Sketching HIStory #18

Gen 15 – The True Promise Keeper

Let us recap what God had verbally promised to Abram so far.

Gen 12:2-3 promise-coin-w.jpg
1. “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you.”
2. “I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.”
3. “I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse.”
4. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
5. “To your offspring I will give this land.”

As to the Promise Coin image, I’m borrowing this symbol of God’s promises from the Youtube channel, The Bible Project. According to their videos, the promise coin is one of those symbols (just like the Crimson Thread) of God’s plan to get mankind back on track to His real intention for us; and that is Eternal Life for us. Focus on the tree symbol above the word ‘Promise’. That tree represent the Tree of Life of the Garden of Eden. So, whenever you see this coin in my blog, take notice it is a promise of God for us.

In Genesis 13, when Lot separated from Abram, we see again God reinforcing Abram’s faith.

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The Lord said to Abram after Lot had parted from him, “Look around from where you are, to the north and south, to the east and west. All the land that you see I will give to you and your offspring a forever. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth, so that if anyone could count the dust, then your offspring could be counted. Go, walk through the length and breadth of the land, for I am giving it to you.”

So Abram went to live near the great trees of Mamre at Hebron, where he pitched his tents. There he built an altar to the Lord. [Gen 13:14-18]

Years later, God revisited Abram in Genesis 15 which is considered a significantly important chapter in the book of Genesis and even the Bible.

After this, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.” [Gen 15:1]

God gave Abram two reasons not to fear. The first was that God Himself will be Abram’s shield. God will protect Abram. Maybe Abram was scared that the armies he had just defeated (in Gen 14) would regroup and then return for revenge. With God as his shield, Abram had nothing to fear. God would protect Abram and be his shield. This same idea is found in Psalm 3:3 where the Psalmist sings, “You, Oh Lord, are a shield about me, You’re my glory, You’re the lifter of my head.”

God will also be Abram’s reward.

Not just any reward, but an exceedingly great reward. There is no greater reward than this. There is no greater reward than God. All the gold and diamonds of the world are less valuable than a grain of dust in comparison to having God as a reward.

But what does it mean to have God as a reward? How can God be a reward? We belong to Him; He does not belong to us. God makes a very perplexing statement to Abram. How can the God of heavens and earth, the Creator of the universe, give Himself as a reward to humans, let alone a single individual? Abram could have been a bit confused by this as well.

Maybe in his own mind, Abram tried to tone down this audacious promise by God. “God can’t mean that He will give Himself to me. He must mean He will just work on my behalf. He will work to protect me and provide for me. That must be what God means.”

But that is not what God meant. God meant that He Himself is what Abram is seeking. God Himself is what Abram wants and what Abram needs. God Himself is the missing piece of Abram’s life. God Himself is Abram’s exceedingly great reward.

[from the article: The True Promise Keeper‘ by Jeremy Myers]

In truth, God Himself is the missing piece in all our lives. However, since Jesus Christ had ascended into Heaven there are many that walks this world that had been granted a piece of Him (so, to speak) and are living as He had intended for both this world and eternity. For now, this part of HIStory will have be revealed much later. However, you can contact me contact me by leaving a request in the comment area below.

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” [Gen 15:2-3]

In Genesis 15:3, Abram expressed his concern that someone other than his son would be his heir. According to the Hammurabi Code, if a man died without a natural heir, his possessions would go to the chief servant of his house, in this case, Eliezer of Damascus. Though Eliezer was probably a very good man, he was not a son. Abram wanted a son.   [from the article: The True Promise Keeper‘ by Jeremy Myers]

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Then the word of the Lord came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” [Gen 15:4-5]

The stars are a reminder, an altar, telling Abram and us that God keeps His promises.

Verse 5 is a promise that Abram’s descendants will be as numerous as the stars. Previously, God reminded Abram that his descendants would be as numerous as the grains of sand. Scientists estimate that there are 2000 billion-billion grains of sand on the earth, and probably twenty five times as many stars. Obviously, since there haven’t been this many people alive on planet earth since the beginning, God is using a figure of speech to say that Abram’s descendants will be too numerous to count. And of course, according to Galatians 3:29, Abram not only has physical descendants according to blood, who are the Jews, but spiritual descendants according to faith, who are all believers. Together, these descendants are an astronomical number, and God says that the stars will remind us, will be a celestial reminder of this promise. Abram responds to God’s promise in Genesis 15:6.  [from the article: The True Promise Keeper‘ by Jeremy Myers]

Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness. 

