GOSPEL part 3

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? (pg 2)

Wow! I hope that trip through BAD NEWS country didn’t ruffle your feathers too much, because from here it’s all GOOD NEWS. To give you a better picture of the essence of the Gospel (good news), I will use this iconic Bible verse below as a template to layout what makes the good news GOOD.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. [John 3:16]

I. For God so loved the world…

God’s love for us is the core of the gospel. The reality of which surrounds us day by day, as revealed in the Bible. Scripture after scripture, His love is seen in the awe of creation. It shows His love is steadfast, unchanging and a great comfort to us. Even to those that reject Him, He shows His love.

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. [2 Peter 3:9]

How could everyone come to repentance? God knew mankind was in trouble because of sin. He knew that mankind needed a bridge to span that great chasm that separates us from Him; a bridge that no ordinary human being could ever build.

Enter JESUS CHRIST.

II. That He gave His one and only Son…

Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” [John 14:6]

This is a BOLD declaration. How do we take in this incredible statement? He is either a liar or a lunatic… Or He spoke TRUTH which, by the way, is undeniably supported by the Bible; most especially the four Gospel books of the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John).

How was Jesus to pave the way to God? What was He to do?

Do you recall this verse? For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23]

Sin had to be paid!

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God… [1 Peter 3:18a]

By dying for us some 2000 years ago, Jesus COMPLETELY PAID the penalty of our sins.

But how could he, a man, do this? Because Jesus was the only man that walked the earth with no sin.

But you know that he appeared so that he might take away our sins. And in him is no sin. [1 John 3:5]

How could a man be with out sin? Jesus is also God!

In the beginning was the Word (Jesus), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The Word (Jesus) became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. [John 1:1,14]

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save… [Zephaniah 3:17]

What other proof do we need to know that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah and our only Savior? The final proof was His resurrection.

…regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. [Romans 1:3-4]

So, Jesus is the BRIDGE that connects us to God. Where do we go from here?

III. That whoever believes in Him 

I have reiterated time after time in this Gospel blog that there is nothing you can do to pay for the penalty of sin. However, we still have something to do. Good news is, it is not to pay for the penalty of sin. Our loving God took care of that.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” [Romans 5:8]

So, what is our part?

But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. [John 20:31]

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me.” [John 14:1]

“We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved…” [Acts 15:11a]

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” [Acts 16:31]

The dictionary defines ‘BELIEVE’ as accept (something) as true; feel sure of the truth of. For myself, this is GOOD NEWS on a personal note. You see, the Lord made sure that our part was something that you and I are capable of doing easily. All God asked of us is to BELIEVE Him… to BELIEVE in what His Son did for us.

So, where do we go from here?

Well, where ever you are right now, know that God is listening for you. Talk to Him with no delay and express your faith in Jesus Christ and receive Him into your heart as your Lord and Savior. You only have to pray the prayer below once, but with sincerity, because when He enters your life, He will never leave you.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you so much for loving me. I confess that I am a sinner worthy of eternal punishment. Thank you for dying on the cross to pay for all of my sins. With your help, I am turning away from all my sins. Today, I put my trust in you as my Lord and Savior and I receive you into my heart. Thank you for forgiving my sins and for coming into my heart. I accept your free gift of eternal life. Thank you that one day, I will go home to be with you in heaven. From this day on, I will follow and obey you. Amen.

IV. Shall not perish, but have eternal life

What happens next? This next phase is in God’s court.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them. [John 3:36]

What is eternal life?

When Scripture speaks of eternal life, it refers to the gift of God.

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. [Romans 6:23]

The gift of eternal life comes to those who believe in Jesus Christ, who is Himself “the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25). The fact that this life is “eternal” indicates that it is perpetual life—it goes on and on and on, with no end.

It is a mistake, however, to view eternal life as simply an unending progression of years. (After all, in eternity, time has no meaning.) A common New Testament word for “eternal” is aiónios, which carries the idea of quality as well as quantity. In fact, eternal life is not really associated with “years” at all, as it is independent of time. Eternal life can function outside of and beyond time, as well as within time.

