Tuesday, October 11, 2022

God's Promises To Abraham - chapter 2

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Chapter 2

The Testing of Abraham's Faith

It’s peaceful here, but it hasn’t been all that peaceful in different parts of the world. I don’t want to go into this for a really long extent because it seems like every week we have another story about some horrible tragedy or atrocity committed by ISIS – the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – in their insane interpretation of their religion. Praising their god by yelling, “Allahu Akbar” as they murder people! Again, that just flabbergasts me that – how, we’re gonna honor our god by seeing how much misery we can perpetrate upon innocent human beings.
     Well, on June 28th, 2016, three Islamic terrorists entered the outside edge of the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey, equipped with guns, rifles, and suicide vests. And 48 deaths occurred – including the three terrorists. And something about over 230 people had been wounded by one degree or another. Just a terrible act of senseless violence. And then, on July 1st, 2016, in Dhaka, Bangladesh – the capital. Now, for those of you just not sure where Bangladesh is, imagine a map, and think of where Pakistan is. Just to the Northwest of where Pakistan there’s the nation of Afghanistan. And we’ve been hearing of Afghanistan for the past 18 years or so. And just to the east of Afghanistan, you get into the area of Iran, and Iraq. But, go the other direction – after you have Pakistan, you have the Subcontinent of India. And then just on the other side of India is the country of Bangladesh. Bangladesh it was said by the reporters on television is 90% Muslim. And they have – if I heard correctly – something like 140 million Muslims living in Bangladesh! And they said in these reports that Bangladesh, historically, was sort of a peaceful place in terms of Islamic radicalism. But now, outfits like ISIS and Al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent have been trying to foam it with more and more hatred and radicalization. And some of the reporters said that Bangladesh – especially the capital – is becoming a hotbed of Islamic activism. And so we’re going to hear about more and more problems coming from the radicalized Muslims out of Bangladesh. But these three people were from Russia and Central Asia. And they all, I think, had spent some time in Syria. And Syria was very proud to claim responsibility for the attack. They entered a restaurant in the evening – apparently by the daytime it’s a fancy pastry, and then at night a Spanish restaurant – what I heard. And, you didn’t hear a lot about them – because the news cycle had totally shifted their attention at that time to Hillary Clinton. And we’ll talk about that in just a moment. But, 20 people died, and over 50 were wounded. The five militants – Islamic terrorists – entered the restaurant, shot a couple policemen, and took 20 people hostage.
     And apparently, this thing went on for hours and hours. The police were very slow to break in there and stop it. I was told on television that apparently the people who were taken hostage were quizzed, and they would ask them questions about the Koran. And if the people could quote certain verses from the Koran, they were spared. And yet on the other hand, if they could not quote anything from the Koran or the correct verses, then they were executed. And all in all – 20 people were apparently murdered, and all five of the terrorists died. The details were very foggy – I had a hard time getting definite information at that time.