He also said to him, “I am the Lord, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land to take possession of it.” [Gen 15:6-7]

If Genesis 15 is one of the most important chapters in the Bible, Genesis 15:6 is the most important verse in this chapter, which makes it one of the most important verses in the Bible; definitely the most important verse in the Old Testament. Genesis 15:6 teaches that Abram was justified, he was declared righteous by God simply because he believed what God had said. Abram believed God, and God credited Abram with righteousness. Romans 4 makes it clear that this is when Abram was saved. Genesis 15:6 is Abram’s conversion. Prior to this, Abram was unsaved. It is here that he believed God, and God accounted it to him for righteousness.

This means that everything Abram did in Genesis 12, 13 and 14 was done as an unsaved person. What did Abram do? He took a step of faith by leaving Ur. He followed God in great obedience by leaving Haran and coming to Canaan. He worshiped God by building altars. Yes, there was that incident where he went to Egypt and lied about his wife, but even there, God protected and blessed Abram.  [from the article: The True Promise Keeper‘ by Jeremy Myers]

But Abram said, “Sovereign Lord, how can I know that I will gain possession of it?” [Gen 15:8]

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So the Lord said to him, “Bring me a heifer, a goat and a ram, each three years old, along with a dove and a young pigeon.”

Abram brought all these to him, cut them in two and arranged the halves opposite each other; the birds, however, he did not cut in half. Then birds of prey came down on the carcasses, but Abram drove them away. 

As the sun was setting, Abram fell into a deep sleep, and a thick and dreadful darkness came over him. Then the Lord said to him, “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back here, for the sin of the Amorites has not yet reached its full measure.”

promise-coin-wWhen the sun had set and darkness had fallen, a smoking firepot with a blazing torch appeared and passed between the pieces. On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram and said, “To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates— the land of the Kenites, Kenizzites, Kadmonites, 20Hittites, Perizzites, Rephaites, 21Amorites, Canaanites, Girgashites and Jebusites.”

[Gen 15:9-19]

So, let us understand why the animal carcasses were laid out that way.

Abram covIn ancient Near Eastern royal land grant treaties, this type of ritual was done to “seal” the promises made. The parties involved would walk the path between the slaughtered animals so to say, “May this be done to me if I do not keep my oath.” Jeremiah 34:18-19 also speaks about this type of oath-making.   

[From article by Tony Mariot, Doctor of Philosophy Theology, Christ Church, Oxford (2009)]

Abram understood the ritual and expected to partake in the covenant as a participant. But then God put him into a deep sleep. God clearly wanted to be the only participant. How?

The smoking oven and the burning torch symbolize God passing between the pieces. The most important thing to realize is that God walks through alone. Normally, both parties of the covenant would walk through together, showing that they both had responsibilities to keep in order to maintain the covenant. But when God walks through alone, He shows Abram that there is absolutely nothing Abram or his descendants have to do in order for God to keep this covenant.

It is a one sided covenant. God takes all the responsibility for fulfilling it upon Himself. No matter what Abram does or doesn’t do from this point on, God will keep His promise. No matter what Israel has or has not done in history, God will keep His promise. There are many who say that God has abandoned Israel and His promises to her, and have transferred those promises to the church. But if this has happened, Genesis 15:17 is a lie, and God is a covenant breaker. He makes this covenant alone, and no matter how much sin Abram commits, no matter how rebellious Abram’s descendants become, God will not, cannot, break this covenant with them.

God does it all. This chapter is about God doing it all. God does not meet us half way. God doesn’t even meet us most of the way. God does it all. We do nothing. I hear a lot today, and in recent years, about making commitments to God. In men’s groups, we hear a lot about being promise keepers, and promise makers. In evangelistic programs, we are instructed to tell people to commit their lives to Jesus, to give themselves to Him. In discipleship programs, we hear about making commitments and covenants with God.

