Domains of Society…A Particular Thought

We talk about our DNA as a church being KDSC we say that the gospel of the kingdom makes disciples who hear and obey in their respective domains of society, and from there the church multiplies all over the world…KDSC.

The key to global church multiplication is to release the entire church to engage their multifaceted domains of society, make disciples and bring their domain back under the rule of Jesus as a fulfillment of the creation mandate of Genesis 1:26-28…which is the first installment of the great commission if you will.

Domains are the built-in structures of life that God has created and uses to govern the world. Those who operate over and in domains exercise a God-given authority to subdue and release. Examples of domains are: medicine, law, agriculture etc. God gave these domains to restrain evil in the curse of the fall we read about in Genesis 3 and to reward the good done by any who do good.

Global church multiplication in obedience to the great commission will never be accomplished with the professional model of ministry that is currently employed in the evangelical church. There is just not enough volume, and truthfully, professional ministry people offer little actually bringing all things back under the rule of Jesus. They are good at discipling people, and that is part of it, but they don’t bring job skills to the world. Job skills and solving problems in industry of all kinds is not “less than”. In fact, I’d say, it should be the Christian who is leading innovation all over the world. Why not? We say we have the creator Holy Spirit, creator of all things, dwelling in us. Should we not lean on his counsel to show us how to do Genesis 1:26-28? Sounds like a sound plan to me.

Much of what we have produced in recent history has actually stifled the engagement of domains and killed innovation in domains. Innovation has been left to some folks who are not Christians and who stumble upon general revelation. These super bright people bring great change in some areas doing good work while Christians fumble to get caught up or argue that innovation is not good. Granted, not all forward thinking is equally good, but we should evaluate, discern, test and decide.

What would happen if we actually released the church to be the priests to God they are in their domains? Perhaps a global movement of the kingdom of God would ensue.

“Abraham Kuyper (1837-1920) who was Prime Minister of the Netherlands from 1901- 1905 and founder of the Free University in Amsterdam in 1880. He was a man with a carefully formed Christian World View. He was called the greatest evangelical thinker since Jonathan Edwards.” (Release, p. 29)

This is what Kuyper thought:

“Christianity did not stop at a church order, but expanded in a life system, and did not exhaust its energy in a dogmatic construction, but created life and worldview able to fit itself to the needs of every stage of human development in every department of life. It raised our Christian religion to its highest spiritual splendor; it created a church order, which became the pre–formation of state confederation; it proved to be the guardian angel of science; it emancipated art; it propagated a political scheme, which gave birth to constitutional government, both in Europe and America; it fostered agriculture and industry, commerce and navigation; it put a thorough Christian stamp upon home–life and family ties; it produced, through it high moral standards, purity in our social circles; and to this manifold effect it placed beneath Church and State… a fundamental philosophic conception strictly derived from its dominating principle, and therefore all its own.”

Can we be that again? Lets be honest, we are not that now.

As a former educator I’ve been thinking on how to prepare the next generation to be like this. We are trying to release the church to its domains of society, but sometimes releasing folks who just want the Parrish priest to affirm their own choices in life rather than equip them for changing the world  is a long-term proposition. So, we are sold out to doing just that. But how can we train and release an upcoming generation a little faster than their predecessors?

Education and parenting in education has to change.

Parents have to take seriously the equipping of their children to think about career/domain engagement long before they get to high school. Schools have to begin thinking about domain engagement not just “going to college”. 

God wired each person the way they are, and he does not make mistakes in creation. He made me dyslexic and used that for his glory. He still uses that for his glory. God hits straight licks with crooked sticks, the old saying goes. We must begin thinking about how God wired our kids rather than entertain them. Entertainment covers up gifting and numbs the senses to good desires rather. I’m not talking about healthy amounts of entertainment. I’m talking about the continual bombardment of entertainment.

Observe the learning style your kid has, and don’t shoe horn them into a learning style that does not match how God wired them. You’ll have to do some research, but you can do this.

