Thursday, November 10, 2022

God's Promises To Abraham - chapter 3

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Chapter 3

'Perilous Times Will Come'

You think about the country we live in and where we are and where we’re going. You think about the passage which I have read many times in my life – 2 Timothy 3. And, the Apostle Paul had a lot of titles. Paul was an evangelist – no doubt. He’s one of the most powerful evangelistic personalities of the Bible – of all time. He was also a great writer of Scripture – he authored, from his hand, under the inspiration of God’s Spirit, the vast majority of the New Testament. And he was obviously a Church leader. He calls himself an apostle. But one title that Paul is not credited with nearly as often as he should be – Paul was also a prophet. Paul was able to see into the future under God’s inspiration. And he was able to write about different situations – he didn’t spend a lot of time being prophetic, as in talking about the future, but he did have some significant passages which he wrote. And this one in 2 Timothy 3 – “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come.” – and that’s the way I feel. I feel like – here we are on July 14th, 2019 – we are living in perilous times. Everything just seems to be upside down! I was talking to a long-time baseball coach, and the topic came up, “Why do some of us continue to umpire later in life!?” And the question was asked, “Well, Michael, why are you at your age still umpiring?” Well, I still enjoy it. And I enjoy the challenge. As I told him – the thing about umpiring that I appreciate is, it’s the challenge of getting the next call right. You may have blown the last call – and yes, umpires do make mistakes. They don’t make as many mistakes as people seem to think they do, but they do make mistakes. So, I may have blown the last call, but I’ve got to get the next call right. And for me, it’s that challenge of just being accurate. Of seeing things correctly, analyzing them correctly, and rendering a quick efficient but accurate judgment call. And I told this coach, “I started umpiring when I was 15 years of age. And one of the reasons I love to umpire – and a lot of the ballparks I go to are ballparks which I umpired when I was 18-19 years of age. When I walk into these ballparks it reassures me that some things in this world are still the same. Like in a baseball game – the pitcher is still sixty feet six inches away from home plate. The bases are still ninety feet apart. The outfield fences are somewhere around three hundred and fifty feet away – maybe more maybe less. And many of the stands are still the same ones which were there fifty years ago! The backstops are still the same. And when I walk into one of these old familiar places it reminds me that one small part of my world is still stable. It’s still rational, it’s still the way it’s always been. It’s very comforting to me. But when I read this passage – “in the last days perilous times will come” – there are parts of this world that I don’t recognize anymore. In the previous chapter, I spoke about ISIS – and one thing I didn’t mention, and at that time it seemed to have gotten lost in the news – on July 3rd, 2016, ISIS militants carried out coordinated bomb attacks in Baghdad that killed 340 civilians and injured hundreds more. Because of so many other events, it was sort of buried in the news at that time. Just a horrible tragedy! And, hundreds of more people were damaged! Twenty-five children – innocent children – were just slain. And all they were doing – they were with their parents out shopping after what they call their Ramadan festival. And I must confess I don’t fully understand that holiday period. But it is what they do. But these people were not trying to cause anybody any trouble. I had heard reports that some whole families – like father, mother, and children – that everybody was dead! Had just been blown apart and burned up because their sin was they were a little different than the ISIS people. They were a different form of Muslim religion – they were Shi’ites, and the ISIS people tend to be Sunni Muslims. So they were just different enough that they deserved to be killed in that strange perverted demonic mindset that ISIS has! And you hear stories like that, and you hear stories like Lower Manhattan, Orlando, San Bernardino, and Brussels – and the world that I grew up in doesn’t exist anymore! It’s gone! And it truly feels like we are living in ‘perilous times.’
     Paul went on to say in verse 2 – “For men will be lovers of themselves, …” – talking about total and complete selfishness. Not worrying about other people – not thinking about other people. Not caring about other people. “…lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, …” – and elders, leaders. “…unthankful, unholy, 3) [without natural affection], unforgiving, [false accusers] …” – and that one truly rings home with me. I won’t go into all of that – but there are some people who call themselves religious and just about everything they’ve said about me over the last six years has been false. How can people who say that they’re religious – who put on the robes of being so wonderful and righteous – be so dastardly and backstabbing, lying, conniving, plotting!? “… without self-control, …” – they can’t control their urges. “… brutal, despisers of good, …” – or those who are trying to do good. Verse 4 – “traitors, headstrong, haughty …” – arrogant. “…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5) having [at times] a form of godliness …” – now, think about ISIS – which is about the most demented group I can think of, they think they're righteous! They think they’re serving a god! Now, the truth is – they are serving a god. They’re serving what the Bible calls ‘the god of this world.’ But they think they’re religious. ‘having a form of religion,’ “… but denying the [true] power.” – Meaning God Almighty and Jesus Christ! Well, that passage came to my mind.
     One of the stories which was in the news – and most of you who had been following the news realized that the presumptive Democratic candidate for president in 2016 – the former First Lady – “it takes a village” –   and secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton had gotten herself entangled in quite a controversy by her use of private email servers. Which everyone who had a clear mind at that time had condemned as being extremely unnecessary and extremely careless. And even the director of the FBI had used that phrase – “they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information.” Well, this had a lot of controversies back then – and what was amazing to me was, the people who supported Hillary found it almost impossible to criticize her – or to critique what she had done. And the people who didn’t like Hillary found absolutely everything evil in what she did. And the disparity between the people on the Left and the people on the Right – and there almost was no middle ground – either hot or cold. There’s nothing in between – increasingly – in our society – politically speaking. And she had been officially under investigation by the FBI. And the dismissed FBI Director James Comey had appeared on television and read about an eighteen-minute statement where he – for fifteen minutes – critiqued in a very critical way what Hillary had done and what she had said. And it led a lot of observers to believe initially that he was going to recommend that she be indicted for a federal crime. And then in the last minute or two he just switched and said, “Well, I’m not going to recommend any type of prosecution.” And it left a lot of people just totally befuddled. I had even heard in the news – the people who didn’t like Hillary were all excited and they were just crestfallen. And the people who liked Hillary, they’re glad that he let her off the hook – as it were – but they were upset with him for criticizing her. I will say he had an impossible job. But it really made a lot of people scratch their heads at the time and go, “What just happened!?”