For this reason, eternal life can be thought of as something that Christians experience now. Believers don’t have to “wait” for eternal life, because it’s not something that starts when they die. Rather, eternal life begins the moment a person exercises faith in Christ. [www.gotquestions.org/what-is-eternal-life]

What makes the good news ‘GOOD’? The personal knowledge of being with God in eternity is by far fantastic.

Meanwhile, for as long as we are still walking this world, there is another effect to our lives that I know will astonish you. We will cover this in my next post. Until then, I offer you the verse below to analyze and meditate on.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. [2 Corinthians 5:17]

GOSPEL part 2

WHAT MAKES THE GOOD NEWS “GOOD”? [pg 1]

In my last posting, I asked…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

But how? This is where the GOSPEL come in.

The Gospel in Greek is ‘euaggelion’ which means ‘good news’. In the Bible, the term ‘gospel’ appears about 99 times. In essence, it is the sum total of God’s message for all of humanity; a message of salvation.

But yet a greater number of people have rejected His gospel… His good news. I include myself some 40 years ago. I heard His message from many who willingly shared the gospel to me but deep down I could not connect.

For myself, I could not connect because I did not believe I needed salvation. I’ll reserve my detailed testimony for later posts. For now, let me just say that my mind was changed for the good because of what I discovered from this question:

What makes good news ‘GOOD’?

Again, for myself, it was when I understood how the BAD NEWS affected me, I saw the true value of the gospel and I acted upon it. So, from here, we have to seriously look at the bad news. This is not going to be easy because each of you have to take a very hard look at your own spiritual condition.

In my last post entitled, ‘DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?’, in the end of the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus gave a ‘nutshell’ picture of a prophetical end time scenario of those people who pleaded to enter eternal life. They thought they were secured but instead they were rejected by Jesus.

“I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” [Matthew 7:23]

Ouch! I don’t think anyone want to hear that! But Jesus intended everyone to seriously take heed especially those who were first to hear of it on the Sermon of the Mount. You see, his audience, some 2000 years ago, stood on a small mountain not too far from the ancient city of Capernaum, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, all believed that because they were the ‘chosen’ people, they were ‘OK’ in God’s sight. Every Jewish child grew up with this basic principle.

But Jesus had a rude awakening for them.

For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. [Matthew 5:20]

Among the Jews of the first century, the Pharisees were the super-religious of the people. However, super-religious or not, they… as well as all mankind… have a SIN problem.

Buckle-up, people! This is going to be a bumpy ride for you. By definition, anything that goes against God’s will is SIN. And SIN is the core of the BAD NEWS part of this message and mankind… you… will be affected by it.

Sin fact #1: Everyone sinned…

…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God… [Romans 3:23 NIV]

…everyone has sinned and is far away from God’s saving presence. [Romans 3:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

No matter what we believe, we all have and continue to sin for as long as we are still in this world. And because we are not able to avoid sin, we fall short of God’s ideal.

Jesus described it as a great chasm between you and God… that is unreachable by you and me.

Sin fact #2: Sin = Death

For the wages of sin is death… [Romans 6:23 NIV]

For sin pays its wage–death… [Romans 6:23 Catholic Bible – GNT]

Here we go. This is going to be hard for you to take in. But keep in mind the truth of the word and take on a position in humility. (Trust me, this will free you. I’ll explain later in my other posts.)

Sin brings on death and it started with Adam & Eve in the Garden of Eden. We are the inheritors of this.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man (Adam), and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned… [Romans 5:12]

What is Death? Death is the permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions or the end of life. We have seen it. We know about it. We fear it. And we eventually expect it to happen to us. There is no escape!

And by the way Romans 3:23 implements the term ‘wages’, because of sin we EARNED death. We deserve death!

Ouch! Take a deep breath for we had not reached the worst part of the BAD NEWS.