You will also have to make hard decisions on what is best for your kid…home school, public school, private school, etc. Do what equips your kid best, and don’t be guilted by straw man arguments into one or the other. Do what is best for your kid’s preparation not how to best isolate them.

So much education is focused on getting kids to college (traditional liberl arts college). Problem? Liberal arts colleges are not preparing people for the majority of the job market. Students are over educated and under qualified. If you have a four year degree but can’t operate a piece of machinery, you may be benind.

Cost is important here too. If you pay more per year for college than the degree would actually earn you, you are wasting God’s money and not adequatly prepared.

Think about it…40K per year for four years is 160K. Not many jobs at those 40K schools actually earn much more than 40K per year. You will be paying on that until the Lord comes, hands tied for home buying or anything else cool.

Your domain may require a liberal arts degree. Cool! Shop around for the most cost-effective degree around. Employers are less concerned with where you went to school and more concerned on if you can produce. Don’t pay for college so you can have the “experience” that is being sold. It’s not about the experience. It’s about being prepared to earn a living and subdue creation for the fame of Jesus.

Domains are global, so if you prepare to engage domains your job market is global no necessarily limited to a particular geography.

This will take some doing, but you can with effort, apply your preparation to engage your domain anywhere in the world. What that means is that you could actually get paid to do your job anywhere you may desire and be a Christian while doing your job. That means that you can do the work of a domain engager and a Christian at the same time. Do you get the implications of this for the great commission? Do you get the implications for the church?

This is why we want to “release” the church to engage domains.

Thinking and practicing like this will require 4 key shifts. We’ll turn to those next week. But for now, meditate on this idea and how to begin preparing our students to get after this NOW.

Some Help On Prayer

This morning I was reading, again, about my favorite person in Christian history, George Muller…surprise, I know. As I was reading I was contrasting how Muller prayed with some of the things I’ve heard from people about prayer.

Now, before you get fired up, I’m doing this evaluating of practice with Jesus’ teaching clearing in the background shining light on Muller and on other things I’ve heard from supposed teachers of the word. What I note is that Muller’s practices are firmly rooted in seeking to apply what Jesus said. Much of what I’ve heard from others is firmly rooted in trying to be novel or a misunderstanding of what is presenting in the bible altogether.

I’m not going to give you Muller’s full Monty on prayer…go read his autobiography. However, I would like to share with you my thoughts after reading some more Muller, evaluating some of the presentations I’ve heard from others and the shining light of Jesus on both.

  1. Pray simply. My audience is God not man, therefore, there is no need to impress anyone with my words. Also, try to extend simplicity to every aspect of the discipline of prayer. If I’m in my “closet” so to speak, I don’t have to rev up my tone to impress anyone or soften my tone because of some self-imposed reverence not required. Just come to the Father simply. Normal. By no means don’t be irreverent or cavalier, but just come simply.
  2. Pray biblically. The bible says enough about prayer to keep us busy. We don’t need to add any unnecessary steps to prayer to somehow increase its effect. In fact, Jesus said that he knows what we need before we ask, so we don’t have to be unnecessarily repetitive like unbelievers when they pray (yes unbelievers pray…people of other faiths pray and need to be repetitive to make sure their “god” hears them or sees they are sincere enough grant their request). Simply follow Jesus’ instructions, pray the prayers of the bible as they apply to you and your family, church, work and world.
  3. Pray like you believe. However that looks. Pray in faith believing that when we ask for kingdom things that our Good Father and Shepherd is glad to give. That looks like expectancy, anxiety free and joyous asking for all we need to do the work of the kingdom. Boldness. Confidence. Child-like joy.
  4. Return often. The bible says to pray without ceasing. That’s kind of hard to do if I have to obey a stiff methodology, so maybe I can whisper prayers to the Father all day as the Spirit prompts me. Maybe I seek out times to be completely alone and given to prayer so that my posture can reflect my heart at the moment. Maybe I discipline myself to put myself in a place where I really need the Lord’s supply and not my ability to deliver myself.

