Friday, April 1, 2016

Mystery Jerusalem Rising Ch 4 - Into famine and bondage.

Abraham’s obedience to God was not perfect. His son, Isaac, also fell short. They both had faith which was anointed by the Holy Spirit, but they did not have access to all of the components of God’s program. For example, they did not have the blessing of the Holy Spirit taking up permanent residence as believers in Christ do today. Neither did they have the scope of revelation that we do today. The Patriarchs of the Judeo-Christian meta-narrative had an immature, undeveloped faith-system.

Because their faith-system was immature, God dealt with them as a parent must deal with a small child. Paul describes this process:

“What purpose then does the law serve? It was added because of transgressions, till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator.  Now a mediator does not mediate for one only, but God is one.

Is the law then against the promises of God? Certainly not! For if there had been a law given which could have given life, truly righteousness would have been by the law.  But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.  But before faith came, we were kept under guard by the law, kept for the faith which would afterward be revealed.  Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.  But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor…

Now I say that the heir, as long as he is a child, does not differ at all from a slave, though he is master of all,  but is under guardians and stewards until the time appointed by the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world. But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.”
- Galatians 3:19-25; 4:1-5

There are two principles here. One was that because of sin, the law was added. This refers to the Mosaic covenant which was future to Isaac. The second was that until Christ, the people of God were generally regarded as small children who were not capable of walking solely through faith. This law was given as a choolmaster who would instruct and correct. God, as our loving heavenly Father, metes out disciplinary action in accordance to the law which was given as a schoolmaster.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

“For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin. And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons:

“ ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord,Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him;For whom the Lord loves He chastens,And scourges every son whom He receives.’

 “If you endure chastening, God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom a father does not chasten? But if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate and not sons.  Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness.  Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. ”
- Hebrews 12:1-11

God metes out disciplinary action through actions in history. In this chapter, I will show how the patriarchs fell short of the glory of God, and in the next chapter I will show that God established the Mosaic covenant as a “schoolmaster” to guide the people until they were mature enough for a covenant of faith.

Abraham’s first compromise involvestaking the promises of God into his own hands. At his wife Sarai’s urging, he sexually approached her maid Hagar. She conceived Ishmael. This resulted in tension between Sarai and Hagar. This tension ended when Hagar was forced out of Abraham’s household.
“And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing.  Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, namely with Isaac.’  And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.

But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.  Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman, because he is your seed.’”
- Genesis 21:9-13

 Ishmael became the father of the Arabic world, which today is predominantly Islamist. Before Ishmael was born, God told Hagar that Ishmael “shall be a wild man;His hand shall be against every man.” Abraham’s compromise set the stage for numerous wars in the Middle East that have been going on for the past four thousand years, from the day Ishmael mocked Isaac to the current chaos in the Middle East.

Abraham and Isaac: Like father, like son
Both Abraham and Isaac made the same compromise when in the land of Gerar1.  They both lied to Abimelech2 about their wives. They each told Abimelech the lie that “she is my sister” because each believed that Abimelech would kill them to take the wife. (Gen 20:1-18;26:1-10)

Liars, and Family Favorites
Isaac married Rebekah and became the father of twins: Isaac favored one while Rebekah favored the other:

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

And the Lord said to her: ‘Two nations are in your womb,Two peoples shall be separated from your body;One people shall be stronger than the other,And the older shall serve the younger.’
So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb.  And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.  Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them. So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man, dwelling in tents.  And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game, but Rebekah loved Jacob.” - Genesis 25:20-28

These opposing favoritisms set the stage for sibling rivalry between Esau and Jacob. This rivalry created the temptation for Jacob to become a schemer and liar. He used this to con Esau out of the blessing.

Rebekah helped him con Esau. She coached him on how to trick Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing (Gen 27). Isaac asks Esau to hunt and prepare choice game so that he can eat it and give him the blessing he received from Abraham. She has Jacob kill from his flock; she prepares it to taste like cooked, wild game. She then dresses Jacob in Esau’s cloths. Jacob goes to Isaac, pretending to be Esau, and gets the blessing through deception.

These compromises amounted to the people of God taking the promises into their own hands. God promised Isaac; Abraham took matters into his own hands and got Ishmael; God told Rebekah that Jacob would dominate Esau; Jacob took matters into his own hands; deception and treachery became the family heritage.

There was kidnapping and murder in the family. By the time Jacob’s sons were grown, the corruption of sin was reaching an advanced stage of treachery. There are three major incidents that show their treachery: the Dinah incident, Judah’s affair, and the selling of Joseph into slavery.

The story of Dinah is found in Gen 34. When Dinah, Jacob’s daughter, was grown, she went out on the town to meet other young women in the land. Shechem, the son of the prince of that land was attracted to her. They ended up having pre-marital sex. When Shechem’s father attempted to make arrangements to acquire Dinah as a wife for him, the sons of Jacob acted deceitfully. They told the men that they needed to be circumcised first, and then Dinah would be married to Shechem. While the men were recovering from their circumcision, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi physically attacked and killed all of the men in the town. Their brothers joined them in both plundering the wealth in the town and the capture of the women and children. These women and children were likely sold into slavery to local traveling slave traders3.

The selling of women and children into slavery was preparation for the mistreatment of their own brother. Gen 38 is the story of how the second from the youngest of Jacob’s sons, Joseph, had a dream that he would rule over his brothers. Because Joseph was the first-born of Jacob’s love, Rachel, he was Jacob’s favorite sons. The favoritism, coupled with knowledge of Joseph’s dreams, drove his brothers to extreme jealousy. They threw him into a pit and sold him to Ishmaelite who sold him to an Egyptian.

Descent into famine, slavery, and idolatry in Egypt

Because the household of Abraham was wandering farther and farther away from God’s righteousness, it became necessary for God to assert Himself as a stern Father to them. The first of many instances of a pattern of chastisement was about to begin. God’s people would initially follow Him; only to subsequently wander from Him, resulting in descent to bondage or slavery. They would cry out to Him and He would deliver them.

Gen 39-50 documents the story of Joseph in Egypt. God was with Joseph in Egypt in his trials; these trials eventually open up the opportunity for Joseph to become Prime Minister of Egypt. When famine hits hard that area of the world, Joseph is in an ability to assist his family, and they relocate to Egypt where they end up becoming slaves themselves.

2 Abimilech may have been a title rather than a name.
3 While there are no specific references to the selling of women and children into slavery, the text doers say that Dinah's brothers "spoiled the city." Women and children captured in war were commonly seen in the ancient world as spoils to be sold into slavery. This would also explain the ease in which Joseph was sold into slavery. The slave traders may have had a previous transaction history with Joseph's brothers.

No comments:

Post a Comment