Archive for December, 2010

Burning question

Friday, December 17th, 2010

If the mosaic law has been done away with (Romans 6:14, Romans 7:1-6, Galatians 3:10-13, 2 Corinthians 3:7-19) and there are no references encouraging tithing (or the idea of it) in the New Testament teachings, why are we still teaching tithing?

I am not opposed to teaching giving, but teaching tithing is a whole different thing.

More to come. Please comment with your view on this.

Looking forward, outward and upward

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

One of the passages in the bible that speaks volumes to me has got to be Genesis 15. The depth of God’s faithfulness and grace toward Abraham (then named Abram) is unbelievable. God’s amazing response to his obedience with promises no one else can make (Exo 20:6).

Looking forward

The passage begins with “After this…” – this is a significant conjunction, linking what just happened in Abraham’s life and the relevance of what God says to Him next. He says, “Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, …”. What has Abram got to be afraid of? What does he need a shield for?

In Genesis 14:1-12, four kings battled against five and the four won, carrying off bounty from their kingdoms. Anyone vaguely knowledgeable at math would be able to tell that you that four is smaller than five and have a natural disadvantage (v8). This battle shows the strength of the 4 kings in battle strategy, military technology and/or brute numbers. They were 4 kings you did not want to pick a fight with.

Next, Abram does a crazy thing and attacks the victorious kings. Rescuing Lot from the four kings, and taking back all the goods which had been won in their battle. Abram had just offended some pretty mighty people, and that is something to be afraid about. People whom he certainly needed protection from.

Next, God said “…your very great reward.” (in ESV, “Your reward shall be very great.”). Why would Abram have needed any reward?

Because he had none! His bounty from the battle he had returned entirely to the King of Sodom after giving a tenth of it to King Melchizedek. He had no reward for being righteous twice – once for rescuing his kinsman Lot and another time for giving to Melchizedek (the King of Righteousness, a sort of archetype of Christ).

Also, rejecting the five defeated king’s goods might also have insulted them. Rubbing salt into their already wounded egos, Abram puts the message across clearly that he wants nothing to do with them and their riches.

By the end of Chapter 14, looking forward was distressing for Abram. New enemies and no bounty even after a successful battle.

Listen to God’s promises to Abram. God promised freedom from fear, protection that God himself provides and a boundless reward that is not yet seen. God knew what was in Abram’s heart, and he knows what is in ours. He is not hesitant to release us from fear, to be our protection and to be our very great reward. In fact, Christ obedience has already released all that to you, just as Abram’s obedience released all that on him.

As we look forward in our lives, we look towards God’s promises in uncertainty.

Looking outward

Abram still wasn’t in a good place after God’s promises. The darkness* he was experiencing perfectly reflected what he was feeling. As he looked outward towards everything that he had, it was all cold and gloomy. He had herds of cattle and lambs, he had tents and equipment, he had slaves of men, women and children. He had everything BUT an heir. The closest heir he had wasn’t his own. The most important thing in life was the only one thing he didn’t have. All his possessions and God’s promise of protection and providence didn’t mean anything to him if he had no son to protect and provide for.

How apt is that picture as a reflection of our own lives! Many of us live in pertetual darkness where nothing is ever enough. We disregard God’s promises and get impatient with Him, failing to see that He who provides for small everyday things can also provide for big miraculous things. Looking at our possessions and everything we hold dear, we see that He has been faithful and he will continue to be faithful.

Abram wasn’t just waiting for a son. God’s promise to Him was dual, it was also about THE Son – Jesus Christ. The picture of a promised son is a picture of the promised Messiah (Gen 12:2-3, Gen 22:17-18, Gal 3:16). Abram was waiting for the one person who would bring fulfillment to everything in his world. Just as this world is waiting for Jesus, who would bring fulfillment to everything in this world. Even if everything in this world was set straight, and everyone was protected and provided for, there would still be one thing lacking. J. W. Hyde says it best:

“If every person in the world had adequate food, housing, income; if all men were equal; if every possible social evil and injustice were done away with, men would still need one thing – Christ.”
– J.W. Hyde

As we look outward, we are thankful for His faithfulness and trust Him even more. We look to bring Christ into every area of of life and to the lives of those around us.

* The implication that it was dark comes from the next portion where God says to look at the stars.

Looking upward

The passage seems to say that the word of the Lord came to him again, as if to imply it was a separate instance that was not the vision, perhaps at around the same time. This time, “He took him outside…”. Abram had been indoors physically and perhaps mentally. His view was narrow and small, his mindset was confined. It seemed like he could not see how BIG was this God he served and how great was God’s plan for him.

God then directed Abram to “Look up…” and in the next sentence said “So shall your offspring be.” This small break gives the effect that Abram had looked up and saw the stars. He saw the greatness and radiance of God’s creation; the sheer number of stars! What a magnificent sight to see! He saw that even though all was dark around him, the stars were brightly shining. As if they were a glimmer of hope, however far away, they existed. In that moment, I believe that he understood that his hope rested on a great God who has given him a grand promise.

It was said that “Abram believed the Lord…”. He placed the belief and trust on the person and the promise. That sounds like “I trust you”, rather than “I trust that you will…”. His trust and belief was not conditional to God fulfilling the promise and not on the promise itself without belief in God. It was unconditional belief about God, and thus about the promise. He believed everything that God is and because of that, everything that God said.

Righteousness is having the state or quality of being righteous – having been reckoned/judged according to moral principles and divine law, have come across as acceptance and right. When God “credited it to him” (TNIV)or “counted it to him” (ESV) as righteousness, he took Abram’s belief as righteousness.

That standard for attaining righteousness exist even today in the New Testament. There are 2 ways to righteousness. Either, we can have absolute and perfect obedience of faith (to the law) to be righteous or we can look to the end of the law, towards Christ for righteousness (Romans 3:19-22). This righteousness was not based on our obedience, but Christ’s obedience. Since we are not able to fulfill the law and be 100% obedient, no amount of religiousness (Romans 10:3) can lead to righteousness. No amount of anything other than total and absolute belief in God and His promised son, the person of Christ Jesus, can a person be perfectly righteous (Romans 10:4).

So where is the New Testament message in the Old Testament? Right here with Abram, years before the law, where he believed and was righteous.

As we look upward, we see and BELIEVE in Jesus Christ. Looking elsewhere would be totally hopeless.

3 weeks

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

After a 3 weeks hiatus, I am back. This time, 100% more married than I was before. More pictures to come, but here’s a sniplet.