Abraham 1980 AM – 2155 AM, contemporaneous with Noah, Shem, Nimrod, Eber, Jacob
Key precept: Abraham is the father / spiritual leader for both Israelite and Gentile believers in the Promised Seed.
Isn’t it interesting that Abraham’s journeys covered the entire Cradle of Civilization during the renaissance of the gods’ pre-flood civilization.
This is like Paul’s missionary journeys through the apogee of that same pagan civilization some 2000 years later.
Is it incredible to think that Paul was following in the footsteps of Abraham when he became a missionary? Or is your embedded impression from Sunday School that Abraham just hung out raising sheep and cattle all his life with an occasional adventure? To get a good sense of what both missionaries were doing, parallel their lives with how missionaries operated 2,000 years after Paul.
- William Carey (1761-1834) – an English missionary to India who was a skilled linguist and writer. He translated portions of the Bible in many languages. He founded the Baptist Missionary Society and was instrumental in influencing many other missionaries to the foreign field.
- Adoniram Judson (1788-1850) became the first North American Protestant missionary in Burma (Myanmar). Like other early missionaries, he was involved in translation work and church planting. It took him 12 years to see his first 18 converts. By the time he died he had established 100 churches with over 8,000 members. His arrival in Burma is still celebrated by Baptist Burmese.
- David Livingstone (1813-1873), a medical missionary with the London Missionary Society, is considered one of the greatest missionary heroes. He spent most of his life in Africa as an explorer and doctor, using his understanding of nature and science to map the continent of Africa in preparation for the many missionaries who would come after him. Livingstone
- George Müller (1805-1898) started orphanages. In his lifetime his orphanage in England took care of more than 10,000 children. He believed in never asking anyone for support, but trusting God to lay it on the person’s heart to support the need.
- Hudson Taylor (1832-1905) is known for his respect for the Chinese culture. He was widely criticized in his home country of England at the time for dressing like the Chinese men, but this practice made him much more accepted. He spent more than 50 years in China as a doctor, evangelist and translator and continued his translation work when he returned to England for medical reasons.
Note how these missionaries committed their lives – their lifetimes, their livelihoods, their lifestyles, their risk of losing their lives to sickness or violence – not 4 year blocks of time in Bible college or foreign mission terms. Perhaps the problem is that our embedded impression of modern missionaries is that they operate like it’s a temp job, with their lives firmed based in their American churches, territory, culture, and materialistic values.
On the other hand, perhaps you’ve been a missionary in your career field all along where you’ve influenced others to the gospel and didn’t even realize it.
At one point in my life I was feeling like a spiritual failure because I had to leave a full time position in a Christian organization to work in a secular hospital. One day an Indian doctor commended me for knowing so much about Hinduism although I was a Christian. In my subordinate role I had never implied to him in any way that he “needed to be saved”. I had simply looked out for his welfare by ensuring he got vegetarian lunches, watering the plants in his office, assisting him in some writing. So I asked in surprise, how do you know I’m a Christian? “By the way everyone comes to you and you take care of them.”
“Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings…should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light…people of God…Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation / lifestyle honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation…sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: “ (I Peter 2, 3:15)
If you believe that a distinctive daily social life among unbelievers that projects
- not a far left camaraderie that you’re just like them
- nor a far right judgmental condemnation of gays and illegal immigrants and drug addicts ad infinitude
- but a balanced love and peace towards all men with the ability to provide workable solutions to the very real problems people can’t help but spill to a compassionate and trustworthy friend
is a more powerful witness of God’s salvation than lip service on Sundays, then act on it, and you are following in the footsteps of missionary Abraham.
There is so much more to Abraham’s life than the few incidents recorded in scripture, but you can be sure that word of Abraham’s amazingly powerful God spread like wildfire, leading many to abandon their untrustworthy gods and trust in Abraham’s God.
Arphaxad was only 350 years old when Abram, his descendant, i.e. younger clan member who would have been subject to his rule, was born in his territory. Arphaxad lived until Abram was 88 years old. Even though he lost his position as Sargon over other tribes in the incessant warfare of that time and place (as realistically portrayed in the Mad Max series), he would still have been, like Jehoiachin, retained as a knowledgeable and sought-out advisor by the conqueror, an influential chieftain keeping the peace over his tribe / nation, and a high priest in the Akkadian’s polytheistic religious practices.
“And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood [obviously in context referring to the mighty river, the Euphrates, not Noah’s flood as evidenced in the next phrase] in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods…Now therefore fear the LORD, and serve him in sincerity and in truth: and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the flood, and in Egypt; and serve ye the LORD. And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Josh 24:2-15)
Obviously Arphaxad was not a righteous clan leader / father figure for Abraham. As long as Abram was in the land of the Chaldeans, like Bible believers in 16th century England or Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in Babylon, he would have been subject to its laws.
“Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?…if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands? Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered…be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Then was Nebuchadnezzar full of fury, and the form of his visage was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego: therefore he spake, and commanded that they should heat the furnace one seven times more than it was wont to be heated. And he commanded the most mighty men that were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace.” (Dan 3:14-20)
Unlike his father Terah, Abram rejected Antichrist Nimrod and his earthly promises and terrorist threats, choosing instead to follow in Eber’s footsteps.
Now that we understand Abraham’s cultural background, especially his choice to become a citizen in the Hebrew rather than the Chaldean nation, we are ready to study our father’s life.
The book of Jasher, which is referenced twice in scripture thus confirming its reliability as a source, gives historical details of Abram’s early life and the culture from which he was sent out. Though not described in the Bible, these details are credible, and more trustworthy than my imagination. The timeline documented in Genesis 11 places Abram’s early years smack in the middle of Nimrod’s violent and idolatrous culture so this much is verified in scripture. Other details match historical events involving other Spirit-empowered men of God so are valid. One thing is certain, Abram didn’t just go through a daily routine of making a living, and if his biography isn’t exactly as recorded by Jasher it would be close to it.
Nimrod was born about 300 years after the flood, late in his father’s lifetime. Jasher reports a workforce on the Tower of Babel of about 600,000 men plus women and children, for a total population of a few million people (Jasher 9:23) This is consistent with the population growth calculation referenced above.
