Posts Tagged ‘Old Testament’

I am fairly certain everyone that has done more than a cursory reading of the bible knows that there are prophecies all through this holy tome. Some events and prophecies in the bible are straight forward and generally self-explanatory…then there are some events or prophecies or things mentioned in the scriptures that appear to have no purpose and are seemingly insignificant in their importance except for historical reference or record-keeping. However, I personally believe everything mentioned in the scriptures is put in there by the Holy Spirit for a purpose, and Peter confirmed that in his second letter…2 Peter 1:20-21: knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.(NKJV). I am going to highlight two apparently separate events that occurred centuries apart and demonstrate how one utterly innocuous request and the subsequent ruling, coupled with another almost completely unknown and insignificant event, helped set the stage for the coming Messiah.

The first event we read of has a strange request by five daughters of a cursed Israelite named Zelophehad wandering in the Median wilderness. This odd request is a passage that is easy to pass over without a second glance, but upon inspection, we find that it subtly opened the door to Jesus Christ legally being able to claim ties to David’s Throne, Subsequently we find that the ruling by Moses accepting their request to allow them to inherit their father’s land, opens the door to another almost totally insignificant event that allowed a loop-hole around a curse by God upon King Jehoiachin that has caused some commentators to want to pull their hair out because of the apparent implications of this curse on the royal line of David in regards to the coming Messiah.

The daughters of Zelophehad and Jehoiachin’s curse

I imagine that the events of Zelophehad’s appeal to Moses and Jehoiachin’s curse by the Lord are just a couple of the thousands of strands of prophecy that is woven throughout the bible to form proof of the power and the majesty and of the unmistakable and irrefutable fact the The Lord is the only true God and the Creator of all things.

How do these seemingly unrelated events that happened many centuries apart relate?

Let’s begin with a summary of the wilderness wanderings. At the end of about two weeks travel from the Red Sea, the Israelites were camped in the Median wilderness at the border of Canaan. The Lord had Moses send twelve spies to sneak in to inspect and report on the land. Most of us know that only two of the twelve spies came back without fear of the inhabitants and demonstrated their trust in our Lord by giving a good report and suggested they attack immediately while the other ten spies spread fear and indecision with scary stories of the giant inhabitants of Canaan. We know the rest of the story about how the people swiftly ignored all the miraculous stuff the Lord had just demonstrated a few weeks back and started murmuring against Moses. This, coupled with the evil influence by Korah that roused up the people against God’s plan of invasion, caused the Lord to curse the whole congregation causing a couple of months trek to turn into a 38 year wandering in the desert with the intention of making sure all the grumbling adults would die, save for Joshua and Caleb (the two faithful spies) and the children of the tribe, according to the record in Numbers chapter 14. Beginning in Numbers 26 we read about a man by the name of  Zelophehad that had five daughters. Other than the fact he was part of the cursed adult congregation that died many years before they were to win the land of Canaan for the Lord and enter into it to claim it as their own, why would the scriptures highlight this seemingly innocuous man?

Each one of the male members of the different tribes of Israel could inherit land but their daughters could not inherit according to the law. Therefore, the daughters of Zelophehad found themselves in a bad situation; their father has five daughters and no son, therefore their family name would pass without inheritance or land grant and die with him. They decided to petition Moses, Eleazar and the council to appeal the law so his name would continue in the tribe and his heirs could claim their tribal inheritance. Moses took it to The Lord and The Lord told Moses to grant the tribal exception (Numbers 27: 1-8). Years later, after the Israelites conquered Canaan and the tribes were set to divide the land, the daughters of Zelophehad went before Joshua and reminded him of the exception granted by The Lord through Moses and they received their inheritance which stated as long as they marry within the their tribe, their husband would be adopted into their family as a legal son, and their tribal line and inheritance would be preserved (Joshua 17:3). This seemingly insignificant event however, will have major ramifications several hundreds of years in the future as it helps to fulfill a very significant prophecy first mentioned in Genesis 3: 15 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.”(NKJV).

