GOD’S EVERLASTING COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
Again, my name is Johnny Rogers and this is my web site. As was mentioned on the home page, a short paper on God’s covenant with Abraham was previously presented at this location. That paper has been expanded into a short book that now includes the papers that had been in “THE COVENANT II” through “THE COVENANT IV”.
Do you want confirmation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God and that He died on a cross to redeem man? You can see it in the story of Abraham and the covenant that God made with him and with his descendants if you listen to Jesus tell us that story.
What's that! You don't remember Jesus telling the story of Abraham and of the everlasting covenant that God made with him in the gospel accounts? Jesus did not tell us that story in the New Testament scriptures, He told that story in the Old Testament scriptures.
He is telling us that story through what Moses has written. His Spirit is speaking through all of the inspired writers because He existed from the beginning as the Word and as the Creator.
John tells us about that when he writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” (John 1:1-3)
A few verses later John tells us, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us - -” (Verse 14)
Jesus is the Word of all scripture, including the Old Testament scriptures and when we read what Moses wrote about Abraham and God's covenant with him, the Spirit of Christ is telling us that story.
Peter said something about that in his first letter. He spoke of our salvation and said that when the prophets prophesied of the grace that was to come to us, they were "seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow" (1 Peter 1:11).
Spirit of Christ is speaking through the prophets when they
speak of the cross to come and the glories that it brought.
The Spirit of
Christ is speaking of our salvation when He speaks through Moses to
the story of God's covenant with Abraham.
listen again to that old story of Abraham and of God’s
everlasting covenant promise to give to him and to his descendants
TABLE OF CONTENTS
CHAPTER 1 – GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
CHAPTER 2 – GOD'S TRUE PROMISE WAS FOR A HEAVENLY LAND
CHAPTER 3 – THAT OLD STORY IS AN EARTHLY COPY OF OUR STORY
4 – THE MYSTERIES OF THE
5 – MORE FROM THAT OLD EARTHLY COPY
CHAPTER 6 – THAT OLD STORY HAPPENED FOR OUR INSTRUCTION
CHAPTER 7 – GOD CAUSED THAT STORY TO HAPPEN AS IT DID
CHAPTER 8 – GOD IS CAUSING OUR SALVATION STORY TO HAPPEN
CHAPTER 9 – GOD’S PROMISE IS TO ABRAHAM AND TO HIS SEED
CHAPTER 10 – GOD’S PROMISES ARE TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
CHAPTER 11 – GOD’S PROMISES ARE TO THOSE WHO OVERCOME
CHAPTER 12 – GOD’S COVENANT REQUIREMENT OF CIRCUMCISION
CHAPTER 13 – GOD’S COVENANT REQUIREMENT IS PERFECTION
CHAPTER 14 – CLOTHED WITH HIS PERFECTION
CHAPTER 15 – GOD’S ARMY MUST FIGHT FOR THEIR LAND
CHAPTER 16 – THE DAY WILL COME WHEN GOD WILL KEEP HIS PROMISE
CHAPTER 1 – GOD’S COVENANT WITH ABRAHAM
thousand years ago God called Abraham and asked him to leave his
his father’s house and go to a land that God would show him.
obeyed God and he went to that earthly
Abraham later had a son through Hagar, his wife’s maid servant. Abraham assumed that son (Ishmael) would be his heir but God had other plans. God made His plans known to Abraham when He made His everlasting covenant with him in Genesis, chapter 17.
God appeared to Abraham and told him, “I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Genesis 17:7-8)
Most of the Christian world may not be hearing what God said when He made His covenant promises to Abraham. Some say that God’s covenant promise is unconditional. We will look at that possibility a little later.
Speaking of God’s promise to him, when God gave Abram (Before his name was changed to Abraham) credit for righteousness because he believed God’s promise that he would have descendants like the stars in the heavens, God told him, “To your descendants I have given this land, From the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates” (Genesis 15:18).
Has God failed to keep His promise to Abraham’s descendants? From the wording in God’s covenant promise it appears that Abraham and his earthly descendants were to have all of that land.
Psalmist refers back to God’s everlasting covenant with Abraham and
says, that, “He
has remembered His covenant forever, The word
which He commanded to a thousand generations, The covenant
which He made
with Abraham, And His oath to Isaac. Then
He confirmed it to Jacob for a statute, To
the same covenant promises to Abraham, Isaac and to Jacob. He
one of those men, “To
you I will give
the same promise to every one of Abraham’s descendants. He
told Abraham, “I
give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your
of Abraham's descendants was being told the same thing; “TO
YOU I WILL GIVE
Abraham and millions of his earthly descendants after him lived and died on this earth without receiving that earthly land. How could that be true when we know that God does not lie? He keeps His promises.
spoke of how Abraham
never inherited any
part of that earthly land when
he was brought before
the Jewish council. He had been charged with preaching
Moses. Moses had recorded the story of Abraham and his
how God had given them that
Stephen reminded those Jews of something that Moses recorded. He told them how God called Abraham and brought him to that earthly land where they lived and He promised to give that land to Abraham and to his descendants after him but Abraham never received any part of that land.
Speaking of God’s promise to Abraham, Stephen told them, “But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM.” (Acts 7:5)
Stephen was trying to show those Jews how that earthly land of Canaan could not have been God’s true covenant promise because Abraham died without receiving any part of that land even though God had promised it to him as a possession.
Not only did God not give it to Abraham, his descendants will not enter that land and take possession of it for more than six hundred years after the promise was first made to Abraham.
By the time that Joshua led God’s people in to take possession of that land, tens of thousands of Abraham’s descendants will have lived and died having never even seen that land. What about God’s promise to them, as well as to Abraham?
God does not break His covenant promises, so most of the Christian world has misunderstood what God’s everlasting covenant promises were. Most have also misunderstood what the everlasting covenant requirement is.
If God did not keep His promise to Abraham’s earthly descendants was it because the promises were to Abraham’s descendants by faith?
CHAPTER 2 – GOD'S TRUE PROMISE WAS FOR A HEAVENLY LAND
God does not lie. He keeps His promises. How, then, will He keep His promise to give that land of Canaan to millions of Abraham’s descendants who lived and died on this earth without receiving that earthly land?
Paul answers that question for us when he says, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “THROUGH ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS WILL BE NAMED.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.” (Romans 9:6-8)
true covenant is with Abraham and with his descendants by faith, not
descendants in the flesh. Abraham’s descendants by faith are
The true covenant promise is God’s new covenant promise, not the old covenant promise. God’s new covenant promise is for a heavenly land, not an earthly land. We can see that when we hear God tell Abraham that He will give them that land as an everlasting possession.
There are no everlasting lands on this temporary earth. The only everlasting land will come with that new earth. Abraham would come to know that was God’s true promise.
Scripture says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10)
When God called him, Abraham went to that earthly land where he spent most of the rest of his life living like an alien in a foreign land. He lived and died in that earthly land looking for a heavenly land.
The same is true for his descendants by faith. God had promised his descendants an everlasting possession and He will keep His promise.
The Hebrew writer was speaking of Abraham's descendants by faith when he said, “Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand which is by the seashore. All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:12-13)
old covenant descendants who were of faith, died without
The writer says, “For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them.” (Hebrews 11:14-16)
Those who died in faith will receive the everlasting possession that God has promised. God has prepared that heavenly city for them. It is the same heavenly city that Abraham was looking for. It is the same city that John saw coming down out of heaven in Revelation, chapter 21.
John says, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.” (Revelation 21:1-2)
God told John, “He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.” (Revelation 21:7) God’s sons will inherit that whole new world, including that heavenly city.
Remember, we heard Paul say of Abraham’s true descendants, “That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”
Abraham’s descendants of promise are those who are of Abraham’s faith. They will know that God’s everlasting covenant promise is that heavenly land and a heavenly city. Those who truly believe that is God’s promise will live their lives on this earth like those faithful ones of old lived. They will live here like aliens in a foreign land.
Those who know they are just passing through this world will overcome this world and they will inherit that whole new world.
Paul confirms that was God’s true covenant promise to Abraham and to his descendants when he speaks of how Abraham was given credit for righteousness by his faith. He says, “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13)
knew what Moses had written about God’s covenant
promise to Abraham and that it was the
Paul was not speaking of our being heirs of this world. This world is not our home. We are just passing through, on our way to that new world. God’s children are heirs to that new world.
One must overcome this world if they are to become heirs to that new world and one can only overcome by faith.
Christ speaks of those who overcome becoming heirs to that new world when He tells John that, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:26-28)
That would fit with what Daniel saw in one of his visions. He had seen one like the Son of Man come before the Ancient of Days where He was given a kingdom where all peoples and nations would serve Him (Daniel 7:13-14). It would be an everlasting dominion that would not pass away.