And Cush the son of Ham, the son of Noah, took a wife in those days in his old age, [being in the same generation as Arphaxad, Cush would have lived until about 2100 AM] and she bare a son, [according to ancient sources about the year 1927 AM, when Terah was about 50 years old] and they called his name Nimrod…At that time the sons of men again began to rebel and transgress against God, and the child grew up, and his father loved him exceedingly, for he was the son of his old age…
And Nimrod strengthened himself, and he rose up from amongst his brethren, and he fought the battles of his brethren against all their enemies round about…And when Nimrod was forty years old, at that time there was a war between his brethren and the children of Japheth, so that they were in the power of their enemies. And Nimrod went forth at that time, and he assembled all the sons of Cush and their families, about four hundred and sixty men, and he hired also from some of his friends and acquaintances about eighty men, and be gave them their hire, and he went with them to battle, and when he was on the road, Nimrod strengthened the hearts of the people that went with him…
And all the men that went were about five hundred, and they fought against their enemies, and they destroyed them, and subdued them, and Nimrod placed standing officers over them in their respective places. And he took some of their children as security, and they were all servants to Nimrod and to his brethren, and Nimrod and all the people that were with him turned homeward.
And when Nimrod had joyfully returned from battle, after having conquered his enemies, all his brethren, together with those who knew him before, assembled to make him king over them, and they placed the regal crown upon his head. [Since Nimrod becomes the new king he must have rebelled against Sargon / Arphaxad.] And he set over his subjects and people, princes, judges, and rulers, as is the custom amongst kings. And he placed Terah the son of Nahor the prince of his host, and he dignified him and elevated him above all his princes… [Check the timeline above. As a direct descendant of Arphaxad, Terah would have been a prince, trained in warfare and government. It makes perfect sense that Nimrod elevated a defeated Chaldean to the highest level of his government, just like Nebuchadnezzar did with Daniel.]…and Nimrod reigned in the earth over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and counsel.
And all the earth was of one tongue and words of union, but Nimrod did not go in the ways of the Lord, and he was more wicked than all the men that were before him, from the days of the flood until those days. And he made gods of wood and stone [to lure the unclean spirits of the dead Nephilim into these inviting host bodies as his honored guests in hopes of accessing their power] and he bowed down to them, and he rebelled against the Lord, and taught all his subjects and the people of the earth his wicked ways; and Mardon his son was more wicked than his father…And Terah the son of Nahor, prince of Nimrod’s host, was in those days very great in the sight of the king and his subjects, and the king and princes loved him, and they elevated him very high.” (Jasher 7:34-47)
And it was in the night that Abram was born [when Nimrod was about 50 years old] that all the servants of Terah, and all the wise men of Nimrod, and his conjurors came and ate and drank in the house of Terah, and they rejoiced with him on that night. And when all the wise men and conjurors went out from the house of Terah, they lifted up their eyes toward heaven that night to look at the stars, and they saw, and behold one very large star came from the east and ran in the heavens, and he swallowed up the four stars from the four sides of the heavens. And all the wise men of the king and his conjurors were astonished at the sight, and the sages understood this matter, and they knew its import
…and they all went to the king and bowed down to him to the ground, and they said, May the king live, may the king live…a son was born to Terah the son of Nahor, the prince of thy host, and…and knew by our wisdom…the child that is born to Terah, who will grow up and multiply greatly, and become powerful, and kill all the kings of the earth, and inherit all their lands, he and his seed forever. And now our lord and king, behold we have truly acquainted thee with what we have seen concerning this child. If it seemeth good to the king to give his father value for this child, we will slay him before he shall grow up and increase in the land, and his evil increase against us, that we and our children perish through his evil.
And the king heard their words and they seemed good in his sight, and he sent and called for Terah, and Terah came before the king. And the king said to Terah, I have been told that a son was yesternight born to thee, and after this manner was observed in the heavens at his birth. And now therefore give me the child, that we may slay him before his evil springs up against us...And Terah hastened, (as the thing was urgent from the king), and he took a child from one of his servants, which his handmaid had born to him that day, and Terah brought the child to the king and received value for him. And the Lord was with Terah in this matter, that Nimrod might not cause Abram’s death, and the king took the child from Terah and with all his might dashed his head to the ground, for he thought it had been Abram; and this was concealed from him from that day, and it was forgotten by the king, as it was the will of Providence not to suffer Abram’s death. And Terah took Abram his son secretly, together with his mother and nurse, and he concealed them in a cave, and he brought them their provisions monthly. And the Lord was with Abram in the cave and he grew up, and Abram was in the cave ten years, and the king and his princes, soothsayers and sages, thought that the king had killed Abram…
And when Abram came out from the cave, he went to Noah and his son Shem, and he remained with them to learn the instruction of the Lord and his ways, and no man knew where Abram was, and Abram served Noah and Shem his son for a long time. And Abram was in Noah’s house thirty-nine years, and Abram knew the Lord from three years old, and he went in the ways of the Lord until the day of his death, as Noah and his son Shem had taught him; and all the sons of the earth in those days greatly transgressed against the Lord, and they rebelled against him and they served other gods, and they forgot the Lord who had created them in the earth; and the inhabitants of the earth made unto themselves, at that time, every man his god; gods of wood and stone which could neither speak, hear, nor deliver, and the sons of men served them and they became their gods.
And the king and all his servants, and Terah with all his household were then the first of those that served gods of wood and stone. And Terah had twelve gods of large size, made of wood and stone, after the twelve months of the year, and he served each one monthly, and every month Terah would bring his meat offering and drink offering to his gods; thus did Terah all the days. And all that generation were wicked in the sight of the Lord, and they thus made every man his god, but they forsook the Lord who had created them.
And there was not a man found in those days in the whole earth, who knew the Lord (for they served each man his own God) [the oldest living religion Hinduism, acknowledges at least 33 million gods] except Noah and his household, and all those who were under his counsel knew the Lord in those days. And Abram the son of Terah was waxing great in those days in the house of Noah, and no man knew it, and the Lord was with him. And the Lord gave Abram an understanding heart, and he knew all the works of that generation were vain, and that all their gods were vain and were of no avail…
And in the fiftieth year of the life of Abram son of Terah, Abram came forth from the house of Noah, and went to his father’s house. And Abram knew the Lord, and he went in his ways and instructions, and the Lord his God was with him. And Terah his father was in those days, still captain of the host of king Nimrod, and he still followed strange gods…
And when Abram saw all these things his anger was kindled against his father, and he hastened and took a hatchet in his hand, and came unto the chamber of the gods, and he broke all his father’s gods…
And the king said to the princes and sages, Have you heard what Abram, the son of Terah, has done to his father? Thus has he done to him, and I ordered him to be brought before me, and thus has he spoken; his heart did not misgive him, neither did he stir in my presence, and behold now he is confined in the prison. And therefore decide what judgment is due to this man who reviled the king; who spake and did all the things that you heard.
And they all answered the king saying, The man who revileth the king should be hanged upon a tree; but having done all the things that he said, and having despised our gods, he must therefore be burned to death, for this is the law in this matter.
