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Posts Tagged ‘Abraham’

Chronology of the Old Testament, by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones, is a history of the ancient world relying primarily on the most complete, detailed, consistent, and verifiable text known to man, the record of the Hebrew peoples as found in their Scriptures.  Beginning with a commitment to the sufficiency and perfect reliability of the Old Testament, the chonologer establishes a timeline of history comparable to Ussher’s famous work. 

The first section establishes periods of history whose lengths are defined by specific verses in the Old Testament, including the genealogies leading up to the flood, and from the flood to Abraham; the duration of Israel’s sojourn in Egypt; the period of the Judges; and then the dates of the kings of Judah and Israel.  This last comprises the majority of the work, as Dr. Jones treats the various accounts of the kings’ ascensions, reigns, ages, and associations with each other particularly as found in the books of Kings and Chronicles.  He refutes the compromise position of Dr. Thiele, whose dates for that era have been considered standard in conservative evangelical study. 

To close the principal manuscript, a study is done of the kings of Assyria, Babylon, and Media-Persia particularly as they compare to the 70 weeks prophecy of Daniel 9, predicting the exact year at which Messiah was to be expected.  I was especially interested in the identification of the kings Darius, Ahasuerus, and Artaxerxes (of Ezra-Nehemiah). 

Though necessarily long, The Chronology of the Old Testament is one of the smoothest narratives of history that I have ever read.  Showing care, comprehensive understanding, and a desire to communicate to an audience ranging from the novice to the studied skeptic, each technique of chronology and every theory of dates and history is presented in a way that is easy to understand and, from the perspective of this novice, unquestionable.  Along the way like an enthusiastic tour guide the author revealed the little discoveries he had made, unsuspecting, and the significance we miss when we do not appreciate the precise chronology and its implications.  For example, we learn that Jonathan son of Saul was actually decades older than David, yet they were dear friends. 

Dr. Jones is honest about the limitations of his science, confident in His God (who preserved the record for us), and firm in his stand against giving historical precedence to the Assyrian, Babylonian, Egyptian, or Greek histories since, even from a secular viewpoint, they are less complete, immediate, obvious, and consistent than the Hebrew Bible.  They are acknowledged, however, as useful tools in corroborating the testimony of the Scripture and of placing the internal timeline of the Bible into its place in our modern calendar system.  Some space is given to discrediting the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament proceeding from Alexandria and containing multiple errors and contradictions.  Also discussed are worldviews, and the King James translation of the Bible into English.  The author is avidly loyal to this translation, and occasionally vehement in his criticism of those whose opinion differs. 

A CD-ROM is included with the book containing most of the charts and timelines discussed (the rest of the charts are alongside the narrative). 

The Chronology of the Old Testament is an impressive, helpful book that I would even consider employing as a history book for homeschool children.  I enjoyed the book, learned things, and was corrected in some points which I had believed.  (One point that comes to mind is the arrival of the magi to visit Jesus.  Formerly I had been convinced that they arrived months or even years after Jesus’ birth, while the family was residing in Bethlehem.  However, the account of Jesus’ presentation at the temple in Luke precludes this possibility.)  The detailed harmony of the various Old Testament books was brought forth in a broad way I had never before envisioned.  My only concerns are these: the strength of his personal criticisms in some places for weakness in understanding or imagination (resulting, I grant, in slighting the authority and accuracy of the Bible); and the incomplete understanding that remains about the events and timeline of Esther.  Without reservation, however, I would recommend this book.  

Chronology of the Old Testament
To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I am fascinated having read chapter 197 of Godcast.  In it Dan Betzer makes a point from silence (not the best foundation for doctrine, but making for an interesting story).  Where the Bible is silent, we see a point being made.  Michael Card writes that when John is silent on events of Jesus’ life that the other gospel-recorders included, we should pay special attention.  John was substituting something else, a living parable.  In John 8 as John records Jesus’ encounter with the convicted adulteress, it mentions Jesus silently stooping to the ground before requesting that those without sin cast the first stone against the sinful woman.  What impact in his silence! 

 

So this Assemblies of God pastor communicates the impact of the silence covering 33 years of Abraham’s life after Sarah’s death.  Though they had their rough patches, during Sarah’s life Abraham was the faith father, involved in all sorts of actions, journeys, acquisitions, encounters, prayers, promises, and fulfillments.  Immediately after her death Abraham sends the head of his household (not just any old servant) to great distances to find a wife for Isaac.  This was very important to Abraham.  Why?  Maybe because his wife was very important to him.  He wanted Isaac to be blessed by a woman whose worth was far above rubies. 

 

And after that, we have a paragraph recording the last fifth of Abraham’s long life.  He married again and had more children.  But as far as we know he was the spiritual giant during his marriage to Sarah.  I caution again putting too much credence in this narrative factor. 