But this passage reveals something else entirely. We aren’t the promise keepers. God is. He makes the promises to us, and He keeps them all by Himself. We don’t give ourselves to God. He has already given Himself fully and completely to us. We don’t make covenants with Him. He makes covenants with us, and there is only one name to sign on the bottom – His.     [from the article: The True Promise Keeper‘ by Jeremy Myers]

God said other prophetic things (a look unto the future) in Abram’s deep vision. Those words we will study further in future blog posts.

 

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 6

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

So Jesus spoke loudly to those that surrounded him, “If you continue in my word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

One of the elder priests called out to Jesus, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never yet been enslaved to anyone; how is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?”

The crowd quieted down and Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed. 

“I know that you are Abraham’s descendants; yet you seek to kill me, because my word has no place in you. I speak the things which I have seen with my Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.”

Then a number of them exclaimed loudly to Him, “Abraham is our father.”

Jesus said to them, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham. But as it is, you are seeking to kill me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. You are doing the deeds of your father.”

We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.”

Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on my own initiative, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear my word.

“You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”

Cornelius cringed and braced for violence. He scanned their faces. Most looked at him with daggers coming from their eyes. A few though looked disturbed.

“But because I speak the truth, you do not believe me. Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe me? He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.”

One of the priests answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. But I do not seek my glory; there is One who seeks and judges. Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word he will never see death.”

Pharisees in the crowd called out to Him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and the prophets also; and you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste of death.’ Surely you are not greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets died too; whom do you make yourself out to be?”

Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing; it is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God’; and you have not come to know Him, but I know Him; and if I say that I do not know Him, I will be a liar like you, but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”

So the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?”

“Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus paused for just a moment, then said, “before Abraham was born…

“I… Am.”        [John 8:31-58 NASB]

The whole court went deathly silent. Cornelius understood way to well on the implications to what Jesus had openly declared. He just claimed himself to be God. Like a bell ringing in his head the words of Isaiah came to him, ‘And his name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father…’

Cornelius suddenly felt very exposed. Then the crowd erupted. There were men shouting to stone him but the bulk of the crowd were those who believed and they again surged forward in loud exultation. Altercations broke out as a group of men with stones in their hands tried to force their way to Jesus. This gave Cornelius and the others the chance to pull Jesus into the columns.

Leading the way, Cornelius quickly headed to the nearest exit which was the eastern portico. They followed a panic group of people, who did not know what had happened, through the gates. The guards were overwhelmed to try to stop them. Going down several flights of stairs, they eventually emerged through the lower gates unto the Kidron Valley, east of the Temple Mount. They crossed a stream to the opposite side of the valley and walked up a path that led that will bring them to the top of the Mount of Olives.

Jesus looked up the towering wall of the Temple Mount for a long moment, then he looked at the disciples and said, “It is done! Let us return to Galilee.”
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The story continues on in my next post.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 5

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Jesus then stood up and gave him his answer! Cornelius whispered to himself, “Here we go!”

“My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me,” Jesus said. “If anyone is willing to do his will, he will know of the teaching, whether it is of God or whether I speak from myself. He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who is seeking the glory of the one who sent him, he is true, and there is no unrighteousness in him.”

Jesus then directly points at the orator but shifts his gaze towards the leaderships.

“Did not Moses give you the Law, and yet none of you carries out the Law? Why do you seek to kill me?”

“You have a demon! Who seeks to kill you?” cried out the orator.

Jesus answered, “I did one deed, and you all marvel. For this reason Moses has given you circumcision not because it is from Moses, but from the fathers, and on the Sabbath you circumcise a man. If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath so that the Law of Moses will not be broken, are you angry with me because I made an entire man well on the Sabbath? Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment.”

The high priest and a number of the leadership angrily walked back into the temple. Meanwhile, the crowd was busily debating among themselves on whether Jesus is the Messiah or not. Some of the people therefore, were shouting, ‘This certainly is the Prophet.’ Others were saying, ‘This is the Christ.’ Still others were saying, ‘Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was from?’

So a division occurred in the crowd because of him. Cornelius saw about twenty temple guards shoving their way through the crowd towards them, led by two of the chief priests. But they stopped at their tracks when Jesus spoke again.

“You all know me and know where I am from; and I have not come of myself, but he who sent me is true, whom you do not know. I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” [John 7:15-29 NASB]

The priests leading the guards were coaxing them to move in, but the guards feared what the crowd will do to them. The crowd was elated.