A few verses later Daniel says the court will sit for judgment; “Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One; His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all the dominions will serve and obey Him.” (Daniel 7:27)
CHAPTER 3 – THAT OLD STORY IS AN EARTHLY COPY OF OUR STORY
earthly descendants did not enter that
God actually gave Abraham both the old covenant promise and the new covenant promise at the same time. The old covenant promise was an earthly copy of the new covenant promise. Was God giving man an earthly copy for our instruction? Can we see that when we compare the two covenants and what happened to those Israelites under that old covenant?
that old covenant with its promise to Abraham’s
earthly descendants for that earthly land, we saw where God’s people
themselves in slavery in
called Moses and sent him back into
know how Moses brought God’s people out of slavery with
signs and wonders and led them through the wilderness to their
earthly descendants had been promised that
how that shows an earthly parallel of our spiritual
salvation story. Abraham’s descendants by faith have been
heavenly land but centuries later we found ourselves in spiritual
this world. God sent Jesus to bring us out of spiritual
slavery just as
He sent Moses to bring His earthly
Jesus told the Jews about that spiritual slavery one day. He told some who had believed in Him that if they continued in His word they would know the truth and the truth would make them free. Their response was that they were not enslaved to anyone so how would they be made free.
Scripture tells us that, “Jesus answered them, “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.” (John 8:34-36)
Every person on earth (Who has reached the age of accountability) is guilty of sin and they are in bondage to sin if they have not been made free. For one to be set free from slavery to sin, they must follow Jesus out of that slavery because He is the only one who can set us free.
Just before he died Moses had foretold how, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
would be many prophets to come after Moses but
Christ was the only prophet who would be like Moses in that He was sent
God’s people out of slavery and take them to their Promised
led God’s people out of earthly slavery to show an earthly copy of how
is leading God’s spiritual
Just as Moses led those earthly Israelites out of slavery with signs and wonders, Jesus began leading His people out of spiritual slavery with signs and wonders.
On the Day of Pentecost Peter told those Jews, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know-- this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power.” (Acts 2:22-24)
It appears that God may have caused that old story to happen as an earthly copy of how we are being saved from slavery to sin just as Christ spoke in parables while He was on earth in the flesh.
There is one big difference between Christ speaking in parables while He was on earth and what happened in that old Hebrew story. It appears that all of Christ’s parables were fictional earthly stories but that old Hebrew story was not fiction. It actually happened. Did God cause it to happen the way it did for our instruction?
4 – THE MYSTERIES OF THE
Jesus said that the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are hidden in His parables. He tells us about that in Matthew, chapter 13. He was speaking to the crowds in parables to tell of the good news of the kingdom of heaven but it was all mysteries to the crowds.
Matthew recorded Jesus speaking several parables to the crowds and then he says, “All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables, and He did not speak to them without a parable.” (Verse 34)
Mark says that, "He did not speak to them without a parable; but He was explaining everything privately to His own disciples" (Mark ).
He was explaining the spiritual meaning of His parables to His disciples when they were apart from the crowds. The crowds never heard Him do that. All they heard was earthly copies of the spiritual message.
His disciples must have wondered why He spoke to the crowds in parables because, scripture says, “the disciples came and said to Him, "Why do You speak to them in parables?" (Matthew 13:10)
Jesus answered them, "To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.”
Jesus said the crowd only heard parables because, “while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand”.
The crowds will only hear the message in parables because, their hearts have become dull, their ears can scarcely hear and they have closed their eyes. They refuse to come near to hear Jesus as He explains His parables to His disciples and, as a result, the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven are not being revealed to them.
The crowds came by the thousands to hear Jesus speaking the gospel message. Some would come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God but few of them would be willing to pay the cost of discipleship.
Of that cost Jesus once told the crowd, "Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.” (Luke 14:27)
When Jesus told them that one had to carry his own cross and come after Him Jesus was speaking in a parable but the crowds could not understand the meaning. There were likely some believers in the crowd that could not understand the meaning.
Remember, Jesus said that His disciples would know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Not all believers are disciples. Only those believers who were willing to take up their cross and forsake all for Jesus would become His disciples.
Some of those in the crowds, even among the Jewish rulers, would come to believe in Him but they were not willing to confess Him.
John writes, “Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.” (John 12:42-43)
Those believers who were willing to risk everything to confess Him and follow Him became His disciples. They would come to know that being rejected by unbelievers and having to endure the affliction that would come was a part of carrying a spiritual cross.
His disciples have been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven but it will not happen all at once. Most will only know the basics of gospel obedience when they become disciples but they will know enough to be saved.
His disciples must keep listening to Him as He explains His parables and they will grow in their knowledge of the kingdom of heaven. We will never know all of those mysteries in this life but we must keep listening to Him.
The good news of the kingdom of heaven includes the revelation of the plan of salvation to man. Jesus is telling us how God is doing that in His parables. If He was speaking the message in parables while He was on earth is He doing the same through the writings of the prophets?
After Matthew recorded how Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables to fulfill what Isaiah had prophesied, he referred to another prophecy that was being fulfilled when Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables.
He was fulfilling something that the Psalmist had foretold. He said, “This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet: "I WILL OPEN MY MOUTH IN PARABLES; I WILL UTTER THINGS HIDDEN SINCE THE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD." (Matthew 13:35)
Matthew was referring back to Psalms, chapter 78. That chapter begins, "Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings of old, Which we have heard and known, And our fathers have told us".
The Psalmist then repeated what their fathers had told them and it was the old Hebrew salvation story.
Christ is speaking to us through the Psalmist. Remember that the scriptures are God’s word and Christ is the Word.
John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1) John then tells us that all things came into being through Him. He later tells us how the Word became flesh and dwelled among us.
Christ was the Word of God that became flesh and He is the Creator. The Father spoke through Him and He did all of His creation work through Him. When the Spirit spoke through the prophets, the Spirit of Christ who would later become Jesus Christ on earth was actually speaking through them to foretell what was to come.
Peter spoke of our salvation and how the prophets spoke of the grace to come. They were “seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” (1 Peter 1:11)
His Spirit speaks to us through the prophet Hosea and He says, “I have also spoken to the prophets, And I gave numerous visions, And through the prophets I gave parables.” (Hosea 12:10)
When the Psalmist said, “I will open my mouth in a parable”, Christ was the one speaking. The Spirit of Christ is speaking through the Psalmist and He began by saying that He would open His mouth in a parable and speak dark saying of old, things their fathers had told them.
That was prophecy of how He would later come speaking in parables but He also said that He would open His mouth in a parable and speak dark sayings of old which the fathers had told them.
When we listen to the Spirit of Christ retell what their fathers told them, we hear Him retell that old Hebrew story of how God saved His people out of slavery and brought them through the wilderness to lead them to their land.
He says that story must be told to the generation to come. He was speaking to us, the spiritual generation to come. He is telling us the earthly salvation story of that Hebrew nation that the fathers had retold to them and He says that He is speaking it in a parable.
How could that be true? We know that old story is not fiction. It really happened. How could that old Hebrew story be a parable?
It can't be a parable as we think of parables because our definition of a parable says the earthly story is a fictional story and that old Hebrew story is a true story. Our definition of a parable says the story is fiction but God is not required to use our definitions.
CHAPTER 5 – MORE FROM THAT OLD EARTHLY COPY
about that old covenant Israelite story
happened as an earthly copy of our spiritual story. We saw
saved them from earthly slavery in
caused His people to wander through the wilderness of
God had not hardened Pharaoh’s heart and caused him to
Why would God harden Pharaoh’s heart and cause the event of the parting of the sea to come about that destroyed thousands of Egyptians in the sea if His people had already been allowed to go free?
He caused it to happen as an earthly copy of our gospel message for our instruction so that we could know that He meant exactly what He would say clearly in the New Testament scriptures.
at what happened in that earthly story when God
God would be honored through what would take place is
a part of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven. Pharaoh and
Moses told them, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. The LORD will fight for you while you keep silent.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
Moses to tell the sons of
God told him, “As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
caused Pharaoh to chase after
Remember, we were lost in slavery to sin in this world. Jesus told His disciples to go save us from that slavery. He told them to, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
The Egyptians were their slave-masters in that old earthly copy. Their slave-masters were washed away in the sea. We are saved from slavery to sin if we will believe the gospel message and follow Jesus through our sea and have our sins washed away.
We can see that happen when Paul was saved from slavery to sin. When Paul saw Jesus and became a believer, Jesus told him to “enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.” (Acts 9:6)
Paul later retold what happened after he had gone into the city. Ananias came to him and told Paul that God had appointed him to know His will and to see Jesus and to be His witness of what he fad seen and heard. He told Paul, “Now why do you delay? Get up and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts ).
Paul had been in slavery to sin but when he obeyed the gospel and passed through the sea his sins were washed away in the sea. It had been foretold in what happened to God’s people when those Egyptians were washed away in that sea.
God allowed Pharaoh to remain alive in order to show the earthly copy of God's power to save through the gospel message and to proclaim the name of Jesus throughout the world. Jesus has been honored by what He had to do to open a pathway through the sea so that we can pass through. He had to stretch out His hands on the cross for that to happen.
The name of Jesus Christ is now being proclaimed throughout the earth to tell all nations the good news of what He has done to redeem us from slavery to sin.