The second somewhat related event I want to bring to mind is the curse of Jehoiachin (also called Jeconiah and Coniah) by the Lord. came after a string of evil kings of Judah as listed in II Kings chapters 22, 23 & 24. The Lord had all he could take of these evildoers and pronounced a curse on Jehoiachin and his descendants in Jeremiah 22: 24-30 “As I live,” says the LORD, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; “and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear—the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. “So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. “But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. “Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol— A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: ‘Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.”(NKJV). This in itself is bad enough, but when you consider the implications of the Lord’s Covenant with David that the Throne of David would be established forever as was written in II Samuel 7:16 “And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever”. (NKJV), it seems to throw a wrench into the works. While researching this, I found several discussions pointing to the curse of Jehoiachin as proof the Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah because of the curse, for after the Babylonian captivity, no descendant of David sat upon a Throne of Israel. I also saw many sites with discussions trying to prove that the curse was later lifted and all was forgiven. All of these discussions and all of these websites totally miss the point of the virgin birth that was prophesied in Genesis 3 and the ancestry of Mary (even though it says Joseph)1 laid out in Luke 3 beginning in verse 23.

What ties these two otherwise unrelated events together is the lineage of Mary provided by the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Gospel of Luke. Luke 3:23 states: And Jesus himself began to be about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, which was [the son] of Heli,(KJV). Matthew’s account of the lineage of Jesus say this in chapter 1:16: And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. (KJV). Matthew covers the descendants through the legal line, (Joseph’s father Jacob) even though that line was cursed by God after Jehoiachin that no direct descendant would sit upon the Throne, Luke covers the descendancy through the untarnished, royal line from the Messiah’s mother, (Joseph’s adopted father through his marriage to Mary, Heli) back through David, which means God’s promise to David is secure through his mother’s ancestry and legal through his earthly father’s line.

This all sets the stage for the prophecy of Christ to rule on David’s Throne in the end-times. Something I have read all my life and never understood were the direct, simple statements that began and ended Christ’s earthly existence. Matthew 2:1-2 says: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem (I have an interesting theory about these magi, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.(KJV) While Matthew 27:37 states: And set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.(KJV). I have read these verses all my life and never understood the simple plain logic that Jesus has yet to fulfill this destiny…to Rule as KING OF THE JEWS.

God Bless…

Jim Bussell

2-15-11 (02-15-20)

1 Mary’s father was Heli, but for the most part, Jewish ancestries only lists male descendants. Joseph was the adopted son of Heli according to Jewish law established with the agreement with the daughters of Zelophehad.

I grew up in a church that taught that the Jews lost their position as the “Children of God” when they arranged and clamored for the death and crucifixion of our Lord. At the time that idea seemed plausible and correct. However, after leaving the faith as a teen and rediscovering the Lord many decades later I began to read the scriptures with a new, fresh perspective. It was after rediscovering the word of God I began to realize that Christ’s crucifixion was in the the works and was part of the plan of salvation from the beginning instead of some knee jerk reaction by the Jewish religious leadership in Jerusalem.

There are several old testament references or illusions to the crucifixion. The first one that comes to mind is Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac as an offering on Mount Moriah and there is speculation that the spot the Lord led Abraham to was the same spot that Christ was crucified 800 years later. Also remember reading about the Lord sending fiery serpents amongst the grumbling mass of Jews in the Median wilderness and then giving them a cure, in the form of a brass serpent on a staff raised on high for all to see, and those who looked upon it would be saved? In the book of Psalms,  Psalm 22 implies the Christ was given over to the Gentiles and to whole psalm seems to have been written from the perspective of Christ on the cross.

There are many more references and illusions to the crucifixion from the old testament written centuries before Jesus became man to live among us and they allow us to understand that the capture, trial and crucifixion of our Lord was planned from the beginning and that the Jewish leadership were nothing more than instruments the Lord used to fulfill the prophecy and the plan of salvation.

Now, it is a little more complicated than that, but you get the gist (the above synopsis is sort of the cliff notes version of events).

The Lord from the beginning knew the Jews couldn’t keep the commandments and the law He provided and He also knew that even though they had, from the book of Daniel, the prophecy that foretold the exact day the Christ would present himself as the Messiah to the city of Jerusalem that they were not diligent enough to remember the little details…sort of the “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome. The new testament explains to us that the Lord blinded Israel for not paying attention to the prophecy of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem as their king. It also explains that they are blinded for certain period of time, and not forever.

What does all this have to do with the holocaust?

Many writings from early church fathers and historians reveal that the early church understood those passages meant the Jews were being punished for certain length of time only and held that view, but beginning in the second century we start to see an antisemitic viewpoint emerge amongst the church leadership. The writings of Justin Martyr show that he was basically so intent on converting the Jews to Christianity that he developed and pushed the propaganda that the Jewish race is sunk because of their actions against Christ when he was crucified. He also tended to twist Paul’s writing to prove that he was also antisemitic, thus solidifying his position. Later church fathers such as Augustine picking up and ran with this antisemitic viewpoint. From this point forward we see a basic Church doctrine of antisemitism.

