theology

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