It appears at first glance that our sins are our slave-masters but the scriptures are saying something else. Paul tells us what happens when we come through those waters when he writes, “do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3)
Paul then tells us, “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.”
Our body of sin was our slave-master. We will have been set free from slavery to sin when our old earthly body of sin has been done away with in the sea of baptism. We must repent of having served that body of sin and make the decision to put that old body of sin to death in the waters of our sea so that we can be raised up to walk in newness of life.
If we obey the gospel and become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall be in the likeness of His resurrection. We will have become born again children of God by water and the Spirit.
the Israelites saw what God had done, scripture
old covenant people had been brought through the sea
and out of slavery in
They must travel through the wilderness to that land and be willing to fight for it. It will not happen for most of them. Most of them will be disobedient and rebellious and they will refuse to fight for that land.
Remember when they sent the twelve spies in to spy out the land, ten of those spies came back and gave a bad report. They told how it was truly a land of milk and honey but they also said it was inhabited by strong nations and giants and God’s people would not be able to overcome them.
Only Joshua and Caleb gave a good report and encouraged the people to enter and take possession of that land. They had been saved from slavery and the land of promise was before them but they wanted to return to slavery, instead.
God was displeased with them and He told them that their corpses would fall in that wilderness (Numbers ). Not one of those of their numbered men would enter that land except for Joshua and Caleb. In the next chapter we will hear Paul tell us that what happened to those Israelites happened for our instruction. We need to hear the message and not let the same thing happen to us.
CHAPTER 6 – THAT OLD STORY HAPPENED FOR OUR INSTRUCTION
appears that God may have caused that old Hebrew
story to happen for our instruction just as Christ spoke in parables
instruction while He was on earth. Paul appears to be saying
thing in his first letter to the church at
Paul spoke of what happened in that old Hebrew story and said, “For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.” (1 Corinthians 10:1-5)
After reminding them of that old story and how God struck most of them down because He was not pleased with them, he tells us, “Now these things happened as examples for us” (Verse 6).
A little later he says, “Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall." (1 Cor. 10:11-12).
Paul said that what happened to that earthly nation happened as our example and God had it recorded by Moses for our instruction. He says that we need to take heed lest we fall like they fell in their earthly wilderness.
The Hebrew writer referred to that same story and he says the same thing about it that Paul said. He speaks of their land of promise as the land of rest and tells us how that nation could not enter their land of rest because of their hard hearts.
He speaks of those ancient Israelites who rebelled against God and says, “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, "TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS.” (Hebrews 3:7-8)
He warns us to, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end” (Verses 12-14).
Do we believe in Jesus? He is the Word of all scripture because He was the Word from the beginning. John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." (John 1:1-3)
A few verses later John tells us how the Word became flesh and dwelt among us (Verse 14). Christ was the Word of God from the beginning and He is the Creator of all things.
Christ is speaking through the inspired writers to tell us to look at that old earthly story and be careful not to let the same thing happen to us that happened to them.
They believed in the Lord enough to follow Moses out of slavery and through the sea. They really believed when they were watching the Lord do His awesome work at the sea.
When the Israelite nation went through the sea, their Egyptian slave-masters tried to overtake them to bring them back into slavery but they were washed away in the sea. Scripture says that not even one of them remained (Exodus ).
tells us, “Thus
We heard the Hebrew writer say “For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end”.
The same writer will later say, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
They were a saved nation of faith. They had been saved by their faith but they never received what had been promised because they did not hold fast the beginning of their assurance firm until the end. Because they did not hold faithful until the end they never received their land of rest.
The Spirit is speaking and He tells us that we will have become partakers of Christ if we hold fast in our faith (“the beginning of our assurance”) firm until the end.
He says, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience” (Hebrews ).
That is the same thing that Paul told the Corinthians. He said that what happened to those Israelites happened as our example and it was written for our instruction. God is using that old earthly Hebrew story to tell us about our spiritual salvation.
Moses wrote that story but the Spirit of Christ was speaking through him as he wrote. He is telling us an earthly salvation story but the true message has to do with our spiritual salvation.
Peter speaks of our salvation and says that, “As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow.” (1 Peter 1:10-11)
If the Spirit of Christ is telling us that story through Moses and that story is an earthly copy of our spiritual salvation story it sounds like Christ is speaking to us in a true story parable. Did He cause that old Hebrew story to happen as it did as a true story copy for our instruction?
Was He working in the lives of Abraham’s earthly descendants to bring about the old covenant story of how they were saved out of slavery in Egypt to be brought to their land as an earthly copy of how God’s spiritual people are being saved out of slavery to sin on this earth to be brought to their spiritual land?
CHAPTER 7 – GOD CAUSED THAT OLD STORY TO HAPPEN AS IT DID
We heard Paul say that what happened to those Israelites after they were brought out of Egyptian slavery happened as our example and it was written for our instruction. Did God make it happen as it did as a part of His creation work?
Remember, Christ was the Creator from the beginning (John 1:1-3). He does all of the Father’s creation work.
Paul spoke of Christ’s creation work when he said that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Colossians 1:16).
Christ’s creation work includes selecting all rulers
and thrones and authorities, then His creation work is still under way
includes installing all who are to be placed in power, at all
includes every ruler since Adam and it included the
Pharaoh that ruled
If Christ placed Pharaoh into power, did He cause Pharaoh to make choices that caused that old story to happen as it did?
Paul spoke of that Pharaoh and said, “the Scripture says to Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH” (Romans 9:17).
Christ, the Creator, put Pharaoh into his position of power so that He could bring about the events that would demonstrate His power in Pharaoh and that His name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth. That work was completed when Pharaoh and his army perished in the sea. How did Christ cause that to happen?
He caused Pharaoh and his army perished in the sea when He hardened his heart one last time. Pharaoh had already let God’s people go free but Christ caused him to change his mind when He hardened his heart so that He would gather his army and go after the Israelites.
Remember how that old salvation story began? When God sent Moses to bring God’s people out of slavery God told him before hand that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let His people go.
said to Moses, “When you go back to
God (Through Christ) told Moses what would happen and how He would cause it to happen before He sent Moses back into Egypt to bring His people out of Egyptian slavery. He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that he would not let them go until He was ready.
caused Pharaoh to refuse to let His people go free
until all of God's signs and wonders had been displayed in the
God had it all planned before He sent Moses back and then He caused it to happen just as He planned for it to happen. The Father planned it and Christ made it happen.
If Christ was causing it all to happen to demonstrate His power in Pharaoh and that His name would be proclaimed throughout the earth, how can we see that in scripture? Did He cause an earthly copy of our salvation story to happen so that we can see it in that earthly copy?
that old earthly story God saved His people from
slavery under Pharaoh and that foretold how He would save His spiritual
Satan is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). The gospel “is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
have been commanded to proclaim that gospel message to
all nations in the name of Jesus Christ. Just before He
ascended back to
the Father He told His disciples, “Thus
it is written, that the Christ would
suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, and that
forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations,
When the Jews wanted to know by what power Peter had healed a man, Peter told them, “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:10-12)
There is salvation in no other name under heaven other than the name of Jesus Christ. It appears that Christ foretold it all in an earthly copy of that old Hebrew story that He caused to come about as it did for our instruction.
That sounds like He is speaking to us in parables just as He spoke in parables while He was on earth in the flesh. The difference is that old Hebrew salvation story was a true story, not fiction. It is obvious that God can cause true stories to happen, however.
CHAPTER 8 – GOD IS CAUSING OUR SALVATION STORY TO HAPPEN
We heard Paul refer back to something that Moses had written about Pharaoh. He said that the scripture spoke to Pharaoh and told him why God had raised him up. It was to demonstrate His power in Pharaoh and that His name would be proclaimed throughout the earth (Romans ).
When we keep reading what Paul wrote in Romans, chapter 9, we hear him say that God has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. Wow, how can that fit with our making our own choices?
How can that be true when we will be judged based on the choices that we make in this life?
Paul asks that obvious question for us. He says, “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?” (Romans 9:19-20)
Paul says that it happens like the Potter works with the clay. He then asks another question for us; "Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use, and another for common use?" (Romans 9:21)
Christ is the Creator so He is the Potter and we are the clay. It sounds like He is involved in the creation of our life story just as He created that old Hebrew salvation story. Paul says that He has mercy on some and He hardens others, as He desires.
Do we have a choice or not? Paul asked that question for us. Does he have an answer it for us? How can He find fault with us in judgment if He makes us into the vessel of His choosing?
Paul had already answered that question for us. We can see that if we back up just a few verses into chapter 8. If we listen carefully we can hear him speak of how God is causing things to happen in our lives and for those who love Him He is making us into vessels meant for glory.
He is speaking of how the Potter works to create vessels of His choosing from the clay before Him when he writes, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." (Romans 8:28-30)
Paul is speaking of Christ’s new creation. He is causing true life stories to come about and for those who choose to love God He will cause it all to work together for their good.