Today’s Society

It makes you think of a passage in Isaiah 59.
     “Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, That it cannot save; Nor His ear heavy, That it cannot hear. 2) But your iniquities [your sins] have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear. 3) For your hands are defiled with blood, And your fingers with iniquity; Your lips have spoken lies, Your tongue has muttered perversity. 4)No one calls for justice, Nor does any plead for truth. They trust in [vanity] and speak lies; They conceive evil and bring forth iniquity. … 6) Their webs will not become garments, Nor will they cover themselves with their works; Their works are works of iniquity, And the act of violence is in their hands. 7) Their feet run to evil, And they make haste to shed innocent blood; Their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; Wasting and destruction are in their paths. 8) The way of peace they have not known, And there is no [judgment] in their ways; They have made themselves crooked paths; Whoever takes that way shall not know peace. 9) Therefore justice [or judgment] far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness! 10) We grope for the wall like the blind, And we grope as if we had no eyes; We stumble at noonday as at twilight; We are as dead men in desolate places. 11) We all growl like bears, And moan sadly like doves; We look for justice [or judgment], but there is none; For salvation, but it is far from us. 12) For our transgressions are multiplied before You, And our sins testify against us; For our transgressions are with us, And as for our iniquities, we know them: 13) In transgressing and lying against the LORD, And departing from our God, Speaking oppression and revolt, Conceiving and uttering from the heart words of falsehood. 14) [Judgment] is turned back, And righteousness stands afar off; For truth is fallen in the street, And equity [fairness] cannot enter. 15) So truth fails, …”
     And just as a way of reminder, he says in verse 17 – GOD’S VENGEANCE!
    Verse 18 – “According to their deeds, accordingly He will repay, Fury to His adversaries, Recompense to His enemies; …” – and to all the people who are waiting on a human government to solve the problems of mankind, you have a very frustrating pursuit ahead of you! Because as long as mankind is in charge of passing judgment, that judgment and that justice will be highly flawed, highly disruptive, and highly ineffective. And in the end, the only place – the only source – from which judgment and justice will flow will be from the throne of God and the throne of Jesus Christ – in the Kingdom of God! In this day and age, you’re not going to get it! And if you were sitting in front of your television set – and I don’t care about what side of what issue you were on – and was on the side of wanting Hillary to be declared completely innocent, you never heard those words from any “official” court documents – and never will. Or, if you were on the side that wanted Hillary sent to prison – because of her conniving with her email system and other things – it never happened – and would never happen. And for you who had the sentiment (or still do) that you want revenge - in which your heart was and is in that Black Lives Matter group – you’re never going to find the peace that you want! And for those of you who thought – all of those other people were wrong and evil – you’re never going to be satisfied. If you’re looking to human beings, and if you’re looking to humankind, you will NEVER have your sense of peace be given to you. Your sense of justice will never arrive. Because mankind is incapable – in his present form – of rendering justice and truth. It just will never happen.
     But wait on the Eternal. “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.” It’s the return of Jesus Christ, and it’s the setting up of the Government and the Kingdom of God and Jesus Christ! That’s our only hope. That’s the only place we can look to.