“I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the light of life.”

“You are testifying about yourself,” cried the orator who accompanied the temple guards. “Your testimony is not true.”

Jesus answered and said to them, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, for I know where I came from and where I am going; but you do not know where I come from or where I am going. You judge according to the flesh; I am not judging anyone. But even if I do judge, my judgment is true; for I am not alone in it, but I and the Father who sent me. Even in your law it has been written that the testimony of two men is true. I am he who testifies about myself, and the father who sent me testifies about me.” 

Someone in the crowd then called out, “Where is your father?”

Jesus answered, “You know neither me nor my father; if you knew me, you would know my father also.”

Then he said again to them, “I go away, and you will seek me, and will die in your sin; where I am going, you cannot come.” 

The temple guards, the orator, the chief priests and the Pharisees who were there to take Jesus looked at each other questioningly. One of them asked, “Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?”

“You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins.”

They asked him, “Who are you?”

“What have I been saying to you from the beginning? I have many things to speak and to judge concerning you, but he who sent me is true; and the things which I heard from him, these I speak to the world. When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the father taught me. And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.” [John 8:12-29 NASB]

Then the crowd surged forward most with exaltation and belief written on their faces. Cornelius and the other disciples were hard pressed to keep the crowd back from swamping him. Meanwhile, the guards and the Pharisees retreated back into the temple. Several minutes later as the crowd calm down the chief priest and the leadership came back out. The orator too went to confer with the chief priests.
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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 4

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

At his usual spot, on the steps of Solomon’s colonnade, just across from the steps that led into the Temple, Jesus was again teaching the people. But this time, there was a greater number of the ruling class occupying the platform and steps just across from him. It was John who spread the word among the disciples that Annas, the former High Priest and unspoken leader of the ruling class, and his son, Caiaphas, the current High Priest were among them. As he taught, the people and many who were there to oppose him were astonished with his words. Cornelius who kept his eyes on the leadership noted that the High Priest was showing concern that even his people were being swayed. He turned to someone just below him and gave a single nod, like it was a prearranged signal.

Then a teacher of the law stepped up to the edge of the platform wearing a rich robe of purple with gold trimmings. Cornelius surmised that probably he was their best orator. But instead of talking to the crowd, he loudly addressed himself to the leadership.

“My Lords! This man here is no teacher of the law; for he has never been among us who have spent everyday of our lives studying under the great rabbis of our time. He is uncouth and lacks the sophistication of anyone of our learned teachers. He is, after all, just from Nazareth and a carpenter’s son at that.” The men around him laughed. “How can this man be the Messiah? He openly consorts with sinners! Even one of his closest followers is a notorious tax collector.” There was more laughter. The orator continued on maligning the character of Jesus, but this time he was talking to the crowd. For fifteen minutes he twisted the teachings of Jesus and mocked them as nonsense. “It is better that you return to Galilee and teach to the sheep and goats.”

Cornelius scanned the faces of the crowd and saw that most were frowning and not happy with the orator’s words. The orator too noticed that he was losing the crowd and looked nervously back at his superiors. Jesus on the other hand was of picture of calm and serenity still sitting on the top of the steps politely allowing the other to make his point. Somehow, it had occurred to Cornelius that Jesus was waiting for this moment. Jesus made the decision to a stay a week longer beyond the festival; teaching everyday at the temple courts. Now the leadership of the ruling class was there standing across the court yard from them. This was what Jesus was waiting for. He knew he was going to go head to head with them.

The orator, needing to illustrate that Jesus is a false teacher, brought up one of Jesus’ controversial lessons that he gave some months back in the synagogue of Capernaum. This was the hard lesson when Jesus openly declared unless they ate his body, they can never enter eternal life.

“The nerve of this man!” the orator exclaimed quite dramatically. “Do you not see how ridiculous the things that this man teaches? Again I ask you all, how has this man become learned, having never been educated?”

Jesus then stood up and gave him his answer! Cornelius whispered to himself, “Here we go!”