 

Pastor Betzer titles this chapter “Do Women have a Place in Ministry?”  If you think about Sarah’s support of her husband as her place in ministry, or if you consider the impact that her presence had on her husband’s faith, you get a beautiful picture of what I believe is a woman’s place in ministry.  (Sarah is also held up as an example to other women, especially in the way she submitted to her own husband.  I believe that women have a more direct ministry to other women as “teachers of good things.” – Titus 2) 

 

I shouldn’t be surprised that the semi-charismatic denomination has produced a man who, rather than interpreting the significance of the Sarah factor in Abraham’s life in light of biblical directives to women to submit, nor to teach or have authority over men; takes this beautiful picture of helpers meet for their husbands and finishes with a praise of the female ‘ministers’ and ‘pastors’ who founded very large, spiritual and missions-minded churches.  These women, he says, have positively impacted him.  Though he often mentions his wife in other chapters, this author fails to mention here her help in his ministry, which would be a more honest and biblically sound application of the Sarah principle. 

 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Yesterday a friend was sharing how puzzling it is to him that God despises child-sacrifice (such as the kind recorded in the Bible, to the idol Molech) but God still asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to Him, and even that God Himself practiced human sacrifice in the form of His Son, Jesus. 

 

Sacrifices to idols and to Molech are an effort for man to please god by giving him a thing most valuable.  Our most valuable offerings cannot appease God.  Only a perfect sacrifice could satisfy the requirement that remission must come by the shedding of blood.  Only God Himself was good enough. 

 

God, even more than life, is the highest priority.  Faith in Him is more important than anyone’s life, and disobedience is not justified even in a situation where a life is at stake. 

 

The child sacrifices to Molech had more to do with bartering with god than with repentance for sins or faith.  Abraham, in contrast, was the patriarch of faith, and the Bible implicitly says that the command to sacrifice Isaac was about Abraham’s faith (interesting since Isaac was old enough to have resisted Abraham, but he didn’t). 

 

Abraham’s faith was tested when God asked Him to sacrifice Isaac.  But what does child sacrifice really have to do with faith? 

 

Hebrews 11 explains why he got so much credit for his faith in the story of sacrificing Isaac:

 

Hebrews 11:17-19, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,  Of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:  Accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.”

 

Abraham believed God would make his son live, no matter what.  God also knew when Jesus gave His life that there would be a resurrection.  Jesus knew about it, and told His disciples to expect Him to come back on the third day. 

 

Even if Abraham just believed Isaac would not stay dead, we might think that he was self-deluded and irrationally hopeful rather than a man of great faith, unless God gave Abraham a strong reason to believe this.  Did He? 

 

Abraham had some difficulties believing God’s plan for him.  Years into the covenant and promises, Abraham and Sarah still hadn’t born any children.  So Abraham tried things his own way, siring Ishmael through Hagar, his wife’s slavewoman.  God made it quite clear that He had promised a son through Sarah, and that Ishmael was not the heir. 

 

Then Abraham believed God, but Sarah doubted until she conceived Isaac.  God reiterated that the promise to make Abraham many nations, to bless the world through his Seed, (the Covenant) was through Isaac:

 

Genesis 17:15-16, 19, “And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be. And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her. And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”

 

They gave birth to a son.  So Abraham had learned his lesson about doubts.  He knew that either God would intervene, or God would raise Isaac back to life. 

 

Abraham knew that God’s command (to sacrifice Isaac) could not supercede God’s promise (to make Isaac into many nations).  This point is made in Galatians:

 

Galatians 3:17, “And this I say, that the covenant, that was confirmed before of God in Christ, the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after, cannot disannul, that it should make the promise of none effect.” 

 

The just always lived by faith. 

 

In Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, I see a vivid example of God’s plan for salvation depicted in the story of the Sacrifice of Isaac. 

  • The promise was from God, and He would keep it. 
  • The son was miraculously given by God. 
  • The command was God’s. 
  • The faith was in God. 
  • And the substitute sacrifice was God’s. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I’ve been thinking a lot about simplicity coupled with radical faith.  Priests sometimes take a vow of poverty, renouncing worldly goods as Jesus suggested to the rich young man, “Sell all your goods and give the money to the poor.”  Since the last day of camp I’ve been thinking of the usual pattern of getting back into the routine of life, or adjusting to the real world.  I think that God doesn’t want me to get back into my life.  He wants my life to adjust to me and the changes He’s made.  This week at church was Vacation Bible School, and before each night our pastor gave a devotional to the volunteers.  The one I managed to make was about being doers of the word, not hearers only.  So Jesus says not to worry about what we will eat or wear, to take up our cross and follow Him.  He says blessed are those who suffer for His sake.  What if I was an actual doer of those words?  How seriously do I take the words, “Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friend”? 