If it pleaseth the king to do this, let him order his servants to kindle a fire both night and day in thy brick furnace, and then we will cast this man into it. And the king did so, and he commanded his servants that they should prepare a fire for three days and three nights in the king’s furnace, that is in Casdim; and the king ordered them to take Abram from prison and bring him out to be burned.
And all the king’s servants, princes, lords, governors, and judges, and all the inhabitants of the land, about nine hundred thousand men, stood opposite the furnace to see Abram. And all the women and little ones crowded upon the roofs and towers to see what was doing with Abram, and they all stood together at a distance; and there was not a man left that did not come on that day to behold the scene. [What a public testimony!]…
And the Lord loved / joined identity with Abram and he had compassion over him, and the Lord came down and delivered Abram from the fire and he was not burned [establishing a basis of trust for future occasions with Abram’s children.] But all the cords with which they bound him were burned, while Abram remained and walked about in the fire…three days and three nights, and all the servants of the king saw him walking in the fire, and they came and told the king, saying, Behold we have seen Abram walking about in the midst of the fire, and even the lower garments which are upon him are not burned, but the cord with which he was bound is burned.
And the king ordered Abram to be taken out from the fire; and his servants approached to take him out and they could not, for the fire was round about and the flame ascending toward them from the furnace. And the king’s servants fled from it, and the king rebuked them, saying, Make haste and bring Abram out of the fire that you shall not die. And the servants of the king again approached to bring Abram out, and the flames came upon them and burned their faces so that eight of them died.
And when the king saw that his servants could not approach the fire lest they should be burned, the king called to Abram, O servant of the God who is in heaven, go forth from amidst the fire and come hither before me; and Abram hearkened to the voice of the king, and he went forth from the fire and came and stood before the king.
And the king said to Abram, How is it that thou wast not burned in the fire? And Abram said to the king, The God of heaven and earth in whom I trust and who has all in his power, he delivered me from the fire into which thou didst cast me…And the king, princes, and inhabitants of the land, seeing that Abram was delivered from the fire, they came and bowed down to Abram.
And Abram said to them, Do not bow down to me, but bow down to the God of the world who made you, and serve him, and go in his ways for it is he who delivered me from out of this fire, and it is he who created the souls and spirits of all men, and formed man in his mother’s womb, and brought him forth into the world, and it is he who will deliver those who trust in him from all pain.
And Abram went forth from the king [just like Asshur and Moses went forth, not just from the king’s reception hall but from his nation to another] and many of the king’s servants followed him, and about three hundred men joined him. And…Abram served the Lord his God all the days of his life, and he walked in his ways and followed his law. And from that day forward Abram inclined the hearts of the sons of men to serve the Lord…
Do you recognize what is going on here? These men are following Abram to leave one nation and join another. We should understand implicitly that the call to separate from one’s current membership in an idolatrous nation in order to keep the way of the LORD was not just to Abram, but to all the people in all the nations fleeing Nimrod’s Babel and to everyone in every nation from that time forward.
“The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the LORD.” (Isaiah 52:10-11)
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath The Promised Seed / Christ with Belial / Adversary? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty. (II Corinthians 6:15-18)
What is not specifically mentioned in either Jasper’s or the Bible’s account is that this is most likely the point in time at which the individual known as Abram received this name. The accounts assume cultural competence on the part of the reader.
We’ve learned that the ancient function of names is to identify unique and significant attributes of an individual. Since the base of the name Abram is “Ab / Father”, it is highly unlikely that this was given to him at his birth. Based on the visions associated with his birth he would have been called Eastern Star, possibly The Usurper or The Rival Seed. Using hermeneutics, we can induce that referencing Abram by the name Abram during his birth and early history was likely an anachronistic simplification of identification. It does become tiresome to pile on excessive appellations like “Prince Rogers Nelson, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince, Currently Known Simply as The Artist”.
It would not have been until he became the leader of a group of people that the Eastern Star or Reviler of the King would have been identified as a Father of a Nation, i.e. Ab-r-am. This determination is supported by the later modification to the identification as Ab-rah-am – Father of Many Nations.
What was the nationality of Abram’s people?
And Abram said to his father, Dost thou not know that the king thinketh to slay me, and to annihilate my name / fame, witness, for the second time from the earth by the advice of his wicked counsellors? [Sound familiar?] Now whom hast thou here all the people…Now therefore hearken to my voice, and let us arise and go to the land of Canaan, out of the reach of injury from Nimrod; and serve thou the Lord who created thee in the earth and it will be well with thee; and cast away all the vain things which thou pursuest…And Terah hearkened to the voice of his son Abram, and Terah did all that Abram said, for this was from the Lord.” (Jasher 12)
The reason Abram would lead his followers to Canaan is spelled out in the text. Like Moses leading his followers back to Canaan – to serve the LORD God.
Recall that in ancient times the head of a tribe or nation was both political and religious authority.
Historically, a patriarch has often been the logical choice to act as ethnarch identified with his religious confession within a state or empire of a different creed (such as Christians within the Ottoman Empire).
The documentation of Abram “the Hebrew“ establishes that when Abram left his ethnic Chaldean nation in Nimrod’s multinational empire he joined the only nation / clan reported to worship the one true God, his [Great-grand]father Eber’s existing band of Hebrews.
“And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar. And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech [My Father is King, status of inheritance vs palace coup] king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.
But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man [i.e. impotent, unable to beget children Heb 11:12], for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation [his descendants]? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this.
And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.
Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.
Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done. And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What sawest thou, that thou hast done this thing? [And that’s what you get for looking like unbelievers.]
And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake…And Abimelech took sheep, and oxen, and menservants, and womenservants, and gave them unto Abraham, and restored him Sarah his wife. And Abimelech said, Behold, my land is before thee: dwell where it pleaseth thee. And unto Sarah he said, Behold, I have given thy brother a thousand pieces of silver: behold, he is to thee a covering of the eyes, unto all that are with thee, and with all other: thus she was reproved.” (Gen 20)
“And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest: Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son’s son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned. And Abraham said, I will swear.” (Gen 21:22-24)
Did you catch Abimelech’s personal relationship with God? He doesn’t say “your” God. In addition, his lifestyle proved his relationship to Yaweh by Abraham’s definition – to “fear God,” hundreds of years before there was the Levitical priesthood to guide the way the record shows that The Way was known.