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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Thank you

Johann Q

Sketching HIStory #15

Gen 9 – God took a hand

After releasing the animals back into the wild, Noah and his family (all 8 of them) evacuated the ark on the mount of Ararat believed to be in the ranges of modern day Turkey. The Lord God said to them…

“Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” [Gen 9:1]

God also told them that, “The fear and dread of you will fall on all the beasts of the earth, and on all the birds in the sky, on every creature that moves along the ground, and on all the fish in the sea.” I was asked once, how did Noah manage such vast variety of wild animals especially the predators? Well, by what was implied in verse 2 above, the animals while in the ark was divinely controlled.

The blessing of God is the cause of our doing well. On him we depend, to him we should be thankful. Let us not forget the advantage and pleasure we have from the labour of beasts, and which their flesh affords. Nor ought we to be less thankful for the security we enjoy from the savage and hurtful beasts, through the fear of man which God has fixed deep in them. We see the fulfillment of this promise every day, and on every side. This grant of the animals for food fully warrants the use of them, but not the abuse of them by gluttony, still less by cruelty. We ought not to pain them needlessly whilst they live, nor when we take away their lives. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

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Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him: “I now establish my covenant with you and with your descendants after you and with every living creature that was with you—the birds, the livestock and all the wild animals, all those that came out of the ark with you…

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.”

So God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant I have established between me and all life on the earth.” [Gen 9:8-17]

Even as a child, when ever I see a rainbow especially after a rainfall, the Lord’s promise always brought me comfort. Today, people are afraid that as the world’s climate gets hotter, the Arctic ice packs and glaciers will melt and cover the entire earth, like that Kevin Costner movie, Waterworld. My counsel is to look at a rainbow and believe.

After the blessing, the Lord then had set a precedent for them to remember and pass down to generations after.

“But you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it. And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each human being, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of another human being.

“Whoever sheds human blood, by humans shall their blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made mankind.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.” [Gen 9:4-7]

The main reason of forbidding the eating of blood, doubtless was because the shedding of blood in sacrifices was to keep the worshipers in mind of the great atonement; yet it seems intended also to check cruelty, lest men, being used to shed and feed upon the blood of animals, should grow unfeeling to them, and be less shocked at the idea of shedding human blood. Man must not take away his own life. Our lives are God’s, and we must only give them up when he pleases. If we in any way hasten our own death, we are accountable to God for it. When God requires the life of a man from him that took it away unjustly, the murderer cannot render that, and therefore must render his own instead. One time or other, in this world or in the next, God will discover murders, and punish those murders which are beyond man’s power to punish. But there are those who are ministers of God to protect the innocent, by being a terror to evil-doers, and they must not bear the sword in vain, Ro 13:4. Willful murder ought always to be punished with death. To this law there is a reason added. Such remains of God’s image are still upon fallen man, that he who unjustly kills a man, defaces the image of God, and does dishonour to him. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

So, Noah and his family moved east (more or less) and they steadily multiplied. Since, they were the only human beings in the world, they stayed close to each other. Two generations later, humanity’s heart became cold and distant. Enter Nimrod, the grandson of Ham (one of the 3 sons of Noah).

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Nimrod… became a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The first centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Uruk, Akkad and Kalneh, in Shinar. [Gen 10:8-10]

Nimrod was a great man in his day; he began to be mighty in the earth, Those before him were content to be upon the same level with their neighbors, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further. Nimrod was resolved to lord it over his neighbors. The spirit of the giants before the flood, who became mighty men, and men of renown, Ge 6:4, revived in him. Nimrod was a great hunter. Hunting then was the method of preventing the hurtful increase of wild beasts. This required great courage and address, and thus gave an opportunity for Nimrod to command others, and gradually attached a number of men to one leader. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It sounds like the makings of another ‘heroes of old’ or those ‘men of renown’ just like in Genesis 6.

From such a beginning, it is likely, that Nimrod began to rule, and to force others to submit. He invaded his neighbours’ rights and properties, and persecuted innocent men; endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He carried on his oppressions and violence in defiance of God himself. Nimrod was a great ruler. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, and so founded a monarchy, which was the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to rule all the world.

Nimrod was a great builder. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities, than not have the honour of ruling them. It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod’s name signifies rebellion; tyrants to men are rebels to God. The days are coming, when conquerors will no longer be spoken of with praise, as in man’s partial histories, but be branded with infamy, as in the impartial records of the Bible. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

It was Nimrod whom scholars believed was the one to build an ambitious construction of a ‘tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth’ (Gen 11:4).

