Beware the Foreign Figurehead

November 21, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Posted in Matthew, The Fives | 11 Comments
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The first two beatitudes from the Sermon on the Mount deal with people who are blessed because of the situation in which they find themselves: the poor in spirit and those who mourn. But the third beatitude pronounces a benediction upon people who are exercising a certain virtue:

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Matthew 5:5

A person who has the capacity to be meek is someone who already appears blessed. It is a person who has strength, but then, in humility, and out of a desire to love and serve others, brings that strength under control.

Jesus says that the blessing for being meek is inheriting the earth. How much of a blessing is this, though, really? The earth – the arena of Adam’s fallen and sin-sick race – has become quite a shabby place. And perhaps that is the point at which Jesus connects the idea of meekness with receiving it as an inheritance.

See, Adam, the first man, was supposed to exercise dominion over the earth. This was a great honor. As the image-bearer of his Supreme Creator he was supposed to use his position to make His Creator seem great – in other words, to “glorify” Him. However, Adam – acting as our accurate representative even before we showed up – blew it big time. He did not glorify his Creator. He acted like the Creator was a promise-breaker: unwilling, unable, or at least unlikely to keep His Word concerning disobedience. And therefore Adam lost his dominion and our “inheritance,” if you will.

So, here we are, a little over 6000 years later, give or take, and the Creator has managed to redeem us at the greatest possible cost, and restore our inheritance. But how do we claim it? By acting like it should have been ours all along? By no means. We are to remember that this earth is a temporary inheritance compared to the eternal home we shall inherit in Christ Jesus. We are to think of Heaven as our home, and to think of ourselves as foreigners in this world. A faithful ambassador of his king, when visiting a foreign land, does not set himself up as a “figurehead.” Instead, he makes it clear that he is on a mission for his Lord. He brings under control the authority he has been granted, and exercises it temperately, reminding everyone that “the earth” is going to be reclaimed by its rightful Owner one day soon, and that He will deal accordingly with those who pretended that they owned it, and that He will demand an accounting from those He sent to be His emissaries.

Catechism Question 5

April 30, 2014 at 11:58 am | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 13 Comments
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Question 4: How was everything when God created it?
Answer: It was very good.
Prove it.
Genesis 1:31

Question 5: What went wrong with everything God created?
Answer: Sin brought the curse of death into the world.
Prove it.

Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:

Romans 5:12

It is important to teach the relationship of sin to death. This is also a good opportunity to explore the question, “Why are we paying the price for what Adam did?” In response to this question we can discuss the idea of “federal headship,” and explain that, while it was Adam’s sin that is the origin of our sinful condition, he was an accurate representative for our race, in that all of us have sinned (and do sin often and regularly) of our own volition.

This is also a good opportunity to explain what God was working out in allowing one man’s sin to bring death, and one “Man’s” (the Lord Jesus Christ, the “God-man”) obedience and sacrifice to bring life and salvation for all who would believe.

Another obvious question is, “Why did just one sin affect the whole universe and the whole human race?” Here is where we can highlight the seriousness of sin and the holiness of God.

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

God sent the curse, but He is not the author of sin. He gave Adam and Eve fair warning, and He keeps His word.

For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one [point], he is guilty of all.

James 2:10

God is not determining “guilt” on a sliding scale. One sin is one sin too many, and God is righteous and just in condemning every single sin and every single sinner – which is why everyone needs a perfect Savior!

Jesus and Joseph and Their Brethren

January 17, 2011 at 11:42 am | Posted in Genesis | 4 Comments
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When Joseph revealed himself to his brothers, first there was weeping, then there was some shame, and some fear, but look at the response of Joseph:

Come near to me, I pray you…

Genesis 45:4

Not only should we want to spend time with Jesus, but we should be thrilled to find out that He wants to spend time with us.

The Book of Genesis ends with the story of Joseph, but it begins with the story of Adam. Throughout the Bible, we find that God, for some reason, wants to spend time with men.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden. And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:8-9

“Where are you Adam? I want to talk to you!”

“But I’m a bad person, God!”