“Ye shall not therefore oppress one another; but thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.” (Lev 25:17)
How did Abimelech know about the true God and how to worship him? From Shem and Eber of course. Why should we assume the word of God started with Moses, and men like Abimelech had nothing to guide them to salvation? The following passage written by the Apostle Peter is based on Isaiah’s writings because they were as applicable to the believers suffering oppression under the Roman empire in the 1st century AD as it was to believers being crushed by the Assyrians in the 8th century BC. This is God’s timeless truth. Just as we accept them as applicable to 19st century AD believers we can see that they apply to the 19th century BC believers.
“Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture , Behold, I lay in Sion [in Abimelech’s time the mountain held by Shem Melchizedek] a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded / put to utter confusion and shame.” (I Pet 2:6, also Romans 9:33)
Envision the city of Ur as Abram undoubtedly did when he first saw Mount Zion, which probably had nothing more than a natural stone altar as its “chief corner stone”. The great cities with their fabulous temples could have seemed to prove that the other gods were more worthy of praise than Yaweh. Have you never, as a believer in the God of the Bible, felt confounded, doubting your faith in God’s promise of things not yet seen, only promised to come?
“Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient…a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood [that describes Abimelech as well as Abraham], an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;
Having your conversation / lifestyle honest [that describes Abimelech as well as Abraham] among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God. Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.” (I Pet 2:12-17)
“Fearing God” identifies believers throughout the ages. And don’t overlook “honour the king”. The king that believers were to honour in Peter’s day was Antichrist Caesar, and in Abimelech and Abraham’s day a series of conquerors including Antichrist Nimrod, as we shall see later in this post. When we get there don’t overlook the fact that Abraham was not among the people who were attacked. Why not? If Abraham was following God’s code, which was not newly devised for Christians, then he was paying his taxes. He didn’t rebel again the Emperor until compelled by a higher priority to rescue his family.
Very interesting that, consistent with Abraham’s covenant with Abimelech, the land of Gerar is not mentioned in the list of Israelite conquests in Joshua 15. Located in what came to be Philistine territory, but not named as one of the Philistine cities, Gerar would have been rescued from the Philistines by first Samson, then Saul, and finally King David. Ultimately it would have been absorbed through a peaceful alliance into Judah, like so many of Israel’s neighbors under King David and King Solomon.
Hold on! retort those readers who are familiar with Genesis. The pertinent quote is that “the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee…and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. And the Canaanite was then in the land.” (Gen 12:1-6)
Good point. Whenever there seems to be a contradiction I’ve found that this is the place to dig around for a gem of truth. This is true in my practice as a psychiatric provider trying to determine truth from a patient who either doesn’t know, or is hiding, the truth, and it is true in scripture. We can either jump to the conclusion that the Bible is full of contradictions and therefore can be tossed aside, or we can “seek” to know truth with at least the effort we put into developing relationships with humans we care about. Hmm, maybe a generalized lack of interest is the fundamental problem? Never mind.
At the time that Abraham entered the land of the Hebrews, it was indeed populated with the patriarch Canaan and his people.
“And Canaan begat Sidon his first born, and Heth, And the Jebusite, and the Amorite, and the Girgasite, And the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, And the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gaza; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. (Gen 10:15-19)
But don’t forget that the Melchizedek “priest of the most high God” was also there, and that at the same time Shem is linked to the priesthood of the LORD God he is also linked to Canaan.
“Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant.” (Gen 9:26)
We should expect to find a tribe of Hebrews under the leadership of Shem’s heir Eber in the same land populated by the Canaanites. Why? To challenge the enemy for possession! And in the process we should expect to find Abraham and his household assembling themselves together with their own kind for a number of reasons.
When Abram and his followers left their kindred / nation to become refugees they lost the considerable resources and protections provided by the tribe they left. They were under great pressure to recant their faith in an unseen God and return to physical security as members of a worldly group. Believers of every age face the same pressures and need the same encouragement to endure trials and tribulations.
“Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the Lord…Look unto Abraham your father…for I called him alone, and blessed him, and increased him.” (Isa 51:1-2)
“Now therefore, what have I here, saith the LORD, that my people is taken away for nought? they that rule over them make them to howl, saith the LORD; and my name continually every day is blasphemed. Therefore my people shall know my name [Attributes – Savior!] : therefore they shall know in that day that I am he that doth speak [through the prophet in the assembly] : behold, it is I.
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! Thy watchmen shall lift up the voice; with the voice together shall they sing: for they shall see eye to eye, when the Lord shall bring again Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem: for the LORD hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.
The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.
Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence, touch no unclean thing; go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord. For ye shall not go out with haste, nor go by flight: for the LORD will go before you; and the God of Israel will be your reward. Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: [battle scarred]” (Isaiah 52:5-15)
“Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…” (Hebrews 10:23-25)
We also need to assemble together as believers because our God judges his children who fall away to avoid persecution.
“Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together…but exhorting one another: and so much the more as ye see the day [of judgment] approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord.
And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.” (Hebrews 10:25-33
Last, and probably least to tell the truth, our Adversary as a roaring lion picks off the strays, the weak individuals who straggle and allow themselves to get separated from the flock in the foolish belief that they can avoid being attacked by the enemy if they are not easily identified as a member of the flock.
“The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory [Peter is referring to his impending martyrdom] that shall be revealed [spiritual power over physical suffering]: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock…Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (I Peter 5:1-9)
“It is reported commonly that there is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles [notice, believers are no longer identified with the Gentiles]…deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus…Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.” (I Corinthians 5)
Those who don’t understand the absolute necessity of belonging to a nation / state haven’t grasped the dire consequences of not belonging to a state.
Hannah Arendt is considered one of the most important modern thinkers. She spent her entire life critically discussing statelessness as a core concern of human rights and international politics…Her book The Origins of Totalitarianism is a fundamental reference…
Arendt wrote about the refugee crisis during World War II in a brief essay entitled, “We Refugees.” …In 1993…the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben reflected on Arendt’s essay within the context of his time…Arendt’s argument that statelessness is a consequence of the modern nation-state forms the backbone of much of Agamben’s powerful critique of sovereignty. The political and legal structure of the nation-state based on the rights of…citizen excludes those who are not citizens. The exclusion of the stateless, as we witness today, results in the administration of the excluded by national agencies, smugglers, strangers, charities, international organizations and, most tellingly, the police. Agamben is, of course, right. “We Refugees” needs to be read in the context of Arendt’s…The Origins of Totalitarianism.
The pogroms by medieval European states were possible because the Jews were not citizens., therefore not under the protection of the state. The Holocaust of 6 million Jews occurred because they were stateless, unprotected by Germany’s laws, and unable to obtain access to another country’s protection through immigration.