Hillary vs Trump 2016

For the first time in America’s history a presidential candidate who is the presumed nominee of their political party – in this case, it was Hillary Clinton for the Democratic Party – spent 3 1⁄2 hours at FBI headquarters in Washington, D.C. being interviewed by senior FBI agents in that ongoing investigation into whether or not she committed crimes with her personal server – her email server – which she had set up. And also, possibly, inconsistent behavior with the so-called Clinton Foundation. So, never before has this happened! And it’s sort of interesting that it had happened – and the news leaked out – right on the Fourth of July weekend of 2016. Which meant that most people hadn’t turned on their television sets till the following day. And I’m sure that the Clinton people had hoped that all of that would just disappear and blow away. And yet, she faced serious legal jeopardy. Now a lot of people said, “Mike, ...” and I even had my relatives, and I had spent some time down at Kentucky Lake. And for many years my relatives – my brother and sister, brother-in-law, the children and the grandchildren, and a few smattering of cousins here and there – have gathered for about five days at Kentucky Lake. And I always took Dad down there for a day just so he could see all of those people and they could see him. And since Dad has been gone now for a couple of summers – I still went last summer, and I went again this summer. So, I went to Kentucky Lake, and somewhere the discussion had turned to Hillary facing possible indictment for misdeeds with her email server and the Clinton Foundation. And my brother-in-law spoke up and said, “... ah, that’ll never happen! They’ll never indict her!” And that was the sentiment of a lot of people at that time. Because the former President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama II, had handpicked Hillary to be his successor. And then, we heard the story of how Loretta Lynch - she was the 83rd Attorney General of the US – who made the final decision on whether or not to prosecute had spent a half-hour meeting at a Phoenix airport on board her airplane (a government airplane) with Bill Clinton! The 42nd President of the United States and husband to Hillary. And everyone – including Democrats – had said, “That stinks to high heaven!” Yet, they said they were talking about their grandchildren and playing golf. And, that’s truly hard to believe. A half-an-hour just a few days before the FBI was going to interview his wife!? So, anyway, it stunk! And I don’t know what happened, and I don’t know what should have happened. However, we now know she wasn’t indicted. And, my main comment at that time was – in a nation with over 325 million people the two main candidates running for president came down to Hillary Clinton – with all of her baggage, with all of her scandals – and Donald Trump – with his bombast and arrogance. And I just went, “My, my, my! What a choice!” Couldn’t we as a country have done better than that!? So, I just had backed out of all of that – and really didn’t get involved. But, that came such a prevalent news story that day you didn’t hear much about Bangladesh.
     Now, the thing about Bangladesh that I want to talk about just a little – and I’ve mentioned this before at various times. I just want to hit it very lightly again to keep it aware in your mind. There are some prophecies that have always been somewhat confusing and yet they are overtly dramatic prophecies! And now here Bangladesh has historically been a calm stable Muslim nation, but now it’s starting to become more and more radicalized. and, if you would, go back to Daniel chapter 11.

‘The Abomination of Desolation’