That is how we have input into what kind of vessel we become. We must obey the great commandment and love God. He will create us into vessels of glory in the image of His Son, meaning that we will be created in the image of God in the new creation.
When Paul said that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, he is speaking of a good spiritual story, not a good earthly story. Paul wrote this scripture and he did not have a good earthly story. He had a very bad earthly story but he had a good spiritual story.
He was creating an earthly salvation story when He caused that old Israelite story to happen as it did in this creation but He is causing our spiritual story to happen as it does in His new creation.
We can see this natural creation with our eyes but we can only see God’s new creation by faith.
Remember, we heard Paul speak of Christ’s creation work and say, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible- - - -” (Colossians ).
Christ’s first creation was visible, something that we can see with our eyes. His new creation is invisible. That first creation was completed when He created man in the image of God and placed him in the Garden of Eden. His new creation is the invisible creation of how He is creating us in the image of God by recreating us in the image of Himself.
Paul is speaking of that new creation work when he says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.” (2 Corinthians 2:17)
The Greek word for creature in that scripture can mean either “creature” or “creation”. Paul appears to be telling us that we are a new creation in Christ when we are brought into Christ’s body.
Because of sin we were separated from God in this visible creation but we are being reconciled to God in Christ Jesus in His new creation because there is no sin in Christ Jesus. John says, "You know that He appeared in order to take away sins; and in Him there is no sin." (1 John 3:5).
Speaking of how we make our own choice with regard to Gospel obedience, our first requirement is to obey the greatest commandment to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind (Matthew 22:37-38). We must show our love for God with obedience.
As Jesus told His disciples, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father’s who sent Me.” (John 14:23-24)
We heard Paul speak of those who will love God and say that God will cause all things to work together for their good.
We also heard him say that God foreknew who would make that choice and He predestined them to become His children (“For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren”).
Remember, God is not limited in time. He is in all time now and He was in all time in the beginning. He foreknew the future because He was there before it happened.
It appears that God foreknew who would make the choice to love Him before the foundation of the world and for those whom He foreknew would make that choice, He chose them and predestined them to become His children in His image in the new creation.
Paul confirms God’s foreknowledge of us and how He foreknew what kind of vessel He planned for us to become when he says that God, “- - - chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6)
We can also see God's foreknowledge of those who would choose to love Him in what David said about himself. He says, “Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
Every day of his life had been recorded in God’s book before David was born. God foresaw David and He foreknew that he would be a man after God’s on heart and He caused the things of his life to work together for David’s good.
David would make some awful mistakes and he would pay dearly for them in this life but he would repent and become a vessel meant for glory.
God not only foreknew David’s whole life He foreknew what He would say before he said it. David says, “Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all. You have enclosed me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.” (Verses 4-6)
God foreknew David’s whole life and it appears that He foreknew it and recorded it all before the foundation of the world. We heard Paul say that God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world.
From what Paul said in the message that he gave on Mars Hill, it appears that God foreknew all of the nations of the earth and preset their appointed times before the foundation of the world. He told the crowd that God “- - -made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation” (Acts ).
All men of every nation came from Adam and Paul said that God had determined their appointed times and boundaries. If He appointed our times then he appointed them before we were. God is not limited in time so if He appointed our times before we existed then our times could have been appointed before the foundation of the world.
We know that God allows us to make our own choices when it comes to our salvation. It appears that God foresaw us make our choices and that He heard and answered all of our prayers before we were born. That would allow us to have input into our life story.
His wish is that all would repent and make the choice to love Him and become obedient. God spoke through Ezekiel and said, “Do I have any pleasure in the death of the wicked,” declares the Lord GOD, “rather than that he should turn from his ways and live?” (Ezekiel 18:23)
Peter tells us the same thing when he speaks of our salvation and says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
We are involved in the creation of our life story when we pray for God to make things happen for us. When we pray and God answers our prayers, we have input in the creation of our life story. It appears that God heard and answered our prayers and planned our story before we were born.
It is hard for us to comprehend a God with that kind of power and foreknowledge. We may be able to understand how He could foreknow a few people and make plans for them but how could He foreknow billions of people and make plans for them before the foundation of the world?
If He can know some trivial things, like having each hair of our head numbered (Matthew ), then He surely knows the important things.
As David said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; It is too high, I cannot attain to it.”
CHAPTER 9 – GOD’S PROMISE IS TO ABRAHAM AND TO HIS SEED
heard God tell Abraham what His covenant promise to him
was in Genesis, chapter 17. He told Abraham, “I
will give to you and
to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the
The KJV version says the promise was to Abraham and to his seed. That seems to be saying the same thing except for something that Paul said about that promise in his letter to the Galatians. Paul was trying to explain to them how God’s promises are to those who are of faith, not to those who are of the Law.
The real promise is for God’s Spirit to be given to His children so that they can be made one with Him and receive His righteousness by faith. Paul says of that gift, “So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?” (Galatians 3:5)
He speaks of Abraham’s descendants who are to receive the covenant promise by faith and says, “Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” (Galatians 3:6-7)
He spoke of God’s covenant promises to Abraham and his Seed and said, “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ.” (Verse 16)
says that the true promise to Abraham was, “I
will give to you
and to your Seed, Jesus Christ, the land of your sojournings, all the
The Promise to Abraham’s Seed was to one individual, Jesus Christ, but the scripture says that He will be “their” God. How can it be both singular and plural when the promise was to Christ?
We must become one with Christ. Paul tells us how we become one with the Firstborn Son and therefore sons of God and heirs with Him when he then says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Verses 26-28)
He says of those who have been clothed with Christ in baptism, "And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Verse 29)
We will have become sons of God with Him and therefore heirs to the covenant promises with Him by having believed and obeyed the gospel message and being baptized into Him. Those who have not believed and obeyed that message are not God’s children and they are not heirs to the promises.
CHAPTER 10 – GOD’S PROMISES ARE TO THOSE WHO LOVE HIM
Regarding God's promise of our being created in the image of His Son if we choose to love Him, Jesus tells us who really loves Him in John 14:15. He says, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments”.
He makes sure we get the message when He tells us, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our abode with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine, but the Father's who sent Me” (verses 23-24).
Having an abode with God is the covenant promise. Only those who choose to love God with obedience to His word will have that heavenly home with Him. The Father will love those who choose to love His Son and who show it with obedience and the Son will love those that the Father loves.
We heard Paul tell us how God will cause all things to work together for good in our lives if we love Him. We said that shows how we have a choice of what we become by our making the choice to love God.
We can hear Paul confirm that we have input into what we will become when he tells Timothy there are some vessels of honor and some vessels of dishonor in any large house.
He says, “Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified, useful to the Master, prepared for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)
The promise has been made to those who love God and only those who obey Him really love Him. They are the ones who make the choice to obey Him and abstain from wickedness. God foresaw which ones would make that choice and He is helping them to overcome this world.
We heard Paul speak of how the Potter is working with the clay to cause people’s lives to happen as they do. He said that for those who love Him He will cause all things to work together for their good.
He said that God foreknew them and He predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son. That means they are being created in the image of God in the new creation. They are His created sons and Christ’s brethren.
Paul said that God’s sons have been called and predestined and justified and glorified. Christ, the Creator, is causing it all to happen as it does.
It sounds as if His new creation work includes having mercy on those who are to be created in the image of Christ Jesus and hardening the hearts of others. With regard to God hardening others, we heard Paul speak of that Pharaoh and how God hardened him to help cause His power to be displayed in him and that His name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.
As Christ is doing His new creation work He is causing all things to work together for good in the lives of those who love Him so as to create them into the image of Him-self.
Remember, the greatest commandment is the commandment to love God.
When a Jewish lawyer asked Jesus what the great commandment in the Law was, Jesus told him, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40)
Paul speaks of what God has promised to those who keep the greatest commandment and love God. He says, “THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” (1 Corinthians 2:9)
James spoke of God’s promise to those who love Him and said, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12)
In the next chapter we can see that God’s promises are for the kingdom of heaven when James says, “Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (James 2:5)
We heard Paul tell us how God is causing all things to work together for good for those who love Him and how He foreknew them and He is calling them and has predestined them to become conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28-29). He foreknew who would choose to love Him and He is calling them to become His children and heirs to His kingdom.
We are heirs to the kingdom if we love God but we heard Jesus say, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” We also heard Him say those who refuse to keep His word don’t love Him.
believe that Jesus means what He says and we must show our love for Him
obedience to receive God’s promise. Having an abode with God
covenant promise. Only those who choose to love God with
obedience to His
word will have that heavenly home with Him.
CHAPTER 11 – GOD’S PROMISES ARE TO THOSE WHO OVERCOME
We heard the scriptures tell us that God’s promises are to those who love God. The scriptures also tell us that God’s promises are to those who overcome. God will help those who love Him to overcome so that they can obtain those promises.
Speaking of God’s promises, John foresaw His promises being fulfilled in Revelation, chapter 21. John saw a new heaven and new earth and a New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven. He heard a voice from the throne tell him how God will dwell among men and He will wipe away the tears from their eyes. God told him that the first things will have passed away; “Behold, I am making all things new.”