Even though the Catholic Church (which represented the entirety of the Christian religion at the time) had a basic antisemitic attitude toward the Jews, until the eleventh century the records show that there were understandings and working relationships between the Jewish and Catholic leadership. Remember the crusades? The crusades, which began in the eleventh century, were the turning point that increased antisemitic attitudes and behaviors amongst the Catholic church and it’s leaders, as the crusaders attacked Jews and burned their synagogues around Jerusalem and the middle east, as well as the Muslims and their mosques seemingly without distinction between them which destroyed any relationship the Jews and Christians had prior to these holy war campaigns.

A new Christian movement erupted on the scene in the sixteenth century that was labeled as the Protestant Reformation. This protest against the direction the Church was heading was spearheaded by a Jesuit named Martin Luther who believed the Catholic Church had become too hierarchical and that there was too much of a disparity between the clergy and masses, as well as straying too far from the teachings of the bible. The Protestant movement had a superb opportunity to reverse the centuries old antisemitic direction that was started by Justin and Augustine centuries before, but they did not. Instead the antisemitic, replacement theology concept was carried over from the Catholic Church and unfortunately is one the prevailing teachings among the protestant denominations today.

By the time the twentieth century rolled around the Jews were looked upon and despised as a hateful, reproachful race of people that did not deserve the same consideration as the Caucasians in Europe. The term antisemitism was popularized in the late eighteen hundreds by a German journalist, as rampant hatred toward the Jews as the killers of Christ was evidenced all across the European continent as well as in Russia and the Balkans and this viewpoint helped set the stage for the coming holocaust.

Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany in the early nineteen thirties amid a deep economic depression in Germany. He was raised in the Catholic church and was exposed (as most Christians were) to the idea that the Jews were a bunch of Christ killing thugs. This attitude coupled with fact that the Jewish community and culture afforded the believing Jews a good grasp on economics as well as frugality. Therefore the Jews were known for their ability to save and make money, and often they were seen in the banking industry across Europe. Throw all of this together and it became a recipe for disaster. Hitler noticed that overall the Jews weren’t suffering as badly as others in Germany (because of their dedication to the teachings of the Lord in the Torah) and decided to convince the eager populous that the cause of the poverty and the monetary woes of the German people following the loss of the first world war and the strangling debt load placed upon Germany by the victors was the fault of the Jews. Of course, Hitler was merely using the Jews as scapegoats to direct the anger of the starving German somewhere, and what better direction to point it than a hated, vilified people. To tell the people the real reason for the crumbled economy was that fact that Germany had leaped into a costly world war and was held largely responsible for the costs of that war would not have sat too well with this proud people. His ploy worked and the Jews became even more vilified and were targets of all kinds of retribution, including the decision to rid Europe of the Jewish race once and for all…thus the holocaust began, and before it was over over 6 million Jews were slaughtered across Europe because of their race.

Were the Jews responsible for Christ’s crucifixion? Only as instruments used to carry out the physical act. The bible tells us that Christ died on the cross for a distinct purpose. Simply put, if He hadn’t died, He couldn’t have been resurrected. The death, burial and the resurrection was the reason He died, for the scriptures teaches that without the shedding of innocent blood there can be no forgiveness of sin. So, any person that has ever, or will ever sin is the reason Christ was crucified, not the Jewish leadership in Jerusalem two thousand years ago.

However, human nature inserted itself into the Church and the desire to place blame with incomplete facts from the scriptures is what ultimately caused the attempted mass genocide of the Jewish race called the holocaust…and their whole premise about the Jews was wrong from the beginning, for the scripture does tell us that after the “Church age” is over and we have been caught up (or raptured), the Lord will deal with the Jews once again as the “Children of God”. The book of Amos is about that…the book of Joel tells the same thing and we find Peter and Paul explaining to us the same idea about the blindness of Israel.

Jim Bussell

02-14-2020

I was raised in a denomination that believes in replacement theology and also believe because the Israeli religious authority were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ that Israel blew their chance at the brass ring and that the church is the “new Israel”. They also believe the old testament was a great collection of stories that really have no bearing on our salvation and because of these factors, Israel didn’t hold a lot of significance to me for other than being the genetic ancestors of Christ. Therefore some of the more ‘boring’ books of the Old Testament (which there were many back then) just got glossed over to fulfill the ‘reading the scripture’ requirement that my mother enforced on me while growing up.