There is so much more that could be said, but that’s enough for now. Try these and see if they help.

 

 

16 Verses: Genesis 49:10…Judah

16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Genesis 49:10…Judah the King

God created a kingdom, and he is the king, but he made human beings to represent him in that kingdom. Adam and Eve rejected this call, which led to sin and death. But God promised to defeat the serpent through the offspring of the woman, who is also the offspring of Abraham. Through Abraham’s family, and specifically Judah’s royal offspring, the covenant blessings would come to the world.

Judah was “Fourth of Jacob’s 12 sons (Gen 35:23; 1 Chron 2:1) and the 4th son born to Jacob by Leah, who, overjoyed with the thought of bearing Jacob another son, named him Judah, meaning “praise” (Gen 29:35, “This time I will praise the Lord”). Judah fathered five sons: Er, Onan, and Shelah by (Hira) Bath-shua the Canaanite (Gen 38:3–5; 1 Chron. 2:3) and the twins, Perez and Zerah, by Tamar, his daughter-in-law (Gen 38:29, 30; 1 Chron. 2:4). He eventually settled his family in Egypt with his father and brothers (Ex 1:2), although his first two sons, Er and Onan, were divinely killed in Canaan for their disobedience (Gen 46:12). Judah became the founder of one of Israel’s 12 tribes (Nm 1:26, 27).”[1]

God blesses through Jacob (Israel) to the fourth son of the lazy-eyed Leah, whose first two sons were killed by God for being evil, whose twins came by his daughter-in-law, with this:

Genesis 49:10 (ESV) “The scepter shall not depart from Judah,

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”

We choose “most likely to succeed” but God chooses the “least likely to succeed” to be the father of kings and in so doing he captivates us with his work in history and gives great hope to the world that being from the most stain free and cultured is not the way to favor with God. God gives us great hope that might does not always make right and that the meek, and sometimes flat out backward, will truly inherit the earth.

God has built this theme and storyline into history, and Scripture captures God’s work in history 1) to reveal his glory, 2) cause us to trust him and then 3) bring us back to him with this good news of his king and his kingdom atoning for the rebellion and breaking the curse and setting all things right again.

Remember, there is only 1 hero in the Bible…Jesus.

Therefore, as we read the bible we dare not moralize the accounts of people or their lives. No doubt we can learn moral lessons from them, but moral lessons are external behavior modifiers. God has to fix us at the heart level, and he works from the inside out. He does this by showing us HIMSELF at work in the lives of the least likely, himself making covenant, keeping covenant and wooing us to him to transform not to morally modify our behavior.

We are to see the people, know their lives and be reconciled back to the God who is at work in them crushing the head of the serpent and doing so with the offspring of the woman.

Ultimately, however, what makes the people of the bible, as well as you and I, part of that serpent crushing family is that the One being pointed to, alluded to, typed forward and patterned in the Old Testament is THE offspring of the woman who did crush the serpent’s head through his life, death, burial and resurrection, the Hero, Jesus.

So, what do we see in Judah’s story that points us to the One?

Judah’s Past: The Patriarchs…In all the dysfunction God was working to preserve a line…by grace

Once again, we can’t escape the theme of God’s elective grace.

Judah’s Little Brother: Joseph…All about God’s promise to preserve his people…including Judah.

The story of Joseph, a fascinating story, is the background to which God’s work in Judah is to be highlighted.

To say it another way, the darkness of what happens to Joseph and his hard work to rescue the world, and his family, from famine is there to put on display the shining work of grace in old Judah.

While the Serpent was trying to kill off the offspring of the woman, God preserved innocent Joseph so that he could save his guilty brothers, particularly Judah.

Do you see the gospel pattern there?