Sin fact #3: Sin = The Second Death

Death is not just physical! When we die, we don’t just cease to exist. When God created mankind, He created us in His image. That means (according to His word) we are not just physical creatures, we are also ‘SPIRITUAL’ like Him… well, not exactly like Him for God is without sin. Eternity is our destiny. The only question is DESTINATION.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars–they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 NIV]

But cowards, traitors, perverts, murderers, the immoral, those who practice magic, those who worship idols, and all liars–the place for them is the lake burning with fire and sulfur, which is the second death. [Revelation 21:8 Catholic Bible – GNT]

The final place for sinners is the second death… that is HELL!

This is the place that every sane person should fear. But I have met a great number of people who have a nonchalant approach to hell. Some have even joked that hell was a place to party. I truly fear for them. The Bible provides a much more scarier description besides being the lake burning with fire and sulfur.

From the oldest book of the Bible (Job) to the last book (Revelation), darkness is consistently associated with hell. Job writes of a “land of deepest night, of utter darkness and disorder,” (Job 10:21-22) a “realm of darkness” (Job 17:13), even a “day of darkness” (Job 15:23). Other references throughout the Bible include:

“Realm of darkness” (Nahum 1:8)
“Thrown outside into the darkness” (Matthew 8:12; Matthew 22:13;                                   Matthew 25:30)
“Blackest darkness” (Jude 1:13)
“Plunged into darkness” (Revelation 16:10)

For myself, this verse in Isaiah 66 scared me the worst. Boy, do I hate the thought of worms eating in me forever.

“…the worms that eat them will not die, the fire that burns them will not be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” [Isaiah 66:24]

To sum it all…

“Hell is total, conscious, eternal separation from the blessings of God. People think of it as a lake of fire and that certainly is a biblical image. Also, the Bible describes hell as lashing or scorpions or darkness where there’s great gnashing of teeth. There’s not just one biblical image of hell. Hell is a place for the soul of extreme torment by being separated from the blessings of God.” [by Bryan Chapell, Christianity.com]

In Hell, there is no reprieve… no pardon… and there is nothing any person can do. Just an eternity of ‘weeping and gnashing of teeth’. (Matthew 13:50)

I truly hope you now understand how the BAD NEWS involves you.

In my next post, I will lay out for you why the gospel is GOOD! FANTASTIC! Until then, I offer you this iconic verse for you to analyze and meditate on. It will blow your mind.

John 3:16-18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

 

GOSPEL part 1

DOES JESUS KNOW YOU?

As a Filipino, I live in a country that is mostly Roman Catholic. I myself is still ‘technically’ a catholic except that I am more Bible based in my practices. One time, I was told a joke about ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven’. I never got the punchline, because I bluntly shocked the teller of the joke that in all probability very few might ever enter the kingdom of heaven. You can well imagine that at that time, my revelation was less than receptive and I was not given a chance to explain. In retrospect, I should have been gentler in my approach. So, in this blog, I hope to explain clearly in what I was trying to disclose and then impart to you Good News.

First thing first, the basis of my disclosure came from the words of Jesus himself in his Sermon on the Mouth. He said…

v21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
v22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
v23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’… ” 

Matthew 7

When the teller of the joke asked me ‘how many Catholics would enter Heaven?’, this particular passage was forefront in my mind. At that matter, it is always forefront in my mind. Why? The seriousness of it is the reason why I think about it all the time especially when I am among people; strangers, friends and family alike. I mean, who would want to hear Jesus say, ‘I never knew you’?

When Jesus spoke these words, he was in the conclusive end of his sermon. These three verses is a ‘nutshell’ picture of the end of times. In the book of Revelation, John the Apostle described the final event of the end time with the returning of Jesus to the Earth… not anymore as our Savior… but as Judge! He came to judge ‘the dead, great and small, standing before the throne…’ (Rev 20:12) then they were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.’ (Rev 20:14)

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I can understand the evil being thrown into Hell, but then, how could Jesus cast those…

– that prophesied in his name…
– drove out demons in his name…
– performed many miracles in his name…
– and those that called him, ‘Lord Lord’…

…into Hell?