In January 15, 2010, the Lord saved me from myself and I started on a marvelous journey of discovery that has taken me all through the ancient history of God’s people. I quickly discovered that the bible has more than twenty seven important books and that the other forty nine books are much, much more than a bunch of filler, as I was taught as a child. Now that I have realized that the significant part of the word of God starts in Genesis and ends in Revelation and that every fact entered into the scripture by the Holy Spirit has been placed there for our learning, if we are willing to pay attention to detail. It also reveals to us throughout its marvelous pages that it is a continuous web that is woven into a cohesive structure, designed to stand up to the forces throughout the ages that have been, and still are, trying to destroy the veracity of the word of our Lord. Once those facts sunk into my head, then those ‘boring’ books became exponentially less boring and I began pouring through these wonderfully educational and eye-opening books.

Judges was one of those ‘boring’ books to me growing up. Other than the story of Sampson and Delilah, I knew almost nothing about the book. Now that I have actually sat down and read the book with my new understanding, it seems quite interesting and lays out a four hundred year decline from an appreciative, worshipful people into a nation that continually turns its back on The Lord. One of the curiosities of Judges is the opening; everyone did what was right in their own eyes. The author (which many commentators believe is Samuel) used this phrase to open a couple of different chapters to explain the attitude of the Israelites throughout this four hundred year period of the history of the Lord’s chosen. This is not a pleasant comment, rather it’s a judgment stating that they had turned away from following the statutes laid out in Deuteronomy 12:8 when the Lord warned them of doing just this before they crossed the Jordan to possess the land. While this topic isn’t a synopsis of the book of Judges, this opening statement written during this dismal period of Israel’s history and contained within the pages of Judges, should be a warning to us all. So, what does it mean and why should we care?

Judges 17:6 In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (NKJV)

This is a scathing indictment against Israel’s attitude. The Lord chose the Jews to be his people. He brought them out of Egypt using supernatural powers that scared the wits out of the leader of the world. He guided them throughout their wanderings in the Midian wilderness and protected them with a special cloud that was unmistakable in it’s unnaturalness during the day and an obvious cloud of fire at night, preparing them to come together as a nation so they could defeat the Satanic kingdoms in Canaan, and what happens…they lose faith in the Lord at the last minute, even though they have all this extraterrestrial stuff going on around them. He punishes them for ‘doing right in their own eyes’ by causing all the unfaithful adults to die in the wilderness, while protecting them with more of the supernatural stuff for thirty eight more years and do they learn their lesson? No. Within a couple of generations, they revert back to ‘doing right in their own eyes’ again.

In first Samuel, the Lord is explaining the Israelites rejection of the Him as their king, to Samuel.

I Samuel 8:7-20 And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them. “According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this day—with which they have forsaken Me and served other gods—so they are doing to you also. “Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them.” So Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who asked him for a king. And he said, “This will be the behavior of the king who will reign over you: He will take your sons and appoint them for his own chariots and to be his horsemen, and some will run before his chariots. “He will appoint captains over his thousands and captains over his fifties, will set some to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and some to make his weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. “He will take your daughters to be perfumers, cooks, and bakers. “And he will take the best of your fields, your vineyards, and your olive groves, and give them to his servants. “He will take a tenth of your grain and your vintage, and give it to his officers and servants. “And he will take your male servants, your female servants, your finest young men, and your donkeys, and put them to his work. “He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants. “And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the LORD will not hear you in that day.” Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, “No, but we will have a king over us, “that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” (NKJV)

The book of Judges is a dismal account of the continued breakdown of faith and the patterned slide into a self-reliance spiral of failure that can be explained in a nutshell in the above scripture when the Lord tells Samuel they have totally rejected Him. This passage is sort of a companion to the book of Judges and helps enlighten us to the meaning behind the indicting phrase: “everyone did what was right in their own eyes”

The Lord ended up granting their wish for an earthly king and we find that Moses in Deuteronomy explained about the roles of a future king and the rules he was expected to follow. God knew they wouldn’t stay with it, but gave them the statutes to follow anyway. One of the statutes was a commandment for each King to write out his own copy of the Torah. It sounds like a time-consuming process, and I’m sure it was, but it was designed to burn the Mosaic Law into the brain of the King by the time he had finished this massive project. One look at the history of the kings of Israel and Judah tells us that very few bothered to give more than a cursory nod to the statutes laid out by the Lord. The priests all had intimate knowledge of the Torah, but that doesn’t mean every Jew did. Handwritten copies of the law would have been rare and expensive and also required the ability to be able to read. The practice of having the king write their own copy of the pentateuch was designed to make sure the King intimately knew the law and would deny him an excuse when he would ultimately break it. The Lord may have put it into place for the same reason as the rest of the Mosaic Law, to expose the weak and sinful nature of the Jews which were a small insignificant nation of people chosen to represent the Lord, hand-picked from a sinful, broken human race.