We are now witnessing the highest levels of displacement on record. An unprecedented 68.5 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 25.4 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18. There are also an estimated 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement…nearly 1 person is forcibly displaced every two seconds as a result of conflict or persecution…
(Christian Armenians on a death march during the Islamic Ottoman genocide.)
We know about the persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, but are we aware that Christians are being persecuted in record numbers today? Can we apply that understanding to the believers in the Seed of the Woman under the Seed of the Serpent’s / Nimrod’s Empire? One man standing alone couldn’t last long. The need to belong to a nation of believers is basic and imperative, and emphasized as such in scripture. God works through social order in families, nations, and assemblies of worshippers, not just in the New Testament or the nation of Israel but since the beginning of time.
“And God said, Let us make man…and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth…and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion…and [the woman’s] seed [a partnership between God and mankind]…shall bruise [smash] thy [Serpent’s] head…” (Genesis 1:26-28, 3:15)
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord…one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him? Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands:” (Letter to the Hebrews 2:3-7)
Part of the great salvation we should not neglect is the protection and resources available though membership in a nation whose prime directive is to “...provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity….” This is why it is so important to understand the details on the nations that God bothered to give us in Genesis 10-11 as the background to Abraham’s significance. Abraham doesn’t just show up, like Superman, out of the blue, to save the world single handedly. Yes, he has the royal Melchizedekian ancestry with legal documents to prove his legitimacy and the right to be the next patriarch in line to lead the Hebrew people – but he also has the Hebrew people to back him up!
Think I am inflating the importance of this concept? Neither does Jesus show up to save the world single handedly! He waits for the collaboration of all his chosen people to whom he has delegated responsibility. All the following verses link together, like an email or text message string.
“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness. Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity…O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, [refers to the nation’s leadership, like “Washington” for America] thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Mat 23:27-39)
“And the angel which I saw stand upon the sea and upon the earth lifted up his hand to heaven, And sware by him that liveth for ever and ever, who created heaven, and the things that therein are, and the earth, and the things that therein are, and the sea, and the things which are therein, that there should be time [i.e. death] no longer: But in the days of the voice of the seventh angel, when he shall begin to sound, the mystery of God should be finished, as he hath declared to his servants the prophets. And the voice which I heard from heaven spake unto me again, and said…Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings…the holy city shall they [the Gentiles] tread under foot forty and two months. And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth…And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified…And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven…And the seventh [last] angel sounded [his trumpet]; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev 10:5-11, 11:12-15)
“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God…And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war…and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.” (Rev 19:11-14)
Abraham is the Commander in Chief of one of those armies. During this post-apocalyptic era Abram is not just another refugee looking out for himself and his family. He is being assigned the most important job on earth. Like the President of the United States, he has been chosen to preserve, protect, and defend liberty and justice for all the peoples of the earth. Abram’s nation is the only nation capable of doing so because its constitution, the word of God, covers the whole world, and its boundless resources can provide for a steady stream of refugees.
“Now the LORD had said unto Abram…Get thee out of thy country…unto a land that I will shew thee:
- And I will make of thee [the father of] a great nation,
- and I will bless thee…and thou shalt be a blessing:
- And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee:
- and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-4)
This is typically taught as meaning that The Seed of the Woman / Promised Savior / Jesus Christ would be a descendant of Abraham, which is true, but there is an immediate aspect to this pronouncement that shouldn’t be overlooked. In context, “all the families of the earth” were just coming into existence in Abram’s day and scattering across the earth as they fled from endless war, butchery and slavery in Mesopotamia. This was “the Bronze Age“, a brutal era, a vicious struggle for existence.
Father of a great nation
This nation is typically taught as being Israel but it is patently obvious on the face of it that Israel is the father of the nation named after him, so no, that’s not Abraham’s nation. And the nation of Israel didn’t come into existence for over 400 years after God promised to bless the world through Abraham. Are you thinking there was no blessing the world until then? Seriously? The failure to recognize that there is a greater nation superceding Israel is the reason the “Judeo-Christian” people can’t, like NATO’s people with our common heritage, truly join forces to protect and bless each other.
Abraham became – after developing the requisite competencies to rule, like Joseph did later in Egypt – the head of the Hebrew nation after Eber passed away.
Thou shalt be a blessing
The people groups who packed up and left Mesopotamia were enslaved workers fleeing Nimrod’s tyranny for freedom at any cost, trading one hard urban life for another hard life on the frontier, risking death in unfamiliar beast-infested wilderness. No doubt there was a kind of Oklahoma land rush as the Babel emigres needed to find a place to settle onto as soon as possible for sheer survival.
Their life was a struggle for existence as they, like Robinson Crusoe on a deserted island or our own American pioneers heading west, had to build all the food-production infrastructure of flocks, fields, vineyards, orchards, irrigation ditches, wells from the ground up.
And all the while protecting their livelihood and lives from predators in a situation akin to Crusoe’s Caribbean cannibals or the Wild West’s Johnson County War.
“And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee…there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.” (Job 1:14-17)
Abraham didn’t just sit back and doze on the back pew once he joined his congregation of Hebrews. He went to work fulfilling the marching orders in God’s kingdom to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth” with LIFE. Do we not recognize the walking dead when we see them? Or do we just not care, at least not enough to save them from their ultimate destruction?
I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee
“…Abram the Hebrew…dwelt in the plain of Mamre the Amorite [from a wicked nation], brother of Eshcol, and brother of Aner: and these were confederate with Abram…And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, That I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet…Save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.” (Gen 14:13-24)
These men had to be believers like Abimelech in order for Abraham to be in league with them. Or for them to be in league with Abraham. They had to have enough faith in Abram’s God and Abram’s leadership to follow him into what was otherwise a suicide mission in the War of Four Kings Against Five. In support of this conclusion, the God of Abraham memorializes them with himself in his eternal word: Mamre is forever identified as the gracious seller of the first plot of promised land, Eshcol is forever identified with the lushious first fruits of the promised land.
And [after the fiasco at the tower of Babel] Nimrod son of Cush was still in the land of Shinar, and he reigned over it and dwelt there, and he built cities in the land of Shinar. [Remember, cities are built for war.] And these are the names of the four cities which he built, and he called their names after the occurrences that happened to them in the building of the tower. And he called the first Babel, saying, Because the Lord there confounded the language of the whole earth; and the name of the second he called Erech, because from there God dispersed them. And the third he called Eched, saying there was a great battle at that place; and the fourth he called Calnah, because his princes and mighty men were consumed there, and they vexed the Lord, they rebelled and transgressed against him. And when Nimrod had built these cities in the land of Shinar, he placed in them the remainder of his people, his princes and his mighty men that were left in his kingdom. And Nimrod dwelt in Babel, and he there renewed his reign over the rest of his subjects, and he reigned securely, and the subjects and princes of Nimrod called his name Amraphel, saying that at the tower his princes and men fell through his means. And notwithstanding this, Nimrod did not return to the Lord, and he continued in wickedness and teaching wickedness to the sons of men; and Mardon, his son, was worse than his father, and continued to add to the abominations of his father…At that time there was war between the families of the children of Ham, as they were dwelling in the cities which they had built [for that purpose].