One innocent son of a father taking the brunt of punishment in the place of the guilty in order to save the guilty while ascending to a throne of authority.

Jesus, the innocent and perfect Son takes the punishment due the guilty in order to save the guilty as he ascends to his rightful throne as King.

But didn’t we say that the signpost was Judah? Yes!

This is why the strange story of Judah and Tamar is inserted right after Joseph is introduced.

Genesis chapter 37 records Joseph having his dreams of God’s future work, and his brothers then mistreat him and decide to sell him off to some Ishmaelite traders headed to Egypt, led by Judah nonetheless.

Genesis 38 interrupts the story of Joseph with this strange story of Judah and his daughter-in-law, Tamar. We get to be introduced to the one God will use to crush the serpent at his worse.

Why?

  1. We get to see God works by grace not effort or moral goodness.
  2. We get to see that there is nothing God can’t overcome or work through for good.
  3. We get to see that God saves the bad (Judah and his brothers) through the good (Joseph), and see his pattern of the gospel.
  4. We get to see that God preserves his people through the curse of the fall and keeps his promise to Abraham. Therefore, we know God will preserve his people.
  5. We can get a glimpse into why Paul would write things like Romans 8:28!

Judah the Lion King: Genesis 49:10 Judah will be the royal offspring that that nations will be blessed through.

Genesis 49:8-10 (ESV) Judah, your brothers shall praise you;

your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies;

your father’s sons shall bow down before you.

9 Judah is a lion’s cub;

from the prey, my son, you have gone up.

He stooped down; he crouched as a lion

and as a lioness; who dares rouse him?

10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah (scepter and staff are symbols of authority)[2],

nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet (he would have a line of successors)[3],

until tribute comes to him;

and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Philippians 2:10-11)[4].

What have we learned about Judah?

Judah is an intercessor

“Though reckless in his behavior with Tamar (Gen. 38:6–30), Judah showed firm resolve in taking personal responsibility for Benjamin’s safety in Egypt and acting as intercessor for his brothers before Joseph (Gen 44:14–18). At the time of Jacob’s blessing Judah was granted the birthright privileges of the firstborn; the leadership of Jacob’s family would come through Judah’s seed, as would the promised Messiah of Abraham’s covenant (Gen. 49:8–12).”[5]

Judah is a reminder of grace

Judah is chosen as a royal line to keep God’s plan of kingdom in place

Adam and Eve were to be a king and queen of sorts over creation.

God promised Abraham he would be a great nation, and in essence the head, or king over a nation of people.

God weaves this truth of his rule over and through his people with the promise of a kingdom that is and is to come in full in the future.

God chose king and kingdom as his means of making clear who he is and who we are.

God did not choose a democratic style of rule in which subjects get to be little sovereigns. God chose monarchy to make clear to the world that the presence of a human king is to be a reminder of the God/King who is the loving ruler over his whole domain and we are his subject who do his bidding in love.

One of the great defenses against atheism is an ontological defense. We reason from existence of ideas and concepts. As Anselm of Canterbury reasoned, if it exists in the mind it must exist in reality, otherwise, where did it come from?

Not to get too complicated, but the fact that mankind can imagine a perfect kingdom with a perfect king in our wildest fantasies is because that kingdom existed in creation, and as image bearers it is stamped on our souls.

And it gets better. The perfect kingdom is not just a fantasy. It’s a reality.

From the line of Judah, God would bring a good but flawed king over a good a prosperous people, yet flawed, that would point us to the perfect and unflawed king over a rescued and made perfect and unflawed kingdom of priests to God spanning the entire earth in which all things are right and whole.

How can we obey?

A. Don’t arrogantly assume God can’t use you to change the world.

2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

It is supremely arrogant to assume because you and I don’t meet a cursed standard that God can’t or won’t use us or for that matter save us.

God majors in saving the un-savable and empowering the weak.

B. We have to distinguish between “Jew” and “Israel as a whole”.

The proper name “Jew” means “belonging to Judah”.