Just because the Lord allows us to do things, doesn’t mean that is what he would have us do. The Lord wanted the Jews to accept him as their ruler, their King to rule from the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies, but as He told Samuel, they rejected him. In fact the whole history of the Jews is a history fraught with rejection and disobedience spattered with small periods of time of faithfulness and trust and love. The book of Judges as well as the books of the prophets are written records of failure to follow the Lord, time after time. We have a compressed history of the Israelite nation to look back on and shake our heads in dismay as we read of their apparent lack of faith in their deliverer, savior, guide and father, but we need to be conscious of the time periods we are dealing with. We are looking at a history of thousands of years this record has recorded. By perspective, we have just a little over two hundred years under our belts and look how far the United States has slipped from a country founded on freedom of religion and principles based on the bible and faith in our Lord to one that wholly rejects God and anything associated with Christ, Christianity or support of Israel in it’s short history. Comparatively, Israel is the shining example of faith and redemption and loyalty, because overall, they were faithful for much longer at a time before sliding into self righteousness.

The bigger problem though, is that it is simply a reflective attitude of all of us humans. People have to make a concerted effort to rely on the Lord and not their own inflated and contorted views of their own abilities to manage their own lives and the lives of others around them. Unfortunately we as a modern people do no better than the Jews of the time of the judges and we have their failed examples to learn from and to fall back on.

God Bless, Jim
rewritten and expanded 1-31-20

I have recently been thinking about some of my favorite bible stories from my childhood and this one had an accompanying song about the same subject but I can’t seem to recall how the song went…oh well…

The book written by the prophet Ezekiel is a hugely interesting volume as he paints awesomely descriptive pictures with words as well as some extremely precise end-time prophecy, however, Ezekiel chapter 37 stands out as the format of one of my favorite bible stories as a child.

In this particular chapter Ezekiel writes of a weird story of a bunch of bones that go though a sort of progressive reversal entropy as they reassemble from dry bones into whole human shells lying there awaiting the breathe of The Lord to complete the process of bringing them to life. I have decided to approach this review of the chapter from a sectional viewpoint, separating it into two main sections.

Ezekiel 37 verse one through verse ten could be a description of any one of us. Most of us have been self-absorbed within our own humanity at some point in our lives and have turned our backs on God and His Word while dallying and dancing with Satan, whether we realize it or not. I know many feel that life is full of gray areas, but it is clearly and simply black and white, according to Christ in Matthew 12:30 “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. (NKJV) Whenever the latter is the case, we are spiritually dead and as dry as kindling in the wastelands of our own self-worth and self justification without the Lord, just as these dry bones lying in the valley. Ezekiel tells us in verse 1 the Lord sat him down in the midst of the valley. My mind goes in weird directions sometimes and when I saw this I instantly wondered, “what valley?”. From a personal standpoint, I’ll call it the Valley of the Shadow of Death and since Ezekiel was with the Lord, he obviously feared no evil. When we are away from the protection of the grace of The Lord, we are lost and evil overtakes us and sucks the life right out of us until we are no more than piles of bones amidst the dusty remains of our former selves. Only the grace of Our Lord can reassemble our spirit and breathe the breath of his grace back into us, making us whole.

Anyway, there are more verses to this chapter than 1, and the description from verses one through ten is just pure fun. Continuing with verse two, Ezekiel continues describing what he sees in this valley full of bones, as the Lord has him walk amongst those remains. Verse three finds the Lord asking Ezekiel a rhetorical question and then tells him to prophesy to this very odd crowd, explaining to him what to say. When Ezekiel begins to prophesy, the weirdly fun portion of the chapter come leaping at us as the whitened, dried bones begin to physically react to the prophecy of the Lord culminating in them coming to life after the Lord breathed life into them, creating a massive army. Suddenly, the chapter does an about face as the Lord explains the meaning of the chapter through his prophet Ezekiel starting in verse 11: Then He said to me, “Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel. They say, Our bones are dry, our hope is lost, and we ourselves are cut off!’ (NKJV) and continuing through the rest of the chapter. A good summary can be had from verses 21 and 22: “Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; “and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again. (NKJV). If we reflect on the history of Israel as the Holy Spirit has given us, we know that the nation went from the leadership of Moses and Joshua and then went through several regional judges until their first king Saul, then on to kings David and Solomon. After Solomon they had a civil war and the kingdom split and the people eventually were killed or taken into captivity. Therefore, what Ezekiel is quoting is future events and end-time prophecy that is still to come. OK, to continue.