The answer can be found within the same passage. Those that can enter the kingdom of heaven are the ones who do the will of my Father’.

Let’s look closer at those who stood before Jesus the Judge in verse 22 of Matthew 7 and see how they did not live up to His will.

‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’

These people were just denied entry and were pleading for ‘justice’. Their arguments was that they deserved to go into heaven because of the ‘good’ things they did in Jesus’ name.

How could this be against God’s will?

As a catholic, I was taught to always do good works with the belief that this would save me from Hell. But as I read the Bible, I learned that this was contrary to God’s will which says that…

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

This verse as well as more in Scripture indicate that good works whether done in his name or not, were never meant as a way to enter into heaven. This is fundamental.

But, of course, I have gotten into trouble with people whenever I try to impart with this part of the message. Some have accused me, even in tears, that I have devalued their works of good intentions and have branded them as ‘evil’. I admit that I have hesitated to approach teaching people with the bad news aspects of the gospel; fearing that I would be branded as being negative all the time.

Let me say that the message is not yet complete. The gospel which means “good news” is still to come.

Remember! Jesus is giving us a peak into an ‘end time’ event. Rule of thumb – when the Lord provides a prophecy like this, He is giving you an opportunity to seriously check where you are and ask yourselves…

Does Jesus know you?

Some have asked on how could Jesus not know who they were? Is he not God and all knowing? Of course, He is! So, how can he say, “I never knew you”?

Again, let’s take a closer look at Revelation 20:12.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. [Rev 20:12]

Two books were opened. One book clearly cites all the deeds and all the secrets that mankind hated to bring to light. The other is the book of life. In that book is a list of names of those who will enter the kingdom of heaven… that is, eternal life. I believe when Jesus says “I never knew you” is because your name was not in the book of life. So, I again ask…

Does Jesus know you?

Is your NAME in the Book of Life?

I apologize for being so blunt again. I must ask this of you because I care. I must risk alienation so that you will be aware. You see, Jesus ended his Sermon on the Mount with these words as a way of splashing ice cold water on your face to WAKE YOU UP!

Now, I must ask…

Do you want your name to be in the book of life?

I invite you to wait for my next GOSPEL post. Meanwhile, below are three verses that I challenge you to observe, analyze and then meditate about it on your own. It is eye opening.

1 Corinthians 15:2-4
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures…

Ephesians 2:8-9
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Roman 3:28
For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

Sketching HIStory #23

Gen 22 – God tested Abraham

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Some time later… probably when Isaac was a pre-teen… God tested Abraham.

He said to him, “Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.” [Gen 22:1-2]

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Where is Moriah?

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Note: This mountain is the future place of Solomon’s Temple.

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and loaded his donkey. He took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac. When he had cut enough wood for the burnt offering, he set out for the place God had told him about. [Gen 22:3]

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On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance. He said to his servants, “Stay here with the donkey while I and the boy go over there. We will worship and then we will come back to you.”

Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and placed it on his son Isaac, and he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two of them went on together, Isaac spoke up and said to his father Abraham, “Father?”

“Yes, my son?” Abraham replied.

“The fire and wood are here,” Isaac said, “but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”

Abraham answered, “God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son.” And the two of them went on together. [Gen 22:4-8]

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When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the Lord called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!”

“Here I am,” he replied.

“Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” [Gen 22:9-12]

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Abraham looked up and there in a thicket he saw a ram caught by its horns. He went over and took the ram and sacrificed it as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called that place The Lord Will Provide. And to this day it is said, “On the mountain of the Lord it will be provided.”

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The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

Then Abraham returned to his servants, and they set off together for Beersheba. And Abraham stayed in Beersheba. [Gen 22:13-19]

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What was in Abraham’s heart as he was about to plunge the knife?