“This is whey Jesus told the Samaritan woman that salvation is from the “Jews” (John 4:22).”[6]

God’s choice of Judah to bear the role of kingship and one day bring salvation through Jesus, explains the divided kingdom after Solomon with the 10 northern tribes having some 13 dynasties from 925-722 B.C. contrasted with Judah who had 1 dynasty.

God’s choice of Judah also explains why the 10 northern tribes are not clearly preserved as Judah is preserved. In 722 the Assyrians take the 10 northern tribes captive all over the world and some don’t show up much, if at all, in history again. (Interesting tid bit for you, our people group that we love so much have a belief among them that they are one of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.)

This work of God is also why the New Testament will distinguish between those who are of the faith of Abraham, and not merely descended physically from Abraham, as the ones who are of the promised offspring of the woman.

This will help us in our interpretation of events later in the bible as we talk about the restoration of all things.

C. Respond to God in awe, wonder, praise and being a living sacrifice.

Romans 11:33-12:1

Paul finishes up one of his hardest chapters to understand regarding Israel, salvation, election, gentiles, etc. And Paul, I’m sure is clear, yet I’m a dunce. I think I get it, but my “sure” meter is low. But I want you to note what Paul does in response to this work of God’s choice of Judah and how he included Gentiles in that.

Romans 11:33 – 12:1 (ESV) Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord,

or who has been his counselor?”

35 “Or who has given a gift to him

that he might be repaid?”

36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.

12:1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.

Paul’s response? Awe, wonder, praise and being a living sacrifice.

 

 

 

[1] Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Judah (Person),” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 1227.

[2] Parenthesis mine.

[3] Parenthesis mine.

[4] Parenthesis mine.

[5] Ibid. p. 1227.

[6] Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Nottingham: InterVarsity Press, 2003), 127.

 

Seeking The Kingdom First

Last night both campuses gathered to worship together in lieu of RL-Groups meeting, and we met at Restoration Rome to worship, recognize the people involved in foster/adoptive care…every person from bringing meals to transportation to respite to foster and adopting. Jeff, Mary Margaret and Lynne did a great job. Adam and the band were on point. We also talked about Matthew 6:33 and the entire passage in which Jesus talks about how we are to seek his kingdom and righteousness above everything else.

I’ll post the outline below (its not a full manuscript), but due to multiple reasons I did not want to take the extra time to unpack exactly “how” to seek the kingdom just that we must seek the kingdom and that is the key to supernatural provision. This is particularly important regarding our work in foster care and adoption. We don’t continue to grow Restoration Rome and our global work through Global Impact by seeking more foster care and global work. We seek the kingdom and Jesus will increase our influence in these areas. We didn’t get to where we are by seeking to be where we are. We got here because we came after Jesus and his righteousness first, and he supplied the opportunity he has given us. That’s miraculous, supernatural and a result of coming after him first.

So, what are some ways we can seek the kingdom and Jesus’ righteousness pecifically?

Value and operate out of the attitudes of the kingdom. Matthew 5:3-11

We have to value poverty of spirit…humility not arrogance.

We have to value mourning over sin and the curse and rejoicing in the cross and the healing of the nations. We can’t love sin and rebellion or stick up for it.

We have to value meekness.

We have to seek righteousness like we seek after food.

We have to be the most merciful people on the planet.

We have to seek after purity in heart not just the outside appearance.

We have to be peacemakers not peacekeepers. This looks like loving those others may say are your enemies.

We have to be ok with being persecuted for the above value shifts.

Our righteousness must come from a transformed heart not a mere physical adherence to a law. 

Jesus went to lengths to show folks in Matthew 5 that the religious elite who made righteousness simply about adherence to a law were sadly mistaken. The promise of the new covenant was that Jesus would give new hearts and new desires. The leaders of Jesus’ day thought that just doing the law was good enough. Jesus told them that it’s not simply refusing to murder, but that murder at the heart level is anger. It’s not just avoiding adultery, but killing lust.