Daniel 11 talks about the king of the North and the king of the South. And it is the longest continuous prophecy in the Bible. And the entire chapter relates how this constant ebb and flow, this back and forth, of antagonism and attacks and counter-attacks between the so-called king of the North – which we believe to be a final United Europe, which is yet to take shape. This is why the presidential election of 2016 was so significant. And, we’re going to talk about this more – that Europe and Britain were destined (even though they spent a few years together in the common market from 1973 up until June 23rd, 2016) to not continue being united in a geopolitical bloc. Because the Bible talks about England – or Britain or the United Kingdom – under one category of nations, and the Bible talks about Europe in a whole different category of nations. And one of the terms you hear used for a future Europe is the ‘king of the North.’ As it reads here in Daniel 11, verse 31 – and again, this is a long-running prophecy, but getting down to the time of the end, it says – “And forces shall be mustered by him, ...” – speaking of the king of the North – armies, “...and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.” And Jesus Christ talked about how, ‘when you see the abomination of desolation - or the abomination that makes desolate,’” He said this is a KEY POINT in future history! He said, ‘when you see this, run and take cover!’ Because all you know what is about to break out! And it really will throw the world into the final segment of the time of the end. Verse 32 – “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he [the king of the North] shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” So, at this time of heightened intensity – not only will the forces of evil, forces working directly with Satan the devil, become very powerful and very destructive, but also the people of God who have God’s Spirit and God’s understanding will also be doing fantastic miracles. And I’ve talked about the term which I’ve made up – the end-time prophets. And this is an allusion to that right here. Verse 33 – “And those of the people who understand shall instruct many; ...” – yet, these same end-time prophets “...yet for many days they shall fall by sword and flame, by captivity and plundering.” – for about 3 1⁄2 years. Verse 36 – “’ Then the king ...’” – the ‘king of the North,’ or the kingdoms of the North. Not the European Union of today – this is why that vote on June 23rd was so important – the very personality of Europe is going to change. Where now it is a very Leftist society, a very Socialistic society – a very sort of peaceful, non-involved, non-militarized society. But in the near future that is going to change. And Europe will revert back to its ways of the 20th century! Where mechanized warfare becomes very prevalent. “...’ shall do according to his own will: he shall exalt and magnify himself above every god, shall speak blasphemies against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the wrath [the Day of the LORD] has been accomplished; ...” – so again talking about the end-time trauma, the end-time justice of God – taking direct intervention in the affairs of humankind.
     Verse 40 – “’ At the time of the end ...’” – so if you have any question about – is this talking about five hundred years ago or a hundred years ago – no, these prophecies culminate in what the Bible calls, ‘the time of the end.’ “...’ the king of the South shall [push at] him; ...’” – now, will this be some type of economic tariffs!? Probably not. Much more serious than that – probably military. Quite possibly a continued threat of terrorism – bombings and suicide bombings and terrorist attacks! which were fomented by the ‘king of the South’ or the kingdoms of the South. I think it’s referring to an Islamic confederation that stretches from North Africa up to what we now call the Middle East – up unto basically Turkey. “...’ and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, ...’” – this is talking about armed invasion! “...’ with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries [of the Middle East], overwhelm them, and pass through. 41) He shall also enter the Glorious Land [talking about Jerusalem], and many countries shall be overthrown; but these [initially] shall escape from his hand: Edom [which is Turkey], Moab [which is Iraq], and the prominent people of Ammon [or Jordan]. 42) He shall stretch out his hand [the ‘king of the North’] against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43) He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans [which is right next door to the west] and Ethiopians [southeast of Egypt] shall follow at his heels. 44) But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; ...’”
     Now, Turkey is basically to the north of Jerusalem. Iraq is basically to the east of Jerusalem. Jordan is basically to the southeast of Jerusalem. Remember, initially, Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan, are spared military conquest. But after this mechanized force – representing a final United Europe – comes into the Middle East like a ‘whirlwind’ taking over and occupying many countries – many Arab countries, many Islamic countries – then the people of Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan, they decide – “No, we’re not going to put up with that! We’re going to counter-attack!” – or rather they’re going to attempt to counter-attack, because as it says here – “’ But news [of what they’re planning] from the east and the north shall trouble [the king of the North]; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.’” – so there is a massive counter-attack against areas such as Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. Verse 45 – “’ And he [the king of the North] shall plant the tents of his palace between the seas [the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea] and the glorious holy mountain [or Jerusalem; remember Jerusalem is about 900 meters above sea level]; yet he shall come to his end, and no one will help him.’”
     And so we have this ongoing state of war, we have the ‘king of the South’ pushing at the ‘king of the North’ – up in verse 40. We have this invasion – or like a modern-day CRUSADE - I have called it THE LAST CRUSADE. And then, some of the Islamic countries to the north and east of Jerusalem decide that they’re going to counter-attack. The European forces go forth, and as it says here, “he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.” And, there are prophecies about Turkey! Which tends to indicate that all Turks – when this is all said and done – shall be utterly and completely annihilated from the face of the earth! Now, those are some serious prophecies!

A 200 Million Man Islamic Army!