Isaiah 11:11 It shall come to pass in that day [That] the Lord shall set His hand again the second time To recover the remnant of His people who are left, From Assyria and Egypt, From Pathros and Cush, From Elam and Shinar, From Hamath and the islands of the sea. (NKJV) reiterates the same thing; that The Lord is not finished with Israel and even though they disobey and take idiocy to operatic levels as has been proven by their history1, The Lord has punished but still loves his first chosen children.

We within the Christian community in this gentile era need to get over our “look at us…we have Christ and are so special and you had your chance and screwed up” mass ego trip that many denominations hammer at from their pulpits Sunday after Sunday and realize that we are, at best, an opening act while the real performers warm up in the wings. At the worst we are a traveling side show that the Lord gracious has allowed to perform…lets hope we don’t get booed off the stage, regardless which we turn out to be.

God Bless, Jim
1-30-20

1 I’m not Israel bashing, if you look at our compressed history compared to their few thousand years, we are extremely more stupid than they.

I’ve been familiar with the story of Cain and Abel all my life but until I really started re-exploring the Holy Word of our Creator and Savior, I never actually noticed or really paid close attention to what I was reading or what I was being taught. In the past, I would read the scriptures much as one would read a required novel in school for credit; without a lot of enthusiasm or joy, but simply reading the words to get a bare-bones grasp of it in case I was tested. Now when I read the tragic tale of these two brothers, I see a lot more than I ever did before, somewhat similar to looking at an old familiar picture you have glanced at all your life but suddenly noticing the background scenery in that old picture for the first time.

Before we delve into the story of Cain and Abel, I want to mention that Genesis covers a huge chunk of time, especially in the early chapters and I want to point out a few things that show there are a lot of small items not covered but implied that are easy to miss if you’re not looking for them. For instance, the scripture doesn’t explicitly mention that Adam and Eve had a lot of kids. In fact Genesis 4 opens with the statement in verses 1 and 2 that Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel, but Genesis chapter 4 implies in verse 14 when Cain mentions there will be a price on his head for murdering Abel that there at least a few other siblings. Also as a side note, we find in chapter 4 verse 2 the first mention of sheep in the bible. The fact that Abel was a keeper of sheep, implies God had created sheep to be domesticated and kept, watched after and protected from the beginning of our existence after the fall. I believe we as students of the Most Holy Tome ever written need to be sensitive to these hidden constructs.

To get back to our story, as we read Genesis chapter 4 we see what seems to be a test for the boys from their version of a Grandfather…The Lord. It’s as he is seeing what they have learned from his lessons He has been teaching them. An example of one of these lessons is a subtle lesson in Genesis 3:21 that God shed innocent blood to provide covering and protection for them by clothing their parents with animal skins that replaced the paltry, unacceptable cover of leaves from the plants of the ground, and that The Lord expects an offering in kind to remind of what he has, and will do for us to protect us (the first instance of shedding of blood for our protection and salvation). It is revealed to us in verse 4 and 5 that Abel offers a fat firstborn lamb and Cain offers the fruits of his toiling the ground. Verse 5 also tells us that The Lord accepted Abel’s offering but rejected Cain’s. Afterward, Cain got angry and his mood darkened but God called him off to the side and explained to him why he had accepted Abel’s offering in the manner of a life lesson. When I first read this, I was of the mind that Cain had probably accepted God’s chastisement and explanation and then maybe Abel started goading him and Cain’s anger got the better of him…but…what if his mood stayed dark and he brooded and he didn’t actually accept God’s chastisement and decided to get even with his pure, sweet, innocent brother? (this is basically the version I was raised with; the evil, malevolent Cain and the jury is still out on his motive and I’m not sure the latter one works for me). I think his attitude matters because of the Lord’s reaction to the murder of his brother. The Lord could have struck him down and told Adam and Eve to produce even more offspring, but he didn’t. Instead, he punished Cain by cursing the fruits of his labor, forcing him to have to work harder and banished him from his family. When Cain in verse 14 complained that his siblings would hunt him down like a dog and exact revenge (another inference…the eye-for-an-eye rule that the Israelites would practice later on), the Lord could have said, “well Bub, you should have thought of that before you started going around committing murder!”…but he didn’t. He made sure no harm would befall Cain from his apparent siblings and he made sure he was protected by placing a mark of protection on him for all to see..does that sound like a reaction the Lord would have if it were a malevolent, premeditated, cold-blooded murder? After Cain was exiled to the land of Nod, Cain’s descendants, whose name meaning are reverential towrd the Lord, later went on to serve the Lord. It sounds like the lessons the Lord was impressing on Cain stuck and was passed down by Cain to his offsprings.