How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly.

God’s purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was thus begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute; as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works. [Matthew Henry Commentary]

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. [Gen 11:5-9]

The tendency of men, as the result of a growing diversity of language, was to separate, each tribe holding intercourse only with those who spake their own dialect; and so the Divine purpose of occupying the world was carried into effect, while the project of this ambitious knot of men to hold mankind together was frustrated, and the building of their tower ceased. [Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers]

With mankind scattered through out the earth, we have to wonder ‘Why’? I believe it was part of God’s overall plan for mankind’s salvation. Of course, if I tried to impart what His plan entailed here now, this article would end up into at least a 20 chapter book. So, let me say in a nutshell, that by the scattering of humanity into different tribes and cultures actually was to benefit the spreading of God’s good news (gospel) by those of us who believe. I will reveal this more in much later blog posts.

Meanwhile, let us look at Genesis 11:10-26. To be honest, when reading Scripture and I come upon a long genealogy, my eyes tend to glaze over a little. As a sketch artist, though, it does help when I chart it out, which I did.

gen-11-shem-abram-w.jpg

In this next drawing, I laid it out on a timeline spanning about 470 years. Notice the ‘Crimson Thread’ wounding its way through Shem’s family line; he being the youngest son of Noah. This specific family line can be traced to the future descendent, Jesus Christ himself (Luke 3:34-36).

Timeline Events

Right about the second generation of Shem’s line, Noah’s family settled in the plains of Shinar. Archaeologists and scholars believed Shinar was a level plain with immensely rich soil of ancient Chaldea (Assyria). Today, this plain is not so green and can be found in modern day Iraq.

By the time of Shelah, Shem’s third generation, Nimrod built the great tower of Babel. Some believe it was the tower of Borsippa. This tower was the observatory of the Chaldean astronomers, and its name means “the tower of languages.”

Pangea_animation_03

As humanity spread through out the earth a great catastrophy changed the surface of the earth. At around Shem’s fifth generation, Peleg was born. He was so named because in his time the earth was divided (Gen 10:25). After God cracked the earth causing the floodwaters to overflow and cover the land, those same tectonic fissures eventually pushed the continents to what the earth look like today.

Then 470 years later, God spoke to Shem’s tenth generation descendant, Abram and gave him an incredible promise which we will take up in our next post.

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 3

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

Nicodemus chuckled, “This boy stood there confused when Gamaliel said you were a sinner. He answered him, ‘Whether He is a sinner, I do not know; one thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.’ So again Gamaliel demanded that he repeat what you did to him and how you opened his eyes. The scene was somewhat comical. There stood Gamaliel, looking so self-righteous, blustering away, while this young man just stood there somewhat amused about this room filled with the wisest of men and yet they could not comprehend the simplicity of what you did.

“He answered them, ‘I told you already and you did not listen; why do you want to hear it again?’ And then he asked of the whole room with such sincerity, ‘You do not want to become His disciples too, do you?’

“I tell you the room erupted and they reviled him saying that he was your disciple, and they were disciples of Moses. Gamaliel started to angrily point at him and say out loud, ‘We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.’

“Do you know what he finally said to them?”

The disciples nodded their heads expectantly while Jesus just smiled. But Cornelius was sure that he saw a gleam in his eyes.

Not able to hold it in any longer, Nicodemus blurted it out laughingly, “Well, this young man answered and said to them, ‘Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing and does His will, He hears him. Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.’

“Gamaliel was about to rip his coat but instead he screamed angrily, ‘You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?’ Two of us had to escort him out lest they all fall upon him. I am afraid that young man will not be welcomed into any of the synagogues within a twenty mile radius.” [John 9: 1-34 NASB]

An hour later, Jesus and the disciples were walking the streets of the city. He was determined to find that young man. Interestingly enough to Cornelius, he did not inquire of anybody of his whereabouts. From the upper city, they followed him down the narrow streets of the lower city, across one of the bridges then up into the walled in City of David. They found the young man standing in the very same spot where he was healed. He seems to be waiting expectantly. Cornelius realized that he did not know what Jesus looked like.