If you would, turn back to the Book of Revelation, chapter 9. And, we’re going to pick up some more prophecies. And again, coming up I’m going to go through a whole series of prophecies that deal with the future of Europe. Some of these prophecies were stated way back in the Book of Daniel. And then some of the information was given to us from the Book of Revelation. But here, talking about this invasion from the north and the east – this attempted counter-attack by Turkey, Iraq, and Jordan. However, it falls short – and the final European forces ‘go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.’ Utterly destroying those countries! And now, we cover another part of the story – Revelation 9, verse 13 – “Then the sixth angel sounded ...” – remember there are a series of TRUMPET BLASTS that announce certain events – the SEVENTH TRUMPET BLAST is what I like to call the resurrection trumpet or the graduation trumpet! But all of these events build up in intensity – and this is the end-time trauma. “... And I heard a voice from the four horns of the golden altar, which is before God, 14) saying to the sixth angel who had the trumpet, ‘Release the four angels who are bound [or at the present time are held back] at the great river Euphrates.’ 15) So the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year [a short period of time], were released to kill a third of mankind. 16) Now the number of the army of the horsemen was two hundred million; ...” – 200 MILLION! So, yes, the Bible does talk about the activation – the implementation of a 200 million-man army coming from the east – as the ‘kings of the east.’ ‘Bound at the river Euphrates.’ They’re in the east and they can’t get to the battle.
     Now, people have speculated in the past decades that this was somehow an accumulation of China and Japan, and maybe Korea, maybe Mongolia – which is the heart of Russia. And, that’s one possibility. I will remind you of what Paul said in 1st Corinthians 13, he said, ‘We see through a glass darkly.’ And so, sometimes trying to understand prophecies before they happen becomes a little confusing. A little sort of blurry! But then, when the events actually take place and then following the events it becomes very clear what the prophecies always meant. Well, here, we have the amalgamation of a 200 million-man army who is wanting to march from the east further west to where – we believe – the final European armies have taken over. It seems to me to be some form of counter-attack! Now, is it gonna be China or Japan!? Or, is there a good possibility that this counter-attack will come from Islamic countries – to the east!? You have the country of Iraq, in which the river Euphrates flows through. And then you have the country of Iran, and then Afghanistan and Pakistan – you know Pakistan is a majority Muslim nation! Then, there’s India – India has a large degree of Buddhists, however, there are hundreds of millions of Muslims, which live in India. And you get a little farther to the east and you come to Bangladesh. And you keep going and you end up in Indonesia. Indonesia is the most populated Muslim country on the face of the earth! So there are millions upon millions upon millions – hundreds of millions – of Muslims who live to the east of IRAQ! And remember, we were just told back in the Book of Daniel, Iraq is eventually invaded and annihilated. So now – in my mind – there’s a good possibility that these Islamic armies from the east – ISLAMIC – are trying to get to the final European armies to provide some kind of Islamic “justice.” Well if you would, turn to Revelation chapter 16. There are a few little passages about this. In Revelation 16 we have moved down the line – we’ve gone from the trumpets 7 - the seven trumpets – now we’re in what the Bible calls in chapter 15 – the seven last plagues. And the seven last plagues are the final addition of the end-time trauma. They’re in the final stage! Verse 12 – “Then the sixth angel [of the seven last plagues] poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, ...” – remember, real