 

So God has called me, at last, to change.  My life has been essentially the same for six years.  Now I’m going to do something different – a lot of things different.  I’m a different person; I even eat spaghetti and drink tea.  But I don’t know exactly what He wants me to do yet.  I’m looking, trying to accept that faith is a moment by moment dependence on Him, not a leap into a well-understood long term plan.  What I do know is that I need to spend diligent time seeking Him about it: praying and reading the Bible and asking friends to counsel and pray for me. 

 

I think a lot about Abraham.  He’s the man who packed up and left Ur, where he’d lived about seventy years with all his family.  He left everything and didn’t even know where he was going, except that God would show him the place.  Well, he brought his flocks and herds, his wife and slaves, and even his extended family. 

 

If I literally followed Abraham’s example, though, America is not very receptive.  Abraham could travel through the land, pitch his tents where no one else’s were, feed his sheep on the grass there, and probably do a bit of hunting for his household as well.  In America there are things like licenses, fences, and laws.  I don’t have to worry too much about being attacked by a band of thieves or a local city-state’s hyper-vigilant army, but then I must submit to laws. 

 

We actually have some very strange laws.  If you are too poor to own or even rent a house, there is no public land on which you are really allowed to camp, not public land on which you can trap or hunt your dinner.  In fact if you are too poor to have a house, you can be arrested.  GK Chesterton says in his commentary on Matthew 8:20, “For our law has in it a turn of humour or touch of fancy which Nero and Herod never happened to think of, that of actually punishing homeless people for not sleeping at home.” 

 

But Psalm 84:5 says, “Blessed is the man… whose heart is set on pilgrimage.” What does that look like in my life?  How can I obey that today? 

 

At least I can shun things that are part of my normal life but not “of faith.”  I can pursue the things God describes: righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.  Jars of Clay’s Oh My God describes one side of this calling, the side that sorrows for the world and sees all the need and brokenness.  In their account of how the song came to be, Jars of Clay says, “It takes a long time to kill 5,000 people in a church. Think about being in there with your family as these murders get closer and closer, and to hear the screams.  I’m sure those people weren’t praying, “God, please help me have a better car, or please increase my land.” It was, “God, please stop the hand of our aggressor,” and it didn’t happen. That prayer wasn’t answered for anybody in that church. And this wasn’t the military doing this violence; it was their neighbors.”   

One of the verses everyone memorized at camp was Romans 8:38-39 (and we talked about verse 35 as well).  There are 17 things listed in those verses that cannot separate us from the love of God, things like famine and plague and persecution, death, demons, etc.  And it hit me that I was doubting God’s love not for any of those massive earth-shattering things like 5,000 people murdered in a church in Rwanda.  My doubt of God’s love for me was when He didn’t give me what I wanted.  When my focus is on God’s amazing love, love that even death and things to come cannot quench, the way I pray and the way I live is different. 

My brother went to Mexico this month.  He was gone for two weeks.  In Mexico people live simply.  Where he went kids raise themselves, and there is trouble and need – so I’m not saying it’s ideal.  But when there is so much need in the world, physical or spiritual, how can we come home and play video games or go shopping at the mall?  Another friend spent over a month this summer volunteering at an orphanage in Haiti.  Her love for God grew so much there as she was stripped of distractions and dependent on Him for the strength to love and serve others.  Her kids needed what even she could not give them. 

Some fellow counselors from camp talked about getting back into the real world by buying a new Guitar Hero game.  How can we leave camp so unaffected?  Do we really have to move to Haiti to live sold out to God? 

We’re willing to work.  At camp, in Mexico and Haiti, we didn’t just sit around and think spiritual thoughts.  And we don’t want to be cloistered away from all non-Christians; that isn’t the point, either.  Just we don’t want our ministry to be a section of our lives.  We want to sell everything else and make sure that our whole lives are about glorifying God.  I don’t just want to have my ministries, of VBS or Awana or Sunday school or youth group.  I believe God wants me to invest my life in a lot of people, and not necessarily be a one-note person (at least not at the moment), but there shouldn’t be ministry intermissions.  Everything I do should be about my relationship with God, whether it is taking time (as we did at camp) to refresh and refocus our spirits by prayer and Bible reading, or worship, or intentional fellowship for edification. 