Righteousness is deeper than the skin. Righteousness is a heart desire that has been changed and will work itself out in right and repentance when our skin gets the best of us.

Laying up treasure in heaven by investment in eternal things. 

2 Corinthians 9:10 (ESV) He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.

Paul says here that God gives seed for sowing and bread for food. This passage is right in the middle of the address to the Corinthians about being cheerful givers regarding their offering for the saints in Jerusalem. The principle is that God gives all things to us but some are not to be consumed by us. Some of what God gives is “seed” and some is “bread”. We don’t eat seed. We eat bread. Therefore, we are to know what is for our consumption and what is to be reinvested in the kingdom.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-24 that where our treasure is our heart will be also, so we should lay up treasure in heaven because we can’t serve two masters.

My hunch is that most of us eat a lot of the “seed” God gives us along with the bread. Notice Paul said that the harvest we get from sowing the “seed” is righteousness. This is the error is prosperity theology. They say you get riches. The bible says you get righteousness. Maybe the reason we struggle with overcoming sin is that we are eating the “seed” we should be investing in the kingdom.

Jesus then turns around and tells us that if we seek the kingdom we’ll get the bread too.

If we simply did these three things we’d go a long way to seeking the kingdom.

Here are the outline notes from last night. May you be enriched with all the “seed” and “bread” you need as you seek the kingdom first.

Matthew 6:33 FOR TRC COMBINED GATHERING
Seek the Kingdom First

Matthew 6:25-34 (ESV) 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

1. Our work is to be anxiety free.
Anxious means: take thought of, to be troubled by, consumed in thought of

2. Anxiety and blood, sweat and tears are not the same thing.
Anxiety gets too far out in front of God’s daily way.

B, S & T should be the normal application of gospel ambition in going after the rule of Christ over all things as Jesus makes his way.

(See Hudson Taylor, See Adoniram Judson, See George Muller)

Anxiety has its root is where our treasure lies.
How do we know this? Jesus says “therefore” at the beginning of verse 25.

3. We need to check on where our treasure is.
Our treasure is either in God or anything else but God. Usually for me its the things I want God to give me and if he doesn’t I go get them myself…

4. We need to begin learning to seek the kingdom (rule of Jesus and his righteousness) over everything else.
Tim Keller defined the kingdom as “…the renewal of the whole world through the entrance of supernatural forces. As things are brought back under the rule of Christ’s authority they are restored to health, beauty and freedom.”

The promise of the kingdom is that God is supernaturally at work. Until we submit to the rule of Jesus in all things we may cut ourselves off from the supernatural.

If Hezekiah marched out an army, which may been prudent, rather than spread the warning letter before the Lord, he may have brought down more hardship than they were already experiencing.

By taking things to the Lord, which didn’t seem prudent at all, Hezekiah was enacting the most supernatural force on the planet and the Lord took out thousands and sent the rest home packing without Hezekiah so much as raising a sword.

Romans 15:4 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”

5. Seeking the Kingdom simply is not practical. There is no practical way to do this with worldly efficiency.
This is the conflict every one of us in this room faces.

6. We must become willing to accept the opportunity cost of seeking the kingdom first.

7. Seeking kingdom first will be costly.

8. Seeking kingdom first will guarantee the supernatural supply of all that is needed to seek the kingdom first!!
If we seek Jesus rule and righteousness first then he promises to give us the things we thought we needed to seek first.

9. The key to getting what you need to seek the kingdom is tied up in treasuring the kingdom above what you need.

10. The results of seeking the kingdom first may not be seen for 10 years.
It’s been 10 years since Jennifer and I entered the fray of this work with skin in the game and our church began to come around this work.

Today this is part of the culture of our church, Father has brought more skilled people to lead the charge, and all of us are seeing the fruit of our seeking the kingdom first.