quick Revelation 9 – “’ Release the four angels who are bound at the great river Euphrates.’” Angels can also – sometimes – be referring to demons or demonic powers. These demonic powers are the power behind the throne of many of these nations. And that’s another long story. But you can pretty well demonstrate from the Book of Daniel that major nations seem to have demonic powers which are supporting them – which are inspiring them, leading them! “...and its water was dried up, so that the way of the kings from the east might be prepared.” – so, now that the river has dried up, now provides access for these armies from the east as it says here – ‘the kings from the east.’ I believe the majority of this will be ISLAMIC countries! Islamic soldiers, and Islamic militants trying to get to the European forces to exact revenge and “justice” for having invaded and taken control of the Middle East!
     Verse 13 – “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.” – now, we’re going to talk about this later. Talking about the prophecies which speak concerning the future of Europe. But the mouth of ‘the dragon’ you can safely say is indeed Satan the Devil himself. The mouth of ‘the beast’ will be the political-military leader of a future European combine. And that whole combine sometimes in the Book of Revelation is referred to as ‘the beast’ or ‘the beast power.’ And then, there’s the ‘false prophet.’ There will be – integral to this rise of European supremacy – a religious leader who will turn the hearts of the people back to the original religion of that region. And he will be inspired by being able to perform great signs and wonders which have been produced by Satan and his demons. And he’s this religious leader who is gonna get the crowds all worked up into a frenzy, and they’re gonna be filled with this glee – which can only come from religion – this messianic type, “We’re going to do the will of God!” “We’re going to take over the Middle East!” It will be a modern-day crusade! Verse 14 – “For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.” And a little WARNING is added in verse 15 – “’ Behold,’ Jesus says, “’ I AM coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments [pure], lest he walk naked [and they have no protection and their shame be known].’ 16) And they gathered them together to the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon.” – or rather Har Megiddo. The hill of Megiddo. Megiddo is a place up north of Jerusalem – a gigantic plain – which could easily accommodate millions and even hundreds of millions of military personnel, their equipment, and their tents. And this will be the final human battle attempting to fight one another, but before it’s over they will turn their attention and attempt to fight the returning Jesus Christ! And that’s another part of the story! But, you’ve all heard the term Armageddon. Well, this is where it appears in the Bible. And I think this Armageddon will be set up – and again I can’t prove it, I’m trying to read between the lines, trying to piece together different prophecies – in the end-time with the militancy and the hatred and the warfare which is taking place between Catholic Europe and the Islamic Middle East. And it just grows in intensity and gets more and more fierce. And I think right now we see this obvious increase in Islamic terrorists attacking anybody they can, including the Western targets – New York, Paris, Brussels, Orlando, San Bernardino, along with a great many more! Tragically, there have been a great many more! It may be – every week, tragically, there will be another story of death and violence and destruction, created by the hands of religiously insane Islamic fanatics! So, with this event in Bangladesh – and in which a nation, historically, has been very peaceful and unradical, the reports had said that that country is becoming a hotbed of Islamic religious fervency and radicalization. And we’re just continuing to see more and more of this! Tragically so.