I guess I’m saying that having a job isn’t wrong.  My job isn’t even bad.  In the job I have I could do the things I said, and continue a ministry focus without interruption.  Those of us in the world with normal jobs can be what another friend calls laborers, people who don’t see ministry as a vocation, but as an approach to life as they go, building the kingdom whether they’re paid or not.  But for me God is calling me to a different sort of job right now.  I’m looking for one.  Requirements are that it be something in which I can move, not just sit at a desk, one where I’m working in community with others, preferably Christians, and where our business or ministry is reaching out to the needs of the world.  Any suggestions? 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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Prince Caspian struck me in another way.  In a world trying to live without God, the story points out the vanity of any battle.  If God did not intend the effort, then why are you fighting?  And if you are fighting without Him, is there hope of success?  Can there be success when you have no aim?  In the movie asked the war council comprised of Prince Caspian and his council: a black dwarf, a red dwarf, the badger; and of Peter, Edmund, and Susan – “Who are you doing this for?” 
 
The black dwarf a little later suggested to Prince Caspian that they seek supernatural help – but not from Aslan.  Like Abraham trying to fulfill God’s promise for Him, Prince Caspian nearly took matters into his own hands by giving them to the White Witch’s.  “You can’t do this alone,” she coaxed the prince and then the high king from her icy prison. 
 
Were there only two options?  Was Peter forced to decide between losing to Miraz when no help would come, or surrendering to the White Witch?  Was it so hard to wait for Aslan?  My favorite scene of the movie is Peter leaning back against the broken stone table in Aslan’s Howe, gazing at the sculpture of Aslan carved against the wall behind the broken ice curtain in which Peter had been tempted by the White Witch hours before.  He is deep in humble thought, feeling the weight of his mistakes and rebellion.  I know what it is to fear getting up again, because you’ve let yourself fall so many times.  I know what it is to only wish to see the face of my Lord. 
 
How do you follow in a world without answers?  What is this faith that demands you choose when you don’t even know all the options?  Is it fair to ask us to wait on what we are not sure will come?  Why is losing sometimes the plan? 
 
Peter’s story is different from ours in two important ways: First, Peter had seen Aslan, long ago, and witnessed his power firsthand.  Secondly, Peter did not have any written instructions to guide him, but we have the Bible.  Prince Caspian had neither benefit and so, as Jesus told Thomas, was more blessed for believing truth he had not seen. 
 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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When Abraham was 75 years old, his literal journey of faith began.  We always talk about the faith of Abraham, but he’d been in training for 75 years.  He also waited a lot: at first for God’s Bible-worthy plans for his life to begin; 25 years for the birth of Isaac; 37 more years for Isaac’s marriage; and 38 years for his own death. 
When he was 100, his son Isaac was born.  Isaac waited until he was 47 and his mother was dead before he got married to Rebekah. 
After Isaac’s marriage, Abraham remarried and had six more sons, which grew up and were then sent away (with gifts) to protect Isaac’s inheritance.  Isaac was 75 when he buried his father.  His youngest brother could have been as old as 32. 
Moses was 40 when he decided to associate himself with Israel as their deliverer.  By faith, he perceived that was not God’s timing, and fled into the wilderness of Midian (Hebrews 11).  There he was married (again, at least 40 years old), had two sons, and then met God at the burning bush when he was 80.  Yes.  At 80 years of age Moses marched back into Egypt and demanded the release of the Jewish people.  At 80 he led them out of Egypt across the Red Sea.  For forty years Moses was the patient leader of Israel in the wilderness as he aged towards 120 years old.  This man wrote Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy as well as a few of the Psalms – all after he was 80! 
Some men were called from their youth to serve God.  Others waited to burst onto the scene.  David’s entire life recorded in detail, is perhaps the best illustration of how God works.  David was anointed king when he was still young.  Then he spent years as a shepherd, or servant in the palace, then a warrior before he finally got the throne.  But God was training him, and exposing him to the skills he needed for his future.  Most famously, David had practice fighting beasts before he came against Goliath.  I’m encouraged by the examples of these men who waited, who exercised their faith so they were ready when God asked something we would consider big. 
To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn 

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Father Abraham had many sons.  So goes the song.  And of course the lyrics are a metaphor such as the New Testament uses: that all those who come to God by faith are sons of Abraham.  How many literal sons did Abraham have?  God promised that Abraham would be the father of many nations.  Both physically and metaphorically that promise has come true.  Isaac was the father of Edom and Israel.  Ishmael is commonly known as the ancestor of the Arabs.  Two sons doesn’t sound like many.  Three nations isn’t many either.  But…
 
Abraham had more sons.  Yes.  Right there, plainly stated in between exciting patriarch chronicles.  After the death of Sarah, and after the marriage of Isaac, in Genesis 25 Abraham marries a woman named Keturah.  At this point Abraham is old.  But he fathers six more sons, which each father a nation, including Midian (where Moses got his *first* wife), Sheba, and Dedan.  These nations show up again later in the Bible, and some join Ishmael in comprising the Arab people. 
To God be all glory. 

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