16 Verses: Genesis 12:1-3…Abraham

16 Verses

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses

Genesis 12:2-3 Abraham: In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed

 

God created a kingdom, and he is the king. And he made human beings to represent him in that kingdom. Adam and Eve rejected this call, which led to sin and death. But God promised to defeat the Serpent through the offspring of the woman, who is also the offspring of Abraham. Through Abraham’s family, the covenant blessings (of salvation by grace through faith)[1] would come to the world.[2]

 

What do we see? What does it mean? How do we obey?

Abraham is chosen by grace not merit.

As one reads the narrative of Genesis, its hard to read it and not ask why the particular people are central figures in the story are actually central figures in the story. I would likely not do it that way.

 

What did they do to be rescued? What did they have to offer that others didn’t? Why them? Then, why does it get so hard on them after they are rescued? Shouldn’t it get easier?

 

Abraham? Really?

 

Joshua 24:2 (ESV) “And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.”

 

Abraham’s line is Seth to Noah to Shem to him.

 

Abraham is chosen by grace through God’s elective work in history to bear God’s kingdom to the nations in order to rescue from all the families just scattered at Babel those who will repent, believe and seek God’s kingdom first.

 

However, God does not pick Abraham or his descendants of Noah, Shem, Terah or Nahor because they are good people. In fact, there were not all good people.

 

God chose because all men are sinners and none are deserving of God’s grace.

 

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23)

“…It is not because of works but because of him who calls.” (Romans 9:11)

 

There were not little holy God lovers wandering around.

 

There were only offspring of the Serpent and those who will be the offspring of the woman.

 

Ephesians 2:8-10 (ESV) “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

 

It is because of Genesis 1-11 as his foundational worldview, that Paul’s theology is shaped the way it is. He’s a student of the text, therefore, he recognizes that his salvation is a gracious gift, not his due for being more astute than some other pagan.

 

So, why Abraham? Simply because God is good to save some when all deserve condemnation. It’s all God’s grace and none of man’s innate goodness.

We have to recognize that one of the devastating consequences of the rebellion and fall is that “you shall surely die” has deadly, long-term, awful consequences and this is what Adam and Eve’s exercise of freedom bought for the human race.

We also must recognize that the fall is an awful backdrop that causes us to see the brilliance of God’s grace more clearly.

 

God makes a 2-fold promise to Abraham NOT because Abraham was innately good but because God is that good.

 

2-Fold Promise:

  1. God would make Abraham a great nation
  2. God would make Abraham be a great blessing to all the families of the earth

 

There are only a couple of problems here: 1. Abraham’s wife is barren, 2. Abraham is a nomad with no land to have a nation on, and 3. Abraham does not yet know the LORD.

 

Usefulness and ability are never God’s criteria for drafting anyone on his team.

Abraham has no land, a barren wife that will make it hard to give birth to a family, and he was not a follower of the Lord.

 

The Serpent’s way is to take what his “world system” finds as mighty.

 

God delights in taking the unlikely, the least and the marginalized to crush the Serpent.

 

God takes Abraham, a pagan nomad with a barren wife.

 

God takes Isaac, the younger who was picked on by big brother Ishmael.

 

God takes Jacob over Esau. The younger brother, scheming, home-body who liked being with the women at the tents over the rugged hunter.

 

God takes Moses with a speech impediment, rejected by his people in his 40’s and 80 years old when he’s finally useful and capable of leading.

 

God takes David, least and last of all the sons of Jesse who was out tending the sheep when Samuel was looking for the next king.

 

God takes the marginalized and widowed prophets who he makes a bit eccentric over the mainstream and accepted court official.

 

So, no wonder Paul writes things like:

1 Corinthians 1:26-31 (ESV) 6 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

 

So is it a surprise that the Lord himself would not take any advantage to himself when he enters time and space to take on flesh to pay the penalty for sin and rise to finally crush the head of the Serpent?