God was speaking of those new things when He told John that, "He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son. But for the cowardly and unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:7-8)
Those who overcome will inherit that city of gold. Will they inherit that whole new world? The KJV translation says they will inherit “all things”. It appears that God may be saying that those who overcome this world will become heirs to all things in that new world.
God’s children are the heirs because they will overcome this world because of their faith. John said, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
Paul may be speaking of that whole new world being God’s promise to His children when he refers back to God’s promise to Abraham in Romans, chapter 4. He says, “For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith.” (Romans 4:13)
Paul was referring back to what God had promised to give to Abraham and to his descendants in Genesis, chapter 17.
We read it previously. God was speaking of His everlasting covenant promises to Abraham and to his descendants when He told Abraham, “I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God." (Genesis 17:8)
Paul knew exactly what Moses had recorded in scripture. He knew that the scripture spoke of the land of Canaan being the promise but the Spirit is speaking through Paul to tell us that the true promise was always the promise for that whole new world to come.
God’s promise is to give that new world to those who overcome. We can hear that when Christ says that, “He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father; and I will give him the morning star.” (Revelation 2:26-28)
Those who overcome and keep His deeds until the end will rule over the nations. They will not rule over the nations of this earth because their life on this earth will have ended. It sounds like those who overcome this earth will rule over the nations of that new earth.
Only those who are of faith will overcome this world. Abraham is our example.
Scripture says, “By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” (Hebrews 11:8-10)
Abraham knew that God would keep His promise to give him an everlasting possession. He also knew the promise was not of this earth. He lived his whole life on this earth like an alien living in a foreign land as he was looking ahead toward that heavenly city to come.
Abraham’s descendants by faith will live their lives on this earth like he lived, like aliens living in a foreign land. Some of his earthly descendants lived that way.
The Hebrew writer said they died having never received the promises; “All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)
He says they desire a better country, meaning a heavenly one. For those faithful ones, God has prepared a city for them. For those of us who have their faith, God has prepared that city for us. If we have their faith we will live our lives on this earth like aliens living in a foreign land.
Paul tells us, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)
have Abraham’s faith and believe that God will keep His
promises. He will
keep His promises if we will keep our covenant requirement.
Abraham that his covenant requirement was circumcision.
Abraham and all
of his male descendants were to be circumcised in the flesh.
that requirement in the Law of Moses. Only circumcised
heirs to that earthly
If their old covenant story was just an earthly copy of our spiritual story, was their covenant requirement for circumcision of the flesh a copy of our covenant requirement? We will look at that in the next chapter.
CHAPTER 12 – GOD’S COVENANT REQUIREMENT OF CIRCUMCISION
If everything about that old earthly Hebrew story was caused to happen as an earthly copy of our spiritual story then we should be able to see what our covenant requirement is in what God told Abraham when He gave him his covenant requirement.
After God told Abraham what the covenant promises were He told him, “Now as for you, you shall keep My covenant, you and your descendants after you throughout their generations. This is My covenant, which you shall keep, between Me and you and your descendants after you: every male among you shall be circumcised. And you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskin, and it shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you.” (Genesis 17:9-11)
God then told Abraham, “thus shall My covenant be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. But an uncircumcised male who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant.”
Abraham believed that God meant what He said and he met his covenant requirement and was circumcised that very day. He and his son, Ishmael, and all of the males of his household were circumcised that day.
If the covenant requirement of circumcision was to be in his flesh for an “everlasting covenant” then it would fit with God’s everlasting covenant promise. The covenant promise was everlasting and the covenant requirement of circumcision was also everlasting.
the true everlasting covenant promise was for that spiritual
If circumcision was to be a sign then it was speaking of what was to come. That old earthly circumcision made with hands was a “sign” of our true circumcision of the flesh.
Paul spoke of the true circumcision and said, “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).
That old earthly circumcision required the removal of a “token” piece of flesh. True circumcision removes our complete earthly body of flesh from the prospective of the heart. We must repent from the heart and make the commitment to no longer live for that earthly body of flesh.
Paul tells us how that happens when he writes, “and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).
Spiritual circumcision requires the removal of our whole body of flesh. It happens when we repent and make the commitment to do away with that body in the waters of baptism.
For those who have believed and obeyed the Great Commission, they will have met their covenant requirement of spiritual circumcision. They will have been buried with Christ in baptism and raised up with Him like Christ was raised from the dead.
If we have been raised with Him, we must take up our cross and follow Him. We heard Paul tell us how we do that in the last chapter. He told us, “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
If our minds are set on the things of this earth (The cars and boats and fine clothes and big houses etc.) and not on the things above, we will not overcome this world. We will have been overcome by this world and we will only get what we will have lived for in this short life.
We must not set our minds on the things of this world because this world is not our home it is our spiritual wilderness that we must pass through to get to our land. We must overcome that wilderness to receive our land.
Just as those ancient Hebrews had to overcome the obstacles of their wilderness, we must overcome this world. We can only overcome by faith. We must believe in His word and know that we are only aliens passing through this world on our way toward that heavenly land.
Just before they were to enter into their land of Canaan Moses told his people that if they became unfaithful to God but later repented with all their heart, “the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).
overcome this world and be faithful until death
because Jesus told the church at
We must persevere to the end because scripture also tells us, “Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James ).
God has promised the crown of life to those who will persevere and be faithful until death.
CHAPTER 13 – GOD’S COVENANT REQUIREMENT IS PERFECTION
It appears that God may have been telling Abraham what His true covenant requirement was just before He gave Abraham the covenant promises (In Genesis, chapter 17). God told Abraham, “I am God Almighty; Walk before Me, and be blameless”.
Based on the Hebrew wording God is commanding Abraham to walk before Him and be “perfect”. After telling Abraham to walk before Him and be perfect, God gave Abraham the covenant with its everlasting promise for an everlasting Canaan as a possession.
Abraham was commanded to walk before the LORD. Some of the ancient faithful who lived before Abraham were described as having walked “with God”.
We can see that in the lives of Enoch and Noah. The scriptures say that those two men walked "with God" (Genesis, chapters 5 and 6).
Scripture says that “Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him”. Scripture says of Noah, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his time; Noah walked with God”.
Those men walked with God before God made His covenant to Abraham. They walked with God but the Scripture says that Abraham was commanded to walk before God and be perfect. Did it have to do with the covenant that Abraham was receiving?
Remember, Christ was God’s Word from the beginning and He is God’s creator (John, chapter 1). When God appeared to Abraham and made His covenant with him, it was Christ who was speaking to him.
Christ was making the covenant promises of God to Abraham. Was He telling Abraham that his covenant requirement was that he must be made perfect?
Christ would not come in the flesh for another two thousand years. Abraham’s life journey was to be made before Christ would make His life journey. Was He telling Abraham that his walk through life had to be perfect or was He saying that if he walked by faith that Christ would make him perfect?
Was that also the covenant requirement for Abraham’s descendants? Remember, Abraham was given credit for righteousness because of his faith and it happened before God made His covenant promises to him in Genesis, chapter 17.
Regarding the descendants of Abraham and how they were to walk, there is another scripture that speaks of a man of faith (A descendant of Abraham) walking “before” the LORD.
It appears to be showing us how walking before the LORD means walking before Him in obedience to God’s word. After Solomon completed his work of building the temple, God appeared to him and made some promises to him.
God told Solomon, “As for you, if you walk before Me as your father David walked, even to do according to all that I have commanded you, and will keep My statutes and My ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne as I covenanted with your father David” (2 Chronicles 7:17-18).
The covenant that God made with David was a part of the same covenant that He made with Abraham. The true covenant promise is the promise of everlasting life in the kingdom of heaven.
When God promised David that one of his descendants would rule forever, He was speaking of Christ, a descendant of David’s, being ruler over God’s spiritual Israel in the kingdom of heaven. Solomon was also being given that promise but, as he walked he would not hold as faithful to God as his father David had.
Walking as David had walked did not mean being perfect as he walked because David was not perfect. The requirement was to walk in faith as David had walked and do what God had commanded.
David was not perfect in his walk but when he slipped, he always repented and returned to his walk of faith. As the scripture says, “I HAVE FOUND DAVID the son of Jesse, A MAN AFTER MY HEART” (Acts 13:22).
Abraham’s descendants who lived before Christ were to walk before Him and be perfect. It appears that God was promising to make them perfect if they did the best they could to walk their walk of faith. Was God not speaking of the blood of Christ making them perfect?
We, who are walking our walk after Christ offered His sacrifice, have been told to follow Him, not walk before Him. Remember, we are required to pick up our cross and follow Jesus.
Those old covenant descendants could not follow Jesus because He had not come to lead the way. They needed to walk their walk of faith before He walked but they had to follow the path of faith and obedience to God’s word. They had to hear and obey Christ as He spoke directly through angels or through Moses.
Our everlasting covenant requirement is to walk as David had walked but we are to follow Jesus. We will make mistakes just as David made mistakes but we must live a life that keeps turning back to God when we mess up.