So this is the way I think this may have played out…verse 8 tells us Cain and Abel were talking about the whole sacrifice thing out in the fields and (knowing brothers) Abel probably started bragging about his sacrifice and goading Cain, and then Cain, most likely in a fit of rage, killed him. Seeing what he had done, he buried Abel trying to hide the evidence. Of course when you kill a major percentage of the Earth’s population in one fell swoop1, it would be hard not to notice the loss even if you weren’t God. Obviously, since God happens to be the omnipresent creator of the universe, He noticed. So God caught him, questioned him, punished him and banished him. There are multiple lessons to be learned here, but let’s just concentrate on a couple of major ones.

The first lesson to be learned is the acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. God explained to Cain that the spilling of blood of the healthy firstborn sheep is what is required to defeat sin. Genesis 4:7 If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee [shall be] his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (KJV) Even more than that he also reminded him that Satan, the author of sin, wasn’t satisfied with deceiving Eve (which I’m sure Cain knew all about), but he was swirling all around them at all times like an evil wind, looking for an opening to blow their barriers away, exposing their weaknesses and frailties much like predators stalking the sheep in his brother’s fold. This is the second inference in the scriptures of the pattern, or model, of the need for the shedding of innocent blood to protect us and to help keep sin away from the door of our soul. Because Cain wasn’t protected by the offering of the acceptable sacrifice, he as was vulnerable to the evils of Satan as a sheep outside the fold is vulnerable to wolves, and regardless of motive or intent, he ended up committing sin by murdering his brother.

A second lesson to be learned from this chapter is the Lord’s reaction to the sin. We are told that Cain murdered his brother. In many societies this is punishable by death, but the Lord has a peculiar reaction to this apparent heinous crime. He shows compassion and grace to Cain. In this way, Cain is a model of us humans that blow it on a daily basis, but are saved through the Lord’s compassion and grace.

Thirdly, I believe Cain is a model or type of Israel. Much the same way Cain caused the death of Abel and was shown mercy and was given protection from those who would do him harm even while exiled. Israel, even though they were responsible for plotting the death of the Son of God, God punished them in an odd way for this heinous act, he blinded them but is also protecting them from those wanting to eradicate them until he brings them back into the fold, which is according to Paul in Romans 11:25 until the fullness of the Gentiles come in. After that event, Israel will once again take center stage in the world’s arena.

God Bless, Jim

revised 1-25-20

1 Think about this…(to throw a number out there) if there were 10 kids and Adam and Eve, that’s a population density of 12 people. You knock off one of them, you have just decimated 8% of the population of the world…

Recently, I started thinking about Cain, Abel and the first recorded sacrifice, and I believe that Cain’s sacrificial mistake was primarily based upon not really paying attention to the desires, wants and needs of the Lord.

The common viewpoint I was taught early on is that Abel’s sacrifice was accepted because his sacrifice was based solely on faith, while Cain’s sacrifice was borne from his reliance upon his own works. I don’t believe that to be the case, because even though Cain was a farmer and did produce a sacrifice from the toils of his labor, Abel was a shepherd and therefore also produced a sacrifice from the toils of his labor also.

From the very beginning of the scriptures, we read that God teaches us about the importance of the shedding of blood. This early in man’s existence, that was something odd, as all people were vegetarians and were not allowed to kill animals for sustenance. The first inference of the necessity of the shedding of blood was when God clothed Adam and Eve with skins. He could have whipped the skins up out of thin air, but that is not probable, so the Lord would have killed an animal for the purpose+ of using the skins as coverings. This act also would have been the first example of a sacrifice and I believe it would have most likely been the skin of a sheep, since that was most probable purpose for them at this time.