The Birth of Jacob and Esau

Genesis chapter 25:19 – “This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. …” – remember, I’m gonna reiterate a statement which I will make throughout these chapters – the Bible, it could be said, a quick synopsis in a thumbnail sketch is the story of one man’s family. Both his physical descendants and the people who also share the same spiritual makeup. Abraham was the very first person that began to understand the concepts and the principles of the New Covenant. Abraham believed God! And that belief – that faith – was credited to him, accounted to him – recognized in him – as righteousness by God Almighty and the One that we now call Jesus Christ! And those people who today have that same belief in God and the Word of God are those people who truly become deeply involved in the concept of the New Covenant. And I’m sad to say – a lot of the remnant churches of God – they do not have this appreciation. And, I have said this before, “The people who were members of that church in those early years have a hard time believing what I say.” Because I spent four years in Pasadena, California at Ambassador College, and Jesus Christ did not hold a very prominent position in the theology of that college or church! Yes, they acknowledged Him at Passover time. And there were some preachers and teachers that were more connected with the concept of Jesus Christ than others. But the root core of their theology was the Old Covenant – the Old Testament. And sort of this idea of an old-fashioned avenging God. And they never did really meet the real Jesus Christ of the New Covenant. And because of those people who grew up in that tradition – even to this day – have very little appreciation for the role that Jesus Christ accurately does indeed have. JESUS CHRIST IS EVERYTHING, MY FRIENDS! His name, His life, His sacrifice, His promises, His resurrection, His promise of the New Covenant – it’s everything that we need in order to have a pathway that leads to eternal life! If you do not have Jesus Christ and you do not have the New Covenant as a part of your thinking and your mentality and your theology, you are not on the proper path. You are walking down a road that will not lead you to the Kingdom of God. And my main wish and my main goal are to have this booklet attempt to focus people on the need – the absolute necessity – to have Jesus Christ as a part of their life! And the teachings and the principles of the New Covenant! That is the pathway to LIFE!
     Abraham – the father of physical Israel and the father, as it were, of spiritual Israel – “This is the genealogy of Isaac, Abraham’s son. Abraham begot Isaac. 20) Isaac was forty years old when he took Rebekah as wife, … 21) Now Isaac pleaded with the LORD for his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived.” – remember his mother was also barren for 90 years - unable to have children. And because of direct intervention and a miracle from God Isaac was born. And it’s interesting how these patterns sort of continue throughout this family’s generations? And here he – now is married to a woman which he loved – wanted children. And he knew what his father had said to him about, “From you and your seed there will be millions and millions and trillions.” And Rebekah did conceive! Again, a miracle from God! Verse 22 – “But the children [twins] …” – they’re not identical twins, but they are twins. “… struggled together within her; …” – even within the womb, these two boys Esau and Jacob (the one we now call Israel) struggled – isn’t that amazing!?
     It makes you think about Ishmael and all the troubles he had – and again a sort of pattern that continues through this story. “… and she said, ‘If all is well, why am I like this?’ So she went to inquire of the LORD.” – she probably said, ‘Why are these two babies fighting all the time!?’ “Struggling.” They were fighting – in the womb! Verse 23 – “And the LORD said to her: ‘Two nations [two groups of people] are in your womb, Two peoples shall be separated from your body; One people shall be stronger than the other, And the older shall serve the younger.’” – so here is a prediction of two different racial groups – national identities – coming forth from these twins. Verse 24 – “So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. 25) And the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau.” – a very hairy baby! Verse 26 – “Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.” – Now Isaac went twenty years without having children. And if you think about it – age 60 – that’s not a spring chicken anymore. So, just like Abraham became a father late in his life, so Isaac becomes a father rather late in his life. Verse 27 – “So the boys grew. And Esau was a skillful hunter, a man of the field; but Jacob was a mild man [a simple person], dwelling in tents. 28) And Isaac loved Esau because he ate of his game [the meat, the venison, which he hunted and brought home], but Rebekah loved Jacob.” – you’ve heard the term, “Mommas boy”? Well, think about the story before – Isaac was very important to Sarah his mother – even though Abraham was very attached to the other child. And here, Isaac is attached to the wild and wooly guy. And yet, the mother is very attached to Jacob. Verse 29 – “Now Jacob cooked a stew; and Esau came in from the field, and he was weary.” – he was out in the field hunting, walking around, hot and thirsty, a little tired. Verse 30 – And Esau said to Jacob, ‘Please feed me with that same red stew, for I am weary.’ Therefore his name was called Edom.” – now, Esau is equivalent to the name Edom. And so anywhere throughout the Bible, if you read the name Edom or Esau – you’re talking about the same people. And you’re talking about in modern-day language – Turkey. Turkey is identified in the Bible as Edom – or Esau. Verse 31 – “But Jacob said, ‘Sell me your birthright as of this day.’”