And Chedorlaomer, [a title] king of Elam [a Semite], went away from the families of the children of Ham [i.e. he severed his alliance with Nimrod], and he fought with them and he subdued them, and he went to the five cities of the plain [in Canaan, i.e. also children of Ham] and he fought against them and he subdued them, and they were under his control. And they served him twelve years, and they gave him a yearly tax…And in the fiftieth year of the life of Abram son of Terah, Abram came forth from the house of Noah, and went to his father’s house.” (Jasher 11:1-13)
“Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled. And in the fourteenth year came Chedorlaomer, and the kings that were with him, and smote
- the Rephaims in Ashteroth Karnaim,
- the Zuzims in Ham, [use of personal name as place name undoubtedly indicates the place Ham established residence] and
- the Emins in Shaveh Kiriathaim,
- the Horites in their mount Seir, unto Elparan, which is by the wilderness. And they returned, and came to Enmishpat, which is Kadesh, and smote all the country of
- the Amalekites, and also
- the Amorites, that dwelt in Hazezontamar…And they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their victuals, and went their way.
And they took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son, who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed. And there came one that had escaped, and told Abram the Hebrew…And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan. And he divided himself against them, he and his servants, by night, and smote them, and pursued them unto Hobah, which is on the left hand of Damascus. And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother Lot, and his goods, and the women also, and the people. (Genesis 14)
We see from the account of this battle that Abraham was living in the midst of dangerous and warring peoples. He was prepared for this battle because he had already armed and trained his household. They did not live at ease, even before they were attacked by foreign enemies they were on constant alert against the enemies that surrounded them. Anyone who presumes to be a son / child of Abraham, i.e. “the incarnation and extension of his father’s will and character” must expect to do the same. Membership in a family/nation has its privileges and responsibilities.
“Finally my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. ” (Ephesian 6:10-11)
“And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation…For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him. And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me…” (Gen 18:18-21)
Do we make a backwards assumption in a superficial reading of this passage? Did Abraham have the responsibility to ensure that all his existing household keep the way of the LORD, or did Abraham have the responsibility to limit his household to only those who kept the way of the LORD? In brief, what comes first – being a member of Abraham’s household or keeping the way of the LORD?
The context of the statement, in which the LORD warns Abraham of his plan to destroy the city where Lot lives, clues us in that keeping the way of the LORD precedes becoming a member of Abraham’s household. The reason God told Abraham in advance of the impending catastrophe was to warn him not to bail Lot out of the mess he had created for himself because Lot, like so many rebellious children when they reach maturity, had left Abram’s household.
“And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and…the souls that they had gotten in Haran…and into the land of Canaan they came.” (Genesis 12:5)
“And Abram was very rich in cattle…And Lot also, which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds…And the land was not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was a strife between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle…And Abram said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee…for we be brethren / kinsmen.” (Genesis 13:1-8)
Do you catch that Lot’s rebellion against Abram’s leadership is much more than failing to yield to Abram’s herdmen? It is failing to acknowledge Abram as his authority, his “father”. Note that, under the succession practices of the time, since Abram had no sons of his own, his nephew should have inherited his entire estate. It appears that Lot was breaking away to head his own, smaller, family. Why would he give up a much larger inheritance?
He must have realized that Abram did not intend to make him his heir, as evidenced by Abram calling him a “brother / relative” rather than his son.
Primogeniture is the right, by law or custom, of the firstborn legitimate child to inherit the parent’s entire estate in preference to shared inheritance among all or some children, any illegitimate child or any collateral relative…The common definition given is also known as male-line primogeniture…an uncle without sons of his own was succeeded by his nephew…
The earliest account of primogeniture to be known widely in modern times is that of Isaac’s sons Esau, who was born first, and Jacob, who was born second. Esau was entitled to the “birthright” (bekhorah בְּכוֹרָה), but he sold the right to Jacob for a mess of pottage, i. e. a small amount of food. Although the veracity of this account is not corroborated by other sources, its telling in this passage demonstrates that primogeniture was sufficiently common in the Middle East for the passage to seem plausible to the people living there prior to the Roman Empire.
Adam Smith, in his book An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, explains the origin of primogeniture in Europe in the following way:
[W]hen land was considered as the means, not of subsistence merely, but of power and protection, it was thought better that it should descend undivided to one. In those disorderly times, every great landlord was a sort of petty prince. His tenants were his subjects. He was their judge, and in some respects their legislator in peace and their leader in war. He made war according to his own discretion, frequently against his neighbours, and sometimes against his sovereign. The security of a landed estate, therefore, the protection which its owner could afford to those who dwelt on it, depended upon its greatness. To divide it was to ruin it, and to expose every part of it to be oppressed and swallowed up by the incursions of its neighbours.
“Is not the whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left.” And Lot lifted up his eyes, and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where, before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated themselves the one from the other.” (Genesis 13:9-11)
This separation was more than physical distance, it severed family ties. Listen to how the LORD comforts Abram on the loss of the future hopes he had pinned on Lot, even more than the loss of a huge amount of wealth. Remember, Abram is getting on in age, and Lot was the closest relationship to a son he could expect to ever have.
“And the LORD said unto Abram, after that Lot was separated from him, Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest [even the section Lot took], to thee will I give it, and to thy seed for ever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered…And Abram said, LORD God, what wilt thou give me, seeing I go childless [now that Lot is gone], and the steward of my house [next in line to inherit not just ownership but responsibility] is this Eliezer of Damascus [not even a blood relative]? And Abram said, Behold, to me thou hast given no seed: and, lo, one born in my house is mine heir. And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be thine heir; but he that shall come forth out of thine own bowels shall be thine heir. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Gen 13:14-16, 15:2-6)
Contrast this account of Abram’s relationship with God the Father to Lot’s relationship with Abram as father. Lot does not reflect Abram’s righteous character. Even though Abram had assumed responsibility as a clan member to rescue Lot from the four kings, there is no record of submission to either Melchizedek’s or Abram’s authority. Even the king of Sodom has more respect!