Abraham Casts Out Hagar and Ishmael

In chapter 21, we begin the story of Isaac – Abraham’s son. Remember, Abraham had another son, but that son was not going to be the one that God was going to work through to fulfill the covenant promises.
     Verse 1 – “And the LORD visited Sarah as He had said, ...” – remember we spoke of this. “...and the LORD did for Sarah as He had spoken. 2) For Sarah conceived and bore Abraham a son in his old age, ...” – remember Abraham was 100 years old and Sarah 90 years old. “...at the set time of which God had spoken to him. 3) And Abraham called the name of his son who was born to him – whom Sarah bore to him – Isaac.” – remember, Abraham had fathered a child - Ishmael. Which is the progenitor of all the Arab people. And, that relationship between Sarah and Ishmael’s mother quickly deteriorated. Even though Sarah was the first one that said, “Abraham, go to your handmaid – this much younger woman – and have a son. That way you’ll have an heir.”
     Because Sarah was well beyond childbearing age. And, Abraham did. I don’t think he fought it too hard. And, Abraham loved his son Ishmael. However, Ishmael was not the “chosen seed” as it were. It was to be a child born to both Abraham and Sarah – upon which these promises would continue to flow. Verse 9 – “And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, whom she had borne to Abraham, scoffing. 10) Therefore she said to Abraham, ‘Cast out this bondwoman and her son; for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son [with Isaac]. 11) And the matter was very displeasing in Abraham’s sight because of his son.” – so Abraham was really in a tough spot. It’s obvious that Abraham loved his son Ishmael. It’s obvious that Abraham loved Sarah. It’s obvious that Abraham is going to love his new son – Isaac. And yet, this world – that tent was not big enough for all of them to survive in. Somebody had to go. And Sarah basically says, “Hagar and Ishmael have to go! I’m not going to have them being around my son!” And again, this was very grievous, very upsetting, very difficult, and very emotional, for Abraham. Verse 12 – “But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.”
     And now God is saying, ‘Sarah is right. Hagar and Ishmael have to go. Because Isaac is going to be the one that carries on your name and will be the recipient of the promises I made to you.” Verse 13 – “’ Yet I will also make a nation of the son of the bondwoman because he is your seed.’” – so, the Arab people received blessings because Abraham is also their father – and they acknowledge that Abraham is their progenitor.
     Verse 14 – “So Abraham rose early in the morning, and took bread and a skin of water; and putting it on her shoulder, he gave it and the boy to Hagar, and sent her away. ...” – and this has to be very difficult for Abraham. “...Then she departed and wandered in the Wilderness of Beersheba. 15) And the
water in the skin was used up, and she placed the boy under one of the shrubs.” – it must have been very hot. She places the child in some shade. Verse 16 – “Then she went and sat down across from him at a distance of about a bowshot; ...” – she found probably another shady spot and just sat down – she’s I’m sure frustrated, scared, shocked – she never expected to be in this position. “...for she said to herself, ‘Let me not see the death of the boy.’...” – she’s basically saying, ‘The boy is going to die of thirst, and I just don’t want to see it.’ “...So she sat opposite him, and lifted her voice and wept.” – so this is a very powerful moment in Hagar’s life. And you have to have a lot of empathy. She had simply done what she had been told. And, yes, she got a little uppity, she didn’t behave herself properly, and she upset Sarah greatly. And who knows how many fights and bickering they had going back and forth. But now, here she is – she thinks she’s out in the wilderness to die. Verse 17 – “And God heard the voice of the lad. Then the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said to her, ‘What ails you, Hagar? Fear not, for God has heard the voice of the lad where he is. 18) Arise, lift up the lad and hold him with your hand, for I will make [through] him a great nation.’” – or, a ‘great group of people.’ Verse 19 – “Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. And she went and filled the skin with water, and gave the lad a drink. 20) So God was with the lad; and he grew and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.” – you might say a hunter. Very proficient at using a bow. Verse 21 – “He dwelt in the Wilderness of Paran; and his mother took a wife for him from the land of Egypt.”
     Remember how that Ishmael was going to have twelve princes – twelve distinct leaders of twelve distinct tribes come from him. And think about as you go throughout North Africa into the Middle East, if you look at the Arab people, they’re probably about a dozen distinct groups of Arabs. Just as God had promised.