Jesus told most of the disciples to wait at a distance, as he with Peter, James and John approached the young man. They both talked for awhile. Cornelius knew not of what. Then the young man fell to the ground before Jesus and kissed his feet. Jesus bent down to help him up and the young hugged Jesus in gratitude. He followed Jesus and the others back to the waiting disciples. By then, a small crowd gathered and Cornelius noted there were Pharisees among them. Jesus seem to have noticed them too for he addressed them and said, “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.”

Sure enough, the Pharisees responded, “We are not blind too, are we?”

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” But before they could respond again, Jesus was already climbing the stairs to the temple. [John 9: 35-41 NASB]
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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

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Johann Q

THE CENTURION’S GOSPEL – Ch15 – part 2

GOING HEAD TO HEAD – JerusalemCG-book-cover-w

No one was able to answer Him a word, nor did anyone dare from that day on to ask Him another question. Cornelius noted as the Pharisees walked away that the one called Nicodemus kept looking back at Jesus, and he wondered if maybe Jesus reached him. Sure enough, he did.

That night, like all the nights that Jesus spent in Jerusalem since the festival, they were in the house of Simon the former leper. Cornelius remembered Simon as the leper that he witnessed healed when Jesus gave that Sermon on the Mount last year. Simon’s house was in the village of Bethany, a rich community two miles south of Jerusalem. He had a son, his name is Lazarus and two daughters, Martha and Mary. As they finished their evening meals, a servant of the house announced the arrival of a visitor who wanted to see Jesus. It was Nicodemus. Jesus then asked if they can use one of the upper rooms. Simon nodded his head in the assent. He and Nicodemus started for the stairs. He also called Peter, James and John to follow. It was a long while until they came back down. Cornelius wondered what went on up there, but Nicodemus had a perplexed look about, like he wasn’t so sure about himself.
It was the day after the Sabbath. They were in the home of a rich merchant who invited Jesus and his followers for a noon day meal. The rich merchant was a friend of Nicodemus who was also expected to join them. Nicodemus rushed in to where they were all lounging around the dining table. He went to Jesus and told him of an impromptu meeting of the Pharisees that was held yesterday regarding an incident of him healing a blind man on the Sabbath.

Cornelius recalled what happened yesterday. They were walking through the City of David towards the south entrance of the Temple Mount when the disciples came upon a blind man begging for alms at the bottom of the wide marble steps. Inquiring about him, they discovered that he was born blind.

Some of them asked, “Teacher, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?”

Jesus answered, “It was neither that this man sinned, nor his parents; but it was so that the works of God might be displayed in him.”

As he said this, he bent down, spat on the dirt and made clay of the spittle; after which he applied it to the blind man’s eyes. Cornelius was intrigued for Jesus only had to speak and he would see but yet he was doing something different and unusual. Then Jesus told the blind man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash the mud away and he will see. That was the last time they saw him.

“The Sanhedrin was summoned to the hall of meeting, but we knew not why,” Nicodemus said. “As I entered and took my place, Gamaliel, the head of our section, was already questioning this man. He asked how he received his sight. The young man who was excitedly joyful spoke of how you applied clay to his eyes and told him to wash it away and then he can see.

“But a number of my colleagues started to protest, ‘This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.’ While others were saying, ‘How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?’ I tell you that there is division among us over you.

“Then Gamaliel called the assembly to order and asked the young man about what he says about you, since you opened his eyes. And he said, ‘You are a prophet.’ Now some in the gallery started to accuse him that he was never really blind and that this was a trick. So, they summoned his parents.

“So, when they entered the assembly room, they looked fearful; for the word had gone out that anyone who publicly support you as the Messiah will be put out of the synagogues.

Gamaliel questioned them, saying, ‘Is this your son, who you say was born blind? Then how does he now see?’ His parents answered that he was their son and that he was born blind. But at how he is able to see, they could not say.

“The assembly was divided and could not agree on what action they were to take against you. So, Gamaliel told the young man, ‘Give glory to God; we know that this man is a sinner.’

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The story continues on in my next post.

If you are interested in reading the entire ebook, you can find my ebook in Amazon.com for only $1.99. Just click the link below.

If you want to support my writing, you can donate by clicking below…

DONATE TO MY PAYPAL

Thank you

Johann Q