“Lot dwelled in the cities of the plain, and pitched his tent toward Sodom. But the men of Sodom were wicked and sinners before the Lord exceedingly…And when Abram heard that his brother was taken captive, he armed his trained servants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan…And he brought back all the goods, and also brought again his brother / relative Lot, and his goods…And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God…And he [Abram] gave him tithes of all. [But no mention of Lot.] Perhaps he was miserly calculating that Abram took care of his share?] And the king of Sodom said unto Abram, Give me the persons, and take the goods to thyself.” [That’s appropriate, but again, no mention of Lot offering.] (Gen 13:12-13, 14:14-21)
And when Lot hits rock bottom he still won’t admit that he is a sinner who got himself into his awful predicament, and plead for forgiveness and mercy.
“And there came two angels to Sodom…And the men said unto Lot…because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD…the LORD hath sent us to destroy it...then the angels hastened Lot, saying, Arise, take thy wife, and thy two daughters, which are here; lest thou be consumed in the iniquity of the city…Escape for thy life…neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh, not so, my Lord: [Now here is arrogance personified, arguing with the Angel of Death.]…I cannot escape to the mountain, lest some evil take me, and I die: [And what evil does he fear awaiting him in the mountain? Humiliation having to beg for help from Abraham?]…And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace [but Lot never went up to Abraham. How he must have grieved].” (Gen 19:2-38)
As you read the following story contrast Lot’s actions avoiding Abraham with this other son’s in the same circumstances.
“A certain man had [a son who] said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto [him] his living. And not many days after the…son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance...and he began to be in want…And when he came to himself, he said…I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father.” (Luke 15:11-20)
Unlike this son, at no point in his tragic life did Lot use his family connections with Abraham to take advantage of his resources. Why? It would require submitting himself to Abraham’s authority. Maybe even admitting “I was wrong,” AKA repenting. The following passage has been rearranged a bit to drive home this point that Lot’s life, righteous thou he may have been, went from bad to worse when he couldn’t bring himself to return to the crucial crossroad where he went wrong when “they separated themselves the one from the other.” (Genesis 13:11)
“when God destroyed the cities of the plain…God remembered Abraham, and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow
- But [Lot’s] wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt.
- And Lot went up out of the small city of Zoar, for he feared to dwell in Zoar:
- and dwelt in the mountain, in a cave, he and his two daughters
- And the firstborn said unto the younger, Our father is old, and there is not a man in the earth to come in unto us after the manner of all the earth: Come, let us make our father drink wine, and we will lie with him. Thus were both the daughters of Lot with child by their father.
- And the first born bare a son, and called his name Moab: the same is the father of the Moabites unto this day.
- And the younger, she also bare a son, and called his name Benammi: the same is the father of the children of Ammon unto this day.
And yet, Lot is called righteous. Well, he personally disagrees with wickedness and doesn’t engage in any wicked behavior. Notice, his daughters knew he would never agree to have sex with them if he wasn’t, like righteous Noah, drunk.
“God…turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow…delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)” (II Peter 2:4-8)
Yes, but he doesn’t DO anything about the wickedness he encounters either. In the end he had nothing to show for a lifetime of disapproval of the wicked while engaging in commercial pursuits. He is the model for Paul’s warning to all believers blithely anticipating an eternity of bliss after a lifetime ignoring God’s work.
“For we are labourers together with God…According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon…Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (I Corinthians 3:13-15)
I’m afraid we modern believers are more like Lot than Abraham. We don’t understand the details of our national membership from a biblical standpoint. We take for granted that we can have all the benefits of being children of Abraham because the patriarch / father of a nation has the authority to choose who will be included in his nation, regardless of their genetic ancestry. Check that again. Have we overlooked the essential element that – the father of a nation has the authority to choose who will be included in his nation. Period.
Bestowing of sonship and inheritance by the Father to person(s) of his choosing is what Abra(ha)m was talking about as he prepared to make his trusted servant his heir.
“And Abram said…the steward of my house is this Eliezer of Damascus…mine heir.” (Gen 15:3)
I’m afraid we don’t pay attention to the Father’s piece of the sonship process. Belonging and inheritance is only granted by the Father. Yes, we get that it is “Not by works of righteousness which we have done…” (Titus 3:5). But neither is it left up to the individual to finalize the process of becoming a son or a citizen. It is up to the Father of the family or nation.
“And, behold, the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, This shall not be... (Gen 15:4)
The essential condition of receiving the inheritance and privileges of a son only as granted by the Father to one who is the extension of his will and character is what John the Baptist was talking about as he prepared hearts to receive the promised inheritance of “a great nation” (Gen 12:2) through Abraham’s Promised Seed / Messiah / Christ, first in his physical presence as David’s royal heir then in his fully empowering presence as the Holy Spirit.
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight…Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judaea, and all the region round about Jordan, And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees [Conservatives] and Sadducees [Liberals] come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance: And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father…I indeed baptize / overwhelm you with water unto repentance, but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize / overwhelm you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Mat 3:1-12)
The allusion to grain and chaff would have brought to the minds of the literate Jews anticipating the arrival of the Son of David the abstract meaning of the treasured story of the human origins of the Davidic dynasty, which included the Moabite Ruth who had to be accepted by Boaz.
“Then Naomi her mother in law said unto her, My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee? And now is not Boaz of our kindred, with whose maidens thou wast? Behold, he winnoweth barley to night in the threshingfloor. Wash thyself therefore…mark the place where he shall lie, and thou shalt go in, and uncover his feet, and lay thee down; and he will tell thee what thou shalt do…So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the LORD gave her conception, and she bare a son. And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life…Boaz begat Obed, and Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David. (Ruth 3:1-11, 4:13-15
The prerogatives of the Father to bestow sonship on persons of his choosing is what Paul was talking about as he fought to integrate Gentile with Jewish believers into Abraham’s nation with full citizenship rights and privileges.
“Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is the Promised Seed of the Woman / Messiah / Christ..For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise…For ye are all the children of God by faith in the Promised Seed / Messiah Savior / Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized [merged identities] into the Promised Seed / Christ have put on the Promised Seed / Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female [like the original Adams as described in the previous post]: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Gal 3:16-29)
“Wherefore seeing we [New Covenant believers] also [as well as the Old Covenant believers] are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;” (Letter to the Hebrews 12:1-2)
Notice what Paul, the great expositor of salvation by grace, says about Jesus. He is the author-ity on our faith. As the author he composed the guidelines, and as the finisher he author-izes who meets criteria. To understand what this means let’s review some civics lessons from high school.
George Washington is the father, i.e. head, authority, of one new nation composed of people from many nations who are now identified as Americ-ans only if they publicly renounce all previous authority and swear allegiance and commitment to live by this nation’s constitution and defend it under the leadership of the Commander in Chief of the Armed Services.