God Tested Abraham

Chapter 22 – “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, ‘Abraham!’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’” – now, this is one of the most dramatic stories in the Bible! Again, put yourself in Abraham’s sandals – don’t think of Abraham as some sort of bearded, dusty, caricature which you have seen in movies and television shows. Abraham was a real-life human being! He had real-life human feelings and human emotions, just like you and me. He spent all those years with Sarah and has never had a child – even though he’s promised he’s going to have a child and the people who would come from him would be as the sand from the seashore – as the dust of the earth. And very late in his life – getting near the end of his normal lifetime – he’s given the son Ishmael. Whom he deeply loved. And then he was told by his wife and by God to kick them out! That had to be a heartbreaking experience for Abraham! But now he had another son – Isaac. And God has told him, ‘This is the lad from whom – or about whom – all of my promises which I have made to you, of just having hundreds of millions of descendants – countries, nations, and kings – will come from.’ And now look what’s about to happen!
     God says to him – probably the One we now call Jesus Christ – verse 2 – “Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.’” – Can you even imagine what that was like to hear!? I can’t even imagine what it would be like to contemplate. It’s staggering in its dramatic nature! ‘Take this boy, whom I promised you, and now sacrifice him and burn him up!’ Just let that sink in and put yourself in Abraham’s sandals. It’s a tremendously difficult position to be in! ‘Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him [credited to him] as righteousness.’ Abraham’s belief in God’s promises made Abraham different than anybody else who had lived upon the earth until that time. Verse 3 – “So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his [ass], and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, ...” – who knows, maybe Isaac helped split the wood that was going to be used for his own sacrifice!? “...and arose and went to the place of which God had told him. [See: 2 Chronicles 3:1] 4) Then on the third day ...” – now, imagine this – Abraham had to think about this for three days. He had to think of his son as dead – or soon to be dead. It’s sort of similar - an analogy I think can be made – that God the Father had to contemplate at one time the death of His Son – Jesus Christ! And He had to see Him dead for three days. Jesus Christ for three days and three nights lay in a tomb and He was stone-cold dead. I’m sure that was a very difficult thing for God the Father to see! “... Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. 5) And Abraham said to his young men, ‘Stay here with the [ass]; the lad and I will go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you.’” – you know, it doesn’t actually say it – but it sort of implies to me – Abraham knows he’s going to sacrifice his son because God told him, but he also says, ‘and we will come back to you’ [See: Hebrews 11:19]. Maybe I’m reading into that!? But maybe Abraham, the father of the faithful – remember, Abraham was told over and over, ‘I’m going to make a great nation – people – out of you and through this lad.’ And now He says, ‘You’re gonna go up to Mount Moriah and sacrifice this lad.’ Abraham had to know at some level – I’m going to do what God tells me, and I’m going to believe what God has expressed to me, and I know that my boy is going to live again. Just like God the Father knew that Jesus Christ would be dead for 72 hours – but He knew He would be alive again! Verse 6 – “So Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering and laid it on Isaac his son; and took the fire in his hand, and a knife, and the two of them went together.” – so they’re hiking up this hill with the wood and the knife and the lad. Had to be a terribly difficult walk! It’s almost impossible to imagine – isn’t it!? Verse 7 – “But Isaac spoke to Abraham his father and said, ‘My father!’ And he said, ‘Here I am, my son.’ Then he said, ‘Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?’” – at this point in time, Isaac doesn’t know he’s gonna be the sacrifice. But Abraham has to carry this burden. Verse 8 – Abraham says something which is so remarkable! I mean – Abraham was so dedicated to believing God! ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD! And it was accredited to him as righteousness. “And Abraham said, ‘My son, God will provide for Himself the lamb for a burnt offering.’ So the two of them went together.”
     And I don’t think he said that to his young boy to sort of psych out his son. I think Abraham – at some level – deeply believed it!
     Verse 9 – “Then they came to the place of which God had told him. And Abraham built an altar there and placed the wood in order; ...” – now remember, as I’ve been saying – try to place yourself in these other people’s sandals. Up to now Isaac is just innocently – naively – optimistically going along with his father. He even asked the question, ‘Where is the lamb!?’ And his father said, ‘Well, God will provide a lamb.’ And now, “... he bound Isaac his son ...” – now, I don’t know how old Isaac is. 10 Is he 9, 10, 12!? If we’re told I don’t remember the age. But you get the feeling that he’s fairly young. So now Isaac, who has already asked, ‘Where’s the lamb?’ and now his father binds him up with rope and then – “... laid him on the altar, upon the wood.” Can you imagine the shock that Isaac must have felt!? ‘What are you doing, father!? What’s going on!? What’s this all about!?’ ‘Are you going to kill me!?’ Verse 10 – “Abraham stretched out his hand and took the knife to slay his son.” – Abraham was going to do it! Because Abraham believed God. And this is what God told him to do, and he was going to obey God.
     Verse 11 – “But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven [the sky] and said, ‘Abraham, Abraham!’” – I’m sure Abraham had the thought of – please just somehow make this all go away! “... So he said, ‘Here I am.’ Verse 12 – “And He [the angel of the LORD, maybe Jesus Christ Himself] said, ‘Do not lay your hand on the lad, or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear [respect, love] God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.’” – I imagine no sound has ever been sweeter to any man’s ears than what Abraham heard from that angelic messenger – or Jesus Christ Himself – say! Verse 13 – “Then Abraham lifted his eyes and looked, and there behind him was a ram [a miracle] caught in a thicket by its horns. So Abraham went and took the ram, and offered it up for a burnt offering instead of his son.”