“Adam, I want to walk with you in the cool of the day!”

“I’m afraid of you, God!”

“Adam, I want to spend time with you.”

“I’m not the only one who messed up, God, go find Eve and bother her!”

“Adam, I want to communicate with you.”

“I don’t want to admit I did wrong, God!”

God didn’t call out “where are you Adam?” because Adam was the all time champion of hide and seek and could actually conceal himself from God. God called out because He wanted love freely given, obedience, worship. What if Adam had come running, begging for forgiveness?

Joseph told his brothers “come near to me, I pray you,” and he made himself known to them. “I am Joseph whom you have wronged.” (Genesis 45:4) Jesus wants us to remember, every single day, that He’s the One who was sent by God to preserve our lives.

Once Jesus has made Himself known to us, He will begin to reveal the blessings He has in store for us.

And thou shalt dwell in the land of Goshen, and thou shalt be near unto me, thou, and thy children, and thy children’s children, and thy flocks, and thy herds, and all that thou hast:

Genesis 45:10.

The Lord wants us to relocate permanently to the land of blessings – not just pay Him a visit once in a while.

And ye shall tell my father of all my glory in Egypt, and of all that ye have seen; and ye shall haste and bring down my father hither.

Genesis 45:13

When Jesus has revealed Himself to you, go tell others – your family and friends – and bring them back with you. God does not have a limit on His attention. When He reveals Himself to you, He wants you to bring others into communication with Him also. The revelation of Jesus to His brothers will cause His brothers to want to relocate, to want to bring others with them, and to communicate better with Him.

Moreover he kissed all his brethren, and wept upon them: and after that his brethren talked with him.

Genesis 45:15, emphasis added

They had a lot of catching up to do. You can talk to God anywhere, but how can you get God to speak to you? Read the Bible. It is a more sure word of prophecy.

We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

II Peter 1:19-21

There are really only two good times to read your Bible – day time and night time. Not only can the Holy Spirit teach you out of the Scriptures, but God can speak to you directly while you’re reading and studying and meditating on His Word.

Look at the effect of Joseph making himself known to his father through his brethren:

And they went up out of Egypt, and came into the land of Canaan unto Jacob their father, And told him, saying, Joseph is yet alive, and he is governor over all the land of Egypt. And Jacob’s heart fainted, for he believed them not. And they told him all the words of Joseph, which he had said unto them: and when he saw the wagons which Joseph had sent to carry him, the spirit of Jacob their father revived: And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:25-28

Jacob revived. He came back to life with new motivation. Just as Jacob was motivated by finding out Joseph was alive, we should be motivated because we serve a living God, a living Savior.

I serve a risen Savior,
He’s in the world today;
I know that he is living,
whatever men may say;

“He Lives,” Alfred H. Ackley

Jacob was motivated because Joseph was “governor over all the land of Egypt.” We should be motivated because our Brother is the Maker of Heaven and Earth and everything in them.

Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 5:9-10

Believers will be judged for the good works we’ve done for God. This judgment will not determine our eternal destination. They only way to Heaven is by grace through faith, not of works. (Ephesians 2:8-9) Jesus will reward His brothers.

Jacob was motivated because he knew he was going to die.

And Israel said, It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die.

Genesis 45:28

Jacob said it is “enough” that my son is alive, but he didn’t really mean it. He wanted to see him, too. And he was conscious that he had a limited time to do it. I believe Jacob lived to be 147, and he was about 130 when he found out Joseph was really alive. He had had 17 years to enjoy Joseph and his grandchildren. You and I probably won’t make it to 147, and, unless the Lord comes back, we are all going to die. The death rate has been remarkably consistent over the centuries. It’s always been about “one per person.”

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

As Christians, our Brother will not be the Brother of those who have rejected Him. This should motivate us. If you have been born once, then you have to die at least once. But you can be born a second time, and you don’t have to die twice. Time is short. God’s Spirit will not strive with you forever. Maybe the the Holy Spirit is speaking to you now. Will you believe that He’s on your side and that Jesus wants to save you?


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