We must walk after the heart of God. We must do our best to walk in obedient faith. If we live a repentant life and love God with all of our heart, we will be made perfect to receive the covenant promises.
Regarding those faithful ones who lived under the old covenant, they were living under the Law of Moses and they were required to meet its conditions if they were to be cleansed of their sins and made perfect.
That was not possible under the Law of Moses. Not one of those who lived under that old covenant Law could ever meet its conditions.
Paul spoke of the old Law’s requirement for perfection in his letter to the Galatians. He was addressing his comments to those Christians who believed that they had to keep the old covenant Law and especially its requirement for circumcision.
Paul tells them it is those who are of faith that will be blessed with Abraham, not those of the Law. He said, “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, "CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM” (Galatians 3:10).
Moses had written, “Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them” (Deuteronomy 27:26).
Moses also told his people that, “It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the LORD our God, just as He commanded us” (Deuteronomy 6:25).
The Law demanded perfect obedience of everything in that Law in order for them to be made righteous. Those who were under the Law could only obtain their own righteousness if they were perfect under the Law but they were not perfect.
They were under a curse because they could not comply with the Law. Moses said it and Paul said it. James also said it. He wrote, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (James 2:10).
The old Law was written so as to provide atonement for man's sin with their sacrificial offerings but they could never meet the conditions.
The Law demanded blood from perfect sacrifices ("Whatever has a defect, you shall not offer" - Leviticus 22:20) but they had none. They may have selected the best that they had for sacrifices but they had nothing perfect to offer.
In addition to perfect sacrifices, only perfect priests were to offer those sacrifices (And serve in the outer room of God’s house).
The Law said of a priest with a defect, “he shall not go in to the veil or come near the altar because he has a defect, so that he will not profane My sanctuaries” (Leviticus 21:23).
The Jews only rejected priests with obvious defects but the Law said they were not to offer any offering that had, “a defect”. God’s sanctuary was continually being profaned by those imperfect priests and their imperfect sacrifice offerings.
The Hebrew writer tells us that old covenant was faulty when he wrote, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion sought for a second” (Hebrews 8:7).
He then tells us why it was a faulty covenant when he spoke of the people of that covenant and said “For finding fault with them”.
It was a faulty covenant because the people were faulty. God is a perfect God and He demands perfection. Man cannot receive the covenant promise of a home with God unless he obtains perfection.
Man must be made perfect to have an everlasting home with God. The old covenant Law was weak and useless for making man perfect. The Hebrew writer says, “For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:18-19)
That writer will also say, “For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near.” (Heb. 10:1)
He will then speak of Christ and say, “then He said, “BEHOLD, I HAVE COME TO DO YOUR WILL.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”- - - - - “For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” (Verses 9-10 and 14)
Drawing near to God in His heavenly home is the covenant promise. It is the promise of having that heavenly land as an everlasting possession. No one can draw near to Him who has not been made perfect. That old Law had no means to do that.
It was a weak and useless Law from a faulty covenant because man was not perfect and the Law could not make man perfect.
No one could comply except for Jesus. He was the only one who ever lived under that Law who achieved its requirement of perfection.
Having the perfection necessary to draw near to our perfect God would require a better way. God provided a way for us to draw near through Christ. We can draw near to God through Christ because the Hebrew writer says that by His one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified (Hebrews 10:14).
God knew before He gave that first covenant that man could never meet His conditions but He gave us that opportunity. Man spent some fourteen centuries trying but he could not comply.
Jesus was perfect in His obedience to the Father’s commandments and that included the Law of Moses because that was God’s Law to His people when Christ was on earth. He spoke of the Law and said that not a letter or stroke of it would pass from it until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).
He accomplished it all when He died on the cross. That was when He said, "It is finished!" (John 19:30). He then bowed His head and gave up His Spirit.
Until that day came He lived perfectly under God’s Law and He especially kept the Great Commandment. As He told His disciples, “but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as the Father commanded Me.” (John 14:31)
CHAPTER 14 – CLOTHED WITH HIS PERFECTION
If that old covenant Law was weak and useless in the first century, it was weak and useless when it was first brought into being. Why not skip the old and just bring in the new?
Paul asked that same question in Galatians, chapter 3. He was speaking of the covenant promise to Abraham and to his Seed, which was Christ. He said that the Law came over four hundred years after God had made His promise to Abraham and to his Seed and that Law does not invalidate a covenant that had previously been ratified by God to nullify the promise.
He said that God’s promised inheritance was not based on law. In other words, the true promise was to Christ, so we can only receive that promise through Christ. The true promise was the new covenant promise of God that comes through Christ Jesus.
In verse 19, he asked the question, “Why the Law then?” He tells us that “It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made.”
He then asked if the Law was contrary to the promises of God. He answers by saying, “May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.”
The covenant promise is to Christ and to all who will believe in Him. Before He came, God's people were in bondage under a Law they could never satisfy. That is why they were shut up under sin. Only Christ could come and set them free. We have now been set free by faith in Christ.
He then tells us that before faith came to us under the new covenant those Jews were kept in custody under the law, “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.” (Galatians 3:24-25)
After he speaks of how we are now justified by faith he says something that we read previously. He says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
The covenant promise is for a home with God. The covenant promise was only to Christ because God’s requirement was perfection and He foresaw Christ being Abraham’s only perfect Seed.
Christ met God's conditions for perfection and became the Firstborn Son but all who are of faith in Him will become sons of God and heirs with Him when they obey the gospel and become clothed with Him in baptism.
God's grace is now being shown in His gift of Christ's righteousness to the faithful spiritual descendants of Abraham. God has allowed all of His sons to become perfect by having been clothed in the righteous Firstborn Son of God. Only sons of God are heirs to the promises but that includes all who belong to Christ, both male and female.
God will be fulfilling another promise that God made to Abraham and Paul refers to in that same chapter. Paul tells us that the Scripture foresaw how God would justify the Gentiles by faith when it preached the gospel to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” (Verse 8)
That promise was the gospel message and the message is how God will fulfill His covenant promises to Abraham and to his descendants for an everlasting land. All nations will be blessed in Abraham when those who are of faith will have believed and obeyed the message and have been baptized into Christ.
Remember, we read, how that old Law was only a shadow of the new things to come. If God brought it into being to show the shadow of what would be the reality, then it was brought into being for our instruction.
Just as Christ taught His spiritual message with earthly parables, He is doing the same thing with the old Law shadow.
In His great prayer Jesus asked, “I do not ask on behalf of these alone, but for those also who believe in Me through their word; that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (John 17:20-21).
Only those faithful ones who will have believed and obeyed the Great Commission will become clothed with the perfection and righteousness of God and become one with the Father and the Son.
The Hebrew writer said that, “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation” (Hebrews 5:8-9).
Christ could only be declared perfect by having remained perfect until the end. He was perfect in obedience until His death on the cross and therefore He had been made perfect to receive the covenant promises and share those promises if we obey Him.
His perfect sacrifice reaches back to cover the faithful of all time. We can see that in what the Hebrew writer said of those ancient faithful in Hebrews, chapter 11. He listed those who lived their lives of faith before Christ, including some of Abraham’s descendants who had been given the covenant promises.
He spoke of the ancient faithful and said how they were seeking a country of their own. They were seeking a country but it was not an earthly land.
He said, “And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. ).
Remember, Abraham lived in that land of promise as an alien in a foreign land but he was looking for that city built by God (Hebrews 11:9-10)
The Hebrew writer ended chapter 11 speaking of those who had gained approval by their faith but they never received the promises. He says, “And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.” (Verses 39-40)
Those ancient ones who lived and died before Christ came and offered His perfect sacrifice could not be make perfect to receive the promises but God will give them what had been promised. They will be given credit for righteousness with us and made perfect with us in Christ Jesus.
We must be made perfect and that can only happen for those who have been clothed in Christ Jesus. He is the only perfect one and the only heir so we must be “In Him” and be made one with Him if we are to receive the covenant promises.
Father Abraham was commanded to walk before the LORD and be perfect. He has been made perfect with us because He obeyed God and walked in faith before the LORD. His descendants by faith that came after Christ have been commanded to follow Jesus and walk as He walked. If we walk in faith we will obey Him and become clothed with His righteousness.
John tells us, “but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him: the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:5-6).
Jesus walked in a way that denied self to live for others. He walked about doing good works for others and He died doing good works for others when He died for me.
Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves. By His perfection He earned righteousness for us. We can only obtain His perfection and His righteousness by faith in Him. We must believe His word.
We must believe His promises like Abraham believed His promises. If we believe His promises and obey His word, He will make us one with Him (We will become clothed with Him) and He will give us His perfection and His righteousness. Remember, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation.
All of the faithful of both covenants and from the time before the covenants have been made perfect by the blood of Christ. They have all become one together with us "in Christ" with us and they will receive that city to come.
CHAPTER 15 – GOD’S ARMY MUST FIGHT FOR THEIR LAND
We have seen how that old story teaches us about our story. One thing that it teaches us can be seen in who was to inherit that earthly land of Canaan.