 

No! He comes as a “son” to a poor family. Due to God’s methodology, Jesus’ earthly mother’s pregnancy is suspicious and his earthly father’s character would be doubted. Jesus grew up with this shadow over his ministry, and it would be manifest when people would call him the “son of Mary”, the first century equivalent of calling him a “fatherless son”. Jesus had to grow up doubted by his brothers, and not fitting into the religiously accepted ways of the day.

 

So, if you find yourself in Christ today, it’s not because God found you as first round draft stock and he won the NBA lottery and picked you number 1. It’s because you and I were the least and last and didn’t get invited to the draft party. We were not what the Serpent wanted. We are cast offs.

 

This is so that when Jesus made us broken jars of clay to be filled with glory we would get the joy of being made first and he would get the glory as the one who made us first.

 

THEREFORE, we are a worshiping people. This is why Christians worship the way we do!

God makes his covenant with Abraham in which God alone makes the covenant and promises to fulfill both party’s portions of the covenant.

Genesis 15

 

A covenant was an agreement made between two parties with mutually beneficial terms in which sacrifices are made and the animals are halved to show what is to happen to the party that does not keep their end of the bargain and that bloody mess is laid out with an aisle for each party to pass between in order to signify that they both agree to the terms of the bargain.

 

Both parties pass between the halved animals and the deal is made.

 

In Genesis 15 we see an amazing thing.

God saves Abraham by faith 15:1-6; Galatians 3:6

God brought Abraham out of Ur before he saved him. 15:7

This is why we believe that the Holy Spirit awakens, God the Father calls, gifts with faith THEN we believe.

There would be a price to be paid for the sins of others. 15:12-16

God would cause his people to pay for his patience with the Amorites.

The innocent suffering for the sake of the salvation of some guilty. Does that smell like the cross?

God and God alone passes through the sacrifices and makes the covenant. This means that God and God alone makes and keeps the covenant and thus he is the guarantee of our salvation and keeper of it.

 

Abraham’s folly does not “unsave” him. God’s guarantee is that when he makes a covenant, gives faith and brings to life he will move heaven and earth to make sure what is his is saved.

 

This is exceptionally good news.

 

Because until you understand that on your best and most sin free day your efforts still deserve hell and on your worse day your relationship to Jesus is unchanged.

 

Why?

 

Because you and I didn’t pass through that sacrifice. God alone did that. God put the Son on the cross and himself passed through with glorious effect. He made the covenant and he keeps this covenant.

 

This is why Philippians 1:6 is true.

 

Philippians 1:6 (ESV) And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Your salvation and mine are secure as the God who saved us and he will complete what he has begun.

 

This is why when we really believe the gospel we will never go back.

 

God makes his covenant with Abraham to bless all the “families” of the earth.

The word translated here as families is also translated as “clans”, “kinds” and “nations”. The translation of this word as families here is important because this covenant God makes with Abraham comes on the heals of God confusing the languages of the families of Shem, Ham and Japheth as he scatters the “nations” of people across the globe to fulfill his creation mandate.

 

In other words, Abraham’s descendants are to have as their mission in this covenant all the nations of the world.

 

Now Jesus comes along preaching from the Old Testament about how he is the God of the Old Testament and how he fulfills the Old Testament and that upon his resurrection and ascention that his disciples are to disciple “all nations”.

 

Did Jesus (A) make that up or is he (B) making possible the completion of the mission he gave to Abraham and his descendants?

 

The answer is “B”.

 

Galatians 3:7-9 (ESV) Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

God’s people are from Abraham’s faith not his bloodline therefore the kingdom looks like God’s elect from all nations not one homogenous nation alone.

The gospel is not just salvation from sin. The gospel includes the scope of God’s salvation and our joy in joining him glocally.

We are a worshiping people.

 

 

[1] Parenthesis mine

[2] Chris Bruno, The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015), 47.