Without Faith, It Is Impossible To Please God

Hebrews chapter 11. Hebrews 11 is often called the faith chapter. It talks about mighty deeds of faith that have been witnessed throughout different biblical passages.
     Verse 1 – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” – and I’ve always found that explanation very problematic. I’ve told the story before - O’ about in the early ‘80s, I had a friend out in Arizona by the name of Rick Carlson, and he was a basketball coach and teacher. And he went to church – just basically caddy-cornered from where I live. No more than about 120 feet. If you had a good arm, you could easily pick up a baseball and throw it into the front yard of that building. And on Wednesday night, Rick was there attending, and then he came over and said hello to me – I was outside in my front yard watering my plants. And I said, “Rick, I see that you just went to church tonight. What did you learn!?” “Well, we were studying faith,” said Rick. I said, “Well, that’s a good topic. What is faith!?” And, Rick looked at me, and he looked a little puzzled, and then he quoted verbatim Hebrews chapter 11, verse 1 – and I was very impressed with Rick’s memory. He said, “Well faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And he sort of clicked his heels when he said that, like – ‘there, I told ya!’ And I said, “Rick, what does that mean!?” He said, “Well, it means faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” And I said, “Well, Rick, I gotta tell you the truth, I read that and I really don’t know what it means. I know it sounds good, but I don’t know what it means.” But I said, “Rick if you’ll go down to verse 6, I think you’ll get a much better illustration of what Paul had in mind when he decided to talk about faith.” And in verse 6 it says, “But without faith, it is impossible to please Him ...” – now, whoa, that’s big! Without faith, it is IMPOSSIBLE to please God! “for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” – and that does a much better job – although there’s another definition that I think does even better. And, I’ve said the most perfect definition of faith in the Bible appears in the Book of Romans. Where we’re told, ‘Abraham believed God.’ And he knew that whatever God had promised, God was always able to fulfill. Now that’s a good definition of faith. That’s why this story of Abraham and his family is so important.
    GOD’S PROMISES TO ABRAHAM! And even now in the year 2019, we continue to see those promises being fulfilled! Both to the physical descendants and spiritual descendants.
      Verse 17 – keeping in mind what we just witnessed. “By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, ...” – he was ready – the knife was ready to come down across the lad’s throat. He was gonna do it! “... and he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten son, ...” – remember how I sort of made the allusion to God the Father and Jesus Christ, and how there was an analogy that kind of bounces back and forth!? Between Abraham and Isaac!? Verse 18 – “... of whom it was said, ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ 19) [Abraham] concluding that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead, ...” – even though he knew he was going to do what God said, he still knew that God had promised him ‘In Isaac your seed shall be called.’ ‘In Isaac should all of these promises be fulfilled.’ And he knew that God would raise him up!
     Now, folks, that is faith! Which is why Abraham is basically called, ‘the father of the faithful.’ Abraham indeed is the first true practitioner – one who understood – the principles of the New Covenant! You don’t grow close to God by following little do’s and don’ts – Jewish customs.
     Genesis 22, verse 14 – “And Abraham called the name of the place, The- LORD-Will-Provide [Jĕ-hō’-văh-jī’-rēh]; as it is said to this day, ‘In the Mount of the LORD it shall be provided.’ 15) Then the angel of the LORD called to Abraham a second time out of heaven, 16) and said, ‘By Myself I have sworn, says the LORD, because you have done this [or willing to do this thing], and have not withheld your son, your only son – 17) blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the [sky] and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies. 18) In your seed ...’” – now, this has a two-fold meaning.
     “‘In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’”
     Modern-day recipients of the blessings of Abraham and his descendants include the United States of America, and the United Kingdom (and their different colonies from the past and now – many of which are independent countries). And I think that for the last century or so – how many times has the world been saved from domination! By dictators and by anti-god theologies and philosophies! And, had it not been for the English people – the American people – half the world now would be speaking Japanese as it were, and the other half of the world would be speaking German. And the world was saved from all of that! And, the system of government, which was created in both the UK – the British people – and in the US – the American people – is at times an exasperating form of government. But it is better than anything else that has ever been developed! The only thing which could top it – would be a rulership from God Himself! And thankfully – with the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP and the setting up of the Kingdom of God – that will finally be done! God’s will will be done on this E A R T H as it is in the upper heavenly realm! And, God the Father Himself shall be our RULER! And Jesus Christ will be our RULER! But, that’s not yet.
     So now, Democracy - if it’s not twisted and distorted and misdirected is a fairly benign form of government. Again, there are always people who are trying to upset the apple cart.
     “...’ all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’”
     And, the other part of that prophecy is that it is also referring to Jesus Christ! ‘In Your seed.’ Jesus Christ is a physical descendant of Abraham and Isaac. And because of Jesus Christ ‘all of the nations of the earth – someday – shall be blessed with access to eternal life.’ Now, sadly, a few people won’t make it. But those people are hard-headed, hard-hearted, self-righteous, arrogant, religious people! But all the sinners of the world – someday – will have a chance to live again and to have their sins forgiven and to have their lives remade following the pathway of Jesus Christ! And they too will inherit eternal life!
     Yes, “’ In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.’” – Abraham believed God! That’s a powerful statement there!

Michael C. Garrett   About
Publication Date 2022

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