Moses was commanded to take a census of the sons of Israel by their families, according to the number of names. He was to number every male who was twenty years old and older that was able to go to war in Israel (Numbers 1:2-3). The priestly tribe was excluded.
Those men who were listed were to be the soldiers in God’s army. Those who fought for that land were to be the heirs to that land. The land was to be divided among those fighting men in God’s army.
Of those fighting men that Moses led out of slavery in Egypt, few of them would inherit any of that earthly land because of their unfaithfulness and their refusal to fight. They wanted to return to slavery in Egypt rather than fight.
God told the ones who had grumbled against Him, “your corpses will fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward” (Numbers 14:29).
They fell in the wilderness and never received their inheritance. Only those who faithfully followed their LORD to the end and the little ones who did not know good from evil (Deuteronomy, chapter 1) would be allowed to enter.
After forty years of wandering in the wilderness, God commanded Moses to take another census of the sons of Israel. Like the first census, it included all of the numbered men who were twenty years old and older.
There was not a man listed in that second census that had been listed in the census taken the first time, except for Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. They were the only ones who had followed the Lord fully.
That next generation of fighting men fought for and they obtained that land. In the years that followed, as each one of those heirs died, the land was passed down to their sons.
Daughters received no inheritance in that land. They shared in the inheritance in the house where they lived but females were not heirs. Only sons were heirs. A man’s sons were his heirs with the firstborn son receiving a double portion.
That old Hebrew story happened as an earthly copy of our spiritual story. God is telling us how we can become heirs to our heavenly land.
Those who become clothed with Christ in baptism have become sons of God by faith in Christ Jesus because they believed and obeyed His command given in the Great Commission. They have become spiritual descendants of Abraham with Christ.
If we have followed Jesus through that sea, He will have led us out of slavery to sin, but we will find ourselves in the wilderness of this world. We must follow Jesus and fight for our land.
Our war is a spiritual war, not an earthly war. Paul speaks of our war and says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh, for the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:3-5)
In our spiritual war we use spiritual weapons to fight a different kind of enemy. We use weapons that are not fleshly but divine. We are fighting against Satan and what he has raised up against the knowledge of God.
Paul describes how we fight in Ephesians, chapter 6. He says that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, “but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)
He tells us to stand firm, “HAVING GIRDED YOUR LOINS WITH TRUTH, and HAVING PUT ON THE BREASTPLATE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, and having shod YOUR FEET WITH THE PREPARATION OF THE GOSPEL OF PEACE”.
He tells us to take up the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. The word of God is the only weapon that we carry.
The Hebrew writer describes God's word as being sharper than a two-edged sword. He writes, “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
The sword that we carry will save those who will believe its message but it will slay others who will not believe.
Looking at how that earthly nation fought and what happened in their fight may help us to see something about how we are to fight. Remember, against those evil and ungodly nations God’s army was to be merciless.
Before Israel crossed over the Jordan River and took possession of the land of Canaan, they fought and won victories over the kingdoms of Heshbon and Bashan. We can read about those wars in Deuteronomy, chapters 2 and 3.
When God’s people wanted to pass through the land of Heshbon on their way to Canaan, Sihon, their king, was not willing to let them pass through. Moses told the people, “for the LORD your God hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, in order to deliver him into your hand, as he is today” (Deuteronomy 2:30).
God caused it to happen like it did when He hardened that king’s heart. Moses records how Sihon and all of his people came out to meet Israel in battle and the LORD delivered them over into the hands of Israel. God’s people captured all of their cities and they “utterly destroyed the men, women and children of every city. We left no survivor”.
The same thing happened to the kingdom of Bashan. In Deuteronomy, chapter 3, Moses records how Og, the king of Bashan and his people came out to Israel in battle but God told Moses, “Do not fear him, for I have delivered him and all his people and his land into your hand; and you shall do to him just as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who lived at Heshbon”.
In the battle that followed, God delivered Og and all his army and his people into the hands of the Israelites and God’s army killed them all. They left no survivors.
When we read about the wars that happened when God’s people were fighting against those nations, we sometimes wonder if we are seeing the same God as the God of love that we read about in the New Testament.
How could the God of John 3:16 be the same God that would command His army to kill every enemy soldier and then spill the blood of every woman and child in those earthly kingdoms? How could our God of love do that in the old Hebrew story?
We may not be able to understand it all but God is telling us about our spiritual war. He wants us to get the message of what is happening in our war by showing us an earthly copy. Sin is not to be allowed to live in God’s spiritual kingdom.
As we go forth in our war, we are to take the sword of the Spirit (The word of God) and preach the gospel to every person. As we heard Jesus say, “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned” (Mark 16:16).
He was giving us our marching orders. Faithful soldiers will follow Jesus into battle and fight for their land. We must preach the word to everyone, man, woman and child.
Children are not responsible until they become adults but we must tell them while they are young anyway. When they are older they will be held accountable for how they respond to what they have been told.
When we obey Him and preach that gospel message we will save some but most of those that hear the message will die because most people will never believe and obey the gospel. They will refuse to believe the word and they will be condemned.
Unbelievers stand between us and our land. We have been commanded to go forth and kill the enemy. The enemy includes all who refuse to believe and obey the gospel. Of those nations that stand between us and our land, we are to kill them all. They must all die by the sword of the Spirit.
The army of God that was fearful and refused to fight died in the wilderness. The army that obeyed their God and destroyed the evil nations before them were the ones who were allowed to enter and take possession of that land.
If we are fearful and fail to fight for our land, we will be the ones who will die by that sword. The gospel message will kill us if we refuse to believe and obey Him and carry that sword into battle.
Paul tells us about how he was fighting when he said, “Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:26-27)
Paul did not want to be disqualified and lose out on his inheritance. If Paul could be disqualified, then we can be disqualified.
We must keep fighting and pressing on toward the goal. As He told the Philippians, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
When Paul was nearing the time of his departure from this earth, he told Timothy that he was already being poured out as a drink offering.
Speaking of his fight, he told Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Paul had come to the end of his life and he knew that he had kept the faith and his reward was just before him. Paul had kept the faith and he won the prize.
If Paul said that he had kept the faith to win the prize, then the possibility existed that he might not have kept the faith. That is why he spent his life pressing on toward the goal.
In the earlier years of his ministry he could not know that he would never fall. That is why he wrote to the church at Corinth and told them to take heed lest you fall. That is why he told them that he disciplined his body and made it his slave lest that after he had preached to others he, himself, would be disqualified.
As Paul was writing those words he knew that he had eternal life but he also knew that only God could foresee the future.
God could see ahead in time and know whether or not Paul would hold faithful until the end, but Paul could not. That is why he kept pressing on toward the goal. That is why he kept fighting so that he would not be disqualified and lose out.
Paul encouraged Timothy to follow his example when he wrote and told him to, “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses” (1Timothy 6:12).
Paul later told him to, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier” (2 Timothy 2:3-4).
If we are now in active service in God’s army we need to be at the front lines fighting the enemy, not behind the lines getting too involved in the things of this world. We may not be the ones who are preaching the gospel but we must give support for those who do.
Paul says that, “our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20).
Our citizenship is not anywhere on this earth. We love our country and we thank God that we live in this free land but our citizenship is not here, it is in that spiritual land that we are fighting for. Our minds are to be set on what is above, not on the things of this earth.
We heard the Hebrew writer say how Abraham lived in tents with Isaac and Jacob, in that earthly land of promise like an alien living in a foreign land because he was looking for that city built by God.
This world is not our home. We are just passing through this world on our way home. As we are passing through we will see people and governments doing ungodly and evil things but our job is not to try to change those governments or those people so that they will become less evil.
We should not become overly concerned with spending too much time trying to make this a better world. Where we can help with our prayers and some good works, we may want to help somewhat but we must remember what our priorities are.
Changing the behavior of lost people to cause them to live less evil lives on this earth is not our mission. Our job is to save the lost out of this world so they can have everlasting life in that world to come.
and the other New Testament writers did not concern
themselves with trying to make this world a better place.
They did not
try to correct the injustices and evil in the world around them even
they lived in a world that was full of evil.
They did not fight against their governments and they encouraged Christians to be in subjection to those governments.
Paul told the Roman church that, “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” (Romans 13:1-2).
Herod and his descendants that ruled in the first century were evil rulers but Paul did not speak against them. He told the faithful that God had placed them in their positions and anyone who opposed them was opposed to God’s ordinance.
We live in this free country and we have the right to vote for those that we believe would be the best ones to fill government offices but we should not oppose those that have been elected. We have a right to let them know what we think but we should not be protesting against them.
Paul and the other writers did not try to change the outside world but they did ask Christians to pray for those rulers and for things to happen in a way that would allow for peace and for the gospel to spread.
caused that old Hebrew story to happen as it did for
our instruction. Christ is speaking to us in that old
story. If He spent two thousand years creating the
old story for our
instruction and we refuse to listen, we will answer for our
As we heard the Hebrew writer say previously, “Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience." (Hebrews 4:11).