By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could even raise the dead, and so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

Hebrews 11:17-19

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Sketching HIStory #22

Gen 21 – Isaac is born & the fate of Ishmael

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Now the Lord was gracious to Sarah as he had said, and the Lord did for Sarah what he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore a son to Abraham in his old age, at the very time God had promised him. Abraham gave the name Isaac to the son Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God commanded him. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him.

Sarah said, “God has brought me laughter, and everyone who hears about this will laugh with me.” And she added, “Who would have said to Abraham that Sarah would nurse children? Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” [Gen 21:1-8]

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CRIMSON THREAD

Luke 3:23,34

Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph… the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham…

Another Christmas parallel:

In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah… and his wife Elizabeth… Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.

Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.”

After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant … [Luke 1:5-7; 11-13; 24]

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gen-21-ysmael-mocking-w.jpgThe child grew and was weaned, and on the day Isaac was weaned Abraham held a great feast. But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking… [Gen 21:9]

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…and she said to Abraham, “Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that woman’s son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac.”

The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your slave woman. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the slave into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. [Gen 21:10-14]

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God’s Promise Connection

 

vs 12  – “…it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” 

Gen 12:3   “…and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”

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She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, “I cannot watch the boy die.” And as she sat there, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.”

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the desert and became an archer. While he was living in the Desert of Paran, his mother got a wife for him from Egypt. [Gen 21:14-21]

Sketching HIStory #21

Gen 18,19 – God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah

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When the men got up to leave, they looked down toward Sodom, and Abraham walked along with them to see them on their way. [Gen 18:16]

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Then the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do? Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him. For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the Lord. Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare e the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

The Lord said, “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake.”

Then Abraham spoke up again: “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, what if the number of the righteous is five less than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five people?”

“If I find forty-five there,” he said, “I will not destroy it.”

Once again he spoke to him, “What if only forty are found there?”

He said, “For the sake of forty, I will not do it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak. What if only thirty can be found there?”

He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

Abraham said, “Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?”

He said, “For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.”

Then he said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak just once more. What if only ten can be found there?”

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

When the Lord had finished speaking with Abraham, he left, and Abraham returned home.  [Gen 18:17-33]

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The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in the gateway of the city. When he saw them, he got up to meet them and bowed down with his face to the ground. “My lords,” he said, “please turn aside to your servant’s house. You can wash your feet and spend the night and then go on your way early in the morning.”

“No,” they answered, “we will spend the night in the square.”

But he insisted so strongly that they did go with him and entered his house. He prepared a meal for them, baking bread without yeast, and they ate. [Gen 19:1-3]

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How did Lot (Abraham’s nephew) end up in Sodom?

Back in Gen 13, Lot separated from Abraham when Lot’s flock of sheep became so large that the land they both grazed in could not sustain both their flocks. When given a choice, Lot chose to bring his entire household and flocks down to the fertile valley around the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. Then in Gen 14, after he and his family became prisoners by a marauding army and then being saved by his uncle Abraham, Lot chose to reside inside the city of Sodom for better security.

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Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

Lot went outside to meet them and shut the door behind him and said, “No, my friends. Don’t do this wicked thing. Look, I have two daughters who have never slept with a man. Let me bring them out to you, and you can do what you like with them. But don’t do anything to these men, for they have come under the protection of my roof.”

“Get out of our way,” they replied. “This fellow came here as a foreigner, and now he wants to play the judge! We’ll treat you worse than them.” They kept bringing pressure on Lot and moved forward to break down the door.

But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. [Gen 19:4-10]

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Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door. [Gen 19:11]
The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the Lord against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who were pledged to marry his daughters. He said, “Hurry and get out of this place, because the Lord is about to destroy the city!” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away when the city is punished.”

When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

But Lot said to them, “No, my lords, please! Your servant has found favor in your eyes, and you have shown great kindness to me in sparing my life. But I can’t flee to the mountains; this disaster will overtake me, and I’ll die. Look, here is a town near enough to run to, and it is small. Let me flee to it—it is very small, isn’t it? Then my life will be spared.”