For most of my life, I was taught to be self-reliant in all things, It wasn’t until the Lord saved me that I slowly started to learn that self-reliance is not the way to go, but to rely on the Lord in all things is how I should be living my life. That was a very tough lesson for me to learn, and the knowledge did not come over night. Cain was a farmer and to offer the toils of his labor would have been the natural thing to do. I do not know how the Lord attempted to explain his expectations to them, but apparently it went in one ear and out the other with Cain. I have lived most of my life as Cain did in his early years and when I look back I would have been a whole lot better off if I had relied upon the Lord instead of myself. The automatic nature of my “natural man” is to take on the burdens of life myself and to be self-reliant. The way I prevent that thought process is to constantly remind myself of the innumerable ways the Lord keeps blessing me and where I was when I relied upon my self, as compared to where I am when I rely upon the Lord

While I am on the subject of Cain, I feel the way Cain is portrayed in the scriptures, leads to an unfair assessment of him through potential translation errors, for he is lumped in with the “ungodly”, a term that creates completely awful connotations with us, however the Greek word simply means a lack of reverence toward God. Of course Cain went on to commit murder, (later in the scriptures we read that David was guilty of this sin also, but the Lord viewed David as a man after His own heart) but the Lord made sure he was unharmed, even though he was banished to the land of Nod. I believe Cain repented and asked for forgiveness at some point, for when we look at the meanings of the names of Cain’s descendants in the Hebrew, we find he named them names that were reverential toward God.

Jim

The first time I read the book of Leviticus, I was surprised about the specifics permeating the book. Leviticus lets us know that the Lord is very specific in how he wants to be thought of, worshiped and praised with specific punishments for violations, specific atonement for sins etc. The first half of the book deals mainly with the priestly rituals, while the last portion of the book deals more with the ethical injunctions and codes of living while stressing the holiness of the Lord throughout the whole book. If we mankind adopted the statutes laid out in the book of Leviticus we would much better off, for not only are there basic common sense rules regarding the treatment of each other, but there are the hygene aspects of the codes and of course, the main point…the recognition of the Holiness of our Lord and His expectations of worship and praise. Of course, I’m not advocating reverting to the Mosaic Law, but the basic tenants remain; the Lord is specific in how he wants to be treated, worshiped, spoken of and thought of and that will never change.

As a sidebar, I also understand Christianity a little clearer by reading Leviticus. For instance, I had not really paid attention to what a scapegoat was but Leviticus 16 explains that there would be two goats, one offered for atonement for sin and the other one would be released but expelled from the shelter and sent out into the wilderness. As I think more about this I realize that I could spend hours drawing parallels, but there is one parallel that leaps out at me.

I see how Christ was our scapegoat for he took on our sin and was then expelled and hidden form his Father’s eyes as the scapegoat was when it was kicked out to wander in the wilderness. That is why he couldn’t refer to God as Father, but had to refer to him as Lord, because he was hidden from God’s eyes while he was wearing our sin. He was no longer the perfect, sinless Son of God but he had become the sin of the world at that point. He became our scapegoat by taking on our sin upon himself while also becoming the atonement sacrifice offered to the Lord. Leviticus 16:15-16 tells that the goat of sin offering was killed and it’s blood was sprinkled upon the mercy seat and before the mercy seat because of the transgressions of the children of Israel and for all their sins. As we recall, Christ was pierced and his blood was spilled just like the sin offering.

I never really understood what a scapegoat was, nor did I care about it because, after all,  this was just another of those odd Old Testament references that didn’t have any application in my life. The more I read the scriptures, the more I understand that everything mentioned in the scriptures are put there for our behalf. Even though the scapegoat is only mentioned three time in the scriptures, (all are in Leviticus) the scapegoat is about Christ who became a scapegoat for us to carry our sins away in the wilderness. Now, whenever I hear someone mention a scapegoat, I will look at it in a different light be thankful we have a scapegoat.

Leviticus 16:15-16 “Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering, which is for the people, bring its blood inside the veil, do with that blood as he did with the blood of the bull, and sprinkle it on the mercy seat and before the mercy seat. “So he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleanness of the children of Israel, and because of their transgressions, for all their sins; and so he shall do for the tabernacle of meeting which remains among them in the midst of their uncleanness. (NKJV)

“Then Aaron shall cast lots for the two goats: one lot for the LORD and the other lot for the scapegoat. (NKJV)

 

“But the goat on which the lot fell to be the scapegoat shall be presented alive before the LORD, to make atonement upon it, and to let it go as the scapegoat into the wilderness. (NKJV)

 

“And he who released the goat as the scapegoat shall wash his clothes and bathe his body in water, and afterward he may come into the camp. (NKJV)

God Bless,

Jim

11-22-19