Just as that old Hebrew army wanted to turn away from the fight and lost their land, we can lose our land if we refuse to fight. Remember, only those who follow the Lord, fully and the little ones who do not know good from evil will enter and take possession of that land.
Peter says of those who have been saved from slavery and have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of Christ and are again entangled in them, “the last state has become worse for them than the first” (2 Peter )).
He says that it would have been better for us to never have known the way of righteousness than to know it and then turn back. He says it is like the proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT," and, "A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire”.
If we have been saved from slavery to sin and have been recorded on the list as a soldier in God’s army, we must not look back and want to return to that old life of slavery.
If we forsake our duty our condemnation will be greater than it will be for the ones who never volunteered to join God’s army in the first place.
CHAPTER 16 – THE DAY WILL COME WHEN GOD WILL KEEP HIS PROMISE
will keep His covenant promise to Abraham and to his descendants. Jesus told the Jews how it
would happen when He
told them that the Father had given Him authority to execute judgment because
He is the Son of
He told them, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)
Jesus was speaking of that last day the day when He will return on the clouds of heaven. He says that the dead will hear His voice and come forth from the tombs. That will be the day when God will fulfill His everlasting covenant promise to His people.
Paul says that Jesus will come with a shout and with the trumpet of God, “For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
In another letter Paul spoke of that last day and what will happen to those who will remain and those who will be resurrected from the dead. He told the Corinthians, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
is referring to one of the mysteries of
tells us why when he says, “Now
I say this,
brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the
Paul was speaking of the resurrection of the dead because there were some in that church who did not believe there would be a resurrection. He says that the gospel message includes Christ’s resurrection from the dead.
He says, “Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
gospel promise is the
As proof of Christ’s resurrection from the dead Paul reminds them of the witnesses who saw Him after He was resurrected. He said that, “He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:5-6).
Paul asked a question of those who did not believe in the resurrection. He asks, “Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised.” (1 Corinthians 15:12-15)
He is trying to tell them how unreasonable it is not to believe in the resurrection of the dead because that means Christ was not resurrected and their gospel message is a lie.
He says, “For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:16-19)
asks them, “If
from human motives I
fought with wild beasts at
Paul assures us there will be a resurrection from the dead. He says, “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming,” (1 Cor -23)
All mankind is, “in Adam”, because we all descended from Adam in the flesh. Because of his sin, all who are of his flesh have been condemned to die. All who are, “in Christ”, however, will be made alive as children of God on that last day having imperishable bodies.
God is speaking through Paul in parables. When he says that Christ has been raised from the dead as the First Fruits of those who are asleep, he is speaking of the resurrection being like seed that is sown to bring forth fruit. We know that a living plant comes up from the seed that was sown. That shows how we will come forth having a new body.
Paul presents another question. He says, “But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?" You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies; and that which you sow, you do not sow the body which is to be, but a bare grain, perhaps of wheat or of something else. But God gives it a body just as He wished, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.” (1 Corinthians 15:35-38)
Paul is speaking in parables to explain our resurrection. Just as a wheat seed is sown to bring forth a plant that is more beautiful than the bare seed that was sown, so also it will happen with us. We will come forth with a living body that will be more glorious than the body that was sown.
It began with Christ, the First Fruits from the dead. Jesus spoke of how it would happen like the sowing of seed shortly before He was to die on the cross.
Speaking to His disciples, “And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:23-24)
While He was on earth Christ’s body was the dwelling place of God’s Holy Spirit. God’s Spirit departed that dwelling place when Jesus died but just as a seed dies to bring forth new life, so it happened with Jesus. The Holy Spirit returned to give life to Christ’s body. If we have been brought “into Christ”, the same thing will happen to us.
We will come forth from the tomb having imperishable bodies just like the body that Christ had at His resurrection. That brings us to the question that Paul presented. He says, “But someone will say, "How are the dead raised? And with what kind of body do they come?"
We can see what kind of body Christ had after His resurrection when He suddenly appeared before His disciples.
They were discussing how Christ had appeared to those two disciples on the road and scripture says that, “While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be to you.” But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit.” (Luke 24:36-37)
He was standing before them in His resurrected body; “And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Luke 24:38-39)
Luke then tells us that, “While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them.” (Luke 24:42-43)
Paul said that bodies of flesh and
blood cannot inherit the
God spoke to His old covenant people of the animals they killed for food and for their sacrifices and told them not to eat the blood of those animals, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.” (Leviticus 17:11)
The life of Christ’s earthly flesh was in His blood. He gave His life when He gave His blood on the cross to make atonement for our souls.
Christ’s resurrected body did not have life because of blood. His new body had life because of the Spirit that returned to give life to His Spiritual body. Just as it happened with Christ, the First Fruits, so it will happen to those who are the later fruits.
Paul speaks of our new resurrected body to come and says, “So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a perishable body, it is raised an imperishable body; it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body. So also it is written, "The first MAN, Adam, BECAME A LIVING SOUL." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural; then the spiritual.” (1 Cor -46)
Paul speaks of the two Adams and says, “The first man is from the earth, earthy; the second man is from heaven. As is the earthy, so also are those who are earthy; and as is the heavenly, so also are those who are heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthy, we will also bear the image of the heavenly.” (Verses 47-49)
Paul referred back to what had been written about the creation of the first Adam and said that he became a LIVING SOUL. Scripture says of the creation of Adam, “Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” (Genesis 2:7)
The first Adam became a living soul on this earth. Jesus was the second Adam but He was from heaven. The second Adam became a life giving Spirit for that new earth to come. We must receive the life giving Spirit from Jesus to become born again for eternal life on that new earth.
Peter tells us how we become born again when he says, “for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.” (1 Peter 1:23)
He also says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5)
We become born again of Christ’s resurrection from the dead because He became the First Fruits from the dead. Adam caused man to be sent to the tomb but Jesus will lead us up out of the tomb.
God’s word is being sown in the earth to bring forth new life. Those who receive that word in faith will become born again children of God. They will be children of God having been born of the Spirit of God.
One who has been born again of the Word will have become born again of the Spirit. Jesus tells us how it happens when He says, "It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.” (John 6:63)
came speaking the Father’s word to
man. God’s word includes the gospel message and it includes
told Nicodemus about the need to be born again. Jesus told
say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the
then explains how one becomes born
again. Nicodemus wanted to know how one could be born again
answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and
Spirit he cannot enter into the
Peter tells us how we can receive the Holy Spirit when he testified to Christ’s resurrection saying, “And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” (Acts )
We must obey Jesus to receive God’s Holy Spirit. That includes the Great Commission that He gave to His disciples just before He ascended on high.
Scripture says, "And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.” (Mark 16:15-16)
Not many days after Jesus gave the apostles that commandment they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began preaching in tongues the gospel message to the crowd that had gathered.
Many of them believed and they asked the disciples, “what shall we do”? “Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts )
A great number of those Jews received the message and obeyed the gospel. “So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls.” (Acts )
We heard Peter say that God will give the Holy Spirit to those who obey Him. We also heard him tell those Jews who had believed the message on the Day of Pentecost that if they repented and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
We also heard Jesus say that it is the Spirit that gives life and His words were Spirit. Those who receive His words in faith will obey Him and they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. They will have received eternal life when they received the Holy Spirit.
That fits with Jesus telling a crowd, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.” (John 5:24)
must believe His word to become born again
of the Spirit of God. We will have become children of God and
That happens when our firstborn body of sin has been spiritually crucified and buried with Christ in baptism. We must believe and obey the gospel by doing the spiritual likeness of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection.
Paul tells us how we do that when he says, “Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.” (Romans 6:4-7)
The KJV translation says, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection”.
Again, Paul seems to be speaking the gospel message in parables. What happens in baptism is like seed being sown to bring forth new life.
He says that if we have been planted together in the likeness of Christ's death we will certainly be in the likeness of His resurrection. We will have obeyed the gospel of His death, burial and resurrection with our spiritual death, burial and resurrection.
We must repent of having lived for that old earthly body of sin and make the commitment to do away with that body of sin by becoming crucified with Christ and buried with Him in baptism.
will have become born again of water and of
the Spirit so that we can enter the
Paul tells us how it happens when he says, “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs according to promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)
When we become clothed with Christ in baptism our body becomes His body and God’s Spirit dwells in Christ’s body.
Paul says that, “-you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. If Christ is in you, though the body is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” (Romans 8:9-11)
Our mortal body will have eternal life because the Spirit of God. We will lose that body but when Christ returns from heaven He will resurrect it and make it immortal when God’s Spirit returns to give it life.
We will have bodies that will never again feel pain and will never become weary or tired. Scripture says, “Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary.” (Isaiah 40:30-31)
It will happen in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye; “But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)
God will have fulfilled His everlasting covenant promise to Abraham and to his descendants by faith. His promise was for an everlasting possession and one must have an imperishable body to have eternal life and an everlasting possession. Death will have been swallowed up in victory.
Image of the cross is from FreeFoto.com
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org )