     Jacob was an opportunist. Jacob’s not just an outstanding wonderful young man. He wasn’t this “Christian” person – you might say. Jacob, when he saw opportunities, would take advantage of them. He was like a modern-day – businessman. And he sees a chance here to get something that he wants. And he uses his brother’s weakness to do it. Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright as of this day.” Verse 32 – “And Esau said, ‘Look, I am about to die; …’” – and he probably wasn’t – Esau was what we would call a “drama queen.” “…’ so what is this birthright to me?’” Verse 33 – “Then Jacob said, ‘Swear to me as of this day.’ So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. 34) And Jacob gave Esau bread and stew of lentils; then he ate and drank, arose, and went his way. Thus Esau despised [disrespected] his birthright.”
     If you would turn to Hebrews 12:14 – “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord” – so a true follower of Jesus Christ must have the Spirit of peacefulness about him or her. And I think about all of the angry and vengeful looks I have seen on the faces of people who once called me their brother. And that’s a whole commentary waiting to be expanded upon – but I won’t do it right now. Verse 15 – “looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled [or will be defiled].” – a root of bitterness. A root of unauthorized hatred and vengeance, and disrespect. Verse 16 – “lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, …” – now, here the Word of God describes Esau as profane – which means not holy. “… who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17) For you know that afterward, when he [would have inherited] the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” – now, Esau’s biggest mistake (or sin) was he didn’t respect what God was potentially offering to him. He had no respect for this birthright. And, as we go down the road here, we’re gonna see that disrespect expanded. Esau did not appreciate his status in life – and therefore his relationship to God – he took it lightly. He took it as a very unimportant thing. And in doing so he lost it!
     Think about what GOD has offered You! Just think about what Jesus Christ has offered You! Jesus Christ has offered to all of us a pathway to eternal life. But He wants us to follow a certain path. Now that path – once again – is the path of the New Covenant. But there are some people who don’t appreciate what Jesus Christ actually did for them. There are some people – even some people who call themselves church leaders – who are apparently ashamed of the name Jesus Christ. They have no appreciation – just like Esau did not appreciate the potentiality of his birthright – they do not appreciate what Jesus Christ has done for them. To the point where they won’t even write or say His name! And again, this is very difficult for me to understand. When I sit down in my own quiet time – with my own quiet thoughts – I do not understand how a person who claims to be a church leader can have no respect – apparently – for Jesus Christ. And Jesus said, ‘If you’re ashamed of Me and My Words, on the day of judgment, I’ll be ashamed of you.’ (See: Matthew 10:33). That’s just the truth of God!
     Genesis 26:1 – “There was a famine in the land, besides the first famine that was in the days of Abraham. And Isaac went to Abimelech king of the Philistines [a title given to Philistine kings, rather than a personal name, such as Pharaoh for Egyptian kings], in Gerar. 2) Then the LORD appeared to him [Isaac] and said: ‘Do not go down to Egypt; …’” – now think about it – in this story of Abraham, and the story of his descendants, how many times have they intertwined with EGYPT!? Remember, Abraham spent some time in Egypt. And here, Isaac’s being told, ‘Do not go down to Egypt.’ And so it’s just interesting how many times the life of Israel – Abraham, Isaac, Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel) how many times these things intertwined with Egypt! “…’ live in the land of which I shall tell you. 3) Dwell in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I give all these [countries], …’” – and again, there’s another promise! “…’ and I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. 4) And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these [countries]; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed’” – and we heard Him say that to Abraham.
     I have pointed out – can you imagine a world in the 20th century – if the United Kingdom and the United States hadn’t existed – one could make an argument that half the world would be speaking German and the other half Japanese. If it hadn’t been for those two great countries and how they withstood the forces of evil! And, if you CAN NOT think of Adolf Hitler as evil – then you’ve got a problem. Nazism and the slaughter of six million Jews! The approximate seventy-six million people who died because of World War I and World War II! And if it hadn’t been for the United States of America and the British people the bad guys would have won those wars! Think about how if it hadn’t been for the USA and England and our alliances that the Soviet Union would have taken over the world. We owe so much to these promises which God gave to Abraham, and to Isaac, and continuing on through the lineage. And also, there is a secondary meaning here – “in your Seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed.” Keep in mind – Jesus Christ was born to the Jewish people and JUDAH was one of the sons of Jacob (or Israel). And so Jesus Christ is also a part of that great blessing that was given to the world through this family tree.
     Verse 5 – is a very inspiring verse. “’ because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws.’” This is why Abraham believed God, Abraham looked to God, and Abraham obeyed God! And because he believed God – the way he conducted his life represented the values that God Almighty and Jesus Christ – the One we now call Jesus Christ – in the way that They wanted him to live.