Likewise, Abraham is the human father / leader of one new nation composed of people from many other nations who are now identified as Christ-ians only if they have renounced all previous spiritual authority and sworn allegiance and commitment to live according to the Kingdom of God’s constitution, the Bible, under the leadership of the King/Christ/ Messiah/ seed of the woman/ Yahweh’s Anointed Savior.
Protestants may not have as clear an understanding of this requirement for inclusion in the Kingdom of God as do Catholics who explicitly swear this oath in the baptismal prayer.
V. Do you renounce sin, so as to live in the freedom of the children of God?
R. I do.
V. Do you renounce the lure of evil, so that sin may have no mastery over you?
R. I do.
V. Do you renounce Satan, the author and prince of sin?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do.
V. And may almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.
There is a heretical teaching that believers are entitled to simply “name it and claim it” as if God is a giant vending machine whose primary role is to indulge his children. Even salvation is treated as being at the discretion of the individual. “Did you pray the sinner’s prayer and truly understand and believe what it teaches? If so, please click on the “I have accepted Christ today” button below.”
We need to understand that citizenship rights and inheritance in both an earthly nation and God’s nation, like immigration status, is not given to someone simply because they choose it. It is bestowed, by the ruler, on those he determines are worthy as demonstrated by their allegiance / submission to him in their actions / works.
Remember, “Among the Israelites [and all ancient peoples] a child became a son or daughter not primarily by the fact of physical generation but rather through acknowledgement or election by the father...[as the] incarnation and extension of his father’s will and character…” Even in our contemporary society adoption and inheritance are not decided by the child but by the parents based on consideration of the child’s worthiness for the entailed privileges and responsibilities.
“And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, [No.] Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.” (Gen 17:18-19)
“…Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright…afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.” (Heb 12:17)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained [when he instructed the original sanctified human, Adam, to be fruitful] that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:10)
“And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him…if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which?…Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions. Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven.” (Mat 19:16-23)
Hold on! Many fundamentalist Christians will holler that this is teaching that we are saved by works, and point to the passages clearly stating that we are saved by grace, not works.
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph 2:8-9)
“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Ro 4:2-8)
But if we keep on reading we find far too many other scriptures balancing what has become an “easy believism” religion of fire insurance after death that doesn’t change one’s daily routine and life goal of fulfilling the desires of the flesh with no evidence of spiritual regeneration. The concept that membership in the Kingdom of God is simply a “get out of jail free” card is absolutely antithetical to what scripture teaches.
“What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only…For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead.” (Jam 2:14-24)
If we go back to the beginning of the doctrine of eternal security, AKA sure mercies of David, we find that the doctrine we are relying on unarguably teaches God does in fact bestow inheritance on the persons of his choosing, NOT on everyone who wants it.
“I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee.” (II Sam 7:14-15)
The next passage referencing the sure mercies of David doesn’t treat this as a gift of God casually distributed like necklaces at a Mardi Gras parade.
There is effort, actions, one can even say work, involved in obtaining salvation. Just read how many action verbs are demanded of those who would get saved. At the very least seeking, repenting, and forsaking.
“Ho, every one that thirsteth,
- come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye,
- buy, and
- eat...Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not?
- hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
- Incline your ear, and
- come unto me:
- hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee.
- Seek ye the LORD while he may be found,
- call ye upon him while he is near:
- Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him
- return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.” (Isa 55:1-7)
The next passage referencing the sure mercies of David warn that they won’t be granted as a gift to those who despise, wonder / question, refuse to believe. Yes, salvation is a gift, but you can’t claim the free aspect of a gift without also acknowledging the aspect that the gift is given at the discretion of the giver to those of his choosing! In this case, salvation is a gift of God only given to those who prove they are entitled to it by their actions. Like a bonus at work, it’s not part of the wage, but it is only given to those who prove they are worthy of it.
“[Paul speaking] And we declare unto you glad tidings, how that the promise which was made unto the fathers, God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee. And as concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he said on this wise, I will give you the sure mercies of David…Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Beware therefore, lest that come upon you, which is spoken of in the prophets; Behold, ye despisers, and wonder, and perish: for I work a work in your days, a work which ye shall in no wise believe, though a man declare it unto you.” (Act 13:32-41)
The works that are spelled out in scripture prove that one is born again into the Spirit hyperdimension. Yes, rebirth happens simply by believing in Creator God’s ability to make this happen as proven by Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. But if it really happens there is evidence that one is controlled by the Holy Spirit by one’s
- repentance from evil / self centeredness
- Spirit control over previous destructive physical, mental and emotional obsessions and compulsions
- knowing / growing in relationship with Jesus which shows in
- a changed lifestyle paralleling his of obedience to the Father.
“Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward. How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him…Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.
So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 2-3)
“I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
- And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law,
- but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
- That I may know / be merged with him,
- and the power of his resurrection,
- and the fellowship of his sufferings,
- being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:3-10)
Wow. Sure doesn’t sound like contemporary Christian churches with children’s playgrounds and team sports and above all else contemporary music.
But neither does this mean that if we sin or fail to live up to a certain standard we “lose our salvation.” Go back to the archetype, David. He committed murder and adultery, but he also repented and brought forth “works meet for repentance” when he accepted God’s chastening in his life. Despite suffering he remained submitted to God’s will, as described in the previous post. To claim salvation because you privately muttered a prayer during a church invitation then went out and continued living as before is to be one of the people of the lie of the devil.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.” (I Joh 1:5-10)
The reason salvation is not a matter of either faith or works, it is faith and works, should be obvious. Our actions – both righteous and unrighteous – demonstrate the reality or pretense of our trust in, and submission to, the Lord in obtaining his criteria of righteousness.
We should recognize God’s righteousness in relying on our behavior as proof! Unlike the infamous Dreyfus affair, in the day of judgment not even God makes himself the sole judge of our guilt or innocence. It is for our own protection that God relies on DEMONSTRABLE EVIDENCE of our adherence to the requirements for inclusion in his kingdom!
If we really take scripture seriously we should take stock of our behavior as children of Abraham. Are we acting like we are members of the household of faith, citizens with the saints? Are we in fact following in the footsteps of the man we claim is our father, leaving our pagan culture and way of life to serve the true and living God?
“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God…These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath for them a city.” (Heb 11:8-16)
Or are we numbered among the backslidden children like Lot, content to simply denounce the evil around us without getting clear of it, and despite all his preaching losing his entire family to the wickedness of his society? Actions speak louder than words.
“See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: For our God is a consuming fire.” (Hebrews 12:25-29)