He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of. But flee there quickly, because I cannot do anything until you reach it.” (That is why the town was called Zoar.)  [Gen 19:12-22]

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By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah—from the Lord out of the heavens. Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt. [Gen 19:23-26]

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Early the next morning Abraham got up and returned to the place where he had stood before the Lord. He looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah, toward all the land of the plain, and he saw dense smoke rising from the land, like smoke from a furnace. [Gen 19:27-28]

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What happened to Lot later?

After Lot and his daughters survived the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, they eventually ended living like hermits in a cave somewhere in the mountain range east of the Dead Sea. Because of their isolation, Lot was tricked by his daughters to have incest intercourse with them. The result was he siring Moab and Ben-Ammi who became the fathers of the Moabites and the Ammonites. Both people will later be a factor in Abraham’s descendants’ destiny.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch16 – part 4

SPEARS AND SHIELDS – GadaraCG-book-cover-w

Cornelius was relieved that he was finally alone. He hoped that there will be no distractions for the rest of the day. He sat on his chair and opened up the big book. The night before, he completed translating a prophetical discourse of the Messiah’s message of encouragement to Israel. Whether it is to the Israel of today or the next generation is still up in question. The next passages he was reading had the beginnings of a new chapter designation. This chapter piqued his interest for it had a different ring to it than any of the preceding chapters. The Prophet Isaiah seems to be describing on what is to happen to the Messiah and it describes him suffering greatly even unto death.

On a separate parchment sheet, he translated the fifteen Hebrew verses into Greek. After reading it three times, he had to wonder if Isaiah was describing a literal happening or something that was figurative. He hoped it was the latter.

When Jacob returned, he beckoned that he sits next to him. “Jacob, look at these passages!” He slid the big book to him and pointed at the desired passages. “Let me read out loud my translation to you and you follow by reading the Hebrew. Tell me if I have gotten it right.”

“Behold, my servant will prosper;
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.

“Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.

“Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand. [Isaiah 52:13-15 NASB]

“Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

“For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.

“He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.

“But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.

“He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.

“By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?

“His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.

“But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.

“As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.

“Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.” [Isaiah 53 NASB]

“Cornelius, this is going to be strange to hear,” Jacob quietly said as he lifted his eyes. “But you have come upon a passage that I am strangely unfamiliar with. Though I have read this prophet many times, I do not honestly recall these particular words. Of course, I do tend to mostly focus on prophetic promises. I am ashamed to admit that this selfishness had blinded me to miss out on what should be a profound revelation to my God’s character.”

Jacob went silent. Cornelius could see that he was lost in his thoughts and did not want to intrude. He reached for another sheet of parchment which had his notes of the preceding chapters including many chapters that he jumped ahead right after this one. On his notes, he reviewed the list of the works of the Messiah. It is quite clear that the Messiah will fulfill everything that God had promise to not only to Israel but to the world. But this chapter which describes what happens to the Messiah stands out from the rest. He could not make it fit.

“This chapter is an enigma!” Cornelius said, breaking the silence.

“How so?”

“This indicated that Messiah is to be killed and that God allowed it. How is this futuristic kingdom to be ushered in if the Messiah is killed?”

“There lies the mystery. As a young scribe, I tried to make sense of much of prophecy. The problem is that we are reading of things that are yet to happen. Understanding comes when they are finally fulfilled. Look at what we uncovered so far that convinced us that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah. When I first came upon the prophecy of the sign of the virgin birth, I did not think it was literal. Then we hear Mariam’s account of Jesus’ birth. Then there are those things that he had done which again fit. But his story is not yet over. There is only one absolute truth that we can count on. If God says that it is going to happen, then IT IS GOING TO HAPPEN!”

“But why such suffering and then death?”

Before Jacob could answer, multiple whistle sounds can be heard through out the fort. Then the trumpets were sounded.

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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q