The Factions of This World

We live in a world today that is highly factionalized! Different factions. You see it in the political world – you have the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, the Independent American Party, and so on and so forth. We have a great racial division in our culture. And when it comes to religion – think about the many divisions which are just in the United States! I mean, you’ve got Catholics, all different types of Protestants. The different types of churches – Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Mormon, and on and on!
     You have the Jewish people, you’ve got Muslims, you’ve got Buddhists – in this country! And within Muslims – Shi’ites and Sunnis. Just all of these divisions! These little pieces that break apart! But every group claims, I guess universally – there may be some groups which are a little more magnanimous – “We’re the right group!” Now, Catholics believe they are the correct church. They will proudly tell you, “Our church goes back to the first century! Peter was our first pope!” Just have a conversation sometime with a Catholic and they will be very willing to share that with you. They have with me. Baptists believe they are the only ones that are correct. Mormons (the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) think they’re the only ones that are correct. The Pentecostal people in America think they’re the only ones that are correct. If you don’t believe me – turn on Jimmy Swaggart and listen to him and his people!
     In all of this mass confusion, the question I ask is – “To what Church did Abraham belong!?” Who was Abraham’s Church leader!? Where did Abraham go to Church!? Or, what about Isaac!? Or, what about Jacob!? What about Joseph!? Joseph was living in a very highly pagan Egypt! There were no God-ordained churches there! To what Church did King David belong!? – who is going to be king over all Israel in the coming Kingdom of God! Well, I think you see where I am going with this. The plain truth of the Bible is that men of God and women of God – who we know from the Scriptures are going to be in the Kingdom of God – they lived their lives, and as it were they qualified for graduation in the Kingdom of God (which will happen upon the return of Jesus Christ and the blowing of the SEVENTH TRUMP). They belonged to no Church! Isn’t that a head-scratcher?
     The people who say, “You’ve got to be a part of our group or God doesn’t like you, or love you, or will save you!” Well, be very leery of any person or any group who makes that claim. Each and every one of you – each and every one of us – all of us – have access to Jesus Christ! If you want to know where your focus should be – your focus should be on Jesus Christ and the principles of the New Covenant. That’s the direction down which you need to travel! And quit worrying about some human last name! Or some human leader! And obviously, the Catholics have their pope and they’re very reverential towards him and that office and that church structure. The Mormons have something very similar – Joseph Smith, Jr. But even within lesser-known groups, you have people who are transfixed by their leader. You know, the people who follow Jimmy Swaggart, well they think he knows it all. My advice – stop looking to human beings and LOOK TO JESUS! Our very first sermon is entitled, "Look To Jesus, Not Moses."
     And in that short phrase – LOOK TO JESUS – is still the key to eternal life! And for those of you who think you must look to any man – you fool yourself very badly! And, for those of you who believe you must look to any organization – you fool yourself very badly!
     To all of you – LOOK TO JESUS! LOOK TO YOUR BIBLE! It was Jesus Christ who led the children of Israel out of slavery! It is Jesus Christ who has the ability to lead you out of slavery into the promised land! LOOK TO JESUS! I have said it in so many different ways! But it is still the one and only true answer!

Michael C. Garrett   About
Publication Date: 2022

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